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At a recent retreat at the Acadiana Hotel in Lafayette, Louisiana, one of the attendees, Mary S. Ellender, of Houma, snapped the photo above as she arrived in the parking lot, and took it to be a little message for her at a particular time in her life. So it goes. Another woman independently saw the window and had the same impression -- that it looked like Mary -- and snapped her own pictures on a cell phone. At the end of the day we walked outside and saw it for ourselves. At first it looked like someone had soaped the window, and then, from a closer perspective, like the window had frosted due to an air conditioner or perhaps, in the longer term, had oxidized. A hotel employee who said he was unaware of it and accompanied us to the parking lot took a look for himself and was at a loss to explain it, except for the aforementioned explanations. It reminded us of a silhouette on a window in 2003 at Milton Hospital near Boston [right]. The Louisiana formation may have been even more of a resemblance of the Blessed Mother than in Milton. It hasn't been in the news, because we have not reported it. In Boston, oxidation was the apparent cause.

Does that explain it away as non-supernatural, or does Heaven use the subtleties of what nature forms?

Miracles are often in the eye (and heart) of the beholder.

If it means something special at a special moment, then it's just that: special. Thousands of such photographs with what may be holy images have come from the pilgrimage site of Medjugorje. During our pilgrimage there last June, Pam Duplantis, who lives north of Lafayette, and who graciously helped set up the retreat, took the photo you'll see at the end [bottom] of this article. Some observe a number of faces, including those (near the light) of Our Lord; others also see images that seem to resemble Padre Pio. We leave it up to everyone to see what they see or don't. Often, various images are "seen" according to the size of the photo.

These issues are a challenge for our Church to discern. Peculiar it is when a priest or someone in a position of authority immediately discourages interest in potential phenomena such as sun "miracles," photographs, visions, exuding statues, and the like, telling the faithful to never mind and simply focus on the miracle of the sacraments. That's good advice (that part about focusing on sacraments), but it's not good advice to tell people to ignore what God may have done. He does nothing trivial.

As Pope Francis warns: our Church is in need of humility.

As he also said this week (10/1/13): "I love the mystics; Saint Francis also was in many aspects of his life, but I do not think I have the vocation and then we must understand the deep meaning of that word. The mystic manages to strip himself of action, of facts, objectives and even the pastoral mission and rises until he reaches communion with the Beatitudes. Brief moments but which fill an entire life.

"When the conclave elected me Pope: Before I accepted I asked if I could spend a few minutes in the room next to the one with the balcony overlooking the square. My head was completely empty and I was seized by a great anxiety. To make it go way and relax I closed my eyes and made every thought disappear, even the thought of refusing to accept the position, as the liturgical procedure allows. I closed my eyes and I no longer had any anxiety or emotion. At a certain point I was filled with a great light. It lasted a moment, but to me it seemed very long. Then the light faded, I got up suddenly and walked into the room where the cardinals were waiting and the table on which was the act of acceptance. I signed it, the Cardinal Camerlengo countersigned it and then on the balcony there was the Habemus Papam." In short, a mystical insight figured into a decision to be Pope. [Read the amazing interview!]

Layers of intellectual pretense have for decades choked the mystical from Catholicism, deadening it.

"A religion without mystics," added the Pope, "is a philosophy."

But that doesn't negate the need for caution in determining what may or may not be supernatural and, after that, if it does seem paranormal, whether it comes from forces of light or dark.

Last week, a sensation was caused when a statue at the home of the most famous of the Medjugorje visionaries, Vicka Ivankovic, was suddenly seen to radiate a soft greenish hue (green is a color thought to signify balance and growth, two papal themes). Thousands immediately began to queue at her door. She wasn't in town. Her mother called her to tell her. Just as immediately were those who sought to dissuade people from paying attention to it. It was like an eBay statue of Our Lady of Lourdes that was phosphorescent, they argued. Or perhaps someone sprayed phosphorescent paint on it. The statue had been given to the seer in 1983 by an Italian woman. If the statue had been phosphorescent, it would seem that a glow would have been noticed before now. Some claimed that there were phenomena with it from the start, such as lip motions. Others say the light looked to them like a delicate blue coming from inside the statue [see photo above, right] and joined by a white haloed effect around it. The statue has now been taken by local priests to the parish rectory and according to news reports will be studied by a Vatican commission that has been looking into the apparition site.

This is good. We should study such matters -- instead of instantly accepting or discounting them. Many dioceses refuse even to send someone to look at claimed weeping statues. That's disheartening, and perhaps away from the new directives from this new Pope. When they do send investigators, we should heed the results, as long as they come from competent authorities and not -- as too often has happened -- scoffers and diehard skeptics.


[Further note from Medjugorje Today: "While the statue at eBay was advertised to be able to glow for three nights, the statue in Vicka’s house also glowed on September 26 and 27, the fourth and fifth evening and night after the phenomenon began. Moreover, the light emanating from Vicka’s statue is bright and only appears green on photos – and still furthermore, the statue starts glowing as people start praying.

“'Tonight the statue began to glow at 7.20 pm. (…) When the people prayed, the light from the statue intensified. (…) At 00.30 we entered with a small group of parishioners from Bijakovici, and we prayed seven Our ​​Father, Haiy Marys, and Glory Be. It was beautiful. Anyway, the statue is evenly illuminated, not with green light as you can see in the pictures, but with a white light as if it came from inside, but it is chalk!' local resident Laura Marcazzan Budimir reported at Facebook on September 26.

"'Tonight I entered the room at 7.15 pm. Parishioners  and some of Vicka’s family members were already there in the dark praying the Rosary. The statue was not glowing. At 7.30 pm it lit up a little, and then nothing until 8.15 pm when Vicka’s nephew said, “We kneel down and pray” Laura Marcazzan Budimir reported at Facebook late in the evening of September 27.

“'They asked me why I was in the room next to Vicka’s. I thought to myself, “the statue does not glow anymore." At that time, the pilgrims started joining. (…) We entered at 8.45 pm, and clearly saw that it was well lit. You could tell the difference compared to the hour before dark, and the absence of light” the Italian-born local resident further reported late in the evening on Friday. A local news portal also found the light intensified when people started praying before the statue. 'When the light went out, the statue scarcely lit up, almost not.  But when we all began to pray, “Hail Mary, full of grace …”, the light was getting stronger and stronger” Medjugorje Info reported on September 26.'"]

[Additional note: said a priest for a radio station, "“Dear friends, because of the outcry in the media and from the web, it was necessary that our listeners were properly informed about the phenomenon "statue phosphorescent," which has suddenly attracted thousands of pilgrims to Medjugorje. The Ecclesiastical Authority, which watches over the righteous devotion to Our Lady, will certainly review the case and to give those provisions to which all must adhere cordially. Meanwhile, everyone, safe walking on the way of the sacraments, Penance and the Eucharist, without giving to vain curiosity.” Vain curiosity? We'll leave it at that. But to say: if we are not curious about what may be the ways of Heaven, what should we be curious about?]

[see also: Glowing statue: a personal account]

[photo left above: eBay statue; see skeptical view]

From M. Therrian in Georgia, a photo after an alleged seer visited:


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