This is an update to my original post: ID: 244. My post was picked up by John Kuenster and published in "Remembrances of the Angels" p. 165.
I will turn 60 on Dec. 1 2018. I was born on the day the OLA fire took place. My aunt Joanie (JoanAnn on the tombstone) Chiappetta, perished that day. My two uncles, Robert and Arthur, survived (they are both now deceased. Before he passed, my uncle Robert published "The Immaculate Deception" - his account of what he claims was a coverup in the aftermath of the fire.)
As I look back on my life since my post here 13 years ago, I can't help but wonder in amazement at how God has worked in my life, ever since my aunt first appeared to me announcing God's love and mercy.
Having studying a bit of theology since my last post, I realize now that a human being cannot become an angel, and thus my earlier claim that my aunt was my guardian angel does not square theologically. However, my study of angels and especially of guardian angels revealed this: angels can take human form if that's the best way to enact their help and protection.
All of us have heard stories in which someone is stuck in their car on the side of the road and out of nowhere someone appears, helps change a tire, and then disappears, with no tire tracks or other evidence of his ever appearing. This aligns with how a guardian angel would provide help.
In my case, I believe my guardian angel took on the appearance of my Aunt Joanie to get my attention; Joanie's appearance made me take note and to connect her physical appearance with the metaphysical reality her presence represented.
God through my guardian angel and through Aunt Joanie was letting me know that God heard my prayer, and her appearance not only represented God's presence but announced the Good News of His love and mercy.
Since my last post here, these things have happened to me:
- A wonderful priest read my post and reached out to me, sharing that my post helped him realize healing from his own difficulties through the intercession of another OLA victim.
- In prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, I asked Jesus to help me understand who his mother was. He answered that I should go ask her. I thought this meant pray the rosary. I did, but was interrupted by a female voice (I was alone at the time) that said: "Shh, don't pray to me, but in my "yes," find yours." This was during the time that I was discerning for the permanent diaconate, and Mary's surrender, her obedience, her yes is the essence of diaconal ministry - deacons bear Christ into the world to those at the fringes (the ill, homeless, prisoner, dying, immigrant...) to those who cannot, will not, have not met Christ.
- At a healing retreat at a Benedictine monastery I received a "slaying in the Spirit" wherein someone prayed over me and I fell to the ground in an ecstasy of grace - this happened two days in a row. Weeks later, I prayed over 3 people in a prayer service, and they each fell to the ground overwhelmed by an ecstasy of grace. Just last week I prayed over someone, and she reported this week that symptoms of her deteriorating spine have abated.
- At that same monastery I meet a person who wrote a memoir about the evil of Nazi Germany as it impacted her husband, a soldier in Hitler's army; the author suffered from a demonic presence throughout the writing of the book. Later on I gave that book to another woman whose German-born husband recognized in the book the evils of his own Nazi upbringing. He received healing from his own struggles with darkness.
- At that same monastery I met a person who also wrote a book - a fictional account of the Crusades. He asked me to read the book to validate the Christian/Catholic references in the book, as he was not a Christian. Just recently he wrote me that he was in the RCIA program studying/forming to become Catholic...his research done to write his book and our subsequent conversations convinced him to pursue Catholicism.
- I served with Pope Francis at Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter's in 2017. I did not pursue this, but it dropped in my lap, through circumstances put into motion by my wife's diagnosis of cancer in May of 2017.
- I received a vision of the resurrecting Christ while serving at mass in the tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In addition to the vision, I heard a locution of the sound of "ruah" as Jesus came to life.
I share all this not to draw attention to myself, but to point to the God of the Universe whose grace permeates our world. My Aunt Joanne appeared to me to open my eyes to this fact: God yearns to share His love and mercy with us. He calls us to turn to Him, so He might reveal to us the gifts He has waiting for us. In all the tragedy of this world, He is present. In all the glory of this world, He is present. In every human life created in this world - from womb to tomb - He is present.
In all the good and bad, the turmoil and triumph, the sad and sublime - God is the constant, beckoning us to Himself.
Our lives are not our own, but are gifts from God; we are to discern as best we can the plan He has for each of our lives, to follow that plan, and to journey through life glimpsing the graces He provides, that point toward the ultimate reward of unity with Him in heaven. I can only imagine that my aunt and her classmates and all those who died in the OLA fire - and all of us affected by it - were/are part of a plan that - at the time seemed awful and incomprehensible and perhaps even evil - but a plan that eventually will bear fruit in God's inscrutably divine way. I claim that I am evidence of that fruit.
Our ongoing pain of loss, our indelible images of horror, our tears that still run whenever we imagine our loved ones suffering as they perished, our clenched stomach and broken heart that ache with the unanswerable question of "why did this happen?" - despite all this human anguish, God remains, calling us into relationship with Him, offering us His consolation, if we surrender into His arms. His own Son perished horribly; He knows our loss, He feels our despair, He laments the injustice... and still He calls to us.
We can stubbornly choose to resist Him, justified in our human anger and outrage and pain; or we can fall to our knees, exhausted at holding on to our emptiness, and surrender to His love, His mercy, His healing. We are His beloved creation, in whom He is well pleased. Come... Come... Come... Come to the Father, through the Son, with the Holy Spirit. Come...
Deacon Dan Lupo