The tragic and triumphant life of a New York City police officer’s spiritual journey continues to impact citizens of a city, state, nation, continent and yes, the world. This extraordinary life makes a compelling case for, if not (just yet) sainthood, then of a prophetic “angel-hood” of the man we know as Detective Steven McDonald, “the forgiveness guy.” McDonald’s life story embodies that of everyman -- a native of suburban Malverne, Long Island, a former U.S. Navy hospital corpsman and third-generation officer in the New York City Police Department. So then, let us together explore the uncanny, yet unavoidable, intersecting circumstances leading us to recognize our, impeccably timed, modern-day Earth Angel to the Americas.
In photo above, President George W. Bush speaks with NYPD Officer Steve McDonald in the Blue Room on April 10, 2002. White House photo by Tina Hager
A Rockville Centre (N.Y.) prayer group bears his name, led by local resident Kevin Conlon and Patty McDonald, Steven’s widow. The humble group of 90+ individuals, including myself, meets monthly, having an official meeting agenda of one rosary and one speaker and an unofficial after-meeting agenda of drinks, etc., at a local tavern. Meetings are typically held the last Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m., lasting from 1 to 1.5 hours. Special events, praying the rosary at Steven’s grave, marching as a group in New York’s famed St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and participating in the 9-11 Memorial Walk bring us together beyond meetings.
New York Rangers ice hockey fans may also be familiar with the annual award ceremony: “Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award.” Ryan Lindgren received this in April for the ’22-’23 season. In addition, the prayer group has recently expanded to the Maria Regina parish in Seaford, also on Long Island. The group’s purpose is twofold: Perpetuate the life-lesson of forgiveness and memory of McDonald and, second, become a prayerful resource of miraculous healing that will, one day, compel the Church to advocate, beatify and eventually proclaim McDonald a saint. We have realized the former, and we are supremely confident the latter will come in the Good Lord’s time.
In a March 2022 meeting, one of the speakers suggested McDonald’s life exemplified the perfect adoption of the line in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Many of us, the author included, have said, “It would be impossible, I could never forgive such a grave offense . . . ” And, of course, this is accurate for Steven, as well, until, with the help of God, this did, in fact, happen. Matthew 19:26: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ “ Evidence, no doubt, of the heaven-sent grace that made possible Steven McDonald’s forgiveness mission on earth.
In fact, Steven’s life lesson of forgiveness is without question a magnified moment of a specific part of the Lord’s Prayer. So let us review this prayer in detail and in context. In doing so, we can see clearly how Jesus’ teaching forms a template for Steven’s submission to His will, as found in the Lord’s Prayer.
Here’s the Lord’s Prayer taken from Matthew 6:9-13 (The Catholic Press, Inc. 1961 Bible): “In this manner therefore shall you pray:”
“Our Father” -- Perhaps the most powerful two words in all Christianity because they set forth the irrevocable relationship between God Almighty and mankind as paternal, making ALL mankind siblings, brothers and sisters ALL to one another before Him, “Our Father,” meaning, when we open our eyes in the morning and shut them before sleep, we know because of these two words each and every person we encounter are to be viewed, looked at and treated as our sibling, before the Lord God, our common Creator, our Father. How neatly does this language fit in America’s Constitution? Should we surmise as Americans, our forefathers meant to reference “our Creator” for this very purpose? It sure seems so.
When you hear “Our Father” imagine the “O” is the earth as viewed from space and every human life form on it, our sisters and brothers.
Photo above: Lord's Prayer from the 1845 illuminated book of The Sermon on the Mount, designed by Owen Jones. Wikimedia Commons
“Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” -- God is so great, earth cannot hold Him, for he is beyond all the earth. God is cosmic -- as is His Son for both existed before time, an invention of man’s. And God’s name is holy, requiring the ultimate reverence from mankind because as mankind looks around and surveys his / her surrounding he / she realizes one thing; we made none of the universe we inhabit, it has all been created well before us and totally without us, therefore make holy the name of our Creator for we are dust, we are nothing without Him.
“Thy kingdom come” -- God wants heaven, His kingdom, to come to mankind. God wants to share paradise with mankind -- an incredible invitation! We learn more with the next sentence.
“Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” -- With reflective prayer, a “faith imagination” and help from the Holy Spirit in reading the Gospel, we recognize it is precisely God’s will that lovingly takes place … between our ears. That is, our very thoughts are centered on doing His heavenly will as we are here on earth. Think not as this line being something outside us like a temple, church, cathedral, city or nation for none of these, by themselves, are places that commit sin without first occupying mankind within them.
Will God ask you before the pearly gates, “What did you do to help America, Israel or Paris?” or rather, “Did you love? Show me how.” So, when reciting these words of the Lord’s Prayer, think, “Is His will being carried out by me, in my thoughts, in my deeds, here on earth?”
All the above lines from our Lord’s Prayer explicitly (overtly) reference the Father, our Creator, the great “I AM,” Yahweh. We see the time of creation, the Almighty’s participation in human history and the prophets as the first order of time, the Lord God’s time.
The next line of the Lord’s Prayer is explicitly Jesus Christ’s, the second person of the blessed Trinity:
“Give us this day our daily bread.” -- An astounding, sublime reference to the Father’s only begotten Son, Jesus who subtly references the “new and eternal covenant” and his words in John 6:35 (“I am the bread of life.”) perfectly confirm this meaning: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus, Himself, is our daily bread. Do not confuse Jesus’s bread with the bread of the world or earning a living. While these are surely good things, they are not and can never be “the thing” Jesus came here for, namely, to forgive sins, heal the sick, have mankind do His Father’s will on earth and conquer death. Jesus did not come to get us a job -- and He puts this in perspective for us, not ignoring the (secondary) importance of earning a living. See passage Matthew 6:31-33: “So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added you as well.”
Let Jesus, the bread of life, be our first thought, our first priority, and the God of creation will make sure all the other things we need shall come to you as well, afterward. How perfectly humble, meek and prophetically “silent” is this line of the Lord’s Prayer referring to Jesus.
Referencing the above, we see the time of the Word made flesh that dwelt among us on earth as the second order of time, the, very brief, Lord Jesus Christ’s time.
“And forgive us our debts; as we also forgive our debtors. ” (Matthew 6:12) So how do we reconcile this line in the Lord’s Prayer with: “God alone forgives sins”? (The answer is simpler than you might suspect for it comes from our being created in God’s image and likeness.) In this manner, man and woman alike are able to forgive those sins committed against them respectively, that is, those sins specific to us, the created, are forgivable because we share God’s image and likeness. Jesus conveyed the forgiveness of sins to His apostolic church, creating and instituting the sacrament of penance. And further, per the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus compels us to individually forgive others that He would forgive us our own trespasses. Here is the very line and thought in the Lord’s Prayer that Steve McDonald, with the good Lord’s grace, lived, prayed, acted, personified and professed to multitudes until his passing. The same grace comes to all saved souls, the grace our Blessed Mother received at conception (“I am the Immaculate Conception.”) * Amazingly recognized by the Archangel Gabriel, this grace was Elijah’s “whispering wind” or “small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) that filled the sails of this former Navy man’s boat.
“And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” The Holy Spirit’s protection. “It is better for you that I go.” Jesus at the Ascension. Let us not second guess the Son of Man’s words here. Who, but the Holy Spirit, breathing the will of the Father and the Son into our lungs, shall lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil!
These last two lines of the Lord’s Prayer, the time of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate’s time, are the third order of time, the time following Christ’s Ascension, the descent of the Holy Spirit and our time now **.
Matthew 6: 9-13 – Above, The Lord’s Prayer.
Matthew 6: 14-15 -- At the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus revisits the penultimate line, Matthew 6:12, (“And forgive us our debts; as we also forgive our debtors.”) offering additional guidance on the meaning this particular part of the prayer has for our own forgiveness: “For if you forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you your offenses. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offenses.” Our time now, the time of the Advocate, requires forgiveness for our salvation. This extra explanation and emphasis to the Lord’s Prayer by Jesus is why Steve McDonald’s life’s messages are so profound today. Is it, in fact, possible the McDonald-Jones angel has been embedded in Our Lady of Guadalupe to be deciphered and hence open the door for a rebirth of America -- and the world?
