Our Journey Together
(The following is a
transcript of a presentation given at the 5th Annual San
Antonio Marian Conference in July 1996. We took turns
speaking, so for ease in reading, Ed's story is in black
and Deborah's is green.)
Ed: Come Holy Spirit, fill the
hearts of your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of
your love. Send forth your spirit and we shall be created
and you shall renew the face of the earth.
Deborah: I can't tell you how
exciting it was to me the first time my husband Ed took
my hand and prayed that prayer. It wasn't that long ago
-- and it was probably only a year ago that I would never
have dreamed that Ed would be praying at all, let alone
that we would be praying together. But so many things
have been happening in our lives in the last year that I
would never have imagined could happen, just like being
here today. This conference has been a real blessing to
both of us so far and I'm sure it's going to be even
better -- when we're finished here.
As Therese told you, this is our
first time speaking. The closest I ever came before was
getting up in front of about a hundred people and
introducing the speaker. Well, this time I am the speaker
so I'm going to try to let the Spirit lead me and say
what I think I'm here to say.
When we received the invitation
to come to this conference, I was lying in a hospital
bed. Ed came in one night to visit me and said, "We
had an interesting message on the answering
I said, "Oh?
"Yea, some woman from San
Antonio. She wasn't sure she had the right number, but
she said if this was the home of the Deborah Danielski
who had written the article in Medjugorje Magazine, she
wants us to speak at their Marian Conference in
My reaction I think was pretty
much like Mirjana's as she and Ivanka walked down the
road in Medjugorje on June 24, 1981. When Ivanka said to
Mirjana she'd seen a beautiful lady on the hill
and she said to Mirjana, "look, look, it's Our
Lady." And without even looking Mirjana replied,
"sure it is, and why would Our Lady appear to
That's pretty much the way I
felt when Ed told me about the phone call, "Sure and
why would anyone want me to do that?" But I
know the answer to that. It's there throughout the
Scriptures and in the lives of the saints. God delights
in choosing the lowly of this world to confound the wise.
As some of you may know, I'm the
editor of a community newspaper. And that may not seem
like a very lowly position. A lot of the people in
Plainfield may not think of me in that way either. But
I've only been there for five years. And those people
didn't know me before the Lord Jesus Christ got a hold of
my life. They didn't know me when I was a pregnant
15-year-old. When I gave my first child up for adoption.
They didn't know me when I was 17, pregnant again and
married my 18-year-old boyfriend and dropped out of high
school to get a job to help support my family. They
didn't know me when I was 23 and divorced with two small
children, when I got involved in drugs and alcohol and
had made such a mess of my life that I lost custody of my
children to their father. They didn't know me when out of
desperation to get my children back I married a man I
barely knew an alcoholic who also turned out to be
abusive. They didn't know me when I stayed in that
abusive relationship for 13 years because I didn't have
the courage or the confidence to break free. They didn't
know me before God reached down to that miserable,
downtrodden 25-year-old woman, picked her up in His hands
and set her on a brand new path.
It was God who planted the
desire in my heart to write. I'd never thought of writing
before. Well, maybe for a short time when I was nine or
ten years old. It was probably right in between when I
was going to be a research scientist and a Broadway star.
But it never occurred to me again. When the Lord opened
the door for me to accept my first job at a local
newspaper, I was going to school and studying accounting
and business math. I knew by then the Lord wanted me to
write, but I had no idea I could ever make a living at
it. I thought He wanted me to spend my free time writing
for Him, but that I would also need a real job, like
bookkeeping, to put food on the table. When I look back
at how I came to be here today, there is no question, it
was God's doing. I often tell people I've lived a life
that cannot be explained apart from God, and it's true.
The most remarkable thing though is the way He continues
to lift me up and how He kept me on the path He'd chosen
for me even when I was anything but faithful to Him.
When I first went to work at the
Rushville Times in Rushville, IL, I was very active in
the Assembly of God church and very devoted to Christ.
Not long after that something happened in my life that
shattered the faith I'd acquired. I walked out of the
Assembly of God one day, never to return. I was angry and
I soon became bitter. I tried my best not to think of
Jesus and for nearly ten years, I didn't.
But despite my unfaithfulness,
God didn't turn His back on me. He kept His hand on me
and He carried me along the path He'd chosen. Today with
no formal education, I'm the editor of a 6,000
circulation weekly newspaper. But it's not just any
newspaper. It's one of very few left in the country
that's independently owned. And it's owned by a Christian
man, a man who not only allows, but encourages us to use
its pages to share our faith. Jesus had me right where He
wanted me, but little did I know what was coming next.
