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WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO KNOW
By PETER A. POSCA
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Rev. Peter A. Posca
All rights reserved.
LIFE IN GETTYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA
After graduating from the seminary, I was assigned to a parish in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There, I met two women who made a large impact on my life. They were both married, beautiful (I mean movie-star beautiful), and in their early twenties. When the first came to visit me, I took one look at her and knew I would have a tough time resisting the temptations of women. I subtly showed her to the door after a short ten-minute visit. The other woman was especially attractive, with her flowing sandy hair and bubbly personality. Her husband was an exceptional man whom I could not see offending in the least, so I never saw her again. It was the calling that the Good Lord gave me that helped most especially.
Another time, a pretty college girl slept in my car, which I kept unlocked. She was hoping to have hanky-panky when I was called to the hospital in the middle of the night. The Good Lord protected me; I was never called that night. As ugly as I am, I think she was disappointed.
Another significant person in my Gettysburg life was John. His reputation was that of a miserly hermit who never took a bath, and his house was dark and dirty like the inside of an unkempt car garage—downright filthy. John was thin and wore clothes that looked like clothes a homeless person would wear. The only time he washed himself was when he was bathed during his unfortunate trips to the hospital.
I began to notice that this miserly hermit had a lonely life. I would see him walking back from the supermarket, dragging his purchases home, barely making it. John had terrible body odor, but I didn't notice that until I offered to drive him to and from the supermarket. On several occasions, I said to myself, What have I gotten myself into? By the time I got him into my car and transported him to and from the supermarket, his reeking body and clothes left a noticeable odor in my brand-new car.
Helping John made me feel great—until he started coming to the rectory every Friday for a ride to the supermarket. I did not have the smiling face of a saint when the head priest would announce to me that John was at the back door. To be perfectly honest, when we arrived at the store, observing his childlike transformation was a joy to behold. John was like an excited child in the supermarket, trying to extend the time as much as possible—like a kid in a candy store. By and by, I ratcheted our time together up to taking him for ice cream also, which was heaven for him and made me feel good inside.
I didn't think about how much what I was doing affected John until people began to notice that he seemed much happier. Never did I expect that this was what heaven, church, love, and peace were all about. The nuns of the parish took part by bringing him homemade soup. John enjoyed the attention, and we both became celebrities in town. One college professor was so inspired that he invited John and me to his home for a special meal. At the time, I felt so proud to be associated with John that you could see the heart thumping out of my chest. It has always been a source of joy and great internal peace to look back and remember the beautiful smile on John's face.
You must be thinking, What does this have to do with heaven? Quite a bit. I think God was checking in on me, and heaven knew I needed to be checked in on.
Before we continue, I must tell you about one of the unbelievable Christmas stories I witnessed during my stay at Gettysburg.
I had always wanted to experience a white Christmas, and lo and behold, one came to Gettysburg the year after I began helping John—ten fluffy inches of white snow. All of the Christmas lights reflected off the snow in an amazing fashion, which made for an outstanding sight. Everyone was in the Christmas spirit. Also, a construction company owner came on Christmas with his trucks and earthmoving vehicles to make traveling around the church convenient for everyone. He was a gem of a person. More important for me, it was a reward from the Good Lord for helping the hermit and for treating him as an equal.
As a footnote, four years in a row, a church burned and lightning struck the bell tower while I heard confessions. Three years in a row, someone did an evil act by destroying three churches in the area.
These events brought a lurking question: Was the Good Lord making a statement?
Never did I expect what would come next. The Good Lord was about to give me a huge gift that would stay with me forever.
VISITING MY PARENTS
Many people think money is the best present or that a beautiful, makes-you-melt wife is a hard-to-beat present. That might be so, but for me, the best present was what happened in a bedroom of my parents' house.
One summer morning, suddenly, a physical voice said to me, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." It threw me clear off the bed. The voice filled my whole body. It was a male voice—booming but not too loud, gentle, and soothing. It made my day and my life, because I had tribulations galore all the time.
This is the first time I have ever revealed this event. I didn't even tell my father, because I knew what he would say: "You are not worthy for God to talk to you." To his remark, I knew I would back off like a dog with its tail between its legs. Although I live alone, to this day, I know I am never alone.
Whenever I visited my parents, it was like going back in time to my childhood—only better. My mother made me meals as if we were celebrating Christmas. I would sit at the kitchen table with my father, and he would tell me stories about the little town in Southern Italy where he was born. We would sit at the table for hours, and he never got tired of telling me the stories. My mother enjoyed the cooking and enjoyed listening in on the stories. To be honest, they were enjoying the fruit of their labors in me, and the fact that I came home and gave them respect and honor was heaven to them.
Consequently, my second childhood was better than the first, because I was giving back to them, the people in my life who loved me the most, and it was satisfying for all of us.
This was at least a tiny glimpse into the life of Heaven above.
