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Jun 18, 2021 444 Rosanne Pappas,
Encounter

The Red Dress

Discover a powerful prayer that takes just 7 minutes, and opens the door of Mercy

It was a warm, balmy day. The moss hanging from the massive water oak trees in our front yard blew sideways dusting the grass with debris. I had just checked the mailbox when Lia, one of my best friends, pulled into the driveway. She hurried over and I could see on her face that she was extremely upset.

“My mom went into the hospital two nights ago. Her cancer cells have spread from her lungs to her brain,” Lia said.

Lia’s beautiful brown eyes shimmered with tears that streamed down her cheeks.

Seeing her was heartbreaking. I took her hand.

“Can I go with you to see her,” I asked.

“Yes, I’m headed there this afternoon,” she said.

“Okay, I’ll meet you there,” I said.

When I walked into the hospital room, Lia was at her mom’s bedside. Her mom looked up at me, her face twisted in pain.

I hope it’s okay that I came to see you today,” I said.

“Of course. It’s nice to see you again,” she said.

“Have you heard from that priest friend of yours,” she asked, her voice weak but kind.

“Yes, we speak off and on” I said.

“I’m so glad I got to see him that day,” she said.

Lia and I had been part of a Rosary group that met every week during the time her mom was first diagnosed. A priest, well known for his spiritual gifts, had come to one of our meetings and we were eager for him to join us in prayer and hear our confessions.

Lia’s mom was raised Catholic, but when she married, she decided to assimilate into her husband’s family and adopt his Greek Orthodox faith. However, over the years, she felt less and less at home in either faith community. Worried that her mom had been away from The Church and sacraments for so many years, Lia invited her to our Rosary group so she could meet our special priest.

Not till the priest was preparing to leave did Lia’s mom finally walk through the back door. Lia shot me a relieved smile. Her mom and the priest talked alone for about twenty minutes. Later, Lia called to tell me her mom couldn’t say enough about how kind and loving the priest had been to her. She told Lia that after they talked, he had heard her confession, and she had been filled with peace.

Now, lying in the hospital bed, she no longer looked like herself. The color of her skin and the look in her eye revealed the ravages of a long progressive disease.

“I was wondering if you would like to pray together,” I asked. “There is special prayer called the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It is a powerful prayer Jesus gave to a nun named Sister Faustina to spread His mercy throughout the world. It takes about seven minutes and one of the promises of the prayer is that those who say it will enter through the door of mercy rather than judgment. I pray it often,” I said.

Lia’s mom looked up at me with one eyebrow raised.

“How can that be true,” she asked.

“What do you mean?” I said.

“Are you telling me that if a hardened criminal prays that prayer minutes before he dies, he enters through the door of mercy rather than judgment? That doesn’t seem right,” she said.

“Well, if a hardened criminal actually takes the time to pray it and pray it sincerely, then there must be hope in him, despite all he has done. Who is to say if and when the heart opens to God? I believe that where there is life, there is hope.”

She stared at me intently.

I continued. “If your son were a hardened criminal, wouldn’t you love him even though you hated his crimes? Wouldn’t you always hope for his change of heart because of the great love you have for him?”

“Yes,” she said weakly.

“God loves us much more than we could ever love our children and He is always ready to enter any heart with His mercy. He waits for those moments patiently and with great desire because He loves us so much.”

She nodded.

“That makes sense. Yes, I’ll pray it with you,” she said.

The three of us prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet together, chatted a few more minutes, and then I left.

Later that evening Lia called me.

“My mom’s nurse called to tell me that right after I left the hospital, mom lost all lucidity.”

We grieved together, prayed and hoped for her mom’s recovery.

Lia’s mom died a few days later.

On the night of her death, I had a dream. In my dream, I walked into her hospital room to find her sitting up in bed, wearing a beautiful red dress. She looked radiant, full of life and joy, smiling from ear to ear. The night of the wake, when I approached the coffin to pay my respects, I was stunned to see her wearing a red dress! Chills ran up my spine. I had never been to a wake where the deceased wore a red dress. It was highly unconventional and completely unexpected. After the funeral, I grabbed Lia and pulled her aside.

“What made you put a red dress on your mom,” I asked.

“My sister and I discussed it and decided we would put mom in her favorite dress. Do you think we shouldn’t have done it?” she asked.

“No, it’s not that. The night your mom died, I dreamed I walked into her hospital room, found her sitting up smiling from ear to ear…and wearing a red dress!” I said. Lia’s jaw dropped and her eyes widened.

“What? No way,” she said.

“Yes, way,” I said.

With tears streaming down her cheeks Lia said, “You and I were the last people she saw before her brain shut down. And that means the last thing she did was pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet!” I grabbed Lia and hugged her.

“I’m so grateful you came with me that day, and we prayed with my mom, and that I was able to be with her before she lost her consciousness,” she said.

“I can’t get over the fact that you saw her in your dream so happy and wearing a red dress.  I think Jesus is telling us she really did enter through the door of mercy.” she said.  “Thank you, Jesus.”

“Amen,” I said.

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Rosanne Pappas

Rosanne Pappas is an artist, author, and speaker. Pappas inspires others as she shares personal stories of God’s grace in her life. Married for over 35 years, she and her husband live in Florida, and they have four children.

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