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Feb 23, 2022 735 Susan Skinner
Encounter

Miracles & Mother of God

After nearly ten and a half years of marriage, Susan Skinner’s prayer was finally answered. Read how she witnessed a true miracle

When my husband and I married, he was not Catholic. He had been raised attending Baptist and Presbyterian churches, but his love for Jesus and for me, and the way we complemented each other as a couple drew us together. Shortly after we married, he converted to Catholicism. He told me that he knew I would never join another church, but we needed to go to church together, so it made sense to him that he join me in the Catholic Church. He believed in the Eucharist and together we raised our family as Catholics.

A Story within a Story

During this time period, though, I sometimes referred to him as a “Baplic,” because he had some issues with Catholic teaching, and truly did not understand our honor of Mary. I considered myself the spiritual head of our household, in that I got everyone up for Mass, and I did most instruction of the children. I felt blessed that we all went to church together and that he supported raising our children Catholic, but I longed for him to be the leader, and I begged for Mary’s intercession. One day, as we discussed spiritual things, the topic of Mary came up. I was struggling to explain to him about Mary when I remembered a video by Father Stephen Scheier that a friend had recommended. He relates his near-death experience, and how he felt that Mary saved him. That video had a powerful impact on my husband, opening his mind to the idea that there was a lot more to Mary than he had ever considered. The sequence of events that happened next was something of a small miracle. He has decided to tell his story in his own words:

I’m generally a reserved person, not inclined to share private affairs outside of a very small circle of friends. However, I’ve come to feel that my story could offer inspiration to others, and that if one soul is moved to say, or keep saying the Rosary as a result, then this is well worth the effort. 

In January of 2011, I decided to learn how to say the Rosary. Using a cheat-sheet with all the mysteries and prayers, I said my first five-decade Rosary.

One evening, Susan mentioned that many people who are new to the Rosary are frequently granted one of their petitions and one shouldn’t be afraid to ask for something big. I was amused, but honestly didn’t give it a lot of thought. Anyway, most of my petitions were not for specific items that could be noticeably granted. They were for more general things, such as keeping my family safe from harm and evil, helping the children to do well in school, etc.

A few days later, I learned that my employer was giving away luxury-box tickets for the Ringling Brothers Circus to some lucky employees. Thinking that this would be a great treat for my young boys, I entered my name, in competition with many other entries for the Friday and Saturday events.

That night, I made my usual Rosary petitions and Susan made hers. After the final Sign of the Cross, we put our rosaries away, and got up to leave when I stopped and said, “Oh yeah, one more thing…it would be really nice if I could win those tickets to the circus. The Saturday show would be great. Amen.”The next afternoon, I received an email announcing that I had won four tickets to the Saturday circus event. I sat there in disbelief for a few moments and re-read the message. It felt like Mary was saying, “Did you ask for something? Boom! Here you go.” I was stunned and thrilled at the same time. Now, I’m a logical finance guy and thought to myself that these things happen. My chances were perhaps 1-2%, and somebody had to win. It wasn’t like it was the lottery. However, not only had I won, but it was for the Saturday show that I had requested. To me, it was more than a chance. Mary had my attention.

Beatific Vision

Before winning the tickets, I said the Rosary most days, but not every day. Afterwards, I committed myself to five decades daily, continuing to read and learn about Mary and the Rosary, especially from Saint Louis Marie de Montfort. I also decided to do the five first Saturdays encouraged by Our Lady of Fatima.

This devotion entails making reparations for the sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary by saying the Rosary, going to Confession, receiving Communion at Mass, and praying in the presence of Jesus for at least 15 minutes every first Saturday of the month for five consecutive months.

On the first Saturday, I went to church for Confession before Mass. Now, this was only my third Confession ever, but I approached this one with much more thought and seriousness. I really dug deep, painfully confessing sins even and especially from my distant past. After receiving absolution for my sins, I felt a huge burden lifted from my soul. In reparation for sins against Mary’s Immaculate Heart, I plunged my heart into fulfilling all the obligations. It had been difficult—especially the Confession—but it felt good. 

That night, I was suddenly awakened from sleep by intense warmth that moved in a wave through my whole body. Then, in the pitch-black room, before I could even try to process what was happening, an image appeared in my closed eyes—similar to the way you might stare briefly at a brightly-lit object and then see the object’s shape imprinted in light under your eyelids. It began as a point of light that expanded quickly into the shape of a rose. The image remained for about 3 seconds, and it immediately expanded again into a new image of many smaller roses like a bouquet in the shape of a heart and then expanded into the final image of roses linked together as a crown. 

When it was over, I opened my eyes in the dark room and sat up, amazed and trying to process what had just happened. Part of my logical brain wants to rationalize this as some natural, dream-induced occurrence. But I’ve never encountered anything remotely like it in my life before or since, and it happened after the first of the five Saturdays. As I see it, this was Mary’s special acknowledgement and encouragement to continue. The first rose clearly represented the Rosary. I really didn’t comprehend the full significance of the last two images at the time, but upon later reflection, they are related to Her Immaculate Heart.

This is my husband’s story. And just like that, after ten and a half years of marriage, my prayer had been answered. My husband became the spiritual leader in my household. This was truly a miracle in my midst. Being the human that I am, I was very grateful, but also a little spiritually jealous. I had prayed the Rosary on and off for years, but he was the one to get a “vision.” I knew that was selfish so I quickly overcame that, watching him transform into a new person. He is still the same man I married, but he is a softer, gentler, more generous person whose heart changed as he became involved in activities at church. We are still on this journey together, and have a long way to go, but I am forever grateful to Mary, the Mother of God, for interceding in our lives.

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Susan Skinner

Susan Skinner is a wife, mom, caregiver, and writer. Currently, she is the director of Adult Faith Formation and RCIA at Saint Philip Catholic Church in Franklin, TN.

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