The Seven, a prophetic novel by Michael H Brown  A coming sign? Events by a sinister personage? Disaster? In his first work of fiction, Brown pens the driving, suspenseful, and deeply spiritual story of a mysterious government property that harbors secrets relevant not only to a young cop who tries to investigate strange goings-on, but also to an equally mysterious and incredibly powerful old priest who joins forces with him to solve the mystery -- and try to prevent an end-times-like disaster!   CLICK HERE



An unspoken reason for the defection of some men from church may be in the way Jesus has been portrayed by artists, at least since the Renaissance and Reformation. In a huge number of portraits during the past few centuries, the Lord is depicted as nearly androgynous -- when indications from the world of visions and mysticism are that He was anything but. As a healing Catholic evangelist named Francis MacNutt recently put it, "I am always amazed at those times when the person we are praying for actually 'sees' Jesus coming into the scene. When He appears, He is usually very strong -- not wispy, as He is portrayed in so much religious art. He has the strong muscular arms of a carpenter, and He is very manly, but gentle and direct. Then He does the simple human things that the person needed at the time when the trauma occurred."

That goes along with what a psychiatrist named Dr. George G. Ritchie experienced during a near-death episode (written about in his fascinating book, Return from Tomorrow):

"The instant I perceived Him, a command formed itself in my mind, 'Stand up!' The words came from inside me, yet they had authority my mere thoughts had never had. I got to my feet, and as I did came the stupendous certainty: 'You are in the Presence of the Son of God.' Again the concept seemed to form itself inside of me, but not as thought or speculation. I knew other facts about Him too. One, that this was the most totally male Being I had ever met. If this was the Son of God, then His Name was Jesus. But... this was not the Jesus of my Sunday school books. That Jesus was gentle, kind, understanding -- and probably a little bit of a weakling. This Person was power itself, older than time and yet more modern than anyone I had ever met," continued Ritchie, recounting his "death" from pneumonia at an army hospital.

No one -- it seems -- portrays Him (or Joseph) as that; few images, at any rate, such as the Shroud, which presents the stature of a strong and extremely manly but also fully loving Person. It is the type of manliness that men can relate to -- as opposed to the excessively soft and sometimes effete images with which the modern Church has been inundated. Many artists, of course, tend to have effeminate traits they may have translated into their art. Perhaps we can leave it at this: there is a need to institute and propagate the most masculine portraits, Holy Cards, and statues of the Lord, and begin winnowing out the misrepresentations. We could start next month by handing out Shroud holy cards during Lent.

[resources:  Shroud prayer cards and Holy card with St. Therese prayer]

[Also: Return from Tomorrow and MacNutt's The Practice of Healing Prayer; also: The Other Side]

[See also: New Mexico retreat; and Announcing a retreat in Dallas, March 26: prophecy, spiritual warfare, healing family tree]

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