Wednesday, February 18, 2009


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Divine Mercy, indeed

One of the passengers on that miracle flight that landed in the Hudson thinks that miracle may be due to something more than just divine intervention -- perhaps, Divine Mercy.

From Florida Catholic:

Frederick Berretta humbly admits to being away from the church, to his “half-hearted approach to living the faith and not trusting in God.” He acknowledges that he was living a life of “all” – a pilot’s license and private plane, a corporate executive in the financial world. And on Jan. 15 aboard U.S. Airways flight 1549, everything changed.

“As I look back now, God was trying to get my attention all along,” Berretta said. “I had a conversion experience just before I married my wife, Liz, and tried to be a good Catholic. Our fifth child died shortly after birth at Christmas in 2003 and that gave me a more profound appreciation of life. Then six months later, my dad died and I was close to my dad. Work became very stressful and the last couple of years, we’ve had the financial crisis. We lost our retirement. We went from better off to the reality of how we are going to get the kids through college. My New Year’s resolution was to get in better spiritual shape.”

Berretta read a story about a couple hiding under a bed for 14 hours during a terrorist attack in India and the woman prayed the rosary the entire time. He was inspired and started praying the rosary.

A last-minute decision sent Berretta on a business trip to New York City from his home in Charlotte, N.C. He had a few moments of unoccupied time, cleaned out his briefcase only to find a Divine Mercy pamphlet and he prayed the chaplet. The following day his business finished early, so he stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for noon Mass. In the cathedral’s gift shop, he bought the book “The Seven Secrets of the Eucharist” by Vinny Flynn, which he read as he waited for his flight to depart.

The story of U.S. Airways flight 1549 and it’s landing in the Hudson River without any loss of life is well-known now. As a pilot, Berretta has an even greater understanding and appreciation for all that transpired.

“As the engines blew, I thought there’s a good chance many of us will die. I thought about my wife and kids and how hard it will be for them. Something was pushing my conscience and I knew I have to accept this. I’m not sure I’m ready for this, but then I remembered the Divine Mercy promise, ‘nothing will be refused in that hour’ and with every fiber of my being I asked God to be merciful to us.”

Berretta does not claim cause and effect in his prayer for mercy and the outcome of the splash landing, but he was comforted by the prayer and is thankful for the outcome and was transformed by the experience.

“The plane left the gate at 3:03 p.m., it was 3:30 p.m. when I prayed the chaplet and at 3:48 p.m., I was on a boat talking to my wife. There are so many things that could have gone wrong, but everything was in place to make it miraculous.”

1 comment:

Klaire said...

Dcn Greg I am more than aware of this story, being I have one quite similar. In fact, the first thing I thought of after hearing of the US Air crash (after making sure my sister was ok who is a US Air flight attendant – she turned out to be on the runway behind the flight that had just crashed), was that the flight has landed exactly in the middle of the great hour of mercy!

I have shared my story with many over the past year and was always convinced it was a true “Divine Mercy” Miracle, quite likely even connected to Bishop Fulton Sheen.

Last August I was on the second leg of a flight back to Orange Country, CA (American Airlines). About an hour into the flight, we were told we would be prepared for a crash landing, was cleared for Denver, consequently, had that “surreal” seven minutes to “prepare.”

Ever since 911, I often wondered, as I suspect many have, what it would be like to be knowingly on a plane that had a better than not chance of making it. For the record, I’ve flown millions of miles in my lifetime, and had never been in an emergency situation that required crash landing preparation. To my surprise, there was no real hysteria and initially only an eerie silence throughout the plane.

That silence was soon broken by my seatmate, a 20 something recently married handsome young man, somewhat hysterical, who tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I would help him with his act of contrition. He confessed that he had been a VERY bad Catholic, didn’t want to die, and deduced from the book I had been reading since takeoff, “Peace of Soul” by Bishop Fulton Sheen (one of my favorite books), that I was probably a Catholic. I knew in that moment that he had been given a grace beyond words. Of course I helped him with his AOC, but as an ardent Divine Mercy lay apostle of sorts, I’m never without Divine Mercy Pamphlets.

If there was ever a perfect moment for Divine Mercy Evangelization, this was it! In fact, I was using one of the chaplets as my bookmarker! I also had with me a brown scapular and a rosary.

After helping my seatmate with his spiritual preparation, I kissed my scapular, consequently, was overcome with a peace beyond words, along with a “knowing” that by “God’s great mercy, we would be well.” I was so sure of it I calmed my seatmate by assuring him, “all would be well.” I told him that sometimes God needs to get our attention, and also remind us that he is always with us, especially with his great mercy. I gave him the chaplet to keep, and asked him if he would pray it on a regular basis, share it, and perhaps take his Catholic faith more seriously. He assured me if he survived, he would be the “real deal” Catholic again. I believed him, and of course, we survived, all unscathed!

There’s a bit more to this story, but much too long for a blog post. I mostly wanted to make the point, that since the death of my mother 5 years ago, who’s last request to her kids was to ALWAYS pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, (she died on St. Faustina’s feast day), Divine Mercy has become a sort of lay apostolate for me. I try to say it every day at 3pm, wherever I am, and never miss the novena leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday. Most of all, I believe it with all my heart!


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