On March 4, 2004 in my sixth year of law enforcement, I was involved in a car chase that spanned four counties and ended in a shoot-out with a man carrying drugs worth half a million dollars.
Traveling at 100 mph in my police vehicle a tire blew out. The night before, I had a dream that I was in a car crash while traveling very fast on FM 649 where there was a giant 500 foot dip in the road. During the real car chase, I remembered the dream and slowed down as I approached the dip. I thought “all is good the danger is over.” To my shock, a few miles after driving past this area in the dream, I sped up again thinking I was past the danger and then a tire blew out.
My mind immediately switched gears and everything began to happen in milliseconds. I did remember to never correct the vehicle or you will rollover. The video tape shows that the blowout lasted 8 seconds but it seemed like an eternity. By the way, 8 seconds is the amount of time a bull rider is on a bull! It seemed like a lifetime and my mind raced while calling out to Jesus and then to Mary but I still felt hopeless so I cried out to St. Joseph.
My mind raced remembering accidents I witnessed as a cop of people traveling much slower who died after tire blowouts, so I knew my time and number had come up. At 70 mph you have a very good chance of dying if you have a tire blow out. At 80 or 90 mph it is certain death. At 100 mph you have a straight ticket to heaven or hell! One county newspaper wrote, “..Deputy Rodriguez experienced a blowout and lost control of his vehicle. It was a MIRACLE he did not flip or crash into a metal gate entrance he was headed to but rather bounced off a high embankment, went airborne and collided with a light pole then landed on his four tires blowing all of them out.”
When I went airborne I cried out to St. Joseph one last time with all my heart as I knew that once I hit the ground I would begin the treacherous vehicle rollovers that usually break your neck at such high speed, but instead no such thing happened, as when I landed, the tires rammed into the caliche (limestone) bedrock imbedding all four tires all the way to the axel of the SUV police vehicle. The landing was so hard that it blew out the remaining three tires, and it was this final act of God that saved my life from the deadly rollovers.
Thanks to St. Joseph, I miraculously walked out from the vehicle…though in my heart I knew and know that I should have died that day. I also knew I would never be the same in mind, body, soul, and spirit. I exited the vehicle on my own crying and laughing not believing that I was alive. I even touched myself to make sure I was not hallucinating or dreaming. I felt cold and some chills. I knew I was experiencing shock and I knew and felt that this event would change me forever.
The video recorder was on and you can hear me not just calling but screaming out to St. Joseph. Looking at the video, miraculously it seems that an invisible hand or force was guiding the vehicle escaping one obstacle after another during the 8-second ordeal. While I did receive a severe whiplash that tore the back of my neck muscles that put me out for a year and a half, the miracle is that I lived at all. For this reason, I wish to tell the world about the powerful saint who saved my life.
Saint Joseph became my spiritual father for everything. In thanksgiving for the whole event and the many blessings to my family, I set up a roadside shrine with a 6 foot statue of Saint Joseph on a 3 foot cement pedestal at a friend’s ranch 3 hours south of San Antonio on Hi-way 16. It is exactly 140 miles south of San Antonio in the heart of the Wild Horse Desert.
I have often thought of what St. Teresa of Avila wrote in the 16th century, “I took for my patron and lord the glorious Saint Joseph, and recommended myself earnestly to him. I saw clearly that both out of this my present trouble, and out of others of greater importance, relating to…the loss of my soul, this my father and lord delivered me, and rendered me greater services than I knew how to ask for…I am filled with amazement when I consider…the dangers from which he has delivered me, both of body and soul.”
After this event, I no longer felt invincible in fact quite the opposite. Interiorly and physically there was a limp. If you look at my head it sits a little tilted as it connects to the neck while before it was normal. The best way to explain it is when Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord. After this, he would limp for the rest of his life, but a new Jacob arises who is now called Israel. One that the Lord can use since it is when we are weak that we are really strong because we depend on Him.
So “go to Joseph” as the whole world did in the time of famine and death in Egypt, (Gen. 41:55) and he will intercede for you. Take him as your father as Jesus did, and he will make you strong! For me, one career ended and another started via St. Joseph. Maybe without the limp, I would be even more proud, vain, and self-absorbed. I have learned that weakness is actually a blessing because it is a constant reminder I need to rely on God and that any day now my number can come up.
ST. JOSEPH PRAY FOR US. AMEN.
(A plenary indulgence for praying it daily for a month)