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Monday, February 07, 2011

To "Lost Sheep" contradicting Sedevacantism.

Dear Lost Sheep
Thank you for writing and telling me of your struggles to remain in the Church and of your temptations to return to the Sedevacantist chapel that has brought you so much consolation and stability in the past.

I would like you to read the following. When you do, remember how Our Lord rebuked the Jews because even with miracles they would not accept Him: Jesus answered them: I speak to you, and you believe not: the works that I do in the name of my Father, they give testimony of me. But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep. (John X, 25) Our Lord does not permit miracles to lead us to false conclusions. Some miracles almost force us to believe. I think of the Shroud of Turin in which, from modern science, we discover miracles that were unseen by previous generations and left for us to discover; it is the same with the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The following does not compare with these two great miracles but it is an amazing miracle nonetheless, and meant for our time:

The Sede Vacante device used by the Holy See.

In 1962 a young novice, Sister Caterina started having problems with her health several months after having been clothed in the habit. She was 18 years of age. She began to feel a constant intercostal pain between her stomach and heart. Until that time her health had been very good, so she ignored the pain. She thought perhaps she had knocked against a piece of furniture or something. The pain continued for a couple of months, and one night she had a hemorrage that frightened her. She was in her room. She felt like vomiting, ran to the sink and found her mouth full of very red blood. Since they had taught her during nursing school that very red blood came from the chest area, she thought she had contracted consumption; with a sickness like that, her life in the convent was finished.

"The rule of our Congregation," she said, "is for all aspiring religious to be healthy in order to face the sacrifices and work that a hospital requires. If a nun is ill, she is sent home before pronouncing her vows. I had passed the stage of aspirant, the postulant, and a few months prior to this incident I had been clothed in the religious habit, but I still had yet to pronounce my vows. So if my superiors had discovered I was ill with phthisis, they would have been obliged to send me home."

She decided not to say anything to anyone. For several nights she could not sleep, but then, seeing that the hemorrage failed to return and the persistent intercostal pain had disappeared, she thought the danger had passed and took up her normal life again.

Sister Caterina as a young sister.
Nothing happened for seven months. Then suddenly, with no warning symptoms, there was another terrible hemorrage. This was followed, after a few hours, by another, even more abundant hemorrage, which left her drained of all energy. This time the situation could not be hidden.

Her Superiors did not send her away. They tried to help her. There were doctors’ visits, clinical examinations, check-ups. The most celebrated specialists in Naples were consulted on the case: Professors Piroli, Capozzi, Ruggero, Grassi, Doctors Caracciolo, Cannata, Maisano. There were x-rays of the chest and stomach and stratigraphs. No one succeeded in finding the reason for her hemorrages.

In 1964, since the doctors at the Ospedali Riuniti had declared there was no explanation for her illness, the young Sister was transferred to Ascalesi Hospital, under the care of Professor Alfonso D’Avino, director of the otorhinolaryngology department. An esophogascope revealed a hemorralgic area in the chest area. It seemed that all of the sister’s troubles came from there. She was therefore taken to the Pellegrini Hospital, to Professor Giovanni Bile, a famous hematologist, but he, too, was unable to improve the situation.

Sister Caterina said: "They told me that there was another person I could consult: Professor Giuseppe Zannini, director of the Surgical Semeiotics Institute of the University of Naples and a specialist in the surgery of blood vessels: an important international personality in the field of medicine. To obtain a visit with him was not easy, but when he found out what the case was about, he wanted to see me. He immediately took my case to heart..."

After a long examination and minute analysis of all the medical reports of his colleagues, Professor Zannini began a new cure that lasted five months. But the situation never changed, so the Professor decided to operate.

She was hospitalized and underwent an operation which lasted for five hours. The inside of her stomach was completely covered with a strange and rare form of ulcerous tumours, caused, perhaps, by the improper functioning of the pancreas and spleen. The Professor was obliged to remove her stomach, except for a small piece the size of a prune. He also removed the pancreas and spleen. The esophagus was connected directly to the intestine. It was also necessary to cut the aorta making a deviation of the blood circulation. It was a delicate operation and the probabilities for the patient to come out of the operating room alive were quite slim.

Our Lady of Pompei.
Before the operation, Sister Caterina tells us, I had prayed to the Holy Virgin of Pompei, to whom I am very devout. The day after the operation, while I was thanking the Virgin for having come through the operation safely, a Sister from our Congregation told me: "It was Pope John XXIII who saved you. I had placed his image on the bed of the operating room and had continued to pray throughout the operation." She gave me the Pope’s image and told me to place myself under his protection. I admired John XXIII very much, but had never thought of praying to him. I answered: "Thank you for what you have done for me, but I am convinced that it was the Holy Virgin of Pompei who protected me, and I will continue to pray to her. " I placed the image of Pope John on the nightstand, as if it served no purpose for me.

