For the benefit and inspiration of all who read about this idea of prayer in common by the light of the Candle, we will post a few testimonials of people who have been prayed for by various Candles (prayer groups established in a particular city / region or close to a spiritual Father) and who confessed how they felt that God worked in their life in wondrous ways (“wondrous” not necessarily referring to miraculous cures, but first and foremost to an inexplicable change of the state of their soul, and eventually a possible physical accompaniment without any external logical or visible reasons).

“Who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that dost wonders!” (Psalm 76:13)

A holiday miracle of the 'Candlelight prayer'

Before Christmas, our one year and three months old baby girl got a cold - with fever, a sore throat, and coughing. Shortly after I got sick as well, have a strong cough, migraines and I was feeling very weak.

After a week we were feeling better and so we went out, but various germs found our bodies weakened and both of us caught even worse colds. Our daughter started having a high fever, and then I followed. Those days my husband was working, as he is a nurse. On the 30th of December I woke up at 3 am in a very bad condition. My temperature reached almost 40 degrees, so I took a pill to reduce the fever. In the morning I woke up in an awful state – I was so weak that I couldn’t do anything, I was feeling dizzy when I was getting out of bed, I still had a fever, and our baby still needed me to take care of her, to feed her, to wipe her nose… But I couldn’t do anything. My husband wasn’t working that day and helped me. In the afternoon I tried for two hours to fall asleep next to my daughter, but I was feeling terrible and cold, and even though I was very well covered, I was shivering. I took another (countless) pill against the fever and in an hour my temperature was 39.3.

Up until that moment, I was torn at the thought of asking for someone’s prayers, I said to myself that I should bear it on my own. I had called my mother. Seeing my condition, I was afraid I was going to die (the last time I had felt so sick was when I was truly close to dying in a hospital…) and I hadn’t been to confession for around two weeks. I kept thinking of the way I would present myself in front of God if I were going to die. Thinking of my baby girl, I decided to ask three sisters in the Lord to pray for me. My husband also reacted very fast when he saw that my temperature wouldn’t drop. He realized it could be pneumonia and called a friend who is a doctor. At 6 pm I took an antibiotic. I talked to someone to come the next day and take care of our poor baby, as my husband was working and it was the 31st of December so he couldn’t take the day off. I kept feeling awful, I couldn’t even eat – I was nauseous, my temperature was only a bit lower, and at midnight I took another pill against fever.

After being so sick for the whole day, feeling that I might even die, when my daughter woke me up at 4 in the morning it was like I was a different person. I was feeling strong, I didn’t have any fever at all, I was able to take care of my baby who wasn’t sleepy, and afterwards I peacefully fell asleep with her. I was praising God for having resurrected me… It is awful for a mother to see her baby sick and to be so powerless! So in the morning when I woke up and realized that I am really feeling better and that I am able to hold my daughter in my arms, I was so happy! From that moment I didn’t have a fever anymore, so I realized that a miracle had occurred and I thanked those three persons for their prayers.

I was very happy to hear that our spiritual father had found out about my state and asked those from the 'Candlelight prayer' to intercede for me. I had found the explanation for my miracle. It is a great miracle that I experienced, never before when I had felt so bad, with such high fever, did I have such a quick recovery! Last summer I also had pneumonia and only after many days of taking an antibiotic did I feel better… My parents had also realized that my condition was severe, because although being thousands of kilometers away and without having given them many details, they told me they cried that evening for hours. They had only done this once before, when I had a very serious car accident.

The days that followed I was still sick (I was coughing, spitting blood, having migraines), but I had strength, I wasn’t trembling anymore, I was feeling less dizzy and I was able to manage caring for my baby. A week has passed by and she got well, and I am almost well now.

And what is more important to mention is that in those days in which they interceded for me, even if I was physically feeling bad, it was as if I was floating… I was feeling covered by a wave of warmth in my soul, by peace, by my brothers’ love, by their prayers… prayers that I didn’t even ask for… So much love, that I don’t even deserve! On the 31st of December I could only say “Glory to You, Lord!”.

Once again I saw that the mercy of the Good Lord is above all things, that midnight prayers have six wings (like the cherubim) and that the love of many melted in the 'Candlelight prayer' can heal even the most terrible wounds…

Below you can find a few testimonials:

The blessing of being part of a parish

During our last pilgrimage in Greece, Pavel, our little three-year-old boy, developed a mild laryngitis (a few days of mild fever, a bit of hoarseness and a sporadic cough).

After the pilgrimage ended we went to Romania to visit our parents, where in a few days he completely recovered without medication. Over the next five to six days, he showed no other symptoms or problems. But in the last day of our vacation, right before returning to Belgium (where we live), Pavel developed a fever of 40 degrees in the middle of the night.

Although we regularly gave him ibuprofen and Paracetamol, his fever only fell under 39 degrees for short periods of time . I constantly changed his sheets, I put on him socks with vinegar, I gave him homeopathic remedies, but the fever continued to be very high and the child was listless and kept crying. There were, however, no other symptoms.

We left for Belgium and during the flight, I kept administering compresses, giving him the useless Paracetamol, but his fever was still hovering at 40 degrees. When we arrived home he seemed to perk up a little and fever dropped to 39.5. I thought it would be a good idea to give him a warm bath about with water of around 37 degrees in order to lower his fever further. To our despair, when I took him out of the water his temperature neared 41 degrees! We couldn’t even believe the number on the thermometer, none of our children had ever been through anything like this before.

Frightened, I called a good friend who is a pediatrician, and we were advised to go to the emergency room without delay. At 8 o’clock in the evening we changed his sheets for the countless time and gave him Nurofen; we hoped to cool him down but in vain - the thermometer was very stubborn: 40.6 degrees, and the poor child was crying and wanted to sleep.

