The More We Give, The More We Get, Even If What We Give Happens To Be A Miracle
By Michael H. Brown
From the mailbag:
The more we give, the more we get -- as long as we're not expecting anything in return. That's a spiritual law, and it even works, apparently, with mystical gifts.
At any rate, that's what we're told in the mailbag from a woman named Olivia Smith in Petrolia, Pennsylvania. Olivia, a nurse, relates a phenomenon that is now being alleged worldwide: the mysterious exuding of an "oily" substance not just from one religious item, but serially: over time, from dozens of objects placed in each other's presence. The same has been claimed in recent months from Kansas (photo, left below, where at last count 2,500 religious objects, mainly small medals, are said to have developed a mysterious oily sheen) to Australia (where a number of "bleeding" statues are currently in the headlines and under Church investigation).
It appears to be a multiplication of what was once a singular and rare phenomenon, and while such claims are so extraordinary that we must always exercise a healthy skepticism, the sheer number and quality of the people reporting them has caused us to treat them seriously. Something seems to be going, something that deserves Church interest. As Olivia recounts (and as we present for your discernment):
"On March 27, 2004 I went to St. Anthony's Chapel in Troy Hill, Pittsburgh, to meet with a prayer group that prays for priests from 10 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. This was the first time I would experience the prayer group.
"The staff at the chapel was gingerly cleaning the Stations of the Cross. They are life-sized and this is a big undertaking. The prayer group is called 'Brides of the Trinity.' They relocated to Most Holy Name Catholic Church across the street. This was a blessing for me because I wanted to go to confession at 11:00.
At any rate, continues Olivia, "the priest was most kind and merciful in the confessional. When I came to my seat after confession, the prayer group had started the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary. This was one of the twenty decades we would pray that morning and early afternoon. We were in front of the Most Holy Blessed Sacrament.
"While praying, I looked down at a wooden rosary from Medugorje [the famous apparition site in former Yugoslavia], and noticed that the beads were wet. I questioned what I witnessed and rubbed the rosary against paper, wondering if my eyes were fooling me. I touched the beads and felt the oil between my fingers -- yet no oil came off on my hands or on the paper which I tried to it blot with!
"Again -- as so often in my life -- I was overwhelmed by such a grace, such a love that Our Lady and Our Lord share for each one of us. I know in my heart, after reading the lives of the saints, and from being in the presence of many virtuous souls, that my life is far from exemplary as it should be, and that God has much work to accomplish in this poor miserable soul of mine. This of course, brought tears to my eyes."
"On the way home, I prayed the rosary and looked down in my hand. The beads were glistening wet. I thought of Our Lady's tears, Our Lord's sweat, His Blood, His Mercy. I was amazed. I'm fortunate I didn't rear-end the motorcycle in front of me! I told one of my closest friends, Rita, about the phenomenon. Rita and I had been to Medjugorje in April 2003. We are both in the Legion of Mary. The next day was a celebration of the Legion of Mary. We prayed the Rosary and had Benediction and Adoration. Rita brought her rosary. I gave her mine. Both rosaries had oil on the beads!"
As overwhelmed by and attached to the alleged rosary phenomenon as Olivia was, she was soon to lose it -- which turned out to be a good thing. "That week I went to a nursing home for a Rosary group," she explains. "This is Legion Work and very rewarding to Legionaries and the people we try to serve. They welcomed us and the lady who assists setting up, a resident there, came to me and said, 'I need a rosary like that one for someone I know who wants to become a priest. I need a wooden rosary.' Her name was Betty.
"I said, 'I'll get you one but I can't give you this one. It's miraculous!"
"Then our group began the rosary, and one decade into the Luminous Mysteries I felt this profound Holy Presence behind me. I turned my head and there in the room behind me were a Capuchin priest and brother waiting to have Mass. Betty motioned to continue the rosary and after the second decade I moved to the back of the room. The priest, Father John, and Brother Joe, recommended a third decade while the staff gathered residents for Holy Mass.
"Mass began, and it was a beautiful. Before the Sign of Peace I heard a thought: 'You know, you have to give Betty that rosary.' And I returned the thought with, 'I can't, it's a miracle.' And the voice continued, 'When someone asks you for a rosary you must give it away. It will be a long time before you see her again. And besides she wants to give it to someone who wants to be a priest. Give her the rosary."
"I weakly bantered with these thoughts and at the Sign of Peace, walked over to Betty and whispered, 'This is for that man. I hope he becomes a very good priest. This rosary is blessed; there is oil on the beads.' I pressed it into her hands and knelt down again and these big tears are rolling out of my eyes.
"It was a very beautiful Mass. The Mass can make you cry -- and so can giving away a treasure from God.
"But then I received the greatest treasure, Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, the Living Jesus!
"At home I left a message with Rita: 'I gave away my miracle.' Rita is a mother of twelve. Her first name should be 'Charity.' She offered her rosary to me without a second thought. But I dug in the remaining treasures of Medjugorje from our trip and found another one. The beads were so dry. The miracle was gone...
"Two days later I was at work. I'm a nurse and our patients are very sick -- some young people with serious diagnoses like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and incurable infections. My heart aches for them. During lunch I went to the chapel for lunch to pray for one of them.
"I prayed the rosary and Divine Mercy and the beads became wet!
"And I cried all over again. Rita and I had sent money with a lady who is head of the Pittsburgh chapter for the Legion of Mary. I'd asked for glass-beaded rosaries (from Medjugorje), and she brought back about 150 rosaries, all of wood! There may have been more than that.
"I placed the rosaries on the table," says Olivia. "The beads became oily at times as if they were perspiring, especially during the Rosary, Holy Mass, the Divine Mercy. Very amazing. They were drenched, not dripping, just wet and glistening with oil, even painted beads. They were blessed in Medjugorje by 250 priests and by Our Lady. Our Lady had gone public with a miracle and that is why I share it with you! I have perhaps only twenty left. It's not even been two weeks. "
What had been one had turned -- allegedly -- into dozens. A multiplication. There was another lesson as well.
"I think this is a sign to pray for our priests," says the selfless nurse. "It is a sign of her love for her sons. It may also be that there is much to suffer for our priests and our world, for these great graces are to strengthen us and give us courage for what lies ahead."
[Bookstore resources: Medjugorje and the Church and No Phones in Medjugorje]
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