Father Ignatius was busy in his office dealing with some paper work when Eric, a young man in his mid-twenties, came in.
“I’ve changed the oil Father and gave the engine a good run. It’s as good as new.”
Eric was a car mechanic at the local garage and every now and then he came over to the parochial house to maintain the priest’s car and undertake any minor jobs that needed doing.
“Thank you” replied Father Ignatius, “I’ll await the invoice from your boss in due course.”
“Oh I see you got that picture of Jesus …” said Eric pointing at the wall. “The boss has the same one in his office at work.”
“It’s very popular …” mumbled the priest hoping that the youngster would soon leave. He had plenty of paperwork to get on with and he could really not afford the time for a chat.
“Did He really look like that?” continued Eric.
“Jesus … did He look like that? This is the picture painted by that nun isn’t it? What’s her name?”
Father Ignatius put down the letter he was reading and turned to Eric. It was obvious that although he wished to get on with his work the Good Lord had other plans for him.
“Her name is Sister Faustina. Her real name at birth was Helena Kowalska.”
“Greek was she?” asked Eric making himself comfortable in the armchair near the window.
Father Ignatius took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes with his right hand, as if to summon every once of patience that the Good Lord might send him. “Why now, when I’m busy,” he prayed silently.
“No Eric,” he said with a smile, “she was Polish.”
“That’s right; I knew it was somewhere foreign. Near Jerusalem where Jesus came from …”
“Not quite near Jerusalem …”
“And she actually saw Jesus and painted Him. That’s what I have been told. Do you believe that?” interrupted the young man eagerly.
“I mean … she could have been lying. Can you prove that she actually saw Jesus and He looks like that picture?”
“Despite my age,” said the priest abruptly, “I can assure you I was not around when Sister Faustina was around. So I can’t actually prove what you ask for.” He then immediately regretted what he had said and continued in a more gentle voice.
“Look Eric, we are told that Sister Faustina back in 1931 had a Vision of our Lord. She saw Him dressed in white and standing very much as in the picture there. From His heart rays came out, one red and another pale, as you can see.
“The Lord spoke to her and asked her to paint an image according to the Vision she can see and to write ‘Jesus I trust in you.’
“And that’s how we came to have this picture."
“Oh …” said Eric.
“Now you and I have two choices to make,” continued the priest.
“We can believe this is all true. Or we can believe she was lying and nothing really happened.
“If indeed the story is true and we chose to ignore it we would have lost a great opportunity to venerate the image of Christ; as He has asked us to do when He spoke to Sister Faustina.
“And what a great pity, and tragedy that would be! To ignore a request made by our Lord Himself.”
“I see …” said Eric pensively.
“Our Faith has a number of mysteries Eric,” continued the priest in his gentle tone, “things that we are invited to believe without any proof and without any evidence. That’s why they call it Faith. To believe in something when your common sense tells you otherwise.”
There followed a few moments silence whilst Eric digested the information he’d just heard.
“Does Jesus appear and speak to people these days too?” he asked finally.
“I believe He does,” replied Father Ignatius, “He certainly spoke through the Holy Spirit to Father John Woolley. Here, you can borrow his book …”
Eric picked up the book handed by the priest and read the title, “I am with you.”
He then asked, “Jesus performed miracles when He was on earth … Does He do so now? Do miracles happen now Father?”
“Yes … they do. Miracles happen every day to a lot of people. The sad fact is that too many are not willing to believe that they happen.
“Christ is alive and is amongst us now as He ever was. He speaks to us and guides us through His Holy Spirit.
“But hearts have hardened Eric. Plenty are not willing to believe.
“They may consider themselves Christians or Catholics but they don’t know what to believe anymore. They just go through the motions by going to church and by claiming they’re Christians.
“Christianity is not just a label Eric. Or a brand name. It is real. Christ is real and is alive today as He ever was. It is not an event that happened two thousand years ago which we commemorate as a Remembrance every Sunday. Christ is alive and here today. He is here in the Eucharist; He is here in the Holy Spirit who abides in our very soul, if we let Him. If we invite Him …”
Eric hesitated for a while and then asked “I’d like to really believe in all these things Father. I don’t know how …”
“That’s a good start … wanting to believe. Opening your mind and heart to the Lord.
“Pray about it. Ask God to help you believe. If you like come and join us at the Bible classes we hold every now and then here at the Parish center.
“Ask for God’s help and leave the rest to Him.
“Say what you can read in that picture on the wall, ‘Jesus, I trust in you’ and mean it every time you say it.”
Note: I am with you. Author John A Woolley ISBN 09508840-7-3