As I told you I was in the
hospital when this invitation came. That was earlier this
year. I was sick for three months, and a lot of people
asked me if I'd asked the "why me" question.
The fact is, I did often. Not so much in relation
to my illness though as in relation to my whole life.
Some of you may remember several years ago, there was a
song that was pretty popular called "Why me,
Lord?" And I'm not sure who wrote it but I think it
may have been Kris Kristoferson. I find myself singing
that song quite often. Sometimes just in my heart and
sometimes at the top of my voice with tears streaming
down my face. "Why me, Lord?" the song says.
"What have I ever done to deserve even one of the
blessings you bring? Why me, what did I ever do to
deserve loving you and the kindness you've shown?"
And very time I ask that
question I get the same answer. "The only thing you
did was say 'yes.' That's all. You just said 'yes.'"
Ed: I'm not totally sure why I am here today. But
lately I seem not to understand quite a number of things
that have happened in my life. I've always been a person
who needed to clearly understand why I did anything
how it would affect me, what benefit I would
derive from it. That was my mindset. That was how I lived
my life. But I have come to accept that I don't have to
understand everything that happens anymore. At some later
date I surely will, but for now all I need to do is
accept that the hand of God is working in my life. And
all I need to do is to pray for some guidance, wisdom and
courage and then move on with my life.
So I'm here today speaking with you. I personally
really don't believe I have a dramatic story to tell or a
particularly moving story to tell. I'm just a little part
of God's universe. But confident that I am part of God's
plan, I believe that there has to be some meaning here.
It might be for me, maybe for one of you, or perhaps it's
for someone we don't even know who isn't here today,
who's far away. It really doesn't matter. It's something
that I have to do.
As I was thinking about what I was going to use as an
introduction to my story, I prayed to the Holy Spirit
and, as you will see, as often happens to me over the
past several months, I went to church that day, stood up
for the Gospel and heard these words from Matthew,
"On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat
down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around Him
that He got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd
stood along the shore. And He spoke to them at length in
parables saying, 'A sower went out to sow, and as he
sowed, some seed fell on the path; and the birds came and
ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little
soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.
And when the sun rose it was scorched and it withered for
lack of roots. Some seed fell among the thorns and the
thorns grew up and they choked it. But some seed, some
seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit a
hundred, or sixty or thirty-fold. Whoever has ears ought
In those words, Christ was speaking to all of us, but
I kind of felt at that moment he was speaking just to me.
For the story of the sower and the seed closely parallels
what has happened in my life.
A few months ago, Deborah and I were talking with some
participants in a prayer meeting that we had attended at
our church. And they asked us if we had been members of
the parish for a long time. Deborah responded that she
had only recently become Catholic, "But, Ed,"
she said. "He's always been a Catholic."
And I looked at her and I said. "I've never been
a Catholic." Those words coming from my lips
surprised even me. Because I always thought I was a
Catholic. That was my religion. I grew up as a Catholic.
But, you know, I never really was. I never even believed
in God. In fact, the title of this portion of my talk
could be "46 years without God and I've lived to
talk about it."
That's pretty surprising considering my early life,
and I'll tell you a little bit about it. I was raised in
a very religious family. I attended Catholic grade
school. I was an altar boy. I made every First Friday. I
even received the award for five years of perfect
attendance at nocturnal adoration. Outside, I was about
as Catholic as the Pope. Inside, I had one little
problem. I didn't believe any of it. Sure, there were
some brief moments when I came really close to accepting
that there was a Supreme Being up there. And there was a
little bit of comfort in that, but I never quite got
there. That God thing, it was just too far-fetched for me
to understand. Maybe, maybe when I was older it would
make more sense. But it certainly didn't fit in to my
The seeds were there. God chose many people to put
them there my parents, my parish priest, my
teachers, my friends. But you know, those seeds, they
were sown on rocky ground and although they tried to
sprout time and time again, they never quite made it. And
as I think back about why that happened, I realize that a
little prayer probably would have helped. But I never
prayed. I didn't understand it, I didn't like it and I
just didn't see how I could spend time talking to
somebody who I didn't think existed. I thought that if
God wanted to talk to me, He could just come down, pull
up a chair and sit in my kitchen there. And He never did.
Despite what I said just now, I decided that I was
going to become a priest.
I thought that was a pretty good occupation for a
young man to aspire to. You got to wear those really cool
colors on Sunday. They gave you a place to live. You
could drive a great big black car. People thought you
were a big deal, and everybody came to tell you their
problems. And I liked that. I thought that was pretty
neat. So, right out of grade school I entered a seminary
-- and it really wasn't a bad place. We went to Mass
every morning. We had prayers in the afternoon, we had
prayers at night. There was good food and plenty of it, a
lot of good companionship. I got to spend time away from
my parents. You know, it was just like summer camp,
except every day of the year.
