The following chapter is taken, with permission of the author, from Wayne Weible's book "Medjugorje - The Message", Paraclete Press, U.S.A. For the cover of the book see http://www.medjugorje.eu/book. Rita Klaus has written herself a book "Rita's Story" about her miraculous healing of multiple sclerosis. It was available from Paraclete Press, but the book is out of print now.
 
 
"You have forgotten, that through prayer,
you can stop wars, and you can alter
the laws of nature. . . ."

 
 

21

Rita's Story



    Wonderful things happened at Ephrata House. It was a blessing that Father Pervan would be able to tour the United States, bringing the events of Medjugorje to all corners of this country. It would also help him to understand these enigmatic Americans who were now streaming into his little village by the thousands. The retreat also marked the first time that those of us working to make Medjugorje's message known had gathered together to share our stories and ideas, and it launched the columns as a tool for spreading the message. But the most memorable event was the powerful witness of Rita Klaus, a school teacher from Evans City, Pennsylvania, a small town near Pittsburgh. Rita's story was the last item on the agenda and that was where it belonged, for nothing else could have followed it.
    As she began to relate the events that culminated in her presence at the retreat, we sat there, spellbound and overwhelmed. Truly Ann Debeats, the energetic young woman who ran the Center for Peace for John Hill and was serving as the leader of the retreat, had saved the best wine for last:

