In the summer of 1983 my sister Pat, the wonderful mother of five children, was abandoned by her husband of many years who had decided to run off with a young girl. On the very day this occurred, I remember standing in my parlor in Marblehead, MA when I experienced a sharp piercing pain in my spirit. Perplexed, I wondered what it could mean. I would find out its meaning on the day following when my mother called me from Florida with the sordid details. As a result of this ominous disclosure I purchased a flight ticket to Florida to be with my sister to comfort her for a few days. In those intervening days I took my sister to a Catholic charismatic meeting of some wonderful older women who prayed for and comforted Pat. When leaving for home again, I suggested to her that she find a younger group to pray with in the days ahead. She mentioned (as I remember it) that she knew of a very large Catholic charismatic prayer meeting which occurred locally on Friday evenings and I encouraged her to attend. I then left for home.
I discovered later that Pat did not wish to attend this meeting alone and asked my mother to go with her. Because of Pat’s suffering and heartbreak, my mother said “yes”, and as an added declaration said she was also doing it to get me off her “case”.
The Gift: Well, God is amazing, and his timing is always magnificent. During the time of worship on this Friday evening my mother and sister were each visited (simultaneously it seems) by the Fire of God’s Love. Each had been ‘baptized’ in God’s Holy Spirit.
The following Saturday morning while I was still residing in Marblehead, MA came the call of calls from my mother.
Below is a transcript of the call as well as I can depict it:
The phone rings and my wife answers. Suzanne then calls to me:
“Peter, it’s you mother. She wants to speak to you.”
[I immediately wonder if something is amiss.]
Me: “Hello Mom, how are you doing?”
Mom: "Peter, the Lord told me to call you and to say thank you.”
[A stunned pause. I am trying to determine how best to respond to what I just heard.]
Me: “What, I’m sorry Mom, what was that again?”
Mom: "The Holy Spirit fell on me and Pat last evening, and I now understand the truth of what you have been telling me. The Lord said that I should call and thank you.’
Me: “Wow, that’s wonderful Mom. Let’s talk about this some more at a better time.”
Mom: “OK, Love Ya! Bye.”
Following my mother’s call, it took a while for me to process my mother’s testimony which amazed me. However, from that time on it became increasingly clear that God’s love had transformed both my mother and sister to the core of their beings. Each would never be the same again. My mother became the evangelist of Pinellas County, rounding up older men and women and taking them to Life in the Spirit Seminars where they too would encounter the Holy Spirit and Pat became a powerful intercessor and profound lover of her new spouse —Jesus.
[Note: My sister Pat died of brain cancer in the odor of sanctity on October 27, 1986 at the age of 43. She had a passionate love for her new spouse—Jesus, and she offered up her suffering for the salvation of souls.]
The Amazing Letter: But that is not the end of this story. Following this call, I would later that week receive the following letter from my mother:
Incredibly, my mother had come to understand that she had been robbed of true intimacy with the Lord due to the religious formation she had received as a youth, and as it encompassed her entire life. This discernment also mirrored my own, as just prior to my salvation encounter I realized a certain level of anger perceiving that a controlling religious spirit had prioritized its own agenda, and by this had robbed me and many others of true intimacy with the Living God.
Despite this, none in the family left the Catholic Church to find ‘higher ground’. Rather, they loved the Church with the love of Christ, and sought to be used of God and to mingle their love for Jesus with service to the Church reaching out to others in need.
Reflection: It is essential that each Christian come to understand that God the Father loves each Christian to the core of their very being—as if they alone were the only focus of God’s infinite and passionate love. Pray and ask for this empowering experience of the Holy Spirit so that you too will come to know the unsurpassed joy of His transcendent love. Do not hang on to what the material world offers you. Jesus, by His death on the Cross, has obtained for you the gift of intimacy with God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
This gift is yours for the asking!