Alleged Buddhist Miracle Underlines Other Times Mary Has Spoken To Pagans
Two weeks ago we had a story about a Buddhist monk, Reverend Shaka Kendo Rich Hart of Long Island, who claims he was saved by the Blessed Mother. According to this man, the Virgin spoke to him as he was trying to commit suicide (in despair over a stroke that left him paralyzed). Naturally, we had a number of questions about this experience. We wondered how he could still practice Zen after receiving his First Communion, for example.
But if true, the account joins a long litany of instances in which the Blessed Mother has spoken to those who belong to other religions and who may even be involved in idolatry. No better example exists than Guadalupe, Mexico -- where the seer, Juan Diego, will be canonized this month. He spotted the Blessed Mother on the hill known as Tepeyac -- which had been the location for a major temple dedicated to the goddess Tonantzin. And while Blessed Juan -- soon to be St. Juan Diego -- was a Catholic, she was reaching out to those who were pagan. During the next seven years an estimated eight million Mexicans, up until then followers of gods and goddesses, became Christians!
Even further back, in A.D. 305, the Blessed Mother appeared to a young pagan girl who became St. Catherine of Alexandria.
And in the 12th century the Virgin Mary appeared at Monte Virgiliano, Italy -- where there had been a temple to Cybele, the supreme goddess!
Clearly, the Blessed Mother does not limit her appearances -- considers all people children of God -- and her goal is to replace pagan religions -- to replace the worship of erroneous gods, to replace religions like Buddhism -- with the religion of her Son. As with the Buddhist monk, in 1442, appearing in a bright light, she stopped a sick and destitute man in Cordova, Spain, from committing suicide.
She has appeared to a pagan Indian in Montana. She has appeared in Iraq. She appeared to hundreds of thousands of Muslims (and Orthodox) in Zeitoun, Egypt. In 1947 in Italy the Blessed Mother appeared to an atheist who was ready to assassinate the Pope.
She has spoken to Hindus. She has appeared to Protestants. We know a nondenominational deacon in Alabama who has had dozens of alleged experiences with her.
On September 8, 1652, the Blessed Mother appeared to an Indian chief in Guanare, Venezuela (despite his attempt to shoot her with a bow and arrow!).
Eight years later, in 1660, a Morroccan sultan heard an apparition of Mary tell him to leave the faith of Mohammed and become Catholic, and she once appeared to a Turkish pirate.
Countless are the other pagan spots where Mary has appeared. In case after case, she has replaced temples with churches and overshadowed the local goddess with her own holy image. At Guadalupe -- now the most visited shrine in Christianity after the Vatican -- she wrested Tepeyac from Tonantzin just as she replaced Venus at Genazzano, Italy (in what became known as "Our Lady of Good Counsel" -- materializing on the pagan holiday) and in that same nation appeared to a former satanist.
Nothing and no one is out of the reach of the Blessed Mother, as Guadalupe -- and as more recent examples -- indicate.
But getting back to the Buddhist monk: Like many, we had mixed emotions. On the one hand, we were surprised that he is still practicing Buddhism. On the other hand, we realize that free will is involved -- and that his full conversion may yet loom in the future. Did he really hear Mary to begin with? Does his sticking with Buddhism negate the experience? Or is it a simple example of free will? Will he one day end up a full Catholic?
Certainly, God loves us equally. He wants all of us in heaven. We have seen the Pope himself invite Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and others to Assisi for a spiritual gathering.
At the same time, Catholicism remains the oldest and purest form of Christian worship, and the Madonna has made this abundantly clear, constantly stressing the importance of Mass and the sacraments. "It is not equally efficacious to belong to or pray in any church or community, because the Holy Spirit grants His power differently among the churches and ministers,"
she once said at Medjugorje. "All believers do not pray the same way. It is intentional that all apparitions are under the auspices of the Catholic Church."
But responding in Medjugorje to a Catholic priest who was confused over her healing of an Orthodox child, the Blessed Mother responded: "Tell everyone, that it is you who are divided on earth. You are all my children. Certainly, all religions are not equal, but all men are equal before God, as St. Paul says. To whomever has been given much, very much will be required. It is God alone, in His infinite justice, Who determines the degree of responsibility and pronounces judgment."
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