Category Archives: Religion

Editor of ‘First Things’ religious journal declares Pope Francis a failure

First Things is an ecumenical, conservative religious journal founded in 1990 by Richard John Neuhaus, a prominent intellectual and Lutheran minister who converted to the Catholic Church and entered the priesthood shortly after the journal’s founding.

Published by the New York-based Institute on Religion and Public Life, with a circulation of approximately 30,000 copies, the influential journal is inter-denominational and inter-religious, representing a broad intellectual tradition of Christian and Jewish critique of contemporary society.

First Thingscontributors include many well-known intellectuals and religious figures such as George Weigel, Michael Novak, William Bennett, Peter L. Berger, David Horowitz, Ralph McInerny, Cardinal Avery Dulles, and bishop Charles J. Chaput. So it is significant that the journal’s current literary editor, Matthew Schmitz, in an op/ed published in the New York Times on Sept. 28, 2016, declares Pope Francis a failure.

Schmitz arrived at the assessment using, as his yardstick, “the Francis effect” — whether Francis’ papacy has increased the number of Catholics, as measured, for example, by Mass attendance. Alas, in the United States, despite the (liberal) media’s hailing of Francis, Mass attendance not only has not increased since the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became Pope in 2013, attendance had actually decreased. And it’s not just in the U.S. but also in Italy, where the Vatican is located.

Schmitz concludes that the (seeming) popularity achieved by Francis/Bergoglio is a personal one, at the expense of the Catholic Church.

Below is Schmitz’ op/ed in its entirety.

Pope Francis hides the Crucifix meeting Israeli rabbis

Pope Francis hides the Crucifix meeting Israeli rabbis

About the above pic, see “Pope Francis is ashamed of the Cross, knows better than the Gospels“.

Has Pope Francis Failed?

By Matthew Schmitz • New York Times • September 28, 2016

When Pope Francis ascended to the chair of St. Peter in March 2013, the world looked on in wonder. Here at last was a pope in line with the times, a man who preferred spontaneous gestures to ritual forms. Francis paid his own hotel bill and eschewed the red shoes. Rather than move into the grand papal apartments, he settled in the cozy guesthouse for visitors to the Vatican. He also set a new nondogmatic tone with statements like “Who am I to judge?

Observers predicted that the new pope’s warmth, humility and charisma would prompt a “Francis effect” — bringing disaffected Catholics back to a church that would no longer seem so forbidding and cold. Three years into his papacy, the predictions continue. Last winter, Austen Ivereigh, the author of an excellent biography of Pope Francis, wrote that the pope’s softer stance on communion for the divorced and remarried “could trigger a return to parishes on a large scale.” In its early days, Francis’ Jesuit order labored to bring Protestants back into the fold of the church. Could Francis do the same for Catholics tired of headlines about child abuse and culture wars?

In a certain sense, things have changed. Perceptions of the papacy, or at least of the pope, have improved. Francis is far more popular than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Sixty-three percent of American Catholics approve of him, while only 43 percent approved of Benedict at the height of his popularity, according to a 2015 New York Times and CBS News poll. Francis has also placed a great emphasis on reaching out to disaffected Catholics.

But are Catholics actually coming back? In the United States, at least, it hasn’t happened. New survey findings from Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate suggest that there has been no Francis effect — at least, no positive one. In 2008, 23 percent of American Catholics attended Mass each week. Eight years later, weekly Mass attendance has held steady or marginally declined, at 22 percent.

Of course, the United States is only one part of a global church. But the researchers at Georgetown found that certain types of religious observance are weaker now among young Catholics than they were under Benedict. In 2008, 50 percent of millennials reported receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, and 46 percent said they made some sacrifice beyond abstaining from meat on Fridays. This year, only 41 percent reported receiving ashes and only 36 percent said they made an extra sacrifice, according to CARA. In spite of Francis’ personal popularity, young people seem to be drifting away from the faith.

Why hasn’t the pope’s popularity reinvigorated the church? Perhaps it is too soon to judge. We probably won’t have a full measure of any Francis effect until the church is run by bishops appointed by Francis and priests who adopt his pastoral approach. This will take years or decades.

Yet something more fundamental may stand in the way of a Francis effect. Francis is a Jesuit, and like many members of Catholic religious orders, he tends to view the institutional church, with its parishes and dioceses and settled ways, as an obstacle to reform. He describes parish priests as “little monsters” who “throw stones” at poor sinners. He has given curial officials a diagnosis of “spiritual Alzheimer’s.” He scolds pro-life activists for their “obsession” with abortion. He has said that Catholics who place an emphasis on attending Mass, frequenting confession, and saying traditional prayers are “Pelagians” — people who believe, heretically, that they can be saved by their own works.

Such denunciations demoralize faithful Catholics without giving the disaffected any reason to return. Why join a church whose priests are little monsters and whose members like to throw stones? When the pope himself stresses internal spiritual states over ritual observance, there is little reason to line up for confession or wake up for Mass.

Even Francis’ most ardent fans worry that his agenda is overdue. When he was elected, Francis promised a cleanup of the Vatican’s corrupt finances. Three years on, he has started to retreat in the face of opposition, giving up an outside audit and taking powers away from his handpicked point man. Francis has also shied away from big changes on doctrinal matters. Instead of explicitly endorsing communion for the divorced and remarried couples, he has quietly urged them on with a wink and a nod.

Francis has built his popularity at the expense of the church he leads. Those who wish to see a stronger church may have to wait for a different kind of pope. Instead of trying to soften the church’s teaching, such a man would need to speak of the way hard disciplines can lead to freedom. Confronting a hostile age with the strange claims of Catholic faith may not be popular, but over time it may prove more effective. Even Christ was met with the jeers of the crowd.

