The Miracle of a Midnight Mass Conversion
by Allison Wiggins
Once in a while, the wondrous miracle of conversion takes place at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. To glimpse that miracle is glorious. And sometimes it’s the most unexpected people who receive this miracle of instantaneous conversion to the Catholic Church. My two friends, Mike and Julie, received such a miracle on Christmas Eve, 2015 at Midnight Mass. But let me tell their story from the beginning.
We became friends in 2010 through business. My husband and I are traditional Catholic converts. My friends were members of the evangelical Church of Christ for 25 years. We wanted to convert them but they were obstinately anti-Catholic. Never were we forced to defend our faith as we were with Mike and Julie.
We preached with books, articles, scripture, and convert testimonials. Nothing moved them to become Catholic. How mightily they tried our patience! But our friendship was strong and we were were determined. They were equally fixed on staying Protestant. We prayed daily for their conversion.
Then, one day, the unthinkable happened.
In 2014, we received a call that Julie was acutely ill in the hospital. Praying to get to the hospital in time, I was soon at her bedside. It was a serious leukemia. We both cried and she said she did not want to die. I said, “Julie, I will not let you die a non-Catholic.” Remarkably, she got better without a bone marrow transplant, taking only oral chemotherapy. She agreed to read some very good books by Catholic converts and study the saints who experienced a spontaneous conversion. But she and Mike remained cold to lukewarm on all things Catholic. The Pope, the saints, Confession, Communion and of course, Purgatory.
In the fall of 2015, I asked Julie to go to a weekly Holy Hour with me, which she occasionally did. It did not particularly move her. But how could it? One would have to understand the Eucharist. And they were not interested. Her health was only fair which made me worry all the more about her soul. And Mike’s.
On the morning of December 24, 2015, Julie called and asked me about my plans for Christmas Day. I said that Mass was the first thing and then gifts and family. She said, “would you consider taking us to that Midnight Mass thing that Catholics do?” Astonished, I said “of course. But I go to a very traditional parish which may be hard to follow. You can just watch.” I couldn’t believe my obstinate friend and her equally obstinate husband had asked to go inside the Catholic Church! And attend a Mass. And not just any Mass…Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve!
We met at the church and went in. The sanctuary was stunningly beautiful, they thought. As Mass began, I started to fret that somehow they would not understand the Mass and reject what they saw. I started to pray, “Dear God. I have failed to convert my friend with cancer. I am afraid. Dearest Lord, on this holy night, heal their wretched plight: faith so dull, hope so dim, love so cold. Shower them with graces from this Mass and let their eyes behold the glory of the One Truth Church. Please do not let Julie die outside the Catholic Church.” Then I pondered the prayer which gives me so much strength in adversity. That of Saint Margaret Mary: “Oh Heart of love, I place all my trust in Thee. For though I fear all things from my weakness, I hope all things from Thy mercies.”
The Mass was long and beautiful with hundreds of faithful in attendance. Mike and Julie were attentive but did not participate other than some kneeling. The music was beyond beautiful. Traditional Catholic hymns sung by an enormous choir. Though the priest, in traditional Mass form, had his back to us, my friends watched the Consecration in awe. A few moments after the Consecration, I looked over and both Mike and Julie were weeping. For whatever would happen in the future, I was filled with gratitude to God for this single moment in time. I went to Communion and when I returned, they were still in tears. The music thundered as the Mass ended and their tears were still flowing. I remained silent until we were outside. Barely able to speak through their tears, they said, “we want to become Catholic. We are sorry for everything we have ever said against the Catholic Church. We felt God’s presence at the Consecration. We will do whatever we have to do to be Catholic. We are so sorry for our unbelief.” The miracle of a spontaneous conversion.
Fearing that RCIA was still months away in September, and their fervent resolve might be lost, we went back in the church and picked up a form listing when Catholic Inquirer’s classes would begin. To my astonishment, a winter class started in just 3 days, not 9 months away! Immediately they enrolled and started weekly classes ending in May. In June of 2016, they made their Profession of Faith, went to First Confession and made their First Communion the next day. To be there, as their sponsor, and see what just a year before was impossible to imagine, filled me with gratitude and joy.
This very morning, kneeling next to them for Communion, I was overwhelmed that they were there. Faithful, traditional, and fervent Roman Catholics. The miracle of miracles. The power of the Midnight Mass.