Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Saint Peregrine wrecked my paradigm

I couldn't understand why I felt the presence of God so strongly that I started weeping, especially in this place.  I was by myself in a dark little prayer room looking at a religious statue or icon of a Catholic Saint named Peregrine.  The room was an extension of the Catholic church chapel in San Juan Capistrano California's famous mission.  Every family that sends kids to school in California knows about the SJC mission.  It is a required 5th or 6th grade project to visit SJC and build a model replica of the mission, which all  three of my kids along with millions of others have done for years and years.

This was the third or fourth time I had visited this historical tourist spot with no previous emotional or spiritual effect on me.  This time I was with my wife killing time before we went out to dinner.  Though I would have considered myself open-minded and tolerant, I was shocked and even troubled by the fact that God was clearly and loudly speaking to me, an evangelical, charismatic in a place like this.  I had the revelation of the restoration of Apostolic church government and preached healing and the kingdom which I thought was diametrically opposed to the great harlot religious system of the Catholic church.  Yet God's Spirit was like a tractor beam drawing me to this figure of the 11th century man from Italy named Peregrine to teach me a spiritual lesson and truth as I was uncontrollably sobbing.

I watched as a little Hispanic lady came in and wrote a prayer request in the book on the podium in front of the statue and then knelt doing a sign of the cross and prayed.  When she left I looked in the book and realized she wrote a prayer request for a relative with cancer.  I had to know what God was trying to tell me and so I opened the web on my android phone and read story after story of the man who is known as the patron saint of healing, Aids and cancer.  Thirty years old, Peregrine assaulted and attacked the priest who entered his secular town, then was powerfully challenged and then repented, chasing the priest down to ask for forgiveness.  He committed to the church and served the Sick, poor, and fringe groups in the city of Forli Italy for thirty years until he was diagnosed with Cancer in his leg that had open sores and burst vericose veins.

 He was scheduled for amputation of the leg to save his life, but the night before the surgery he laid down to sleep in front of a life sized crucifix cross and asked God to heal him.  His personal testimony is that he came to grips with the fact that all his works didn't mean anything as he struggled with his life before God and a peace came over him and then a deep trance.  He didn't know if he was dreaming or awake, but in the trancelike state he saw Jesus come down off the cross and touch his cancerous leg.  In the dream or trance it was instantly healed.  When Peregrine woke up he looked at his leg and realized he had actually been healed.  He lived and ministered for 20 more years until the age of 80 with many accounts of people being healed of cancer and other ailments in his ministry and even those who were healed while attending his funeral. 

I immediately saw Peregrine as a man who sought an encounter with the living God out of desperation instead of a religious statue and my grid changed.  The Spirit of God then was able to reveal to me that this mission founded by Father Serra was an Apostolic work too.   Father Serra changed the culture wearing many hats, from business man, to teacher, farmer, etc.  all with the intention of revealing the kingdom of God to the Native Americans. 

Religious Prejudice I didn't know was there, melted away.  I gained respect and admiration for courageous men and women who laid a foundation that a society was built on. I realized God is bigger than I thought he was. He can use anyone and he can speak anywhere.