NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local diocese, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu.

~ Peter, Ministry Administrator

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Lady in a Red Dress: Recalling a Visit from a Poor Soul...

Today is the Feast of All Souls. I love how our Church designates special days of the year to remember and celebrate important truths of our Faith... and today is one of them. We recall - together, as the universal Church - our beloved deceased and pray for them to rest in peace, just in case they haven't yet attained the direct presence of God in the afterlife. Given the significance of the Feast, I am today sharing another personal story to encourage prayer for the Poor Souls; to testify to the value of our prayers for them and how we certainly make a positive difference for the souls we pray for.  This experience happened over 25 years ago and I swear to the truth of it...

I once knew a lady who I called "Auntie Mary"; she was the cousin of a close friend of mine. Auntie Mary was a pleasantly plump woman in her late 40s with wavy shoulder-length hair, a lovely smile, and a jovial personality. To make a long story short, she was diagnosed with cancer, which quickly spread throughout her body. The chemo therapy she went through did nothing for her except make her sicker and she also lost all her thick dark hair. Within a year her cancer was terminal and it was apparent she was in constant pain as the disease progressed.

Often, when I went to visit my friend, I took some time to sit with Auntie Mary to chat and pray with her, especially when her pain was intense.  She liked it when I did that.

It wasn't long before Auntie Mary was in the hospital dying. My friend gave me a call requesting that I come to the hospital, asap, as Auntie Mary was asking for me. There, I found her in distress and when she heard my voice, she called out to me repeating over and over, "Peter, I'm scared... Peter, I'm scared."  She had already gone blind.

I sat down beside her and placed into her hand a plastic statuette of Our Lady of Fatima that I had brought with me.  It was somewhat of a risk because Auntie Mary was a lapsed Catholic who had joined the Jehovah's Witnesses years before, but she wasn't die-hard about practicing it... so I held her hand in mine and gently encouraged her to ask our Blessed Mother for the grace of a peaceful death.  I also reminded her of God's unconditional love for her and his Divine Mercy. We spent several minutes in prayer before I had to leave Auntie Mary's side to allow family members to bid her farewell.  I left the statue in her hand.

Fast forward three days - I got word from my friend that Auntie Mary had passed away. My friend also returned the statuette to me and told me Auntie Mary had died clutching the Marian image in her hand; she never let it go. I recall being happy to learn that the Blessed Virgin had somehow touched Auntie Mary and I offered prayers for her peaceful repose.  What happened next was remarkable and completely unexpected...

A drawing representing the lady in red
from my dream.

Several days after Auntie Mary died, I had a very vivid dream. I saw a lovely woman standing in the midst of what appeared to be a burnt forest - the surrounding was gloomy with smoke, ashes covered the ground, and charred trees were all over the place (somewhat like the photo at the very top). In contrast, the lady stood out wearing a red, fitted Chinese-style dress and she had very long luxurious hair that fell loosely down to her back side. She smiled brightly at me and with a familiarity that I didn't understand at first. It was only after staring at her for a while that it finally dawned on me that she was Auntie Mary... but looking young and much leaner! As if she was waiting for my recognition, she then silently beckoned to me with a hand before turning around to walk through a path in the devastation.  I followed. 

I don't recall how long we walked or how far we went but I did notice that, as we kept moving forward, the surrounding landscape gradually changed - grass and other greenery started sprouting up along side us with more and more healthy trees. Eventually the dead landscape was completely replaced by a beautiful lush forest and we ended up in a clearing where a small grassy mound was at the center. I can still visualize the warm sunbeams shining down brightly unto the mound through an opening in the upper foliage. The place evoked a deep sense of peace and calm. 

Auntie Mary walked to the top of the mound and, in a manner most graceful, she sat herself on the grass before laying down on her right side, facing me with her hands joined together under her cheek. Taking one last look at me, she smiled again and seemed to fall into a peaceful sleep atop the cool grass.   I then woke up from my own sleep.

After praying and meditating diligently about the meaning of my dream, I came to the conclusion that Auntie Mary was saved and was either undergoing her personal Purgatory or, perhaps had even completed it, as symbolized by her gradual transition from a burnt-out forest to another one of great beauty and serenity where she eventually found rest.  Whatever the case, I was happy for her because I knew how much she had suffered at the end.

The reality of my experience was validated a couple of weeks later at Auntie Mary's funeral. I took the initiative to speak with "Grandma Joseph" (Auntie Mary's mother) to tell her about my dream. I told her how I saw Auntie Mary with long hair - longer than what I ever saw her with; how she appeared slimmer and healthy; happy and peaceful... wearing the unusual red dress. Grandma Joseph choked up with emotion before revealing to me that her daughter, in her youth, was admired by many for her long beautiful hair that went down past her back... in addition, she had a favorite dress she wore regularly - a red, knee-length Chinese dress!

Needless to say, I was blown away by what I learned from Grandma Joseph. I knew then, for certain, it was indeed Auntie Mary in my dream and, although she never said a word, I understood she came to personally let me know she was in a good place, as well as, to express her gratitude for the prayers offered on her behalf. I was also convicted that the Church is correct about an intermediate spiritual state or place of purification for the faithfully departed, and our prayers really do have the power to relieve them.

A painting that reminds me of the forest scene in my dream.

So please - pray, pray, pray for your beloved dead.  Plead the Lord's Divine Mercy upon them.  There are countless Poor Souls eagerly awaiting our prayers right now.  With a simple prayer such as the one below one can make a big difference to a soul in need - pray it often:

Grant unto them, O Lord, eternal rest;
let Your perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.  Amen.

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