One day, I disrespected my mother. The Good Lord was so livid that He caused a noticeable dent in my beautiful new car. It was not worth fixing, but when the sun brightened on it a certain way, it would remind me that the Good Lord did not tolerate such behavior. Some might argue that God is love and doesn't do such things. All I have to do is point you to the Bible, which proves God's discipline is often and obvious.
The block my parents lived on was noisy, but I had many friends to play with as a child. At times, my friends and I gave our parents headaches and fought as incidents arose. Most of us were lean and stringy, but we were tough mentally and physically. The kids from the wealthier parts of town were afraid to come to our part of town, for fear of being beat up. Children who were overweight were called Fatso, and the kids who wore glasses were called Four Eyes. Both were great insults. On a date, one of the guys saw me and then later told me that my date was too good for me. This did not do much for my confidence.
What does this have to do with heaven? I want you to know and trust me, because there are happenings I will share later that might be difficult to accept.
It took the Good Lord many years to teach me about heaven. He had to humble me and bring me to tears at times. He had to separate me and take me aside, where He could teach me. I was rebuffed by many, and churches and friends turned their backs on me. When my dad invited me to go to Italy for a month with him and my mother, I hesitated, for I thought it would be boring. However, I went, not knowing what I was in for—the experience of a lifetime and a highlight of my life. And the Good Lord's humbling me helped provide a wonderful experience.
We went to a tiny town in Southern Italy where my dad had been born—Isca—located on the Ionian Sea and eighteen miles across from Greece.
After landing in Rome, we took a ten-hour train ride to reach a tiny village. It was located high on a mountain, at least a mile above the sea, which you could see plainly from the town. At night, I saw more stars than I'd seen in my life. From the moment we arrived, it was one continuous enjoyment after another. It was paradise. Italy had everything palate-wise.
There was a pretty girl who took a shining to me, and I used to have to pass her house every day. The farms there were veritable gardens of Eden and had the best wine I had ever tasted. The lemons on the lemon trees were so yellow that they looked fake, but they were real. The olive trees were eye-catching. It was sunny there every day. The people of the village seemed content. They enjoyed sitting around the supper table and sharing conversation for hours. Everyone was healthy—no one was sick or crippled, and no one wore eyeglasses or hearing aids. The doctor came once a month for anyone who needed him. Like I said, it was indeed paradise. Now I see my time there as God preparing me for the real heaven—a paradise lasting forever.
The scariest part for me was when I was asked to give a sermon in Italian in a packed church. My parents were in the front row. Somehow I did it, and to this day, I look back with great satisfaction. The best part was the celebration of the patron saint of the town, Saint Marshall, a boy soldier who was martyred for his Christianity. The celebration was a nine-day feast, and the town was totally focused on this celebration. Each morning would begin with a bagpipe band parading through the town with special food and sweets every day of the celebration. The culmination was a special procession with the saint's relic through the town. I was given the high honor of personally carrying the saint's relic.
My parents were proud, especially my father, who had his chest protruding so far out because of me that his suit jacket seemed tight. That wasn't the end of it either. Later, the priest, a kind man, invited me back to his house for food that was the best I had ever eaten, and the young girls who waited on us were prettier than movie stars. Again God was giving me a preview of life in the real Heaven.
Are you taking notice of how I am beginning to tell you about heaven and the people there?
As you can imagine, I was totally wrong about visiting Italy for a month. I don't know if the people hated us or were glad to see us go, but for me, the trip went all too quickly. My dad hired a bus so that many of the relatives could see us off at the train station, which was two miles down the mountain. My month in Italy was a time always to be cherished. Now, back to the USA.
Before I say adieu to my hometown, I want to touch on some of the memories I will always take with me—the sports feats. When I played center field in a teenage baseball league, a batter hit a ball far over my head, but I turned my back, ran for it, and, at the last moment, stuck up my paltry glove. The ball miraculously landed in the webbing of my glove. Another time, there was a big basketball game in the seminary, and I made the winning shot from midcourt. At the last second, the ball swished at the buzzer. Last but not least, in my ten years of pocket billiards tournaments, I went undefeated. You might have memories that mean more, but for me, however, these moments were the Good Lord telling me, "You haven't seen anything yet."
One of the converts I made to Catholicism during my early days as a priest was a Lutheran minister's daughter. For whatever reason, she called the priest's house, the rectory, one Sunday morning. Always enjoying playing harmless practical jokes, I answered the phone by saying, "Hello, this is the morgue." On the other end, she couldn't stop laughing. Liking the lighthearted and cheerful attitude, she joined the church. I suspect her father greatly disagreed but still loved his daughter.
After settling in on this assignment in Gettysburg, I received a letter that informed me I was being transferred. Though it was shocking, I had one week to uproot and move on.