Unfortunately, I discovered a little personal
attribute that stopped me from staying in the seminary.
They really wanted you to believe in God, and I just
couldn't do it. I thought that maybe I could fake it.
Maybe after about eight years in the seminary, I'd go out
and do those priest things but then I realized that if
you became a priest, they wanted you to believe in God
and Jesus and Mary and all those other things and
and they wanted you to pray, too. So I decided
that was too much for me and I left the seminary after
just a year. I did wind up in a Catholic high school
though. And it was God still trying to plant those seeds,
because there were catechism classes and there was Mass
every week. But those seeds were falling among thorns at
this time. I had the call of friends and I started to
become interested in teenage women and the promising
aspects of a wild college life coming up, future fame and
fortune. Thinking about all that just choked those seeds
that God was trying to plant right out of me.
I attended a secular college. It had been founded by a
Christian church and was still the site of a theological
seminary. Many of my friends at that time were students
preparing for the ministry. And as you do sometimes in
college, we would spend many nights talking about all
types of important subjects. Sometimes, we talked about
religion. For them, it was a discussion of faith. For me,
it was an exercise in rhetoric. I knew everything about
Catholicism. I knew everything about Christianity. And I
thought it was a good story, but it didn't mean anything
to me. But the seeds that God had planted were still
trying to creep into my life and they were still being
Deborah: It was five years ago
that the Lord gave me one of the greatest gifts, along
with my children, that I've ever received from Him. That
was my best friend and husband, Ed. Ed and I met the
modern way via computer modem. It's true. For two
months before we ever laid eyes on each other we sent
email back and forth, spent hours in the chat rooms, and
on the phone, sharing our innermost thoughts and feelings
in a way I could never have imagined possible. I was sure
that this wonderful communication would not continue once
we met face-to-face, but I was wrong. Among the many
things that we talked about was religion, and we talked
about religion a lot and for a long time. At that time I
was a back-slidden Pentecostal and very much
anti-Catholic. And as he's told you, though he didn't
exactly believe in God, Ed was very "catholic"
in the outward sense. He knew all about it.
The thing was, I knew that I
knew more. I'd read so many books and articles about
Catholicism, and I'd read the history of the church. Of
course the history that I read had been written by
Protestants, but that didn't matter. To my way of
thinking the Catholic Church was the worst den of heresy
on earth the way they worshipped idols, used vain
repetition in prayer, and the way they thought they could
earn their way to heaven. We had some lively discussions
about these things. Even though Ed had been away from the
Church for a long time, he always defended the Catholic
doctrine. "You just don't understand," he would
say to me."
"Oh, but I do," I
would respond. "I know all about it." And I had
plenty of Scripture to back up my position. "The
Bible says this or the Bible says that," I would
always throw that in his face to refute whatever he had
to say. I was very good at picking out isolated Bible
verses to back up my position.
I haven't seen them, but I've
heard there are some people outside this conference
passing out pamphlets about this conference and about
Mary, and I don't know what they say but I know that it
wasn't long ago that could have been me out there. I'll
never forget the times that I heard who was my
then favorite evangelist, Jimmy Swaggert before
his big fall from grace. He would be preaching one of his
sermons on what he considered the heresies of the
Catholic church and he would say, "There's one thing
I know for sure. When Jesus Christ returns to this earth,
He won't be saying, 'hail Mary.'" And I would be the
first one to say "amen."
I can't think of that now
without feeling the pain that Our Lord and Our Lady must
feel every time those words are spoken. I don't know how
I could ever have thought that our Lord wouldn't honor
His mother. I don't know how I could ever have not
realized that as the Mother of Christ, Mary is also the
Mother of His body, the Church. But in a sense I do know.
I was blind. I was blinded by spiritual darkness.
Knowing our background and the
lively discussions that Ed and I had about Catholicism
over the years, you can imagine his surprise when
suddenly I came home one day and began speaking of the
Virgin Mary, not with my usual disdain, but with respect
and reverence. And even more so, a short time later, when
I handed him a rosary and asked him to teach me to pray.
My change of heart my conversion began in
October of last year when my friend Judy took me out to
lunch for my birthday. We'd hardly sat down when she
handed me a gift. I opened it up and I looked and there
was a book. Ordinarily, that would be a real good choice
for me because I love to read. But this particular book
-- when I pulled it out had a picture of the
Virgin Mary on one side of the cover and on the other
side was a little paragraph about how the Virgin had been
appearing in Medjugorje to six young people daily since
It was obvious that Judy was
nervous about her choice. "I don't know if you'll
like it or not," she said. "It's
I was polite. "Oh, I like
spiritual books," I said, while in my mind I was
wondering what could ever have possessed her to give me
a book about Mary.
