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For your discernment:


We've been taking note recently of oil. As we all know, there's the chrism oil of the Easter season, used in the formal sacraments. There's blessed oil, which is more like Holy Water (and blessed salt). There are also those reported cases of oil seeping from pictures, icons, and statues -- alleged and proven alike (the Vatican sanctioned one in Italy just a few years ago and has done likewise with miraculous statues through history).

Why oil?

Notes a website: "Sacred Scripture also attests to the spiritual symbolism of oil. For instance, Psalm 23:5 reads, 'You anoint my head with oil,' signifying favor and strength from the Lord; and Psalm 45:8 reads, "You love justice and hate wickedness; therefore, God your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellow kings,' signifying the special designation from God and the joy of being his servant. Moreover, to be 'the anointed' of the Lord indicated receiving a special vocation from the Lord and the empowerment with the Holy Spirit to fulfill that vocation: Jesus, echoing the words of Isaiah, spoke, 'The spirit of the Lord is upon Me; therefore, He has anointed Me' (Luke 4:18). Saint Paul emphasized this point: 'God is the One Who firmly establishes us along with you in Christ; it is He Who anointed us and has sealed us, thereby depositing the first payment, the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Corinthians 1:21). Therefore, the symbolism of oil is rich — sanctification, healing, strengthening, beautification, dedication, consecration, and sacrifice."

In biblical times oil was used as both an ointment and cosmetic -- to make the face shine. It has healing properties (some use olive oil to treat sunburn and prevent cancer). It is said to be the healthiest oil to use in the kitchen. In the cases of reputedly emanating statues, it is often a liquid that is like oily water, although straightforward oil is often the case.

We were recently sent oil that reportedly has emanated from a St. Michael statue that's owned by a priest in Connecticut.

Perhaps the most extreme such recent claim comes to us from the house of a Chaldean woman in Michigan, where, since 2008, according to Dr. Basil N. Najar, of West Bloomfield, who has researched it, there has been the oozing "of huge quantities of oil from many sacramentals," along with "apparitions and messages from the Virgin Mary." Najar asserts that what would be tantamount to dozens of gallons of oil "have oozed from more than twenty pictures and statues of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and is continuing. Many spiritual and physical healings have taken place when people are anointed with this oil. The oil has a pleasant scent and evaporates without leaving a trace. The oil oozes from the visionary's hands whenever she prays."

The materialization of oil on the hands or other bodily areas of mystics is something that has been seen in a number of cases. One famous one is in Syria (and was approved by the Orthodox Church).

Oil that is ephemeral?

It's been claimed before. We report; you determine. As with any phenomenon, the devil can also manifest, which is why caution is always urged.

"I was invited to visit the home of the woman by one of the priests supporting her," said a man named Bill Schaef of Royal Oak, Michigan on a blog. "The priest gave a Mass at this woman’s home on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. There were about thirty people present, all seated on the family’s furniture and folding chairs. The priest stood in front of the several religious icons that were weeping oil while giving Mass. It was a very worshipful event. There were no curiosity seekers, indicating that every person was individually invited. The visionary is in her forties, and she was very humble, peaceful, and welcoming to all. I was astonished to find out that just recently she had been in the hospital and was still weak from that experience, but still wanted to open her house to involve others in this miraculous series of events. The visionary has two sons, and I met them both. One is a football player at a local high school, and the other is in middle school. This woman is married to a man who owns a small business. Their names are withheld to protect them from curiosity seekers and mass media."

Schaef said he did not see the oil as it formed; rather, there already was a thin coat on the objects -- leading skeptics to ponder if it could have been sprayed or wiped on beforehand. That didn't seem likely to this observer, who said the oil was almost secondary to the feeling in the home. The appearances of Mary allegedly take place in the early morning hours during prayer before an icon of the Blessed Madonna. She is said to be clothed in a white and a blue dress, as in the Miraculous Medal, her hands are open. The apparitions supposedly are preceded by a display of multi-colored lights followed by a small sun-like halo of light that continues to expand until Mary emerges from the light and stands about two feet above the floor. As with the oil, there is the fragrance of sanctity -- or so it is said. Like so many others, the messages pertain to our times with warnings about returning to Christ "before it's too late," as Najar put it.

"Whoever wishes to return to my Son, the days to return are now," the Blessed Mother allegedly related to this seer, about whom we know little, but will seek to obtain further information. "Pray for the Pope so that he fulfills his mission. Pray for those who are experiencing immense difficulties. Pray so that you don't fall into the hands of the deceiving Satan, who is rising against the Church."

Difficulties are increasing, say the messages, as we can see for ourselves in our own lives and around the world (difficulties we can limit through prayer). Many of the messages are for the reputed seer and her own mission; the oil, it is said, has been given "to increase the faith." Prayer is more beneficial than the oil (especially the Rosary), says the putative messages, and intercession is urged for Pope Francis, "so that he will not encounter many difficulties." States another message: "My children, I ask and beseech, yet again: return, return, return. When I say the time has arrived, the time has arrived." The world "will experience difficulties and problems," is the way one message put it.

"The sins of the world have exceeded their limit; the days of salvation have arrived. My Son is not trying to let fear into your hearts; He is preparing you for days that are getting closer." The time has arrived. The days are getting closer. Time is short.

As in other cases (some approved, some rejected by Church authorities, as in the recent case of an Irish locutionist who operated a website about the Second Coming) there is the claim that Jesus is returning.

That's a very difficult assertion, one that has been made every century since His Resurrection.

Yet, we reject nothing out of hand; we are told not to despise such. Saint Faustina made a similar prediction (tying it to a "spark from Poland" that many believe symbolized John Paul II).

Take what is good; leave anything else (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Most important is our returning to Him.

[resources: Fear of Fire]

[Note also: Michael Brown retreats: Philadelphia-New Jersey]

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