The morning of Wednesday, July 16, the day I was to speak at the Sisters of Life's Love and Life Site, I decided to wear a piece of jewelry I had bought a couple of months earlier while on tour in Alaska: a silver-tone cross containing stones of a beautiful, very Marian cobalt-blue shade (my favorite color), meant to resemble the state flower, the forget-me-not.
Putting on the cross, so to speak, was a big deal for me personally, as it signified my decision to finally go back to wearing a chain necklace daily. For years, I had worn a chain with a Miraculous Medal and a cross all the time, but had stopped doing so in late January after the first of my two thyroid operations. Part of the spiritual experience for me of being in Sydney was the realization of how blessed I was to be able to travel so soon after surviving thyroid cancer. Although the scar on my neck stung (and still does) from time to time, it had healed to the point where I could finally wear a chain over it without feeling discomfort; wearing a cross on that chain as I had in the past was for me a visible sign of thanks to God.
One problem: I didn't have a Miraculous Medal. I used to get them in bulk so I could give them away like my patron St. Maximilian Kolbe (sometimes ordering them from the U.S. branch of his Marytown), but had given away my last one. Being medal-less was a bit embarrassing to me, as a reporter for eBenedict, an official WYD Web site who really did his homework, had noted in a preview of my Sydney talks that I recommended the Miraculous Medal prayer as a weapon against temptation.
That afternoon, I asked my Sydney "minder" John Lamont if he could help me find Miraculous Medals so I could give them away at my Love and Life Site talk. He got right on the case, and after one or two phone calls we were at the Servants of Mary booth at the WYD's Vocation Expo.
The older gentleman who ran the booth was very kind, giving me a bag containing some 100 medals attached to cards explaining the devotion's history, for which I gave him a donation. I made the mistake of asking whether they were blessed, thereby earning the aghast, albeit perfectly logical response: "Do you think we would we have allowed people to handle them and attach them to the cards if they weren't?"
John then saw me safely over to St. Augustine's for the Juventutem-sponsored Solemn Pontifical Vespers with Cardinal Pell, which was wonderful. In my haste traveling to church from the fair, I forgot to add a Miraculous Medal alongside my cross pendant.
Afterward, while waiting for my ride to the Love and Life Site, I got a call on my cell phone from Father Sharbel, Mission Superior of the Perth house of the Franciscan of the Immaculate and Dawn Patrol reader (his lovely poetry has appeared here). He and I had been trying to meet, and he was now outside the Love and Life Site room where I was to speak at 6:15 p.m.
Unfortunately for me, Father Sharbel said he had an engagement that would prevent him from staying for my talk. He said he would wait for me until about 6 p.m.; I got there just on the hour and was disappointed to find I had missed him.
But he hadn't missed me, as I discovered with joy a few minutes later when I was approached by a Sister of Life.
"Father Sharbel asked me to give you this," she said, and placed in my hand a medal—but not just any medal. That's right—it was a Miraculous Medal.
To my delight, it was a large one—the kind worn by religious. I had been feeling in my heart a desire to upgrade to a bigger medal than the garden-variety one I had worn before, but had not revealed the longing to anyone, let alone voiced that I no longer had a Miraculous Medal to wear myself.
It touched me deeply to begin my talk at the Love and Life Site—for which I had planned, in part, to share how the intercession of St. Maximilian had led me into the Church—with such a beautiful reminder of how God reveals his love through the Communion of Saints.
More on WYD soon. Blogging will be light this week because of my being off thyroid hormone in advance of my hospital stay, as I wrote earlier. Feeling in better spirits than when I wrote that earlier entry—much thanks for your prayers.