At eight thirty, I dressed him and we went to the hospital. On the way we told our spiritual father about Pavel’s situation and he immediately sent a message to all the people in our parish asking them to pray for Pavel ... when we got to the hospital the fever already dropped to 39. While we were waiting in the hallway of the hospital the fever continued to drop further and he became playful. The doctors consulted him and took urine and blood samples but found no visible outbreak of infection.

As we waited for the results, Pavel slept with a temperature around of around 37 degrees. Meanwhile in the adjoining rooms came two more children: both vomiting blood, one having a spectacularly bad cough as well as an ear infection and the other one with high fever, crying unceasingly during the entire time we were there. We thought how blessed and protected we were to have had the prayers of our parish. While these little children were struggling terribly, our Pavel was sleeping peacefully in his hospital bed.

I went home with him asleep and he hasn’t developed a fever since then, although we fully expected him to – even the doctors had prepared us for this . We expected that the fever would last several days, even if in a milder form. Never before had his fever disappeared in a blink of an eye, with no return at all in the hours ahead, the recovery had always been gradual. We could not believe it: a few hours before his fever burning at 41 degrees and now he was peaceful and completely healthy.

The brothers and sisters in our parish ceaselessly mentioned his name in prayer that night. For their love, God and the Mother of our Lord granted a miracle to our Pavel: his fever and pain were taken away immediately after their prayers rose toward the Heavens. Glory to the mercy of the Lord! Glory to the Mother of God! We thank to everyone who prayed for our Pavel.

The power of prayer

Vlad is the youngest in our family. He was only 18 days old when he was admitted to the emergency care unit of the “Reine Fabiola” children’s hospital in Brussels. On the morning of October 1st 2014, we noticed that there were traces of blood in his excrements. Although we are both doctors, we phoned a pediatrician who advised us to go to the children’s hospital, as he considered something very severe was going on. Our tension and fear were increasing as time went by. Together with Vlad’s godmother, who is a pediatrician, we were going over all possible causes. At the hospital, our baby was seen by a pediatrician, who is a professor and the chief of pediatric resuscitation in Europe. I was at least content that he was not a beginner and I was confident in the experience of this renowned physician. All this time I couldn’t stop crying. My baby was so little and he was suffering so much.

They had to give him a perfusion, to draw blood from both his veins and his arteries. So many needles in two arms that were so little. They were trying to fool him with small doses of glucose so he that he would not move when they were stinging him. Our little Vlad is a hero, he was so brave. They also took samples of his excrements and sent us to get ultrasound test. The radiologist was also a very good doctor: the best according to the doctor who was in charge of Vlad’s case. The radiologist looked worried, so he also asked us to do an x-ray. When the results came back, Vlad was suspected of having “necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)”. It was already late in the evening when we went up to the room where they set up Vlad’s bed. I was feeling the world collapsing under my feet, I thought I was in a nightmare from which I was waiting to wake up, but couldn’t…

In the room, Vlad was connected to all kinds of monitoring machines, he had wires all over so I didn’t even know how to dress him, how to hold him, how to change his diaper. I remember in the beginning I only dressed him in a body suit and covered him with a thick blanket, until his father came up with the idea to cut his clothes in the right places so that we would be able to dress him. I didn’t close an eye during all that nightmarish night. Nurses were telling me that I could leave him in his bed and sleep in the bed next to him. To me his bed seemed too far, I had the impression that if I was lying in the next bed, I was abandoning my baby. I didn’t want to leave him even for a second. I was holding him in my arms, I was praying, I was looking at him, singing to him and promising him that life is also beautiful, not just painful. I wanted to let him know that life is worth fighting for, that he is surrounded by love and he is a very desired child. In the room there was the icon of the Protection of the Theotokos, an icon that we have from the monastery with the same name where we go from time to time, as well as an icon that we received from Vlad’s godmother, a bottle with holy water sanctified on the day of his birth and a photo with father Arsenie Boca, received from a friend. I was praying that Vlad would get well and that we would be able to go home. A Romanian nurse, may God bless her, was crying out of compassion for us. She forced me to eat, to drink water, to go to the bathroom. It seems stupid, but those moments in the hospital were very precious, and I wanted to spend as much time with my baby as possible. I wanted to be able to stretch time, as I was afraid of what tomorrow would bring.

We did another x-ray and an ultrasound test. The diagnosis of necrotizing enterocolitis was confirmed. A lot of doctors and nurses surrounded us from all directions. Surgeons, pediatricians, anesthetists from intensive care (where we had to move), gastroenterologists came to talk to us, I don’t even remember how many they were and what they were telling us. They were all palpating Vlad, and I could see that they were trying to find the right words to explain to me in a gentle way that his condition was severe, that treatment would take three weeks in the intensive care unit (ICU), without eating, that he would be put on a central catheter, that there was a risk was of a perforation that would lead to peritonitis which would need immediate surgery, that there were high chances of complications.

But it was my husband that scared me the most. My husband, who is an emergency doctor and also works for Smurd. Seeing him crying and desperate, he who is usually very calm and in control of his emotions, I realized the situation was very severe. Sobbing, he told me we have to be strong, that we can expect anything and that I shouldn’t forget our little girl who we also have to be strong for. We were wondering how are we going to explain all this to Maria, who was only five years old and who adored her little brother and was waiting for him home. At that time Bogdan, my husband, told me he called Father C. and asked him to come and baptize Vlad. That morning a friend of mine had also called and suggested to me that I should call a priest, but God forgive me, I was scared. I didn’t think of prayer at that time, but rather of morbid things, and I ignored her advice – I even got upset. I was under the impression that all those around me had lost all hope. I still had hope, I was praying to our Lord Jesus Christ and to His Mother. I was crying, but I had hope. Seeing my husband despair, I sent him home, as I wanted to remain positive.

