Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Epiphany - God Appearing

An epiphany, according to the dictionary, is the manifestation of a supernatural or divine reality or any moment of great or sudden revelation. In Christianity, the Epiphany is God revealing Himself to the Gentiles as represented by the visit of the three magi to see the newborn king in Bethlehem.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying,  "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him."  . . and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy;  and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.  And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. ~ Matthew 2: 1-2, 9-12
The Church celebrates the feast of the Epiphany (officially January 6 - the 12th day of Christmas) on the Sunday closest to the actual feast. This year, on the feast of the Epiphany, Fr. Neil Bucklein, pastor of Ascension Catholic Church in Hurrican, West Virginia experienced a special gift - a sort of miracle - during Mass. Catholic media has interviewed him and he has placed his story on his blog, Our Blessed Mother's Children. The secular media hasn't touched his story as far as I can tell.

His post on January 2nd, when the Church celebrated the feast of the Epiphany this year, is somewhat prophetic and doesn't speak of the miracle. It is a quote from Open Wide the Door to Christ (p.5) which were the words of Pope John Paul II that have been taken up by our new pontiff, Benedict XVI. It is a description of the problem in our culture that is so preoccupied with self.
"A person who is preoccupied with himself and his own illusory treasures, or that which contaminates the soul, prevents himself from hearing the sound of the Lord's knocking. Such an individual responds to God by saying: 'Not now. I'm busy .. maybe later. Right now I do not have time'." 
Fr. Buchlein first mentions the miracle on his blog the next day - January 3rd - when he posted a photo of the purificator he used on the feast of the Epiphany. On it is a heart. He talks about his experience and posts the message from Medjugorge from the feast of the Annunciation given on March 25, 1999.

In his Epiphany homily, Fr. Buchlein veered from his planned talk and challenged the congregation to speak up about a blasphemous commercial that was in the running to be aired during the superbowl. In the commercial, a priest distributes Doritoes and Pepsi-Max instead of the Eucharist in order to get people to come back to the Church. This mockery of Holy Communion, specifically Catholics who believe that Communion is in fact the Body and Blood of Christ, is painful and may be offensive even to Christians who believe that communion is a memorial only. This doesn't happen to Muslims and Jews. Fox News Channel was all over it.

Returning to Fr. Buchlein's story, after Holy Communion on the Epiphany, he noticed the heart-shaped stain on the purificator that appeared to be blood. At first, he began to analyze how it might have gotten there, but knew in his heart that it was a special gift to him and his parish and he shared it with his congregation.

Since then, he had more photos taken of the purificator and he posted them on his blog.

close-up of the heart with enhancement

Cathollic Radio station WTMR in Philadelphia interviewed Fr. Buchlein on January 13 and Drew Mariani of Relevant Radio interviewed him on January 14. They discuss how in the close-up photos, you can clearly see in the right chamber of the heart the image of a well formed fetus. Jesus was revealed to the world as an infant at the Epiphany. Coincidence? I think not!

A closer look reveals other images. Fr. Buchlein says that the right chamber of the heart also reveals part of the face of Christ in his passion. And in the middle of the heart is the silhouette of a woman holding a child (the Blessed Mother).

Although this is a gift - maybe even a miracle - the Catholic Church has a miracle that takes place every day on every alter in every Catholic Church around the world. Jesus makes Himself present in the form of bread and wine and dwells with us intimately in every Holy Communion. That is the miracle that really counts! True believers need no proof. It is a matter of faith.

Look at the image of the fetus and pray, pray, pray for the unborn and the reversal of Roe vs. Wade. Pray for our culture - what Pope John Paul II called the Culture of Death - a culture of complete preoccupation with self. It is the antithesis of the Gospel message that calls us to sacrifice for others as Jesus did.
"A person who is preoccupied with himself and his own illusory treasures, or that which contaminates the soul, prevents himself from hearing the sound of the Lord's knocking. Such an individual responds to God by saying: 'Not now. I'm busy .. maybe later. Right now I do not have time'."  ~ Open Wide the Door to Christ (p.5)
Let us hear the Lord knocking - NOW! Let us enjoy communion with the Lord - NOW! It isn't too late - YET!
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. ~ Revelation 3:20

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Abby Johnson's book, UnPLANNED, has just been released. Abby, former Planned Parenthood Employee of the Year for 2009, resigned from Planned Parenthood after struggling with her role there for some time. The turning point was the day she had to help the abortionist by holding the ultrasound instrument as he dismembered a baby in the womb. Abby saw the baby fight for its life and lose. She later resigned from Planned Parenthood and joined the Pro-Life Movement. Her story includes two of her own pregnancies that she chose to abort - one through a surgical abortion and the other with the dangerous abortion drug, RU-486.