My being polite was a big
mistake. It opened the door for Judy to spend the next
hour-and-a-half telling me all about her new relationship
with the Virgin Mary. She told me about how the Virgin
Mary had become her dearest friend and her closest
confidante. I thought she'd gone over the edge.
All the while she was talking, I
was thinking, "I've got to take this book home. I've
got to read it. I've got to search the Scriptures and
find the right ones to refute everything it says and save
her from her unholy obsession." As you can see
things didn't work out quite that way.
That's because I hadn't counted
on the power of prayer. Judy hadn't just handed me a
book. She'd prayed. She'd prayed long and hard for me and
for Ed too. We're both perfect examples of why our lady
continuously asks us to pray for sinners. Because without
the power of the Holy Spirit, released through Judy's
prayers, I don't believe our eyes would ever have been
opened. Without those prayers, I would have taken that
book and done exactly what I planned. Instead by the time
I got to the second chapter, I was hooked. The book was
Wayne Weible's "Medjugorje: The Message." At
the beginning of each chapter is one of Our Lady's
messages from Medjugorje and when I got to the second
chapter, at the top of the page were the words,
"I've come to tell you that God exists and
that He loves you."
When I read those words, I felt
the Holy Spirit stirring in my heart for the first time
in many years. "That message is for you," I
sensed the Lord saying to me. "And now, I want you
to lay aside your prejudices and I want you to open your
heart to my Mother."
Incredulous, I began to question
the source of those words, "What? Did you say what I
thought you said? Is that really you, Lord?" But it
was. And by the time I'd finished the book, I believe
Mary herself was speaking to me. "This is the moment
that our Lord has been preparing you for," she said.
"I want you to use your writing to spread my
I didn't tell anyone what I thought I'd heard Our Lady
say to me. I thought it would sound too arrogant, and I
didn't think anyone would believe me anyway. So I just
kept it to myself and pondered it in my heart.
It was in February that I first
begin to sense Our Lady was leading me to write my story.
I resisted for about two weeks. Finally, knowing only the
first sentence of what I was going to write, I sat down
at the computer. Within a couple of hours, however, the
story was finished and I mailed it off to Medjugorje
Magazine and went on with my life. Eight days later, the
editor of Medjugorje Magazine called. They had the spring
issue all planned when they got my story, but someone had
called and said they weren't going to be able to get
their story in time after all. And there was mine, so
there it went.
As soon as that magazine came
out, a very similar thing happened that brought us the
invitation to be here today. The events leading up to
that invitation were so incredible that, again, all I
could do was say yes.
Ed: After I finished college, 25 years of my life
passed by quicker than I could have imagined. I made a
career in human resources and that was a pretty good
choice for someone who got excited about what people did
and trying to understand why they behaved the way they
did. I married, I eventually had a child, and
unfortunately, eventually I became unmarried. My life had
its high points and it had its low points good
times, bad times. I don't think I was ever totally
ecstatic, but I was never totally miserable. I was mostly
unfulfilled. And I continued to search for that real
happiness which I saw other people around me have, and I
couldn't understand why I didn't have it. After all, I
was relatively successful, had a good job. I was
financially secure and I had just about all the material
things that other people were striving for.
But I was always concerned about how people viewed me,
what others thought about me and I really doubted that
anyone in the rest of the world thought that I had
anything valuable to offer. And I found little value in
myself. Psychotherapy, counseling, yoga, meditation,
exercise, tranquilizers, anti-depressants, sleeping
pills, I went through them all. And they did little to
remove the nagging feeling that there was something more
needed in my life.
There were occasions when some unusual event made me
feel that I was getting a message from somewhere, that I
needed to change. But I was educated enough and I was
strong-willed enough to be able to get rid of those
little annoyances. If God was planting any seeds at this
time, they were quickly whisked away. For the seeds were
no longer falling on bad soil, they were now falling on
the hardest and coldest of stone.
I had convinced myself that God did not exist. And I
felt that those who believed otherwise, surely had made
some deep quantum leap in logic. After all, science had
already explained all these things. We knew how the world
was created. We knew all about the big bang theory. We
knew how the Red Sea parted for Moses because of the
tides. We know how many of the Bible stories were just
fables and so on and so on.