They forbid me from feeding Vlad – I couldn’t even give him his vitamins and after a few hours they introduced a nasogastric probe in order to vacuum all the secretions in his stomach. During all this time, my baby didn’t eat anything, he was crying of hunger, he was suffering, that pump and the wires were disturbing him… what a nightmare, what suffering... I wanted to take his place. I wanted to take away all his pain and suffering. He was so little and he was enduring grownup things that were too much for such a little soul. We arranged with Father C. to come on Friday, October 3rd, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon in order to baptize him. After installing the probe, Vlad had another ultrasound that day as well as x-rays every four hours, to check the position of the probe so it wouldn’t perforate the intestine. They were saying that the first 48 hours aware the most risky. After each examination (at 2 o’clock 6 o’clock, 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock in the morning), the pediatrician was coming to assure me that the probe is in the right place, that the intestine was not penetrated and that the image of the enterocolitis was still the same.

After this second horrible night, at 8 o’clock in the morning we went for another ultrasound test and an x-ray, before moving to intensive care where they were going to insert a central catheter. The doctor was female and about forty years old, and after fifteen minutes of the ultrasound test, she informed us she needed to ask for a second opinion as she could see nothing wrong on the ultrasound. The chief of radiology came in and after a thorough examination told us that the results are normal. I was stunned, I didn’t know what to believe anymore. The doctor noticed that I wasn’t feeling well, I was dizzy and I couldn’t stop crying. She also checked the x-ray done right before the ultrasound and confirmed that there was no trace of necrotizing enterocolitis and that the images were perfectly normal. When I got to the previous section of the hospital, I was telling everyone around me that the exam turned out normal. I was in a state of such joy that it is impossible to describe. Everything seemed surreal, I had passed from one extreme to the other, from hell to heaven; I’m not at all exaggerating. After a few minutes the chief pediatrician came in with four resident doctors and she told me: “in medicine we cannot explain everything.” She was embarrassed, she knew that both of us were doctors and she didn’t have scientific explanations. But we knew that this was the work of God and that we were confronted with a divine miracle.

That day they removed the probe and we started feeding him progressively, with small quantities of special milk, because they said the necrotizing enterocolitis had apparently appeared because of an allergy to cow milk protein, a protein that seems to pass through to maternal milk. That night they also removed Vlad’s perfusion and after other two days we were allowed to return home. We called our Father right after the pediatrician confirmed that our little Vlad was well and that he didn’t need the intensive care treatment anymore. Father C. decided to baptize him on the date we had initially agreed on, in the church, the way it is normally done. It was then when we found out that all throughout the nightmarish night, when they took Vlad’s x-rays every four hours, the people in our parish had all been praying for him, especially those who belong to the “Candle light prayer” that is alive in our parish. At the time we didn’t know some of those people and we are profoundly grateful to them. I was impressed by what they did and especially by the power of their prayers. I am sure that God loves them a lot and loves us too.

We were intimately acquainted with “the hell of despair”, but we also tasted the sweetness of godly love. May the Lord help us in our faith, may it become more powerful so that our souls may be saved. May the Lord forgive and enlighten us!

Nedelea family, Belgium

We knew that God works wonders, but we never thought a miracle could happen with us too!

Our little girl, Miruna Maria, came to us as a miracle from God. This is why we picked this name for her. She was a very desired baby. At her birth, on 24 August 2014, we felt the first real emotions of our lives. She was received in love and this was evident in the way she grew up. Although a small baby at birth, she quickly recovered and kept the pace with the older children. She was and is an exceptional baby who had no health problems, eating and sleeping well, and she has become a burst of energy. I still remember with emotion the first time she laughed aloud. We felt such joy, and our souls were fulfilled.

On June 28th I was returning from a delegation, and we wanted to go out with Grandma and the baby for a walk in the park. We are privileged to have Grandma close to us so that she can take care of Mirunica. Hugging her, I felt a lump in her left arm. Knowing that she didn’t fall or have any other problem, I grew worried and I called the pediatrician immediately. (I studied biochemistry and I thought that such a lump cannot be good, regardless of what it might be). But it was Sunday, which meant the answering machine responded, redirecting me to two other pediatricians. I called one of the doctors, but we set up an appointment quite late, at least for us. We agreed to go to the emergency room at the Saint-Luc University Hospital, which is 5 minutes away from us. In the emergency room, after the doctors performed a routine check up (basic measurements and parameters), they explained that they will do an ultrasound.

While looking at the images of the ultrasound, the doctor seemed increasingly worried. I asked whether it was something serious and he replied that he is not a specialist, and he will show his superior the images. After three hours of waiting for an interpretation of the ultrasound we were sent home and were told that they would call us once they have the results. After another three tense hours of sitting at home, we returned to the hospital and the doctor on duty told us that he has received a response from the best doctor possible (Prof. Dr. Brichard) not long before and that no one can say exactly what it is, but that it was certainly not an inflamed lymph node or a hematoma. Honestly, I was happy about the answer, since we could now rule out two evil possibilities. We were asked to come back in two days for another ultrasound to see the evolution of the swelling.

