Friday, May 30, 2008

Run, Don't Walk...Follow-up To A Healing

This letter was first sent to us in January of 2007. We are reprinting it because we just received a follow-up letter from this man saying his father is now running 5k races for charities on a regular basis. God is good!

I have been travelling to Rome City for about 8 months now to get water for my ailing father. It is about a 6 hour round trip for me and I look forward to it each time. I fill two five gallon coolers and whatever gallon jugs my wife sets aside for me. We give the gallon jugs away to friends and my father drinks the water in the coolers. He calls it his "miracle water from Mary's place".

I wouldn't do anything like this if my wife had not heard about this water source from a friend at Church one Sunday. She was told about a grandchild of one of the parishioners who is working on Our Lady of America being healed instantly of some sort of neck injury suffered at birth. They claimed it was the water from this apparition site so my wife convinced me to drive her up to get some water and try it on my father's crippling arthritis.

We grabbed some coolers and old milk jugs and headed up the Highway 69. When we arrived, we found a man out mowing this HUGE front lawn. He told us we could help ourselves to the water but that we should go to the hill before we left and ask for Our Lady's intercession in this healing we were seeking.

My wife had her camera so we took some photos of the grounds and made our way to what they call Holy Family Hill where they have the most beautiful statue of the Holy Family I think I have ever seen.

We took some photos and prayed to Mary while we touched the statue and all of a sudden we were surrounded by all of these butterflies. We couldn't believe it. It was beyond our belief. We both started to cry tears of joy and comfort that we were being blessed by our dear Heavenly Mother. One of our photos has a very clear image of Mary with two angels above the treeline. It is the most precious possession we own.

We took the water back to my father and he began drinking it regularly. It was gone in about a week. And so was his pain in his joints he had suffered for over 15 years.

We pray for Our Lady of America's confirmation and we pray for this beautiful piece of heaven and thank God that we have been so blessed.

I have never been to Lourdes or Fatima or Mejugorje. I have been to Rome City and I can HIGHLY recommend you visit if you can. It is so peaceful and full of gifts.

Kenneth, Indianapolis

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


A special thanks to Rocco for sending this article on spirit orbs.

Klaus Heinemann holds a Ph.D. in experimental physics from the University of Tübingen and has worked for many years in materials science research at NASA, UCLA, and as a research professor at Stanford University. "There is no doubt in my mind that the orbs may well be one of the most significant ‘outside of this reality’ phenomena mankind has ever witnessed."-Klaus Heinemann, Ph.D.

At first, it seemed no more than a curious coincidence. Professor Klaus Heinemann, a researcher for NASA, the U.S. space agency, was studying a collection of photographs his wife had taken at a gathering of spiritual healers when he noticed that many of them featured the same pale but clearly defined circle of light, like a miniature moon, hovering above some of the subjects.

Like most rational people, he assumed that the pictures were faulty. 'I presumed the circles were due to dust particles, flash anomalies, water particles and so on,' says Prof Heinemann.

'But I was sufficiently intrigued that I returned to the room in which the pictures were taken, in the hope of finding an explanation - like a mirror in the background. None was forthcoming.'

Nor could he find any faults with his wife's camera. And as a scientist with considerable experience in sophisticated microscope techniques - examining matter down to atomic levels of optical resolution - his methods were nothing if not rigorous.

Still puzzled, Heinemann set out to discover what else might have caused the mysterious circles. He and his wife began taking hundreds of digital photographs at random events to see whether they could recreate the mysterious effect.

The answer was that they could make these shimmering 'orbs' appear again, but only - absurd as it may sound - if they 'asked' the apparitions to make themselves visible to the camera. And they found this method worked particularly well when the couple photographed spiritual gatherings.

What on earth was going on? Again, a maverick technical glitch seemed the obvious answer. Such anomalies happen frequently in digital photography. If you accidentally jog a camera while a picture is being taken, especially in dim light, you can easily get a double image.

But again, Prof Heinemann ruled out a technical fault. 'We were quickly able to eliminate the common problems associated with photography – such as dust particles, water droplets, reflections and a host of other likely causes.'

Yet the orbs still kept appearing. And the more images he took, the more he was able to study the bizarre properties of these shimmering lights.

Heinemann set up dozens of experiments using two cameras on static tripods under controlled conditions. His early experiments found that orbs can move very fast, up to 500 mph or more.

Heinemann also found that during his numerous dual camera experiments, when he used twin cameras to capture an object from two different angles, a single orb shape would often appear - but only in one of the two images taken simultaneously.

It was as if the orbs somehow chose which camera to appear on, or whether to appear at all.

Eventually, Heinemann was left with only one conclusion: that he was witnessing some form of paranormal intelligence.

'There is no doubt in my mind that the orbs may well be one of the most significant "outside of this reality" phenomena mankind has ever witnessed,' says Professor Heinemann.

'Until now, there has been a huge amount of anecdotal evidence that the spirit world exists. I believe it's no longer anecdotal. Thanks to digital technology, we can see it for the first time. We are dealing with a non-physical - albeit real - phenomenon.'

The temptation, of course, is to dismiss such claims as bunkum.

And yet a growing number of respectable scientists refuse to write off the possibility that these orbs, which are starting to appear on cameras around the world, just might offer a fascinating glimpse into the unknown.

Earlier this year, the world's first conference on orbs took place in Sedona, Arizona, where several scientists controversially stated that they believed orbs were indeed a genuine paranormal phenomenon.

Their conclusions, if correct, could have huge implications on the way we view the universe and our part in it. The experts say that just because something has not yet been scientifically proven, it doesn't mean that it is not real.

