Skip to comments.MAJOR THEOLOGIAN SAW 'NEAR-DEATH' LIGHT AS HAVE SO MANY WITH GLIMPSE OF HEAVEN
Posted on 02/11/2008 1:56:37 PM PST by NYer
Many are those who have questioned near-death experiences for a number of reasons, among which the concern that so little on the topic has been broached by theologians.
The visions of "eternity," and the lessons from such episodes, do not always fit the neat pictures created by the philosophical branch of the Church, some say.
Thus it comes as a jolt to learn that the man considered the master of modern theology, St. Thomas Aquinas -- almost universally cited as the major intellectual inspiration for the Church -- himself experienced what has been described as a "glimpse of eternity" and "the light" (as in near-death episodes).
As one researcher noted, "the eleventh-century philosopher and theologian, who wrote voluminously until the end of his life, had a vision of of the light," after which he said, "I cannot go on.... All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me."
The Summa Theologiae, his last and, unfortunately, uncompleted work, deals with the whole of Catholic theology. He stopped work on it after celebrating Mass on December 6, 1273. When asked why he stopped writing, he replied with the quote above. He died three months later, on March 7, 1274.
Thus it may be sobering for those who scoff at such episodes on the grounds of an intellectualism based largely on scholars such as St. Aquinas, who, as one bio puts it, "by universal consent," is "the preeminent spokesman of the Catholic tradition of reason and of Divine revelation. He is one of the great teachers of the medieval Catholic Church, honored with the titles Doctor of the Church and Angelic Doctor."
That's not to say that caution should go out the window with such phenomena: there can be not only delusion, but deception, or New Age-style spin on such experiences. Many tend toward the occult. We must remember that the devil can come as an angel of light.
But consoling it is -- and convinced we are -- that there is indeed that great Light, that death is nothing to fear for those who are right with God, and that deceased loved ones often assist in the transition, there to greet us either at the deathbed or in the Light at the end of a "tunnel."
Indeed, workers with hospice have numerous such accounts, as do many viewers who responded to a previous article we had on the topic.
"I had an interesting experience in 1997," wrote Margo Otterstetter of Baton Rouge. "I had a routine surgery that went terribly wrong. The doctor accidentally severed a section of my bowel and a major artery without knowing it.
"She closed me up and fifteen to twenty minutes into recovery, I began 'crashing.'
"I remember feeling a terrible pain (like someone hit me with a sledgehammer in the stomach) -- and I remember not being able to open my eyes. I distinctly heard buzzers going off in my ears and feeling a nurse patting my hand saying, 'stay with me baby, stay with me...we need a doctor over here!'
"I felt instant panic knowing that someone was talking about me and those buzzers were mine.
"All of a sudden I felt a hand on my shoulder and smelled a very familiar smell. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was my father who had passed away in 1984. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was him. The minute he touched me I felt completely relaxed; I knew that in fact I wasn't dying; and that everything would be okay. The fear of dying literally evaporated away. It was funny that I did not care if I lived or not at that point. It was really strange -- but through a very long and sometimes painful recovery I felt a new sense of purpose and a realization that my dad continues to be here when I need him. I know I will see him again and I can't wait!"
"Most of these visions happen within 24-48 hours of our passing and the way the angels are standing are meaningful too," wrote one hospice nurse, Christine Rossi. "If they are standing with their arms folded, it is a comfort visit to let them know that they are not alone and need to pack their bags for the journey. If the angel has his/her arms out (it is not a real arm but two streams of light where our arms would be), then it is very close to passing."
Often, those on the verge are given a choice.
"I love to share my near death experience as I think it helps others who are fearful of death," writes Allene Ramsey of Sylva, North Carolina. "I was 27 years old at the time. It was 1975, and I was about to give birth. After delivery I began to hemorrhage and loose blood pressure.
"My husband was sent out of the room as they tried putting in an IV with much difficulty as my veins were collapsing.
"At this time I began to rise from my body. I am a very visual person, being an artist, yet there was nothing visual, just the sense of leaving my body and rising.
"As I was rising I felt the most peaceful, joyful, loving, fatherly presence, which to this day is impossible for me to describe or explain. The experience was intense and extremely real. It was realer than real! I was given the choice to continue on but that moment I said, 'I have a baby' and those words were filled with the love I already had for my daughter before her birth.
"I was immediately placed back into my body which was extremely cold and hurting. I have never forgotten this experience with God who loves us, and I know I will be reminded of it at my death and have no fear of that day."
"My first husband died in 1997 at age 48 after suffering a rare form of cancer," adds Marilyn Gibson of Iowa. "I was at his deathbed as twenty-two friends and relatives and our priest were praying the Rosary.
"He was unresponsive that whole morning, breathing very labored. I leaned toward him in his final agony and told him it was okay, and that Jesus and His mother would come for him.
"Within moments he gazed over my shoulder, and stared at the dining room ceiling (his hospital bed was in our living room), and I saw his face transformed to when he looked about twenty-two years old or so. He made a contact with his eyes to someone, and I will never forget that look on his face -- one of complete awe and peace.
