Reports Of 'Images' Reach New Height As 'Figures' Appear In Strangest Of Places
Once more, but like never, the images are exploding around us. We can say it is because of the intense media in our day. We can say it is because of the internet. We can certainly say it is because there are copycats -- that one person hears of it and it starts a fad, a chain reaction.
We can say all those things and perhaps there is truth to much of that but like never are there reports of holy figures appearing in ways so different and even weird that they are the subject of secular mockery, along with headlines ("Faithful see Mary in everything," said one yesterday).
Last year, it was the Blessed Mother -- or at least a comely woman -- on a grilled cheese sandwich [above, left]. There were reports of taco images, and figures in glass. There were images in the runoff from a highway, and in trees, on a bridge.
Every image resembling a woman is immediately proclaimed to be Mary. There has been a rash of silhouettes with the form of the fam ous Guadalupe Virgin -- at the same time that Mexicans, who have such a devotion, are swarming into the U.S., though most such sightings are by non-Mexicans.
It is an awesome gamut. Just last week, images of Jesus or Mary were reported in chocolate, in the oil pan at the bottom of a grill, in the MRI of the
spine of a woman in Pennsylvania, in the paneling at a San Diego restaurant.
In the very town where we are located, a couple made the news for finding what seemed like an image of Jesus in an oyster shell while boating on an intracoastal waterway (then hawking it, latest bid $335, on eBay).
Take a look at this gallery of various images.
A roasting pan, a basketball backboard, a tree in Dallas.
We can make light of it, or we can wonder if it is another manifestation of the Lord trying to draw our attention -- in any available circumstance.
Should we mock it? Some of the situations do seem quirky and in a few cases even a bit on the creepy side.
Could the devil be operating?
Yes, there is also the apartment window in Texas, and a water stain next to a bathtub (in Pittsburgh) and on a shrimp on a plate in California. The outline of Mary on the bottom marking of a turtle?
It's a fascinating and difficult issue that few in the secular domain take seriously (and virtually no diocese will investigate).
Perhaps that is the higher reach of discernment. It certainly seems more "rational." Some of the situations, on their face, seem preposterous, certainly the way they are presented.
But such are the times that we recall the Blessed Mother saying at one apparition that she would show up in every household if necessary.
At times it seems like such is in progress even with the arcane.
Holy images in an MRI? We recall a similar image in an x-ray of famed Venezuelan mystic Maria Esperanza -- who also found a stone with a likeness of Jesus while visiting Medway, Massachusetts.
Oh, the times we are in! In Texas, a tree that seemed to be mysteriously burbling water -- thought to be holy -- is now thought to be the result of roots breaking into a water line. In Poland, water emanating near a statue of John Paul II is coming from a pipe, say officials, although the faithful still believe it may have qualities that are miraculous.
Workers at a gourmet chocolate company, Bodega Chocolates, in Fountain Valley, California, discovered under a vat "a 2-inch-tall column of chocolate drippings that they believe bears a striking resemblance to the Virgin Mary," is the way Associated Press put it.
"I was raised to believe in the Virgin Mary, but this still gives me the chills," said the owner, Martucci Angiano, as she balanced the dark brown figure in her hand. "Everyone should see this."
Chocolate drippings usually harden in thin, flat strips on wax paper, but Cruz Jacinto, the kitchen worker who found it, said she froze when she noticed the unusual shape of this cast-off: It looked just like the Virgin Mary on the prayer card she always carries in her right pocket.
"When I come in, the first thing I do is look at the clock, but this time I didn't look at the clock. My eyes went directly to the chocolate," said the kitchen worker. "I thought, 'Am I the only one who can see this? I picked it up and I felt emotion just come over me. For me, it was a sign.
"I have big problems right now, personally, and lately I've been saying that God doesn't exist," she said, pulling the dog-eared prayer card out of her pocket. "This has given me renewed faith."
Oh, yes: that feeling, that emotion: Sometimes that's more important than the actual image.
Who among us would be the first to laugh, if Heaven would use even chocolate to help someone's faith?
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