Abby is now one of the Pro-Life Movement's greatest allies - speaking on behalf of life all over the country. Pray for her and her family. With the release of her book, she has received threats against her 4-year-old daughter.

You can buy UnPLANNED through her website. Major booksellers everywhere have it. It is already the #12 best seller on Amazon.com. At $12.64, it's a bargain hard back book. Read Abby's story for the truth about Planned Parenthood.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The New Sodom

After reading an article on Life-Site News, my admiration for Catholic actor, Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ" has jumped another notch. In the article, he calls abortion ‘the greatest moral defect of the western world’. The interview was conducted in Spain recently where Caviezel is promoting his latest movie “The Stoning of Soraya M..” When asked by the publication Sembrar, “in your judgment, what is the greatest moral defect of the western world?”, Caviezel answered that it is abortion without any doubt. He commented on war and Attila the Hun (who vowed to kill not only men, but also women and children) saying, "He raised the bar to another level."

Regarding abortion, Caviezel said that it goes even further. It is against a woman's nature to kill her own child, so choosing to destroy the life within her is the limit. "The level cannot go higher regarding evil," He said. Caviezel even quoted abortion stats.

I didn't know that 50 million abortions was equal to one-fifth of our population - and is the number of deaths in WW II. It never occurred to me to make those comparisons. Oh, I'm sure he found those stats somewhere, but it proves he certainly knows his facts. He reminded the media the the demographic base keeps shrinking. One day there won't be enough young people to maintain the population AND euthanasia will be common.

Good for Jim Caviezel for speaking up! There isn't anyone else in Hollywood that I can think of who will do what he is doing. He lives his pro-life convictions too. Caviezel and his wife have adopted two children from China who had brain tumors.

What a tragedy that the Culture of Death has grown to this magnitude! Is this Sodom all over again? Can it be reversed? I think so, but it will take courage for many to speak up. Imagine if all the women who regret their abortions spoke out against it!

According to the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, "an estimated 43% of all women will have at least 1 abortion by the time they are 45 years old." That means that 43% of all women over the age of 45 have had an abortion - let's just say 4 out of every 10. According to the US 2010 census, the population of women between 45 and 75 is 49,547,987 - almost 50 million. If 43% of  these women have had an abortion, that's 21,305,634 women. If only half of these women regretted their abortion, that would be 10,652,817 women. And this number doesn't even include those women still of child-bearing age who have had an abortion they regret. Surely the voice of even 10 million women would resound in this nation.

We have refused to hear the cries of 50 million silenced babies. Would we also refuse to hear the cry of 10 million women?

It reminds me of the outcry of Abraham when God was ready to destroy Sodom.
Then the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomor'rah is great and their sin is very grave,  I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me; and if not, I will know."  So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham still stood before the LORD.  Then Abraham drew near, and said, "Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked?  Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt thou then destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?  Far be it from thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"  And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake."  Abraham answered, "Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.  Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Wilt thou destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there."  Again he spoke to him, and said, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it."  Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there."  He said, "Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it."  Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it."  And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place. ~ Genesis 18:20-33
Abraham cried out to God to spare the city for the sake of even 10 righteous and God said He would. Aren't we the new Sodom? Surely God would spare us if 10 million wounded women found the courage to speak up against abortion and we listened.

Sadly, and I understand their dilemma, most women who have had an abortion don't speak out because they don't want others - either family members or friends - to know. To "expose" themselves would be yet another trauma. Post-abortive women fear the ridicule or rejection of others on top of the pain they already carry. It is a very lonely burden. I have been told it is a loneliness like no other. For most, the thought of making it public knowledge is unbearable.

We must pray for those post-abortive women as well as those thinking of having an abortion and for a change of heart for those who perform them.