I'd like to think my time in Harrisburg was the time God opened me up to the real fireworks—miracles I never thought were possible.
I was relaxing on the rectory, the priests' porch, when an unidentified man approached me. He was not there to see just anyone; he was there to see me specifically. How or where he got my name was a mystery.
He openly asked if I could cast the devil out of a person. I had never considered the possibility, and it wasn't part of the curriculum at the seminary. We were only taught to go through the religious channels of exorcism by the diocese. However, this man was in need of an immediate solution.
With my faith in the Good Lord, I told him, hoping that it would get me off the hook, "Anyone who has the Holy Spirit could cast the devil out of a person."
Instead, he gave me a look that said, What about it? I then headed with him into the church building.
Although there was no one in the church, all the lights were turned on. I took him up to the communion altar rail and laid my hands on his head. Then I started silently praying to the Good Lord. Suddenly, he made a sound similar to hurricane wind. He shrieked in a voice louder than I'd thought was possible for any human being, and the echoes quickly filled the church. I continued to pray, but I had goose bumps running up and down my arms.
A form came out of him and passed by my ear. He was sweating profusely, and heavy mucus began running out of his nose. He was obviously a strong devil who had tried, as a last resort, to give me a heart attack. However, he lost because of my faith in the Good Lord. Instead of being shaken by the ordeal, I was immensely blessed, because God had judged me worthy enough to experience such a thing.
Immediately after the healed man went home, I went up to my room in the rectory. I prostrated myself in worship to the Good Lord, who had exposed the devil to me and made me conquer him. It was a shining moment in my life, for I had met my enemy face-to-face.
The man told me of his sins, which I cannot reveal to you, but they definitely opened the door to the Evil One and brought the man misery. I once gave witness to this experience in a church. I think the congregation was scared, because they never invited me back to their church.
As you can easily imagine, I began to see and hear devils everywhere. I know now, looking in hindsight, that the devil was trying to get even with me for the grave torture I had put him through. This went on for a good week or two until I met a girl who had a stub for a thumb.
In front of my eyes, the Good Lord took hold of the girl's thumb and grew it out to its normal size. It was similar to what you see on TV when the camera speeds up; however, this was for real. When I saw the Good Lord do this, I said to myself, How did I ever have problems in my life or worry? I was sailing with ecstasy; I was flying higher than the moon.
What I quickly got out of the experience was that everything I had been taught about God, heaven, and hell—and everything in the Bible—was true. I felt secure because no longer was I alone in the world, and I found no need to grieve over what I didn't have. This took a good bit of the sting out of the trying times.
There was, of course, a price for all of this, and not from the Good Lord but from the Evil One, or the devil, as you know him. He is more devastating and harmful than Hollywood portrays him. I have had physical and mental pain similar to the bites of scorpions and poisonous snakes. Priests began to look at me suspiciously and treated me like an outcast.
Excerpted from HEAVEN by PETER A. POSCA. Copyright © 2013 Rev. Peter A. Posca. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Life in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.................... 1
Chapter 2 Visiting My Parents.................... 5
Chapter 3 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.................... 11
Chapter 4 Who Was That?.................... 21
Chapter 5 What Got Me Started.................... 23
Chapter 6 Time and Heaven.................... 25
Chapter 7 The Churches.................... 27
Chapter 8 The Grumpy and Grouchy Tailor.................... 29
Chapter 9 Time in Heaven.................... 31
Chapter 10 Lady in Black.................... 39
Chapter 11 Girl in Distress.................... 43
Chapter 12 The Red Convertible I Couldn't Afford.................... 45
Chapter 13 An Admired Man.................... 49
Chapter 14 A Medal of Honor Recipient.................... 53
Chapter 15 The Churches Again.................... 57
Chapter 16 The Monster.................... 63
Chapter 17 My Second Hurricane.................... 71
Chapter 18 Where Am I?.................... 75
Chapter 19 The Girl and the Bells.................... 87
Chapter 20 Tour of the Mansion.................... 91
Chapter 21 Another Beautiful Day.................... 99
Chapter 22 The Facade of the Mansion.................... 107
Chapter 23 My Second-Best Christmas Ever.................... 113
Chapter 24 Christmas in Heaven.................... 123
Chapter 25 My Best Christmas Ever.................... 127
Chapter 26 My Choice for the Medal of Honor.................... 153
Chapter 27 First Days as a Priest.................... 161
Chapter 28 My Beloved German Shepherd.................... 169
Chapter 29 The Devil.................... 179
Chapter 30 The Devil II.................... 199
Chapter 31 Another Day in Heaven.................... 203
Chapter 32 What You Won't Believe about Heaven.................... 211
Chapter 33 Yet Another Day in Heaven.................... 217
Chapter 34 How the Devil Became the Devil.................... 225
Chapter 35 Dangers.................... 281
About the Author.................... 293
About the Book.................... 295