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9 Reasons Pope John Paul II mattered
Pope John Paul II in a file photo
January 14th, 2011
03:14 PM ET

9 Reasons Pope John Paul II mattered

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Pope John Paul II is in the news today in a big way, with the Vatican announcing he will be beatified in May - the last step before sainthood.

Most people know that John Paul was hugely important - one of the most consequential popes in history - without exactly knowing why.

Here are 9 reasons:

1. John Paul II turned the role of pontiff into global celebrity. "He was the first pop pope," says Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion professor and CNN Belief Blog contributor. "Although rather conservative theologically he was the first to marry the papacy to the cult of celebrity."

2. He made people rethink the Catholic Church, updating its image and strengthening its influence with everyday people and world leaders alike, through a vigorous campaign of global engagement. "For the most part popes had been viewed as old Italian guys in white sitting on some gilded baroque throne in Rome," says David Gibson, who has authored multiple books on the papacy. "But in demonstrating a willingness to think and act outside the papal box, John Paul inspired many Catholics and, just as important, he made billions of others look at the Catholic Church in a new way."

"John Paul II embodied in change in so many ways," Gibson says, "that he seemed to signal to the world that the Catholic Church could be as agile as any institution in the modern world."

3. He left Rome. A lot. John Paul II was the first globetrotting pope, drawing huge crowds in corners of the world that no pope had ever visited. "He broke out of the golden cage of the Vatican and its protocols and took the papacy to the world rather than expecting the world to follow the road to Rome," says  Gibson. And people responded. When John Paul II celebrated mass at Grant Park in Chicago - a city no pope had visited before - in 1979, 1.2 million people showed up.

4. He helped end Communism. A year after his election to the papacy, John Paul returned to his native Poland to "strengthen the brethren" there in the face of Soviet rule. His visit, in which he repeatedly told Poles "Don't be Afraid," helped inspire the launch of the Solidarity in Poland, the most powerful anti-communist movement until that time, which in turn triggered similar resistance across the Soviet Union. When Communism collapsed in 1989, many credited John Paul with helping lay the groundwork.

5. He was one of the world's great communicators. Fluent in 8 languages, the John Paul II often addressed audiences in their native tongue. "He spoke everyone else’s language, and his Latin wasn’t so great," says Gibson. And he wasn't shy about using the media to get his message out. 'If it doesn’t happen on TV, it doesn’t happen,” John Paul used to say, according to Gibson.

And he was even more effective in person. "Almost everyone who ever met him describes it exactly the same way, that when he was speaking with you, it was as if you were the only person in the world," says Joseph Zwilling, who directs communications for the Catholic Archdiocese of New York. "He saw in every person a real reflection of the image and likeness of God, and lived that out in a radical way."

Even when he was suffering from Parkinson's late in life, Pope John Paul was unafraid to be seen. "His willingness to appear in public bearing the effects of Parkinson's reminded the world that for the Christian, suffering is nothing to be ashamed of, or hidden away," says James Martin, a Jesuit writer.

6. More than previous popes, he inspired young people, the lifeblood of any religious tradition. John Paul II "logged hundreds of thousands of miles in tours that brought vast crowds of adoring adolescents," says Prothero. Adds Tom McClusky, director of government relations for the conservative Family Research Council in Washington: "He empowered youth throughout the world to make holiness a part of their lives."

7. While revolutionizing the papacy, he strictly adhered to traditional church teaching. "Change is often seen as a dirty word in the church, as though altering the smallest custom or tradition would start a crack in the entire edifice of faith," says Gibson. But John Paul reaffirmed the church's conservative stances on social issues like abortion and contraception, signaling a change of course after what some saw as the more liberal reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

"He ended the dominance of liberation theology... revivified the grandeur of traditional Catholic liturgy, and he reconnected Catholic social teaching to the witness of scripture," says Deal W. Hudson president of Catholic Advocate.

"John Paul II energized the 'evangelical' wing of the Catholic Church, meaning Catholics who embrace church teaching and want to take it to the streets to change the culture, which in the United States you see most clearly on the 'life issues' such as abortion and gay marriage," adds John Allen, Jr. CNN's Vatican analyst. "There’s now a whole generation of younger 'John Paul II' priests and bishops who share that mindset.

