April 16, 2010

The Joyful Catholic / Rick Hermann

Shocked parishioners witness Palm Sunday miracle

Rick HermannIf I had not seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it.

During an ordinary Palm Sunday Mass, just as he finished the first reading, Francis Rounds clutched his heart and dropped to the floor near the altar at a Catholic church in St. Louis, Mo.

People gasped in fright. Some screamed in horror. Mothers covered their children’s eyes to shield them from the ghastly sight.

Several people in the front pew rushed to attend to him.

A priest shouted, “Is there a doctor in the house?” and a physician rushed forward and performed CPR to revive him.

But it was no use. He was gone.

An ambulance was called and everyone began to pray aloud spontaneously, “Our Father, who art in heaven …”

A friend of mine turned to me and grumbled, “I don’t want to see this. Let’s get out of here.” I obliged, and we headed out the back door to the parking lot.

We stood there with other like-minded people, some remaining silent while others joked to relieve the tension.

As the distant wail of sirens drew near, one person commented, “Do me a favor, everyone. If that ever happens to me, don’t make a big spectacle out of me like that. Just let me die, OK?”

Some laughed uncomfortably and agreed.

Just then, the ambulance came roaring into the parking lot and screeched to a stop next to us.

Three paramedics rushed inside the church, and out of curiosity we followed.

What happened next was truly extraordinary.

As the entire congregation prayed in unison, the medics put the electric paddles on the dead man’s chest and shocked him violently once, twice, three times.

No sign of life.

Then, suddenly, Rounds began breathing again and opened his eyes!

Everyone gasped in astonishment.

The paramedics gently lifted him onto a stretcher and quickly wheeled him away down the center aisle.

From his stretcher, Rounds smiled and waved. This caused ripples of cheers, tears and applause from the crowd in gratitude to God for the miracle we had just witnessed.

In the hospital later that afternoon, the doctors and nurses marveled at the

extraordinary recovery of this man whose chart read “cardiac death.”

That evening, they released him to enjoy dinner at home with his family.

If you doubt this story, even after my testimony, it is confirmed by nearly 300 eyewitnesses. A newspaper clipping reporting the story hangs in the church’s office today.

Now take a moment and note the similarities with the life of Jesus. As he was dying on the cross, several of his followers fled and betrayed him, while others stayed and prayed for him.

After Jesus died and later appeared alive to his disciples, they were shocked and doubtful. Yet they ultimately believed.

Since then, we are all invited to believe in Jesus’ resurrection based only on the oral testimonies of the original witnesses and the written record they left for future generations.

Regarding Rounds, was it prayer or the paramedics that revived him? You decide.

I believe God gave him new life, in communion with our prayers, just as he resurrected Jesus to new life.

God also gives each of us new life, every day, and with every breath we take.

Since then, I have become a big believer in miracles and in the power of prayer. The idea of Jesus rising from death, and raising us from death, does not seem so far-fetched after all.

In fact, eternal life now seems joyfully real to me.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live even if he dies” (Jn 11:25).

(Rick Hermann of St. Louis is a Catholic author and career coach. His e-mail address is RH222@sbcglobal.net.)

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