In the days following the surgery, Sister Caterina’s health, instead of improving, continued to worsen. During the first night, the nun had a collapse; after several days, she had an intestinal block. Professor Zannini was very worried, and thought that another operation was necessary. The sisters continued to pray to Pope John and Sister Caterina to the Holy Virgin of Pompei. Nine days after the operation, the nun’s condition suddenly improved.

"Three days later, while I was sipping some liquid, I became cyanotic and lost consciousness." The doctors hurried to provide her with oxygen. "They examined me and found I had pleurisy. I was depressed. You have to pray to Pope John my sisters repeated to me. I was convinced and began to pray to the good Pope. Ten days later I was able to leave the clinic."

The improvement was once again short-lived. Two weeks later, Sister Caterina started to vomit great quantities of gastric fluids. They were so acid that they burnt her skin and the lower part of her face was completely sore. Since she couldn’t hold anything down in her stomach, she was nourished through phleboclysis. Professor Zannini was still very worried. He decided to send her home, to Potenza. Perhaps the air of her home town would help her. But two months later Sister Caterina returned to Naples, in worse condition than when she had left. She looked as if she were already dead.

"On 14 May 1966, following a serious crisis of vomiting, I felt my abdomen and it was completely wet," recounts the religious. "I called a sister to have her look at it: gastric fluids, blood and that little amount of orange juice I had just drunk were flowing out of a hole that had opened on my abdomen. A doctor was called. He said there was a perforation, which had caused an external fistula. There was diffused peritonitis. My fever was very high. The situation was desperate. Professor Zannini was informed, and he had me hospitalized immediately. He ordered some medicines and decided to wait to see how the crisis would devolop, because surgical intervention under those conditions was unthinkable".

"We Daughters of Charity pronounce our vows five years after having donned the habit. The rule provides for exceptions, however, when a young sister is about to die. This was my case. So on the 19th of May, 1966, I pronounced my vows, and I was immediately administered the Extreme Unction.

"On the 22nd of May a sister brought me a relic of Pope John’s from Rome: a piece of the sheet upon which the Pope had died. I placed it on the perforation which had opened on my stomach, and since I was suffering quite a bit, I prayed to the Pope to take me to Heaven. I was slowly dying. I felt that my strength was leaving me. The temperature was very high. A sister guarded the room day and night.

"On 25 May, at around 2.30 in the afternoon, I asked a sister who was guarding the room to close the window a little because the light bothered me. She did so, and then left the room for a few minutes.
"I drifted off to sleep. At a certain point I felt a hand pressing the wound on my stomach and the voice of a man saying: "Sister Caterina, Sister Caterina!" I thought it was Professor Zannini, who came to check on me occasionally. I turned towards the voice, and saw Pope John standing beside my bed: he had the same smile as the image that had been given me. He was the one who was holding his hand on my wound. "You prayed to me very much," he said with a calm voice. "Many people have prayed to me, but especially one. You have really taken this miracle from my heart. But don’t be afraid now, you are healed. Ring the bell, call the sisters who are in the chapel, have them take your temperature and you will see that you will not have even the slightest temperature. Eat whatever you want, as you did before the sickness: I will hold my hand on your wound, and you will be healed. Go to the Professor, have him examine you, have some x-rays done and have it all written down, because these things will be needed someday."

"The vision disappeared, and only then did I begin to realize what had happened. I wondered whether it had been a dream. I was trembling from the emotion and fear. I felt well. I felt no pain, but I didn’t dare call the sisters: they would have thought I was crazy. After several minutes, I had to decide. I did what the Pope had told me to: I rang the bell.

"The sisters hurried to my bedside. They found me sitting up on the bed. They looked at me as if they were dreaming. I could no longer stifle my joy, and I almost shouted: ‘I have been healed. It was Pope John. Measure my fever, you’ll see that I have none’. Mother Superior thought I was delirious, as sometimes happens before death.

"They took my temperature: 36.8 C°. ‘Do you see?’, I said, challenging them. ‘Now give me something to eat because I’m hungry’. I hadn’t been able to hold anything down in my stomach for many months. Mother Superior, who was almost hypnotized by my state of excitement, ordered the sisters to do as I asked. A sister brought me some semolina, which I ate voraciously, to the astonishment of my sisters. Then they brought me an ice cream, and I ate that too. ‘I’m still hungry’, I said. The sister brought me some meatballs, and I ate those, followed by some soup, and I devoured that as well.

