From the Standard Times:
With neck bent and gripping forearm crutches, Jose Amaral slowly climbed the stairs to the Bullard Street entrance of St. Anthony of Padua Church.If you are wondering, yes it is the Fr. Landry from EWTN and the Catholic Preaching site.
Once settled in the pew near the door, he stowed the crutches until it was time to receive Holy Communion. Then, with great devotion, he made the painful journey to the altar.
When Mr. Amaral was 19, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which caused him great discomfort and pain.
"I also have had for years arthritis all over," he said.
In February 2003, Mr. Amaral's condition worsened. He collapsed at work and was diagnosed with cervical myelopathy, a stroke of the spine.
"The neurologist and neurosurgeon both said that there was considerable nerve damage. I've gotten progressively worse and had to have five surgeries."
On Jan. 26, Mr. Amaral was reading from a booklet of meditations on the Gospel when his eyes fell on the passages about Jesus curing the paralytic (Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26).
"You remember the story," he said. "Jesus first healed the paralyzed man of his sins and then cured him of his physical paralysis."
Mr. Amaral said that he went to confession that afternoon so that Jesus could heal him of his sins.
"Something happened during that confession that I cannot explain," he said. "But I felt different."
Later that night, Mr. Amaral was thinking about the experience in the confessional, and his eyes lit upon a picture he had beside him of Pope John Paul II.
"Pope John Paul the Great, please help me," he prayed. "Help me to understand God's will."
Turning on the TV to EWTN, he watched the movie, "Witness to Hope," a biography of Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II.
"That is when something came over me that is very difficult to explain," he said. "I just kept remembering the late pope's words, 'Be not afraid!'"
Over the next few days, Mr. Amaral said that he began to walk a little better with his forearm crutches.
"But I didn't say anything about it to anyone," he said. "I was very calm and peaceful."
On Jan. 30 at 3 p.m., Mr. Amaral prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and looked over at Pope John Paul II's picture.
"I decided to get up and try to walk around without my crutches," he said. "I just walked back and forth, and I didn't stop — and I've never stopped since. My strength came all at once."
Mr. Amaral attended morning Mass on Feb. 2, and after the service, he approached the sacristy.
"I was taking off my vestments, and then all of a sudden I saw him," said the Rev. Roger Landry, pastor of St. Anthony's. "He was standing completely erect, and I had never seen him stand erect. I knew then as a person who had been trained as a scientist and worked at Mass. General for five years that the only way that happens is by direct intervention of the Lord."
The Rev. Landry said that his eyes welled up with tears and the men embraced and cried together.
"One of the most beautiful moments in my priestly life was when I saw him leaving the church, and this man whom I had never seen walk before, genuflected to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I'll never forget that. Awesome."
Editor's note: The Rev. Landry has written a letter to the procurator at the Vatican relating Mr. Amaral's healing through the intercession of Pope John Paul II. A medically certifiable miracle is required for the late pontiff's canonization. Mr. Amaral visited his doctor last week and related that the physician had no scientific explanation for the healing. Last weekend, Mr. Amaral went shopping at the local Target for the first time and bought a pair of sneakers and a football.