By Fr. Joe Herzing, Pastor,
Family Churches, Little Falls and Belle Prairie
Since Aug. 1, 1878, in La Crosse, Wis., there have been at least two people praying in adoration of Jesus. In adoration, a host that has been consecrated at Mass is placed so that it can be seen. This gift of Jesus to be food for the world is a reminder of our call to be disciples of Jesus. The current chapel for the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration is called Maria Angelorum or the Chapel of Mary of the Angels.
When one sets themselves in prayer and service of our Lord and neighbor, amazing things do happen. We had a busload of people visiting the shrine this past week and we met one of the sisters. First she showed us a 100-year-old harp. Now, of course, this is not a common instrument and we were wondering if it was just for show. Sister Malinda began to play the harp and it was awesome. We have seen the pictures of Angels in heaven holding a harp but as she played it really was for a moment like the music of heaven.
Sister went on to explain to us that she had learned to play when she was 63 years old and was quick to assure our middle-aged group there was still hope for us. She said she had learned to play and began a ministry of visiting hospitals. Each day she would go to a different floor and ask if patients would like her to come in and play.
One day she was asked to visit the room of a woman in a coma. She was in a coma but it seemed like she should be able to come out of it. So Sister went and played. Nothing much happened while she was there but sure enough the woman came out of the coma and the family was rightly overjoyed and shared the joy with the sister.
A few weeks later the woman ran into Sister Malinda and said, “I know you.”
“How do you know me?” Sister replied.
“She said you were in heaven playing the harp,” the woman said.
Sister Malinda then asked her, “Did you have a near death experience?”
She said, “Yes, and you were there playing the harp.”
Sister continued, “What was it like?”
She said, “It was beautiful and the light was amazing.”
Then Sister asked her if it was hard to come back.
She said, “Not too bad. I have come to really believe that God has more for me here.”
Sister Malinda went on to speak of other things that have happened in her “harp” ministry. As she played for us and the beautiful music filled the chapel, it was easy to see God working through her. The prayers and adoration that started in that Chapel in 1878 are still happening and still being heard as God works through us and in us to make this world more deeply a place of peace and healing and life.
When we place our lives in the hands of God we are never sure where we will end up, but it is often an unexpected place where we are needed.