76: The Power of Prayer

76: The Power of Prayer

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

The Power of Prayer

Before, by yourself, you couldn’t. Now, you’ve turned to our Lady, and with her, how easy!

~Saint Josemaria Escrivá

Although spiritual, I wasn’t much of a churchgoer. So when a saint appeared to me in a dream one night, I was more than a little surprised. She told me that she was known as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I knew little about her, yet there she was, looking like an angel with her billowing scapular and telling me firmly to go and buy a statue of her form.

I awoke with a start and raced to my computer. I had so many questions. Who was this saint and why had she come to me? As I began to read the information, my jaw dropped.

An Internet search revealed the history of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, how she had initially appeared hundreds of years ago, and that her celebration day was the sixteenth of July. Hesitantly, I checked the newspaper my husband had left on the desk. I got goose bumps. It was July 16th. I immediately went out to buy myself a small statue of the saint.

A year later I saw my three-year-old daughter, Isabella, having some trouble breathing. We were in the yard and Isabella was chasing her grandfather joyously, a huge smile across her cherubic face. It didn’t seem to bother her that she was panting hard, she was having so much fun, but I was concerned.

“Does her breathing seem normal to you?” I asked my mom.

“She can’t seem to get enough air in,” was her response. “I think you better have her checked.”

Isabella had just recovered from a string of small illnesses, but they all should have been resolved by then. I was worried. That night I watched her sleep and I noticed that she was snoring. Then she stopped breathing. I shook her gently until she began to breathe. I had barely let out a sigh of relief when she stopped breathing again. I counted the seconds: one, two… ten, eleven… finally she gasped and breathed again.

“I’d better stay with her a while,” I told my husband Lu uneasily.

But Isabella’s breathing didn’t improve. I spent the night beside her bed, concerned and helpless.

After many evenings repeating the awful pattern, I took her to the doctor.

“We should wait a few days and see if the medicine helps,” he said.

More seemingly endless nights and another trip to the doctor resolved nothing.

Night after night I sat beside Isabella’s bed watching her struggle for air in her sleep. During the day her condition would improve, so countless trips to the hospital and medical clinics were futile. I started to feel desperate, and the lack of sleep was affecting my own sanity.

“Please, God,” I prayed, as I dressed for bed. “I need help!”

Then I spotted her. The tiny statue high atop my armoire — Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She was hidden from view, and I had forgotten her.

“Please,” I begged. “Help our daughter breathe. You know what it means to watch your child suffer; only you can help us now.”

I held the object tight as tears streamed down my face.

The next day our doctor ordered an X-ray, confirming that Isabella had abnormally large tonsils and adenoids. “They seem to have enlarged out of nowhere! I’ll refer you to see a specialist, but,” he warned, “it may take a few weeks of waiting.”

He explained that in slumber, Isabella’s muscles relaxed the throat, making her condition much worse.

I tossed and turned in bed that night while Lu took a shift watching Isabella. My angel came to me again. “Within one week, your child will have surgery,” she said in the dream, “and all will be well.”

It seemed impossible; we had been warned of the wait list. But that morning, the phone rang. It was the doctor’s secretary, and she could arrange us an appointment with the specialist for the following morning if we were willing to go at 8:00 a.m. “YES!” I cried.

I was thrilled, but terrified — would this new doctor tell me that my child’s condition could be fixed? Nightfall brought the now familiar dread.

The next morning was dreary and grey as we headed to see the specialist, a notable surgeon. As he held Isabella down to look inside her mouth, her tears broke my heart. I struggled to be strong and suppressed my own urge to cry.

“She needs to be operated on as soon as possible,” he stated bluntly. “But right now, I’m booking October; I doubt I can do it sooner.”

“October?” I gasped, looking from him to my husband in horror. “That’s five months away!”

I didn’t know how I could endure another five nights, never mind five months, of the torturous worry. I was delirious with lack of sleep. The tears now streamed endlessly down my face as we drove home in the pouring rain.

“I guess my dream was wrong,” I said, sniffling to Lu. It had already been two days since the supposed premonition. I was beginning to doubt that I’d even seen Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Nightfall came, and I took up camp beside my daughter’s bed. As I lay on the floor staring at the ceiling, I talked to my angel.

“Mary,” I called her by name, “you know what it is like to be a mother in pain. Please use your power to help Isabella.”

Driven by an urge I couldn’t explain, I leapt to my feet and raced to get my statue. With trembling hands, I placed the small object on the table by Isabella’s bed. “I leave this to you.”

The next morning marked the fifth day since I had received the nocturnal message.

I jumped when the phone rang. It was the surgeon’s office.

“Hello, Mrs. Diodati, I have good news for you. We’ve scheduled Isabella for surgery the day after tomorrow.”

My heart leapt with joy! My angel had come through for Isabella.

Isabella was operated on exactly one week from the night I had seen the blessed saint in my dream. As promised, all went smoothly. My daughter immediately was breathing better and without obstruction.

I found out later that Isabella had only been left with a small percentage of space to breathe, and how terribly critical her situation had been. She was given a gift, a miracle, by my loving angel’s divine intervention. Our Lady of Mount Carmel placed her hands on my child, on my family, and I will never doubt again!

~Sylvia Diodati

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