    I'm very new to Medjugorje; in fact, I hadn't heard about it until February of this year. I read about it in the National Catholic Register and was very interested. Shortly after that, I ordered a book called Is the Virgin Mary Appearing at Medjugorje? by Rene Laurentin. I read it, and I believed immediately. I began to pray more and to fast, and asked my children to pray the rosary. But I guess I'm getting ahead of my story.
    Three months ago, I had Multiple Sclerosis. I had had it for more than 25 years. I was first diagnosed as having it when I was 20 years old, and it was difficult to accept. Of course I went through all the channels of denying I had it; I just would not accept it. As it began to progress, I rationalized it was something else. It was ruining my life; I was depressed and very angry inside and very hurt. Yet I wanted to do what God wanted me to do.
    About five years ago, a friend asked me to come to a healing service, but I really wasn't into the Charismatic Movement, so I tried to get out of going. But my friend wouldn't take no for an answer, and my husband pointed out that I had tried everything else, so what could it hurt to go?
    The service began with the praying of a rosary, so that wasn't so bad. I was sitting in a pew towards the back of the church, and when the procession of priests started, I felt someone grab me from behind. At first I was totally embarrassed, because I had already made up my mind that I wasn't going to volunteer to go to the front for special prayers or anything. Then something strange happened; I felt this wonderful peace come over me. It was as if all the unhappiness of the years of suffering through this disease suddenly disappeared.
    Returning home that evening, I vowed to improve my spiritual life. Up to this point, I was very bitter towards the Catholic Church. Though I had continued to attend Mass, I was simply going through the motions. Now, I wanted to make up for that. I told my pastor what had happened and asked him to pray that I might continue to be at peace.
    By the end of that year the paralysis was in both legs and my arms. This, of course, upset me because of my work as a teacher, and because of my husband and children, and the hardship it put on them. But I had a good parish. Neighbors drove me to school, my husband scrubbed floors, and the kids helped out where they could.
    Meanwhile, my legs became severely deformed, and the bones began to bow. My right knee became completely displaced because of the spasticity of the leg; the knee-cap came off and slid over into the interior of the leg. Also, there was now no feeling left at all.
    At this stage I was forced to go to a rehabilitation hospital. It was time to face up to the fact that I was handicapped and to begin life in a wheelchair. My husband could accept the braces and the crutches, but he couldn't stand the wheelchair. Yet it was something we both would have to face and live with. We loved the outdoors and liked to go camping. This would really slow that down for us.
    But there were some good things happening. Many people pitched in to help, and the state came in and installed thousands of dollars worth of equipment in the school where I was teaching and in my home.
    As I said earlier, I had sent off for the book about the apparitions at Medjugorje. I was really impressed and told my husband about it, but he's not Catholic he's Lutheran, so it didn't have much effect on him. Anyway, we tried to improve our prayer life, and I personally set aside an extra hour each day for meditation.
    Then, one night in June this year, as I lay in bed finishing my rosary, I heard a voice say, Why don't you ask? I don't know why, because I had never asked before to be healed. I had come to accept my handicap. But it just came to me as I lay there. So I asked with all my heart for her to ask her Son to heal me of whatever I needed to be healed. At that moment I felt a bubbly feeling go through me, and I don't remember anything else as I fell asleep.
    When I awoke the next morning, I didn't think about the night before. I had a Scripture class I attended at a nearby college, and I prepared to go to that class. My husband helped me into our van which was equipped with hand controls for me, and he placed my wheelchair in the van as he always did. When I got to the college, there was always someone there to help me and get me to class.
    I didn't notice anything unusual right away. Suddenly, as I sat there studying with the rest of the class, I began to experience a feeling of warmth in my feet and legs and an intense itching. But there was no way this could be happening, as I had no feeling in my feet and hadn't for several years. Then I looked down at my feet and not only were they itching, but my toes were wiggling! I was totally dumbfounded!
    I didn't remember another thing in the class; in fact, I don't even remember leaving the class and getting into my van. All I wanted to do at that time was get home and tell my family what was happening to me.
    As I arrived at my house, I remembered that there was no one home. I had complained earlier that I had no strawberries and would they please go to the strawberry farm and pick some for me if they had time that morning. Evidently, they had gone and not returned in time to get me into the house. They did have the foresight to leave my crutches at the bottom of the three steps leading into our house. Occasionally, if I needed to get into the house, I could do it with the crutches. But it took a great deal of difficulty to do it.
    Well, I sat there in the car for about 15 minutes, waiting. I was filled with disappointment because I wanted so much to tell them what was happening. Then, I had to go to the bathroom. My handicap also included bladder and bowel dysfunction, and I had been in class all morning. . . . so I had to get in and get in right away!
    I stretched out of the car and got the crutches Ray had left for me within easy reach. I could not, however, lift my leg with the heavy braces on them. I stood there for a few minutes and then thought that if I could feel my feet maybe I could also lift my leg. I tried it, and it went up the steps with no difficulty. My heart was pounding!
