I was living in England as a young Anglican priest when my younger brother came to live with me. Some weeks after his arrival he learned about the death in a plane crash of a young friend of his we shall call Tom.
Tom was about 5’2″ with a shock of blond hair, a round tanned face with freckles. He was brought up as a Baptist, but had never been baptized and he was in a state of rebellion against the faith when he died unprepared.
My brother Daryl told a priest named Fr. Philip about Tom and the priest said, “We must have a requiem Mass for Tom.” So the two of them got together with another priest named Fr. Roger. Fr Roger agreed to celebrate Mass for Tom’s soul. They decided that it would be best if the Mass were a semi-private celebration, so they went into church and locked the door and proceeded to say Mass for Tom.
Fr. Philip was an extraordinary man with a gift of second sight and the ability to read souls. This spiritual or psychic gift was a benefit to him in an active healing ministry. As the Mass proceeded my brother was overcome with emotion, and at the point of kneeling to receive Holy Communion he felt that Tom was actually there with them and that he was disturbed and confused by what was going on. Daryl (my brother) said that he felt as if Tom was there next to him at communion and he re-assured Tom that everything would be alright and urged him (in his mind) to simply accept the gift he was being given.
After Mass Daryl recounted his feelings to the two priests. “It was like Tom was actually there!”
“Oh he was there.” said Fr. Philip, “I saw him.”
“What do you mean you saw him?”
“At the offertory a young man in his twenties came into the back of the church and came in to join us. I was surprised because I thought we had locked the door.”
“I did lock the door.” said Fr Roger.
“What did he look like?” asked Daryl
“He was about five foot tall with a round face with freckles, and lots of blond hair. He was wearing boat shoes, khakis and a polo shirt.”
“That’s Tom!” Daryl said. “You mean you saw him like a ghost or in your mind’s eye?”
“No,” said Fr Philip, “I saw him as if he was a real person. He was as solid as you or me.”
“He came in and knelt next to you, and then after communion he went up into the East end of the church and disappeared into the morning light.”
“So Tom was there! You saw him!” Daryl said.
“Yes” said Philip.
“I saw him too.” said Roger. “Not with my physical eyes like Philip, but I could see him in my mind’s eye, and Philip’s description matches the boy I visualized.”
The experience impressed both me and Daryl and took away any Protestant doubts we may have harbored about the efficacy of offering Masses for the repose of souls.
It also meant that when the time came to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church the way was easier, and it also means that (now as a priest) the gift of offering these masses and the celebration of All Souls Day is especially close to my heart.
I am praying, Fr.I’ve printed and passed along some of your blogs to my Catholic Scripture Studies friends. We’ll be watching tomorrow. Anneg in NC (but in FL right now with my grandkids)
Thank you for sharing this beautiful and amazing story, Father! A few times in my life, I have met the souls of recently deceased loved ones; they really are just as clear and solid as you and me–actually, a bit more so. And they give off a great warmth. It goes to show how very alive they still are. I haven’t got even the shadow of a doubt about the afterlife, now.
As a convert, this post is deeply consoling to me. (I cried when we sang the Litany of the Saints at Mass yesterday.) Once you get to my age, you have a collection of friends and loved ones on the other side. I long to see them, and I worry about some of them. I am a “Walker Percy” convert. That is, I was not born a “spiritual” person. In fact, my temptation was always to atheism and agnosticism, and the hereafter was always a worry for me. Hearing a story like this is comforting beyond what you can know.
Thank you Father. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have read this post. Oremus pro invicem.
Thank you so much for this post and the reflection you have on this site.I have just watched you on The Journey Home via my computer. An enjoyable programme. I had imagined that you would have a deep bass voice why I don’t know. lol
What a moving story.I’m reading this as I’m watching you on EWTN, (like the goatee, by the way…)Thank you for all you do, Father.(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
Thank you for this story.I hope a lot of people will read it.
Wow, Father. Thank you for sharing this story with us. I know that ‘faith is…the conviction of things unseen,’ but occurrences like this really help me ‘get’ that what we profess *IS* true. ~MargoB
I can’t thank you enough for this little story. I am especially thankful for the dedicated priests who said the Mass for the young man. I was immeasurably comforted by a dear priest who happened to walk in as I was praying for my grandmother shortly after I learned she had died. I was worried because she had been a lapsed Catholic. We had the privilege of taking her to her last Mass a month before her death (we lived far away and took her when we visited). The priest immediately offered to pray his next Mass for her, not knowing any of her history.When I explained the circumstances he assured me that God would not waste a Mass. If God had put in the priest’s heart the desire to say the Mass, it must be efficacious. That brought me such comfort. It still does many years later.
My father was a red diaper baby, brought up on “Religion is the opium of the people.” He was never baptized. My mother was a lapsed Catholic with no faith. Both have passed away. My mother had a Unitarian memorial service, which I hated. By the time my father died after having Alzheimers for several years, my sister who had been taking care of him was too tired to arrange a memorial, and I was too conflicted to arrange either a Unitarian service (how could I?) or some kind of Christian one (either Catholic as I am or Anglican as my husband is.) I have the cremains of both in cardboard boxes in my house. I asked my Byazantine priest about a memorial service, but he said you couldn’t bring cremains into a Byzantine Church. He said we could have a memorial, but he didn’t sound too enthusiastic. It did seem strange to be singing Vichnaya pamjat over my English mother and my Dutch father. His opinion was that the Cremains had to be buried in a proper grave. My English-Catholic grandparents graves could be found and used as I am told that a gravesite can have one body and one container of cremains in it. But my father had said to throw his remains in a trout stream and my mother to plant a rose over hers. Not only haven’t I managed to have prayers said for them (well one mass for my mother. I wasn’t sure if it was possible for someone not baptized.), I haven’t even managed to figure out what to do with their remains. My kids are all for doing what my father wanted and throwing the cremains in a trout stream. I keep buying roses for my mother but have to plant them elsewhere before something can be arranged. This is a crazy post. I need somebody who believes to pray with me for my parents. If that is done, I don’t think it is wrong to do what they asked with their remains. They were good parents to me. I hate to think of their being damned for their rejection of God.The thought is so painful it causes me to stop thinking about this subject each time I start to try to come up with a plan. If anyone has any words of wisdom I would appreciate them.Thanks,Susan Peterson