Professor William Tiller, a theoretical physicist who spent 35 years researching consciousness and matter at Stanford University in California, reminded the conference that what we see with our physical eyes comprises less then 10 per cent of the known universe.

This is because human vision operates only within a limited range of the electromagnetic spectrum. For instance, we cannot see radio waves, which carry huge amounts of information, yet we know they exist.

Similarly, Miceal Ledwith, a former professor of Theology, who for ten years was President of Maynooth College at the National University of Ireland, reminded the sceptics that when, in 1861, Dr Ignaz Semmelweis had claimed there might be some unseen link between surgeons who didn't wash their hands and the high rate of infection in childbirth, his mainstream colleagues ridiculed him.

Yet he had found the first evidence of what was later to become known as bacteria.

'Most great discoveries throughout history have been initially ridiculed,' Ledwith told the orbs conference. 'To my mind, there is no doubt that the orb phenomenon is real and deserves to be taken seriously. There are not just a few pictures of orbs, which could easily be faked, but hundreds of thousands from all over the world.'

To date, Ledwith, who was also a member of the International Theological Commission at the Vatican, has a collection of more than 100,000 orb pictures.

'They come in all sizes, ranging from a few inches to several feet across,' he says. 'Sometimes they appear alone, and at other times hundreds of them, in colours ranging from white to blue, green, rose and even gold.

'Over time, I realised that a flash seemed to be essential to capture them, even in daylight. I believe this is because we can see the orbs only through the process in physics known as fluorescence. The camera flash sparks this fluorescence process, making the orbs visible to the camera.'

Ledwith is still uncertain about what these orbs might actually be, but he has no doubt that they are some sort of paranormal apparition.

'I believe they could be many things. They may turn out to be the spirits of those who have passed on; or, as some spiritual teachers state, they might be spirits waiting to be born into a physical body,' says Ledwith.

'They may also be, or represent, a host of other intelligences – from nature spirits to beings of pure energy that have never been incarnated in a physical form. There are hundreds of different types of orb.'

Many of the scientists at the conference believe the orbs are plasma-like balls of energy - but an energy that can be detected by physical means, and which appears to have some control over its own shape and form.

It's certainly the case that they can often be photographed best at places of psychic significance. 'They definitely seem drawn to spiritual-type gatherings,' says Ledwith.

'We regularly see orbs near healers' hands or heads. Perhaps they assist in the spiritual healing process.'

Take the case of Anna Donaldson, a freelance photographer who was commissioned to take pictures of Keith Watson, a medium who had been drafted in to help solve the disappearance of Sarah Payne, the little girl who was snatched while playing near her grandparents' home in West Sussex seven years ago.

The shoot took place at the exact spot where Sarah was last seen, because the medium had suggested that he 'might pick something up'. Sure enough, when the pictures were developed, a mysterious glowing dot appeared in one of the crucial images.

'I didn't believe in any of this paranormal stuff,' says Anna, 'but I couldn't find any fault with the camera - if there had been, then all the images would have been tainted, not just one of them.'

Still sceptical, Anna had the film and images analysed for technical faults, but again no one could provide a logical answer - until a member of the Psychic Institute suggested that the pictures could indeed be evidence of 'auras'. In this case, Anna was told that the blueish colour of the orb suggested the presence of a very young soul.

Still intrigued, Anna arranged to photograph Watson again - at the exact spot from where another young child had disappeared, this time in Greece. To her astonishment, the photographs again showed the presence of a blue orb.

And when Anna repeated the shoot the next day, in a bid to rule out a trick of the light, she got the same result - only this time it was two orange orbs.

'So what I now had was pictures of orbs from three different cameras, in two different countries, on three different days - there's simply no way that could be a chance occurrence or a technical fault,' says Anna.

'I still don't know what to think about it, but I suppose because a camera can pick up an image at a shutter speed of 1/2,000 of a second, it's possible it can detect things the naked eye cannot see.'

Could it have been the spirits of the lost children?

Terri Caldwell, a healer from Belbroughton, in Worcestershire, is among those who are convinced that orbs are a visible manifestation of human spirits.

'To my mind, the orbs are the spirit world simply going about their business,' she says. 'I believe we are all spirits having a physical experience, and when we die our energy field which carries all the information about us continues on.'

The orbs are an everyday part of reality, as much as we are'. 'Their world may be as real as ours, but exists on higher frequencies.

'If you change your TV channel, you switch to different frequencies, which contain different information. It's illogical to think that what we cannot see is not real, because the human eye is able to receive only a very narrow part of the light spectrum. Many animals can see in spectrums invisible to us.'

As Professor Heinemann summarised: 'Research into orbs is only in its infancy. But the photographs of these spirit emanations offer evidence - as close to scientific proof as we have ever come - in proving the existence of spiritual reality.'

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spiritual Orbs in Our Lady Mother of Mercy Chapel

The following photos were all taken on different days by different people using different cameras. No lights were on and no flash cameras were used.

The last photo came to us from a woman who visited just two weeks ago. She said she had a "thing" for chapel ceilings. Apparently spirit orbs do too!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Our Lady of America Displayed at John Paul II Center

May 24, 2008 - Washington D.C.: Dr. Hugh M. Dempsey, D. Ed., K.M.Ob. Deputy Director and the staff at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center welcomed the Our Lady of America statue that was first displayed in 2006 at the U.S. Bishop's Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The statue was delivered by a BVM Foundation Inc. volunteer and assitant who drove her to Washington D.C. after being cleaned and touched-up in Batesville, IN by the same company that made the first wood carving of Our Lady of America in the 1960's.
This Statue will remain at the center for some time pending action by the United States Catholic Bishops on the request of Our Lady for a solem procession and permanent placement in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, not far from the John Paul II Cultural Center at Washington D.C.