At this point, the Mother Superior, who was still not convinced of what was happening, said: ‘Now we have to change you’, thinking that everything I had eaten had gone out of the fistula that had opened on my stomach, which is what always happened. They lay me down on the bed. A nurse brought gauze and a clean nightgown. They uncovered me. The nurse shouted: ‘But there’s nothing here’. The sisters fell on their knees, crying from emotion. Until a few minutes earlier the skin on my stomach had been one big wound: the gastric fluids that continually flowed out of the fistula had corroded the skin. The wound had completely disappeared. There was no sign of the fistula, not a trace: the skin was smooth, clean and white. So I told them what had happened.
"From that day on," concludes Sister Caterina, "I haven’t been ill at all. The doctors examined me, did scores of x-rays. There wasn’t a trace of my illness. The day after the miracle I went back to a normal life. My first lunch was french fries, roast kid, tomatoes and ice cream. I went back to eating anything I wanted. That was 34 years ago: I’m well, I have no problems of digestion, and I work with enthusiasm."

Sister Caterina with the relics of Bl. John XXIII

Sister Caterina was cured on 25 May 1966.

Francis Schuckardt
I tried to find out who was the first Sedevacantist. Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, it seems to have been Francis Schuckardt of unhappy memory; but even so, Pope John XXIII had visited Sister Caterina five years before this Sedevacantist was ordained a priest and consecrated a bishop in 1971. Others who were better qualified to hold Sedevacantist beliefs came on the scene later.

God's miracle confirming the holiness and pontificate of Pope John XXIII was five to ten years before the Sedevacantist and Sedeprivationist movements began.

The miracle of Sister Caterina is a continuous miracle: she still has no spleen and no pancreas; her stomach is the size of a prune. Since 26 May, 1966, Sister Caterina Capitani lives a "super human" life of hospital work.

Sometimes even the finest arguments are wrong.
They are wrong when God contradicts them by miracle.

The Sedevacantist arguments have been contradicted
by a continuous miracle since 25 May, 1966.

In the matter of the papacy the onmiscient God provided a living affirmation that the true Church continues through the Popes that followed Pope Pius XII. The Church may not be the way we may think it should be; but it is the Church. The Popes may not be the way we think that they should be either; but they are the Popes. And after Pope Pius XII there came Blessed John XXIII. If we doubt this we should meditate on the miracle of Sister Caterina Capitani. But if we deny the miracle we would be like those of old, of whom Our Lord said: I speak to you, and you believe not: the works that I do in the name of my Father, they give testimony of me. But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep. (John X, 25)

Dear Lost Sheep, look at Sister Caterina Capitani on this Italian link; It may help to look at a walking miracle that contradicts the sedevacantist view.

Persevere along the narrow, often painful road of life in the Church under Peter in 2011. The truth is often difficult to accept; there are many times when we would like to say: "Stop the world I want to get off;" - it is not an option; however bad, we must accept it. The spiritual world is as real as the material world; escaping the Church is not a real option; it would be leaving the spiritual, invisible reality, upon which our eternity depends, for a temporal deadly game of playing house.

Fr. Michael Mary



Michelle Therese said...

God needs warriors in the pews, right here on the front lines. What good can we do for Holy Mother Church if we wimp out and jump ship??

Anonymous said...

I am more grateful to you, Father, than you will ever know in this world.

Thank you.

Lost Sheep

Anonymous said...

Lost Sheep,

I believe that many of us have benefited from this most edifying account of Blessed John's heavenly intercession. I remember a few years ago showing my young son a photo of Blessed John visiting a child in a cancer ward. My son was very much moved by the photo. Blessed John's holiness radiated from it!

May Almighty God bless you and may Our Blessed Lord continue to open up to you the treasures of His Most Sacred Heart.

In Jesu XPI Passio,

the least said...

What a happy result!

Thus are we enriched by Our Gracious Lord.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such an edifying story, Father. Thank you for sharing with us. On the subject of sedevacantism, it should be remembered that it is 'de fide' that the institution of the Papacy is perpetual (Vatican I). I think the sedevacantists answer this one by saying that they don't deny this teaching, they just think there's a really, really long vacancy!


Jack said...

God bless Sr. Caterina; indeed, He already has.

I have learned the hard way that outside the visible Catholic Church there is only confusion and chaos. Only within the Catholic Communion of Churches is there any stability and sanity.

You're right, Fr. Michael Mary. The visible earthly church may not be perfect, but she's still part of the Church. I say "part" because her fulness will be revealed only in heaven.

Mick said...

Dear Father Michael Mary, thank you for this inspiring story of a miracle. You use it to make a point, but even without this, it is edifying in itself. God bless Sr. Caterina, all on Papa Stronsay and Lost Sheep - come back.

Anne (aussieannie) said...

This has been very encouraging for me. We are praying for a lovely Catholic mother of six young children in Australia who is riddled with cancer and has been given weeks to live. A novena was started to Pope John Paul II for her cure, when things have been looking so discouraging, I read this. Thank you.

Bgausi said...

Glory to God...I am a medical doctor as well and all I can say is this was supernatural...It can only be God!!

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