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An exercise in caution and discernment:


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It is the time of year when our thoughts sometimes turn to those who claim they receive the wounds of Our Lord -- the phenomenon of stigmata. It is a very delicate topic, offering a real and serious challenge in discernment.

Often, further information is available to us only down the road. Help us discern. We have seen only too many cases that later look less good than at first. In other cases, there appear to be instances of real grace. Caution and openness are in equal order. Test the spirits. Keep only what is good. Frankly speaking, when blood is too unsightly, it gives us pause (whether on a stigmatic or statues, especially from the eyes). Literally, a red flag of warning?

At any rate, the other day, we linked to an article about an Italian stigmatic named Teresa Musco [left], who died in 1976 at age 33 (as she had repeatedly prophesied) and had such wounds. You can view that article here. Teresa claimed Padre Pio appeared to her. ("I am Padre Pio," he said smilingly. "Jesus told me to give you this news; one day you shall be like me. Look…" And, with those words he held out his hands and showed her the stigmata which he himself had been given. He then blessed her and disappeared.")

St. Padre Pio was of course one of history's famous stigmatics. There have been a number. But for our purposes, we'd like to focus on prophecies: many who have the wounds also have visions, apparitions, locutions, and alleged words of knowledge about future events (alleged).

It is interesting that back in 1951, Teresa said she was told by the Madonna [according to one rough translation] that "you will see many changes in the Church. Christians who pray will be few. Many souls walk to hell.  Women lose the shame and embarrassment. Satan will bring down many. In the world crisis will be common. Satan sings his victory but it's time we all see My Son appear on the clouds and He will judge those who have despised His innocent Blood and Divinity. Then my Immaculate Heart will triumph. My daughter, I am here to tell you that the Father will send a great punishment to mankind in the second half of the twentieth century. When Satan comes to the top of the church, understand that this moment will be able to seduce the minds of great scientists and will be the time when they intervene with very powerful weapons with which you can destroy most of humanity. My daughter, be prepared for the tribulations that the Father has led to Italy; only the souls who offer themselves as victims can fully touch the heart of My Son and the Father. From 1972 will begin the time of Satan; the Cardinals will oppose Cardinals and bishops against bishops. You are in the midst of a very difficult time, which aims to scientifically explain all and no one thinks to give a little warmth, a little love, even for the poorest. I tell you that the world is perverted. I have appeared in Portugal and I have messages, but none has heard. The fire and smoke decompose the world. The waters of the oceans will turn into fire and steam. The foam will rise flooding in Europe and all will sink under the lava of fire. The chosen few living envy the dead.. . "

Now, if it's true that this stigmatic received such messages in 1951, this is remarkable in that it wasn't until 12 years later -- in 1963 -- that a German publication called Neues Europa came out with very similar words in an article about what it claimed was the text of the third Fatima secret (as opposed to the released visual part) -- one that specifically mentioned in the same way and verbiage the waters of the oceans turning to steam and bishops opposing bishops.

Had a stigmatic glimpsed into the "real" Fatima secret? Had a publication somehow seen her prophecy -- and mimicked it? Was a deceptive spirit involved?

Again, we discern.

The Neues Europa "secret" (which was denounced as untrue by Sister Lucia dos Santos, the last living Fatima visionary) likewise said, "A great punishment shall come to all mankind, not today as yet, nor even tomorrow, but in the second half of the twentieth Century. Cardinals will be against Cardinals and bishops against bishops. Satan will put himself in their midst. In Rome, also, there will be big changes."

This in its turn was likewise repeated virtually verbatim at a third revelation in Akita, Japan in 1973, which was two decades after the stigmatic's prediction and twelve years after Neues Europa. In an alleged revelation to a nun, the Blessed Mother warned of bishops opposing other bishops (along with cardinals again), fire from the sky, and destruction of many humans.

What to believe? What not? When does it drift into dubious realms? When are real secrets unraveled? What happened to the foreseen cataclysm in the second half of the twentieth century? What about those who believe in such dramatic circumstances as "three days of darkness" (which is dismissed at places like Medjugorje)? And time frames? Did a stigmatic actually receive the revelations of Akita many years previously?

When it comes to stigmata and alleged prophecy another interesting example that has recently crossed our desks involves a Catholic woman who was born in Iraq. Her name is Nasreen Jouni, 51; her father was from Baghdad, her mother from Basra, and her grandmother, interestingly, from Niniveh. We interviewed her this week.