    Once in the house, I went to my bedroom on the first floor and leaning against the bed to unlock my braces, I looked down at my legs. I thought they looked kind of funny; then I looked again and it hit me that my right leg was completely straight! I had had two surgeries on it to attempt to straighten it, but neither had been successful. In fact, they had finally released the kneecap (surgically) to let it go with the rest of my knee, stating that was all they could do with it. A severe valgus deformity had resulted from the years of spasticity and muscle imbalance.
    As I looked now, it was straight. The kneecap was where it was supposed to be. My legs were perfectly straight!
    At that point, I completely flipped out and began screaming that my legs were straight. I kept saying, "Thank you Blessed Mother! Thank you Jesus!" But it still had not sunk in that I was healed. Shaking, I took off the braces and stood up on my legs, unassisted, for the first time in years. I looked down again; they were like anyone else's legs! Finally it struck me that something very wonderful had happened.
    I walked down the hallway. . . walked down the hallway, with my crutches under my arm. When I got to the base of the stairs, I thought: well, if I'm really healed, I can run up those stairs. So I dropped my crutches and did it and then ran back down and up again. And I just kept shouting "Thank you!" over and over. I went a little hysterical, weeping and laughing at the same time. . . . I was in shock. I felt like St. Paul when he was knocked off his horse. Finally, when I had sobered up a little, I decided to tell someone so I tried to call my pastor. But I kept dialing my own number! When I got through to him I said, "Father Bergman, I'm healed! I'm healed! I don't have MS anymore!" And he answered, "Who is this?" I said, "This is Rita I'm fine, you don't understand, I'm healed!" Then, after a moment of silence he said, "Rita, I want you to sit down, take some aspirin and call your doctor promise me you'll do that!"
    I didn't know what else to say, so I just hung up on him and called a good friend who also taught at St. Gregory's. She recognized my voice, but by this time, I could hardly talk, and she thought something terrible had happened. She flew to the house, and that's something because we live way out in the country. I remember I was standing in the middle of the living room floor, jumping up and down when she arrived; soon we were both jumping up and down as she realized what was happening.
    My friend calmed me down some and said we needed to find my family so that we could tell them, so we left for the strawberry farm. Since we had to go by the rectory of the church, we decided to stop and show my pastor that I was healed. He was in the study, and when he saw me standing in front of him, it hit him what had happened. All Father Bergman could do was stare at me, and he kept saying, "Sit down, Rita, you haven't used those muscles for a long time!' I told him I was fine and that I felt like I was 17 again!
    We left there and headed for the farm, but when we arrived, my family had left, so we were off again for the house. When we got there, my friend ran in to get Ray who came out, white as a sheet. He thought something must have happened, because my car was still there and the braces and crutches were in the house, and that an ambulance must have come and taken me to the hospital.
    I jumped out of the car and ran to him. My oldest daughter just stood there in tears and completely dumbfounded and choked up. She's twelve and my other two daughters are ten and seven. They had never known me any way other than handicapped.
    It was. . . an indescribable scene. My oldest was crying, the middle one just stood there with her mouth open, and my little one said, "Oh, goody! Now we don't have to do housework anymore!" She followed that with, "You look silly, Mom!"
    After awhile, we all calmed down and decided we better call my doctor. Would you believe, he was out playing golf! The next day, I went back to my Scripture class, but I didn't know what to do about them. If I told them, the class would be totally disrupted so I decided to go in the wheelchair. That was the hardest thing ever to have to sit there in that chair knowing I was well. Later, when I returned home we were finally able to contact my doctor.
    We told him what had happened, and he kept saying, "That can't be! That can't happen; it's impossible!" He asked my husband if I was walking, and he said, "No, she's running!" He asked us to come to the hospital right away.
    When we got there, everyone on the staff was waiting. I had just been there a couple of weeks before that. They were stunned. My doctor thought it was a joke, saying I must be Rita's twin sister. He then conducted a lot of neurological tests and found everything to be perfect. After exhaustive tests, all he could do was hug me and cry and ask me what did I do? I told him all I did was ask. How many times? Once, I answered him, but many people have been praying for me for years. He then asked, did I use up all the prayers, or were there still some for him? It was wonderful.
    Since this has happened to me, many things in my life have changed. I witness now to other MS patients, and to groups. And I pray a lot to God and His Holy Mother. I just ask you to pray that whatever I do, I do it well. Thank you, and God bless you.
    We sat there too stunned to react then there was thunderous applause. Rita's story was the final cap on spiritual weekend that had already been incredibly full. But there was more than just her story that attracted me to Rita. I felt a strong kinship to her. My sister, Lola, had Multiple Sclerosis. I had introduced her to what was happening at Medjugorje and then let her make her own decision as to its authenticity. She had been hesitant at first, as she, too, was Lutheran. But after reading much of the material and reviewing the video tapes, and hearing my own story, she was convinced.
    Now I couldn't wait to tell Lola about Rita and her healing and Rita about Lola. As soon as I could get through the crowd that had immediately surrounded Rita, we sat down and began talking. "I think if Lola could have a picture of you to go with the story," I told her, "that would give her great faith and hope." Rita obliged by letting me take her picture and then had a picture made with me. Even as I thanked her, I somehow knew also that this would not be the last I would see of Rita Klaus.


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