Need help answering a challenge from a friend


#1

Greetings,

I have been talking to a friend he is an atheist about God and The Church. And in the middle of the discussion he raised up a challenge, something he considers to be a good argument against religion. He said.

“You know, some other thing I have problem with, is that you never see someone in some country that has never been in contact with Catholicism, say that…for example…he saw The Virgin Mary, or Jesus or some other miracle related to Catholicism.”

This is the thing, he thinks that all miracles and apparitions of Jesus and Mary are shapped by the people being influenced by Catholicism, so that they associate their experiences with it.

So, is there a documented case multiple cases if possible, where someone in a place that had never heard of Catholicism, has seen The Virgin, or Jesus or had some miracle related to Catholicism?

Thanks in advance,
Valz


#2

Peace be with you!

Refer him to St. Juan Diego.

In Christ,
Rand


#3

That isnt true–one example is the miracle of the sun at Fatima–it was predicted before hand that a great sign would happen and many atheists in the Potuguese government showed up that day and saw the miracle and publicy testified to it–


#4

[quote=Valz]Greetings,

I have been talking to a friend he is an atheist about God and The Church. And in the middle of the discussion he raised up a challenge, something he considers to be a good argument against religion. He said.

“You know, some other thing I have problem with, is that you never see someone in some country that has never been in contact with Catholicism, say that…for example…he saw The Virgin Mary, or Jesus or some other miracle related to Catholicism.”

This is the thing, he thinks that all miracles and apparitions of Jesus and Mary are shapped by the people being influenced by Catholicism, so that they associate their experiences with it.

So, is there a documented case multiple cases if possible, where someone in a place that had never heard of Catholicism, has seen The Virgin, or Jesus or had some miracle related to Catholicism?

Thanks in advance,
Valz
[/quote]

Well, without a doubt, mystical visions are shaped by the very culture and language in which we live. It is impossible to prove that miracles do happen or that Mary really appears. It requires faith to believe such things. I suppose the two questions I would have for him are this:

1.) Does religion itself depend on such visions and miracles?
2.) Whether some visions are true or not (and some obviously are not), does that affect the substance of the particular religion?

It seems to me that things like Marian apparitians are a relatively tangential part of Catholic religion. What is essential is faith in Jesus Christ, as the one crucified for our sins and risen on the third day, who is the Word made flesh, God Incarnate, and who comes to us under the appearances of bread and wine in the Eucharist.

Don’t fall for the trap of having to prove that apparitions and miracles and the like exist in order to validate religion. Without faith, one cannot see a miracle.


#5

Look up Sister Mary of Agreda…she is said to have appeard to Native Americans and then they were discovered by the Spanish.

Also, look up when Mary appeared at Cairo to Muslims…this is a well documented, modern alleged apparition.


#6

[quote=Valz]Greetings,

I have been talking to a friend he is an atheist about God and The Church. And in the middle of the discussion he raised up a challenge, something he considers to be a good argument against religion. He said.

**“You know, some other thing I have problem with, is that you never see someone in some country that has never been in contact with Catholicism, say that…for example…he saw The Virgin Mary, or Jesus or some other miracle related to Catholicism.”**Valz
[/quote]

first of all such apparitions, if valid, that is if they really happened, are still only private revelation, and do not add or subtract from Divine Revelation of the truth held and taught by the Catholic Church.

Second, there is a website mentioned here frequently, I think it is apparitions .com or .org, which mentions several supposed apparitions that were seen by both Christians and non-Christians, who all believed they were seeing Mary or Jesus. Two recent ones were in Japan and Egypt (they were also mentioned in a recent History Channel program about Marian apparitions).

The same site, and various sites about Fatima, mention the Muslim belief about Mary, and acceptance of various apparitions as legitimate.

The conversion of pagan Mexico through the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe of course is another case in point.


#7

[quote=Rand Al’Thor]Peace be with you!

Refer him to St. Juan Diego.

In Christ,
Rand
[/quote]

Juan Diego was on his way to Mass when Mary appeared to him.


