We are Michael and Alyssa Grasinski, a newlywed couple seeking to follow the will of God and begin living the eternal life as part of the communion of saints here on earth!
We met in 2016 through a young adult group preparing for World Youth Day in Poland. Michael was in the seminary and I was in a relationship, so we grew in friendship. I ended the relationship I was in and Michael discerned out of the seminary. We began praying a 54-day novena (to Our Lady of the Rosary) in discernment of our potential call to each other and it ended on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, my patron saint! We got engaged in front of the Blessed Sacrament during the hour of mercy and wed on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Needless to say, our Catholic faith has been the center of our friendship and relationship.
I am currently in law school and Michael is working after recently finishing his degree in Theology. As Michael approached graduation, (around November 2017), he began to think of what would come next. He was interviewing with EWTN and looking at various grad schools. After praying about it for what seemed like a long time with no apparent answer (we’ve all been in that situation, I’m sure), we were at a crossroad. We desperately wanted to do God’s will, but didn’t know what it was. Decision time was looming right around the corner, so one day, during the hour of mercy, we prayed what felt like the most honest, vulnerable, and (at least it felt like) silly prayer. We asked for a signal grace. We begged our mother Mary to bring our intention to Jesus- to intercede for us in a big way. We prayed for a sign that would be undeniable. Something that we wouldn’t be able to misinterpret. Michael said in prayer:
“Lord, if you want me to pursue studying at the JPII Institute in D.C., please send a cardinal to land on our deck; if you want me to pursue a master’s at [another school] or begin working now, please send a blue jay to land on our deck.”
I’ll also mention that we had absolutely nothing on our deck for a bird to be attracted to, we’d never seen a bird land on the perch-let alone the deck, and we hadn’t seen any birds behind the apartment. So we thought there was no chance.
After we closed in prayer, we both felt a little silly. We laughed as we imagined God rolling His eyes or chuckling at our silliness and need for a sign. But we also left open the possibility that if He believed we needed the grace, He would send it.
We both hung around that main room for a majority of the rest of the day, just to make sure we wouldn’t miss it. As the day went on with no sign of a single bird on our deck, we felt even sillier and went to bed saying ‘oh well.’
The next morning, we had essentially forgotten about our request the previous day. We were sitting in the living room eating breakfast together when I happened to glance over at the door. From where our table is, only I could see a small part of the deck. When I glanced over, I caught my breath. Not only was a cardinal on our deck, but it was hopping up to the glass door so I could see.
I don’t think I said anything at all; I just pointed in disbelief. We both got up and walked over to the door (to make sure we weren’t hallucinating ha)! We asked each other a few times “Are you seeing this?” There was no doubt that we were both seeing the same scene: a cardinal had landed on our deck and a blue jay was flying in the background.
We stood there with our hands over our mouths and our eyes wide. We couldn’t believe what had just happened. Michael had had spiritual experiences before, but I had never experienced God in that way. We were giddy thinking about how God had heard our prayers and wanted to help us. Of course, before this I knew that God heard my prayers, but this was an experience that was so tangible- so undeniable.
Ever since that day, we began a journey that didn’t seem practical, favorable, or even possible. We are going to relocate to D.C. so Michael can study Marriage and the Family at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute. There have been many moments where we have wanted to back out, wanted to not have to deal with all the obstacles that seem to be in our way . . . but we can’t. We can’t because we are absolutely positive that this is the will of God. And ultimately, we want to do nothing else but His will, even in the moments where our true desires do not align with our feelings.
I will admit there were a few moments where we questioned our sanity- after all, we were making life decisions based on a bird sighting! But each time, we were reminded of the sweet consolation God sent to us that day. He had heard our prayer and He answered.
It’s been a couple months since this happened, and we can still hardly wrap our minds around it. In our moment of desperation, of reaching out to God as if we were little children asking for a parent’s direction, He looked upon us with love and gave us His hand to hold and be guided by.
Because of this signal grace, our prayer life is forever changed and stronger than ever. I’d always believed that He heard our prayers, but I had never experienced it so inexplicably. Now, when we pray, we do it in a way that is not halfhearted or surface level. We pray with the knowledge that we are speaking to a God that hears every word. We pray with purpose. We pray with more trust than ever before, and we pray with the utmost confidence in our Lord’s perfect plan.
We have so many blessings to count, one of which is the acceptance letter and scholarship Michael has since received! The scholarship was generous, but the remaining tuition is still high ($22k to be exact). Housing, books, transportation, etc. will be much more. The school encourages students to fund-raise the remaining tuition and fees, so that is what we aim to do. We are hopeful. After all, all things are possible with God!
Through prayer, we have decided to fund-raise in an alternative way: we plan to use the talents God gave us to serve others. Michael has the gift of knowledge/speaking and I am an artist and writer. We’ll be making videos, accepting speaking invitations, making Catholic art and sacramentals, hosting workshops, etc. The possibilities are endless!
We hope that, through this endeavor, we are able to spread the love of Christ and devotion to Mary as well as nurture not only our faith, but the faith of all potential donors through our fundraising journey. All for the glory of God.
Our Etsy shop will launch soon, which will be a place to find items all inspired by the beauty of the Catholic Church. If you are interested in donating, you can do so here.
In Christ, Michael and Alyssa Grasinski