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The issue -- and bizarre it is -- comes up because in recent days there has been news of a retired C.I.A. agent who claims to have seen an alien (as in "outer spaceman") at the notorious, top-secret, and fabled Air Force testing grounds called "Area 51" in Nevada, and also because a major publication with mainstream journalistic credentials (if not exactly our cup of tea), Vanity Fair, is running a major article about a Harvard psychiatrist who started out debunking those who believed they had been abducted by extraterrestrials but then came to believe -- and defend -- their accounts as credible.

That was Dr. John Edward Mack (now deceased).

So, which is it: are UFOs a matter for serious discussion or something to be tossed into the dustbin of superstition (or occultism)?

We've addressed this before.

It seems always in need of update.

In our time, with the new media, there are constant "UFO" reports. They come across all sorts of newswires and blogs.

Is there any credibility to any of it?

Might there actually be other life forms?

Is there a spiritual aspect?

These are questions that have no real answers.

In Ezekiel -- many have long pointed out -- are strange descriptions that seem out of this world. To wit (very first chapter, 4-14):

"As I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire. Within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form. Each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight and their feet were like a calf’s hoof, and they gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides were human hands. As for the faces and wings of the four of them, their wings touched one another; their faces did not turn when they moved, each went straight forward. 

"As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each had two touching another being, and two covering their bodies. And each went straight forward; wherever the spirit was about to go, they would go, without turning as they went. In the midst of the living beings there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches darting back and forth among the living beings. The fire was bright, and lightning was flashing from the fire. And the living beings ran to and fro like bolts of lightning."

That's the Old Testament.

Add to the mix the Vatican: at a recent National Press Club gathering, Daniel Sheehan, a former legal counsel to the Jesuit headquarters in Washington D.C., pointed out the Vatican’s interest in UFOs and extraterrestrial life. (Of course the Vatican's astronomer would be interested; the question: how interested?)

There's also a book by a former evangelical minister and conspiracy theorist out that claims the Vatican is readying to announce the existence of extraterrestrial life (though this same author also predicted the Pope after Benedict would be Cardinal Tarcissio Bertone, as "Peter the Roman"). He goes further and says the Vatican is preparing mankind for arrival of an alien "messiah."

Some such claims are preposterous. For example, there are those who assert that the Vatican owns a telescope that it named "Lucifer." This is a calumny, one readily dispelled.

The truth is that the Vatican is one of about twenty research institutions and companies that use space at the Mount Graham Observatory in Arizona, and that one of the stakeholders in the consortium that owns the observatory developed a camera and spectograph and (foolishly) named it "Lucifer."

But that wasn't done by the Vatican or anyone associated with it; it has nothing to do with the Vatican Observatory (headquartered at Castel Gandolfo near Rome, above, left) or its own telescope at Mount Graham (which is operated in conjunction with the University of Arizona (which also has nothing to do with "Lucifer").

It is also untrue that the Vatican is there in Arizona or anywhere chiefly to look for extraterrestrial life -- in preparation to announcing the visitation of earth from other planets.

The truth is that the Vatican has long held research interest in astronomy -- operating an observatory since 1891 in a show of positive support for science. (And even before, the Church conducted astronomic research while reforming the Gregorian Calendar.)

Far from UFOs, the Vatican Observatory is chiefly interested in matters such as supernovas, dark matter, and -- to be more technical --  things like the thermal properties of stony meteorites and optical gravitational lensing [see here].

As for the C.I.A. agent: it is a bit suspicious that he is also a science-fiction author and that his public "coming out" about Roswell coincided with release of a novel he wrote, The Cryptos Conundrum, a political conspiracy thriller about C.I.A.’s supposed cover-up of the Roswell UFO crash.

In his video "coming out," which had little documentation,  he claimed that as a young agent he met personally with President Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon over investigating Area 51, and that the President was ready to use Army forces to bust the secrecy there. He also asserts that a box of material on Roswell was labeled just that: "Roswell" (as opposed to with more technical language and coding one would expect of government agencies).

Meanwhile, we have long warned that UFOs -- at least many of them -- may be preternatural deceptions. Indians called them "spirit lights." We repeat that warning. They seem especially prevalent over burial mounds, occult areas, and in connection with people who demonstrate psychic interests.

"Aliens" often resemble ancient voodoo spirits, leave an odor of sulfur (this is particularly suspcious), can move through walls or "teleport" (causing one to wonder why they need flying saucers), and follow families throughout generations.

Dr. Mack himself documented the stark terror left in those he studied who claimed to have been abducted.

Are they all a spiritual phenomenon -- those with any credibility?

Not sure. There is not yet any final "smoking gun" in that famed case called "Roswell" (where a craft allegedly crashed in 1947, leaving actual aluminum-like debris and alien bodies; some said it was a weather balloon; others an experiment using captured Japanese in high-altitude balloons).

There has been a surge of sighting of late in Canada. (One man -- again a former government employee who worked on an Air Force project investigating UFOs called "Project Bluebook," claims it was a debunking operation and that he himself once watched aliens working on a submerged craft off Newfoundland, before it whizzed out and upward at vast speeds; his hands shook in a way that might draw concern as he read his testimony.)

It's elusive: like "Bigfoot," like "Loch Ness."

(We do wonder at the fact that just two weeks before Roswell, which was in 1947, there was the famed sighting of strange objects in the sky near Mount Rainier in the State of Washington, by a pilot named Kenneth Arnold who in fact coined the expression, "flying saucers").

Spiritual deceptions?

No doubt, the universe is vast -- endlessly so. Science can only pretend to fathom it. There are millions of solar systems in incredible vast galaxies without number in a universe that may be only one of many parallel ones. The regions out there could well be teeming with life. The Vatican has stated that such might be the case and if such is so it contradicts nothing in the Faith.

When we die, we'll understand it. We'll have eternity to explore eternity.

Right now, we argue with a paucity of evidence.

How mysterious, the world.

And yet we can sense the truth.

This comes by way of the Holy Spirit.

When reading articles about "aliens," or "ghosts," or anything such other thing, a constant invoking of the Holy Spirit grants us not only the detachment from delusion but also a clearer route to perception.

Roswell? Maybe. Not likely; not yet. When it comes to the breadth of the universe, who but God and His angels know?


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