Images of Jesus are regularly seen on parking garage walls and spaghetti billboards. Visions of Mary used bring thousands of believers to suburban meadows near Atlanta. One devout Catholic woman struck a goldmine charging five dollars per person to view an image of Mary in some frozen food she found in her freezer. And Popes Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II have all voiced their acceptance of the Marian visitations to three children in Fatima, Portugal, 90 years ago.
And now, the Vatican News Service, a Rome television station specializing in news about the Vatican, is showing non-stop a photo of a flame supposedly in the shape of Pope John Paul II.
In a flame? What's a beloved, dead pope's spirit doing in a flame, a Christian symbol of Hell?
The Polish man who took the photograph, Gregorz Lukasik, told the press, "It was only afterwards when I got home and looked at the pictures that I realized I had something."
Director of the news service and close friend of the deceased pope, Polish priest Jarek Cielecki, went to Poland from Italy (on a Vatican expense account, I bet) to see the photograph for himself. "You can see the image of a person in the flames and I think it is the servant of God, Pope John Paul II," he said.
Religious websites across the world have crashed because of the increased traffic by devout and/or gullible believers wanting to see this photo.
Why, in our 21st-century scientific and technological world, are so many people so eager to believe something so ridiculous? What does that say about humanity? Do we constantly need supernatural reassurance that there is life beyond this one? Do Jesus, Mary, and the Pope need to make regular interdimensional stops to keep us on the Path, or to keep the Sheep in the Fold?
The schedule is unpredictable, but it's still a form of brand marketing. Every once in a while, it seems, the Catholics need a good "manifestation" to keep people believing.
How long has it been going on? How long have people who want to believe in Things Beyond been seeing their favorite Biblical or religious character in random oil blobs, frozen drippings, and flames? And why?
To me, this Christian phenomena calls into question all visions and supernatural sightings, including the one that started the whole thing. Did people really see a risen, living Jesus Christ two days after he was crucified? Or did someone imagine they saw him, and then the madness swept the countryside, and then the world for the past 2,000 years, all based on one person's "belief" that they saw something in a flame, a Pizza Hut billboard, or, in the early morning fog at that tomb outside Jerusalem? What better way to capitalize on people's need for something cosmic in their lives, than to repeatedly create manifestations where there are none, and then, if you'll pardon the pun, fan the flames?
Religious Visions | Catholic Church | Pope John Paul II | Sightings | Flames | Burning Taper | BurningTaper.com