October 22, 2022
Happy Feast Day, St. John Paul!
“Are you Monica Ashour?” a stranger said to me. We were on a train to Rome for St. John Paul’s Canonization on April 28, 2014. Shocked, I said, “Yes. Do I know you?” She said, “I’m Mary Sladek, and this is my husband, Bill. We are also from Dallas. I hear you on Catholic radio and recognized your voice.” Thus began our providential friendship.
I call such occurrences the Veiled/Unveiled Moments in life. You know such moments when what seems like mere coincidences are much more than that; it’s God “breaking in” our lives for us to know He is Emmanuel, “God with us.”
I can’t help but think St. John Paul would call these transcendent moments as “sacramental,” in the broad sense of the term, whereby the visible, sense-perceptible experiences bring us in touch with the invisible. God’s eternal mystery of Life and Love makes its presence palpable and plain—though not plain in the sense of “ordinary,” but rather as unmistakable!
Once, while riding on a plane, I spoke pleasantries with a stranger in the seat next to me. Then, it was time for my spiritual reading: The Sacrament of the Present Moment by Fr. de Caussade. In it, he says there are no coincidences. I was getting a great deal out of it when I looked up… and the stranger… was reading… the same book!! That “God-haunting” brought fear and trembling and joy to me, as I told the lady about the “God-incident.”
Another moment I remember the Veil being pulled back was when I got fed up that God did not make His will known to me about a major discernment decision. So, since I was by myself in the chapel (well, of course, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was there… and thus All of the angels and saints and the Father and Holy Spirit!), I fussed at Him: “How dare you not make Your will plain to me! I’m trying to be faithful, but You are not doing Your part! I’m not even gonna genuflect since I am mad at You!” And I stormed out.
I arrived home to find a hand-written letter from a friend. And in it were words about my decision that made God’s will very clear, very plain! I apologized to Jesus for fussing at Him.
Now, please don’t think that all of us will receive huge Veiled/Unveiled Moments. Some of us (like me) are probably so dense that we need more of such moments. Yet the Theology of the Body is clear that Jesus is that Divine Gift to us; He especially gives Himself to us in the Eucharist, the greatest Veiled/Unveiled Moment of all.
As the center of St. John Paul’s life, Jesus remains forever with a human Body and thus breaks through to reveal Himself to us ever anew in the “coincidences” or rather, “God-incidences” of our lives. Happy Feast Day, St. John Paul.
Monica Ashour, MTS; MHum is President, Author, International Speaker, and Content Creation Director at Theology of the Body Evangelization Team, Inc. (TOBET)