On Tuesday, June 30th, I returned to the hospital and obediently followed route 490, as we were asked to on Sunday. When we reached the 490 route, to my surprise I realized there were many posters about cancer, and then I saw children coming either for consulations or for chemotherapy. I started to cry and told my mother where we are, in what department, and that I do not understand why they sent us here. I even asked at reception if this was the oncology ward, which was confirmed. Through my tears, I explained my surprise to the first doctor who consulted Miruna. What followed was a very traumatic day for her, in particular with the taking of blood samples, repeated ultrasound and other routine checks. At the end of the day I talked to Dr. Brichard and I explained to her that I do not understand why we were there. She assured me that they treat "bad lumps", but also the less concerning ones and that I do not have to worry until the experts come back with the results. Since the blood tests were good and the ultrasound did not provide any relevant additional information for determining the tumor (because that’s what the "lump" was), we were told that they would do an MRI to see if they could have more clues about this fleshy vascularized mass. Thursday we turned up for the MRI, which was performed under general anesthesia (since it is rather difficult to keep a ten month old baby asleep for thirty minutes). Following this examination we were told that there is insufficient information and so they scheduled a biopsy (tissue sampling) for July 7th.

Another general anesthesia followed and concern grew over the multitude of examinations performed by doctors without having a clear answer. We grew worried also because of the fact that we inevitably came into contact with parents of children with cancer. After the biopsy we were told that on Friday, July 10th, we will receive the results. We waited two hours for these results. As a mother, I was more pessimistic after what I had seen in the hospital, and after a multitude of tests carried out, although my husband was optimistic. Around 10.30, Prof. Dr. An Van Damme called out the name of our little girl. I entered into the consultation room. I could read the tension on the doctor’s face. Little by little she began to explain what happened during the biopsy and to tell us that Miruna was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma (cancer of the soft tissue, located on the skeletal muscles). I felt our world was falling apart. It seemed impossible that a child who was always so good, so joyful to be diagnosed with cancer. We cried that our only child has cancer, a cancer whose survival rate is 20% over 5 years. A PET Scan examination was to determine on Wednesday, July 15th if the tumor was localized or if there were other places where it had spread.

I had been at the monastery at Vedrin the Sunday before that, at the place where Miruna was baptized by Father C. (on November 8th - the Feast of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel) but we hadn’t talked to him about our troubles. We had only talked to the Mother Superior and I explained that at a certain point the doctors had not known exactly what it was, but now we knew and we were horrified. But I had to talk to Father to find guidance toward prayer, toward the Light, toward God. I went to the Sunday Liturgy and at the end I told Father C. about our sorrow. Our souls were sad, hopeless. Our only thoughts were directed towards God. I prayed for us to get through this terrible disease. But Father, with his characteristic kindness, told me that prayer can work wonders. He asked if I knew about Saint Ephraim. I admitted that I had not heard of this saint before. He directed me to pray to the Virgin Mary and to Saint Ephraim. Moreover, he gave me a book about the life and miracles of Saint Ephraim and another, "Where God is not seen." Without knowing, the father asked his spiritual children to pray with him for our child. These were people who did not know us and we did not know them, but they wre people with big hearts (they mentioned Miruna’s name also at the Candlelight Prayer). I returned to Brussels with a peaceful soul. Seconds, hours, days passed by ever so slowly until Wednesday. We prayed continuously, I anointed Mirunica with holy oil from Saint Ephrem and St. Nektarios.

We promised ourselves that we would not cry in front of her, but the pain was too great and the tears did not stop streaming. On Wednesday, a new general anesthesia and a scan took place to determine if the cancer was localized or widespread. I prayed for the result not to be too serious. I saw children suffering from chemotherapy and I imagined our little angel going through the same ordeal and I prayed to Our Lady to help us through the ordeal, incessantly repeating "Most Holy Mother of God have mercy on us!". We prayed to her to please take care of our Maria too. Meanwhile I was updating Father C. with what was happening at the hospital and he told me to pray to the Mother of God and that they are also praying.

That day, I felt a heavenly protection around us. Doctors already had planned to implant a catheter to administer chemotherapy, as wel as a lymph node biopsy and the removal of the ovaries, since chemotherapy would have side effect of infertility. Prior to the consultation with the gynecologist for the removal of the ovary and the biopsy, Dr. Delannoy came in with some final indications. It was around 14:00 (I had been in the hospital since 7:00 in the morning) when he told us that although it had been confirmed it was a sarcoma (cancer), genetic tests of the biopsy still left some doubts, they were not sure yet. I felt tremendous joy and hope was born again in our hearts: our prayers and those of many others were heard! I must admit that when I left home reading about the miracle that happened to Vladut (the story is also on this website), baptized on the same day as Miruna, I didn’t believe that such miracle could also happen to us! Yet the wonder was confirmed the next day on Thursday, July 16th, when doctors told us that Miruna doesn’t have cancer! It was a divine miracle!

Friday I went to the monastery to thank Father C. for his guidance on prayer, for his prayers, for those of his spiritual children, and to thank to his wife who gave us a cord that was touched by the Virgin Mary’s holy belt as a gift. We also wanted to thank him for the advice given, and to thank those many people who prayed for our child! As the sun is light for the body, so prayer is light for the soul!

May God enlighten our minds, hearts and steps forever and ever!

Children born from prayer

I am penning these thoughts with unspeakable gratitude towards the Lord for all the wonders in my life. Wonders, huge gifts from Christ have been present in my life even during the times when I didn’t know where they came from, when I didn’t value them or I was even recklessly thinking that I deserved them… The first and maybe the one from which all the others originated is my godmother. The Lord granted me a godmother who is now watching over me from the Kingdom of Heaven. I am saying this with conviction because of the permanent smile present on her face her entire lifetime, a life of pain and disease unknown to medicine, which has carved its way in her frail body ever since she was 19. She was always praying and always smiling. Even if without teeth and hair, with a rosy skin which made the bones visible, an unearthly scent emanated from all her being… she smelled like a baby.

