“Encourage the souls with whom you come in contact to trust in My infinite mercy. Oh, how I love those souls who have complete confidence in Me- I will do everything for them” (294)
When I was in college, I had a powerful experience while traveling to Europe and my life has never been the same. I learned a lesson that I still find myself reflecting on in the quiet of the night and I realize that this was the moment I learned to believe those powerful words, “Jesus, I Trust In You.”
As part of a study abroad program in the quaint village of Gaming, Austria nestled in the foothills of the Alps, I visited over eight countries in four short months. It was an incredibly unique privilege to experience first hand some of the Church’s greatest treasures. I had prayed before the remains of St. Thérèse the little flower in Lisieux, walked in the footsteps of St. Francis, bathed in the healing waters of Lourdes, and attended a papal audience with Pope John Paul II who is now a saint. I was truly coming off the trip of a lifetime and it had given me the universal perspective I needed as a young Catholic woman. I realized not only that the Church was worth investing myself in but also that her teachings could be trusted. Needless to say, I got caught up in the Holy Spirit and gained the outlook I needed to accept the will of God in my life.
After seeing all the glories of Western Europe in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Notre Dame Cathedral and Sacra Cour in France, I never would have guessed that of all the places I visited, the one that would most profoundly affect my life was the visit to that tiny chapel in Krakow, Poland.
There, I had been questioning my vocation and had walked away with a sense of peace. Perhaps I had been looking for God in the storms but he found me in the gentle breeze. The humble chapel with the simple picture of Jesus painted by a local Polish artist spoke to my heart more than the magnificent work of Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. “Jesus I trust in you. Jesus I trust in you,” kept coming to the forefront of my mind.
Sadly, the journey had to come to an end. I packed my bags and headed to the airport. After spending the final days of my time abroad celebrating and partying, I was utterly exhausted and living quite literally off adrenalin alone. “I can sleep in America,” was my motto. I wanted to maximize my time in Europe but I didn’t consider the effect it would have on my return journey.
The trip home started off bumpy as the airplane needed to be de-iced twice in Austria’s wintry December weather. I was already off schedule for my connecting flight and more bad weather in England left me even more delayed. That night, sitting in the dark airplane, I held a Christmas card my parents had sent with the image of the Holy Family on the front. I looked to heaven and prayed, “I need your help getting home. I am going to totally trust you, Lord, and your mother.”
I never thought that this prayer would be so important. I made it to New York City. At that point, I was traveling alone with a trunk of items, a travel bag and twenty dollars. My plane flying into JFK International Airport was one of the last planes to arrive that night. The agency that booked my flights had only given me a few hours of wiggle room (assuming the plane was on time) to catch a flight in a different terminal at 11:00 p.m. Now, with all the delays, I had even less time.
“Ma’am, I need to check your bag,” the customs lady barked at me as I practically sprinted through the airport after deporting. I began the long process of going through each and every item from my trip, losing even more time in the process. It became clear that I wasn’t going to make the final flight home to Ohio. I had no idea where to go or what to do with nothing but a twenty-dollar bill, my passport and a yearning to just get home.
By the time I headed out of customs, I had less than 30 minutes to catch my flight. Since it was so late in the evening, the airport felt cold and lonely. I needed direction and didn’t know where to turn. I now had to catch a cab for a ride to a totally different part of the airport.
Jesus, I trust in You.
With nothing and no one but Jesus to depend on, I ran out of the main terminal only to realize that there were no cabs to be found. It was snowing heavily and the cold air took my breath away. It was all I could do not to fall into complete despair at that moment.
Just then a car pulled up. I thought it was a transportation car with its tinted windows and low lighting at the bottom. The window rolled down to reveal a young, casually dressed driver wearing a baseball cap. I could tell that this was not a professional operation. He offered to take me to the next terminal for $20.00. Since that was all I had, I agreed.
Jesus I trust in You.
