From The Mailbag: Across Land Are Signs In Nature And Rewards For Faith
By Michael H. Brown
Michael Gross of Saint Paul, Minnesota, sends us intriguing photos of the sky after an especially ferocious thunderstorm on June 11.
"Our beloved pastor, Father Tim Nolan, Church of Saint Paul, Ham Lake, Minnesota, retired as pastor of St. Paulís effective June 13, 2004," Michael writes. "Friday, June 11, the church honored Father Tim with a prayer meeting and celebration of thanks for 23 years of his service as St. Paulís founding pastor. My wife and family (seven or our nine children) attended this meeting and left early at about 9:10 PM. The sun was setting and the clouds were breaking up from a terrible thunderstorm that occurred prior to and during Fr. Timís celebration. I took out my camera and began snapping pictures of the beautiful sunset with its layered clouds, and I said to my wife and kids, 'This is prophetic, God must be speaking to us in some way through this.' Little did I know that what I was saying was, in fact, true."
He took a number of photos of the sky. One had a figure resembling the Blessed Mother. Another looked like a far-off figure approaching [left]. "As the story goes, my initial looks at the first photo of that night were not very thorough, and I assumed that this first photo was really the same image as the second (Mary) but in the process of 'forming' or 'materializing.' However, on June 18, I awoke early in the morning and I began to think about the first picture again, and I believe I was being prompted to look at it again. I went down to my computer and examined the first photo and was stunned to find that in fact, the first photo contained a different image than the second, and that image was of Jesus. Later that morning at Mass, I learned that this day was the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus."
This also occurs with natural formations like trees. Oh, so many of these we receive, and after a while they seem to be saying something. In many cases, there is a sign of the Crucifixion with the Blessed Mother at its foot [left]. God is in nature -- and is always subtle. He does not seek to prove Himself, and He is too big to be captured in either a microscope or a telescope -- although from pictures of stars and nebula and auroras and the sun, we also receive intriguing images.
Some stories require a bit of background. For example, there's Julia Harrell of Wentzville, Missouri, who was undergoing a trial of dizziness after the birth of her fifth child. The malady seemed both unrelenting and inexplicable. Finally a pilgrim image of the Guadalupe Virgin was placed in her home and it was upon entry into the home, as the family rushed to pray a Rosary around the newly arrived statue that Julia's dizziness disappeared. They kept it for three months.
"When she left, I felt very sad and lonely," relates the Missouri woman. "We all missed her. Then one December Sunday after Mass, my daughter wasn't feeling well and went to lay down on the couch in the living room. After a few minutes she bounded into the kitchen and shouted, 'Look at that tree in our backyard!' From the kitchen window I gazed and couldn't believe my eyes! In the bark of the elm tree was an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe! We danced and laughed and were so happy [below, left]."
Although photos often do not reproduce to the same effect via the internet, virtually everyone who visited the Harrell home could identify what it was. "Ninety percent of the time people see her right away!" Julia informs us (for your discernment).
Are these signs? Everything in nature is a sign, whether it is a common event or a miracle. God is all around and once in a while He uses signal graces -- always with a touch of innovation, and always subtle -- to reward our childlike faith.
[see also: When trying to discern, see if it builds or saps your strength]
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