Mary my Mother
by Patricia Keane
Recently I met up with a journalist named Gloria who writes for a religious magazine. Within moments of chatting it was obvious that Gloria had read my book, Journey Of Ten Thousand Smiles. “I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you don’t stammer anymore.” In chapter two of the book, I write about my stammer and the handicap it presented for forty years of my life. My stammer blocked many opportunities and held me captive in a shy and insecure self. I was angry when I couldn’t read or speak in public, frustrated to the point of tears. “You say in your book that you knew you weren’t born with a stammer, that you developed it in childhood. Tell me more about that”, Gloria said. I shared a memory about going into the classroom when I was about six years of age to tell my teacher that two boys were fighting on the playground. “What’s happened to you? You can’t speak” the teacher said. I was terrified of her as she had bouts of angry outburst ensued by physical punishment, and of course, that included me. I had problems learning Irish, retaining spellings, and reading and I suffered much because of the learning difficulties. Going to school was torture for me mentally and emotionally, and I used to feign a lot of sicknesses and would pretend to faint or run to the loo when it was my turn to answer questions. My stammer got worse and got I angrier”, I explained.
“How did you get rid of your stammer?” Gloria asked. “You don’t write about that in your book.” “I mentioned that I got speech therapy, and that helped with breathing techniques, but the real answer is that I learned to love and be loved by Mary my Mother and God the Father.” “I’m intrigued”, she said, “please tell me more.” “You know from reading my book that I went to Medjugorje as a reluctant pilgrim in 1998 and after experiencing the presence of Jesus looking at me, I saw the awful state my soul was in. Later in adoration that same day I told Jesus that I hated the person I was and that I wanted him to take away the interior ugliness I was now acutely conscious of. I went to confession on three different occasions to the same priest, and I confessed what was in my heart. The priest spoke in gentle and encouraging terms about forgiveness, and he stressed the importance of it explaining how a soul remains in bondage and without forgiveness one can never grow in love or holiness and will remain in a state of anger, bitterness and resentment hence preventing the soul from experiencing the Father’s love and mercy. I heard what he had to say and I agreed that I would work towards forgiveness. I knew that forgiveness wasn’t something my heart wanted to embrace and therefore I had two choices; remain angry or forgive. Before I left Medjugorje, I found a book with Our Lady’s messages, and I checked the index for the word forgive. I found a message dated November 14, 1985, where Our Lady told the Visionaries the following:
Surrender yourself to God so that He may hear you, console you and forgive everything inside you which is a hindrance on the way of love. In this way, God can move your life, and you will grow in love.
Bitterness had hardened my heart, but in those moments reading her message I decided for love. How could God help me if I wasn’t prepared to forgive others? I began with admitting to Jesus that I didn’t want to forgive, but with his help, I would commit to praying for the grace of forgiveness. I cried for the next two years, but my tears were the release of childhood traumas that had built up inside of me. I began to recognise how fearful I was, how I avoided confrontation, and how weak I was as a person. I learned that I constantly looked for approval from empty sources. I was a people pleaser and allowed myself to be taken advantage of, and then I got angry over that. I woke at night with inner trembling, and I saw that my stammer was worse when I felt nervous. I was full of insecurities and had covered it up for years by being a work alcoholic and a high achiever. One day in prayer I said to the Lord, “I’m slowly killing myself”, and that was the turning point in my life. I promised Our Lady that I wasn’t going to cover up my feelings any longer. I sat down with a very dear priest friend and shocked him when I revealed how much my inner being hurt. At his suggestion I went to daily Mass, received the Eucharist, I examined my conscience, and when I had done wrong, I went to confession. I prayed the three rosaries every day, recited the Divine Mercy Chaplet, set up a Divine Mercy Prayer Group in Moore Abbey, Monastervin and observed how easy it was to fall back into bitterness, jealousy and envy. Every few months I saw improvements. My trust in Jesus had grown enormously, and my anxiety had lessened.
The trauma had broken in me, and the lump in my tummy had dissipated. I was able to expand my lungs more and speak with ease. Being chairperson of the charity Rebuild for Bosnia required me to speak at public engagements, and despite being nervous, I got through it knowing that Mary my Mother was by my side. The more I got to know about the Blessed Virgin my love for her increased, and the anger and bitterness were replaced with peace and joy. Slowly over the years, my stammer disappeared, and now as you know, I’m a public speaker and witness to God’s tender love and infinite mercy in my life” “Wow”, she said, “that’s a story of a stammer I’ve never heard before.” Praised be Jesus and Mary.
Patricia Keane is the author of the critically acclaimed book Journey Of Ten Thousand Smiles and is an inspirational speaker and witness to her inner healing in Medjugorje. She co-hosts a weekly programme, Health and Faith Matters on Radio Maria and blogs at journeyoftenthousandsmiles.org. She received two International Awards for her humanitarian work with the ethnically displaced families of Bosnia-Herzegovina.