In this life there are many things to prepare for, but the most important is for our entrance into the kingdom of heaven. I will take you with me, should you want to come along, on my personal journey to the door which will lead to eternity, through which every soul must pass. Where the angel of death waits to ask the all important question, "Are you prepared for the Kingdom?"

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Location: Anacortes, Washington, United States

Two years ago I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was one of the fortunate ones who survived surgery along with chemo/radiation treatments. Recently, it was discovered that the cancer had returned and although I am again on chemotherapy, in all probability I have perhaps one more year to live. During these last months I would like to share what I have learned about the most important thing we'll ever do in this life and that is, prepare for the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

An Unexpected Call

When I arose this morning at about 4:00, I noticed the light flashing on my answering machine. I wondered if it would be the inevitable news of Laura's death. Much to my surprise, it was Laura! She had called about an hour earlier and asked me to call back as soon as possible. I thought I'd never talk to her again in this life.

As far as her physical condition goes, little has changed. She is still very weak, and her body, as she said, is "skin and bones." But the last time I had talked to her, about 10 days ago, she didn't even have the strength to speak, and she could only utter little sounds. This morning her voice was strong and clear, almost fully normal. She said she ate a bit of jello, but aside from juice and Jesus (she still receives the Holy Eucharist), that all she's had these 10 days.

But she didn't call to give me an update. There was a serious reason, something she wants me to pass on to you. The last couple nights she has been disturbed by dreams that could only come from the devil. The main disturbance was that whenever evil approached, in whatever form, it was accompanied by the most horrible stench she had ever experienced. In the dream, it made her fall to the ground and she was unable to get up, so sickening was it. Now this is not a projection from her own physical illness. She is not in pain, nor is she nauseous. Plus, others in her house have just had the same experience. She asked me for prayers and is having a priest come and exorcise the house tomorrow. Apparently the devil is attacking this family in their time of greatest suffering and sorrow. If you didn't yet know the devil's true colors, you know them now: utter hatred, cruelty, and vileness, hurting people as much as possible when they are most vulnerable. He is recognized by his stench, at least by those who are spiritually aware. There is a Desert Fathers story of a monk who was approached by a demon in the form of a beautiful woman. But she had such a horrible stench the monk wouldn't come near her. The devil realized that it was because of the monk's purity of heart that he wasn't able to be deceived by appearances, but recognized the foul demon immediately.

This is what Laura wants everyone to know: evil is real and sin has real consequences. We simply aren't sufficiently aware of how dangerous and how horrible it is to flirt with evil in any form. People live in sin and yet talk about the merciful God, but they don't stop and think that He is a just God as well, and that sin is intolerable to Him. He readily forgives when we repent, but we dare not brave his justice by minimizing the foulness of sin, delaying repentance, or just living heedlessly. God is not mocked, says St Paul; we shall reap what we sow. Laura says if you have the courage, pray to experience what she did, so you will know once for all what evil smells like, that is, what a rotten, horrifying thing it is. That alone could be the wake-up call to get people to realize that if they don't want to endure that stench for all eternity, now's the time to turn wholeheartedly to God. There is so much of evil around us, wherever there is immorality, lust for power, greed, etc. The smell is particularly bad in the area of sexual perversions and world's uncritical embrace of them. In his eye-opening book, The Marketing of Evil, David Kupelian notes, among many other things, that on the internet there are well over four million porn sites! They wouldn't be there if millions of people weren't addicted to them.

Laura doesn't know why this has happened now, or even why she is suddenly able to speak clearly again, except that perhaps the Lord wants this word to get out. With this warning against evil, she even said to me (one becomes fearless of human respect when standing at the brink of eternity): "I don't know if anything is going on with you..." Providentially, I had already made an appointment for confession, to be prepared for the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and when I told her that, she just said, "Good."

Still wondering what to make of all this, I prayed and opened the Bible, seeking some confirmation. This is what I saw: "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin... I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away... When [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and justice and judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in me; of justice, because I go to the Father and you will see me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world [i.e., the devil] is condemned" (John 15:22 -- 16:11). I needed to read no further...

I don't know what the Lord is doing with her, and this new turn of events makes me realize how little any of us knows about the designs of God. All the more reason simply to trust Him and let his will be done. Is this the last message the Lord wants to give us through her, or dare we hope that He will keep her around for a while, or longer? By all indications she is still terminally and even mortally ill, yet today she sounded like her old self. Let us continue to pray that she and we and her family will simply embrace God's will, come what may, and in the meantime learn from someone whose spiritual perception may very well be much sharper than ours as she prepares to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Abbot Joseph


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Lord may be saying to both satan and us that He -- and He alone -- shall call Laura Home when He shall do so, and maybe that Laura is ready to suffer more, if need be..for Love. But indeed, when a person is close to the portion of the veil that remains, I do think they intuit more of the reality of spiritual life --good, bad and indeed, ugly. My mom wasn't on morphine, so we'll not attribute Laura's dream to that, either, but my mom dreamed of Jesus Who was so beautiful, that that is all my mom could say of Him, after passing along His message.

But certainly, where there is breath, there is life, and so we will hope for better than bed and for more jello and Jesus.. And we'll be speaking to the kids about getting to confession.. again. Tell her thank you for us, please?


4:57 PM  
Anonymous fmn said...

Thank you Laura. And Fr Abbot.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Virginia said...

This blog is a blessing. Laura, I am praying for you and your family.
Love and Prayers,

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abbot Joseph,

If you see her again, please thank her for her message to us.

And ask her to pray for my family when she gets on the other side.



7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never met Laura, but she is the mother of my sisters boyfriend, Joseph. My heart aches for the suffering both her and her family are experiencing, but also rejoices in her happiness for she will be with the Lord. Her blog was right: 'it is all about God'. And even thru the pain and suffering, God is working his divine plan. Laura is his vessel, his angel of light. Her presence..the words she speaks, they are of God. I have had experiences such as the one she has told all of my life. They draw you closer to God while opening your heart and your mind. If there is anything I could say to encourage her, to make her smile it would go something like this: There is a reason for this season. Your strength, your compassion, your ability to love...will affect the lives of so many people. And one day when your words cannot be physically spoken, they will go in the hearts of those you care about. When it is time to let confident that the things you have learned and shared will continue to change and grow in the lives of others.
God Bless you, Melanie

12:21 PM  

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