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OF 'MIRACLES,' STATUES, AND A MYSTERIOUS 'POOL OF WATER' AT JESUS' ROCK OF AGONY
Are there truly strange exudations? Does God use "natural" phenomena in a way that is "supernatural"?
We heard from a viewer named Sandie in Scottsdale who reported that:
"On my pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March of this year 2008 (during Lent ), there were 34 of us from Arizona and California. We had visited the Garden of Gethsemane and gone to the 'Rock of Agony' church where Jesus prayed, cried, and sweat blood.
"The first time was very moving and sad for all of us, knowing what had taken place there so many years ago. We were able to come back later in the week on a Friday evening to spend time in prayer for a Holy Hour that was especially arraigned for our group.
"At this time, some other women and I were able to lean over the little decorative barrier that encircled the rock, which allowed us to partially lay our bodies on it. After doing so for some time I decided to lean back and go sit in the bench directly behind me.
"As I sat on the bench for a while, looking, praying and meditating on this Rock and Jesus, I suddenly noticed a 'glimmer' of something that seemed to 'shine' over the area I was laying on.
"I thought at first that it was just a reflection of light, since I did not cry, sob, or perspire while there. I went back to kneel at the same area and investigate this 'shiny damp' spot.
"As I looked at this area of the rock, I noticed the 'damp spot' becoming larger and larger.
"At this point I was silent and in awe and I sensed a tremendous stillness and peace surround me. I continued to watch.
"The rock is very lumpy and uneven and has little indentations that are common in all natural rock. In one of these 'indentations' the dampness had collected into a little pool of moisture -- about 8"x 8" give or take an inch or two.
"I continued to watch and be still. I had placed my rosary and scapular about six inches from the spot when I first got there and at this point I slowly took these articles and placed them in the little 'pool of moisture' on the rock. There were two other women who were in prayer next to me who'd also placed their rosaries, medals, and scapulars on it.
"Silently I reached to the right and took the articles from the woman on my right and then did the same with the articles of the woman on my left and placed all their articles into the 'pool of moisture.' They both looked at me, wondering what I was doing.
"I motioned with my eyes and subtly pointed for them to 'look.' They both peered at this 'pool of moisture' and then at me with their eyes wide and their mouths dropped open. I just smiled and pointed my finger to my lips to motion them to be silent.
"Just about then the group was preparing to leave since our Holy hour was over. The three of us were the last to leave, gathering up our articles and trying to contain our enthusiasm. All we could say was, 'OH MY GOSH!'
"As everyone left, the three of us remained in the church, kissing the rock, and blessing ourselves with the water from the 'pool of moisture.' There was still a bit remaining as we were leaving, since I know we absorbed most of it as we hurriedly found more religious articles in our purses to place on this spot, we also continued to bless ourselves with it as much as we could. We thanked our Holy Lord for this great 'gift' and as we left, we just held onto each other and silently wept with tears of joy. He is always with us!"
The skeptic, of course, knows that rock may accumulate condensation. There can even be hidden veins of water. The believer knows that God uses nature and sends special feelings (feelings that can't be captured in a test tube) with it.
And strange "poolings" of other liquids?
"I have witnessed olive oil exuding from statues, people, and holy pictures," says a second viewer, Jack Manion of Kingston, Ontario. "I was told that Jesus had instructed us to use the oil to heal people. I asked a priest why olive oil and if it was okay to bless people with it. His advice was, 'Traditionally olive oil is the sign of the Holy Spirit and it is used in the sacraments like Baptism, the anointing of the sick, and Holy Orders. Yes, it is okay to anoint sick people and pray for them. Just make sure that the people know that this is not chrism oil blessed by the Bishop at the Chrism Mass [on Holy Thursday].' I did and still use the oil for the anointing of sick people. I have witnessed many healings but still I wondered why oil from statues? One day Jesus spoke to me saying, 'Is it any more miraculous for oil to come from plaster than from wood?' Then I understood. In these days of widespread disbelief and because of the lack of acknowledgement of our need for God in our lives, God has moved the supernatural gift of olive oil from the 'natural' place to the 'unnatural' that we might be aware and bear witness to others of God's love and our need for His love, peace, and healing in our lives. In one home of which I am aware, oil has been coming from statues for over 13 years."
Finally and perhaps most subtly: would Heaven use a statue by way of changes in the way it is perceived -- or is it simply that some photographs of statues are taken from different angles?
We heard from others on this. An example:
"Your headline commentary today regarding signs many times being in 'the eye of the beholder' and a previous skeptical account response I had recently read in regards to an earlier piece you had done on 'miraculous' statues inspired me to share one of my own personal experiences," wrote John Woellner of Reading, Pennsylvania. "
"The skeptical remark I refer to is about someone who had been referring to a photograph submitted to Spirit Daily of the Little Flower statue, taken at an alleged apparition, where the statue apparently had an appearance of looking upward from one angle and another of looking straight out and slightly downward, as a representation of the statue's normal appearance, in a comparison photo.
"This skeptic simply pointed out that this upward-looking appearance was probably due to the perspective of photographing from an area close to and under the chin line of the statue. Indeed, someone can even argue that the difference is too subtle, as well. Although I was not the person who submitted both photos to Spirit Daily, the person who did was someone with whom I had shared them; and I immediately recognized them, as I was the person who snapped the very same photos with my digital camera while on pilgrimage to this site.
"While my wife and I have now photographed this same statue many times with this same upward-looking effect occurring in the vast majority of our photos, and while I fully understand why someone would feel it is explainable in those terms of perspective, it is the circumstances under which the photo was taken that convinces me it is truly miraculous.
"When I looked through the viewer of my camera just before and while I snapped the photo, the statue was looking out and slightly downward, the same as it appears in person.
"Without moving my position, after depressing the button, the image that appeared on the viewer a second later is the photo that was submitted. I'm fairly tall -- 6' 1" -- and I can tell you that that statue simply does not appear to look up like that in real life from any angle or distance you look at it. I really don't believe the camera flash makes any difference in the appearance, either, as I've photographed this statue from many angles and distances, too.
"As silly as it sounds, I even reached up slightly to touch the eyes to make sure it was a real statue and not some Disney-style 'animatronic' figure that can move its eyes when you're not looking! So, this experience absolutely convinces me that Heaven is trying to tell us something. If you look again at the miraculous photo, you can even see that the eyes photograph in two different colors as well and appear more life-like than in the comparison photo and even the statue itself! I certainly can't readily explain the picture of the statue transforming on my camera's view screen right before my eyes, nor how it is that my wife and I both saw it do the same thing again in front of our eyes on a subsequent pilgrimage to the same site recently."
For your considered judgment!
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