The United States Catholic Bishops await the outcome of a process of discernment undertaken by His Excellency, Leonard P. Blar of Toledo-in-America, the Diocese where Sr. Mary Ephrem (Mildred Neuzil) lived out her last days on this earth. Our Lady of America appeared to Sr. Mary Ephrem on September 26, 1956 in the Our Lady Mother of Mercy Chapel at what is now Sylvan Springs in Rome City, IN (not far from Toledo, Ohio).
The Pope John Paul II Cultural Center welcomes pilgrimage groups to visit the center and venerate this statue of Our Lady of America. The Statue rests on the very location where His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI sat on his throne and greeted the faithful during his recent visit.

Dr. Dempsey and the staff commented about the majestic beauty of this statue and warmly welcomed her into the center. Our Lady of America graces the rotunda entrance of the center, welcoming Her children who visit this venue which honors Her favored son, Pope Paul II.

We now expect many groups of pilgrims to travel for a visit at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center where they can view the statue and honor Our Lady of America.

As always, Pilgrims are also welcome to visit the actual site of the apparitions and the attending messages in Rome City, Indiana. Tours are available every Friday at 4 pm before the Friday Night Rosary or by calling 260-854-3525 to schedule an alternate time during the week.

When and if Bishop Leonard Blair initiates a proposal with the United States Catholic Bishops for the solemn procession and permanent installation in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, we expect the request of Our Lady to be satisfied quickly.

Our Lady of America, pray for us.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More Photos

The following series of photos were taken from in front of Sylvan Springs. A group of visitors had just completed their rosary when the clouds rolled away from the sun and it began to spin and "pulse" dramatically.

In the first photo, you can see two distinct lights as they circled about the sun.

In the second photo, one very distinct image has formed and it grows much larger in the third photo before coming to a full stop just beneath the sun. It remained there for a few minutes and disappeared.

It suddenly reappeared in front of the Our Lady Mother of Mercy Chapel as you can see in the fourth photo.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Moral Duties of Voters by Fr. Stephen Torraco

What about voting for a pro-abortion person for something like state treasurer, in which case the candidate would have no say on matters of life in the capacity of her duties, it just happens to be her personal position. This would not be a sin, right?

If someone were running for state treasurer and that candidate made it a point to state publicly that he was in favor of exterminating people over the age of 70, would you vote for him? The fact that the candidate has that evil in his mind tells you that there are easily other evils in his mind; and the fact that he would publicly state it is a danger signal.

If personal character matters in a political candidate, and personal character involves the kind of thoughts a person harbors, then such a candidate who publicly states that he is in favor of the evil of exterminating people over the age of 70 - or children who are unborn - has also disqualified himself from receiving a Catholic’s vote.

I would go further and say that such a candidate, in principle - in the light of the natural law - disqualifies himself from public office.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Can You Name The Author?

God and the Soldier, we adore,
In time of danger, not before.
The danger passed and all things righted,
God is forgotten and the Soldier slighted.

Hint: One of his characters inspired a song called "Bear Necessities".

Q & A On Voting Catholic with Fr. Torraco

Is not the Church’s stand that abortion must be illegal a bit of an exception? Does not the Church generally hold that government should restrict its legislation of morality significantly?

The Church’s teaching that abortion should be illegal is not an exception. St. Thomas Aquinas put it this way: “Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like.”

Abortion qualifies as a grievous vice that hurts others, and the lack of prohibition of this evil by society is something by which human society cannot be maintained. As Pope John Paul II has emphasized, the denial of the right to life, in principle, sets the stage, in principle, for the denial of all other rights.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Voting Catholic

What if all the candidates from whom I have to choose are pro-abortion? Do I have to abstain from voting at all? What do I do?

Obviously, one of these candidates is going to win the election. Thus, in this dilemma, you should do your best to judge which candidate would do the least moral harm. However, as previously explained, you should not place a candidate who is pro-capital punishment (and anti-abortion) in the same moral category as a candidate who is pro-abortion.

Faced with such a set of candidates, there would be no moral dilemma, and the clear moral obligation would be to vote for the candidate who is pro-capital punishment, not necessarily because he is pro-capital punishment, but because he is anti-abortion.

Some Of Our Most Requested Photos

We are still in need of your help to restore the Our Lady Mother of Mercy Chapel to the way it appeared in 1956 when Our Lady of America made Her first appearances to Sr. Mildred.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

From Mark Mallett's Blog

This one speaks to Anon and anyone else still confused. It echoes many of the things we speak about with visitors to Sylvan Springs and have written on this site before. Thanks to Janice for sending this piece.


The rock of our strength is Christ. But Jesus, knowing our human limitations and capacities for rebellion, left us a visible sign and safeguard in order to preserve us from error and lead us to Himself. That rock is Peter upon whom He builds His Church (see My Sheep Will Know My Voice in the Storm).

Thus, there are two ways in which the Good Shepherd speaks to us: one is through those whom He left as guardians over His Church, the Apostles and their successors. So that we, the sheep, would have confidence that Jesus can guide us infallibly through mere mortals, He said to His twelve Apostles:

Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. (Luke 10:16)


An angel spoke to the prophet Daniel saying,

Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase. (Daniel 12:4)

Could Daniel have possibly foreseen the unbelievable explosion of knowledge through astounding scientific developments and other research, and the practically infinite amount of information now available through the Internet?

There is no excuse today for those who do not really want the Truth; and there is abundant material waiting for those who are sincerely seeking the Truth.

