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EPISODE #282
EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT: MIRACLES THROUGH FORGIVENESS

On today’s podcast, Deacon Steve Greco is joined in the studio by his wife, Mary Anne. The primary topic of discussion is of utmost importance: FORGIVENESS. Not long ago, Deacon Steve was inspired to write a book that he titled, “Miracles Through Forgiveness.” Listen in for some powerful reflections and stories that will surely inspire!

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 8/22/21

WITH MIRACLE CONFIRMED IN SHEEN CAUSE, PLANS FOR BEATIFICATION CAN BEGIN

PEORIA, Ill. (CNS) — With “overwhelming joy,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria announced July 6 that Pope Francis had approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

“Now that the miracle has been confirmed by Pope Francis, the Diocese of Peoria can formally begin planning for the beatification of Archbishop Sheen, which will take place in Peoria,” according to a news release issued by the Diocese of Peoria early Saturday morning.

The pope authorized the Congregation for Saints’ Causes to promulgate the decree at an audience on July 5. In addition to affirming the miracle for Archbishop Sheen, Pope Francis recognized the heroic virtues of one woman and six men, and enrolled Blessed Bartholomew of the Martyrs in the catalog of saints, which is equivalent to canonization.

The miracle concerns the healing of James Fulton Engstrom of Washington, Illinois, who was considered stillborn when he was delivered during a planned home birth Sept. 16, 2010. His parents, Bonnie and Travis Engstrom, immediately invoked the prayers of Archbishop Sheen and would encourage others to seek his intercession after the baby was taken to OSF HealthCare St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria for emergency treatment.

Just as doctors were preparing to declare that he was dead, James Fulton’s tiny heart started to beat at a normal rate for a healthy newborn. He had been without a pulse for 61 minutes.

Despite dire prognoses for his future, including that he would probably be blind and never walk, talk or be able to feed himself, the child has thrived. Now a healthy 8-year-old, he likes chicken nuggets, “Star Wars” and riding his bicycle.

“It is truly amazing how God continues to work miracles,” Bishop Jenky said in the statement released by the Diocese of Peoria. “I am so grateful that the Vatican acted so quickly after last week’s transfer of Sheen’s remains from New York to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria.”

Archbishop Sheen had been placed in a crypt below the main altar of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York after his death Dec. 9, 1979. After protracted legal proceedings, his remains were brought to Peoria June 27 at the request of his niece, Joan Sheen Cunningham, and now rest in a new marble tomb in the Peoria cathedral.

In a recent interview with The Catholic Post, Peoria’s diocesan newspaper, Bonnie Engstrom said God had allowed the miracle to happen for his honor and glory.

“I really don’t think it was given to us, for us,” she said. “I think it was given to the church, for the church.”

Although the date of beatification is not known at this time, Bishop Jenky “hopes and prays” that it will be announced soon. The statement said he continues to be hopeful that it will take place during the 100th anniversary year of Archbishop Sheen’s ordination to the priesthood.

The El Paso, Illinois, native was ordained Sept. 20, 1919, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, and would go on to teach at The Catholic University of America in Washington and lead the Society of the Propagation of the Faith. Perhaps he is best remembered for his popular television show, “Life Is Worth Living.”

He died in 1979 at age 84. His sainthood cause was officially opened in 2003. The church declared his heroic virtues and he was given the title “Venerable” in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. In general, two miracles must be accepted by the church as having occurred through the intercession of a prospective saint, one before beatification and the other before canonization.

News about the beatification and the life of Archbishop Sheen can be found at CelebrateSheen.com.

EPISODE#170
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: GUEST IS DR. PATRICK MERRILL

Each week, we bring you compelling conversation with church leaders and laity. Today, Rick welcomes a dear friend that he’s known for many years, Dr. Patrick Merrill.

As a faith-filled Catholic, Dr. Merrill reflects on his many years serving his community as a cardiologist. He also shares an amazingly touching story about his baby granddaughter that you will NOT want to miss.  

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 4/20/19

 

EUCHARISTIC MIRACLE IN POLAND

Legnica, Poland, Apr 18, 2016 / 02:59 pm (CNA/EWTN News) – A bleeding Host that “has the hallmarks of a Eucharistic miracle” was approved for veneration in Poland over the weekend.

The announcement was made by Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski of Legnica on April 17.

On Christmas Day 2013, a consecrated Host fell to the floor, the bishop said. It was picked up and placed in a container with water. Soon after, red stains appeared on the host.

Then-Bishop of Legnica, Stefan Cichy, created a commission to monitor the host. In February 2014, a small fragment was placed on a corporal and underwent testing by various research institutes.

The final medical statement by the Department of Forensic Medicine found: “In the histopathological image, the fragments were found containing the fragmented parts of the cross striated muscle. It is most similar to the heart muscle.” Tests also determined the tissue to be of human origin, and found that it bore signs of distress.

Saying that the Host “has the hallmarks of a Eucharistic miracle,” Bishop Kiernikowski explained that in January 2016 he presented the matter to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In April, in accordance with the Holy See’s recommendations, he asked parish priest Andrzej Ziombrze “to prepare a suitable place for the Relics so that the faithful could venerate it.”

 

IF MIRACLE APPROVED, BLESSED TERESA COULD BE CANONIZED SEPT. 4

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican calendar for the Year of Mercy deliberately set aside Sept. 4, 2016, as a possible date for the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, if her sainthood cause is concluded by then.