#8

Well, the first one that springs to mind is Jesus’s birth (and life)…where he preached to Jews and Gentiles! :slight_smile:


#9

[quote=Valz]Greetings,

I have been talking to a friend he is an atheist about God and The Church. And in the middle of the discussion he raised up a challenge, something he considers to be a good argument against religion. He said.

“You know, some other thing I have problem with, is that you never see someone in some country that has never been in contact with Catholicism, say that…for example…he saw The Virgin Mary, or Jesus or some other miracle related to Catholicism.”

This is the thing, he thinks that all miracles and apparitions of Jesus and Mary are shapped by the people being influenced by Catholicism, so that they associate their experiences with it.

So, is there a documented case multiple cases if possible, where someone in a place that had never heard of Catholicism, has seen The Virgin, or Jesus or had some miracle related to Catholicism?

Thanks in advance,
Valz
[/quote]

Here’s what I think might be the best example (see this thread):
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=58820&highlight=reader%27s+digest


#10

Thanks for your help every one, I will document myself on some of the Saints that were mentioned.

Valz


#11

St. Paul.


#12

[quote=BibleReader]St. Paul.
[/quote]

You’re right. :o Nothing like being blind to the obvious.

How about Emperor Constantine? While still pagan he was given a great vision of a symbol of Jesus filling the sky with the command “By this sign conquer.” He put Jesus’ monogram on his battle standards and defeated the army of the pagan would-be emperor Maxentius, even though he was outnumbered 100,000 to 20,000. Constantine went on to put an end to Christian persecution, to proclaim Christianity a legal religion throughout the empire, to build the great Basilica of St. Peter directly over the beloved apostle’s grave, and finally to accept baptism and convert to Christianity himself shortly before he died.


#13

[quote=BibleReader]St. Paul.
[/quote]

Tried that one, he won’t accept anything in The Bible.

Valz


#14

[quote=Nan S]You’re right. :o Nothing like being blind to the obvious.

How about Emperor Constantine? While still pagan he was given a great vision of a symbol of Jesus filling the sky with the command “By this sign conquer.” He put Jesus’ monogram on his battle standards and defeated the army of the pagan would-be emperor Maxentius, even though he was outnumbered 100,000 to 20,000. Constantine went on to put an end to Christian persecution, to proclaim Christianity a legal religion throughout the empire, to build the great Basilica of St. Peter directly over the beloved apostle’s grave, and finally to accept baptism and convert to Christianity himself shortly before he died.
[/quote]

I think Constantine could be a good example, he still had contact with Christians and their beliefs. And what he is asking for is people who had no contact with Christiainty, but that had aparitions or so miracles related to it.

Valz


#15

[quote=Valz]I think Constantine could be a good example, he still had contact with Christians and their beliefs. And what he is asking for is people who had no contact with Christiainty, but that had aparitions or so miracles related to it.
Valz
[/quote]

The problem with this restriction is that in order to recognize Jesus or the Virgin Mary AS Jesus or the Virgin Mary, one would have to have some way to know who they were. He’s reducing apparitions to the level of Lone Ranger appearances: “Who was that masked man?”

Someone who is totally ignorant of Jesus and the Virgin Mary would interpret the apparition as the image of Buddha or Krishna or an ancestor…


#16

[quote=Nan S]Someone who is totally ignorant of Jesus and the Virgin Mary would interpret the apparition as the image of Buddha or Krishna or an ancestor…
[/quote]

Right and that is the core issue. Why doesn’t the apparition tells them who they are? For example “I am Mary follow The Catholic Church” or something like that?

Valz


#17

[quote=Valz]Tried that one, he won’t accept anything in The Bible.

Valz
[/quote]

Well if he won’t accept the bible as a source of revelation which - let’s face it - why should he (of course in Faith we have hope that the word of the Lord will cut more sharply than any double edged sword - but intellectually you can’t reasonably quote the bible as a source of divine truth to a person who doesn’t accept the bible as such) ] then I guess you could try turning to the other book God has given us. You could point out in all sincerity that you have seen a miracle - only this morning - and when he looks at you like you’ve got two heads and asks you what it was you can look him in the eye and say “the grass growing in the field”.

Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.

It is fantastic that you are having the conversation

New Evangelization!!