If someone wants to know what the Catholic Church really teaches, they can visit websites such as or Here, they’ll find some of the most clear and logical answers to every objection ever raised against Catholicism, based not on opinion, but on what has been taught for two millennium, beginning with the Apostles and their immediate successors, and continuing uninterrupted until our present day.

The Vatican’s website,, also makes available the Archive of the teachings of the Holy Father and other apostolic statements.

There are some who have "upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind" (Acts 15:24). Those who wish to inject their opinion today without any desire to learn the facts, place themselves under the judgment of the Apostles.

There are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed! (Gal 1:6-10)

Healthy debate is one thing; obstinance is another. Many Protestants have been raised with a strong anti-Catholic bias based on distorted interpretations of Scripture, and fueled by some fundamentalist pastors and TV preachers. We must be charitable and patient. But there comes a point when we need to answer, as Christ did to Pilate’s question, "What is truth?" …with silence.

Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes. (1 Tim 6:3-4)

Do not doubt the Faith that has been tried and tested and testified to by the blood of the martyrs for two thousand years. You cannot receive the Kingdom unless you become like a little child. You cannot hear the voice of the King unless you humble yourself.

Unless you listen.


The second way the Good Shepherd speaks to us is in the stillness and silence of our hearts through prayer.

There is a reason Heaven is calling us to pray. It is in prayer that we learn to hear and know the voice of the Shepherd guiding our personal lives according to His will. Hearing God’s voice is not something reserved for the mystics. Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice," that is, not just a few, but all His sheep. But they know His voice because they learn to listen.

I have said it before and I will say it again: IT IS TIME TO TURN THE TV OFF and begin to spend time alone with the Holy Trinity. If we listen only to the voice of the world, to the voice of our flesh, to the voice of the seducing serpent, then we can not only fail to pick God’s voice out of the noise, but even mistake His voice for another. Hence, fasting is an indispensable companion to prayer in quieting the voice of the flesh as well as expelling the demon from our midst (Mark 9:28-29).

We come to know His voice in solitude. We need to spend time alone with God frequently, daily. Do not see this as a burden, but as an incredible adventure into the heart of God. To know His voice is to begin to know Him:

Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.(John 17:3)

It will be too late for some to distinguish the voice of God if they think they can wait until the Storm arrives at their doorstep. There is a reason our Blessed Mother is telling us to pray: there are voices coming and already here which are pretending to be her Son’s—wolves in sheep’s clothing. If even the elect can be deceived, it is because they will have ceased listening to the voice of the Shepherd deep within (see The Smoldering Candle).

Prayer opens our hearts and minds to the graces we need in order to love and serve God (CCC 2010). It draws grace into the soul the way a branch draws sap from the vine. My friends, prayer is what helps to fill your lamps with oil so that you will be prepared to meet the Bridegroom at any moment (Matt 25:1-13).


There is coming upon the world a deluge of deception. It is already here. This too lies within the plans of Divine Providence: it is an instrument of purification (2 Thess 2:11). But we are being warned now so that we will climb high upon the Rock where the waves of deception cannot reach us, through obedience to the Magisterium and through prayer. It is this tsunami which I feel compelled to address in my next writing(s).
Pray, fast, go to Mass. Go frequently to Confession, pray the Rosary. Stay awake, love, watch, and pray.

It is time to look out the windows of the Bastion and see the approaching army.

I will gather you, O Jacob, each and every one, I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in the midst of its corral; they shall not be thrown into panic by men. With a leader to break the path they shall burst open the gate and go out through it; Their king shall go through before them, and the LORD at their head. (Micah 2:12-13)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name....

Call them what you will, but these photos were all taken at various times over the past few years by different people with different cameras. The only thing that was the same in each instance was that they had all just completed a Friday Night Rosary and the sun was spinning when they snapped the shots.


Friday, May 16, 2008

More Voting Catechism

What if one leading candidate is anti-abortion except in the cases of rape or incest, another leading candidate is completely pro-abortion, and a trailing candidate, not likely to win, is completely anti-abortion. Would I be obliged to vote for the candidate not likely to win?

In such a case, the Catholic voter may clearly choose to vote for the candidate not likely to win. In addition, the Catholic voter may assess that voting for that candidate might only benefit the completely pro-abortion candidate, and, precisely for the purpose of curtailing the evil of abortion, decide to vote for the leading candidate that is anti-abortion but not perfectly so. This decision would be in keeping with the words of the Pope quoted earlier.

Voting Catholic Q & A

What if none of the candidates are completely pro-life?

As Pope John Paul II explains in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), “…when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.” Logically, it follows from these words of the Pope that a voter may likewise vote for that candidate who will most likely limit the evils of abortion or any other moral evil at issue.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

And...More Q & A with Fr. Torraco

If a candidate says that he is personally opposed to abortion but feels the need to vote for it under the circumstances, doesn’t this candidate’s personal opposition to abortion make it morally permissible for me to vote for him, especially if I think that his other views are the best for people, especially the poor?

A candidate for office who says that he is personally opposed to abortion but actually votes in favor of it is either fooling himself or trying to fool you.

Outside of the rare case in which a hostage is forced against his will to perform evil actions with his captors, a person who carries out an evil action such as voting for abortion performs an immoral act, and his statement of personal opposition to the moral evil of abortion is either self-delusion or a lie.

If you vote for such a candidate, you would be an accomplice in advancing the moral evil of abortion. Therefore, it is not morally permissible to vote for such a candidate for office, even, as explained in previous questions, you think that the candidate’s other views are best for the poor.

