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The Miracle Detective: An Investigation of Holy Visionsby Randall Sullivan
The priest chosen by Bishop O'Brien to investigate the events in Scottsdale was Father Ernest Larkin, a Carmelite theologian admired for both his intelligence and his spirituality.
As I began the interview I admitted that, no matter how often I heard them feathered or fudged, I still tended to accept three categories of possibility: Either the visionaries were lying, or they were delusional, or they were telling the truth. "Basically, I agree with you," Larkin replied, "but I also think that delusion, which sounds pejorative, needn't be. People may be telling the truth when they say they see this or that, but they may be unaware that the influence of the environment-which can be very subtle-encourages these experiences. I find it difficult to believe that Mary is standing on the edge of human consciousness, and maybe breaking in every now and then, here or there. The Blessed Mother is in this mysterious realm of Heaven." And there's no interface between that realm and ours? I asked. "I don't think so," Larkin answered. So he didn't believe in any apparitions at all? I asked the priest. "I can't say that," he admitted. "I believe in Lourdes. I believe in Fatima.
And I'm very curious about Medjugorje. Something of a profound nature has occurred in each of these places. I don't know to what extent these are the effect of natural causes and to what extent they are miraculous. It's almost impossible to know what comes from nature and what comes from grace."
We digressed into a discussion of St. John of the Cross; Larkin reminded me that Catholicism's most famous mystic poet had counseled the faithful to resist all supernatural experiences, even their own. "I really believe that these events send as many people away from religion as they draw near," Larkin said. "Because they seem so bizarre, so much out of the ordinary providence of God." If he went to Medjugorje, Larkin said, "I couldn't help asking, 'Why would the Blessed Mother appear here when the world is falling apart everywhere else, also?'" That's like asking why Jesus would raise Lazarus when there are so many other dead people, I observed. Larkin laughed. "You're right," he said. "It's the same question. I have to fall back on my a priori principle that we live in a realm of faith from which there is no escape."
Copyright © 2004 by Randall Sullivan
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