I am totally blind, and recently I had a serious cerebral hemorrhage. It was unexpected that I would survive. My Roman Catholic Priest recommended me for a free trip to Lourdes, France, paid by the Knights of Malta, which I had not even heard of priorly.
This article is about my experiences at Lourdes. If you would like to talk to me about it, please feel free to contact me. My home phone number is 1-203-359-8272; and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I love to communicate so please feel free to contact me any time you like. If you or someone special in your life is in need of healing, you can write me, and ask for some Lourdes water that I will forward to you.
I often say that nothing happens by accident, everything that occurs in our lives is meant to take place. Last August, I had a very serious cerebral hemorrhage, and doctors in the emergency room told my wife Lillian that there wasn’t anything that they could do for me, and that she should call a priest to administer the Anointing of the Sick. Well, God had other ideas, and I did pull through. During weeks of rehab, I was unaware of my condition and myself. I wasn’t able to remember a person’s name seconds after being told. The hemorrhage had destroyed some of my brain cells necessary for short-term memory. I still have very short memory today as a result, but, thank God, it’s greatly improved, and I am able to cope with this minor loss.
Lillian brought my laptop into the hospital, and it was my greatest aid in regaining my abilities to communicate and function again. I soon had my online email friends who sent me messages daily and my second book to write which needed editing.
My book, The Pink Light Effect, teaches how to create love, and with God’s help, I have discovered an easy and effective way of accomplishing it. God has given me a burning desire to write this book and now, with a talking computer, I can tell what I am typing. The day after being released from Saint Joseph’s Rehab was 9/11, and we all sadly know what happened that day. It was odd, but I felt that my stroke was somehow connected to that event. From day one, I felt it was supposed to take place just like my brain hemorrhage was meant to occur. My neurologist told me when the blood had cleared enough that I had five cavernous defects (similar to an aneurysm.) He sadly told us that, since one of them had already hemorrhaged, I was more susceptible for another. I asked nearly everyone I knew, “Why didn’t I have my book done sooner?” I feel deep in my heart that it would have changed hatred into love, thereby preventing this terrorist attack. Well, like I’ve said, “Nothing happens by accident”. This horrible catastrophe has united people across the country, and that’s what my book needed. It’s going to be accepted by a wider majority of people now that we’ve been violated like this.
The Order of the Knights of Malta has an annual trip to Lourdes. Because of my stroke, my 47-year-old dream has come true. I lost my sight when I was twelve, and Sister Gabriel told me at my Confirmation that if I ever get the chance that I should go to Lourdes, France. My wife and I were invited to go as guests of the Order of Malta! All of our expenses were covered, and we spent a whole week being treated royally. The Knights’ setup teams and we were part of the Yellow group. I had a doctor and three nurses on our team to watch over me. Tony, a Knight, pulled while Lillian and Caroline, an Auxiliary, pushed me in a voiture (French for carriage) from site to site, church to church, and back again. I got to bathe in the water that the Virgin Mary had blessed. I also got to hold my hand against the stone of the Grotto where she stood when St. Bernadette witnessed her. I participated in a huge moving procession of people from all over the world praying the Rosary. I climbed a great mountainous area to see, with Lillian’s guiding and descriptive help, the larger than life Stations of the Cross arranged in the world’s most beautiful settings. Monsignor Kevin Wallin was so good with his narrations of the stations that it gave me the feeling as if I were actually an eye witness. I had exquisite meals, and made hundreds of new friends, both members of this fantastic organization and other ill pilgrims.
Our trip to Lourdes was really wonderful, more than I could ever have dreamed possible. Love and spiritual enlightenment were prevalent in everyone, and couldn’t be missed. Our days and nights were filled with services, prayer and celebrations. We prayed to our Lord and the Lady of Lourdes, or as Bernadette heard the Blessed Virgin say, “I am the Immaculate Conception”. On our way to Salle de Notre Dame for healing and confession, we passed the grotto and fountains of the blessed water, and my wife Lillian stopped our small parade, me sitting like a king in the voiture, Tony pulling, Lillian and Caroline pushing, and five or six others praying for me, and ran over to fill her hands with the holy water. She ran back to me and washed my head, face and eyes with it. She then filled her hands with more water and instructed me to drink. Spiritually, I received our Lady’s healing love throughout my entire being, and I felt united with her, Jesus, and God, all in one.
One night, I overheard a man talking about me, and what he said gave me chills. He told another person that my wife and I each had a charismatic personality, and kids especially came to life when I was near them. “They bubble over when he bends down, and talks with them,” I heard him say as we walked down the stairs, and out into the fresh cool air. I am sure he was referring to one child who screamed incessantly, and who I had wanted desperately to comfort since I had first heard her. During mass that afternoon where each of we Malades (French for sick) received medals from the Grand Master, she was pushed directly in front of me, and my prayer was answered. I heard her pitiful cries, and I was so grateful that I had a chance to touch the back of her head, and pray over her for a moment. I leaned towards her, and with all of my love kissed her on the cheek, and told her, “Along with Jesus and the Virgin Mary, I love you, sweetheart”. I learned days later from her mother that Kathy had grinned immediately afterwards, which was a very rare site. God is a vibrant part of everyone alive and/or deceased. We can love God who is within everyone and as we love them, be loved in return.