I shall “say one” for his conversion

God Bless

P


#18

As others have posted, there have been private revelations to those previously not exposed to the faith. A friend of mine from Jordan told me of a revelation of Mary to a blind Muslim girl in that country that resulted in her regaining her sight, but her parents were reluctant to say anything for fear of being persecuted by the authorities. True, that’s hearsay, and can’t be offered as proof positive.

Secondly, your friend seems to believe that only through a draumatic event, such as an apparition, does faith come to people. I’ve been helping with our parish’s RCIA program for five years and have yet to have a person state they are coming home to the faith because of a vision of Mary or Christ.


#19

[quote=Valz]Right and that is the core issue. Why doesn’t the apparition tells them who they are? For example “I am Mary follow The Catholic Church” or something like that?
Valz
[/quote]

I was thinking of your delimma as I was listening to the scriptures and homily in Mass this morning. The first reading was 1 Kings 19:9-13, when Elijah realizes that the Lord has the most impact on people when he comes not as a gloroius, mighty apparition, but as a tiny whispering sound.

Then I remembered the Jesus lesson to us about the futility of expecting apparations to convert non-believers:

Luke 16:19-31 …The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom… And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ Abraham said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’

In other words, if you were to present him with any apparition, your friend would immediately dispute its authenticity in the same way that he disputes the far-more-easily-proven authenticity of Jesus Christ himself.

I would suggest turning your conversation in a different direction, specifically to Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta. No glorious visions came through her; rather she worked in tiny whispers giving charity and respect to the poorest of the poor in India. She showing the Muslims and Hindus the generous love of God by respectfully caring for the desperately ill, the dying, and the orphans, something which was completely outside of their experience. Many Hindus and Muslims who had never heard of Jesus Christ were attracted by the honest and loving life she led. They converted to the Catholic faith and became the Missionaries of Charity, perhaps the fastest-growing religious order in the modern world.

(continued next post)


#20

That being said, here are three saints who were converted by visions. There are many others.

[font=Franklin Gothic Medium]Saint Eustace was a Roman general under Emperor Trajan. While hunting one day, a stag with a cross between its antlers approached him, calling his name. Eustace was at once converted by the vision, and he and his family were baptized. The most prominent characteristic of the Martyr’s Christian life seems to have been his generosity to the poor. After undergoing severe persecutions and afflictions, Eustace, his wife, and his children were cruelly martyred by the men with whom he once served the emperor. Their penalty for refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods was a gruesome one-the entire family was locked in a large bronze figure of a bull, a fire was lighted, and they were roasted to death.

Saint Hildegard was only three years old when her first vision occurred. From the age of five she understood that the visions came from God. For many years her life was uneventful so far as her companions could see, but not to Hildegard-her visions and revelations continued. She received her education in the convent on the Mount of Saint Disibod. At the age of 38 she became the abbess of the community. A monk acting as her secretary completed a book which told of twenty-six of her visions dealing with the Church, relations between God and man, and numerous prophetic utterances. The revelations and visions by which God showed his favor to Hildegard won her the name of “Sibyl of the Rhine.”

Saint Martin of Tours was born in Upper Pannonia (Hungary) of pagan parents, he was the son of an officer in the army, and the boy was brought into the army against his will at the age of fifteen. After a vision in which he saw Christ dressed in the half cloak he had given to a beggar, he hastened to be baptized. When he was about forty years old, he asked to be released from the army, saying it was not right for him to fight. The emperor taunted him with wishing to escape an impending battle, but Saint Martin declared that he would stand unarmed with only a cross in front of the army and not be afraid. The emperor took him at his word, but before Martin could be put to the test the enemy sent envoys to make peace. This was attributed to divine intervention, and Martin was released from service. Afterwards, he lived the life of a hermit until he was made Bishop of Tours. A decline in paganism in Tours and all that part of Gaul was the result of the piety, miracles, and zealous instruction of Saint Martin. The great basilica built to contain his body was, throughout the Middle Ages, the center of national pilgrimages; it was destroyed in 1793, during the French Revolution. Nonetheless, the great number of French churches and monuments dedicated to him and the nearly five hundred villages bearing his name continue to pay homage to Saint Martin of Tours.
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