Repeating this story published elsewhere on September 24th, I am reminded of a scene from that most excellent British nautical film Master and Commander, Captain Aubrey recounts his time with Lord Nelson:
“…He told me a story about how someone offered him a boat cloak on a cold night.
And he said no, he didn’t need it. That he was quite warm.
His zeal for King and Country kept him warm.
I know it sounds absurd, and were it from another man, you’d cry out ‘ Oh, what pitiful stuff!’ and dismiss it as mere enthusiasm. But with Nelson… you felt your heart glow.”
This is to say, our society’s eliminativist materialist worldview (despite the same society being absolutely unwilling to elect an open atheist to any post of high office) often makes us skeptical of supernatural claims of any kind, but de fide these things do happen from time to time. I leave you then to this dark but hopeful tale:
[F]rom someone who wants to remain anonymous, but had quite an experience while accompanying a priest to Rome on Church business (integrating an Anglican parish with Roman Catholicism). Can it really be as spectacular as described? For your discernment.
“I went soundly to sleep only to be suddenly awakened at about three a.m.,” he relates.
“There was the shadow outline of a man in my room, darker than the dark of my room. He was standing near my bed and he had red burning coals for eyes. My mind was frozen with terror, and without thinking the words came out of my mouth, “I know who you are!’ His dark arm pointed toward me and the sheets flew up around me and in an instant trussed me like a straight-jacket or a mummy; I felt myself lifted above the bed —perhaps several feet? — and swung slowly sideways.
“I suddenly knew what was coming, and though panicked, I struggled mentally with the greatest effort to say, ‘Hail Mary’. . . and then I was brutally and suddenly slammed against the wall — to bounce down on the bed. The pain was great, and I knew I should have broken bones; but to my astonishment, I was okay though very, very, sore all the next day or so. I stayed awake the rest of the night praying and trying to make sense of what happened. I said nothing to anyone next morning at breakfast.
“Unbeknownst to me, back in my parish in the U.S., a spiritual friend of mine (call her Mrs. Y) had been vacuuming her carpet and she said suddenly I was standing before her, looking terrified. She was startled; she knew I was away on pilgrimage. A few moments later when I ‘disappeared’ she knew something was terribly wrong. She turned off the vacuum and sat down on her sofa and immediately said the Rosary for me and prayed for me the rest of the day. Mrs Y. was due to work in the sacristy that afternoon, and when she went she met our pastor in a hallway, and told him what happened, he was thoughtful and said he would also pray for me.
“When I returned, I would not have said anything to anyone, except my friend told me what happened and asked what terrible thing had happened to me. So I told her, and we both went to our pastor and told him the whole story. He said we should ponder and discern what message there was in this. After a awhile we concluded that Satan hated the Anglican union (with Catholics) and what it represented (undoing the English Reformation). He hates it because the Ordinariate is a new work of the Holy Spirit: truly ecumenical, bringing Anglicans and many lapsed Catholics and people in mixed marriages into or back into the Catholic Church though the beauty of our Ordinariate liturgy and its cultural patrimony.
“We also figured out that Satan really wanted to harm the priest I was with, Fr. X, but that perhaps since I —though just ordinary and ‘not that holy,’ had volunteered to ‘back him up in prayer’ that day in Rome, I was something like a ‘spiritual bodyguard’ for him.
“God would not permit Satan to touch this holy priest, as Fr X was old and not in good health; however me being younger and stronger, God permitted Satan to show his displeasure and take out his frustration by throwing me up against the wall instead.
“It was a message that ‘we were doing something right’ in this prototype of the Ordinariate, and therefore we should be encouraged by it.
“And we were! Pope Benedict XVI—our old friend and protector Cardinal Ratzinger —instituted the Ordinariate in the U.K., the U.S., and Australia a few years later.