Not that there weren't quite a few dreadfully painful
moments when I reflected upon the fact that my life
really had no purpose. Most of them occurred during the
middle of the night when I would wake up with the awful
knowledge that one day I would die and be no more. I was
a big supporter of the "when you're dead, you're
dead" theory. That's all there is.
And for those of you who have fortunately never
experienced the pain of accepting that, there is no
loneliness any deeper. The thought of your being ending
forever grips you deep inside and it fills you with the
darkest and the emptiest dread that you can ever imagine.
And without the comfort of salvation and the promise of
eternal life, the only relief you can get is to curl up
into the fetal position and whimper until unconsciousness
comes and saves you from your despair.
Fortunately, those episodes pass and you fill your
life with other mind-numbing experiences. And you come to
believe that's the price you have to pay for living this
After meeting Deborah, life became bearable again. The
emptiness wasn't gone and I hadn't changed much. But life
with her was emotionally and intellectually challenging.
We communicated very well and we could discuss just about
anything. And at times, our discussion turned to
religion, faith, morals. I would always play the devil's
advocate. As she attacked Catholics, I would defend them.
I knew everything about them.
She would quote Scripture to me, convinced that she
was going to show me the light. I liked the challenge of
bantering with her, but for me, the Bible was just
Deborah: By the time I'd
finished Wayne Weible's book, I found myself longing for
a rosary, just to experiment with it. Weible had
attempted in his book to repudiate everything I'd
previously believed about the rosary. It wasn't just
"vain repetition" of Hail Marys as I had always
thought. It was a contemplative prayer a
meditation on the lives of Our Lord and Our Lady. I
longed to give it a try, but I had no idea where to get a
rosary and I wasn't about to admit to anyone that I
But less than a week after Judy
had given me the book, I wandered into a Catholic book
store near our home one day. I immediately looked to my
left and there, in a glass display case, were at least 20
rosaries. I looked at the price tag on only one,
"$45" it said. I backed up. I wanted to try
this thing, but I sure didn't want to try it that bad.
Disappointed and unsure of what
I was to do next, I wandered to the back of the book
store to a section of books on Mary. I found one on
Fatima and I found a Medjugorje prayer book and I went
back to the front of the store to pay for my purchases.
And in this store, when you get up to the cash register,
there's a display in front of it that you have to walk
around. So I started to go around the display this way
and all of a sudden I felt like I should go this way
instead and on the end of that display were three hooks
and on those three hooks were black, white and pink
plastic rosaries. I looked at the price tag -- $3.98. I
chose a white one.
It still amazes me what a leap
of faith I was taking that day. Hadn't Jesus told us
never to use vain repetition in prayer? Somehow, over the
years, I'd always skipped right over that word
"vain" and right to that word
"repetition." Several weeks later I was praying
the rosary alone one day and I felt the urge of the
Spirit to start singing it rather than saying it. I sang
the Our Father and I was halfway through a decade of the
Hail Mary, when I stopped and I believe the Lord was
speaking to me again. He said, "Remember when you
were going to the Assembly of God and you sang choruses
to me? And when you felt the Spirit move, you sang the
same chorus over and over and over." I had to admit,
there was no difference.
Until the day I bought that
rosary, I had never dreamed of praying any prayer that
didn't come straight from my own heart. What a wealth of
faith I had missed out on. It's such a blessing to me now
that when I can't find the words to pray as I would like,
I know all I have to do is pick up a book and some saint
before me has prayed the words that my own heart can't
Ed: I'd like to be able to tell you the dramatic event
that occurred that caused me to change. But there isn't
one thing that I can point to. There were a lot of
incidents in my life. My journey of change began last
summer when Deborah and I went through a number of
experiences some together and some individually
which were so soul-shaking and too implausible to
be called "coincidences."
We both began to feel that some force was playing in
our lives and at first we didn't talk about it much. And
certainly from my perspective, it was difficult for me to
believe that there was any divine intervention taking
place in my life. But the way in which it happened and
the manner in which it continues to occur has, as you
will see, convinced me that God takes a truly personal
interest in each one of our lives.
I've always rejected the concept of coincidence.
Things just don't happen for no good reason. But that
began to happen to both of us. A series of unexplainable
happenings took place which caused Deborah to be reunited
with her first-born son. "How unique and
puzzling," I said to myself. "How interesting
that all these events would just fall together and
generate such a happy event." I called it
"propitious circumstances." Interesting, maybe
a little troubling, but not quite enough to change my
I was having some problems of my own at the time and
it was only a few short weeks later when an entire series
of unexplainable, illogical events came together and
pulled me out of what was a near-disastrous encounter
with a compulsive gambling problem. And although I was
quite annoyed at the time, I later thought, "how
neat, things are just kinda working out my way. I guess
it's my turn in life." Saved from myself by a series
Only a short time before these events, when I was
wallowing in some self-pity over my previous failed
marriage and my separation from my son, my lack of
financial stability and some bumps in our marriage, I
thought about how comforting it might be if there were
really a God up there. It would be a little bit easier if
I knew that there was somebody watching over me and I
could get a little bit of this burden off of me. I could
just unload it on somebody else.
