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“I came with Mommy who had wings (mantle) and was white!”

Despite my sinful life, I was called to Naju by the Lord and the Blessed Mother through my second son, who was suffering pains.  I write this testimony as a thanksgiving for the graces and love that the Blessed Mother of Naju has bestowed upon us.

I realized how sinful my life had been only when I found the love of the Blessed Mother of Naju. 

I had been a seminarian who had a big hope to become a priest, but I gave up in the middle.  Then, I began living a worldly life, believing in the power of money.  I did not pay any attention to the poor people around me and often missed Sunday Masses.  I was a sinner who was very busy trying to make money. 

One day, my son, Leo, who was a second grader, was diagnosed to have a malignant brain tumor.  The MRI and CT scans at a larger hospital confirmed the diagnosis.  He was expected to live only two to three more months.  I was totally shaken up.  Money was not important any more.  My son’s life was flickering like a candlelight before wind.  I was trying to grab even a straw.  I had my son examined at six different hospitals, but the diagnosis was the same.  His cancer was so widely spread that doctors would not even recommend a surgery.  How can one describe how parents feel when there is nothing they can do to help their son who is dying?  He was losing weight day after day.  He was weighing only 14-15 kg (31-33 lbs).  He was so thin that it seemed as if he could be blown away by wind. He was not able to walk and had to be carried.  Even doctors would not admit him to their hospitals.  I asked a doctor, “What would you do, if this boy were your own son?”  He said, “I would take him home and do whatever the boy wants.”  He meant that there was no hope.  I walked to a statue of the Blessed Mother in the hospital and wept a lot.  “Mother, what sin has this boy committed?”  I continued weeping, but there was no way out. 

Several hours later, Leo was crawling down the stairs toward me.  I embraced him and wept more.  To console Leo, I told him, “Yes, this Mother is going to make you live.  Let’s pray together.”  At that moment, a woman, who was passing by, gave me a booklet.  Momentarily, I thought to myself, “Is this woman out of her mind?”  She said, “Please read this.”  I thought, “What’s the matter with her?”  But I looked at the booklet; it was about the Blessed Mother of Naju.  There were photographs of the Blessed Mother shedding tears and tears of blood to convert numerous souls.  She was crying like myself.  In order to offer up Leo’s soul and body to the Blessed Mother, my wife, my first son, and myself went to Naju with Leo for the first time.  We were not familiar with that area and found the Chapel only after asking others many times.  When we arrived at the Chapel, I felt an unusual sense of peace from the moment we stepped into the Chapel.       

The Blessed Mother(’s statue) looked so merciful.  She was welcoming us with a fragrance of roses and her love.  Rufino Park, the Chapel administrator, also greeted us warmly.  Isn’t this all according to God’s Will?  When we explained everything to Rufino Park, he let us in a room behind the Chapel.  From that night, I kept praying and crying.  “Mother, if you would take this boy, that is fine with me.  However, let me suffer the physical pains that he is suffering.  Let him go to your bosom with a peaceful mind.”

On the third night, there were many people in the Blessed Mother’s House (the Chapel).  Many of them were patients.  I asked my wife and first son to go home.  Leo was crying a lot insisting on going with his Mom.  But I told him.  “You need to stay longer here.  Be embraced in the bosom of the Blessed Mother.”  When I entered the Chapel again carrying the crying boy on my back, the Blessed Mother looked particularly sad.  “Mother!  Don’t cry.  Forgive this miserable sinner.  I offer up this innocent little soul and his body to you.  He is your son before he is my son.  Do as you will.  I will follow whatever you will.”  Leo was sleeping.  I carried him to an inn, because there were so many people in and around the Chapel.

