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The "Stigmata" in Church History
For What purpose does God permit the “Stigmata” to appear on the bodies of certain “chosen souls”? With the question of the 'stigmata' one must proceed on the path of sound discernment. It is true that psychosomatic effects can take place in people when they are in an hysterical state or other emotionally disordered state. Some cases have been documented to demonstrate instances where people induced this phenomenon by their own will. However, that reality does not discard the validity of the phenomenon in the context of a real mystical experience. Catholics have a very sound foundation of sacramentality which means that God sets aside, blesses and utilizes material reality to manifest a greater spiritual reality, so that we believe in the seven sacraments of the Church where material reality is a sign of the spiritual immense infinite reality. Having that as a foundation, we can also understand that the signs of the Passion of Christ in the flesh of a living person can be a radical call to conversion and to death and rebirth to others. To see this is for us an icon of the suffering that Christ endured for our salvation. It is, if you will, without downgrading it by using the simile, it is a visual aid for us to understand the depth of love in the heart of God for us that He would assume our humanity and suffer what He suffered and die on the cross that we could have life eternal, to redeem us. And so throughout the history of the Church, there have been cases where people have received the marks and the suffering of the Passion of Christ in accordance with what Christ wanted to give them, to the degree that He wanted to give it to them. For them personally, it is communion with Christ in the utmost expression of His communion with us, which was the Passion. So it is a great gift to that soul, to that person. For the Church, that which is a gift for the person is a sign for the rest of us, that God in Jesus Christ, took on our death and triumphed over death by His suffering, His death and His glorious resurrection. And it is also a challenge for us to live the reality of our baptism, which had the affect of our dying with Christ and being brought back to life in Him. Now this happens sacramentally, but we must make this an incarnate reality in our lives as we face the tribulations, the difficulties and the sacrifices that we must make in order to go out from ourselves to others in service and love. Our call to give ourselves to one another in love and in service is a radical, total call. We are not called to give ourselves to others partially, but rather completely as Christ gave Himself for us completely. When you see a person carrying in their bodies the wounds of Christ, you are called to meditate upon how you are dying to self in your life, that Christ in His Mercy may be manifested in you and through you to others. There is a great value in this. It is a great challenge to us and definitely for those who are blessed with this excruciating grace. It is communion with Christ, in His utmost expression of communion with us. Because after all, what happened when Christ died was that He became one with us. He entered into solidarity with us, in that unifying experience which is death. That is the ultimate expression of love, sacrifice and solidarity of God towards humanity. Now you have God offering a human being the opportunity to share this with Him and that is beautiful, It brings closure to the whole economy of salvation. What He did for us, He allows us to do for Him. Mystically, Christ has even expressed Himself to some of the people who have the stigmata by asking, “Are you willing to take on My suffering that I may rest a while?” A beautiful thing. He did this with St. Padre Pio, who bore the wounds of Jesus for 50 years and was recently canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II.. What wonderous love, so difficult to really understand-- where Almighty God is asking for our help. All of these aspects help validate the mystery and the mystical experience of the stigmata.  .

Life of Marie Rose Ferro (from Mystics of the Church)
" In Memory of "
Little Rose Ferro Apostolate in USA and Canada
Fr. Leonard Docments)

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