In 1972, and at the age of five, I was hospitalized for four days at Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina, California. When I awoke from surgery, I was alone in my room and was so sedated, I thought my arm, which I had broken, was a monster. I thought the metal clips, which kept the bandages in place, were eyes. It might be funny now, but at the time it was terrifying.
During those four days, I don’t recall seeing my mother and I only remember seeing my father on the last day, when he came to take me home. The one person I did see during those lonely and frightening days, was a Catholic priest who came to visit me three times. He was young and humble, and not like anyone I had ever met. I knew he was very special and that the love that poured out of him and into me was Divine.
Like Jesus, he came to bring me comfort and reassurance. The second time he visited me, I was astonished that he’d returned. I saw him coming through the glass windows of my room, in the light of the nurse’s station in the gray dawn of morning. I said to myself, “He’s here again! He came back!” For this, I had prayed.
And, so he came for me again, and I wanted him to stay all day. I was so sad when he left, and so happy when he reappeared the next day, just as I was being released. He prayed for me on that last day. My father said it was a powerful prayer, and he spoke of it often in the years that followed. Although I don’t remember what the young priest prayed, I know his prayers have covered me all my life.
This week, I wrote to Queen of the Valley, which is a Catholic hospital, and I requested their assistance in identifying the priest who visited me during that hospitalization back in the early 1970s. He would be in his 80s if he is still living. There is so much I want to say to to him. I especially want to tell him about my decision to convert to Catholicism.
A Prayer for the Ages
When I was just a child he interceded for me and bore my burdens. He knew that eventually I would leave the hospital and never cross paths with him again, and so he prayed a prayer for me for the ages. A prayer my own father would never forget. On my behalf, he engaged in a spiritual battle so the devil would not destroy me or God’s plans for my life. Truly, the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. (James 5:16)
On my behalf, he engaged in a spiritual battle so the devil would not destroy me or God’s plans for my life.
I shared parts of this story for the first time in 2015, along with a wonderful prayer, which never gets old. Click here to read it.