Because her prayers, after wasting my youth in mistakes after mistakes, I finally returned to the Church. We already had a baby at that time, and we wished for another one. But time was passing by and the pregnancy tests I was doing monthly, my heart beating wildly, were always negative. Although medically everything was all right, as I had already conceived a baby girl, for almost two years I wasn’t able to get pregnant. We were sad, impatient and had little faith… At a certain moment in time, the brothers in our parish had an initiative that seemed novel for someone like me - ignorant, I am ashamed to say – to the treasures that the love of Christ pours on those who unite in godly requests: the Psalter was read every night for a few of us, each with his or her problem or suffering. The miracle happened without delay, strengthening the faith of all: after only a few weeks, five women from our community got pregnant, including myself. Great was and still is our joy for this long-waited-for baby that prayer alone brought into our lives!

In one year after the birth of this baby, God sent us a new surprise who is now warming our hearts with her almond shaped eyes and the dimple in her right cheek. The pregnancy progressed very well, without any special problems, but when I was close to delivery something unexpected happened: my father in law was admitted to the emergency room, his health being very fragile. Talking on the phone with my mother in law, I felt that my husband’s presence would have been the only thing he could have ”caught on to” in his fight to live. It was just that we lived in a different country, and I had decided to give birth at home, with a midwife, and not in the hospital… of course that my small heart would have wanted to keep my husband close to me in the hard moments of giving birth, but still, I could not have forgiven myself if something wrong happened because of my selfishness. So my husband took the first flight available and left. Predictably, hardly a day later the labour pains started. “It’s easy to do a good deed, but the real fight is not to complain in the face of the consequences of that deed”, my spiritual father was telling me. I was feeling lonely, a little scared that I was far from the safety of a hospital, and especially from my husband, my support… But in the hours to come I was everything except lonely. I was helped at home, the other children behaved so well, a close friend came and comforted my pain, both physical and spiritual, and most importantly, I had a peaceful labour, without any moment of trouble. Only twenty minutes after midnight, on the day when the “saint of the prisons”, Valeriu Gafencu, is commemorated, my little girl was born. And my father in law recovered from his critical condition and lived to see this granddaughter as well. All these are without doubt thanks to the prayers of those who interceded for me at the Candlelight Prayer, wherever they were in those moments, united in one thought to give love and unseen support to me, the one who for so long had run away from Christ…

Adi's Testimony

My name is Adi S., I have lived for four years in Belgium and I would like to tell you about a miracle I experienced a few months ago. This miracle happened by the mercy of God and by the prayers of brothers participating in the Candelight Prayer.

It was Tuesday, June 3rd 2014, at 6:30 in the morning. I was still at work, during the night shift, waiting to fill in my report, when the phone rang. At the other end was my father. I declined the call (out of respect for my colleagues, in order to complete the report), but the phone rang again after a few minutes. This time it was a cousin of mine, who was usually the one to update me with news from home (unfortunately, mostly about relatives passing away: my grandfather, my uncle, and my aunt, who all fell asleep in the Lord in the last two years). This time I took the call, as I was feeling that something was not right, and I convinced that it was about my grandmother who was suffering from breast cancer.

The news, however, was even more unexpected. My mother had suffered a crisis, which caused her to lose her conscience, and she was urgently brought to the hospital in critical condition. I got home at around 7:15, and fell down on my knees in front of the Saviour’s icon, crying out to Him: “Lord, I beg you, don’t take her from me!”. After that, I sent an email to our priest and asked him to pray for her, so that I could gain time to go home and find her alive, and give her one more kiss, regardless of whether she was conscious or not. I had not seen her for a year, because, since my wife was pregnant, we decided not to travel this year and instead to have mom come to the baptism of our daughter. In a short while, our priest sent messages to those enrolled in the candlelight prayer, and they started to pray, even if the time of the prayer had not come. I called a very good “brother”, to ask him as well to pray for my mother, and he asked me a rhetorical question which broke my heart: “Why did your mother decide to leave so soon, and not want to see her little granddaughter, Natalia? (who was to be born in October)”.

Although tired after the night shift, I asked my cousin to call me whenever she received any news, and the bad news kept coming. The blood tests my mother had in Piatra Neamț uncovered a chronic liver cirrhosis, with the value of transaminases double than normal, and 46 000 trombocites (while the normal range is between 150 000 - 400 000). Because the CT scanner in Piatra Neamț was out of order, she went to another town, Roman, where a subdural hematoma was found in the left hemisphere following a vascular stroke (her blood pressure was 19/10), so she was urgently transferred to the Neurosurgery Hospital in Iași.

In the evening, my brother in law, Florentin, who is a priest, came to her for the Holy Confession and Holy Communion. He received her confession with great difficulty, as she was very confused, with short moments of lucidity. When he gave her the Holy Communion, he discovered a lot of blood in her mouth (due to some micro blood losses), and confirmed that she was in a critical state. The physician who looked after her put her under treatment (with pills and thrombocyte transfusion), but the following nights were like a nightmare. She was tied to bed in order not to stand up, wearing pampers…

The next day I phoned the physician to find out about my mother’s condition and to ask if I have to come urgently or if I can wait for 3-4 days so I can finish the night shifts… afterwards I was going to have 6 free days. The physician answered that no one knows and he cannot guarantee for a certain evolution (although the blood losses had stopped – the only positive news and the first hope). The optimist version was that the hematoma would reabsorb with treatment and the pessimist one that she would fall into coma and then she would need surgery despite the potential bleeding and thus aggravating of her condition, but it was the only possible intervention. All this time, Candlelight of Prayer intercessions did not stop.

Those days I worked night shifts (11 hours/night), preparing medication for 104 residents (a great responsibility), and sleeping very little during daytime, between two calls from Romania. It is only the mercy of God that helped me to bear this schedule and to focus on what I had to do at work.

