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A short while back, we revisited the account of a Irish man named Padraig Caughey who says he had an apparition of Mary while contemplating suicide in a jail cell in Belfast (during the "troubles" with England). At the time, he was an "atheist." When she materialized -- standing there before him, at the foot of his bed -- she said, "Now do you believe?"

Those very same words were spoken by Jesus in John 16:29-33 when He asked His disciples: "Do you believe now?"  (Very same expression, remarkably, but for the change of one word's position.)

Upon release from jail, Padraig ended up in a monastery.

Let's ask ourselves: what does it take for us to believe? Do we need constant confirmation? Do we have to receive endless miracles?

When difficulties come, do we allow doubt to enter?

The ultimate doubt, of course, is the deception of atheism.

As one man claims he was told by angels (during a near-death experience): "There is no such thing as atheism. It is impossible to believe in nothing. God is the source of everything, so to say you don't believe in God is just foolishness. People who say they don't believe in God are really saying they are angry with God or they don't believe in the image of God they were told to believe in. If you exist, you believe in God."

"Tragically, we create egos that eliminate our relationships with God," added this man, Dr. Howard Storm, who was once an atheist but converted like Caughey (he is now a minister). "Even people who think they are religious often attempt to manipulate God for their own self-centered purposes. This is one of the greatest travesties that we commit against God -- to project our mean spirit on to God. God's Love for all people is the foundation for the beginning of knowing something about God's love" [our italics].

"The egocentric view of God is often projected into a tribal view of God's Love.

"God is not confined to individuals, tribes, nations, religions, or any other institutions. Our cultural bias is collective egocentric pride. Too often, we claim God's Love for our closed group. There is no difference how big or small the group is. We exclude everyone outside the group as we define it as being outside God's Love. This is opposed to God's Will. God loves everyone beyond anything we can imagine. God loves atheists, agnostics, murderers, prostitutes, thieves, drunks, drug addicts, homeless people, and liars. God abhors behavior that demeans and destroys Godliness, but God loves the person."

Who and how do we love? How are we handling our religion?

Are we benefiting from the incredible richness of Catholicism (which focuses on love through His sacrifice)?

Love deflects all attack, corrects all bias, remedies all slander, and radiates through the sacraments.

[resources: My Descent into Hell]

["...evil never has the last word,...love is stronger than death, and...the future of all humanity, lies in the hands of a faithful and provident God."  Pope Benedict XVI]

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