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From the mail:

If Miraculous 'Images' Aren't Enough To Rile The Skeptics, How About Prophecy?

A number of items to tend to. Call it a mishmash. Let's start with an article we had on the idea of a sixth Rosary mystery: imagining Jesus appearing to His mother after He died. It was an idea a priest had posited for Advent.

We knew the idea was not brand new but did not realize its prevalence.

"I don't know if the author of the article is aware of this, but the Franciscans have always prayed the sixth joy of Mary as the Apparition of Our Risen Savior to His Blessed Mother," a monk informed us. "We have the Franciscan Crown or the Seven Joys of Mary.  It hung from the cord of all Franciscans for centuries and still is prayed by many of St. Francis' Three Orders."

This practice also was initiated in certain areas of South Louisiana on May 17, 1998, a resident there says. "A Sixth Glorious Mystery is sometimes prayed, called the 'Glorious Return of Her Son' or the 'Glorious Return of Jesus' (subtitle: 'The Light returns to the darkness')," we were informed. "It is said following the fifth glorious mystery."

On matters of the Church, there was the good news last month that Mexico's seminaries are bursting at the seams -- according to one reckoning, with 12,000 potential priests, which would be a quarter of the entire number of priests in the United States. There are also 32,000 sisters. The reason?

"There has been a prayer recited after every Mass in every church in the whole country for vocations for several years now," a viewer named Rosa Maria Estrada tells us, adding: "And prayer works."

That it does. It's hard to see at left (you can click on the photo for a larger view), but a statue of Blessed Mary somehow remained intact -- and fully upright -- in the middle of this tree that collapsed during that a recent ice storm in Missouri. "Our Lady is still standing!" says Pat Enk, who sent it. Call it luck, if you really want to.

At the top left of this article is a statue of Jesus in front of the famous office building in Clearwater, Florida, where a color silhouette of the Guadalupe Virgin -- correct in every proportion -- appeared on the glass in 1997. Although that image was tragically destroyed by a vandal with a slingshot (not long before the debacle with Terri Schiavo, who spent much time in a nursing home there), a number of other images seem to be appearing. Do you see Jesus in the backdrop of glass panes?

For your consideration.

At the bottom of this article is an old newspaper item from  Pennsylvania on an image that appeared and reappeared as the "face" of Christ on the tabernacle veil at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Wyalusing. It was attested to in detail by an engineer who sent us the information and who witnessed it on a number of occasions.

"We first began to hear about the apparition from acquaintances in Towanda – I think it was in the summer of 1977," writes this correspondent. "We gradually became interested as more and more reports filtered in, so we decided to go see for ourselves. 

"We got there on a Sunday afternoon. The small church was over half full and there were 15-30 people outside. I believe in my own mind that I did not expect to see anything. By nature I am fairly unemotional and not given to the type of 'sensitivity' that seems to be required in such situations [I am an electrical engineer by profession]. 

"As I was going into the church, I met a man from Towanda coming out; he cautioned me not to expect to see anything at first, but after sitting there for a time I would probably see it. He then showed me a Polaroid photo he had just taken which he felt showed the blessed Virgin. 

"I did not look closely at the photo because I did not want to be preconditioned before I went in – however, I could see that there definitely was an image on the film. I then glanced over [a man's] shoulder into the church and could see the image from where I was standing. I entered the back of the church, which, at that time, was approximately 15 pews deep.

"From the rear I could readily see an image of a bearded man’s face on the cloth. I moved around the church to view it at different angles. 

"It remained stable for me although as I moved up to the first two or three rows and I had more trouble seeing it – much as one might expect if you were dealing with an optical illusion. 

"The tabernacle covering was a white cloth with a coarse gold lame outer covering.  When examining the image with an analytical eye you could at times say to yourself, 'Okay, the eye is from that part of the gold lame and the nose is from that fold in the inner cloth, etc.' 

"However, that didn’t seem to be the whole answer because as you viewed it, the image seems to just 'glow' through the cloth – almost as though it was being projected from the rear of the tabernacle.

"I went back to St. Mary’s approximately eight times over the next two years.  On six of those occasions I saw a face or faces on the cloth. On the other two occasions there appeared to be something there but I just could not decode it. On one occasion we took ten members of a teenage CCD class with us and nearly all believed they saw the Face of Christ (even the 'cool' boys).