More Q & A with Fr. Torraco

If I think that a candidate who is pro-abortion has better ideas to serve the poor, and the pro-life candidate has bad ideas that will hurt the poor, why may I not vote for the candidate that has the better ideas for serving the poor?

Serving the poor is not only admirable, but also obligatory for Catholics as an exercise of solidarity. Solidarity has to do with the sharing of both spiritual and material goods, and with what the Church calls the preferential option for the poor. This preference means that we have the duty to give priority to helping those most needful, both materially and spiritually.

Beginning in the family, solidarity extends to every human association, even to the international moral order. Based on the response to a previous question, two important points must be made.

First, when it comes to the matter of determining how social and economic policy can best serve the poor, there can be a legitimate variety of approaches proposed, and therefore legitimate disagreement among voters and candidates for office.

Secondly, solidarity can never be at the price of embracing a “disqualifying issue.” Besides, when it comes to the unborn, abortion is a most grievous offense against solidarity, for the unborn are surely among society’s most needful. The right to life is a paramount issue because as Pope John Paul II says it is “the first right, on which all the others are based, and which cannot be recuperated once it is lost.”

If a candidate for office refuses solidarity with the unborn, he has laid the ground for refusing solidarity with anyone.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More on Catholic Voters with Fr. Stephen F. Torraco, PhD

If I may not vote for a pro-abortion candidate, then should it not also be true that I can’t vote for a pro-capital punishment candidate?

It is not correct to think of abortion and capital punishment as the very same kind of moral issue. On the one hand, direct abortion is an intrinsic evil, and cannot be justified for any purpose or in any circumstances. On the other hand, the Church has always taught that it is the right and responsibility of the legitimate temporal authority to defend and preserve the common good, and more specifically to defend citizens against the aggressor. This defense against the aggressor may resort to the death penalty if no other means of defense is sufficient.

The point here is that the death penalty is understood as an act of self-defense on the part of civil society. In more recent times, in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II has taught that the need for such self-defense to resort to the death penalty is “rare, if not virtually nonexistent.”

Thus, while the Pope is saying that the burden of proving the need for the death penalty in specific cases should rest on the shoulders of the legitimate temporal authority, it remains true that the legitimate temporal authority alone has the authority to determine if and when a “rare” case arises that warrants the death penalty.

Moreover, if such a rare case does arise and requires resorting to capital punishment, this societal act of self-defense would be a *morally good action* even if it does have the unintended and unavoidable evil effect of the death of the aggressor.

Thus, unlike the case of abortion, it would be morally irresponsible to rule out all such “rare” possibilities a priori, just as it would be morally irresponsible to apply the death penalty indiscriminately.

Strange Image In The Grotto

This photo was taken inside the grotto that lies at the base of Holy Family Hill. No flash was used and no light is inside the stone structure. What is it and how did it appear like this with no light source?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Free Will...Our Weakest Link

Besides Our Lord's gift of Himself on the cross, the greatest gift man has been given is his free will. God loves us enough to let us decide for ourselves. He wants us to decide to choose Him...but He won't make us do it. He wants us to choose freely.

We have all been given the sacraments to help keep us from becoming weak in our state of freedom. Unfortunately, too many of us have abandoned the sacraments altogether. That is why New York has to "leave the lights on" for confessions in an attempt to bring people back to this particular sacrament. Now, what will they suggest to bring people back to the pews on Sunday? Has anyone else noticed a drop in attendance...what happened to the weeks immediately following 9/11/01? Are some of us feeling bullet-proof again?

In my own experience and from Her own messages at Medjugorje a few years later, I think Our Lady has been calling attention to the fact that we are weak in our freedom because we have, as a majority, abandoned the training regimen which was given to us to keep us strong in our freedom. I hate to say it, but we have, collectively, abandoned these sacraments, our armor, which was tailor made to fit each of us perfectly and protect us from evil and keep us
strong in our freedom...the freedom to willfully choose God.

If you have not done so already, take some time to read the messages of Our Lady of America or at least watch the short video presentation OLA on this blog. You will see that all of the messages from Medjugorje are rooted in OLA which is, in turn, rooted in Fatima and Lourdes.

Our Lady hasn't given up on us, so please don't give up on Her request. Be a positive influence for friends and family...invite them to go to confession with you. I can assure you, once you get them there, they will be happy you cared enough to ask them. They will know you love them....just as She loves us all...all of Her children.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Have a Blessed Mother's Day

From the REAL "Official" Site of Our Lady of America

Please help us to restore the beautiful Our Lady Mother of Mercy Chapel to the way it was in 1956 when Our Lady of America made the first of Her appearances to Sr. Millie. All donations are tax deductible.

Please use the donation link on the right or send your check to:

Our Lady The Immaculate Virgin
P.O. Box 996
Lake Zurich, IL 60047

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Catechism for Catholic Voters by Fr. Stephen F. Torraco, PhD, PART II

Isn’t conscience the same as my own opinions and feelings? And doesn’t everyone have the right to his or her own conscience?

Conscience is NOT the same as your opinions or feelings. Conscience cannot be identical with your feelings because conscience is the activity of your intellect in judging the rightness or wrongness of your actions or omissions, past, present, or future, while your feelings come from another part of your soul and should be governed by your intellect and will.

Conscience is not identical with your opinions because your intellect bases its judgment upon the natural moral law, which is inherent in your human nature and is identical with the Ten Commandments.

Unlike the civil laws made by legislators, or the opinions that you hold, the natural moral law is not anything that you invent, but rather discover within yourself and is the governing norm of your conscience. In short, Conscience is the voice of truth within you, and your opinions need to be in harmony with that truth.

