“When thou didst pray with tears, I offered thy prayer to the Lord” (Tobit 12:12).
The Christmas season must be upon us because everywhere I go I hear Christmas music! The secular culture doesn’t celebrate Advent; it simply celebrates Christmas, starting a week before Thanksgiving until the last package is bought on Christmas Eve. So in the spirit of the Christmas season Catholic Strength is putting up its first Christmas post for 2016. The post touches upon what theologians call “the scandal of the particular,” as it involves a car, a road, and a young man – and the sudden invasion of the supernatural into these particular facts. In the Christmas spirit, we dare to call the post: –
MIRACLE ON M-14TH STREET!
There is power in tears. The shortest verse in the Bible merely states that “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Shortly thereafter, Jesus performed one of his greatest miracles – raising his friend Lazarus from the dead (John 14: 3-44).
Saint Catherine of Siena devoted an entire chapter to the spiritual significance of tears in her great masterpiece, The Dialogue.
There is a fascinating discussion of the devotional value of tears in Father Faber’s book, Growth in Holiness (chapter 22), and therein Faber quotes the angel Raphael, who moved by the tears of Tobias, said: “When thou didst pray with tears, I offered thy prayer to the Lord” (Tobit 12:12).
With these introductory comments in mind, I take you now to a young man, then 21 years old, who was driving his car westbound on M-14 on his way back to the Ann Arbor area. Prior to leaving his family home in Birmingham that day, he had been involved in a discussion with his father about what he planned to do with his life. His father told him that he would bless the work his son chose to do, even if he were to choose the priesthood!
With these thoughts on his mind, our young protagonist was driving on M-14, wondering what to do with his life, praying, and listening to Christian music. He was listening to a song by Michael Card and these words from the song jumped out at him and touched his heart:
“So come lose your life for a carpenter’s son
For a madman who died for a dream
And you’ll have the faith His first followers had
And you’ll feel the weight of the beam”
This young man began to cry, or rather “to ball.” Although he was alone in the car, he then saw a man in the front passenger seat – as real as if you or me had been sitting there – who was “obviously Jesus.” Jesus then reached over and stuck his hand into this man’s chest and said to the man: “these are all your dreams, all your goals, all your desires and everything that you want to do with your life; I am going to give you my dream, my goal, my desire and what I want you to do with your life.” Moments later, Jesus was gone. And one person’s life was dramatically changed.
Ultimately, after additional searching and discernment, this young man entered Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and was ordained a priest. You may know him as Father John Riccardo.
Imagine that! Jesus riding in a Chrysler (I presume it was a Chrysler) in order to respond to the tears of a young man praying for guidance. Who knows: perhaps some old and forgotten woman, praying endless rosaries in her rocking chair, merited this grace for him? This I do know: I’ve been judging the credibility of witnesses for many years, and although I’ve never deposed Father Riccardo (pictured above), I have the strongest conviction that his integrity is of the highest order.
Moreover, our Lord is no stranger to car rides! Every day he is taken by car to those who are sick, or old, or in the hospital, so that they may receive Him sacramentally.
And is not our Lord’s sacramental presence a greater miracle than the one experienced by John Riccardo out on M-14?
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Our Lord is alive and well, working diligently for the welfare of the church and for the salvation of souls.
Sources: To hear this true story in Father Riccardo’s own words, Google: “Common Ground: What Protestants and Catholics Can Learn From Each Other” – and a number of websites from which the talk can be purchased will appear. Photo of M-14 sign by Molly Mulcahy on 11/24/2015. I presume Father Riccardo was driving a Chrysler because his Dad was once the President of Chrysler! Picture of Father Riccardo, with permission, at avemariaradio.net https://avemariaradio.net/hosts/fr-john-riccardo/). Father John Riccardo is currently the Pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, Michigan. I was once in a prayer group and Father Riccardo was our adviser. I have heard many people talk highly of his podcasts which you find in a Google search (or click on the avemariaradio link above).
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