Sunday, March 19, 2017

Char Vance - Healed in Medjugorje

Spirit Daily
________________________________________
By Michael H. Brown
When life seems to be closing in on us, in a world that so often seems upside-down, there one way to exit, and that's through  humor. A sure cure for our ills is found in laughter!
Usually, we should be laughing at ourselves.
And one thing that should make us smile is how silly it is to worry when we have God. 
In the Light of His eternity and angels and watchfulness, there is nothing to fear but lack of prayer. We can even pray for a good sense of humor! 
Many of you have heard the experts talk about how laughter can help us recover from serious illnesses. That's because humor is a spiritual release and when we release something on that level, it goes to both our emotions and bodies. 
A great example of this -- of both healing and laughter -- is Char Vance, the television producer and comedian from New Orleans who is often out there speaking at conferences and causing people to roll in the aisles. Char had been in the radio business when she suffered a horrendous accident. It was on Halloween night at a farm she owned back in the 1980s. She and a group were riding on a tractor-pulled wagon when suddenly they caught sight of the barn on fire.
Char jumped off in hopes of running to the blaze but got caught underneath, injured so badly it looked like part of her leg would have to be amputated. The ankle was severely damaged.
Just crushed. No bone support at all. It looked like a lifelong handicap.
At the time, Char Vance was not a Catholic, but a friend got her to go to the apparition site of Medjugorje -- much besmirched these days by the devil. And for good reason: this is a place of enormous conversion. Ask Char. Her recounting of her trip and her conversion to the Catholic faith -- more importantly, to faith in Jesus -- is a hilarious excursion into deep spirituality. Finally, it has been captured on videotape.
At Medjugorje, where Char hobbled in a huge, lumbering cast, the Louisiana woman climbed the holy highland of Mount Krizevac despite those who thought it was crazy and despite her own skepticism. "I wondered why [after Apparition Hill], they wanted us to go up the mountain," she jokes. "I said, why do you have us climbing two hills, two mountains in one day? It's not like we're going to run out of fun things to do here!"
Here she was in a place with no TV and no hotels and no pools, drinking beer while everyone else was praying the Rosary in a way she saw as strange and obsessive.
But Char went up the "hill." As she walked a dirt road on the outskirts of the village, something had said to her, "You know, it will be just your luck if something big happens up there and you're gonna miss it." That's what had finally convinced her to go up. She and her companions caught a cab.  When they got to the mountain, many others were doing the same. 
"I didn't know a lot of prayers," says Char, who was not a Catholic at the time. "I knew 'Now I lay me down to sleep' and the Lord's Prayer, but that's the most wonderful thing you Catholics have: you have prayers for everything," she jokes. "You know, you got department heads. You lost something, you got St. Anthony. You got bad eyes you got St. Lucy..."
Heading up the mountain and praying at the Fourth Station of the Cross, Char propped up her cast on a boulder and here comes a monk -- a very unusual monk. "He had on this white robe and the hood up and he's carrying a tripod with nothing on it, no camera. And he's looking directly at me," says Char. "And coming to me. And he says, 'You know, when I was in Germany, I had the good fortune of meeting Theresa Neumann.' To me it was like saying, 'I met John Jones.' He said, 'You know who that is, don't you?' I said, 'No.' And he said, 'Well, she was a stigmatist.'"
Got me again, said Char.
"Don't you know what a stigmatist is?" the man asked.
Uh uh, replied Char.
He explained what a stigmatic was (someone who had received the wounds of Christ) and pulling out a rosary told her that he had put it on her stigmatic wounds and that it had since healed people of many problems, including cancer. "Here I am with this big cast on the rock, and he says, 'I would like your permission to put this on your head!'"