As a Catholic, you have the benefit of the Church’s teaching authority or Magisterium endowed upon her by Christ. The Magisterium assists you and all people of good will in understanding the natural moral law as it relates to specific issues.

As a Catholic, you have the obligation to be correctly informed and normed by the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium. As for your feelings, they need to be educated by virtue so as to be in harmony with conscience’s voice of truth. In this way, you will have a sound conscience, according to which we you will feel guilty when you are guilty, and feel morally upright when you are morally upright.

We should strive to avoid the two opposite extremes of a lax conscience and a scrupulous conscience. Meeting the obligation of continually attending to this formation of conscience will increase the likelihood that, in the actual operation or activity of conscience, you will act with a certain conscience, which clearly perceives that a given concrete action is a good action that was rightly done or should be done.

Being correctly informed and certain in the actual operation of conscience is the goal of the continuing formation of conscience. Otherwise put, you should strive to avoid being incorrectly informed and doubtful in the actual judgment of conscience about a particular action or omission.

You should never act on a doubtful conscience.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Lady In The Sun

This photo was submitted by one of our readers. She had just finished praying a rosary with her family atop Holy Family Hill when she said she just saw this image drop out from the sun. Lucky she had her camera!

Compare it to another photo sent to us in 2007 after another family had finished their rosary on Holy Family Hill.

Or, how about this one from 2001 when the image came down into the field next to the hill while a family was praying?

Bring Me My Children. Bring Me ALL Of My Children!

To The Scrupulous

While working on a new post this morning, I received a message from one of this blogs avid readers that said everything I wanted to say. So, taking a page from Fr. Hoevel's old book, I give you this to consider from Mark Mallett's blog. Thanks to Janice for sending this.

A word of encouragement to those struggling with scrupulosity: frequent Confession should not be thought of as the need to be perfect at each moment. Can you really be perfect? You will not be perfect until you are in Heaven, and only God can make you thus. Rather, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is given in order to heal the wounds of sin and help you grow in perfection. You are loved, even when you sin! But because He loves you, He wants to help you conquer and destroy the power of sin in your life.

Do not let your imperfection be a cause of discouragement. Rather, it is an opportunity to become smaller and smaller, more and more like a child dependent upon God: "blessed are the poor." Scripture says He exalts not the perfect, but the humble. Furthermore, these venial sins which you battle with do not separate you from Christ.

Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1863

Have confidence then in His love, and inner joy and peace will be yours without having to run to the confessional everytime you commit a venial sin (see n. 1458 in the Catechism.) He is injured more by your lack of trust in His mercy than by your weakness. It is through this acceptance of both your frailty and His mercy which produces a testimony. And it is by the word of your testimony that Satan is conquered (see Rev 12:11).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Guidelines For A True Catholic Voter by Fr. Stephen F. Torraco, PhD

If I think that a pro-abortion candidate will, on balance, do much more for the culture of life than a pro-life candidate, why may I not vote for the pro-abortion candidate?

If a political candidate supported abortion, or any other moral evil, such as assisted suicide and euthanasia, for that matter, it would not be morally permissible for you to vote for that person. This is because, in voting for such a person, you would become an accomplice in the moral evil at issue. For this reason, moral evils such as abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are examples of a “disqualifying issue.”

A disqualifying issue is one which is of such gravity and importance that it allows for no political maneuvering. It is an issue that strikes at the heart of the human person and is non-negotiable. A disqualifying issue is one of such enormity that by itself renders a candidate for office unacceptable regardless of his position on other matters. You must sacrifice your feelings on other issues because you know that you cannot participate in any way in an approval of a violent and evil violation of basic human rights.

A candidate for office who supports abortion rights or any other moral evil has disqualified himself as a person that you can vote for. You do not have to vote for a person because he is pro-life. But you may not vote for any candidate who supports abortion rights.

Key to understanding the point above about “disqualifying issues” is the distinction between policy and moral principle. On the one hand, there can be a legitimate variety of approaches to accomplishing a morally acceptable goal. For example, in a society’s effort to distribute the goods of health care to its citizens, there can be legitimate disagreement among citizens and political candidates alike as to whether this or that health care plan would most effectively accomplish society’s goal.

In the pursuit of the best possible policy or strategy, technical as distinct (although not separate) from moral reason is operative. Technical reason is the kind of reasoning involved in arriving at the most efficient or effective result. On the other hand, no policy or strategy that is opposed to the moral principles of the natural law is morally acceptable.

Thus, technical reason should always be subordinate to and normed by moral reason, the kind of reasoning that is the activity of conscience and that is based on the natural moral law.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sewing God's Garden

In the midst of this most trying week, I took time out to plant a vegetable garden in my back yard. While I was working away, my thoughts took me back to when I was growing up and it seemed I was reliving part of the lessons learned from watching and helping my father plant our family gardens from many years ago.

He always said that there may come a day when only those people who are able to provide for themselves by growing their food will not suffer. All of the rest, we will have to try to help as best we can.

That got me to thinking, sometime around my third row of onions, that the same holds true for what I call "God's second greatest gift to man", the first being Jesus Himself, and that is our free will.

I believe Our Lady holds this same view because every time, in my own discernment, She has placed a task before me She has always said "please do this". She has not once just told me to do anything. She has always said "please".

This tells me that She places a great deal of respect to the fact that we all have free will. She knows that it is only through the exercise of our own free will that God's plans have any real chance of being carried out and enduring. I think it was John 15:16-17 where Jesus says that we should go forth and bear fruit but that our fruit must endure. It is only if we honestly and willingly act upon what we feel is God's plan that it has any hope of enduring. We have to commit to what we give back to God, or do at the behest of Our Lady, if it is to take root and endure.

