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CHICAGO MEDICAL DOCTOR GETS SHOCK OF LIFE WHEN HE 'DIES' DURING EMERGENCY PROCEDURE
Most near-death experiences are heavenly -- focused on the beauty of eternity, the Light that will encompass us. These are far and away the majority. Those who have had them lose their fear of death (though, knowing now that they have a mission in life, they are in no hurry to pass on). The Love of God overwhelms them.
But there are some more sobering accounts, and one comes to us from a former atheist and astute observer named Dr. Theodore M. Homa, a 66-year-old medical doctor in the Chicago area who had his brush with eternity after lapsing into a coma while awaiting a heart transplant. It was in 2008, and his condition became so dire that while he was waiting for the transplant he needed a mechanical heart. Even that became a problem. As his daughter Priscilla proficiently explains:
"The summer he crashed he was in a coma and on a ventilator for a week. He had a fever of 103 degrees. The doctors needed his fever to break. They told my mother that they could not give him the artificial heart unless his fever broke. It seemed hopeless.
"However, we had prayer and a great and special priest friend who drove from a great distance to come and pray at his bedside. This was a great comfort to the family. After three days of the priest praying and offering Mass, my father's fever broke in the middle of the night. The doctors told my mother she had to sign papers for him to receive an artificial heart. However, my father had already become gray and bruised from loss of circulation and the beginning of death that evening. The doctor told my mother he felt this surgery would have to begin immediately and that the chances were very, very slim. His exact words were, 'I am climbing Mount Everest backward.' My mother and the priest held the pen together and signed the papers. Their fear was that he would only suffer more and not have a brain after the artificial heart. He had no pulse as they wheeled him down the hall to begin surgery. His story begins here."
Indeed it does. After his collapse, he continued to head downhill and was rushed from an I.C.U. unit to a catheter laboratory. The last thing Dr. Homa remembers is that there was a "bright, bright light" from the operating lamps that was "shining on me and my eyes were shielded and I was telling them I was short of breath and in pain and couldn't handle what they were doing.
"And then everything went gray.
"At that point, the first thing I realized was that the pain of breathing had subsided but I found myself in a place that I can only describe as gray without direction, sensation of weight, or sensation of up or down; and following that was a ripping or tearing sensation I felt everywhere in my body, instantaneous but severe.
"My conscious self -- it struck me that this was the sensation that one would feel when one's soul parted from the body.
"Following that I was relatively at peace for an undetermined period of time because everything seemed timeless, and then there was a voice; it had the characteristics of being ancient and it knew me well. But it was a voice that was accusing me of not being worthy to be with the Lord and urging me to choose to come with whoever the voice belonged to. At that point I realized I must be at the judgment seat and this had to be Satan. As soon as I realized that, I began to see in vivid, high-definition reality images of everything I did wrong and everything I omitted in my life -- all of my sins and omissions and the effect they had. I even saw the effect of taking the Name of God had on God. I saw and felt how much that hurt Him. I saw the ripple effect. I saw what it did. I understood. I saw that I was not worthy to be with God."
And if he wasn't worthy to be with God, that meant he would be headed in another direction -- purgatory, or lower. There was the urgency not to go -- to return to earth (in most such cases, the person wants to remain on the other side). Moreover, let us realize that whether or not we must do purgatory, once we confess, we are "saved." In most cases, the Love of God is what is most recalled.
God is above all merciful. This was a harsh lesson -- and perhaps a message.
While Dr. Homa had turned from atheism to belief after a visit to the apparition site of Medjugorje in Eastern Europe, there were obviously issues that remained in need of expiation. It is an unusual case -- and serves as a lesson to all of us (perhaps especially those who practice medicine).
"I believed I should be saved because I had gone to Confession, received Last Rites, received a plenary indulgence and had not done anything to discount God, but I was led to believe with urgency that I was not worthy," the physician goes on. "So I began to pray. Beyond reason, I started with the Father. I called Him every Name I knew -- God, Yahweh, Father. And there was no response. Yet I knew he was there. So I went on to call upon Jesus and called Him every Name I could think of -- Savior, my Jesus of Mercy, Lord, Lamb of God: I went down a litany, and He didn't respond.