The canonization would be celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the end of a three-day pilgrimage of people who, like Blessed Teresa was, are engaged in corporal works of mercy.

“Sept. 4 is a hypothesis or plan within the calendar for the jubilee year,” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service Nov. 19.

The Italian news agency AGI reported Nov. 18 that a panel of physicians convoked by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes agreed there was no medical or natural explanation for the recovery of a Brazilian man suffering from multiple brain tumors. His healing after prayers for the intercession of Blessed Teresa was submitted as the miracle needed for her canonization.

Father Lombardi urged caution, however. “The process is still underway and official communications will be given at the appropriate time.”

Members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes still must review the physicians’ report on the healing. If the members have no further questions, Pope Francis would be asked to issue a decree recognizing the healing as a miracle worked by God through the intercession of Mother Teresa.

With the decree, the pope would survey the world’s cardinals and set a date for a consistory of cardinals who live in or could come to Rome for the occasion. They would be asked to recommend the pope canonize Blessed Teresa; if the pope agrees, he would set the date for the ceremony.

AGI had reported the likely date of the canonization would be Sept. 5 — Mother Teresa’s feast day and the anniversary of her death. However, Sept. 5 is a Monday in 2016 and Father Lombardi said the canonization would not take place on a Monday.

 

STAR OF WONDER

A symbol of hope and light, the brilliant Star of Bethlehem struck those present at Jesus’ birth as an extraordinary and puzzling sight and a sure sign of Christ the King — and Catholics today, including Vatican astronomers, are just as enraptured with the star and just as mystified as to what it really was.

There are three commonly accepted theories surrounding the mystery of the star: that it was either a physical phenomenon that occurred in the night sky, a miracle, or a literary device used by Matthew to convey a theological meaning. Because the latter two theories are indeterminable, astronomers have shouldered the responsibility for exploring and dissecting the celestial phenomena of Jesus’ time.

If the star was a physical phenomenon, it may have been a comet, a star that suddenly brightened (a nova or supernova), or a grouping of planets. Astronomers are mostly certain the Star of Bethlehem wasn’t a comet, because comets were generally considered to be omens of disaster. It couldn’t have been the North Star, either, because the North Star, a celestial mainstay, wouldn’t have been regarded as extraordinary; also, the North Star is only positioned over Bethlehem if travelers are coming from the south, and it is believed that the Magi, who were astrologers, approached from Babylon in the east.

So, then, what could it have been?

The primary question, says Father Christopher Corbally, S.J., President of the Vatican’s National Committee for Astronomy, is: when was Jesus born? Historians and theologians believe it was between 8 B.C. and 1 A.D., aligning with several celestial occurrences during those years that fit the description of a large, unusually bright light.

Jewish astrologers in Jesus’ time were adept at understanding celestial phenomena such as the movement of planets, and could anticipate conjunctions of planets and other occurrences — the Magi, for example, informed King Herod’s court of their sighting of the star. Meanwhile, Chinese astronomers diligently recorded celestial occurrences over thousands of years, including an exploding star (a supernova) in 5 B.C. that is not recorded in Western accounts.

During this nine-year period, planets gravitated toward each other, forming wandering groups that appeared brighter than ordinary stars to the naked eye. These groupings in 7 B.C. (three separate conjunctions, including Jupiter and Saturn), 6 B.C. (Jupiter and the moon), and 5 B.C. (Saturn and Mars) all align with astronomers’ theory that the Star of Bethlehem was most probably two or more planets forming a triple conjunction; that is, planets meeting up with each other three times. Also in the running is an occurrence in 3 B.C., when Jupiter passed through constellation Leo to join with Venus — as both Jupiter and the brightest star in Leo (Regulus) represent the king, and Venus represents femininity, this conjunction can be interpreted as a sign of Jesus and the Virgin Mary and surely would have excited Babylonian astrologers.

Ancient Chinese astrologers believed there was a strong link between events in the heavens and on Earth — and ancient peoples tied great symbolism to celestial bodies — but modern science facilitates a deeper understanding of the wonder of and physics behind the night sky. While astrologers in Jesus’ time understood the positioning and movements of planets and stars, including predicting when stars and planets would align, they didn’t understand the physical laws of why and how these movements occurred. Even as modern astronomers have a better grasp on these astronomical phenomena, the true identity of the Star of Bethlehem may never be positively determined.

Father Corbally encourages Catholics to study the meaning behind the famed story, and to understand that science and evolution have enabled humans to appreciate the wonder of life, putting Catholics in touch with God. Because it is unknown whether the Star of Bethlehem was a literary device of Matthew’s, the star’s identity is left for Catholics to interpret.

“Our understanding of the infancy narratives is that these are different from the rest of the Gospels – these are very much stories telling a theological point, and just how much [historical] facts are in there, we’re not sure,” says Father Corbally.

The message that Catholics can derive from the story of the Star of Bethlehem, and perhaps the motivation behind Matthew’s possible literary device, is one of light and love. No matter which theory Catholics believe explains the Star of Bethlehem, they can look for the proverbial star in their own lives, and determine what lights up their lives with love and goodness and what brings them to Jesus.

“The star of Bethlehem is a matter of your own [way of] looking at it,” says Father Corbally, but, especially at Christmastime, “Jesus is our star, Jesus is our light, Jesus is the one to whom all nations come.”