8. John Paul reset Catholic relations with other religious traditions. He was the first pope to visit a synagogue and a mosque. "Many Jews think of him as the greatest pope in history," says Allen. "He also managed to pioneer better relations with Islam - two pretty remarkable things to have accomplished at the same time."

He also improved Catholicism's relationship with other Christian traditions. "John Paul II won an unprecedented level of respect for the Catholic Church among evangelical Christians, removing the anti-Catholic tinge of much of their preaching, teaching, and cultural commentary," says Hudson.

9. He de-Italianized the papacy, the first pope born outside of Italy in centuries.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Leaders • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

soundoff (465 Responses)
  1. Curious

    Hello CatholicMom!
    It's a small world, isn't it? I am glad you have been to the Arena, then yu know well how huge the place is!

    And yes, we can do this!! I am willing, and always have been. It will be great being in the same place with a beloved Christian sister, that is you of course! May I also extend the Lords Grace and Mercy and Blaeesings to you as well, eternally. Thank you for thinking of me in such a warm and sincere way. Itis deeply appreciated.

    I think we should let this thread sleep for now, lol. I have faith, that some readers, somewhere, may be blessed by our words, and even to come and know our wonderful father in heaven....I know you can say "AMEN"!

    February 3, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  2. CatholicMom

    Curious,
    I will look for you on other threads where it will be appropriate for us to continue. Any one of them that tries to tear down Truth would be a good one for us to go to. We can do this!!
    I want to know what they are finding out with that pain you are having....I had at least 3 years of such pain [pain that I thought could have killed me] and I would like to see what the doctors find out for you...try to work it in with a 'faith story' that will be good for all to hear about.
    'See' you soooooooooooon!!!

    February 3, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  3. CatholicMom

    Curious,
    stanger things have happened but I don't know when! Can't post in the right place! This is troublesome.......

    February 2, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  4. CatholicMom

    I will be checking for that next story, Curious! I hope that they find out what is going on in your abdominal area. God bless you in all ways.

    February 2, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  5. CatholicMom

    Cur!
    I will be checking for that next story! I hope that they find out what is going on in your abdominal area.God bless you in all ways.

    February 2, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  6. CatholicMom

    Curious,
    I will keep checking here for you and another story! God bless you in all ways!

    February 2, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  7. Curious

    Hi CatholicMom...That sounds like a great idea, that way we can stay in touch! And yes, ask me and I will tell you yhat you have already heard.
    She was about 11 yrs old. Angie was on of those kids that was a couple years ahead of herself,lol, but in a good way. I am jsut glad she had enuff sense to tell her friend not to let go of that raft! Gee, when one panicks, thats usually how people drown, and even pull others with them. I can never thank the good Lord enuff for that one!
    Your Savior loves you very much....beautiful! You are right, I should be a champ in that arena,lol, cause I have fast fing-ers that likes to reverse what my brain says to type...hehe!!

    Yes, I have had that happen to. I do believe that we "connect" to others. I have also went to say something, and my husband at the same moment (almost like an echo) will say it to! Like, we are in unison...lol. I think it spo-oks him sometimes.

    Well, your most welcomed for thanking me for my prayers, (no thanks needed, but much appreciated) , I would not think of leaving you out of my prayers! It is my pleasure to say prayers for you, and throw me in yours as well,lol. Prayers is something we can never have enuff of, right?
    I bet the first thing the Lord is gonna say to me is..Little Girl of mine, you should did talk my ears off! I never give the Lord a break,lol. I am always "talking" to him about something. Lord, where are my keys, or what do you think I should do? and it goes on and on...but I think he likes it, just the same.

    I think I will make a copy for each one, and do it in a little book type thing. Mayby even a Journal for each, with just random thoughts and other nici-ties. Good idea,CM!

    I know what you mean about these bloggers, wow, some are really hardco-re. Its hard to know what to say, and what not to say sometimes, and I think sometimes the best we can do is just pray for them. It is just so sad that all these wonderful things that the Lord has allowed in our lives, and they are missing it! All the people that read the bible, like the Athiest, yet they ask why God is so mean and lets things happen to people. Well, did they miss the part where he said he was leaving, and this world was not his world? He sends the Holy Spirit to comfort us....he did not leave us to fend on our own!I
    I guess they completely overlook that part, about Satan. and how he seeks to destroy and ki-ll...not to mention the fact we ALL are subject to the evils and illnesses and all that are in the world.
    You are right though, CM, we do have to reflect back, and consider what plight they may have gone thru, that led them where they are this moment in time. Very good method you use, to do this. Bless You!