On Monday, the 16th of June, with the help of God (after a long trip Brussels - Bucharest - Piatra Neamț - Iași and sleepless days) I made it to Iași and found her alive, conscient and quite present. She recognized me, but she didn’t realize I had come from far, that I didn’t come with my wife, nor why was she there and what she had been through. I visited her every day. Her condition was remained serious, the number of trombocites was not rising, and the doctor couldn’t operate on her until they reached values around 70 000. I only had 6 days off, including traveling time, so on Thursday I visited her for the last time and found her very changed (weakened, unmotivated, without appetite). I asked her to promise me that she would fight to live. On Friday I spent the whole day making my way back to Belgium.

Saturday morning I called the hospital for an update and the nurses told me to call at the intensive care unit, because my mother had had surgery. For a moment my heart stopped, knowing that they couldn’t operate her because of the bad tests results. Calling the doctor, he told me that on Friday night she got into coma and they immediately operated her. Her condition was now good, but she remained with a hemiparesis on the right side. It was then when I felt with all my soul the power of the Candleight Prayer and I thanked the Good Lord that my mother was alive, even if there were important ramifications from this entire episode.

But for the countless time God showed me how good He is with us and after other two days (in which the Candlelight Prayer for my mother didn’t stop), the hemiparesis remitted, my mother started eating, even taking a few steps after another 2-3 days, and in one week they released her.

At home she continued the treatment and diet, she started walking more and more, she was cooking, and she practically took back her wifely role, during which time her trombocites raised up to 120 000, and the transaminases went down to values a bit over the superior limit. Two weeks ago she visited the doctor who had operated her and he found that everything was under control. The only problem for my mother was some small pains in her right arm and leg, those that were paralyzed.

I thus lived a great miracle, a miracle through which I realized how important it is for someone to be interceded for at the Candlelight Prayer!

When an angel and the Mother of God drove the car

At the time the story happened, I had already left Romania for some months and I became attached to a parish and that was protected by the Candlelight Prayer.

I was waiting for my legal documents to be issued in order to start working, but they had been delayed. Therefore, I decided to go to Romania to solve the issue myself, but my spiritual father did not give me the blessing to leave. After some days, a good friend of mine called to tell me she knew a friend, A, who was going to Romania by car. My friend thought that he could take me too.

I wanted to ask my spiritual father again if I should leave, but, right in the middle of our conversation, somebody interrupted us. At that point I remembered that it is best to fully receive and to respect the first thought of one’s spiritual father, so I decided not to ask him again. But, shortly before A left by car for Romania, my good friend called me again to ask me if I was sure I didn’t want to go as well. I then gave in and called my spiritual father to explain the situation once again – that it is a real opportunity, that I would travel without paying anything and I have a chance to solve my problem. My spiritual father gave in and let me have my way.

The following day I met with A and we left. He was a good looking person, and I knew that he was a doctor and a university professor. Immediately after we entered the highway, he started behaving strangely. Although I had fixed the GPS and despite the fact that we had a map, he started saying that we had taken the wrong way. To give the reader a context, our route was supposed to be Belgium-Romania. Although we had left Belgium, and we were already close to Köln, he kept on saying: “look, we are back in Belgium”. At first I did not know how to react and I did not dare say anything. I was thinking he was a university professor, so he must know what he was talking about. But soon he started swearing at everyone around him – everyone in the traffic was in his way, everyone was mistaken. Hardly one minute would pass without him swearing at someone. From this point on, his driving style changed as well. He started passing cars on the highway just as one does in PlayStation games; he would go in front of trucks, change from one lane to the other in a very chaotic way. Only by the grace of God were we protected in the last second by the many cars which were about to hit us. Although everyone was honking us, he continued to pull stunts such as these.

I had already started worrying and I was thinking to write to my spiritual father, and ask him to pray for us. At the same time, I did not dare to do so, because my conscience was telling me that I was travelling to Romania only because I had forced his blessing.

The driver’s behavior became stranger and stranger. Shortly before arriving in Frankfurt, he left the highway several times, insisting that we had been on the wrong way and that we had approached Belgium. Although I repeatedly tried to convince him we were on the right track, he was leaving the highway and seeking alternative routes. Not long had passed before – probably somewhere between Frankfurt and Wurzburg - the horns started to be more numerous. He was swearing but the horns would not stop. Even now I have the image of a car with Suceava registration plates which overtook us - the passenger sitting on the front right side opened the window and made a sign for us to stop. Nonetheless, A was swearing and was wondering what the other person had toobject. In that chaos I realized that our right side tyre had exploded. I told this to A, but he said we could keep on driving for at least some kilometers. Finally he stopped and, after he looked at the tyre, he told me to call 112. I tried to convince him there was no point in calling 112, but he insisted. Although I had not changed a tyre in my life, I dared trying to do so while he was staring at me. It was very difficult, but I managed it somehow. In the end, I felt almost sorry I had done it, as I had two reasons to be scared: firstly, I still needed to be in the car with him driving, and, secondly, we were now driving a car whose tyre I had changed.