It's hard to convey how Char tells this story. Her inflections, her timing, her side comments are hilarious. The tape shows an audience in constant  stitches. But she was telling a serious story. "When something like this happens, you think 'somebody has tapped into your thoughts' -- and you better start thinking some holy pious thoughts QUICK!"
The mysterious stranger told Char to say seven Our FathersHail Marys, and Glory Bes, and when she got to the top, the Creed. "When he left he would talk to others," she recounts. "If they were French he would begin talking in French. If you were Spanish he would start speaking Spanish. It was like he knew what you were before he got there."
At the seventh Station, the comedian noticed the "monk" was kind of winded. Char offered him a canteen of water. "He smiled a smile that went all the way through me," she says. 
Medjugorje is famous for the reports of mysterious strangers -- including monks or nuns in white. When Char got to the top, the seers were ready to have an apparition. Char didn't want to see anything -- afraid there would be hysteria and she would fall off the mountain! They were at the large cross there. "All of a sudden it's gets quiet, quiet, quiet. All of a sudden, that cross lit up, and it lit up, best I can describe it, like those old strobe lights, quick, and I see Jesus on the cross. I saw him like I have never seen a person before or since. He looked horrible -- horrible -- his nose was laying over, and He had this enormous crown, not this little crown like you see. This thing was like a big bird's nest. That quickly it lit up again and I saw it again."
Vance wasn't alone. Others in her group were astonished to witness the same thing. The mountain is known for a wide array of phenomena -- although this particular type we had not previously encountered. It is the cross where the Blessed Mother says she prays each day.
A woman next to Char said, "Did you just see Christ on that cross?"
Char felt "totally zapped." She now knew without a doubt that God and the Blessed Mother existed. When she got back, she had to go to the doctor for x-rays. She went in the waiting room "and all of a sudden the technician comes out with all these x-rays and he says [in a loud voice], 'Charlene Vance, you've been healed, you've been healed!'"
"You should have seen the people in there with their People magazines!" she jokes.
But it was true: the nurse ran in too, and then the doctor arrived -- gracing them with his "presence." "When's the last time you saw a doctor come into the waiting room!" she recalls with a roll of her eyes. "The nurse said, 'Did you hear about?'" The doctor said he had to take a look at it. It looked like there was bone growth! He asked Char to slowly try to see if she could move her toes. She could do more than that. She could rotate her whole ankle! She was with her mother. "I started dancing around and saying, 'Ma, ma, I can walk, praise God I can walk!' He runs out and brings out another doctor and they look at the x-rays and my mother says, 'Doctor, doctor, what is it,' and he says -- direct quote -- 'There's absolutely no correlation in her x-rays before she went and when she got back. There's total bone growth everywhere.'"
Jesus is the same as He was 2,000 years ago, she tells those who see her. "Miracles do happen. Believe in miracles. Expect a miracle. Miracles do happen," says Char, who now helps produce videos for Focus International, headed by retired Archbishop Phillip Hannan. "The real miracle was when God healed my head with the gift of faith. Miracles do happen, but they happen in God's time and in His way."
Char had some medals from Medjugorje and started walking all around and passing them out to the people in the waiting room. "Have a medal! Have a medal!" She walked out of that office and never needed crutches like they said she would need crutches and never received a day of therapy. 
And of yes: Charlene Vance became a Catholic six months to the day that she had climbed the mountain.
[Footnote: she also was to learn that Theresa Neumann, the stigmatic, had been born on Friday, April 8, which is Char's birthday -- in fact she too was born on a Friday -- and was injured trying to put out a fire in a barn. It was her ankle that was injured, and the mystic was healed a year later!]
[Resources in the Spiritdaily Bookstore: Char's video is No Phones in Medjugorje; see also Our Lady Speaks From Medjugorje, Medjugorje and the Church, and Queen of the Cosmos]
http://www.spiritdaily.net/char.htm

