Mary, Undoer of Knots,  in the Church of Mary the Door to Heaven in Brazil is a unique painting of Mary undoing a ribbon of knots, and meditating on its fascinating meaning, this booklet explains the Blessed Mother's intervention in situations that 'have no exit,' providing prayers and novenas for miracles that relieve us of entanglement! Many are those who claim it is miraculous! click here 



Those "miracle" images keep on keeping on, some of them (especially the food items) intended, seemingly, as fodder for the skeptics (read: anti-supernaturalists).

Other happenings, especially weeping images -- so tangible -- present those same skeptics with the challenge to explain them. You be the judge of which are which.

Translation: some are rather impressive, others perhaps closer to fanciful, and some coming close (as in the case of images from bathrooms, or decidedly strange places on animals) to mockery.

One day it will be interesting to see which were authentic. There will probably be a bit of surprise. (Usually, hard-to-explain phenomena are simply ignored, in this age that lacks objectivity.)

We'll pass on the mockery. One person's guffaw is another's inspiration, one person's miracle another's yawn (or chortle). We respect a circumspect approach and also respect whatever inspires whomever (inspiration has historically proven to be more important to the growth of faith than academic instruction).

The photo above, left, was taken on the very edge of a piece of land with a Baptist church on it, in Okaloosa County, in Northwest Florida, by a viewer who wondered if anyone else saw it ("I think I'm the only one to notice it, so far," he wrote recently).

Our plaudits for paying attention.

In the supposed phenomenon of pareidolia (or apophenia), a person's brain is wired to form patterns into something meaningful to him or her. Where some may see one thing, others construe it as another. Good for those to whom Jesus or Mary is meaningful!

This reminds us of the Rorschach inkblot test.

Is that an old stenographer's device or typewriter seen from above or an angry face? Who sees what first? What does it say about us?

Memo to the cynics: often holy "images" seem to show up at poignant times, as "signs." Be a bit careful in scoffing too quickly (God uses natural formations and often operates on the margins). At the same moment: there is fool's gold out there; the devil is as cruel as he is clever.

There are cases that beg skepticism. No doubt. But to scoff (as oppose to question) is to expose pride, which is always good to purge.

In the news recently -- in newspapers and on TV -- was an image of what once more seems like the Virgin in a tree in Iowa (right). Are formations recognized as the Blessed Mother, particularly as she appeared at Guadalupe, because so many are in tune with this famous image or because she has a special message for the Americas? If you figure it out, do let us know.

Wrote Alisa Craddock of Jacksonville, Florida: "In keeping with God's glory in the clouds and other apparent manifestations, I was at Fort Caroline (Florida) in August, and I glanced up at a flag hanging on a very tall pole, and the rays of the sun beyond it were breaking through the clouds in streams (which always seems to me like God's glory breaking through) so I snapped a picture of the flag against the sky. When I looked at the picture a little later [below], I was astonished to see the flag draped in a familiar image. See for yourself."

Do you see images, in addition to the statue, at a grotto, in the photo at the bottom of this story?

Perhaps it's best if you do. It's good to be 'hard-wired" for heavenly images.

Miracles have always been a tool of conversion. They are also interesting. But it's a balancing act. Evangelicals have made major inroads at the expense of Catholicism by offering direct spiritual experiences (such as deliverance, words of knowledge, and healing. See: South America. Deliverance in Catholicism is in a state of crisis. It hardly exists. Ditto for healing.).

"From my experience home-schooling my children, teaching CCD class and from my own life what really appeals to children is the supernatural aspect of the Catholic Faith," wrote Lynne O'Luanaigh. "Unfortunately kids are not taught about this aspect they are either given the generic Christian 'Jesus loves you' or dry information on the basic teachings of the Faith. It is no wonder that children leave the Church right after Confirmation. Some will end up in Protestant churches because, in their minds, they aren't any different from Catholicism except that Protestants are 'friendlier' and more social. Many of them will experiment with New Age or witchcraft trying to fill that yearning for the supernatural which can only bring disaster.

"I believe that if two-year Confirmation classes consisted of one year of Catholic doctrine and one year of the supernatural side of the Faith more children will be drawn to the Church and wouldn't be so quick to abandon their Faith. Actually, the supernatural should be taught all through CCD regardless of age.

"I have recently read The Testimony of Catalina: The Holy Mass [see here]. Even though it is not officially approved by the Church the testimony she gives about what goes on behind the veil is incredible. If a student heard her testimony they would have a whole new experience at Mass. Marino Restrepo's experience would open their eyes to hell, demons and, most importantly, God's infinite mercy. Most of these children have never heard of Fatima, Lourdes, or Kibeho. They don't know anything about miracles and visions of the saints.

"My question to you is: would you ever consider writing a book that could be used for Catholic teens introducing them to the supernatural; a comprehensive book that would cover Eucharistic miracles, the incorruptibles, visions, miracles and the saints, miracles associated with the seven Sacraments, etcetera that could be used in a CCD setting? If not, do you know of a book that can be used for students?"

Are potential authors -- and CCD teachers -- out there listening?


[resources: Spirit Daily's New Bookstore and New: What You Take To Heaven]

[See also: retreat]

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