Above: Jesus' ascension to Heaven depicted by John Singleton Copley in Ascension (1775). Wikimedia Commons.
*St. Maximilian Kolbe - “Mary is the created Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit is the uncreated Immaculate Conception.” See Lourdes, St. Bernadette, Blessed Mary, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
** “But I speak the truth to you; it is expedient for you that I depart. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)
We briefly turn our focus to the miraculous appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on December 12th, 1531, to an Aztec peasant, Juan Diego. The Blessed Mother came to a foothill just outside Mexico City as a divine and cosmic evangelical, leaving a painting or divinely made “calling card” imprinted on Juan Diego’s shirt, known as a “tilma") to compel the local bishop (Juan de Zumárraga, from Spain) to build a chapel at a designated site in her son Jesus’ name in an effort to help with revealing Himself and converting pagan Aztecs to His Church.
Right, a painting depicting Juan Diego by 18th century artist Miguel Cabrera. Wikimedia Commons
While there are many miracles and scientifically unexplained facts associated with Juan Diego’s tilma (shirt made of coarse cactus fiber) let us recognize several highlighted miracles and how Steven McDonald may very well be part of an ongoing revelation and timely message to us now:
* Fabric’s condition -- scientifically unexplained. The fabric, now 492 years old, should have naturally disintegrated 450 years ago though it, supernaturally, remains in pristine condition today.
* Painting lacks under-sketching -- artistically unexplained. Unheard of for any man-made painting before, during or after this era.
* Mass conversion -- Sociologically unexplained. 9 million Aztecs converted to Catholicism over eight years because of the impact of the tilma’s resonating hieroglyphics. (This followed 10 prior years of anemic, stubborn, lackluster conversion of the Aztecs by the conquering Spaniard missionaries.)
* Reflections in the eyes of Our Lady of Guadalupe -- Scientifically and artistically unexplained. Discovered in the 20th century, the image presents what ophthalmologists refer to as the “Purkyne-Sanson effect.” This “recent” revelation opened the door to contemplate additional messages today.
* The angel beneath the Blessed Mother, bearing certain earthly attributes, is holding the bottom of Mary’s star-imprinted cloak in the angel's right hand, while the angel’s left hand holds the bottom of the flower-imprinted dress.
Below, image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as shown on the mantle (tilma) of Juan Diego.
It is this angel, largely ignored, that has now compelled the author to make the case for Steven McDonald’s angelic representation here. The tilma, it seems, still speaks to its faithful, and now, symbolically, speaks to America -- and the world. The time has come today to discern the symbolism of the “Perfect Virgin: Our Lady of Guadalupe” and the tilma’s message to America given by an Irish-American New York City cop in service to the Lord. To that end, follow along:
A List of “Angel Assertions” Discernible in the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe:
1. Red, white and blue angel’s wings are overtly American.
2. Angel shows no legs, nothing below the waist symbolizes, partially, Steve McDonald’s paralysis.
3. Tilma’s seam avoids Our Lady of Guadalupe’s face and hands, but passes through the angel’s head, symbolizing DMS’s head injury from the Central Park shooting, on July 12, 1986.
4. Receding hairline of the angel, that of a middle-aged man.
5. Face of angel and cleft chin -- similar in shape to Steven McDonald’s.
6. Hair of angel -- black and curly -- represents the forgiven shooter, Shavod Jones.
7. Combined -- The angel represents the forgiver and the forgiven and is an amalgam of Steven McDonald and Shavod Jones, together, who Steven has stated in his own words, “We have helped many people, the two of us.”
8. Angel’s right hand (left side of tilma) is on the Blue (Sea) and Gold (Navy) portion of the tilma, that is, the Our Lady of Guadalupe cloak -- the colors represent the ocean (sea) (for U.S. Navy) and the Blue has stars, which ships use for navigation at night.
9. Angel’s left hand (right side of tilma), on the Red-Brown (Land) and Gold (NYPD) portion of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s dress, depicts Steven McDonald’s work on land -- a beat cop working in New York City’s Central Park.
10. Note the tilma’s seam and the angel’s head are on the Land / NYPD side of the cloak - as Steven’s injury occurred while serving as a police officer. As Americans read from left to right, we read “Navy” then “NYPD” on the angel’s hands in keeping with the chronology of Steven’s professional life.
