The other day I heard a name which caused my heart to contract with pain.
I was listening to an episode of The Catholics Next Door podcast. The host, Greg Willits, was urging his listeners to attend the Archdiocese of Atlanta's Eucharistic Congress that was held in early June. (I was listening to an old episode from a few weeks ago.) “Alan Ames will be there,” Greg said.
Alan Ames? That's a name from the past. It's woven into my grief. It's part of our son Thomas' story.
Alan Ames has been described as a 'visionary of our Times gifted with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.' When I was pregnant with Thomas, my close friend Annie attended one of his healing services. Carver Ames invited the congregation to stand for a prayer of healing, adding that anyone could ‘stand-in’ for someone not present. So Annie decided she would stand-in for me. She would ask God for a miracle of healing for our unborn baby who had a diaphragmatic hernia and wasn't expected to live after birth.
Immediately upon standing, Annie noticed that there was something very different about her lower abdomen: It was heavy and it felt like it was distending. Becoming alarmed, she thought, “It’s my womb. I’m carrying a child. It feels large. How could I not have known I am pregnant!” Annie then realized that Jesus had heard her prayer asking for the healing of our baby. She believed that the “baby” she was “carrying” was our unborn child.
Carver A then began to pray over the people and asked them to imagine Jesus standing in front of them with a kind smile of love, with His wounds shining red and dazzling. “Imagine rays of beautiful red and white light coming from the wounds, and from the white light a dove appears which is the Holy Spirit.” In her imagination, Annie could see the dove getting larger and larger as it came closer and closer and then suddenly she needed her imagination no longer. She felt a mantle enveloping her; the Holy Spirit was absorbed into her with a wonderful vibrating heat.
Then with a feeling of shock, the 'child' within Annie wriggled about and it seemed like it was being manipulated professionally and decisively by invisible hands. A wonderful Dencorub-type heat came in waves, beginning in Annie’s head, neck and back and travelling down to her feet and hands. With a feeling of excitement, Annie believed she had received a great grace from God. She believed that Jesus had healed our unborn baby.
When Annie told me about her supernatural experience, I wanted to believe God had healed Thomas' hernia. With the hole repaired, his lungs would grow as they should. He’d be able to breathe independently after birth. He would live. I thought God wasn't going to ask me to suffer the loss of a child after all. I cried with relief.
But Thomas did die and I did suffer. Annie and I were devastated. We just couldn’t understand why my baby hadn’t been healed. What had her experience meant?
Annie wrote to Alan Ames and received a letter from him:
Sometimes we interpret what the Holy Spirit is doing as what we want to believe is happening…What you were experiencing was the Holy Spirit saying Thomas is His and that Thomas will be with God in eternal joy.At the time I was angry with myself for putting my faith in 'miracles' instead of trying to accept God’s will. I pondered the supernatural experience for some time. Had it come from God? I wasn't sure. But Annie was certain she and the ‘baby’ were touched by the Holy Spirit. She could feel how overwhelmingly joyful the baby was.
Sixteen years later, I still think we should be cautious about visions and revelations unless sanctioned by the Church. They can easily lead us astray and confuse us and cause us grief. It's hard to know what is true and what is not without guidance. I had wanted to believe God had healed my child, but He hadn't. I thought I'd received nothing but more pain. But perhaps I was wrong.
The Catholics Next Door podcast was still playing, but I was no longer listening. I cast my iPod aside, grabbed my tablet and googled 'Alan Ames'. I don't know what I was looking for. And I didn't find anything. Not on the Internet. But later, I see...
God is touching Thomas with gentle but decisive hands. He whispers, "You belong to me. You will be with Me in eternal joy." And then He overwhelms Thomas with His promised joy. Like Annie, I feel the warmth of the Holy Spirit. The pain in my heart seeps away.
Thomas does belong to God and he is with Him in eternal joy.
And I know for certain that this is true.
Quotes are from my story, The Miracle.