"Now I was getting desperate and decided it was time to talk to the Holy Spirit, so I called to the Spirit -- and instantaneously I had an answer and it was not verbal and it was not a vision; it was a compelling inner voice or announcement, basically, to 'call Mary.'
"I hesitated. It was clear to me that Satan heard it because then there was a diatribe from him, to the effect that if I did that -- if I called on Mary -- the devil had me; if I called on her, I was a blasphemer. But while I was waiting the Spirit gave me a command. It's kind of unimaginable, the power. The only thing I can liken it to is the reference in the Bible of how in the end times in the Second Coming all knees will bend. This was the nature of the command. I didn't have a choice; I just [called on her]. And then Mary came.
"She appeared as if she was at the bedside -- across a small table from me. She put her left hand on my face and spread her fingers and they crossed over so that my eyes weren't blocked but I could see her face and attire.
"People describe her as having a crown. She had a glow around her -- I guess that was sort of a crown -- and dark eyes and she was young, beautiful, and the colors of her garments were white-blue-gray.
"Then she spoke to me. She called me by name and told me to 'go back.' She said everything would be okay. And that was the end. All I remember after that is waking up in I.C.U. to the sound of my artificial heart and the nurse asking me to prove I was conscious by squeezing his fingers."
His heart had not been pumping at all; and his family was told it was probably too late and they could have [the life-support equipment] off in five days because he had been down too long and ultimately there would be liver and renal failure and no brain left. He had been in cardiac arrest -- had even turned black from cyanosis.
Five days later, however, he revived and six months after that, Dr. Homa, who had been suffering for so long from viral cardiomyopathy, received his transplant.
As for the life review: one lesson, says this Midwest doctor, is that "some of the sins we commit we don't even realize we commit -- the time I rushed people through and didn't stop to consider their needs, didn't listen enough to people, didn't care enough -- things you don't even consider when you go to Confession. The review was a sequence that went from my earliest days of being able to tell right from wrong to the present. While it was going on, I wanted it to quit; I didn't want to deal with it. I wanted it to end. I wanted to resist with my whole being. I wasn't good enough to go to Heaven." A key message, he feels, has to do with the medical profession and materialism.
"You have to go to Confession regularly," says the doctor, who now has a geriatric practice. "You need to be confident that when you do the right thing, that you can win the battle. When Satan gets his last shot, there's enormous pressure to despair -- to basically give up and say you are not worthy and I think the challenge of trying to love God and ultimately be with Him is essentially to overcome the weight of the opposite challenge that you are not worthy. I never expected to have a battle. Where was I? Limbo?"
He was there or some sort of "in-between" state where the devil still can haunt us -- which is why we ask the Blessed Mother to be with us "now and at the hour." It was all about a test of wills. It was all about listening to God.
"If I had this had happened before Medjugorje I'd be in hell now," he believes. "I don't even think I would have come back. Mary helps us with what we have done even before our conversion and now I have insight as to the Holy Spirit and why He is here and why it is so important to have relationship with Him."
Dr. Homa now listens to patients and counsels them -- physically and spiritually (even discussing his own experience). He is perfectly placed to do so -- since his practice deals with the elderly. He believes doctors must understand they are blessed with a talent to relieve pain and suffering and need to use that talent and not distort it for another purpose. "It is not an entrepreneurial endeavor," he warns. "You have to take care of people. The Lord didn't put you in a position to be a medical doctor because he just thought you should be rich."
The world is in trouble -- too secular, too Godless, too materialistic, too selfish -- he now feels. He has a sense that there are things occurring now that are "unusual and extreme and that we have not experienced before and that we are not prepared to deal with." This experience made him certain of God and eternity. "It was more real than real and beyond the truth -- words can't describe it," says this doctor.
"I was there. This was real. Satan is horribly scary but the Holy Spirit has awesome power and the Blessed Mother is so loving. I experienced the theology of Catholicism and I can say straight out that it is all correct. It is right there."
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[Note from Matthew 7: "Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you."]
[Further note: message at Medjugorje September 2 included these words: "Everything around you is passing and everything is falling apart, only the glory of God remains. Therefore, renounce everything that distances you from the Lord. Adore Him alone, because He is the only true God. I am with you and I will remain with you."]
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