    Your story was very touching, and I savored every word. Sometimes hearing anothers story, does help us to see things differently in our own lives. I pray all who may read our exchanges will be blessed by them, and hopefully even lead some to the Lord Jesus.

    It is late, goodness, 10:48 already! If I did not have to get up early in te morning, I could sit here and talk all night! Lol, Poor you!

    I will try to type that other story early in the morning, while I am having my coffee. If I tried it right now, you would have to employ that method of reading we discu-ssed above, lol, you know

    Nca ouy ese thsi clerlay? Have a Great Evening, see you tomorrow my dear friend! Patti

    February 1, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  8. tallulah13

    Catholic Mom:
    What a dreadful story. Have you ever considered that you were the cause of the group of horses heading into unsafe territory? Horses are prey animals and are very aware of things that are not normal. By climbing onto an animal, you may have triggered the same natural fight or flight response as would have occurred if a predator had leaped on the back of the horse, sort of like a mountain lion.

    By not telling what you had done, you left it until too late to save the horse. To you credit, you did eventually come clean, but I find no "angels" in your story. Just a naughty child, a kind horse, and a herd behaving like a herd. I fail to see the miracle in an innocent animal, trapped and injured and eventually killed.

    February 1, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • tallulah13

      Okay, again this posted in the wrong place (how can anything post ahead of things that were posted previously?) Please put read this comment after the postings from Catholic Mom about how as a child she rode a neighbor's horse without permission and the animal ended up dying.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  9. Curious

    Hi CatholicMom...I must apologize for taking so long to get back here. Lots going on in my life, and to make matters worse, we had a nasty snow storm here, which caused lots to loose power and other related issues. My pc was going thru a turn off and on, everytime the lights would blink, so I shut it down for a night and a half day, till that stopped. Plus, I was sick for a few days, feeling a little better, so thats a plus.
    I want to share one of my angel encounetrs, but since it is a bit long, I want to make sure this thread is still active, and you will see it.
    If you can let me know you are still with me here,lol, I will post that story. I posted it several months ago, but I cannot remember where, or even if I did, I don't know how long these threads are accessible. I am willing to take time though, to re type it for you.
    I have missed our little chat sessions, am looking forward to your response. 🙂

    January 30, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  10. Carol

    Met Mother Teresa and saw Pope John Paul from a distance. Friends visited with John Paul. We agree they had something we call charisma and they exemplified great joy! They found what's of true value in this life, helped others and gave us a magnificent demonstration of what we as humans can aspire to become. They left this world a better place for having been in it. What grace and beauty of spirit! Bravo Mother Teresa and John Paul!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 3:04 am |
  11. Artur Pazdro

    Rest in Peace JP II

    January 25, 2011 at 5:36 am |
  12. CatholicMom

    Curious,

    When I started reading your post, it took my breath away when my eyes saw the name ‘Mercy Hospital’! That is the name of our nearest hospital! Needless to say I soon learned that it wasn’t ‘our’ Mercy Hospital in Minnesota that you were talking about.
    Your uncle is in a wonderful hospital! I am so happy that it is still Catholic and has not been taken over by secularists. So many hospitals that were started by Catholic Sisters have been taken over by pro-abortionists across our nation. The way they do it is get on the board and they are not truly Catholic and eventually vote out the ‘Catholic’ in the Hospital…removing signs that show it is a Faith based facility, and introducing non-Catholic procedures.

    Does your uncle know that he could receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick? I am going to post the Sacrament info for you. A person can receive this Sacrament more than once. Encourage him to receive it before he leaves the hospital…just ask a Sister to get a Priest for him if he wants this Sacrament. I received it once already….after I was getting better but was not fully well. He can, too!
    The anointing of the sick is administered to bring spiritual and even physical strength during an illness, especially near the time of death. It is most likely one of the last Sacraments one will receive. A Sacrament is an outward sign established by Jesus Christ to confer inward grace. In more basic terms, it is a rite that is performed to convey God’s grace to the recipient, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Like all the Sacraments, holy anointing was inst!tuted by Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry. The Catechism explains, "This sacred anointing of the sick was inst!tuted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. It is al-luded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord" (CCC 1511; Mark 6:13; Jas. 5:14-15).