And rightly so, the nightmare was just about to unleash. From this point on, somewhere between Frankfurt and Wurzburg, and nearing Vienna, A was driving using only the emergency lane. To no avail did I try to make him realize that we were the only ones driving on the emergency lane or that we were risking a ticket from the police…he was unstoppable. From that point on and until Vienna he didn’t take any break. I begged him to stop to rest a little bit…but it was as if he wasn’t even hearing me. He fell asleep while driving several times. He still did not want to stop. He said that it was good to keep on using the emergency lane. On the way to Vienna, I had pulled the steering wheel at least three times, in order to avoid direct and fatal crashes. At least seven time we were about to crash into the highway parapet. At least two times other drivers had to break suddenly to avoid us – many times the truck drivers had to break because he would overtake them and get just in front of them in a way I had not seen even on computer games. We drove like this until close to Vienna, where, at around 10 o’clock in the evening, he decided to stop in a parking lot. Both of us exited the car and went to the toilet. When both of us came back, he immediately fell asleep. I was relieved, thinking he would get some rest and then we would drive normally on the highway. After a couple of minutes I needed to go back to the toilet. When I came back, I thought I had forgotten where the car was parked. I couldn’t find the car: I circled around and finally realized that he had left, abandoning me in the parking lot, at 10 o’clock and with no luggage nor jacket. Praise the Lord that I kept my wallet and my ID in my trousers pocket. Otherwise, I would have really been in trouble! My instant thought was: ‘He will die on the highway; with his style of driving, he will have a terrible crash any time soon’. It was then that I decided to call my spiritual father and to tell him what had happened. His first reaction was: “‘It was with such a heavy heart that I gave you the blessing to leave”. It was at that point that I realized what it means to force the blessing of one’s spiritual father.

Father sent a text message to the people from the Candlelight Prayer to start praying NOW for the driver, and I called 112 to warn that a person was in great danger. Among other things, I forgot to mention that immediately after we left Belgium, A’s phone had broken down. So in vain did I try to call him. I had spent the entire night circling around the parking lot to warm up. In the meanwhile, I contacted A’s wife – she was also unable to reach him.

Although several cars with Romanian registration plates went through the parking lot, nobody believed my story. Nobody wanted to take me to Romania by car, probably thinking that I was some sort of crook. As the morning was approaching, a truck driver who had just prepared to go to sleep when we had arrived in the parking lot, woke up. Seeing that I was doing circles in the parking lot, he honked and made a sign that he wanted to talk to me. Finally, although he had only two places for him and for his wife, he drove me to Arad.

Shortly before reaching Arad, the A’s wife called me. She had just found out that A had arrived safely in Timisoara. When she asked him about me, he said: ”I thought he was sleeping in the trunk”.

I am grateful to God that I finally got home safe and sound. But the greatest miracle is that grace to the Candlelight Prayer, A got home safely, driving in that state without interruption. I am actually convinced that an angel or the Mother of God were driving the car instead of him.

V.B., Belgium

The healing of Alexander’s father

I wish to thank everyone with all my heart for your prayers for my father, Alexander. By now some of you already know about the miracle that happened to him after just one night of the Candlelight Prayer.

It all started on Sunday, 1st May, the first day of Pascha (Easter). After that marvelous night of celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection together with all of you, I was awakened at 8 a.m. by a phone call from my brother. I rejected it since I was at someone else’s house and there was another person sleeping in the room. I replied with a text message saying I would call back later but he kept ringing. Then my sister called just a few minutes later. I did the same as with my brother but she also insisted. Only then did I realize something could have been wrong at home. I phoned my sister, who hit me with the news: “I called to tell you that dad is in the hospital. He is fine now. He felt bad and was sent to Iasi on the air ambulance.” I can’t imagine how one can remain calm after being informed they needed emergency services to save one’s life. As for me, it felt like my feet would fail me at that moment. Thirty years earlier, also around the beginning of May, he had had a serious accident. He ended up with a ruptured spleen, dislocated shoulder blade and a broken arm after falling from a power pole between a rock and a peg. By mercy of God, he landed between the two.

This time around, upon returning from the Paschal Divine Liturgy, my father laid on the bed to rest, and then he felt he could no longer breathe. My sister called the emergency services, who gave dad first aid and sent him to the regional hospital where he would receive all appropriate care. Doctors there decided to forward him to the Pneumophtisiology Hospital on an air ambulance since he could barely breathe at that point. The diagnosis was pneumothorax, which is an accumulation of air in the pleural cavity due to a crack in the lung. The lung was pushing on the heart and his blood pressure had reached 210. Medics proceeded immediately to introduce a tube between his ribs to remove the gathered air. At 10 a.m. Belgian time I spoke with dad who had already gone through the procedure and seemed OK. He was scared and very tired. The next few days were supposed to be spent at the hospital for to recover and he would return home around the end of Bright Week. My brother was keeping me informed on dad’s state. However, on Thursday he said the medic was not satisfied with how the recovery was going, as the lung would not inflate to maximum capacity. It seemed to still leak air, and therefore more rest at the hospital was required. An X ray performed on Monday showed the same result, then on Tuesday they did a CT scan that revealed a large rupture of the pleural layer near the right lung and further air pockets on the left one. The only solution was surgery to repair the ruptured tissue. That entails full anesthesia and accompanying pain in post-op recovery. They conducted all associated preoperative investigations on Wednesday, which to be followed by surgery on Thursday. That evening I wrote to Father Ciprian who decided to ask for the prayers of those enrolled in the Candlelight Prayer for the following two nights - on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday morning I received a call from my brother who said: “Dad is fine and there is no need for surgery anymore. His lung fills up to full capacity. The medic does not comprehend what happened. His only explanation is that Someone up there loves dad. For confirmation of complete lung fill up they did another X ray this morning.” Then I interrupted him and replied: “I have the proof! I have the proof! It’s the Candlelight Prayer. Their prayers brought about this miracle!” Indeed, a miracle happened to my father along with all the other great miracles the bestowed upon our parish during Bright Week. The Good Lord showed me, I who had been of little faith, that the power of prayer by b brothers and sisters together in Christ is unspeakable. The Mother of God and all the saints you went to for help gifted us with a miracle. My father is now at home, healthy and recovered.