As the driver loaded my trunk into the car, I went to toss my backpack into the backseat when I noticed the driver had friends in the car as well. I didn’t like the looks of them but in my desperation I ignored my gut instinct. Home, I kept saying to myself. I will be home in a few hours.
I started to climb into the backseat when a woman in a fur coat appeared out of nowhere. She looked right into my eyes and said, “Don’t do it.” Then she disappeared as quickly as she had arrived.
Her words were like a rock crashing through a window. She broke through my trance and I could see the situation for what it was – dangerous! With four men in the car, two in the front and two in the back, flashing neon lights at the base and oversized wheels sporting fancy chrome hub caps, I knew that this was not a transportation car. It was a near occasion of death car.
Who was this lady? Was she an Angel of Warning?
I grabbed my bags and started yelling that I wanted out and demanded my money back. The driver became nervous at the scene I was making. He threw the crumpled up bill at me and got back into the car. I quickly grabbed my luggage out of the trunk and he sped off.
I was alone. The rest of the airport was closing down for the night and I knew then that the women had saved my life. Who was she and where had she gone?
Now what, Lord? Jesus I Trust in You.
I started to cry as I sat in the cold with no idea what my next move should be. I’d missed my flight and was now alone in New York City. I had no cell phone and was so exhausted I could barely think.
Just then, a girl about my age approached me and asked if I needed help. She told me she was traveling home from studying abroad in Whales, England. I explained my situation and she offered to take me back to her house in New Jersey. I had no other options and this one looked safe and felt right. When her father arrived at the airport to pick her up, he agreed to take me home. As we drove down the highway, he let me use his car phone – the kind that was actually attached to the car – to call my parents and let them know where I was and that I would be flying out tomorrow. When I graciously accepted the offer, my parents were glad to hear from me and grateful that I had a place to stay. They agreed that I should fly out the next morning and assured me that they would work out the details for me.
Later that night, I climbed into a bed covered in stuffed animals and a warm down comforter and was out in a few seconds. I woke up refreshed 12 hours later after a much-needed night of sleep and enjoyed a late breakfast with my new friends.
As I shared my story with them, their faces paled. “Every morning we wake up to news about young girls like you being abducted from the airport. They go missing… forever.” I got the message. They also shared that they had never picked up strangers before and had them stay in their home. They’d given mercy to me.
As we shared some more, they told me that they were fallen away Catholics. In spite of this, the father pulled out an old prayer card from his wallet and said that he believed Jesus spared him from total bankruptcy. The card reminded him of where he once was. Our conversation was very meaningful as I shared with them the message of St. Faustina, the powerful encounter I’d had with my Catholic faith in Krakow and the many shrines I visited. They listened and agreed it was truly a “God thing” that I was saved.
When I finally returned from my trip aboard, I was welcomed home by the warmth of my loving family and the arms of a boyfriend who would turn out to be the love of my life. In a few short years, I would not only become his wife, but also the mother to our six children. These children call for a great deal of my time and attention, requiring a special spirituality that reinforces God’s love, divine mercy and the trust that is necessary for a life “in the world but not of it”. The Divine Mercy message is not just a single devotion. It is a lifestyle we can depend on.
Months later, I received a package in the mail from the family that had taken me in. There was a note inside and a candle from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The father had traveled to Mexico for business and stopped at the shrine to see the tilma of Juan Diago which has a miraculous image of Our Lady on it. He had thought of me and the amazing experience I’d had in Europe. He was inspired to purchase a candle from the shrine, bring it back to the US and send it to me. God is amazing in his ways of intertwining our lives together.
I learned a powerful message of trusting Jesus, and receiving mercy when I needed it most. This experience impacted me so much that I vowed to always be the person in others’ lives who would offer a helping hand. My life was spared for a reason and I knew that it was my mission to be someone who not only receives God’s Mercy but also gives it whenever I can.
The moment we turn to Christ with our hearts and begin to trust His will in our lives, the more we will receive the graces we need to live out our vocations as wives and moms. We need to trust our savior with everything, especially our beloved families.