The Power of Prayer
The last few months of 2003 into the first half of 2004 were a tumultuous, agonizing, and at the same time, exhilarating time in my Life.
My wife and I had moved back to Long Island after an eight-month stint in Albany, happy to get back home, but nervous about getting settled and starting new responsibilities.
Luckily, we quickly found a great rental across the street from a beautiful bay beach in South Jamesport, but it was going to be temporary while we searched for a new home. Our furniture remained in the Albany house we had purchased waiting to be reunited with us.
In addition to the house search, my wife had started a new job as Director of Clinical Services for a non- profit, while I prepared for new responsibilities as East End Sales Manager for the newest edition of Clipper Magazine. In addition to all that, we were concerned about one of our grandsons who needed help with his life. It was a lot for us to handle.
Good Catholic boy that I am, I would offer a prayer from time to time asking for Divine help in settling these problems, and if possible, asking the universe to throw in the numbers for the next lottery drawing.
Thankfully, we quickly adapted to our new jobs, and things were going great. The house search was tedious and my grandson’s problems were foremost on our minds.
The months moved quickly and before I knew it, June had arrived with its promise of a great summer by the beach. I had continued asking for Divine assistance with everything in my life.
For a couple of weeks I had been hearing a voice saying, “go to the Shrine and ask for help.” I didn’t pay much attention because I was too busy selling ads on the North and South Forks for my Summer Edition Magazine, but one day I did pay attention!
Tuesday, June 22, 2004 was one of those days when June pretended to be August. Early morning rain, coupled with temperatures into the 90’s, made it a very uncomfortable day. It was my South Fork day starting in Southampton and working my way back west. I had made it to Brewster’s Seafood in Hampton Bays, had some lunch and decided to knock off early around 2 PM. I was wet with rain and sweat, and my cool home office was calling to me.
I got in my car, and immediately was told by a distinctive female voice “Go to the Shrine.” She was very firm, and I decided to listen.
Since I only knew of one place on Long Island known as the “Shrine,” I headed to Manorville off Exit 70 of the LIE, the home of Our Lady of Long Island Shrine, run by the Montfort Fathers.
I took the exit off County Road 111 when I saw the small sign that said Shrine, and proceeded down the road to the entrance on Eastport-Manor Road. I parked in the lot near the outdoor Shrine sign, and walked up the hill past a number of statues, turned left at the top and there it was – the huge statue of the Blessed Mother holding the baby Jesus. The statue stands on top of a huge boulder facing South looking over the South Shore and the Atlantic Ocean, not quite visible on this humid, cloudy day.
I sat on a concrete bench located behind the wooden kneelers and benches still wet from the morning rains, and fervently asked the Blessed Mother to intercede with her Son on my behalf and the other intentions. I offered for friends and family.
I felt calm here, the still air enveloping me, heavy, with more rain expected.
I closed my eyes briefly to extend my prayers when suddenly with my eyes closed a vision of the Blessed Mother appeared in front of my right eye.
Both eyes were closed – blackness in front of the left, blackness in the right save for the whitish/tan full outline of what was the Blessed Mother – no face was visible – only her unmistakable outline. I opened my eyes and the vision disappeared. I closed them quickly, and there she was again standing in the same spot.
I asked myself what was happening – I opened my eyes to look at the statue, straight and regal with a crown on her head. The Mary in the vision was simple and plain – arms at her sides with a veil over her head, just as her image is seen in many photos and statues.
I closed my eyes again – but she was gone! I opened my eyes quickly and asked her to come back so I could be sure of what I’d seen. I closed them again, she came back, dimly at first, then brightly, then she faded away completely and was gone.
I have told this story to a number of people over the years, family, friends and the like. Those who know me believe the story, and some have told me that they had “chills when I told them.” I sometimes have a hard time with it myself, because I would have selected a better person for this gift. I’m so glad I followed her direction that wet, muggy day in June.
I return to the Shrine every June 22 to say a few prayers for friends and family, hoping that the Blessed Mother will come again and give me some insight into why she came to me on that day.
If you get off the Expressway at Exit 70 on your way to Sunrise Highway and the Hamptons, you’ll see that small sign for the Shrine. You might want to take that exit and make a short visit – you never know how it might change your life. It did mine!