I was pretty angry about the fact that God wasn't up
there. How rude of Him not to exist. But those
coincidences, they kind of shook my resolve and every
once in a while, I found myself sending a few thoughts up
toward heaven just in case. I didn't realize it at
the time, but these were the beginning steps of what
might be called prayer. But you know I really wasn't sure
who I was sending this stuff to. And most of my thoughts
at that time were being sent heavenward with the address
"to whom it may concern."
But my journey had begun. About the same time and
unbeknownst to me, Deborah had begun her own journey. And
while we were on different paths she was on the
freeway and I was taking the scenic route our
final destination was the same.
Deborah had always believed in God and at times in her
life, she'd had a personal relationship with Jesus
Christ. She was a firm believer in the Holy Spirit. And
she began to believe that the Spirit was working in us,
since many times we found ourselves thinking similar
thoughts about things like God, religion and faith. I
think she really began to tire of me telling her to stop
reading my mind. And although we were thinking similar
thoughts, we usually approached them from vastly
different perspectives. Her journey accelerated when she
learned of Mary's appearances at Medjugorje. She almost
immediately accepted that the Mother of God was appearing
daily. And with her analytical mind fired up, she began
to research every piece of information that she could
find on the subject. I plunged into the effort as well. I
just had to stop her.
For every piece of information that she found, I tried
to find one to refute her position. You see, this was
moving all too fast for me. There were just things she
was saying that I couldn't accept. The "Son of
God," what was that all about? You know? I knew what
it meant, but how could that happen? And the Holy Spirit.
Wasn't that something that the Pentecostals invented to
justify that crazy dancing and loud singing in church?
That was just too far-fetched for me to accept. But I let
her go on without interfering. After all, she seemed
Deborah has already told you about the day of the
rosary. You can imagine my surprise when I came home one
day and found her holding one. Could I teach her what to
do with it, she asked. Sure, I knew all the words. I even
knew them in Latin.
She embraced the rosary from that day forward and it
has become a part of her life. I was still quite a bit
behind her in my journey though. And then the day came
when Deborah was working late and I picked up Wayne
Weible's book. Wayne Weible the other man in our
marriage. But I just had to read his book. He seemed
quite sincere and I had to admit that it was pretty
decently written. It was a good, entertaining story. And
as I continued to read over the next few days, I came to
the part where he talked about Mary's words to the
children. And I read the words, "I have come to tell
you that God exists and that He loves you."
And I read that over and over again because for some
reason, the words kept jumping off the page at me.
Someone, some place, somehow, was trying to get me a
message and I was seriously thinking about it.
I finished the book, but every day those words kept
popping out at me. "God exists, and He loves
you." What was that supposed to mean?
I was still contemplating the meaning of Mary's words
when Deborah came home from work one day, and she was
pretty excited about an editorial she had written. She
wanted me to read it. I picked up the paper and there, at
the very top of the editorial, were Mary's words. She had
quoted them. "I've come to tell you that God exists,
and that He loves you." How could Deborah have known
that I was thinking about that?
Intrigued by these continuing reports of Mary's
appearance, I began to read all types of books and
pamphlets that Deborah had purchased on Marian
apparitions appearances at Lourdes, Fatima, San Christobal,
Medjugorje, many other places. And it
appeared that Our Lady was trying to tell us a couple of
basic things. First that God was alive and well
and that He loves us and secondly that we must
As I read over and over again Mary's requests for
prayer and for acceptance of the words of her Son, I
began to halfway believe that these apparitions might be
real. The fruits of her messages were certainly
productive. I couldn't quarrel with thousands and
thousands and thousands of people throughout the world
becoming believers and becoming converted as a result of
her apparitions. And although I wasn't sure at the time,
slowly, I was becoming converted as well.
One day I picked up Deborah's rosary and as I was
looking at it, I found myself past the sign of the cross
and well into the Creed before I realized what was
happening. And for the first time in my life, I actually
prayed the rosary rather than just repeating the words as
I had done as a child.
The mysteries came alive for me. And when I finished,
I felt a sense of comfort, warmth and peace. Strangely
enough, I still didn't understand -- or accept totally
God but I was accepting the messages of the
Blessed Mother. It seemed as though Mary's messages were
meant just for me, but how could that be?