"Then he sighed his last breath, and died. This experience has made me not afraid to die, and I have told our children, and many others, especially those who are struggling with the death of a loved one, that they may be helped with their grief."
We live forever! Few things are depressing in that Light.
There are conversions. A woman named Kim Smith from Connecticut (originally Louisiana) mentions how her teen-aged son got in a terrible accident on an all-terrain vehicle and plunged into a coma before recovering.
"One day he raised the index finger of his right hand saying 'Listen, listen!'" says Kim. "He then said he remembered the accident (seems impossible because he was unconscious as soon as his head hit the pavement and was dead-on-arrival at the emergency room). 'I died, I died,' he said. 'You died?' I asked. 'Yes, I died, and it hurt so much.' Then he began to cry uncontrollably and his speech was incoherent. This was all he ever said of the near-death experience, but later, while still in the hospital, he would confide, 'Heaven is full of love' and one day cautioned my 18-year-old brother, 'never talk down to anyone.'"
Afterward, he became very devout.
"My husband, Gene, was afraid of dying, he always asked me how I could not be afraid," says Rose Best of Barstow, California, lastly.
"When he had lung cancer, he told me he was afraid. He had one chemo treatment on Dec 30, 1997.
"On Jan 10, 1998 he took a turn for the worst, went into respiratory distress, and I called an ambulance to take him to the hospital. He was intibated and when he was stable he was sent to a VA hospital, so he could continue treatment.
"While he was there for a few days, he called me and said he needed to talk to me; he was so confused. I told him I would be there in an hour.
"When I got there he told me that he had just had an experience and wanted to tell me about it. He said he started to hear beautiful music and everything was so peaceful; he saw a bright light and he started going towards it again; he could not get over the peacefulness of where he was at. As he was walking towards the light he was not as old as he is now (65), but much, much younger and had a spring to his step.
"And then he heard a voice saying it was not his time and calling him back. But he said he did not want to go back -- it was a beautiful place to be, but again it was said it was not his time.
"From that time on he prayed more and had a certain peace about him. He died a beautiful peaceful death about two weeks later. He had the Last Rites and was ready to meet his God."
And says Judy, a nurse, "One of my most unforgettable patients was a gentleman with a brain tumor. He was on hospice, and had a loving family that took excellent care of him.
"As his ability to speak and eat slowly waned, he began to sleep more, but clearly showed no signs of distress in any way. Finally, he was comatose.
"He remained that way for about a week and his family continued to care for him with great love. One morning, a snowstorm prevented his daughter from going to work as a teacher. School was canceled. Instead, she went upstairs to begin his morning care. As she walked into the room, she was shocked to find her father sitting up in bed with his arms raised toward the ceiling.
"She called to her mother and said, 'Mom, come quick, dad's been healed!'
"At that very moment, he fell back to the bed and was deceased. That moment she had walked into the room was his moment of passing and he was reaching for his eternity and for whomever was calling him."
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I saw the original on my trip to Eastern Europe nearly two summers ago. This is the picture that I recall although the quality is not very good. Sr. Fautina may still have not been totally pleased with it as I remember.
I've read all of the prophets experiences and more, because I had an experience (a theophany) back in 1997. I'd never been in a church or at a worship service before, nor had I ever prayed let alone read anything from the Bible. I searched around for a politically correct explaination. A version of what happened to me that night that allowed me to ignore my sense of foreboding for seven long months. First, I thought it might be an OOBE, but after reading along thinking yes this has got to be the only rational option, I got all the way to page 297 when the author said "While your outside of your body you may encounter people following Jesus in an enormous joyful happy horde,but don't be tricked into joining them because they have duped many by their charity and fooled by their love"
Abruptly, I knew who was the real author involved with marketing OOBE's. I picked up a Study Bible and read it cover to cover lessons and all without a stop. Nothing in the Bible or in my theophany was inconsistent, which I definately could not say was true from the other trash I'd wasted my time reading about. There was no longer any other possible way out with a potential scientific explanation either. I'm a medical professional and a scientist and I'm a sinner desparately looking for a loophole. Finally, I enrolled in fulltime graduate student status at a Seminary. Mind you I'm still trying to find a way out of this notion that life could not be reduced to quarks, molecules, radiation, light,physics and gravity.
Then I had a most dreadful encounter with what just a short taste of the alternative to being in God's presence was like. This occured just after my marathon study Bible cram session was over and I foolishly asked God to show me what the other place was like. sinking in and I knew that I had to make some kind of changes and tell somebody else that I knew who my Lord and Savior was Jesus and that I trusted Him completely.
I foolishly asked God to show me life in the absence of His presence, was life good outside of His protection. Apparently, He didn't like my arrogant prideful curiousity one bit, I spent the longest fifteen minutes in recorded human history holding on to my Queen size mattress with a nothing less than a death grip.