Obedience and prayer

I had reached the term of my pregnancy with our forth child, Rafail, named after the saint who had brought him in our lives. A little past midnight, I said to myself that it was time to sleep. I counted once more the hours left until my dear husband was supposed to return from Romania. He had left three days before for a conference that he could not decline. Having already had the experience of Valeria’s (our third child) birth just the day after he unexpectedly left for Romania, we were both afraid that history would repeat itself and we were praying that our little boy would wait a little more, so that we could welcome him together into this world. According to my calculations, he was to be home at around 10:00 am. “The most difficult part is now behind us”, I was encouraging myself. I had had many contractions the during the previous week, including the day before, but they had all stopped eventually.

Valeria (our two year old girl) was peacefully asleep next to me, but I could not fall asleep. Strange, I thought to myself, since I usually sleep like a log. After a few hours of tossing and turning in my bed, towards 2:00 am I decided to go to the bathroom. I was not in pain, just restless. At 3:00 am though, a few contractions began…but who wanted to take them seriously? After so many false alarms during the week, I hoped with all my heart that this time too they would calm down. Yet God had another plan…at 3:30 am it became clear that I ’couldn’t linger in bed. This was all the more uncomfortable since I was not even able to count the minutes between the contractions.

Because my husband was away, the plan we had prepared was to call the midwife to take me to the hospital and to help me during labour. But I was embarrassed to call her at such an impossible hour, in particular with the fear that it might once again be a false alarm. Nevertheless, at 4:00 am I mustered all my courage and called. She couldn’t really tell from a distance if it was real labour or not, so she said she would come over to check. In the meantime, my husband was on his way to the airport, his flight was in just a couple of hours. We both wanted so badly to buy time…but who has time for sale? I was not sad though, I had decided to accept things as they came. I dared to send a text message to a few friends to pray for me, I couldn’t do that with more people due to the early hour. My husband did announce our spiritual father, who was on a pilgrimage in the Holy Land. I have no doubt that the prayer made for me in the hours to come truly changed the course of events.

A good friend of mine, who herself had a small baby, was willing to come to be next to me. I told her to wait, I wanted to avoid her coming in the middle of the night with her husband and breastfeeding baby…

At 4:35 am, the midwife knocked at the window. I opened the door, slightly bent, far from being completely on my own two feet…this alone made me suspect that the situation was more advanced than during the Holy Liturgy on Sunday. To my astonishment, however, the midwife found that I was dilated only 1, maximum 2 cm! The news fell like a thunder on me…it literally paralysed my judgement…I felt that I was going through something different, contractions were very frequent, not unbearable indeed, but I was not enjoying myself either…and all the preparatory contractions of the week before…all for only 1-2 cm?! The midwife expressed her regret, took her little bag and left, recommending that I take a hot bath while she returned to her soft pillow. In case things became serious, I was to call her.

I was sleepy and cold. Disappointed, I entered the tub with the very active phone next to me. I was in labour alone, yet closely accompanied by many warm hearts. The hot water brought some relief, but soon I started to experience something totally new: I was sick, I couldn’t breathe normally at all, I had the impression that half of my lungs were on holiday. In these circumstances, a brand new thought popped in my mind: although I was previously determined not to take the epidural, for the sake of my baby and my own health, now this was the only thing on my mind. I felt incapable to resist from my poor 1-2 cm up to 10 with all these shivers, difficult respiration, pains. I therefore texted my friend - who was already on her way to me with the entire family - that I could not take it anymore, that I wanted to go to the hospital (in order to take the epidural, naturally, in my cowardness). I put on the first clothes that I found and landed like a whale on the living room carpet. As soon as they arrived, at 5:30 am, we left for the hospital. My friend was shocked at how bad I looked, later she told me that I was shaking like a leaf. I informed the midwife of my departure, asking her to meet me there. My poor husband was calling me incessantly, hoping he could be there to catch the birth…

At around 6:00 am we arrived at the hospital. It had only taken 15 minutes to get there, but of course it had seemed like forever to me. . As soon as I stepped in there, between two contractions I “ordered” the epidural, but the hospital midwife was as slow as can be: “I need to check your dilation first”. “Fine, but call the aenestesist first please”, “Wait a little bit” . Motivated by the smell of the saving drug, I laid down on the bed. Surprise! When she verified, my dilation was 8 cm!! In barely one hour I had moved from 1cm to 8cm! That explained why it had felt so different. “But I still want my epidural pleeease!” I was whining even if I was rationally aware I stood very little chance of receiving it. As expected, by the time the anaesthetist came, I was fully dilated, so bye-bye epidural. That’s when my “experienced” personal midwife also entered the room, the one who recommended that I stay at home peacefully.

At 10 cm dilation, I was hoping things would end soon, but no luck. The hospital midwives could not agree that I start pushing before the gynaecologist arrived. It took many attempts to convince them, half-heartedly, to let me push. The water broke immediately and in an instant my big-eyed treasure appeared. All of a sudden, they started screaming “stop stop!”. Mommy’s energetic baby had the cord around his neck - twice! - but they didn’t tell me at that point in order not to scare me. Indeed, a good gynaecologist would have come in handy, but as there was none around, the ladies did their best. God helped them and Rafail was born safely. At 6:52 am his brave little man voice was the sweetest music to my ears.

I cannot thank God enough for the strange and unexpected sickness that He gave me during labour which determined me to go to the hospital. Had I stayed at home, as the midwife had recklessly advised, who could have helped when Rafail was came out, with the cord tightly wrapped around his neck? I have no doubt that this happy end happened solely due to the prayers which protected us. Very helpful must have been also the obedience made to my spiritual father. At our last conversation before the birth, I asked whether I could deliver at home or go to the hospital. Even if at my previous birth he had blessed a home birth, now I felt he inclined more towards the hospital birth.

At the time of writing, my wonderful boy sleeps peacefully next to me. He is our wonder: meek, calm, sweet, protected by Saint Rafail of Lesvos and loved by everyone!