You Can Fool SOME People all the Time
By Richard Salbato
I find the following two stories very interesting
and very useful for my web site. Back in
the early 90s I received a great many emails regarding a crying Icon in a
Russian Orthodox Church in
God would not bear witness to a heresy, the heresy of the Russian Orthodox Church. I did, however, do some investigation, and found that the icon was commissioned by one of the priests and done by a
They told me of miracles of cures, cancer, blindness, etc. and Holy Myron coming from the statue. I asked if anyone had investigated these claims of cures but the only answer I got was that people were being converted to greater prayer and sacrifice and therefore it must be true.
In time I saw that I was wasting my time, because people wanted to believe and therefore any facts that I could come up with would not convince people who were experiencing what they claim to be a conversion to more prayer and faith. Of course, silently I was asking myself, “Faith in what and prayer to whom?”
Anyway back at that time the following article appeared and many others followed. It is very convincing. Read it and see if you are not convinced that this is a true miracle.
"Make straight the way of the Lord"
The weeping icon at Christ of the Hills
by Bette Stockbauer
It is easy to
think of this as sacred ground - 101 acres of
The monks and sisters do not believe that the Mother of God is weeping because she is happy. Rather, they see her tears as a sign of distress; they see her call as a call to prayer, fasting and a change of life - from a worldly way of thinking to a Divine one. Great miracles have come as a result of anointing with the tears of the icon. Cures of cancer, leukemia, blindness, mental illness, and the most precious gift of all - peace of mind - have been given to many souls. Often she seems to weep when someone comes into her presence who particularly needs her healing love.
The story of
Christ of the Hills begins with Father Benedict and a long journey from Roman Catholicism to Russian
Orthodoxy. At the age of 17 he was a Benedictine monk, dividing his time
Years later an
assignment brought him to
Also begun was
the road to Orthodoxy. A number of remarkable events were to happen along the
way. The precipitating factor was change within the Roman Church itself.
Vatican II had rocked the Church, and although it opened a door for many, it
left the monks feeling spiritually adrift. They felt a growing need to return
to the roots of Christianity and to experience the monastic life as taught by
its early fathers. The monks studied the original rule of St Benedict and
learned of a monastery in
In 1980 Fr Benedict traveled there and spent time in solitude in a cave, praying and fasting. He prayed to God: "Lord, take away from me everything that stands between me and Thee." This turned out to be a devastating prayer because God did just that. Within a few months the furniture factory incinerated in a burst of flames. No lives were lost, but their livelihood, or what they thought was their livelihood, was totally destroyed.
scattered for a while. But on Christmas day of the same year a visitor from
One thing was obvious to all of them. The destruction of the furniture factory had been God's way of teaching them to live by God alone - "like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field."
By Easter of 1981, as a further affirmation of faith and surrender, the small group of monks decided to move to the property in Blanco - penniless, with no electricity or water, and completely cut off from the world. They lived simply and close to nature, spending long hours in prayer and solitude. They began to build their community.
In 1983 they
commissioned the Icon of Our Lady of New Sarov from a
Next they began a time of self-examination to discern the message for themselves. Accompanied by prayer and fasting, the individual examination culminated in the general confession by each monk to his Spiritual Father. Their lives remained quiet for the next few years, with only an occasional visitor. But as the number of pilgrims increased, the monks realized that their monastery was turning into a shrine. More strongly even than their love of solitude did they feel the responsibility to make Christ of the Hills available to the faithful - a prayerful place where peace could be found.
Today, the pilgrims continue to arrive - day by day, from all faiths and all walks of life. Some come looking for miracles, some to pray and reflect, and others from curiosity. All are touched by the hospitality and simple lives of the monks and sisters.
Sister Magdalena gives frequent tours of the temple and anoints each visitor with the sweetly scented myrrh. An icon and book shop help support the community. In the distance, a building is being erected for novitiates entering the order. A sense of mystery and natural silence pervade the grounds.
I spoke with one of the monks, Fr Pangratios, on a sunny summer afternoon. Seven years of seeing people experience the icon has given him many insights into the miraculous.
Share International: As you reflect on the past years, what are your thoughts about the miracles and healings that you have seen?
Fr Pangratios: Before we talk about miracles, we need to talk about: "Why miracles?" This is something that people misunderstand a lot. In our society, we're used to seeing the flash. We get carried away with the wonder and unusualness of miracles, whether it's the manifestation of an icon or someone being cured of a dread disease. But that's not the real point. If someone gets cured of a disease, of course that's wonderful, but again, it's not the real point.
The reason that miracles happen is that we may believe. They are a way of getting our attention and calling us to what is really important. And as a result they are supposed to create in us a response. Once we have experienced directly the hand of God in our lives, once we have experienced a miracle in any form, we are responsible from that moment on. We cannot just blithely continue our lives the way they were before.
