Wednesday, September 21, 2005
There have been visions of Mary, the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God or -- whatever term you want to use -- down through the centuries. Seemingly more in more recent centuries.
•1531: Mary appeared to a Mexican peasant, Juan Diego, while he was hurrying to Mass. Mary asked him to persuade the Bishop to build a chapel at the site. As you would expect -- the bishop did not believe Juan. Juan reported this to Mary, who told him to go to a certain spot and gather roses. Although it was December, and there were no roses blooming anywhere, Juan went, found lots of roses, wrapped some in his cloak and presented the roses-filled robe to his eminence. When Juan did so -- the roses fell from the cloak revealing on the inside of Juan's robe --- a beautiful image of Mary.
A chapel was built at the spot requested. Mary received a new title The Virgin of Guadalupe, and inside today's "chapel" the image still hangs above the altar.
•1858: Mary appeared to a young girl, Bernadette Soubrious while she was gathering firewood. The result was the Shrine of Lourdes which houses only a tiny
portion of the crutches, canes, braces, etc,--the evidence left behind of those who
•1917: Fatima: Mary appeared six times to the same three children. Mary promised world peace if her requests for prayers be granted. A final message was so earth shattering that the Vatican has kept it secret ever since.
•1981: Mary appeared to six children in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia-
Hercegovina).Some of these children, now adults, still see their vision. Mary asked that her people be faithful and pray without ceasing. According to the web site
(http://www.medjugorje.org) "Our Lady's messages underline that peace is the greatest good, and that faith, conversion, prayer and fasting are the means by which we can attain it."
There are many other accounts of apparitions of Mary. Some may be the results of
fantasies or even hallucinations. But--are all of them??
I've reached the conclusion that there are dimensions of reality that are not obvious to most of us as we go about our hurried lives. Parts of what is REAL will never be penetrated, explained, confined to concepts or "laws" by Science no matter how many centuries go past.
To me a "religious" person must follow a spiritual path and this requires an acceptance of the supernatural. In other words, if you say, "I only believe what I can see and what science has "proven" ---then the complete nature of reality -- including God, The Absolute, Allah, Brahman, Yahweh, Sunyatta, Nirvana ---or whatever you wish to title it ---will be always inaccessible to you.
The words of the German writer and poet, Rainer Maria Rilke periodically come to my mind. He was born in Prague in 1871 and died in 1926.
(In the translation by M.D. Herter Norton)
"We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of must be possible in it. That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular, and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind in this sense has been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called 'visions'the whole so-called
'spirit world,'death and all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowded out of life that the sense with which we could have grasped them are atrophied. To say nothing of God."
Science is important. It has its place. However, it only operates in one "dimension".
It cannot liberate us, save us, enlighten us in the ultimate real sense. Science cannot and should not be a "high priest" before whose pronouncements on bended knee we humbly prostrate ourselves and accept.
There are dimensions of reality around us at all times. We "swim" in a sea of Grace.
All of this is real. To realize it we must be open, aware, willing to believe what our intuitive heart says.
These apparations may be God or The Absolute "punching" open sporadically in a dramatic way which is really, in a sense, common place----if we allow it to appear.