I got back home to Boston last night, thanks to Fr. Bill and John Lohan and the Lohan family. And American Airlines, too… Being a bit wiped from a day and a half of travel, I wanted to post part of an update today, and hopefully the rest tomorrow. There are some more things to share about the time in Quevedo with Padre Julian, but before that, I wanted to share about the last few days…
On Thursday, Padre Julian and I set from Quevedo to visit the Shrine of the Virgen del Quinche, who is the patroness of Ecuador. It’s located in the town of Quinche, about a half hour north of Quito, the capital. It took five hours to get there, and we stayed in Julian’s sisters house before leaving at about 6am the next morning for the airport.
But the reason we went to Quinche is because I wanted to honor a miracle that the Virgen of Quinche obtained in the last hours of my father’s life. Someday I’ll share more about this miracle. The Virgin’s work is hidden until the right time. I think that’s why God entrusted his Son to her. Jesus was hidden inside her, and his life before his ministry is hidden – there’s really nothing about it in the Bible. As long as he was in Mary’s custody, Jesus was hidden, until the right time when he was revealed by John the Baptist. But for now, I can say that holding onto false attachments and relationships, things and people in life that we can even enjoy very much, can keep us from the freedom to follow Jesus and those of heaven at the end. Our demons can keep a hold on us. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple … Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:26-27,33)
To experience liberation from these attachments at the end, and not end up stuck, we need the grace to accept Divine Mercy, which gives us this freedom to the depths of our soul. Some have this grace, but some still lack it. This is why Jesus asked St. Faustina – and through her all who share in her devotion to Divine Mercy – to pray very much for the dying:
“Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties [that is, insistent prayers], obtain for them trust in My mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least. Be assured that the grace of eternal salvation for certain souls in their final moment depends on your prayer. You know the whole abyss of My mercy, so draw upon it for yourself and especially for poor sinners. Sooner would heaven and earth turn into nothingness than would My mercy not embrace a trusting soul.” (Diary of St. Faustina, 1777)
Receiving sacramental graces and other signal graces of Mercy is efficacious to the degree that the person truly has a trusting interior, without those attachments. Or using different language, to the degree that person is well disposed. “The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is – trust.” (Diary, 1578)
It’s not natural to accept suffering and death. When Jesus told his disciples that he was going up to Jerusalem to suffer and die, Peter wouldn’t accept it: “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But Jesus noted his pride, and how this action is an obstacle to his work: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are not on the side of God but men.” (Mt 16) It’s a part of my own special gift and devotion to the Divine Mercy to accompany those who are at important turning points like death, in helping them to open up to trust and the graces, to pass through the suffering to the fuller life where He is calling them. To accept the cross and be “on the side of God.”
So it was by a prayer I offered – or rather, begged – on the night before my father’s death that the Virgin interceded and obtained this grace for my father. Without her intercession … In the Hail Mary, we ask Mary to pray for us at two times: now, and at the hour of death. When both of those times coincide, it’s a great moment for her and for Divine Mercy! “All those souls who will glorify My Mercy and spread its worship, encouraging others to trust in My Mercy, will not experience terror at the hour of death. My Mercy will shield them in that final battle.” (Diary 1396)
This is why I have a great joy attached to my father’s death, that though I miss him and though he suffered very much, he has finally let go of all the stuff that holds a person back from full life, he stopped running away, in the final hour that matters the most! The words of Our Lady of Fatima are true, even in the personal sense: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Thanks to her intercession, my Dad now shares in the graces of an eternal life, and in this relationship with Ecuador and the communities here in a special way. He is close to me in a special way, there is a deep peace in me, and as we go forward I am ever happy to be with him. I look forward to the day when we’re together, and with many others … but that’s getting ahead of things
So why El Quinche? It was here that I visited last in my last trip to Ecuador, and I saw all the plaques honoring her miracles. I knew in my heart that she would do another one soon. So when she showed me her miracle with my Dad, I knew it was the Virgen del Quinche, the patroness of Ecuador. Through her and through my Mom and my sister, I believe, I brought back from the trip to Ecuador special graces that my Dad needed in the end.
So today – and then tomorrow too – is a day for me to personally honor, Jesus the Divine Mercy, Mary the Virgen del Quinche, and my Dad and Mom and sister, all together!
Here is a picture of the outside wall of the shrine, with all of the plaques honoring her miracles:
Here’s a picture of the plaque I had made back in Boston, to finally bring here and honor the miracle. It reads in English:
In my deep gratitude to
Our Lady of Quinche
in honor of her responding to a prayer and obtaining by her intercession a miracle of conversion at the hour of death of my Dad
of the City of Boston in the United States
On September 1, 2011
It was a great privilege and gift for me to be able to place this only a few days before the first anniversary. I am very grateful to God, to the Virgin, and thankful to share in this great life that, in the midst of the struggles and miseries, and failures and problems, always contains the joyful presence of Jesus’ mercy, waiting to be found.
I hope to share some more tomorrow, as this part of the journey comes to an end …