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Wake-Up Call Changes Priest

Father Steven Scheier almost died in 1985. His second chance led him to become a better priest — and understand God’s mercy, and the love of the Blessed Mother, more fully. He appeared on Mother Angelica's show in EWTN in the 1990s.

Father Steven Scheier should have died on Oct. 18, 1985, in a collision while traveling back to his parish in the Diocese of Wichita, Kan. He suffered a major concussion and fractured vertebrae of the neck. Doctors gave him little chance to survive.

But he did.

Shortly after returning to his parish, as he read the Gospel of Luke about the unproductive fig tree, the page illuminated, enlarged and moved toward him from the Lectionary. Shaken after Mass, he remembered that after his accident he found himself before the judgment seat of Jesus.

Our Lord went through his whole life, showing him sins unconfessed and unforgiven since his last confession.

Father Scheier could only answer, “Yes, Lord.” Although a priest, he admittedly was not very spiritual and had practically no prayer life.

The judgment was hell, to which Father Scheier agreed. He said the Lord was merely “honoring his choice.” But then he heard a woman’s voice pleading to spare his soul. He knew it the Blessed Mother.

He heard Jesus say:

“Mother, he has been a priest for 12 years for himself and not for me; let him reap the punishment he deserves.”

Our Lady responded,

“But Son, what if we give him special graces and strengths and then see if he bears fruit? If not, your will be done.”

Jesus replied,

“Mother, he’s yours.”

Since then, he has been hers. That extreme wake-up call with its eternal consequences has made all the difference in Father Scheier’s life and priesthood. Moreover, he wants it to make a difference in the lives of others. In the 1990s, he appeared as a guest on Mother Angelica’s EWTN show to recount his experiences.

In terms of near-death experiences, the Register reported on this topic in 2001. “I cautiously treat these experiences as a good thing, but not as a major argument for life after death and our belief in the Resurrection — the big thing is Jesus’ victory over death,” said Father Gerald O’Collins, professor of systematic theology at the prestigious Gregorian University in Rome. “However, he added, ‘Some people have quite a big change in their lives for the better after one of these experiences.’ Father O’Collins also sees no reason why theories about near-death experiences being a glimpse of the eternal have to be in opposition to those that attribute the effect to chemicals released by the brain. As he put it, ‘Who made the brain anyway? God.’”

Today, Father Scheier is a retired priest in Kansas.

Did your judgment experience transform your life?

It has changed my priesthood. More than anything else, I am very conscious of the pilgrimage here on earth. This period we have is a test, and time is so relative here compared to eternity — and so much depends on my time here.

What important things did you learn?

It wasn’t any question of belief in the tenets of the Church. But now, to me, heaven and the saints are not merely things on paper or in the books I read or at services; they are real. I believe with the head and the heart.

A lot of our priorities are mixed up. My priority should have been to save my soul and others — what a priest should do, investing in that future, not investing in happiness here on earth.

If we run from the cross, there is a bigger one awaiting us.

We have a heavenly Mother. Since then, she’s been everything. Any one of us in the same stead would suffer the same consequence and experience the Divine Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ I experienced. His mother is the one who interceded for me.

Any other reason you were allowed to live?

My mission is to let you know that hell exists and we as priests are liable to it. But also his Divine Mercy exists. His love outweighs justice.

But mention of hell and sin are so unpopular today.

These are things that have to be talked about because they are real and are probably the most important things we can talk about. I remember years ago visiting Cardinal William Baum in Rome, and he said, “You have a problem in the United States. People are not going to confession anymore.”

People don’t think they sin anymore. There are no longer lines f