In the days when St Francis of Assisi suffered a chronic malady of the eyes, Cardinal Ugolino invited him to come to Rieti to see the best physician for the eyes. Having received the letter, St Francis set out. His fame had preceded him. On nearing the city such a vast throng emerged that he had to turn aside into a small church, about two miles off. Citizens knowing he was in the church pressed forward with such fervour that the surrounding vineyard was entirely over-run and the fruit devoured. Knowing the anxious thought in the mind of the vicar, St Francis asked, “How many barrels of wine did this vineyard yield in the best vintage year?” He answered “Twelve”.
Said St Francis, “Have patience and allow all who wish, to pluck the fruit and I promise you – on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ – that it shall in future yield twenty barrels. Hundreds came from the limits of the Province to see the Saint, eating freely of the grape harvest. Simple folk went away filled with a rich grace and sweetness. The vicar believed the words of St Francis and literally gave-up the vineyard to all who came. It was stripped except for a few clusters of grapes here and there. When the time for the vintage came he gathered such few clusters as were left and they were trodden in the winepress. And there came out twenty barrels of the best wine. This yield continued for the lifetime of the vineyard.
This same multiplication has happened many times in history. Saint John Vianney ran out of flour in the girl’s school, he instructed the girls to begin needing with their hands what little they had. When placed in the oven the small amount that they had, rose above the trough as though they had needed a large sack of flour. On another occasion the church ran out of wine when a cask was broken, St John asked them to pour the remaining wine into another cask that was almost empty and to their amazement they kept drawing from that cask for days.
When blessed Fr Solinus Casey ran out of bread to feed the poor he asked his brothers to pray a single “Our Father” and then instructed them to go to the kitchen. When they arrived they found a man carrying in a little truck load of food. The brothers helped the man to unload and the room was filled with bread, when the man looked at the amount he could not believe that it had all come off of his small truck.
St Zita who worked as a servant girl for a wealthy household, gave some of her employers beans to the poor and starving. When the employer found out this, he went to his store room only to find it was completely full!
In Mexico Franciscan brothers set up a meal for 20 poor people to come and eat, but to their surprise hundreds of people turned up, they all ate well and there was plenty left over for people to take home.
Blessed Anna Maria went to the church of St Paul outside the wall to complain to the Lord that she had no more bread to feed the poor. The Lord told her to go home and she would find some. When she returned home she found a letter containing enough money to buy the bread she needed.
And finally Corrie Ten Boom took a small amount of vitamin oil into the prison camp despite her sister’s poor health they shared what they had with the other women. Corrie was amazed that the drops came out each day, enough for all.
God and the Spider
During World War II, a US marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific Island. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire he had lost touch with his comrades.
Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the moment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed.
As he waited, he prayed, “Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen.”
After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, “Well, I guess the Lord isn’t going to help me out of this one..” Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave.
As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave.
“Ha, he thought. “What I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense of humor.”
As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on. Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered for quite a while. “Lord, forgive me,” prayed the young man. “I had forgotten that in you a spider’s web is stronger than a brick wall.”
We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget the victories that God would work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways. As the great leader, Nehemiah, reminded the people of Israel when they faced the task of rebuilding Jerusalem, “In God we will have success!” [Nehemiah 2:20]
Remember: Whatever is happening in your life, with God, a mere spider’s web can become a brick wall of protection. Believe He is with you always. Just speak His name through Jesus His son, and you will see His great power and love for you.