Miracle on the Hudson: Flight 1549

Author Vinny Flynn shares an extraordinary letter he received from a reader who happened to be a passenger on Flight 1549.
by Vinny Flynn, Susan Bailey | Source: www.mercysong.com

Note: I received this email from Vinny Flynn, author of 7 Secrets of the Eucharist, a book that was reviewed in the Fall 2007 issue of GrapeVine Magazine. This letter details some amazing blessings that took place during the US Air flight which crashed into the Hudson River with, miraculously, no loss of life. After the letter, I have reprinted the review of Flynn's book and information on where it can be purchased. Editor.

From Vinny Flynn:

I'd like to share with you an e-mail letter I received from a survivor of the January 15 crash of US air flight 1549 into the Hudson River. For me, personally, reading it was a very moving experience, because the writer mentions that my book 7 Secrets of the Eucharist brought him comfort as the plane went down, and it is always humbling and rewarding to hear how God has used our efforts to bring people closer to Him and His healing touch.

   But on another level, the letter is also a powerful witness to God's love and to the often hidden ways He orchestrates events in our lives.

   I pray it will be a reminder to you of how personally God wants to be involved with each of us and how powerfully He can work in our lives when we remain aware of His presence with expectant trust in His mercy.

Here's the letter. May it bless you!

Vinny Flynn

Sat, 24 Jan 2009 2:08 pm
Subject: Passenger of flight 1549


I sincerely hope this email finds its way to you. I was a passenger on flight 1549 and my name is Fred Berretta. You might have caught a glimpse of me or heard me on CNN or Fox the night of the crash. I interviewed with Lou Dobbs, Wolf Blitzer and Bill O'Reilly and discussed the crash that night.

   I had been on a one day business trip to NY and sat in seat 16A just behind the left engine. My trip was a last minute decision the day before. I finished my meetings early on Thursday and realized I had time to attend the 12 noon mass at St. Patrick Cathedral. It was unusual for me to have the extra time, but that day I did. After Mass, I stopped by the gift shop just across from the cathedral and purchased your book, 7 Secrets of the Eucharist. As I waited to board flight 1549 bound for Charlotte, where I live, I began reading your book. I continued reading while we taxied until just after take off.

   I think I got through about half of it and then decided to close my eyes and reflect on the incredible insights your book gave me regarding the Eucharist. We were climbing out and just a minute or so into the flight I heard the impact of the bird strikes and then the explosion in the left engine. I could see it on fire and the cabin began to smell like jet fuel. As a private pilot, once I realized the second engine was also not functioning, things became quite tense.

   While I had known about and prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet years before, I had not really focused on it in quite a long time. Ironically, I had prayed the chaplet the day before at 3 pm. I had forgotten that in my briefcase I had long kept a copy of a booklet of the Divine Mercy chaplet which had exerpts from St. Faustina's diary. When I arrived in NY, I had some time at my hotel and decided to clean out my briefcase, something long overdue. I found the Divine Mercy booklet, prayed the chaplet, and read some of the words of Jesus to Faustina.

   Before we hit the water, I thought about the words Jesus said, that nothing would be refused if asked for during the hour of mercy.* I really thought there was a good chance myself and others would die that day, but I asked God to be merciful to us, I prayed the Lord' prayer and a Hail Mary. I then prayed to St. Michael, and we impacted the water. The odds were not with us that day, but God clearly was. I believe it is the only jet airliner to successfully ditch in the water without fatalities in the history of aviation.

   I just want you to know that your book gave me comfort as we were going down, and for that I am grateful. I know a lot of people prayed on that plane, and I believe the Miracle on the Hudson was a testament to the mercy of God, and a sign of hope.

   Take care and may God continue to bless your ministry and all you do to spread the message of Divine Mercy and the wonders of Holy Communion.

Best regards,

Fred Berretta

*Flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River during the 3 O'clock hour (at about 3:30 pm), which Christ told St. Faustina is "the hour of great mercy." It was during this hour that His heart was pierced by a lance, and blood and water gushed forth as a fountain of mercy for the world. "In this hour," He told her, "I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion." (Diary of St. Faustina, #1182, 1320.)

Link to video:

7 Secrets of the Eucharist
MercySong Ignatius Press
December 2006
Softcover, 131 pages (BOOK)

Vinny Flynn is a gifted writer, musician and speaker and is best known for the musical Chaplet of Divine Mercy that is broadcast each weekday at 3pm on EWTN, featuring Still Waters, his family. His first work published under his own name, 7 Secrets of the Eucharist, is about a subject he has researched all his life and loves with all of his heart. Flynn is the Executive Director of MercySong Ministries of Healing in Stockbridge, MA (home to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy) and has been speaking, writing and teaching about the Eucharist for many years. In his years of teaching he found again and again that people simply did not know what the Church taught about the Eucharist. He found that even daily communicants who never missed mass and were devoted to the Eucharist through adoration did not know many of the basic truths. He soon felt led to write a book about the Eucharist that would include the deep theological truths usually only available to academics and theologians, but would be simply written so that all could understand. This Flynn has achieved with stunning success in 7 Secrets of the Eucharist.

   This book is a deceptively easy read. I am a notoriously slow reader and yet I could read each chapter in 5-10 minutes and understand, at least on the surface, what he was trying to convey. Flynn is very experienced at taking complex theology and making it accessible to the average person, having done this for years in his work editing and ghost writing for the National Shrine of Divine Mercy. Each chapter lays out a ‘secret’ – actually truths that are well documented in the Church but are secrets nonetheless because so few people know of them. The beauty of this book is that once you read the chapter, you walk away with the knowledge, and as you pray on that knowledge, the secrets unfold like beautiful flowers. And that knowledge keeps unfolding and keeps growing. Flynn even mentions at the end of the book that there are many more secrets to discover about the Eucharist as one prays and meditates on the 7 he has laid out.

   In my own experience, going to mass and receiving the Eucharist has changed forever – I will never look at mass or the host the same way again. I only knew 3 of the secrets the first time I attended mass after beginning the book, and I found there wasn’t nearly enough time at mass to meditate on all 3 secrets because they are so vast. This was very exciting to me and it opened a whole new world. When I received the Eucharist, I had to pause and look at it before consuming it because of the new and wonderful things I knew about it.

   As I prayed my rosary, some of those ‘other secrets’ that Flynn alluded to began to be revealed to me. I finished 7 Secrets of the Eucharist in a few short days but the flowers will continue to unfold, and will multiply, for days, weeks and even years to come. Flynn draws upon a wealth of sources including the scriptures and writings from three well-known modern-day saints, St. Faustina, Padre Pio and St. Therese of Lisieux, as well as Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Flynn was a major part of the process of translating St. Faustina’s diary into English through his work with the National Shrine of Divine Mercy. Many critics have said that this book is a “must read.” I have to agree. You will never think of the Eucharist in the same way again. It is 131 pages of pure power.

   You can purchase 7 Secrets of the Eucharist through MercySong’s website at mercysong.com. It is also available through the Catholic Company and Amazon. The Catholic Company’s podcast, The Catholic Spotlight, features an interview with Vinny Flynn where he discusses the book in detail. Visit their website at catholicspotlight.com and listen to episode #13. http://www.catholicspotlight.com.

Go to the prayer of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy

Read Related Articles:

The Divine Mercy Indulgence

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The Hour of Great Mercy

The Miracle of the Hudson

St. Faustina Kowalska I

St. Faustina Kowalska II

A sign of hope: Jesus, The Divine Mercy

He must have done his First Fridays

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