Once Realm Of Individual Seers, Claims Of Visions Now Span Across Populace
In the quarter of a century since the first outbreak of alleged apparitions at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina, a great groundswell of similar events has been claimed on every habitable continent and indeed in virtually every nation that has a measurable Catholic population.
It now appears that this outbreak -- once focused on individual locutionists, seers, or apparition sites -- is manifesting across the general populace. Or so are the many claims.
Moreover, phenomena involving Jesus Himself -- as opposed to simply the Blessed Mother -- appear to be rapidly increasing.
Around the world, in diocese after diocese, especially in the West, Catholics are claiming statues that weep, locutions or the "hearing" of a voice, prophetic dreams, apparitions, and holy images that manifest, supposedly, on ordinary objects.
In just the past week, a statue has oozed blood in Sacramento, an image of the Guadalupe Virgin has been reported on a tree in the Dallas area, a statue of Christ Crucified was shedding blood in Cali, Colombia, and the Face of Jesus was discerned on a car in Laredo (again, Texas).
In the case of Sacramento, where the phenomenon was reported at the Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church, the matter has been referred to the diocese for investigation (although the pastor, Father Jude Ban Nguyen, told Spirit Daily it has not yet been removed for such an inquiry and is now dry after repeated exudations). "I saw it myself, but I don't know if it's true or wrong," says Father Jude.
In each such case, of course, comes the question of legitimacy. The explosion of alleged images has reached from the seemingly absurd -- on a tortilla or grilled-cheese sandwich -- to the majestic: towering statues shedding tears [above left] in places like Viet Nam.
Which are real? And what might the real ones portend?
Whenever statues weep, there is concern that events may be coming to those regions. Weeping statues long preceded the disaster in Louisiana. Whether it was related or unrelated, there was also a "miraculous" image on a tree in Manhattan before September 11. And so additional questions:
Why so many in Texas? Why Sacramento, which is the capital of California? And why would there be such a strong Viet Nam connection?
The statue in Sacramento is at a Vietnamese church at the same time that the large statue has shed tears at the cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City, making headlines around the world.
It would seem that tears are not a sign of heavenly pleasure and that the involvement of alleged blood further accents that fact -- often interpreted as representing abortion, general sinfulness, or warfare.
If legitimate, such phenomena raise haunting notions of what may be ahead and are multiplying at a time when there has been an historic upsurge in weather flux and natural disasters. In Cozumel, Mexico, an image of Jesus was spotted on a flower pot right after Hurricane Wilma devastated the area, coming in this case as great consolation. An image of Jesus also was reported last month in Rochester, New York.
But images and statues are hardly the extent of it. Thousands of Catholics, again from around the world, are also reporting "promptings" in the Spirit which they interpret as God's way of warning us to prepare for something imminent -- however one may interpret "imminent," and however one may take the term "prepare."
There are no statistics on how many are receiving such inklings -- no pollsters in this arena -- but the indications are obvious by the tone and number of e-mails sent to news websites such as this one as well as the spread of blogs carrying such "messages." Thousands of Catholics are receiving "visions" of looming disasters, are claiming to wake up at specific hours with the call to pray, and are reporting a step-up in spiritual conflict.
This spread of the prophetic pulse to ordinary churchgoers is a decided shift from the 1980s and 1990s, when the focus of such phenomena was on individual seers at specific sites of apparition. But it is in accord with a striking message from Medjugorje itself -- where, in the spring of 1982, when asked why she was appearing in so many places, the Blessed Mother allegedly responded, "If it is necessary, I will appear in each home."
How the Church will rule on many of the individual reports and on Medjugorje itself is currently up in the air. While Pope Benedict XVI reportedly visited Medjugorje when he was prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and at the behest of John Paul II prevented its rejection by a hostile local bishop, there is no indication of the Pope's current view at a time when the site has experienced increased criticism and when Franciscans, who operate Medjugorje, have been reined in elsewhere.
Recently, the Madonna was said to shed tears during an apparition at Medjugorje and a statue of Christ Crucified has been exuding a strange oil-water substances for several years behind the church, a liquid that on a couple of occasions has turned red or has flowed from one of the corpus's eyes, according to recent reports. Meanwhile a statue from Medjugorje that oozed blood after it was taken to Civitavecchia, Italy has been declared an official miracle by the Church.
The spread of phenomena into individual homes has included claims in Sacramento of dozens of other such statues emanating fluid, and such has similarly been reported from Florida to Ontario, Canada, and as far away as Venezuela and Australia.
In the same vein, a surprising number of people assert in recent months that they have noticed peculiar phenomena such as the sun spinning, falling stars, and unusual cloud formations in virtually every part of the world, seemingly conforming with prophecies such as those in Joel 2:28:
"It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind. And your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions."
As for statues: "But Jesus answered, 'I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!'" notes Luke 19:40.
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