And once again, as I contemplated that possibility, I
started out for work one day and happened to have one of
Deborah's "Sounds of Medjugorje" tapes and I
popped it in the cassette player. It came on and I heard
the following words: "It is your message. It is my
message. It is a personalized message that has been given
to all of us. It is the message of Jesus. It is Matthew,
it is Mark, it is Luke, it is John."
And I suddenly knew that I believed and more
importantly understood all those things that Deborah had
said to me so many times about Mary's messages. They were
for everyone. They weren't just for believing Catholics
and they weren't just for Christians or any particular
group of people. They were for each and every one of us.
Even for a backslidden anti-Catholic or for an
atheist caught up in logic like me.
Deborah: After I'd begun to pray
the rosary, the next thing I wanted to do was to go back
to church. So I asked Ed to go to a nearby Assembly of
God with me. He definitely wasn't interested. So I asked
him to go to some other churches in town. Still, he
wasn't interested. It soon became clear to me that the
only church Ed was going to be comfortable in was the
Catholic Church. Though I wasn't happy at all with that
situation, I didn't want to do anything to interfere with
what the Holy Spirit was doing in his life so I resigned
myself to going to Mass, at least until Ed's eyes were
opened to the truth and we could move on to a real
Less than a week after Judy gave
me the book we were at St. Mary Immaculate Church in
Plainfield. It was the first Mass I had ever attended and
Ed's first in more than 20 years. We both hated it.
One of my favorite things about
going to church had always been the singing. The Lord's
blessed me with a little musical talent and I love to
sing praises to Him. So before the Mass began I had my
missal ready to begin singing. And the entrance song
began and I started singing and very quickly stopped
because no one else was singing. I was the only one.
I'd also been real nervous about
all the responses and prayers and things that I knew they
were going to be saying -- and I didn't know any of them.
But I soon found, I needn't have worried about that
either. No one was responding either. It was also very
noisy. All the kids were misbehaving. The adults were
chit-chatting and you couldn't hear anything.
When we got back home I asked Ed to go to the Assembly of
God with me that night. "No," he said. "I
don't think I can take this twice in one day. Maybe next
week." And I began to have hope.
But again I hadn't counted on
the Holy Spirit. Judy was still praying for us and
wouldn't you know, she interfered again. At our weekly
luncheon on Thursday, I told her how much we'd disliked
the Mass and why. "You should just sit up
closer," she said. "That's where all the people
who really like to participate sit."
Before I even realized what was
happening, we had made plans to meet at the church on
Saturday for Mass and go to their house for
pizza afterward. And she was somewhat right. We enjoyed
it a little more that week, but I was still determined to
go somewhere else, preferably an Assembly of God or
anywhere where people really liked to sing.
The next Sunday, I talked Ed
into going to a contemporary worship service with me at
the United Methodist Church. There was plenty of singing
and I loved it. Ed didn't. The next weekend we had
already planned to go to a Marriage Encounter
again at Judy's suggestion. And even though I enjoyed
much of that experience, I found the Mass on Saturday
morning meaningless and boring. The second Mass at the
close of the weekend on Sunday, however, was a different
story. By that time we had come to know the speakers, the
priest and many of the other couples at the weekend.
There was a real sense of community that transformed the
But the real miracle occurred at
the end of the Mass. We had all formed a circle around
the room and Fr. Tom Griffith walked around the circle,
administering communion. I believe I was probably the
only non-Catholic there and Ed and I were close to the
end of the circle. So when he came to us, I just gently
shook my head. And he could have moved right on to the
next person, but he didn't. He stopped, and he laid hands
on each of us and he prayed. When Fr. Tom did that, I
felt the Holy Spirit come upon me so strong that my knees
grew weak and I thought that I was going to fall over. I
was astonished. I had never thought a Catholic priest
could pray with such power.
My eyes had already been opened
to the truth about Mary. I had already come to a firm
belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and
now I realized that at least some Catholics also
ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit. With this
knowledge, I wondered how I could ever go back to an
Assembly of God or to any other Protestant church. The
fact was, I couldn't. I was stuck.
Ed: And as the tiny seed that was growing within me
began to get larger and larger, Mary persisted by sending
words and sending the Holy Spirit to me every chance that
she had. Things began to happen in my life which were new
and extraordinary and confusing. They were little things
but they were extraordinary to somebody like me. And they
occurred almost every day of my life. Like the morning I
woke out of a sound sleep and looked at the clock and
said, "I still have time to get to church."
It was a weekday morning.
