Thursday, December 19, 2013

Seeing With the Eyes of Faith

Lately, I have been seeing visions of things in the spiritual world.  Last night, I went for a drive with a very good friend and another Christian friend and I shared with them 3 visions that I had recently had.  My very good friend asked me if I knew what they mean.  I confessed at the time that I did not.

Then this morning I had a fourth vision, and though I am not certain of all the meaning I have some clues.

So, here are the visions.  The first three occurred at early morning Mass on three different occasions at St. Peter's Basilica here in London Ontario.  The fourth vision occurred this morning as I was driving to the early morning Mass there.

The first vision happened 16 days ago, on a Tuesday morning.  The celebrant of the Mass was a priest that both my wife and I know and love Father Jim Mockler, who is rector of the Basilica.

As the Consecration prayers were being said by Father Jim, I first saw very clearly Jesus on the Cross, and the Cross lying on the altar.  Then I looked again and saw the Blessed Virgin Mary standing behind Father Jim, with her hand upon his shoulder.  She was looking at Father Jim and smiling at him lovingly.

9 days later on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Father Jim was not present and a retired priest of the Diocese celebrated the Mass with us, as he does often.  Due to some confusion over the Mass readings, the Mass started 10 minutes late.  As well, the celebrant read part of the wrong Gospel, before correcting himself.  He then gave a rambling homily, probably because of the anxiety of his earlier confusion.  So, by the time he got to the Consecration, there was some impatience among the faithful in attendance.

As he prayed the Consecration prayers, I had the second vision.  When he lifted up the chalice, I saw that there was a semi circle of angels behind him all with hands and arms uplifted praising God and worshiping Him.  I noticed the smell of incense for just a moment.  And again, I saw the Blessed Virgin Mary with her hand on the priest's shoulder, and she was looking lovingly at him.

At the end of Mass, one of the attendees was expressing a great deal of angst over the delay in the Mass, and the reading error, as well as the rambling homily.  I explained what I saw, and that the Mass was no less valid if the priest made mistakes or was late.  It was still the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Frankly, I thought that was the purpose behind the visions.

But, then 2 days ago, on Tuesday morning at Mass, Father Mockler was the celebrant again, and I had the third vision.  This did not occur at the Consecration, but at the end of the Gospel reading and during the homily that followed.  In that vision, I first saw Jesus standing behind Father Jim as he spoke.  His hand was on Father Jim's shoulder and HE looked at Father Jim with love.  A few moments later, I saw that Jesus was Father Jim.  It was Father Jim speaking, but it was Jesus that I saw standing in his place.

Those were the visions that I had seen when I shared them with my friend last night.

But, this morning as I was on my way to Mass I had the fourth vision.  When I drive in my car, I often pray the Rosary.  We have Rosaries in each of our vehicles, in my desk at home and around the house, and in our winter home in Tucson.  The Rosary is a prayer that has been near and dear to my heart for a long time now, and I particularly like praying it with my wife.

As I was driving along and praying, I saw somehow that the Blessed Virgin Mary was behind me and had her hand on My shoulder, while looking at me with love as she had the priests previously.  She was pointing with her other hand towards the Basilica that was still in the distance.  Just before I saw this I felt an anointing of the Holy Spirit, which continued until after the vision was ended.  Also, when I shared this vision with the friend I had seen last night, I felt the same anointing of the Holy Spirit, as I do now as I write this.

But, to answer my friend, what does this all mean?  I do not believe it is for me to interpret these visions in their totality, but I think that I have some insights about them.

Catholic Christians believe in the motherhood of Our Blessed Virgin Mary, and that she has an integral part in the plan of Salvation.  She, herself, is the Mother of God, Jesus Christ Our Lord and Saviour.  We believe that Mary does not act on her own account, but in obedience to and in the Will of the Father, through the Blood of her Son, and in the Power of the Holy Spirit.  At all times, when she has appeared on the earth, she has always pointed to her Son.  We believe that she is our Mother, and that she wants us all to be drawn into relationship with her Son for our own personal Salvation in and through Him.

So, to see and feel in the last instance her love for her children, even me, left me desiring to draw closer to Jesus.  Her simple act of loving me pointed me to her Son, Jesus, both literally and figuratively.

In a series of locutions received by a person in Pennsylvania, locutions that have been going on for a few years, and are reviewed by the person's spiritual director, Monsignor Essef, a Catholic priest in PA, the most recent group was Mary speaking to the individual about her embrace of the world.  These visions are found here.  They are consistent with these visions I have just described.

This morning before I left for Church, I had been reading the blog of Father Gordon J. MacRae.  You may recall from other postings of mine, that Father MacRae is a priest who has been imprisoned for about 20 years on sexual abuse charges, where the events could not even logically have occurred.  Father MacRae is not embittered by his wrongful imprisonment.  Had he just made up a confession that he had done what was claimed, he would be on the street, not imprisoned.  Only a fool or an innocent man would proclaim his innocence over the possibility of not spending years and years in prison.

Readers of his blog know that Father celebrates Mass in his cell each week, but the posting also dealt with his attendance with another prisoner at Mass being said by another priest who visits the prison.  as I read his post, I became aware that what I saw in the three visions at the three Masses happens at every Mass celebrated throughout the world.

Every time a Catholic priest consecrates the bread and wine, Jesus is present crucified on the altar, regardless of where that altar is, or what it is made of, and also regardless of the faith or state of the soul of the individual priest.  When a priest consecrates the Eucharist, or speaks as a priest in a homily or in his faculty as a priest, he speaks as alter christus, which is why I saw Jesus with his hand on Father Mockler's shoulder as he spoke, but also saw Jesus in the place of Father Jim at the same time.  We are all called to be Jesus for each other, but a priest has a particular faculty to be Jesus in a way that most of us cannot, through the Consecration of the Eucharist.

 It does not matter that Father MacRae is in prison and that Father Jim Mockler is in a Cathedral Basilica.  It does not matter whether 2, 50, 100, or thousands of people are in attendance, Jesus is present there.

As well, Our Blessed Virgin Mary has a particular affinity for her sons who are priests, and that affinity is specially evident in the Mass and in the sacraments.

But, her love for her children is not just limited to ordained priests.  All baptized Christians are baptized into the royal priesthood, and as such we are all priests in our own right.  Hence, when we pray, when we commit ourselves to service of our fellow man, when we seek to be like Jesus, and to become Jesus for others, we are exercising our faculties as royal priests.

Our priests should have special places in our prayers and in our hearts.  We must not expect them to be perfect, but must lift them up to God in supportive prayer.  The devil is constantly trying to diminish their vocation, by tempting them to sin, and by tempting others to sin with and against them.

Please pray for Father Gordon MacRae and all priests who are persecuted for their vocation that the devil's plans for their spiritual demise will fail.  And also please pray for all priests who are able to lovingly exercise their vocation like Father Jim Mockler that they will never be tempted beyond their ability to withstand such temptations.

 May we also entrust all Catholic priests to the love of Our Blessed Mother Mary, and to the protection of the shed Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.