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TO BE DISCERNED: CASES WHERE 'DECEASED' SEEMINGLY MANIFEST TO AWAKEN, CONSOLE
"It is not uncommon," wrote the eminent 19th-century French priest, Father Charles Arminjon, "for departed souls to appear to the living: time and again, God has permitted these manifestations, either to awaken the living from their omissions and torpor, or in order that abandoned souls might obtain a swifter relief."
One of the most prominent cases, notes Father Arminjon (author of The End of the Present World, which focuses on the afterlife), was that of Pope Benedict VII, who for a long while after his death allegedly appeared to the Bishop of Lapree. It is said that St. Thomas Aquinas likewise saw his deceased sister, and that St. Padre Pio encountered more departed souls than living. In France, a deceased nun appeared to a living one and gave revelations that formed an astonishing book called the Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory (which bears an imprimatur from a Cardinal, indicating that while great caution is in order, the brush against spirits is not against doctrine).
The cases are too numerous to recount. Many are those with their own examples. We hear constant reports of "ghosts." These, some believe, are "earthbound" spirits -- souls that have not gone into the Light of God because they remain attached to an object, person, or event of this world.
There is even a highly popular television show, "The Ghost Whisperer," that's based on the consultations of a Catholic woman, Mary Ann Winkowski, who claims to see such spirits.
It is Winkowski's view that spirits stick around if they had huge egos, are afraid of judgment, died unexpectedly and especially violently, filled with anger (and unforgiving), or were overly attached to their homes. She claims they often provoke sudden mood changes and do so to feed off the energy from emotions (fear or anger) of the living. Other saints encountered earthbound spirits, and although we are not to initiate contact with them (if indeed they exist: it is the sin of necromancy), Lent is a wonderful time to pray for them.
Is there a disturbance in your home? Is there a sudden feeling in particular areas? Does something "haunt" you or others? It could be your imagination; it could be demonic, of course; or it could be a trapped soul. In the event that it seems like the latter, pray for the soul to head for the light.
Fascinating are the spontaneous cases in which it seems (as Father Arminjon indicated) that the deceased come to awaken or console (or seek prayers). We hear such accounts from many viewers. Besides little coincidences, or the feeling of a beloved one's presence, there are dreams. Noted a viewer named Sheila: "My first husband died when he was not yet 38 years old. He was angry and I wasn't sure whether he had made a good Confession when he had the Last Rites.
"Later, I remarried. Occasionally, I would see a mist-like figure move from my boys' bedroom to ours, and I would kid that it was just Dave checking on me. Then, sixteen years after his death, I had a dream and saw the figure crossing the hall again. I called out to it and more or less scolded it -- saying that this had gone on long enough. 'Come out and reveal yourself.'
"The mist cleared and it was Dave. He said that he had just come to say goodbye. I told him I loved him and he said the same to me....
"Then he was gone. I never saw the 'mist' again. I believe he had not been ready to be with God due his anger but finally had gotten beyond it."
"You asked for experiences with the dead, so here's mine," said another.
"I do not want my name used. This experience was personal and I haven't told my family members (brothers and sister) about it.
"My mother died over forty years ago, and shortly after she died, I had a very vivid and realistic dream about her. I don't usually remember any of my dreams for very long. This one I remember as though it happened yesterday.
"In my dream, I heard the phone ringing. I got up and went downstairs to answer it. Everything was realistic: the stairs I went down, and the kitchen where the phone was.
"I picked up the phone, said hello, and it was my mother, sounding happy (which she wasn't the last years of her life). She asked if I knew who it was, and I said yes. She told me that she had called me because she knew I was concerned about her (she had died an alcoholic.) She said she felt much better and said she knew her behavior on earth was wrong.
"I seemed to hear voices in the background, and she said, 'Do you hear that? We're all busy here.' She then told me she was given only a little time to talk to me. I wanted her to talk longer, and she replied somewhat firmly that she couldn't. I asked her if she would call me again, and she said 'no' -- that I would see her again some day, but not for a long time. She said, 'You have to raise your children.'"
Recalled Jayni Flories of Las Vegas: "The week my mother was dying my sister and I took turns staying up nights with her.
"One night I thought I heard her sort of choking so I went to her bedside to see. She was sleeping peacefully. The door to the bedroom was open and out of the corner of my eye I could see sort of a figure standing in the hall way. I couldn’t see a face, just the torso and hands folded in front. It appeared to me that the hands were those of a man. When I turned to look I couldn’t see anything, but when I turned back to look at my mother I again saw the figure out of the corner of my eye.
"The next day when I told my brother and sister about it, they both very nonchalantly said, 'Oh, it’s Daddy coming for Mom.' Our father died in 1966 and this was 1992. A few days later my mother died."
Did you ever feel the presence of a deceased one so strongly you almost turned around to look? Do you feel they can manifest in various fashions?
"My sister-in-law was found dead in her apartment," wrote a viewer named Carolina. "She lived alone and several hours away from us. She always told us that she would love to be buried in the old section of the cemetery where their parents were but always thought she would have to go over to the new part as there was no more room.
"As my husband and I struggled to arrange her funeral, we would find little clues among her belongings and we tried to meet her wishes to the best of our ability. As she had been dead a couple of days before she was found, it was necessary to have her cremated right away.
"When we approached the cemetery to arrange her internment, they advised that we would be able to bury her remains with her parents. We were overjoyed and knew that this would be exactly what she would have wanted! We had bought a large arrangement of roses with a statue of Our Lady of Grace in the center of it.
"As the funeral director was carrying the roses to the grave site, one of the roses seemed to leap out of the arrangement and land at my feet. I was going to place it back in the arrangement but the director and my daughter-in-law said, no, this is meant for you. There was such an overwhelming sense of peace. I brought the rose home and placed it at the feet of our Sacred Heart Statue, and it seemed it would never dry out."
It was St. Thérèse the Little Flower who wanted to spend her eternity doing good on earth and whose signs are often in the way of roses! We wonder if she is intervening in a special way at this time. How many accounts there are of her signs!
But back to the accounts:
"When I was 16 I fell off the back of a pickup truck in Griffin, Georgia," recalls Judy Duncan of Ann Arbor, Michigan. "Now, down there the roads are very rough. Let's just say I was pretty messed up!
"While I lay there on the hot pavement with barely any clothes on, I remember such a feeling of peace it's too hard to describe. I also remember the people in my life who had passed on, it was as if they were standing in a group and I could hear, 'it's not time yet.'
"I looked at the trees around me and everything I seen was glowing a very bright glow as if to say I do have life in me! It was awesome! While in the ambulance I was talking with a young girl (whom I assumed was the paramedic) and I remember her being so beautiful that I could not keep my eyes off of her. When I got to the hospital I asked my mom if she seen how pretty she was, and mom said she was not pretty at all.
"As I was sleeping in my hospital room I felt someone at the foot of my bed. I don't know if it was a man or woman but he or she was glowing so bright the whole room lit up. This person specifically said to me as clear as day, 'Judy, do you know that God loves you?' I said 'yes' and fell right back to sleep. Of course, Mom insists to this day no-one was in that room that night. But I will never forget this experience as long as I live!"
The departed, or an angel?
We will be able to answer such questions only when we get to the other side and look back at the mysteries of this place called earth, where a good God gives us good tests and where His mercy stretches into eternity.
[resources: The Other Side, Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory and The End of the Present World]
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