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

DREAM BIG

"Your plans, your projects, your dreams have to always be bigger than you, so God has room to operate." - Mother Angelica

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tom Zimmer - "The Hermit of Loreto" and President Trump

Tom Zimmer - "The Hermit of Loreto" -  3/6/2017
By Bret Thoman, SFO---

About two weeks ago, I began receiving a slew of emails and Facebooks messages asking me what I knew about the American “Hermit of Loreto.” Though I, too, am an American who lives in Loreto, I knew nothing about him.

I was given a YouTube video to watch:



In the video, an American priest named Fr. Giacomo Capoverdi recounts how he encountered this holy man who lived in Loreto. He says that some seventeen years ago, a friend of his -- an Italian American doctor named Claudio Curran -- told him that he had to get up to Loreto on his upcoming trip to Rome to speak with a holy man there by the name of Tom Zimmer.

He said this gentleman, an American layperson, had left everything behind in the US to live in Loreto as a hermit. He added that he was very prayerful and had written a book, “Pietà” which sold upwards of “ten million copies.”

Fr. Capoverdi says that after arriving in Rome, he indeed took a train up to Loreto and went inside the basilica where he saw an elderly gentleman, hunched over, sitting on the floor next to the Holy House in prayer. He sat down next to him, introduced himself in English, and they had a wonderful conversation.

So then Fr. Capoverdi fast forwards until a few weeks ago when he was talking to his old friend, the doctor, who said that back in the 1980s, Tom Zimmer had told him (the doctor) that he had received a “premonition” and that he (Tom) believed that a certain man would lead America back to God. And that man would be none other than Donald J. Trump.

“The millionaire playboy from New York?” asks the incredulous doctor. “Yes,” responds Tom. In fact, Zimmer was so convinced that Donald Trump would become a great spiritual leader of America that he wrote his name on a brick and had it placed in the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Holy Door after the Jubilee in order that Trump would receive blessings from the many Masses that would be said in the Vatican.

Fr. Capoverdi says that he wanted to get this message out after he saw Donald Trump’s wife begin a political rally in Florida by beginning with the Our Father.

Now, I have to admit that my first impression after watching this video was somewhere between skepticism and suspicion. Although I believe that God reveals his plans and messages in advance to his prophets, it is not always clear who his prophets are, or, when people speak as “prophets” whether or not they are true or false.

In any case, a number of people asked me if I would look into Tom Zimmer to see what I could find out. And so I did.

Since the 1920s, the basilica of the Holy House of Loreto has been staffed by the Capuchin Franciscan friars. Due to my participation in the Third Order of St. Francis, my work organizing pilgrimages, and my own prayer and Mass attendance at the Holy House, I know a number of friars and personnel who staff the basilica. And so I went to find to do some “investigative research.”

First, I happened to run into a jovial, 84-year-young friar named Fr. Mario who I’ve known for years. He was in Loreto for a week-long retreat, though he lives not in Loreto, but in the mother house in Camerino where the order began in the sixteenth century. (When we take groups to Camerino, I sometimes joke with Fr. Mario by asking him if he was there when Matteo da Bascio founded the order in 1527.) Since all the Capuchins of this province, the Marches, come here often, as it is one of their most important churches and communities, I asked Fr. Mario if he knew anything about Tom Zimmer.

He said that he recalled an American man who prayed in the basilica, but he added that over the years, there have been many such “penitents” or “oblates” who come here for weeks, months, or even years, and he did not know much about him.

He said the friars all knew of him and referred to him simply as “L’Americano” (the American), and found him to be courteous and polite, if not a little “particular.” They were aware that Tom attended upwards of four or five Masses every day and that he spent the rest of his time praying in and around the Holy House. (The Holy House itself is a small building comprised of four marble-wrapped walls in the center of a large basilica.)

Since he didn’t have any more information about “The American,” Fr. Mario told me I should speak with Fr. Giuseppe Santarelli, who has been in Loreto for decades and would surely know more.

I had heard of Fr. Santarelli and knew that he was one of the more erudite and learned friars in Loreto and works as the director of the “Congregazione Universale della Santa Casa” which promotes devotion to the Holy House and publishes a magazine, among other things. So I popped in and introduced myself.