    The anointing of the sick conveys several graces and imparts gifts of strengthening in the Holy Spirit against anxiety, discouragement, and temptation, and conveys peace and fort!tude (CCC 1520). These graces flow from the atoning death of Jesus Christ, for "this was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases’" (Matt. 8:17).

    Mark refers to the Sacrament when he recounts how Jesus sent out the twelve disciples to preach, and "they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them" (Mark 6:13). In his epistle, James says, "Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (Jas. 5:14–15).

    The early Church Fathers recognized this Sacrament’s role in the life of the Church. Around A.D. 250, Origen wrote that the penitent Christian "does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine . . . [of] which the apostle James says: ‘If then there is anyone sick, let him call the presbyters of the Church, and let them impose hands upon him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him’" (Homilies on Leviticus 2:4).

    In the year 350, Bishop Serapion wrote, "We beseech you, Savior of all men, you that have all virtue and power, Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we pray that you send down from heaven the healing power of the only-begotten [Son] upon this oil, so that for those who are anointed . . . it may be effected for the casting out of every disease and every bodily infirmity . . . for good grace and remission of sins . . . " (The Sacramentary of Serapion 29:1).

    "The special grace of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects: the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church; the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age; the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the Sacrament of penance; the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul; the preparation for passing over to eternal life" (CCC 1532).

    Does a person have to be dying to receive this Sacrament? No. The Catechism says, "The anointing of the sick is not a Sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this Sacrament has certainly already arrived" (CCC 1514).

    Today some Christians go to extremes in their expectation of divine healing. On one hand, some say that if a Christian is not healed of all his diseases, this reflects his lack of faith. Others claim that divine healings were only for the apostolic age, when all diseases were healed instantly and automatically. Both extremes are wrong.

    God does not always heal the physical infirmities that afflict us. Paul preached to the Galatians while he was afflicted by a "bodily ailment" (Gal. 4:13– 14). He also mentions that he had to leave his companion Trophimus in the town of Miletus because he was too sick to travel (2 Tim. 4:20). In his first letter to Timothy, Paul urges his young protégé to "no longer drink only water, but to use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments" (1 Tim. 5:23).

    The last passage is especially informative. Not only does it reveal that illnesses were not always healed in the apostolic age, but it also shows an apostle’s practical advice to a fellow Christian on how to deal with an illness. Notice that Paul does not tell Timothy to pray harder and have more faith that God will heal him from his stomach ailment. Rather, he tells him how to manage the illness through medicinal means.

    Some argue that healings were always instantaneous and were only for those living during the apostolic age, but that afterward the gift of healing disappeared. The problem with that theory is that the Bible tells us otherwise. For example, when Jesus healed the blind man at Bethsaida, he laid his hands upon him twice before the man was fully healed (Mark 8:22–26).

    Finally, we have a standing command of the New Testament in James 5:14–15, cited earlier. This command is never revoked anywhere in the Bible, and there are no statements anywhere that God will cease to heal. Thus the command is in effect to this very day.

    Of course, our healing, like all things, is subject to God’s will. As James pointed out just a chapter earlier, "You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that’" (Jas. 4:14–15, emphasis added). We have a promise of healing, but not an unqualified one. It is conditional on the will of God.

    If God can heal us, why doesn’t he? Why isn’t it always his will to do so? One answer to this question is found in the spiritual discipline and training that can result from facing illness and adversity. Scripture asks, "Have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?—‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives’ [Prov. 3:11–12]. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

    "If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Heb. 12:5–11).

    Sometimes God allows us to undergo sickness as a form of discipline and training in righteousness. God often permits these trials for our sanctification, as Paul himself learned when he prayed that God would remove from him an angel of Satan who was afflicting him: "And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger [Greek: angelos] of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Cor. 12:7–9).

    Even though we must face a certain amount of suffering and affliction in this life, we know God’s grace is sufficient to sustain us. All of God’s graces, including physical health, are bestowed to lead to the salvation of our souls. The Catholic Church teaches that the Sacrament brings "the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul" (CCC 1532).

