Friday, October 20, 2006

Answered Prayer — and Another Prayer Request

Many thanks to everyone who prayed after I requested prayers the other day in hope of giving someone a Miraculous Medal. Your and my prayers were answered. Here's what happened:

I went last night to a charity benefit where the keynote speaker was a celebrity. I was invited to the benefit because, the charity's publicist told me, I was responsible for the celebrity's agreeing to speak at the event. The star had read an article I had assigned that detailed the good works the charity does, and it apparently made a great impression upon her — so much so that she was willing to lend her talents to help the organization.

The celebrity in question is not someone whom I would ordinarily go out of my way to meet. I used to admire her both for her talent and her views; now only her talent draws my admiration. Although she attracts anger from some quarters, and she gives her time and money to causes I abhor, I don't hate her — I just don't like her, or what she stands for. So it was a shock to me that she chose to aid an international-aid charity that I support wholeheartedly, one which would benefit greatly from her high-profile help.

The charity's publicist told me in advance of the benefit that he would be introducing me to the star, so I had some time to think about what I would say to her. What came to me, almost instantly, was that I wanted to give her a Miraculous Medal. I'd recently bought 50 of them and had them blessed by a priest, so that I could give them away as did my patron saint Maximilian Kolbe.

There were other things I could have done, like trying to tell the star what I believed to be the error of her ways. But she was used to receiving a hostile reaction from people, and I didn't think I could say anything to change her. On the other hand, receiving a Miraculous Medal might, God willing, help her open herself up to divine grace, which was the only way that I could imagine her heart might ever change. The star had already let in some of that grace in recent years, saying publicly that she had become a Christian. But she also said she resisted certain aspects of the faith's doctrine — being put off by what she called its "patriarchy."

I entered the gorgeous Cipriani 42nd St. last night and immediately saw the celebrity being photographed in a press area off to the side. Although the area was brightly illuminated, she had that classic quality of a star who seems to exude her own light. She was more beautiful in person than in the photos I had seen, which is saying quite a bit.

The publicist for the charity spotted me. As I quickly fished the medal out of my purse and clasped it in my left hand, he brought me up to the star, introducing me as the editor who had assigned the story she had read about the organization. She graciously thanked me for the story and shook my hand.

I had thought and prayed beforehand about what I would say. The message I received in prayer was that I could give the star the medal only if I could present it as a sign of God's love for her. Left to my own devices, I would not want to exhibit a loving spirit to the star. However, it seemed that if I wanted anything good to come of the interaction, I didn't have a choice.

The first thought that came out of my mouth was not anything I had practiced. I was feeling an overwhelming sense of awe at the fact that this woman, with whom I disagree on so much, could be doing such good by appearing at an event as a result of something I had done. The idea that she and I could be connected by charitable motivations was amazing to me.

So, I said, "As a Catholic, I believe in the Communion of Saints, which means that people on heaven and earth are connected to one another. I believe that you are a member of the Communion of Saints, so I would like you to have this Miraculous Medal."

She put out her right palm. That sentence should be in capital letters, lit up like a neon sign. SHE PUT OUT HER RIGHT PALM to receive the medal! Glory Be!

As I put it in her hand, I added something that I had thought beforehand of saying: "It represents God's love that transcends gender — something you've talked about."

She put the medal in her purse. I think she also nodded and said a soft "thanks," but I can't quite recall. I only remember that I smiled and said, "Thank you," and turned around to exit her presence. Mission accomplished!

Now it's up to Jesus, through Mary, to grant the graces that will determine whether the medal's recipient becomes another Ratisbonne. You can help with your prayers. Please pray for Jane Fonda.