I continued feeling overwhelmed with sorrows over my little son, who was like a flower bud that was not given a chance to blossom.  Then, I fell asleep also.  When I woke up at about 11:30 p.m., I found my son missing.  He was not in the inn.  So, I went outside carrying an umbrella.  It was raining heavily.  I went to Naju Hospital three times and Naju Railroad Station three times, but could not find him there.  Several hours passed.  While I was walking in the dark, I sprained my ankle, but I could not pay attention to the pain because I was anxious to find my son.  “Is he alive?”  My anxiety was growing.  Suddenly I thought that he might be in the Blessed Mother’s House.  “Why didn’t I think of that?”  I ran to the Blessed Mother’s House.

When I entered the Chapel, I saw my son talking before the altar.  The Chapel was almost empty.  The only other person was a lady by the name of Maria Chang who was in the advanced stages of stomach cancer.  I could not believe that Leo was able to come to the Chapel, because he was not familiar with the streets in Naju.  I looked again and again, but it was undoubtedly my son.  I ran to him and hugged him.  I could not control my tears.  “How did you come here?”  “Daddy, I came here a while ago.  You are late.”  I asked him again how he came here.  He said, “I came with Mommy who had wings (mantle) and was white.”  “What?”  It was raining heavily outside, but he was not wet at all.  I thought to myself, “This is a lie.  He is just imagining.”  I asked Maria Chang who was nearby, “Did you see anyone who brought him here?”  She answered, “I did not see anybody, but I heard the boy saying ‘Mommy, Goodbye!’ ‘Mommy, Goodbye!’ before he stepped into the Chapel.  At the moment he came into the Chapel, I smelled a strong fragrance of roses.”  Maria Chang thought that Leo came with his mother.

I thought that the boy was approaching his last moment; he might soon go to his Mother; I would have to suffer his pains from now on.  I began praying the rosary before the Blessed Mother’s statue.  The boy began sleeping; I also fell asleep.  When I opened my eyes, the sun was high already and the boy was missing again.  I rushed outside and saw my son vomiting blood in front of the larger statue of the Blessed Mother.  “Does this mean that he is being cured or he is near his last moment?”  “Could this be one of those many miracles that I have heard have happened here?”

I brought some water and washed my son before others could see his blood.  Then, I tried to carry Leo on my back as usual to take a walk.  But Leo said, “Why carry me?  Am I a baby?”  I said, “Why I always carry you on my back!”  But he only said, “Daddy, I want to eat a roasted chicken!  Buy me one, will you?”  So, we went to eat a roasted chicken.  I was surprised to see Leo eating a whole chicken!  I could not believe my eyes.  I called my Pastor, Fr. Romano Eui-sun Tae, who had been so helpful to us, and made a report to him.  Father Tae said, “The Blessed Mother has touched you.  Pray hard.”

It has been two years since then.  Leo is in the fourth grade now and weighs 54 kg (119 lbs).  He is taller than I and is healthy.  On those days when I become drunk, he comes and carries me home.  So, I try not to get drunk.  Leo’s illness has not gone away completely yet.  A recent MRI scan at Seoul National University Hospital showed that all the cancer cells disappeared, but the tumor was still there.  Some people ask, “Why is he not healed completely at once?”  But I am more grateful to the Blessed Mother for healing him gradually.  If healing is sudden, I may become proud again and may forget to rely totally on the Blessed Mother.  The Blessed Mother has called us from a sinful life through our son.  She calls us regardless of our sinful past.  Now, we want to be her children who wipe away her tears.  I don’t know how we can thank Julia who prays so ardently for my son during the overnight prayer meeting on First Saturdays.  We only promise to wipe away the Mother’s tears with our tears of repentance and to offer up sacrifices.  Leo waits for the First Saturday prayer meetings anxiously.  I, his father, feel ashamed.  I will live a consecrated life by repenting my sins and by loving and praying for one another.

Glory to the Lord and praise to the Blessed Mother!  Amen.

— Barnabas Kyu-Bong Hwang, Kyungsin Jutaek #7, 243-29 Yukgok 1-dong, Wunmi-ku, Buchon City, Kyungki Province, May 30, 1992

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