    God also uses our suffering to help others. If Paul had not become ill while on his first missionary journey and been forced to stop traveling, he would not have preached to the Galatians, for he tells them, "You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first" (Gal. 4:13). If he had not preached to the Galatians, he would not have later written them the epistle that appears in our New Testament. God used Paul’s illness to bring salvation to the Galatians and to bring us a work of Scripture, through which we are still receiving benefits from God.

    This is just one example of how God used suffering to bring about good. Therefore, if we suffer, we should look upon it as an opportunity for good, such as by offering up our sufferings for our own sanctification and for our departed brothers and sisters in Christ.

    This applies also to the physical suffering of death, which will come for each of us one day. The Bible reminds us, "As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more" (Ps. 103:15–16).

    Though the psalmist teaches us to ponder our mortality, he immediately comforts us by saying, "But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments" (Ps. 103:17–18).

    In his steadfast love for us, the Lord gives us the Sacraments involved in the last rites to comfort us in our final days and prepare us for the journey ahead. "These include penance (or confession), confirmation (when lacking), anointing of the sick . . . and Viatic-um (which is meant to be the last reception of Communion for the journey from this life to eternity). . . .

    "The present ritual orders these Sacraments in two ways. The ‘continuous rites of penance and anointing’ include: Introductory Rites, Liturgy of Penance, Liturgy of Confirmation, Liturgy of Anointing, Liturgy of Viatic-um, and Concluding Rites. The ‘rite for emergencies’ includes the Sacrament of penance, Apostolic Pardon, Lord’s Prayer, Communion as Viatic-um, prayer before anointing, anointing, concluding prayer, blessing, sign of peace" (Fr. Peter Stravinskas, Catholic Encyclopedia, 572).

    The most important part of the last rites is the reception of the Lord in one’s final Communion, also called "Viatic-um" (Latin = that which you take on the road, i.e., provisions for a journey) This special Communion prepares us to travel with the Lord on the final part of our journey.

    The comfort of Viatic-um has been valued by Christians since the beginning of Church history. The first ec-umenical council, held at Nicaea in 325, decreed: "Concerning the departing, the ancient canonical law is still to be maintained, to wit, that, if any man be at the point of death, he must not be deprived of the last and most indispensable Viatic-um" (canon 13). Having repented of our sins and received reconciliation, we travel with the Lord Jesus out of this earthly life and to eternal happiness with him in heaven.

    From the earliest times, the Sacrament of the anointing of the sick was cherished among Christians, not only in immediate danger of death, but even at the beginning sign of danger from illness or old age. A sermon of Caesar of Arles (ca. A.D. 470-542) contains the following: "As often as some infirmity overtakes a man, let him who is ill receive the body and blood of Christ; let him humbly and in faith ask the presbyters for blessed oil, to anoint his body, so that what was written may be fulfilled in him: ‘Is anyone among you sick? Let him bring in the presbyters, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he be in sins, they will be forgiven him. . . . See to it, brethren, that whoever is ill hasten to the church, both that he may receive health of body and will merit to obtain the forgiveness of his sins" (Sermons 13[325]:3).

    John Chrysostom
    "The priests of Judaism had power to cleanse the body from leprosy—or rather, not to cleanse it at all, but to declare a person as having been cleansed. . . . Our priests have received the power not of treating with the leprosy of the body, but with spiritual uncleanness; not of declaring cleansed, but of actually cleansing. . . . Priests accomplish this not only by teaching and admonishing, but also by the help of prayer. Not only at the time of our regeneration [in baptism], but even afterward, they have the authority to forgive sins: ‘Is there anyone among you sick? Let him call in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he has committed sins, he shall be forgiven’" (On the Priesthood 3:6:190ff [A.D. 387]).
    NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
    presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
    Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

    IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
    permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
    +Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

    Whenever you read something ‘Catholic,’ to be sure that it is true to the Faith, look for the NIHIL OBSTAT or IMPRIMATUR, that way you can be sure it isn’t fake info.

    I look forward to hearing about your angel stories!! Thank you for sharing what you have already!
    God Bless you!

    January 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  13. CatholicMom

    Curious,

    The Church teaches that we are ‘surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses’ cheering us on to persevere and endure.
    The Church also teaches since Apostolic times that this ‘communion of saints’ are members of Christ’s Body [through] Baptism and we are not separated from one another by death since not even death can sever us from the love of God, who is the God of the living not the dead.