Nasreen grew up in Kuwait under the guidance of a holy nun and entered the U.S. in 1980. She now lives in Hesperia, California. As a child, Nasreen told us, the Blessed Mother came to her in dreams and let her know about events that would impact her family, including deaths that actually occurred afterward. In 1969, when she was eight, a priest showed her the picture of an Italian priest she then sought to communicate with: Padre Pio of Peitrelcina, who wrote back to her three months later, telling her, she says -- as in the case of Teresa Musco -- that he was happy to communicate with someone so young and that "when you grow up you will know who I am because there will be a connection between us."

That connection, believes Nasreen [below, left], is the stigmata, which first occurred after she was given pictures of the Blessed Mother as represented to a seer and stigmatic named Myrna Nazzour from Syria. (The pictures exuded so much oil that it covered objects in her purse, she says.)

Starting in 1988, Nasreen says she began to see something like a "white shadow" during prayer and also had an experience of allegedly witnessing an angel. At four p.m. on December 8, 1988, she saw a tree moving oddly out a large picture window while she prayed with her family and then witnessed the Blessed Mother come from it, saying that someone in her family had made a request and that the request was now fulfilled and that in return this person (whom Our Lady didn't name) had made a promise that involved placing two statues of Mary and Jesus in front of the house. It turned out to be her brother Hani -- who had made the promise privately when he requested a heavenly favor -- and was shocked his sister knew about it. (The statues were immediately bought.)

That was the beginning of apparitions that allegedly occurred each day at varying times with messages that involved prayer and fasting. In 1991, Nasreen says the Blessed Mother reportedly appeared to her with two crowns -- one of thorns, one of flowers -- and asked which she wanted. "I told her I would take the thorns for this life and when I die the flowers," Nasreen says.

That Holy Week, while in prayer, blood flowed from her forehead. It would also flow from her feet and hands. In subsequent years the phenomenon would start around six p.m. on Holy Thursday or on Good Friday until three p.m. During the experience, says Nasreen, "It is extremely painful. I feel like nails in my hands and my shoulder disconnected from carrying the Cross. Our Lady is next to me as I watch the Crucifixion and we are in a mountain village that is very old and I no longer see anyone else around me, but they say the cries of pain, during the Crucifixion, as I watch, are coming from me -- that I am yelling in pain, and they see the blood come.

"The closest I can describe the Lord to is the Divine Mercy image. His hair is brown; His eyes are green and blue -- hazel. When I look at His eyes, I see myself in them. To me He is tall, perhaps six feet (I am short) and His Voice is very deep and masculine.

"Our Lady is petite and I never see her touching the floor. She has wavy hair and her eyes are blue like the sea when it is clean. Her face is white but like white skin when it blushes and her voice is like a child's."

The stigmata continued until 1996, claims Nasreen, when it stopped for unknown reasons for five years before resuming and continuing allegedly to this day. She also says she experienced a miracle during which a Host appeared on her tongue in front of witnesses. They are certainly controversial phenomena, similar to those of Myrna, who also bled from the face.

Nasreen says observers from the Vatican have periodically visited her, starting in 1993, when a nun and priest came to view the oil.

We report; you discern.

Exercise caution.

No mysticism should be approached without fasting. That these mystics are sincere and prayerful is apparent.

Still, some questions we ask: does a mystical case leave us peace? Is there any unsettlement? Is there a "grittiness" or uncertainty? (When in doubt, leave it out.)

As for that prophetic component, Nasreen asserts that on February 17 of this year, at four a.m., the Lord said:

"My daughter, I know you are weak and I know without me you are always imperfect, unable to move. Don’t worry; I will take care of you. I will take care of you until all my works are done. My chalice of mercy has overflowed. Daughter, when My Mother appeared in Fatima on May 1917, she said the devil asked the Divine Throne to tempt the world for a hundred years. This time is going to end in 2017. He will no longer reign on earth because I will come with My peace. I will cover the world with My peace because, I am peace and passion. My call is to the whole world." She interpreted this not as the end of the world, but as the end of a period -- Satan's time, to be accompanied by major events, for which we should prepare, in ways she believes will be revealed in coming years.

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[resources: Tower of Light]

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