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Just A Night Of Prayer

by Most Rev. Edward M. Egan

It was a little more than a year ago that a friend suggested I read a book which was at the top of the "best-sellers" list in France. It was written by a well-known magazine editor in Paris who at the age of forty had suffered a rare kind of stroke that had left him able to communicate only by blinking his left eye.

The editor, in collaboration with his dedicated secretary, described in the book his struggle not to lose hope and a number of events in his life which he considered the keys to his strength and his desire to live.

One of the events took place in Lourdes. The editor and his wife were having marital difficulties. A divorce seemed to be over the horizon. They were young, successful, and well-to-do. A breakup of their marriage did not seem to either of them to be a matter of great concern.

At the wifeís instigation the couple went to the park in which the Basilica of Our Lady of Lourdes is found, not so much to pray as to observe the thousands of men, women, and children processing and praying in many cases seeking a cure for their maladies and disabilities.

The editor did not attach much seriousness to the visit to the park. However, on the way back to the hotel in which he and his wife were staying he became quite upset, when she purchased what he considered a rather ridiculous statue of the Madonna with an electric light inside.

After supper the editorís wife went immediately to bed, leaving him alone and somewhat upset. Though it was raining, he decided to take a walk in the night. During the walk, for reasons he could not explain, he bought himself a Madonna with an electric light inside, identical to the one his wife had purchased.

He returned to the hotel, sat down at a desk in the room, turned on the light inside the Madonna, and remained there until morning. "When I switched off the Holy Virgin," he wrote, "day was just breaking."

The marriage, we are told, was never in danger thereafter. The Mother of the Lord had done her work. Evidently, all she required was just a night of prayer.

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