Free will is the seed of faith God places in each of us at the moment of conception. If we learn to give this seed of faith back to God in our daily lives, much like a child willingly offers you a bite of their cookie, it endures and we, in turn, become part of God's light of hope in this world. It then becomes our duty and privilege to assist those around us. Through the good example of our daily lives, we show those, who do not yet know the true value of their free will, The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

Please don't look for others to sew your seeds for you. They just won't grow and endure if you don't do it yourself. Make God's will your own and really learn what it means when we pray:

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

Monday, May 5, 2008

In Case Anybody Was Still Confused On The Right to Life Issue

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that human life must be protected "from the moment of conception" and that abortion "is gravely contrary to the moral law." In his 1995 letter Evangelium Vitae, the "Gospel of Life," Pope John Paul II wrote that abortion and euthanasia cannot be justified under any circumstance:

"Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. ... .In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it."

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Obama's "Catholic" Advisors are Fraudulent Impostors

This is from The Catholic League website

When Sen. Barack Obama recently announced the formation of his Catholic National Advisory Council, he said he was “deeply honored to have the support and counsel of these committed Catholic leaders, scholars and advocates.”

Commenting on this group is Catholic League president Bill Donohue:

“The best advice I can give Sen. Obama about his Catholic National Advisory Council is to dissolve it immediately. Of the 26 Catholic former or current public office holders he has listed as either National Co-Chairs (5), or as members of the National Leadership Committee (21), there is not one who agrees with the Catholic Church on all three major public policy issues: abortion, embryonic stem cell research and school vouchers.

“Indeed, on the issue of abortion, their record is disgraceful. Consider the scorecard as issued by the most radical pro-abortion organization in the nation—NARAL. Of the two National Co-Chairs who have a NARAL tally, one agrees with the extremist group 65 percent of the time and the other agrees 100 percent of the time. Of the 20 National Leadership Committee members with a NARAL score, 17 have earned a 100 percent rating. Of those who have less than a perfect score, not one is in favor of school vouchers.

Practicing Catholics have every right to be insulted by Obama’s advisory group. What is the purpose of having an advisory group about matters Catholic when most of its members reject the Catholic position? If Obama wanted input from gay leaders, would he choose those who don’t reflect the sentiments of the gay community? In short, to choose Catholic dissidents to advise him about Catholic concerns is mind-boggling.

“If these are the best ‘committed Catholic leaders, scholars and advocates’ Obama can find, then it is evident that he has a ‘Wright’ problem when it comes to picking Catholic advisors.”

Friday, May 2, 2008

May 1 OLA Newsletter

Image of Our Lady as She has appeared over Holy Family Hill in Rome City, IN

"Who is She who comes forth like the morning rising,
fair as the Moon, bright as the Sun,
terrible as an army set in battle array?"
[Song of Solomon 6:10]

This feast day of St. Joseph the Worker was established in 1955 by Pope Pius XII to counter the Communist view of labor and its relationship to the State. The Communist view of the worker held them as a means of production, a part of society; but not as individuals. The value seen by the Communists was that the worker was good because of the production that they would perform. In this paradigm the work was the focus and source of dignity; not the God given dignity of the worker. Pope Pius wanted to counter this degradation of the human person by bringing attention to the fact that it is the person who has the inherent dignity and that work is one of the fruits of that dignity, not the other way around. In highlighting the foster Father of Jesus as a worker who taught his Divine Son a trade, the Pope illustrates to us that the dignity of labor is derived from the person whom is formed in the image and likeness of God.

As it was in the Holy Family, it is the father who is charged with providing for and protecting the spouse and children. When impurity enters this holy relationship (as we see all to frequently today) then this very special and necessary role breaks down leaving the family and society to suffer. Our Lady of America's call to purity has a direct relationship to the success of the family, the father and society.

St. Joseph, when he spoke to Sr. Mary Ephrem had this to say:

March 11, 1958: St. Joseph:

“I bring to souls the purity of my life and the obedience that crowned it.

“All fatherhood is blest in me whom the Eternal Father chose as His representative on earth, the Virgin-Father of His own Divine Son. Through me the Heavenly Father has blessed all fatherhood, and through me He continues and will continue to do so till the end of time.

“My spiritual fatherhood extends to all God's children, and together with my Virgin Spouse I watch over them with great love and solicitude.

“Fathers must come to me, small one, to learn obedience to authority: to the Church always, as the mouthpiece of God, to the laws of the country in which they live, insofar as these do not go against God and their neighbor.

“Mine was perfect obedience to the Divine Will, as it was shown and made known to me by the Jewish law and religion. To be careless in this is most displeasing to God and will be severely punished in the next world.

"Let fathers also imitate my great purity of life and the deep respect I held for my Immaculate Spouse. Let them be an example to their children and fellowmen, never willfully doing anything that would cause scandal among God's people.

“Fatherhood is from God, and it must take once again its rightful place among men."

As St. Joseph ceased speaking I saw his most pure heart. It seemed to be lying on a cross which was of brown color. It appeared to me that at the top of the heart, in the midst of the flames pouring out, was a pure white lily. Then I heard these words:

"Behold this pure heart so pleasing to Him Who made it."

St. Joseph then continued: "The cross, my little one, upon which my heart rests is the cross of the passion, which was ever present before me, causing me intense suffering.

"I desire souls to come to my heart that they may learn true union with the Divine Will.

“It is enough, my child; I will come again tomorrow. Then I will make known to you how God wishes me to be honored in union with Jesus and Mary to obtain peace among men and nations. Good night, my little one."

