Miracles happen every day. Angels exist. If you’re on the fence about either statement, look no further than New London, Missouri, where a mysterious priest has fire fighters and rescue workers scratching their heads:
Emergency workers and community members in eastern Missouri are not sure what to make of a mystery priest who showed up at a critical accident scene Sunday morning and whose prayer seemed to change life-threatening events for the positive.
Even odder, the black-garbed priest does not appear in any of the nearly 70 photos of the scene of the accident in which a 19-year-old girl almost died. No one knows the priest and he vanished without a word, said Raymond Reed, fire chief of New London, Mo. …
The scene unfolded Sunday morning. Katie Lentz, a sophomore at Tulane University, was driving from her parents’ home in Quincy, Ill., to Jefferson City, Mo., where she has a summer internship and planned to attend church with friends. The Mercedes she was driving collided with another vehicle on a highway near Center, Mo. The accident crushed Lentz’s vehicle into a ball of sheet metal that lay on the driver’s side, Reed said.
Reed’s team and emergency workers from several other jurisdictions tried for at least 45 minutes to remove the twisted metal from around Lentz. Various pieces of equipment broke and the team was running out of choices. A helicopter waited to carry Lentz to the nearest trauma center. Though Lentz appeared calm, talking about her church and her studies toward a dentistry degree, her vital signs were beginning to fail, Reed said.
“I was pulled off to the side by one of the members of the” helicopter evacuation team, Reed said. “He expressed to me that we were out of time. Her condition looked grim for her coming out of that vehicle alive. She was facing major problems.”
At that point, Reed’s team agreed to take the life-threatening chance of sitting the vehicle upright so that Lentz could be removed from it. This is dangerous because a sudden change in pressure to the body can be critical, he said.
That’s when Lentz asked if someone would pray with her and a voice said, “I will.”
The silver-haired priest in his 50s or 60s in black pants, black shirt and black collar with visible white insert stepped forward from nowhere. It struck Reed as odd because the street was blocked off 2 miles from the scene and no one from the nearby communities recognized him.
“We’re all local people from four different towns,” Reed said. “We’ve only got one Catholic church out of three towns and it wasn’t their priest.”
Mr. Reed continued in an on-air interview with the local news station:
“He came up an approached the patient and did offer a prayer. It was a Catholic priest. He had anointing oil with him. A sense of calmness came over her then, even more so than what she had been already — and it did us as well. I can’t be for certain who said or how it was said or where it came from but myself and one of the other firefighters who was beside me — we very plainly heard that we should remain calm, that our tools would now work, and that we would get her out of that vehicle. …
As a first responder, you don’t know what you’re going to run into. Everything is on a case by case basis. Everything that we come across. We have a lot of tools that allow us to do many things and we have extensive training. In this particular case it is my feeling that it was nothing more than sheer faith and nothing short of a miracle,” (Raymond Reed, fire chief, New London, Mo.).
Who was this mystery priest? Was he an angel in human form? Was it just a priest who happened to be wandering the corn fields of Missouri at the perfect time in the perfect place to come to the aid of a devote Catholic who asked for someone to pray out loud for her — just as her vital signs were failing? Did the fire chief of New London, Mo. and the local townspeople all decide in the moments after a gruesome car crash to put together an elaborate hoax? Interesting questions, indeed.
The fact of the matter is this: Whether Katie Lentz was saved by an angel or comforted by the wandering priest of the Missouri cornfields, a miracle happened. And in the end, this story reminds us that we are all spiritual beings. We all have a higher self. When we realize that, we too can act as earth’s angels. Are the emergency workers any less of an angel than the priest? In many ways, no. As humans, we are confined by our physical bodies but we are certainly not our physical bodies and we are not our thoughts. We are the animating force behind our thoughts. Once an individual realizes their true nature then nothing is impossible.
Matthew 21:21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
The story of the mystery priest reminds me of the two Christian girls who pulled a 3,000 pound tractor of their father’s chest when they prayed for God to give them strength. When you believe in something with all your soul the physical world has no choice but to react. There are countless instances of this being the case, but to the non-believer such stories simply serve as more material for a round of jokes. And that is fine.
Teal Scott explains the predicament of the non-believer with stunning accuracy:
Even though every single person alive today has [the attention and devotion of angels], regardless of what you’re doing, you must ask for their active help in your life because of the law of free will. When you came into this physical dimension you chose to become two points of perspective. You are the perspective of your higher self; you are also the perspective of your individual physical existence. And as such, you have the free will of focus. You get to pay attention to whatever it is you want to pay attention to, and thus your subjective reality will become the exact match, the physical match, of that focus. And so, if you choose not to focus on the presence of angels they can not show up in your objective reality. And we can flip this and say: Unless you choose to consciously focus on and invite these angelic presences into your life they can’t be a part of your reality. If you choose to focus on angelic presences and invite them into your life, they must become a part of your subjective reality. They can not impose themselves on your reality.
We create our own reality. The difference between Katie Lentz and the person who makes jokes about the priest who appeared before her when she needed him is this: Katie invited God into her life with open arms. Ms. Lentz is smart enough to know that there’s a whole heck of a lot out there that is beyond human comprehension. Thankfully, she’ll be around for a lot longer to share her experience with others once her wounds heal.
I believe Ms. Lentz may very well have been visited by an angel. However, if I am wrong I hope the priest stays silent. I like it better that way.
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
No matter how you slice it, a miracle was performed in Missouri. For that, we can all be thankful.
Update: The mysterious ‘angel’ has come forward. His name is Father Patrick Dowling of the Diocese of Jefferson City:
“I thank God and the amazingly competent rescue workers,” Mr. Dowling said Monday. “I thank them for making me welcome in such a highly charged situation and allowing me to minister as a priest.”
The Aug. 4 wreck near Center, Mo., involving Tulane University sophomore Katie Lentz made news nationwide after reports of a man dressed like a priest who supposedly cured her and disappeared without a trace.
Miss Lentz was trapped in a clump of twisted metal that used to be her Mercedes as her vital signs continued to fall. Rescuers spent almost an hour trying to remove her from the wreckage when she asked someone to pray for her.
“I will,” the priest said.
Some people have already used this revelation to mock the idea that an angel came to Katie’s aid. Indeed, a priest just so happened to be in the perfect location at the perfect time to come to the aid of a devout Catholic who asked for someone to pray out loud for her — just as her vital signs were failing. I still maintain a miracle was performed.
Also note this from Father Dowling:
“I was probably part of the answer to their prayers, I came by and Anointed and absolved, (but) I didn’t say another word … I did not say anything like the machinery would begin to work or they would succeed in getting her out of the car.”
Take it for what you will.