    Having said that, I truly believe God gifts us in many ways throughout our lives. It is possible that God could allow a deceased loved one to ‘visit’, because all things are possible with God.

    I was so favored with a visit by my best friend who was also my brother who died of HIV/AIDS while I was working out on my treadmill! It was just his face that I saw with an aura around him. He died at age 51 but he looked like he did when he was about 25 and most handsome. A message from him came into my mind in which he said while smiling… ‘keep doing what you are doing….keep doing what you are doing’ and then he was gone. I internalized his message as ‘keep doing what I am with my pottery and my life’. This happened several years after his death.

    My mother appeared to me while I was just sitting alone in the living room. She appeared up near the ceiling [and my brother’s appearance was up near the ceiling, too] and her face was as beautiful as she looked when I was a little girl. There was that same illuminating light around her and just her face showed. What she said to me [without words] was… ‘I am happy. I did everything just as I was supposed to; I am fine’….I think the reason I was blessed with this is because for several years after my mother’s death, I felt deep sorrow for how her life had been…filled with unhappiness; my dad had been unfaithful to her many times and was very mean to her mentally and physically and to most all of us kids. I felt so bad that she had suffered such a life with a man she said she would always love when us kids would try to coach her. After her ‘appearance’ to me, I would sometimes start to go down that road of thinking about her sad life when her words would cut in and I would tell myself to honor what she said and try to be joyful. I am no longer plagued with that particular sadness any longer!

    My sister has received a full body appearance of our dad after his death and after several years; he approached her covered in a white wrapping about his body but she could see how frail and thin and weak he was. At first she did not know who it was. As he got closer she could tell that it was dad. As he stood in front of her, he begged… ‘can you ever forgive me?’ and fell into her arms and she felt his boney body and frailty. She cried and said, ‘Yes’. She was the one who said she ‘hated’ dad, while all the rest of us tried to forgive him but she couldn’t, she said, but now she says when she still wants to hate him in her mind, the hate melts away and she remembers that she forgave him; the pain has left.

    None of my other 6 siblings have ever had these experiences.

    I think these experiences are real and can be thought of as personal blessings. But any time a spirit appears and causes you to pull away from God and His teachings through His Holy Tradition given to His Church, the Bible, and the Magisterium, then it is satan and/or his cohorts. It is easy to think about it this way…if the vision tells you that he is God or God’s messenger and asks you to do something contrary to the Truth as you know it, it is an evil spirit. That is why it is imperative that you know what Truth is.

    These simple experiences like what I have had only draw me closer to God because they are blessing which helped me greatly in my life.

    January 23, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  14. CatholicMom

    Curious,

    The Church teaches that we are ‘surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses’ cheering us on to persevere and endure.
    The Church also teaches, since Apostolic times, that this ‘communion of saints’ are members of Christ’s Body [through] Baptism and we are not separated from one another by death since not even death can sever us from the love of God, who is the God of the living not the dead.

    Having said that, I truly believe God 'gifts us' in many ways throughout our lives. It is possible that God could allow a deceased loved one to ‘visit’, because all things are possible with God.

    I was so favored with a visit by my best friend who was also my brother who died of HIV/AIDS while I was working out on my treadmill! It was just his face that I saw with an aura around him. He died at age 51 but he looked like he did when he was about 25 and most handsome. A message from him came into my mind in which he said while smiling… ‘keep doing what you are doing….keep doing what you are doing’ and then he was gone. I internalized his message as ‘keep doing what I am with my pottery and my life’. This happened several years after his death.

    My mother appeared to me while I was just sitting alone in the living room. She appeared up near the ceiling [and my brother’s appearance was up near the ceiling, too] and her face was as beautiful as she looked when I was a little girl. There was that same illuminating light around her and just her face showed. What she said to me [without words] was… ‘I am happy. I did everything just as I was supposed to; I am strong and I am fine’….I think the reason I was blessed with this is because for several years after my mother’s death, I felt deep sorrow for how her life had been…filled with unhappiness; my dad had been unfaithful to her many times and was very mean to her mentally and physically and to most all of us kids. I felt so bad that she had suffered such a life with a man she said she would always love when us kids would try to coach her. After her ‘appearance’ to me, I would sometimes start to go down that road of thinking about her sad life when her words would cut in and I would tell myself to honor what she said and try to be joyful. I am no longer plagued with that particular sadness any longer!