On the evening of the next day, March 19, 1958, St. Joseph again appeared to me (Sr. Mary Ephrem) as he had promised and addressed me in these words:

"My child, I desire a day to be set aside to honor my fatherhood.

"The privilege of being chosen by God to be the Virgin-Father of His Son was mine alone, and no honor, excluding that bestowed upon my Holy Spouse, was ever, or will ever, be as sublime or as high as this.

'The Holy Trinity desires thus to honor me that in my unique fatherhood all fatherhood might be blessed.

"Dear child, I was king in the little home of Nazareth, for I sheltered within it the Prince of Peace and the Queen of Heaven. To me they looked for protection and sustenance, and I did not fail them.

“I received from them the deepest love and reverence, for in me they saw Him Whose place I took over them.

"So the head of the family must be loved, obeyed, and respected, and in return be a true father and protector to those under his care.

“In honoring in a special way my fatherhood, you also honor Jesus and Mary. The Divine Trinity has placed into our keeping the peace of the world.

“The imitation of the Holy Family, my child, of the virtues we practiced in our little home at Nazareth is the way for all souls to that peace which comes from God alone and which none other can give"

In my own personal journey as a spouse, father and entrepreneur, I look to St. Joseph for guidance and intercession. He has been most powerful in my life and has been a tremendous aid in making personal and business decisions. I can attest that his intercession and the signal graces received through him have never led me down the wrong path. Have the paths been easy? No. Have they been fruitful? Yes. In the end they have delivered me and my family into safety and peace.

I urge that any father or worker that is struggling with your vocation seek the intercession, guidance and counsel of St. Joseph!

-Al Langsenkamp

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Catholic Dissenters Should Call the Episcopalians

By Hugh McNichol

Rudy Giuliani, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and a host of other high profile politicians, actors, and social advocates need to clearly understand that the practice of Catholicism is a committed lifestyle of faithful and loving adherence to the Church’s regulations and teachings.

It is indeed the right time for that message to be reiterated to all of our priests, clergy and religious who proclaim in error that the Church’s moral and social declarations on the dignity of human life and the sanctity of marriage are merely subject to personal interpretation. Not so. This viewpoint represents a completely wrong understanding of the mission and message of the Catholic Church’s teaching.

The practice of Catholicism is a lifestyle to which we are called through the grace of the Sacraments of Initiation, and one, which we strive to perfect throughout our temporal lives. While the human person is flawed and fallible the Church in and through her ministry and Sacraments provide all Catholics subsistence and nourishment that assists us on our spiritual journey in life. At the same time, Catholicism is not a cafeteria religion, where you pick-up and choose which part of the theological and sacramental and moral teachings you feel are best for you and your family. I have heard it said many times…”The Cafeteria is Closed!” This message should clearly indicated to all of the Catholics out there that are infused with secular humanism & modernism that these beliefs are incompatible with a true understanding of the moral, ethical and social teachings of the Catholic Church.

The secular press reported the concern both Cardinal Egan and Archbishop Wuerl had about the reception of Holy Communion during the Pope’s visit by politicians that were improperly disposed to receive the Sacrament. The USCCB jumped into the discussion and released a statement about the proper reception of Eucharist and of course, the whole discussion goes on in ad circulum argument.

Let us cut to the chase here.

When it comes to membership in the Church, either you accept the entire deposit of Catholic faith, or you do not. If you do not, simply put -- you are not Catholic. If you have, dissenting views about birth control, abortion, the dignity of human life and so on…take it to another religion that supports your opinions of discord and dissent.

Moreover, if you don’t believe in the sanctity of marriage, the permanence of character sacraments, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the infallibility of the Pope, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the duality of Jesus’ nature, both human and divine, the Communion of Saints, our belief in resurrection from the dead, and all of the other points defined by the creed of Nicaea…you’re not Catholic either.

Our faith is founded upon beliefs that are immutable and not part of the art of compromise. While I am at it….if you are in favor of a female clergy, join the Anglicans. If you want “gay rights”, lesbian rights, transgendered rights or just the right to dissent openly…join the Democrats. If you want to have a representative vote in any issue that the Church addresses…understand, our Church is not a working democracy.

When considering membership in our divinely instituted and absolute monarchial Church, also realize our message and purpose is to bring the teachings of Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the Apostles to a world of fragile peace and broken promises. We are a faithful community that is trying to make the world a holier place through our evangelical message and sacramental ministry. We are flawed as well.

The Catholic Church collectively has made its share of mistakes over the centuries, and we have admitted and recognized these errors. However, we stand for the development and stability of the natural family unit, advocated freedom of conscience and the fulfillment of human rights for all of our members. Throughout the world the Church, as an institution, provides medical care, food, shelter and other necessary resources for human comfort and sustenance. Additionally, the Church provides spiritual counseling and Eucharistic nourishment to over a billion people that need spiritual nourishment.

We advocate the causes of the poor and underprivileged. Through the diplomatic efforts of the Catholic Church, we are proponents of human rights and freedoms for all humankind in every part of the globe. We have no army, no navy or any other military instruments that are poised to harm the world and destroy the people of the world, and our message is one to bring about world peace and harmony.

If in fact, you want to belong to the Catholic organization and do not want to fully adhere to our beliefs and principles…then please pray some more about the lifestyle commitment the Catholic Church represents. Honestly, we are not looking for perfect members, just members that are willing to work towards human perfection as part of the ongoing process of living a Catholic life. If the pursuit of perfection in a spiritual manner is not something you seek, call the Episcopalians, they have space for dissent based upon secular humanism.