It happened only recently - in 1998, in Toronto, Ontario. One day , while doing some heavy physical work, I suddenly felt intense pain in my lower back. With each subsequent day this pain intensified. Finally it reached the point that I was unable to bend over and had to brace myself with my arms in order to straighten up. I have never lacked patience (I have had several serious operations), but in one day I realized that something was seriously wrong with my back. I did not leave my job, although now I began to think about it more and more often.
Around that time, a friend of mine from Ukraine came to Canada for a visit. He is well-known in Ukraine as a musician and composer. His name is Bohdan Shyptur. As we were talking, he quite unexpectedly told me that he had a problem with one of his teeth and was going to see a dentist he knew here in Toronto. I always warn anyone coming to North America from Ukraine to take care of their dental work before departure because dental care is very expensive here. But Bohdan was lucky because he had a good dentist as a friend here in Toronto.
For my part, I complained a bit about the pain in my back and we went our separate ways. We met again the very next day. Strangely enough, Bohdan said not a word about his toothache but very excitedly began to relate to me an incredible story. For a split second it even unnerved me. From his excited torrent of words I gathered that this dentist to whom Bohdan had gone, and his wife, have something truly unusual, completely out of the ordinary that I had never before met in my life! How could this be? From where? How did it come to be in the hands of a Canadian dentist and his wife? Why is it so little known, especially in the Ukrainian community (after all, these people are of Ukrainian descent)? I kept wondering and kept plying Bohdan with dozens more questions to that effect.
By nature I am a fairly rational person and I approach various unusual and supernatural phenomena, not so much with incredulity, as with extreme caution. This approach allows me the opportunity to make a more logical, factual analysis and a closer study of phenomena that fill our world but are not as yet completely understood. Neither do I neglect my intuition, which, I must say, is quite well-tuned. However, in this particular situation, I somehow believed immediately and without the least doubt in what Bohdan was telling me and a spark of hope flickered in my heart.
Bohdan kept talking in his excited way and continued to tell me more and more things, each more interesting than the last. He told me how, after being blessed by a medal kissed by the Blessed Virgin Mary in Garabandal, Dr. Michael Rozeluk was cured, following eight years of continuous pain. He also told me how the Virgin Mary, during Her final visit to Garabandal, promised that "through the kiss She has bestowed on these objects, Her Son would perform many prodigies (miracles).." At the end of our conversation, Bohdan promised to introduce me to Dr. Michael and Helen, so that I could experience and see for myself things that cannot be explained.
I first went to confession (this was a requirement, following which I could be open to the working of God's grace). Finally Wednesday arrived and I went to St. Josaphat's Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Toronto for the evening Mass. The celebrant was Fr. Bohdan Slipyj. When Mass was over, I watched as everyone began to get up from their seats and form two lines. Among those present were Africans, Italians, Anglo-Saxons, Polish people, even a young Japanese woman. Of course, there were also Ukrainians. I joined the line on the right hand side and a strange feeling overcame me. For a split second I felt as though I were going to a very important examination which was to decide the course of the rest of my life. Little did I know at that moment that that is exactly what would happen.
At the front of the church, on either side of the central nave in front of the now closed Sanctuary Screen, stood two people, (Dr. Michael and his wife Helen Rozeluk), those about whom my friend Bohdan had told me. They prayed over each person individually, touching their forehead with either a crucifix or a large medal. Everything was proceeding normally. All at once, a young boy (later I found out he was an Italian boy, Michael, who was twelve years old and had been miraculously healed from leukemia in this very church) suddenly fell to the floor, just at the moment the medal was raised to his forehead. A couple of minutes later, he stood up as if nothing had happened, blessed himself and went back to his place in the church pew where his mother and father were waiting for him. The same thing happened with a little girl, who was about ten years old. This was Michael's sister, also Italian.
Later on I saw another two women fall, as well as a 25-30 year old man. I was last in line and, rather perturbed by what I had seen, found that it was now my turn. I was standing in front of this person with the medal. He greeted me very kindly, saying, "Glory be to Jesus Christ" (Ed.: a common Ukrainian greeting). With the handkerchief he was holding, Dr. Michael very carefully wiped the medal that was kissed by Our Lady in Garabandal, placed it on my forehead and began to pray. His prayer was simple and pure as the dawn. I have never heard a prayer like that before. Holding the medal on my forehead with one hand, he placed his other hand on my lower back and a shock went through my mind asking: "How does he know about the pain in my back?" Dr. Michael continued to pray for some time. I did not feel anything in particular, other than my body swaying a bit, but I paid no attention to this.
I looked forward impatiently to the following Wednesday. Finally it arrived. I was at Mass again. Everything proceeded as previously. As before, I was last in line and when my turn came for this mystical prayer routine, I suddenly felt very apprehensive. Again the medal was touched to my forehead. One second went by, ten seconds, twenty ... and I went crashing to the floor. True, someone caught me from behind, so the fall was not as frightening as it may have appeared to an onlooker. I was fully conscious. Before my fall, I had taken a step backwards so as not to fall and to be firm in my stance but I was too weak before the unseen power that laid me easily on the ground. After one to two minutes I got up and, feeling a bit confused, I sat in the church pew. Various thoughts flooded my poor brain but I knew without a doubt that this was God's power that had touched me.
I spent a restless night. I slept fitfully, waking up often from the pain in my back and taking painkillers. When I got up for work the following morning, it seemed as though my pain had doubled in intensity. I could barely lift myself from the bed, but the situation demanded that I ignore this and go to work, no matter what. For one critical moment I thought that my sins were so bad that nothing would help me now. This was a moment of discouragement that we all experience. We demand to have ... if it's money - now, if it's health - immediately, if it's miracles - then definitely with a seal of authenticity from heaven. That is why our own misgivings are our biggest roadblocks on the path to God.
Notwithstanding my moment of doubt, I looked forward again to the following Wednesday. Somewhere in the secret depths of my soul a little spark of hope persisted to glow. That next Wednesday night I experienced another fall; I felt an unusual lightness and a desire not to get up again. I opened my eyes. Above me, on their knees, two people (Dr. Michael and Helen) were praying fervently with heads bowed. Father Bohdan Slipyj was praying with them also. My back pain was still there.
Next morning, as I was getting up from bed, I suddenly felt as if I had no back at all, and no spine either. I twisted and turned every which way, bent over, crouched down, lifted up my legs in every position immaginable but THERE WAS NO PAIN! A sharp prick of remorse brought floods of tears to my eyes, tears of sorrow for my rather aimless and Godless life, a regret for not loving enough, regret for the unfulfilled, the unspoken, the unaccomplished and the forever lost. I wept quietly, covering my face with my hands, growing in the realization that I am not a lonely and abandoned orphan in a strange land but that Our Heavenly Father has given me a chance to become a full fledged member of the great family of His children whose sole rule of life is their testimonial to their life in the Lord.
Through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, I again found God! Through Her prayers I received my gift of health and a new life.
Translated from the Ukrainian original
Editorial Note: As a result of his miraculous healing and renewed faith, Petro began to write a book researching historical data about the Virgin Mary, about Her miraculous icons and about Her many apparitions in our times, including those in Garabandal. The book has been published in the Ukrainian language. The above story is also included in his book. Petro is now publishing a second book. The first was completely sold out in a very short time.
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