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Our story on Jesus and "earthbound spirits" last week elicited interesting reactions. Let's recall that it was about the belief that some folks become "stuck" on earth when they die or do their purgatory here instead of heading directly to the Light of Jesus.

In common parlance, we know such manifestations as "spirits," "phantasms," or "ghosts" -- a term that Jesus Himself used (in Luke 24: 35-48). Our point was the belief held by some that spiritual disturbances can be caused not only by "curses" and evil spirits but also souls of the deceased.

If there are indications that a soul is around (as many saints experienced such souls), the advice is to have the house blessed and a Mass said for whomever it may be. Whatever the truth, it can't hurt.

But let's get to the mail: and especially an observation from Dr. Timothy E. Higginbotham, who pointed out that "the Greek word 'ghost' translated in that verse is 'phantasma.' That is a unique occurrence of the Greek word in the New Testament. The most suggestive thing to me is that Jesus did not treat the disciples' apparent belief in ghosts as foolishness and we are not told that He corrected them."

As Dr. Higginbotham further points out, the word "ghost" is used in Scripture in several ways. There is the above reference and also use of the term with "Holy Ghost" and also "giving up the ghost" (in the King James version).

However, there is only one use of the word ghost that translates as phantasma -- which means "specter." Do the rare references indicate that we should not be preoccupied with such matters?

"The second most suggestive thing to me is the lack of detail to be found in the Bible on the topic," Dr. Higginbotham points out. "That is perhaps a sign that we should not be overly concerned about the topic."

Noted another:

"The word ghost as used in Scripture comes from the German word geist, which means breath. When Christ spoke using the word 'ghost' (and we must consider translation when we think of this scripture), we need to remember that He has authority over the living and the dead. The Church does not teach that souls roam the earth after death; however, it does teach on the doctrine of particular judgment and purgatory. Souls are judged at the moment of death and they go to Heaven, hell or purgatory. Only demons have the freedom to roam the earth as well as angels. They are pure spirit, hence the word 'geist' or ghost. Jesus was telling His disciples that He was not an angel or a demon. Padre Pio was devoted to the souls in purgatory. I believe that Padre Pio went to them, they did not come to him."

For your discernment!

"The recent article on earthbound spirits is right on," wrote Kelly J. Atkins from Kentucky. "Just to refresh, I am the founder of St. Benedict's Guild in Louisville, a discreet organization (one that doesn't do Montel, or give interviews, or try to start our own ghost hunting show) that deals with spiritual disturbances.

"The 'hows' and 'whys' of the earthbound are many," Atkins goes on. "If a soul neglects Divine inspiration in life and chooses to remain electively ignorant, it goes forth in death and these situations are intensified and concentrated. This is why so many souls will communicate, 'Where am I? Damn those judges for selling my slaves and farm. What do you mean this isn't 1740?' These predicaments are chastisements brought on by themselves and allowed by the Almighty. In other circumstances, the soul is profoundly aware of what is going on."

"I have had one hundred percent success in helping earthbound spirits leave the earth by saying Mass for their souls," writes a priest,  Father Richard Bain, from California. "The most recent was a year ago at a old winery in the Napa Valley. The new owners at first felt it was fun having a ghost in the old winery. A century ago the original owner had been murdered and they felt the ghost was he. 

"One night two of their dinner guests taunted the ghost during an after dinner tour of the winery and the next night the owners were woken with several loud sounds of something exploding.

"They were too afraid to leave their bed," notes the priest. "The next morning they found the batteries of the flash lights they had used the night before to show their guest the winery had exploded. The batteries in the flash lights not used were still intact. 

"Needless to say the owners were no longer thrilled to have a ghost in their winery. I said I would say a Mass for the ghost and this would allow him to go home. As I always do, I told her not to tell anyone about the Mass -- so that when others began to notice the ghost is gone, no one would be to able say this was all in their heads and thus it was only my telling them the ghost would disappear that made it seem so in their minds.

"I have visited the family several times since and each time the owners with great gratitude have to tell me that many people could feel the ghost before the Mass, but after the Mass none do." 

[resources: Healing the Haunted]

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