Monday November 19, 2012
A vision that’s opening eyes
One Man's Meat
By PHILIP GOLINGAI
The alleged apparition of Mother Mary at Sime Darby Medical Centre in Subang Jaya has caused more than a stir. While the appearance has not got the official approval of the Catholic Church it has not stopped hundreds of Catholics from offering prayers.
I HAD an OMG! (Oh My God) moment at 4.28pm on Nov 11 when I went to see the alleged apparition of Mother Mary at the Sime Darby Medical Centre in Subang Jaya, Selangor.
Let me rewind my story.
A day earlier, on a dark and stormy Saturday night, as a good Catholic boy I visited the site where the image – some Catholics believed resembled the mother of Jesus – was seen on a vertical window pane on the seventh floor of the hospital’s new wing.
That night all I saw was a dark foreboding stain on the pane.
The next day I visited the site again as I was told the image was clear on sunny days.
At the hospital, a crowd (mostly Catholics) were standing about 100m from the image, reciting the Hail Mary (a Catholic prayer asking for the intercession of the Virgin Mary).
The atmosphere was surreal. It was as if the congregation was celebrating Good Friday (the day when Jesus was crucified) and Easter (the day when Jesus rose from the dead) simultaneously.
I pushed my way through the believers to see the image and I looked up. I saw Mother Mary! The image resembled Virgin Mary’s statue which most (devout) Catholics have in their homes.
I had goose bumps. Uncharacteristically, I made the sign of the cross and I said a quick prayer.
A 40-something woman standing next to me shouted: “I see it. I see it. Mother Mary!”
One of my tweets after seeing the image was: “Depending on your faith, you’ll feel like you’re witnessing a miracle in SDMC.”
Let me be clear about what I saw. I saw an image that looked like the Virgin Mary. But I’m not saying the image was that of the Virgin Mary.
After I tweeted “OMG. #mothermaryimage is very clear at 4.28pm” a Christian politician called to say he was heading to the site. Thirty minutes later, he glanced at the image and said: “You are right, it is clearer than this morning.”
The retired politician made a phone call and a few minutes later we were escorted to the seventh floor staircase, which is out of bounds to the public.
We faced the back of the window pane with the image. What I saw was a random white stain.
To make sense of the image on the pane, I drove to St Anne, a Catholic church in Port Klang, on Tuesday to meet Rev Father Lawrence Andrew.
The Jesuit priest, who is the editor of the Catholic newsletter The Herald, said he, too, had visited the site on Monday. What he saw was beautiful. “I was surprised to see about 70 to 100 people praying at 1am. There was a sense of awe and reverence and they looked at the image in silence,” he related. “You could see people kneeling down and interacting in spiritual charity.”
“Why were they moved by the image?” I asked. “When they see something out of the ordinary in a religious context which cannot be explained, then based on their collective memory and religious experiences they view the unfolding of this new image – attributed to Mother Mary – with their personal faith,” he answered.
I asked Father Lawrence what he thought of the image. “We can’t say too much about it as the Catholic Church has set in place a proper procedure to determine whether the apparition is authentic or not,” he said.
The Jesuit priest asked me to read michaelckw.blogspot.com by Rev Michael Chua, the parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, Klang, where the glass pane will be moved to.
Father Michael wrote that the appearance did not have official approval from the Catholic Church. “The Archbishop has instructed that the glass panel be respectfully placed in a place conducive for prayer in the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Klang, pending further investigation to determine its authenticity,” he wrote.
“This is not to be interpreted as a tacit approval or recommendation by the church authorities that the image is worthy of private or public veneration.”
My gut feeling on the image is it’s a natural phenomenon. It is made of limestone, mortar and sunshine.
Whatever it is, the image has brought good. It has made me — a lapsed Catholic — pray. That in itself is a miracle!