The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



May Catholics speak to the dead?

| Friday, April 7, 2017

Too often will conservative Catholics — or fundamental Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Orthodox Jews or those dogmatically believing faithful of fill-in-the-blank-here organized religion — stubbornly cling to centuries-old traditions formulated during ancient times without a refresh as characteristic of the Pope John XXIII era or now under Pope Francis. Just as Christians believe that Jesus lived and grew throughout his existence on earth, the faithful should not remain static, but evolve to address our modern life and times. In fact, the successful megachurches nationwide today weave a blend of conventional with nontraditional outreach that creates a new religious social phenomenon. Their pastors include less than spiritual solutions over practical best practices on how to become debt-free, how to better raise children and how to be come financially successful. Catholics are fortunate  Francis has begun his own refresh movement, albeit more spiritually based and slower paced.

As our Lenten season wanes, we Catholics owe ourselves the type of personal self-introspective reexamination that pushes our traditional organizational boundaries to better our spiritual existence. We fail when we blindly restrict ourselves from greater-than-life possibilities like reincarnation or communicating with our dearly departed. Did the “wise elder men” who selectively sorted, collected and rejected various gospels, teachings or writings for the original Bible actually write God’s only words and reject nonsensical notions? Imagine how different Catholicism would be if those compiling the Bible included the recently found Gospel of Judas that professed Judas was the most loved disciple, and therefore the only one who could have completed the task of betrayal.

Can our Catholic black-and-white vision of heaven and hell ever melt open to considering a Karma existence where our journey is a series of learning life lessons and spiritual improvements through reincarnation? Many, including this writer, reject such an elementary explanation that after death we either eventually end up in a paradise or a firepot. Michael Prescott, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, has devoted blog entries wherein he reverses his former skepticism about communicating with the dead. Prescott examines author and television personality, psychic medium John Edward McGee, Jr. Best know as John Edward of the television series “Crossing Over.” Edward is famous for linking messages from beyond with people present in his audience.

Ironically, psychic medium Edward has written about his own path of religious and spiritual enlightenment in a book,“Practical Praying: Using the Rosary to Enhance your Life.” His book examines the history of the rosary as authorized by the Catholic Church and Edward’s prayer process. He explains how he has utilized the power of prayer through the rosary, which he prays before his public events to better prepare himself. Edward explores the rosary as a powerful tool that brings focused energy and creative thought into our everyday life. Although quick to suggest that we may not find a quick material happiness fix, we can embrace the promise of living a more abundant life in general by using God’s gift of free will to chart our own courses.

Critics attempt to catch Edward with inconsistencies by claiming that he baits audience members who yearn to connect with loved ones from beyond by using vague questions. From personal experience, having attended four of Edward’s public events during the past five years, I have been amazed at the specificity he speaks to validate personal messages coming through him. While also yearning to be “read” throughout the years, I was passed over until last week. I attended a Pittsburgh event with several cousins, including 79-year-old Patty whose last name is distinctly Polish, not Italian. She was a skeptic until Edward relayed messages to our family.

From 600 people, the staff chose five cards to begin the event by asking Edward a question. My cousin was first chosen, and nearly last called upon 90 minutes into the two-hour program. After her question, Edward paused and asked if she had a murder in her family. It was on her mother’s side, not the Caruso side. He noted that all who went through Ellis Island were together. All four grandparents had been processed there. He spoke of a famous celebrity — Enrico Caruso. Edward said he sees a 9/11-type fire. Patty replied with the theatre, but he said it was a multilevel building. Patty answered that the theatre was on the second floor. Our research later of the 1911 fire that killed 26 people included a cousin and her grandmother’s neighbors from three surrounding houses on their street. We Catholics had communicated through Edward with our dead ancestors.

While my personal Lenten journey this year follows Francis’ call to recognize those with whom I have become indifferent to in my daily routine, I cannot ignore my life experiences that have formed inconsistent beliefs with the Church. I not only hold open the possibility that I shall return eventually to learn and grow, but look forward to another round of life after my John Edward session. I believe as Prescott wrote in his blog when he sided with Hamlet against the debunkers: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Tags: , ,

About Gary Caruso

Contact Gary