11. The angel has a badge or large button on the collar. What angel would need such an item? Is it for predetermined earthly origins, speaking to us today? Buttoned uniforms are used in both the Navy and NYPD.
12. A black crescent moon beneath Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feet is just above the angel’s head. The evening of DSM’s shooting, July 12th, 1986, the moon’s phase was a perfect waxing crescent.
13. Our Lady of Guadalupe asked to “build a chapel” -- Steven McDonald preferred chapels for prayer.
14. Steven McDonald dies at 59 years old. The rosary has 59 beads. The confounding number and nature of rosary beads now makes perfect sense for this generation and generations to come.
If taken in the context of the grace that was Steven’s life and his use of the rosary, our Blessed Mother’s obedience to the Lord God, Lord Jesus and Lord Holy Spirit work in our lives for the forgiveness of sins, healing the sick and conquering death -- Jesus’s raison d’etre (divine purpose).
An article dated July 23, 2021, written by David Gordon, is titled “The Redemption of Chess Legend Bobby Fischer.” Gordon acknowledges Fischer’s age of 64 years as a “god-wink” when he died -- “a year for every square on the chessboard.” Has Steven’s time of 59 years on earth been a heaven-sent “god-wink” for us to recognize and consider living a prayerful life of forgiveness that includes the rosary? See also Squire Rushnell’s, “When God Winks at You.” 59 years, 59 beads.
15. Angel’s gold wrist bands -- The uniforms of the Navy have gold wrist-piping and NYPD formal uniforms include gold buttons and gold-bordered patches. The angel’s hands touch the gold piping to both Our Lady of Guadalupe’s cloak and dress.
16. The angel’s red shirt -- The color represents that of the sacred heart of Jesus of His body and His blood in the Eucharist. Seeing how the color runs dark red at the shirt’s bottom and lightens to approach white at the tops of the arms and shoulders, might this be an apocalyptic reference to Revelation 7:13-14, those who wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb?
17. The child-papoose -- The form at the bottom of Our Lady of Guadalupe is that of an infant face down in the crescent moon. Might this be a symbol of modern-day child sacrifice of abortion up to the moment of birth in the Americas? Steven McDonald was a pro-life advocate.
18. Symbols yet unseen. Likely, there are more symbols yet to be discovered as history has proven, study discerns, and more information becomes available.
Three Angelic Takeaways:
1. In Jesus’s name, forgive others who have trespassed against you,
2. Stay close to the Gospel and the sacraments and
3. Pray the rosary. These are the legacies of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Angel as revealed by Detective Steven McDonald and Shavod Jones, the forgiver and the forgiven, respectively.
Reflections and the Road to Sainthood:
I have a personal experience with Our Lady of Guadalupe’s influence, leading to my membership in the Detective Steven McDonald Prayer Group. These have helped me to see, with destined eyes, the timely message our Blessed Mother has sent us all -- at none too soon a time in our nation’s history.
We reflect on the relevant Gospel words, “Now is the time.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) for now is the time to forgive and now is the time to live, to live life to the full (John 10:10).
Pareidolia is defined as the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous stimuli, usually visual, so that one sees objects, patterns or meaning where there is none. Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces or objects in cloud formations, seeing faces in inanimate objects, or lunar pareidolia like “the Man in the Moon”. While seeing the potential of single observances to lend themselves to subjective inference, taken together a compelling case crystalizes when interpreting the Our Lady of Guadalupe’s angel with the lives of Steven McDonald and Shavod Jones. Further, the tilma itself falls outside the definition of “pareidolia” as the specific symbols are anything but “nebulous stimuli.”
The Catholic Church rightly imposes stringent standards and strict reviews when confirming at least two miracles attributed to the intercession of any Servant of God before canonization. Given Detective Steven McDonald and Shaved Jones’s prophetic symbolism in the Our Lady of Guadalupe’s tilma and the Holy Spirit’s abundant blessings, my guess is the Church will soon be reviewing anywhere between 2 and 200,000 such miracles. DMcL
* Freed Shooter of Policeman Dies in Crash (New York Times, Sep. 11, 1995)
* Juan de Zumárraga (Wikipedia)