I immediately sensed that Fr. Santarelli, not much taller than five feet, was a kind man and a gentleman. I told him that I was there to inquire about an American “penitent” who lived in Loreto back in the 1990s and prayed frequently in the Holy House.

Fr. Santarelli promptly cut me off, “Ah sì, Thomas Zimmer, si chiamava... certo che mi ricordo...” (“Ah yes, Thomas Zimmer was his name, of course I remember him...”). He went on to say that everyone in Loreto knew of him.

I told him about the “premonition” he had made about Donald Trump and that a video of an American priest discussing it had just gone viral on the internet. Fr. Santarelli just smiled and added that he did not know anything about that, but that him making such a prophecy may have been possible. I asked him what he did know about Thomas. 

He said he was here in Loreto for about ten years, he was a very pious and devoted man, he went to Mass every opportunity he could and was in constant prayer, he spoke fluent Italian, and the friars held him in high esteem. He said that he knew Tom had gone back to the US before he died. He didn’t recall exactly, but he thought somewhere around 2008.

He said that the basilica had received word of his death and they had a record of it. He took me into another room where there were some archives and pulled out a ledger or two, but could not find the document he was looking for.

He then said that he had a photo of Tom, and he pulled out a hardbound book from a different shelf. It was a type of album. In it, Tom Zimmer can be seen frail and hunched over leaning on a cane sitting in front of the Holy House. He let me take a picture of it.
Thomas Zimmer
I asked him what he thought about Tom’s prophecy, but he said he did not him well enough to have an opinion on that. He said I should speak to a woman who worked in the bookstore next to the basilica. Her name was Michela. He said that she knew Tom quite well and even referred to her as being a “faithful devotee” of his.

So I went next door and, after a large crowd of French speaking pilgrims cleared out, I found Michela and introduced myself to her and explained why I was there.

She said Tom was a very holy man and she used to accompany him back and forth to the Holy House from the retirement home where he was staying. She said he used to joke that he lived in Mary’s House longer than St. Joseph.

During the time she knew him, he taught her many prayers including a devotion to St. Bridget, which helped her during a difficult period while she was pregnant with her child. She also said that after he returned to the US, he wrote to her saying that he regretted his decision to leave Loreto, but that he felt strongly he needed to return to his homeland. Without saying so, it was clear that Michela was very fond of Tom.

I told her about his premonition and what he said many years earlier about Donald Trump, and she said she did not know anything about that. I asked her if he ever confided to her any other such premonitions or prophecies. He had not.

After looking into Tom Zimmer, the “Hermit of Loreto,” I have no reason to doubt Fr. Capoverdi’s statements that Thomas Zimmer communicated to his friend that he received a “premonition” that Donald Trump would “lead America back to God.” Yet, when seeking to determine whether a prophecy is true or false, the Church leaves us some criteria to guide us in discernment.

The first is to look at the recipient of the prophecy. Generally, that person should be a good and virtuous person and additionally, the person’s temperament should also be considered, as well as his or her physical and mental state. Here it is clear that Thomas Zimmer was prayerful and devoted, was courteous and helpful toward others in need, and appears to have been of sound mind, though his body was failing.

Next, a prophecy must not state anything is against revealed truth. Here, too, there is nothing Scriptural or in Church teachings that would suggest that a political leader cannot lead people to God; on the contrary, Scripture indicates it as a duty. (Some have even seen Trump in the figure of King Cyrus [see Ezra 1:1-11]).

Lastly, the prophecy must, obviously, come true. It does seem extraordinary that an elderly prayerful man would have had such an intuition about Donald Trump as being Christian leader when he was, indeed, living a life quite the opposite in that moment. 

However, I believe that here we will have to wait and see … And even then, I will wager that whether Donald Trump “leads America back to God” will be open to interpretation…