Jul 3, 2006

Faces of Men - Part III

I met Mr. P. on Highway W several years ago. I said to him without thinking, "God wants you in heaven." [Seriously, I've never done anything like this before or since.] Whether Mr. P. was surprised or not is not clear. We talked a lot after that and somehow I believed (and still do) that God has destined Mr. P. for great things--and I told him so.

Mr. P. revealed he had no faith because he had been raised a communist. He described his Christian heritage, but it was from several generations ago. His great grandmother wanted her son to become an orthodox priest, and the son was ready to leave for the seminary when he changed his mind. Eventually he became Mr. P.'s grandfather.

Mr. P. said he became acquainted with the Catholic faith while living in Washington, D.C. and attending the Catholic University. He became good friends with one of priests who had a nearby office. Occasionally he would be very lonely and would go into the large Shrine dedicated to Mary. Mr. P. then moved to Kansas City with his wife.

Once Mr. P. saw me scrubbing stains from the carpet and said I reminded him of his mother. We became friends and talked almost daily. One day he told me he and his wife were extremely concerned over their daughter who was losing her hearing. He asked me to pray for her which I did. Then the other daughter, slightly older, began to lose her sight, and Mr. P. became frantic with worry.

After one weekend, Mr. P. revealed he had taken his two girls to an open Catholic church. There they lit candles. The younger daughter's hearing improved, but the older girl's eyesight became worse. Medical costs to identify and treat the problem reached thousands of dollars.

Mr. P. and I talked frequently because he was so distraught. One day the older daughter told her father she had promised to give up her eyesight if her younger sister's hearing was restored. Who the promise was made to was never discussed, but I assumed it was to God. When Mr. P. told me this, I immediately responded "Your daughters will both be fine. That kind of sacrifice will never be forgotten by God." And both daughters completely recovered their hearing and eyesight.

Mr. P. came to me crying one morning about four years ago. His wife had just told him she was going to divorce him. He had not observed certain signals that she was involved with another man. Mr. P. stayed with us for the first night after his wife got a court order preventing him from approaching their house.

The divorce was messy and expensive, much more so than others I've heard about. The two girls were quickly turned against their father by their mother, who had become pregnant with the other man's child. [No, this is NOT a soap opera!]

Mr. P. cried frequently and told me he thought he had lost his precious daughters forever. I assured him that his daughters, within a few years, would be very close to him. Young girls always love their father if he really cares for them, and Mr. P. cared very much for his two daughters.

Mr. P. kept asking why God was punishing him when he was really a good man. Even though I explained to him that he was a sinner like all men, he kept insisting he was a good man. His giant pride was also expressed in his relationships with others. This pride seemed to prevent Mr. P. from humbling himself and believing in God.

God took away almost all of Mr. P.'s pride over the next three years. About a year ago, I told him how much he had changed for the better. He now had a certain, very likable humility about himself. Mr. P. agreed that his personality had improved. He seemed to understand that the divorce and temporary loss of the affections of his children might have been God's way to change him. His daughters frequently tell Mr. P. they love him, which he relates to me with pride and joy.

Mr. P. has accepted a Bible (actually several, because a couple of other Christian people support him, too). I gave him a painting of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, that he seemed to like because it reminded him of his orthodox heritage. One day he came to church and was introduced to Fr. DM, but suddenly left before Mass began. I am not sure of the reason. Within the past couple of years, he has alternately attended Mass with a good friend of mind or alone (but not consistently). At times, he continues to argue with me that he is not a believer! Then he says something that indicates he does have a spark of faith.

Mr. P. looks for a new wife, but even though very handsome has not found one. Another friend and I tell him he is looking for a wife in the wrong places. He never takes his girls to church when he has custody of them. The mother is descended from Abraham and forbids the girls from entering a Catholic church.

What is Mr. P.'s destiny? Surely, God has plans for the great talents of Mr. P. More prayers are needed for Mr. P.'s future Christian life. Please pray now for the grace of full union of Mr. P. with the Triune God.

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