    My sister has received a full body appearance of our dad after his death and after he'd been gone for several years; he approached her covered in a white wrapping about his body but she could see how frail and thin and weak he was. [He had been a tall and big man]. At first she did not know who it was. As he got closer she could tell that it was dad. As he stood in front of her, he begged with a weak voice… ‘can you ever forgive me?’... and then fell into her arms; she felt his boney body and frailty. She cried and said, ‘Yes’. She was the one who said she ‘hated’ dad, while all the rest of us tried to forgive him but she couldn’t, she said, but now she says when she still wants to hate him in her mind, the hate melts away and she remembers that she forgave him; the pain has left.

    None of my other 6 siblings have ever had these experiences.

    I think these experiences are real and can be thought of as personal blessings. But any time a spirit appears and causes you to pull away from God and His teachings [through His Holy Tradition given to His Church, the Bible, and the Magisterium], then it is satan and/or his cohorts. It is easy to think about it this way…if the vision tells you that he is God or God’s messenger and asks you to do something contrary to the Truth as you know it, it is an evil spirit. That is why it is imperative that you know what Truth is.

    These simple experiences like what I have had and my sister has had, only draw me closer to God because they are blessings which helped me greatly in my life and to seek God even more.

    January 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  15. CatholicMom

    Curious,

    It makes my heart sing to think I could help you! That is why I write on these comment pages….if I see someone saying something that is trying to destroy Jesus Christ’s Church I feel I must speak up; or if I see a statement that goes against what the Church proclaims as Truth, I want to speak up.

    I am 68 years old and have the time to do this now so don’t be concerned about my time…it is well spent if I can help even one person. It has become the most important thing I do and I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me the answers or lead me to the answers so hopefully I will never give a wrong statement.

    I will help you as long as I can! BTW…I keep learning every day, too…the learning never ends so be prepared to be ever amazed as you seek Truth!

    I used to be lukewarm in my Faith but this is what the Douay-Rheims Bible says about that:
    Apocalypse 3:16 But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.

    I read the 104 page paperback, ‘Which Bible Should You Read?’ by Thomas A. Nelson, which can be found in most Catholic Book Stores….which compares many Bibles so one can make a good choice.

    About the Douay-Rheims Bible:

    The Douay-Rheims Bible is a scrupulously faithful translation into English of the Latin Vulgate Bible which St. Jerome (342-420) translated into Latin from the original languages. The Vulgate quickly became the Bible universally used in the Latin Rite (by far the largest rite of the Catholic Church).

    St. Jerome, who was one of the four great Western Fathers of the Church, was a man raised up by God to translate the Holy Bible into the common Latin tongue of his day. He knew Latin and Greek perfectly. He was 1500 years closer to the original languages than any scholar today, which would make him a better judge of the exact meaning of any Greek or Hebrew word in the Scriptures. Besides being a towering linguistic genius, he was also a great saint, and he had access to ancient Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the 2nd and 3rd centuries which have since perished and are no longer available to scholars today. St. Jerome's translation, moreover, was a careful, word-for-word rendering of the original texts into Latin.

    I think you must have listened to Father Corapi on EWTN, the way it sounds. We love him and he is not afraid to tell the Truth! Here is a video of him…does he look like the priest you remember of seeing on EWTN? Father Corapi is so good at telling the Truth that evil is now making videos to try to discredit him! That is a sign to me that ‘they’, the evil ones, need to try to tear him down because he is helping so many people to the Truth!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhAyEZR4gUk&w=640&h=360]

    January 22, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  16. Curious

    Words cannot express how mush I appreciate all your efforts and time to help me in my search for answers. I certainly read every interesting word, and I am gone to try and copy these responses from you to my notepad, so they don't get lost. Sometimes these thread close, and I want to take my time digesting everything you have so graciously supplied.
    I already am grasping more then I had, thanks to you.
    If I have any more questions after I read, I will certainly come to you, and again thatnk you for the offer of your help.
    I think I have watched EWTN a time or two, I may have it confused with a sister that comes on and speaks? I recall apriest once telling about how he served in Vietnam, and when he returned home, people spat on him. He said he was so offended and angry, but he got over it by reflecting on God and praying for the way he was feeling.
    Then he said, "I thought to myself, before you, there goes me. (lol, or something like that) Point being that before he became a Christian, and knew the Lord, he was as ignorant as they.It was a very touching story.
    I will try and tune into that show more, since you said they teach alot.
    May the Lord give you a "special" blessing for being such a faithful servant and christian sister, you certainly deserve it, You will be in my prayers, God Bless You Always. Your a dear lady!!

