So, here’s the thing…I’m a doubting Thomas… and I question everything. If I read an article in the newspaper that sites a particular study, the first thing I do is rip the study apart in my head: how was it conducted, who paid for it, etc. And, of course, if they give a few details about how it was constructed and conducted, there are always more questions to ask.
I’ve enjoyed lively political and religious debates with friends and family members. Some of my dearest loved ones and I are not on the same page, but that doesn’t matter… we would still go to the wall for each other.
CONVERSATION SPURS QUESTIONS
So it’s November 1998, and I’m having lunch in the Terrace Club at Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) with two guys from one of the top research firms in the United States – one is a devout Jew; the other is a devout Catholic. (The Jewish member of our trio is someone who I still consider a friend, and it was so fun to talk to him last year when he surprised me with a phone call as the Indians were marching toward the World Series.)
The devout Catholic was a recent grad of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, located in Ohio. I was meeting him for the first time, and, although I only knew him briefly, he made quite the impression. I was born and raised an Italian Catholic a half hour up the river from where he went to college, but to call me “devout”would have been a stretch. Maybe the waters of the mighty Ohio run more pure further south. 😀
At any rate, I tried to make polite conversation with my new business acquaintance. Since I knew a little bit about his alma mater I made a flip remark – a question actually. (Why it came out of my mouth, I still don’t understand to this day.) I said, “So do you think The Blessed Mother really appeared in Medjugorje?”
Now, Medjugorje is a town in the former Yugoslavia that I had heard about from my mother (she being of the devout Catholic variety). I didn’t pay much attention to her details, but for some reason I remembered that it was a place where the priests were Franciscans. I guess I figured that having attended a college run by the same order, he could shed some light on the apparitions for me to pass along to my mother.
His response forever changed my life. He said to me, “She still is!”
Thankfully the Internet had come a long by then, and I began researching the subject. If you’re curious as well, then I recommend that you read the book written by one of the visionaries called: My Heart Will Triumph.
The events in Medjugorje have not been sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church, but you can’t learn about them without being lead back to Fatima, Portugal 1917, and the supernatural events there that have been approved (and are being honored this 100th Anniversary year). The information you dig up can take you somewhere between two extremes – supporting the belief that those events were nothing more than a centennial vintage of fake news, or reinforce religious fanaticism and the apocalypse.
For me, those Internet searches from 1998 lead to book reading over the course of the next 15 years that culminated in a conclusion for me: I don’t think those three little kids in Fatima, ages 7, 8 and 10, who were shepherding their sheep when they experienced the first of several supernatural encounters, were faking it.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FATIMA
With Portugal under Marxist rule at that particular point in time, and the Lisbon newspaper carrying the story as it did, and all the subsequent accounts that have been written to credit or discredit these kids, I still keep coming back to the same question: if they were lying, then why wouldn’t they have eventually come clean and gotten themselves off the hook? Instead, they ended up going through hell in hopes of keeping as many of us out of there as possible.
Damn, I hate reading that last sentence back to myself. I feel like it makes me sound like a lunatic. But, here’s the thing. The story of Fatima put me on a path that lead me to a far happier life than the world of high profile pro sports ever offered (and that was a pretty cool life). We are all inundated with so much busyness and so much noise in our daily lives that it’s no wonder we forget that we are spiritual beings with the need to feed that part of ourselves just as much as we do our body and our bank account. If you can relate to THAT last sentence and are feeling a bit depleted, then pick up a copy of my novel and begin your own journey toward a more beautiful life.