"The image did not appear to be sensitive to the changing environment.  It seemed to persist at all hours of the day and under all lighting conditions. I observed it in mid-afternoon, late afternoon, and night (natural and synthetic light).  It would persist before and after the priest would disturb the cloth when transferring the ciborium from the tabernacle."

Such images have greatly magnified in the years since. Many are hard to distinguish from mere quirks of the camera, save for the feelings attached to them. (At right, what looks like a Host appeared above an eight-year-old in November.) And then there is what is seen in the sky:

"At 9:30pm New York time (I reside in Huntington New York-Long Island), I stepped out to run down to the grocery store," writes Peggy Clores. "On many occasions, I look up into the night sky. This particular night, I was in a hurry and intent only on where I was going.

"As I got closer to entering my van, it was as if 'something' directed my head to look straight up above me. (I want to be clear. I didn't physically feel anything, but typically, there is thought connected to an action to look directly up into the sky. I mean that I tilted my head back and looked straight up.) And then I gasped at what I saw. I was in awe.

"The sky was a very dark navy blue. A very clear and cold winter sky. Dead, in the center, as I tilted my head back, was a full white perfect moon (as I've written in the past, it reminded me, as does the sun, of a Host; as if God wanted to keep that symbol and gift in front of our eyes and our focus day and night). That was not unusual in any way. What surrounded it, however, was awesome.

"Directly around it was 'an ethereal halo effect.' Surrounding that was a navy blue concentric circle of the night sky. Surrounding that was another much larger concentric circle, ethereal as well -- but like a transparent veil, shielding the night sky. Bordering the outside of this huge concentric circle was a dark rim. It appeared like you were an astronomer looking into the night sky. Like a big dome was above you with a skylight opening that lead to the moon.

"I dashed  into the house and told my 13-year-old that he had to come out and see something. I did not tell him what it was. I just brought him outside and said 'Look up.' We know how uneasily impressed today's 13-year-olds are. 

"Paul just let out a breathless 'WOW! It looks like a big dome. Like we're inside the Vatican [he's been there] and the top top part of the dome is off!' 

"He ran inside to get the digital camera but no matter what we did, we couldn't capture it the way it appeared in person.


"I had to share this with you and find out if you witnessed it or heard about it.  I have never, ever seen anything close to it.  It lasted about an hour more. When I went one more time at 11p.m., it was gone and the sky was all hazy and the moon was obscured. 

"I was struck by the fact that it coincided with the Gospel reading (as I thought back on that morning's Mass): Gospel Luke 21:25-28, 34-36.

("Jesus said to his disciples: 'There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.

("Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.")

Wrote Chris Bartels, a convert to Catholicism -- whose experience came during a night-time vision -- "In my dream I am at my store, and it is 2:30 in the afternoon. I am looking out into the street and watching the sky as great clouds start rolling in. But they aren't normal clouds. They are heavy, angry, roiling clouds that look more like the clouds that you see barreling down a mountainside in a pyroclastic flow. 

"In fact, in my dream I am thinking, 'Oh, no -- there must be a volcanic eruption.' 

"As the afternoon nears three p.m., it begins to get darker until the day is devoid of all light and I am running down the street trying to get people to look at the sky. I am telling people, 'look at the sky, there's something wrong -- can't you see how dark it is getting?' 

"But no one will look up, they just keep telling me that everything is fine, it's just cloudy outside. It is then that I realize the only important thing for me to do is to find my family and gather them together and try to find safety. As I am running down the street searching for them, pandemonium and chaos breaks out all around me. People are screaming and running from the clouds. There is something in the clouds that is attacking them, although in my dream I'm not sure what it is. But it is a heartbreaking scene that is all around me. 

"The last vision I have in my dream is of myself and my family gathered with a multitude of other people in what seems to be an open field.  We are gathered around an altar, with our eyes fixed upon a huge, brilliantly white Host that a priest, also bathed in a brilliant white, is holding high for all to see.  We are safe and my dream ends with a voice speaking these words, 'Where the Mass is said well, you will be safe.'"


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