I was dressed and on my way out the door before I
realized what I was doing. Going to marriage encounter
and hearing Fr. Tom say that he'd be willing to hear
confessions for anyone who wanted to that night. And I
was sitting there in that chair and said, "I can do
that." And actually doing it for the first time in
35 years. And most amazing was thinking about some
problem or issue, or some concern that I didn't
understand about faith and going to Mass and standing up
for the Gospel and wouldn't you know that that was what
the reading was on? And then if I was too dense to
understand it, usually, the priest would give a homily on
the same subject.
Or the unique feeling about thinking about something
and needing to talk about it and having Deborah come into
the room and sitting down and saying, "Did you ever
think about this?" Which would be exactly what I was
thinking about. And we're close, but we're not that
I felt like I had gotten onto the world's tallest
roller coaster and I was plunging downhill a mile a
minute and once I had committed to that ride,
there was no way I could stop it or get off. My faith, my
understanding and my acceptance grew rather quickly.
I've learned so much over the past year. So much about
what I am, what I'm not, what I want to be. I've had to
rethink so much of what I had believed. I've come to
learn that belief in God, acceptance of His love, the
comfort of prayer and the intercession of the Blessed
Virgin none of those things would make me a
strange, fanatical person as I thought they would. I have
no strong desire to sell all my clothes, to move into a
cave and to wear a sack.
I still have the same job, I'm still married to the
same person. I still like to do the same things. And I
still have many of the same problems, but I do have some
place to go with them now. And I do have a desire to
change. And I do have a desire to live the life that I
have a little better, a little more Christian and a
little more devout.
It's a lot easier to talk about this now, at this
point in time. In the beginning, I was embarrassed to
talk about prayer even to Deborah. Of course,
throughout my life I'd made such a big deal about being
independent. I certainly didn't need anyone to intercede
for me. But I can't quarrel with success. It seemed to be
When I was in human resources, as a trainer I used to
tell my trainees that everyone is looking for three
things in their life. They need some one to
believe in. They need some thing to believe in,
and they need some one to believe in them. In my
case, I never understood what that was all about until
In the 13th chapter of Matthew, Jesus goes on to
explain the parable of the sower and the seed. He says,
"But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears
the word and understands it. Who indeed bears fruit and
yields a hundred, or sixty or thirty-fold."
I finally had within me that fertile soil and that was
all that was needed for the seed to grow. And when I look
back on it, it was so very simple to get. All I had to do
was open my heart, sit quietly and pray a little. And
that's probably the most important thing that I've
learned in my experience and I'd like to say that again
because it is so simple. All you have to do is open your
heart, sit quietly and pray a little and the
wisdom and the knowledge and the understanding will just
come upon you and those seeds will grow.
As the Scripture says, "I was blind but now I can
Many years ago in my search for inner peace, greater
knowledge and freedom from anxiety, I immersed myself in
the study of meditation. In one of the many books I read
on the subject, the author interviewed hundreds of people
who meditated. And he tried to summarize the feeling that
they received from that. And they said that meditation
was "coming home." And the author said
neither he, nor any of the people who said that to him
could ever explain what it meant, but you would know it
when you found it.
Well I wanted it. I meditated three times a day for
months. My eyeballs started to turn backwards in my head.
I wanted to come home. And I could never get it. All I
got was a bad headache sometimes.
I feel it now. Through the acceptance of God and His
son Jesus. Through the acceptance of His plan, through
the warmth and comfort of prayer, I think I now
understand what "coming home" means. I can't
describe it to you, but you'll know it when you get it.
It is indeed "coming home."
Sometimes when Deborah and I talk, it feels like we've
journeyed a million miles and I guess we have. We know we
have a million more to journey and it's going to be a
little bit easier because now we have the map. We're
excited to be part of the Body of Christ. We're pleased
to be part of the Catholic Church and we are so proud to
recite the Creed. And we love the peace and the strength
and the wisdom and the courage that it has given to us.
And we're looking forward to a great and exciting life.
God has given us many great gifts and we pray that we can
use them wisely.
We want to thank all of you for listening to us, and
the conference committee for inviting us. And we want to
thank God the Father just for being there, and Jesus, his
Son, for giving us the words and the nourishment to live
by, and the Holy Spirit, the advocate, for letting us be
able to understand and accept everything that's happened
to us and the Blessed Virgin Mary for showing us the way.
"God, who enlighten the hearts of your faithful
by the power of the Holy Spirit, grant that through the
same Spirit, we may be always truly wise and evermore
rejoice in His consolations. Through Christ our
(Note: If you would like to read Weible's "Medjugorje:
The Message" for yourself, click on this link
for a great price, easy ordering and fast shipment.)