In several churches we participated in mass with thousands of people of all nations. Lillian told me that there were at least fifty priests saying masses in Salle de Notre Dame, Pius X Basilica, as well as outdoor mass, and I heard them in many languages. I told Lillian that it felt to me as if we were attending the Olympics with priests and laity from every country in the world, celebrating in an Ecumenical Church.
Lourdes is the very closest thing to heaven on earth. Everyone is so filled with love and appreciation. The woman making the beds in the hotel is happy doing her work. The persons selling goods in the stores are overjoyed just showing their wares whether you buy them or not. You can feel the joy in everyone you meet: Knights, Dames, and Auxiliary (the young members). All of the citizens of Lourdes are living so close to God that they display their purity of spirit. Focus your mind on God eight or more hours daily, and you become one with the universal Love of God. Right now say, “Thank you Jesus”, and feel His love expanding in your heart every time that you repeat it. You can’t help but to smile after saying and feeling it deep within you a few times. I was being transformed by the power of love and His grace that flowed continuously in everyone I met and in Lourdes itself.
During the closing of Exposition at Oratory on Sunday afternoon while I was praying the Rosary on my knees, I felt a gentle hug, as if someone from behind had placed their hands on my shoulders and squeezed gently. Lillian and I were in the last row of chairs and our backs faced a wall. I breathed deeply inward and thanked God with my whole heart, mind and spirit. On the way back to the hotel I described what I had felt and Lillian told me that she had also been touched by a spirit, feeling a slight touch first on her right shoulder, then the left. She told me that she had looked to the right and left, and there was no one near us.
My days at Lourdes were all filled and brimming over with outstanding feelings and memories but right at the top had to be the sensations of the bath. My Caretaker, Knight and puller Tony left me in loving hands at the door of one of the seventeen baths. Three men gently guided me as if with angelic wings to a chair where I was totally undressed. Then I was placed on a very cold metal chair and a colder still towel was wrapped around me, and I was rolled to the stone bath. Ave Maria was playing softly, and these men were singing it with their whole heart. I stood and asked the Lady of Lourdes to lay her healing hands on me, members of my family, friends, and especially all the children attending. These men whose love and joy of life was so evident told me to step down. As the freezing cold water covered my ankles I felt an expansion of self, as if I had suddenly filled the room. Moments later, I was sitting in the water and praying for a cleansing and purification of self. I started to lay down and the men said, “No!” and grabbed my arms. I told them that I had to lay down in the water, and submerge myself in it. Believe me, that only lasted for seconds, the coldness of the water took away my breath as it covered my chest, arms and head! I stood gasping for air, and all of my body vibrated with eternal love and joy. With an inner assurance, I knew that I was where God intended me to be at this precise moment.
Monday we all got into a bus, and headed off for a picnic. Sitting directly to my left sat a little girl. I overheard this child’s frail voice asking her Dame assistant to find her some stones in the park. My hobby is stone collecting and I had asked Lillian early that morning to find me a few nice small rocks. I took four of the stones Lillian had gotten me and on the way home gave them to this poor child. A year ago a car hit her, and she spent six months in a coma. After coming out of it they found that she had severe neurological problems and that was why she was one of us seeking healing. After holding, feeling, and looking at the stones for a few minutes, she said, with an enormous smile showing in her voice, “Here, Joe, now we both have two”, and this loving child placed two of these desired rocks back into my hand. As you can imagine, tears came to my eyes. I thanked her graciously, and tapped my pocket where I told her I had others.
The following night, our last night there, Savia sat at the very next table and I knew that this was destiny knocking on my door. When I heard her voice, thanksgiving filled my heart, and I knew that she was there for me. I got up without telling Lillian where I was going, and moved to Savia’s table. In my pocket, I carried a semi-precious crystal heart, and I gave it to this little girl. I told her to keep it always, that it was my heart that I wanted her to keep safe. I told her that my wife Lillian had given it to me for Valentine’s Day, and now it was hers to enjoy. At the airport the following day, her mother found me, and told me that Savia had slept with the heart in her hand all night, and refused to let go of it. “She rubs it against her cheek and whispers something about love that I don’t understand,” she told me, continuing, “She has had an eye out for you all the time here and when seeing you a second ago, she told me to bring her over so she could talk with you.”
With a touch of a smile in her voice, Savia told me, “You gave this heart to me in love. Now I return it to you in love. Keep it safe for me always. Please, Joe!”
I responded with a broad smile, and tears burning my eyes, “Savia, thank you but I want you to have it. You will live for many more years than I will, and I want you to keep our love of one another alive as long as possible.”
With enormous joy in her voice she gasped, “Okay, Joe, you got it, friend!”
Needless to say that one little girl, and there were several like her, made my trip very special. While praying in the Grotto and in the bath water of Lourdes, I asked God through the Blessed Mother to give any healing I might receive to the children. I had been born a normal kid, and had enjoyed the beauties of this world for twelve years. Most of these kids will never know what “normal” is like, and my heart goes out to each and every one of them and their loved ones.
A colored mantle of leaves outlines the
Oh, what fools we are to relinquish our