So a miracle may be a way of calling people's attention to the message of the spiritual life - the message of love of God and neighbor, prayer, fasting, non-judgment and repentance. This is what the spiritual life is all about. Nothing else really matters.
SI: So what you look for is the continuity of experience, the thread that runs through people's lives.
FP: Yes, that is what we try to stress to people. Some of the miracles that I've seen over the years have been very dramatic. Some of the bigger miracles have not been quite as dramatic as the world might consider them, but they have brought about complete changes in people's lives, a complete reorienting. These are the miracles I consider to be the bigger miracles.
I saw one man who was cured of a brain tumor. They had done CAT scans on him and had found the exact size and location. Fr Benedict went in to anoint him the night before surgery. When they went in to do the surgery, all they found was scar tissue. What had shown up on the CAT scan wasn't there any more. The man was grateful to God for what had happened to him but it didn't change his life. He continued the same way he was going before.
SI: And you think that after the miracle occurs the real work begins.
right, it's a beginning. It's not a culmination. In the Gospels when the wise
men brought their gifts to Christ in
SI: How has your monastic life changed since the icon began to weep?
FP: It is of course a challenge to keep the balance. We had to make the decision very early that we weren't going to let it destroy our monastic life. Monasteries have always had the tradition of honoring all guests because monasticism as a vocation does not turn in on itself. We have a duty to the world to share what we have gained.
By and large we always strive to keep in mind why this is happening. This is a pretty out-of-the-way place. This many people coming here couldn't have happened unless God decided it should. God decided that this is a place for people to come, to have something that will give them faith and hope and education and strength in times which are so barren. People are thirsting and they're starving to death spiritually.
So if God has decided that this is to be a place where something like this can be accomplished, then we need to let it happen. Monasticism is a vocation, not just for the monastics, but for the whole world.
SI: What are your ideas and Orthodoxy's ideas about the significance of this day and age - all of the signs and incredible changes that are happening? Why now?
FP: Christianity has always been eschatological or mindful of the last days. For 2,000 years the Church has been expecting that culmination. We believe that Christ will come and all those who have ever lived and who are alive now will stand before His throne.
Yet over and above that, there is something about the present time which makes us feel that it is not just a part of Christian doctrine but it is something that we may see, perhaps not ourselves, perhaps in the next generation. We don't really know. The Gospel says that there will be signs, and we believe that we are seeing some of those signs now. Perhaps it will take 100 or 1,000 years for it all to work out before that second coming of Christ, perhaps it will be tomorrow, but many prophecies are being fulfilled just as predicted.
The miraculous manifestations like the weeping icon are a part of this process - a way in which God is reaching out everywhere to everybody to grab our attention and call us back to Himself.
As Fr Benedict says in the pamphlet that we give to all the pilgrims who come here:
"We are not worthy to have the spiritual treasure which
has been entrusted to our care. However, we are profoundly aware of our deep responsibility
to share it with all our brothers and sisters, regardless of their religious
background. The Mother of God calls all to herself. The Mother of god calls all
to repentance, prayer, fasting, and another-worldly way of living. Like
I am sure that when you read the very holy conversation of this monk and the reports of miracle cures and weeping icons you tend to believe without further investigation. I, on the other hand, always doubt and then if needed do an investigation. As stated above I concluded that this was not of God and could not be no mater what claims were being made by these Russian Orthodox priests and brother monks. Of course I get emails from the faithful followers of these unapproved apparitions and miracles saying that I am being led by Satan and demons and that I do not open up to the Holy Spirit. They say that since getting involved in this or that apparition they are now going to Mass everyday and praying more, so what would Satan have to gain by doing this?
I am writing a book now showing one of the many things Satan would have to gain by making people seem holier but the following article that just came out will show you another thing that Satan and his followers have to gain.
Monastery allegedly haven for sex abuse
By Frances Burns
and state agents have raided a controversial monastery in
Christ of the Hills
Monastery, an Eastern Orthodox foundation in
Investigators say that the monastery was not only a haven for sexual abusers but a fraud which used a supposed weeping icon of the Virgin Mary to extort contributions, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
"We're taking the icon into custody as we speak, as a criminal instrument, as part of the fraud that we're investigating for grand jury presentation," Blanco County District Attorney Sam Oatman told the newspaper.
Investigators say that the new charges come from admissions Greene made to a probation officer in an effort to explain why he failed a lie detector test. Greene told the officer that he had not been involved recently in sexual assaults but felt guilty about past acts, which he then described, implicating several of his brothers.
I do not think I should say
more about this since that would be rubbing salt into the wounds of those
calling me Satan. But I predict that the
July 31, 2006