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Apr 01, 2022 519 Ivonne J. Hernandez, USA
Encounter

A Miracle of Hope

The pain was excruciating but I still held on to this anchor of hope and I did experience a miracle!

I was 40 years old when I was diagnosed with Charcot- Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT), an inherited progressive peripheral neuropathy (damage to the peripheral nervous system). I finally knew why I always dreaded going to my PE class at school, why I fell so often, why I was so slow. I always had CMT; I just didn’t know it. By the time I was referred to a neurologist, the muscles in my legs had begun to atrophy, and I couldn’t climb steps without pulling myself up.

The relief of having an answer was clouded by concern about what the future would hold. Would I end up in a wheelchair? Would I lose the use of my hands? Would I be able to care for myself? With the diagnosis, darkness came over me. I learned there is no treatment, no cure. What I heard between the lines was, ‘there is no hope’. But little by little, like the morning sun peeking through the blinds, the light of hope gently woke me from the stupor of grief, like a miracle of hope. I realized nothing had changed; I was still the same. I grabbed on to the hope that the progression would continue to be slow, giving me time to adjust. And it did…until it did not.

I experienced a slow, gradual progression of the disease for four years, but then, one summer, it suddenly got worse. Tests confirmed that my condition had inexplicably progressed. When we went out, I had to be in a wheelchair. Even at home, there was little I could do. I couldn’t stand up for more than a couple of minutes at a time. I couldn’t use my hands to open jars or to cut or chop. Even sitting up for more than a few minutes was difficult. The level of pain and weakness forced me to spend most of my time in bed. I was filled with enormous grief as I dealt with the reality of losing the ability to care for myself and for my family. Yet, I had an extraordinary grace during that time.

I was able to attend Daily Mass. And, during those drives, I began a new habit…I prayed the Rosary in the car. For some time, I had wanted to pray the Rosary daily, but I could not get into a routine and make it last. These daily drives fixed that. It was a time of great struggle and pain but also a time of great grace. I found myself devouring Catholic books and stories of the lives of the Saints.

One day, doing research for a talk on the Rosary, I came upon the story of Venerable Fr. Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., who was healed from tuberculosis after asking Mary for her intercession. He spent the rest of his life promoting family prayer and the Rosary. I watched clips on YouTube about these massive rosary rallies he would hold…sometimes, over one million people would show up to pray. I was deeply moved by what I saw, and in a moment of zeal, I asked Mary to heal me too. I promised her that I would promote the Rosary and do rallies and marathons, like Fr. Peyton did. I forgot about this conversation until a few days after I had given my talk.

It was a Monday morning, and I went to Mass as usual, but something was different when I returned home. Rather than going back to bed, I went to the living room and began cleaning up. It was not until my perplexed husband asked me what I was doing that I realized all my pain was gone. I immediately recalled a dream I had the night before: A priest robed in light came to me and administered the Anointing of the Sick. As he traced the Sign of the Cross in my hands with oil, warmth and a deep sense of peace enveloped my whole being. And then I remembered…I had asked Mary to heal me. The miracle of hope did happen and after five months in bed, all my pain was gone. I still have CMT, but I was restored to where I had been five months before.

Since then, I have spent my time in thanksgiving, promoting the Rosary and telling everyone about God’s love. I believe Mary sent this priest to anoint and heal me, though in a different way than what I thought. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I grabbed on to hope, I was really grabbing on to God. He healed my body, but He also healed my soul. I know He hears me; I know He sees me. I know He loves me, and I am not alone. Ask Him for what you need. He loves you; He sees you…You are not alone.

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Ivonne J. Hernandez

Ivonne J. Hernandez is a Lay Associate of the Blessed Sacrament, president of Elisheba House, and author of “The Rosary: Eucharistic Meditations.” To read more of her articles visit Elisheba Blog (elishebahouse.com).

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