She was the perfect image of a quaint old church lady, with brown curly hair, gentle winkles on her face, round cheeks and bright blue eyes, bending over a prayer book. Coming into the chapel, I immediately spotted her and drawn like a moth to light, sat next to her. I set my leather-bound Christian prayer book on the seat between us, where her well-used Magnificat rested. Curiously peering, I realized she was praying the Breviary. She prayed the prayer that I had just prayed, said the very same words I said less than five minutes ago. The beauty and timelessness of such united prayers made my heart soar!
Staring forward at the clean, barren altar, I tried minding my own business but another book on the seat between us caught my eye. On the cover, against a sky blue background, was a picture of Pope John Paul II leaning against his silver staff, eyes closed in a meditative gesture. The title read “Saint John Paul the Great” Instantly, I picked it up. The old lady finally noticed me, holding the book in my hand. I felt a tinge of fear yet did not stop smiling at the beautiful cover. She leaned over and whispered, “You may have it.” “Thank you!” I whispered back.
What seemed to be a random act of kindness however, ran deeper. I remembered earlier that night, at work, starting into the blackness of the night sky that so aptly described my life at this point and asking if anyone heard my prayers. Heaven felt very empty that night. Running down the list, I asked Jesus, Mary, Joseph, then lastly I said “John Paul II, please help me! I don’t feel like anyone is there so if you hear this, please help me.”
After Mass, I introduced myself to the lady, thanked her again and told her that I had just been asking John Paul II to intercede for me. “He must be your special protector,” she replied. Indeed those words were so truthful for throughout this week, I had noticed a protective presence watching over me. Now I know who it was. And now I know who, when I called out last night, heard and answered.