Mortal man saint, or sinner has no understanding about the great blessings that all of mankind enjoys, because of Our Loving God. All of our world is designed to provide the essentials of life for us. Now, take away food, clothing and shelter and things rapidly deteriorate,but one strong tribe might survive. Now remove all physical protection from our lives and things reveal the most base of human evils, but strong healthy tribal animals might make it out. Remove the shields He has placed that physically protect us from every kind of deadly catastrophe. Let comets, cosmic radiation, alterations in temperature extremes, natural disasters and plagues come toward us unabated, our luck might still keep grant us hope of survival.
Finally, should God's spiritual protection ever fall away from man and the dark forces and evil principalites given a free hand that bone chilling cold and fear comes along that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up straight up. Should every human nightmare become a reality that's what the absence of God feels like. If all of those sacred words mean nothing if the Spirit of God is not sinking in, I knew that this hell was going to be my eternal reality. Unless I made a move toward eternal life. I had to make some big changes and tell somebody else that I knew who my Lord and Savior was Jesus and that I trusted Him completely.
During this time of Lent, its wonderful to read such accounts.
I suppose it’s axiomatic that, in the same way rebels want to be priests, they’ll want to have their own “beckoning light experiences,” which is probably why every apocolyptic novel book makes it a hallmark of the Great Deception.
footnote: when they make it a hate-crime to criticize someone’s “near-death” story, the hour can safely be said to be “advanced.”
He spoke at my church last year. Interesting indeed.
I haven’t heard him speak. I’ve read part of his book. I wouldn’t have picked it up but for a hearty endorsement from a pastor friend from Arkansas whom I deeply admire and highly respect (and who previously considered Mike Huckabee a friend but has since been betrayed by Huck and has warned me about Huckabee’s lack of integrity - but that is beside the point). My pastor friend said that the pastor who stopped to assist and prayed over the gentleman at the accident scene is a good friend of his and a man of truth and integrity.
I am always been skeptical about these stories. I probably became too skeptical after looking into the popular books written by Mary Baxter. She claims to to have been given a personal tour by Christ into both heaven and hell. The names of the people who endorse the book say it all. Its a who’s who list of positive confession charismatic teachers. Her “visions” endorse these false teachings.
Having said that, I didnt recall hearing anything objectionable in his testimony. He didnt give a lot of insight into his theology though everything seemed in line with Southern Baptist teachings.
I suppose they could be right, but it seems to me that if it was Paul he would have said so when he told the Corinthians about the unidentified man. OTOH if it was Paul, maybe he was told not to identify the man as himself as well as to not describe what he was shown in paradise.
I would like to believe that these near death stories we hear about are really experiences that are intended to inspire confidence in Christians that they will be taken directly to heaven when they die, but I don't know if they are that or just the mental impressions of people who are in the process of dying and then recover. I'm not Catholic, but if Christians go directly to heaven after death that would contradict the Catholic teachings about purgatory wouldn't it?
Indeed. Here is yet another fascinating aspect of the Divine Mercy.
Because Faustina was not an artist, her spiritual director Father Sopocko took her to a local Vilnius artist named Eugene Kazimirowski, who painted this Image directly under Faustinas supervision. Sadly remarking, Lord, who will paint You as beautiful as you are (Diary 313), Faustina had the artist change the face at least 10 times. Finally, Our Lord told Faustina that it was good enough - to leave it in the state its in. Just recently it was accidentally discovered at a prayer group in Arizona, that the face on this Image perfectly matched the one on the Holy Shroud of Turin. This restored Vilnius Image is the only Image painted under St. Faustinas direction. It is now available for the first time as it was originally painted. To see the Holy Shroud and the Image of The Divine Mercy as they match, click either the 28k or 56k modem button below. Requires Quicktime.
MOMM utilizes a reproduction of the original image of The Divine Mercy, which was painted by Eugene Kazimirowski in 1934 in Vilnius, Lithuania. This was the only image painted under the direction of St. Faustina. It is documented that St. Faustina had the artist make several changes to the face before she finally came to the studio and announced that Jesus said to leave the image in the state it was in. Quoting the Lord she added:
It isnt good, but it will do; you dont have to change it anymore.
In 1996, quite by chance, it was discovered that there is a practically perfect correspondence between the face of the Vilnius image and the face on the image of the Shroud of Turin. This amazing correlation is beautifully demonstrated in MOMM presentations, and is often felt to be one of the most moving aspects. Christ demonstrates that through His suffering and death came LIFE. Jesus comes to us as a merciful savior, pouring out his mercy upon us all.
For more details on this surprising match, read "A Divine Coincidence?" By Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC.
Here we have this beautiful presentation that brings people into the very center of Saint Faustina's mission. People are led to the mystical heights of the message and are deeply touched. I have heard the reports of a great many priests who have said that this is absolutely excellent, this is what people need to see, need to experience. And we know that the Lords blessings accompany it because of the results that follow, particularly a return to the sacraments, to Holy Confession and a deeper desire to spend time with the Holy Eucharist.
Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC
Former Vice Postulator for the cause of Canonization for Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and world-renowned authority on the Divine Mercy message.
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