    January 21, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  17. CatholicMom

    Curious,

    The first Bible was compiled by the Catholic Church almost 400 years after Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven. The Church that Jesus Christ founded, the Catholic Church, was promised the Paraclete by Jesus Christ to guide and guard Her and to bring Her into fullness of Truth as She could bear it. When Jesus Christ sent out the Apostles He commanded them to teach all that they had heard from Him [and this information is called Tradition of the Church].

    We had already had about 4 or 5 Popes by the time the Bible was compiled.

    No one has Authority to change the Word of God…no Pope, no Priest, no one. Martin Luther was a Priest and not a Pope. He did remove a number of books and also changed wording to suit his thinking.

    The Bible that protestants use is generally not a true Catholic Bible…many like the one that King James printed. It does not have all the original books in it. I love the Douay-Rheims Bible because it is the closest to the original with wording such as 'thou', 'shalt', 'holdeth', and those kinds of words, instead of ‘you’, 'should', or 'hold'.

    But there are Catholic Bibles that use 'our English' and have all the books and words as the first Bible and might be easier to read and understand. One such Bible is the NAB [New American Bible].

    I hope this has cleared up some of your questions. I am sorry I didn’t check back quicker.

    January 20, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  18. CatholicMomHelpPlease

    CatholicMom...I hope you can answer my questions? I thought you would be a good person to ask,

    January 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  19. Curious

    Another question. I am sorry, but I am seeking some answers. Thanks!

    Ok, here goes. I just read your answer to Deja above.
    If Mary was without sin, why did she say she was in need of a savior?
    Matt 1:25 says Joseph did not have s*x with Mary, untill she had Jesus. So, if the word "until" suggests he had unuin with her at that time, then how could she be a perpetual virgin?
    Plus, they had children, because Jesus had half brothers abd sisters.
    Luke 11:27, says a woman said Blessed is the womb that bore you, but Jesus responded with "Blessed RATHER are those who hear the word of God and keep it (Luke 11:28)
    So, in essence he was saying that that was more important then being the woman(Mary) that gave birth to a savior (him)

    "For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed" [Luke 1:48].

    Why was the refernce "low estate of his handmaiden used here?
    Thanks for any of your views on these.

    January 20, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  20. Muneef

    A man of a live conscience is in the straight path of righteous and the straight path of righteous is the path of men of God who love and fear their God most in every decision or action or words been said and committed ....!!
    Man of God and God fearing is what is counted for a man to represent a mixed culture and beliefs nation for which he has to be aware of those cultures and beliefs of those other nations in order to be able to plant respects to become between those mixed cultures and beliefs as such gives the assurance of mutual understanding between the nation with other overseas nations or even with those within the country of mixed cultures and beliefs...!
    Some how it's felt that values,morals,virtues are not there in a secular world only faceless solid lifeless laws of men rather than what has been relayed by Holy books that calls for good deeds and reject bad deeds and to build a faithful societies,communities,nations since communications among nations or even among the nations of mixed cultures and beliefs... Laws or God and universe are to be prepared by some thing that is equivalent to UN but built on nations beliefs to achieve the code of understanding among nations but as can see now it is build on groundless bases if not of words of God to faiths...in addition to those non spiritual secular beliefs to make decisions of faith but at the moment the secular world make and take the decisions while the beliefs and faiths has to pay for it when it becomes a war between all faiths or religions outside your world ,it would become back into your inside among the mixed culture and beliefs of the nation or nations under one country flag...!
    Today's world man has become with no value other than his organs if sold or stolen....so what is happening only proves that we are imposing marketing the wrongs against the rights....cultures and beliefs are going down the drain with all those values, morals,virtues some how turning into commotion among cultures and beliefs turning against each other misunderstanding each other or unaware of cultures way of living and beliefs to ease communication mutual understanding as a nation of mankind and a nation of faiths. As i believe we should not bleach wash cultures and faiths in to one but am with keeping all cultures and faiths which make a colorful painting rather than one blank single colored...!?
    Wa Salam,Peace,Shalom...  

    January 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.