Monday, October 29, 2012

Miracle of Pope John XXIII

It's important for Christians to remember that our faithful predecessors, the saints in heaven, are more alive than we are (Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38). They behold the Face of God with the angels (Matt 18:10), and give praise and worship to Christ day and night without ceasing (Rev 5:12-13). They have left worldly desires, sin, and death behind (Rev 21:4). In transcendent union with the Holy Spirit, the glory of God shines through them (Matt 17:2-3) with brilliance "like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal" (Rev 21:10-11).

One such holy predecessor is Pope John XXIII. He convened the Second Vatican Council, which steered the Church towards a new evangelization for an upcoming, technologically saturated world. It is apropos to remember him in 2012-2013 since it is the 50th anniversary of the Council. He died in 1963 but remains alive forever in the Body of Christ.

For your contemplation, here's a short story about his most famous intercessory act from heaven. Don't take it as Gospel but it is an amazing story. The story is from the book Apparitions of Modern Saints by Patricia Treece (2001, Charis Books), pp. 79-80:
Not every pope is holy. But in recent times, Catholics have been blessed with pope after pope who truly lives as "other Christs." Of no one is this truer than of Pope John XXIII, the rotund, peasant-born Italian who called the Second Vatican Council.

John died soon after that historic event began. Three years later, in 1966, another nun was dying in Naples. Although she was still a young woman, Sister Caterina Capitani's troubles went back to years of internal bleeding from ulcers. As a radical remedy, three-quarters of her stomach and her spleen had been removed in 1965. In May 1966, the quarter stomach she had left developed a peptic ulcer complicated by fistula, that is, an open, running sore than broke through her abdomen, emitting everything she ate. Her pulse weak, breathing labored, and temperature high, and the fistula making normal nourishment impossible, Sister Caterina was close to death. She received the last rites and, at her request, was left alone in her hospital room to pray. Saying her rosary, she suddenly felt a hand on her ravaged stomach while a man's voice said her name.

The sudden touch and voice frightened her, and she had heard no one enter. Nervously she rolled over and saw Pope John, "smiling and indescribably beautiful," at her side. "Don't be afraid," he reportedly told her. "It's all over. You're well."

They spoke together for about ten minutes, although much of what was said remains Caterina's secret. But it is known that the dead pope told the nun the fistula would close up and she'd be able to eat anything she wanted. When he left, the ecstatic sister found her pain, temperature, and all other symptoms gone, too. As for the fistula, a tiny black dot pinpointed where it had been, as if to aid medical men in judging this miracle (a fistula can close, but not instantaneously).

Joyously, Caterina leapt out of bed, calling for something to eat. Within forty-eight hours nourishment restored her strength to the point that she went back to her demanding work as a nurse. From that time on, she had none of the digestive problems that ought to remain in her case. Her cure was proclaimed the official miracle at John's September 3, 2000 beatification.
A prayer for his intercession:
Pope John XXIII, holy servant of God, pray for us. Amen.