-End of Schmitz’ op/ed-

See also:

~Eowyn

Baby born with DNA from 3 people, first from new technique

20_week_fetus

From Seattle Times: Scientists say the first baby has been born from a controversial new technique that combines DNA from three people — the mother, the father and an egg donor. The goal was to prevent the child from inheriting a fatal genetic disease from his mother, who had previously lost two children to the illness.

The birth of the boy is revealed in a research summary published by the journal Fertility & Sterility. Scientists are scheduled to present details at a meeting next month in Salt Lake City.

The magazine New Scientist, which first reported the birth, said the baby was born five months ago to Jordanian parents, and that they were treated in Mexico by a team led by Dr. John Zhang of the New Hope Fertility Center in New York. It’s not clear where the child was born.

Dr. John Zhang

Dr. John Zhang

The technique is not approved in the United States, but Zhang told the magazine, “To save lives is the ethical thing to do.” A spokesman for the fertility center said Zhang was not available for further comment on Tuesday. Others involved in the research referred questions to Zhang.

The mother carries DNA that could have given her child Leigh syndrome, a severe neurological disorder that usually kills within a few years of birth. Her two previous children died of the disease at 8 months and 6 years, the research summary said.

The technique involved removing some of the mother’s DNA from an egg, and leaving the disease-causing DNA behind. The healthy DNA was slipped into a donor’s egg, which was then fertilized. As a result, the baby inherited DNA from both parents and the egg donor. The technique is sometimes said to produce “three-parent babies,” but the DNA contribution from the egg donor is very small.

People carry DNA in two places, the nucleus of the cell and in features called mitochondria, which lie outside the nucleus. The technique is designed to transfer only DNA of the nucleus to the donor egg, separating it from the mother’s disease-causing mitochondrial DNA.

The research summary identified the mother as a 36-year-old woman and said her pregnancy was uneventful. One of the five eggs the researchers treated was suitable for use.

Critics question the technique’s safety, saying children would have to be tracked for decades to make sure they remain healthy. And they say it passes a fundamental scientific boundary by altering the DNA inherited by future generations. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from women to their offspring.

Still, last year, Britain became the first country in the world to allow creation of human embryos with the technique. In the U.S., a panel of government advisers said earlier this year that it’s ethical to test the approach in people if initial experiments follow certain strict safety steps. That report was requested by the Food and Drug Administration, which is currently prevented by Congress from considering applications to approve testing the technique in people.

Shroukhrat Mitalipov, who has worked with the approach at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, said that given the panel’s conclusion, “We believe it’s time to move forward with FDA-approved clinical trials in the United States.”

Henry Greely from Stanford University

Henry Greely from Stanford University

Henry Greely, who directs the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford University, said Tuesday he sees nothing wrong with using the technique if it is safe and is aimed at diseases clearly caused by faulty mitochondrial DNA. But he called the research leading to the newly reported birth “unethical, unwise, immoral.” He said the approach “hasn’t been sufficiently proven safe enough to try to use to make a baby.”

Dieter Egli of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, who has done work in the area, was cautious about the implications of the new report. “I wouldn’t go out there at this point and tout the accomplishment because we don’t have enough information,” he said Tuesday. “We do not know exactly what was done. We have to wait for a fuller report,’ he said.

The child is not the first to inherit DNA from three people. In the 1990s, some children were born after researchers used a different technique. But federal regulators intervened, and the field’s interest now has passed to the new approach.

DCG

Today is the Archangels’ feast day!

Today is the Feast Day of the Archangels!

September 29 traditionally was set aside as the Feast Day of St. Michael the Archangel. (The word “saint” simply means “holy.”) Then the Church made it the feast day of all the Archangels.

Three Angels are named in the Bible:

  1. Michael: in Hebrew, the name means “Who is like God?”.
  2. Gabriel: in Hebrew, the name means “God is my might”.
  3. Raphael: in Hebrew, the name means “God has healed”.

Notice that all three names end with “El” — which means God, in Hebrew. Thus, each Archangel’s name ending in “el” means they are “of God.”

The word angel, in Greek, is angelos; in Hebrew, malach; in Arabic, mala’ika — which all mean “messenger.”

Angels are incorporeal (bodiless) spiritual beings who act as messengers and intermediaries between God and humanity. St. Augustine said that although angels are defined by their function as messengers or message-bearers, their activities are not limited to just this function. Created by God to serve Him, angels fulfill any and all tasks assigned to them.

my angels2In other words, being an angel or messenger simply denotes one of their functions, not their nature. St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that each angel is unique, a species unto itself — truly a mind-boggling idea.

Major philosophers — such as Thomas Aquinas, René Descartes, John Locke, and most recently, the American philosopher Mortimer Adler — have put forth compelling reasons for the existence of Angels. (For the conversion of Adler, a Jew, to the Catholic faith, see the moving account, “A Philosopher-Pagan Comes Home.)

Theologians maintain there is a hierarchy of Angels, due to the fact that in Genesis 3:24, Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1, 10, Romans 8:38, Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12, Colossians 1:16, 2:10, 2:15, allusions are made to “seraphim,” “cherubim,” “thrones,” “dominions,” “mights,” “powers,” and “principalities” in the “heavenly places.”

Dionysius the Areopagite and St. Thomas Aquinas delineated three hierarchies of Angels, with each hierarchy comprised of three orders:

  • 1st hierarchy: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones.
  • 2nd hierarchy: Dominions, Virtues, Powers.
  • 3rd hierarchy: Principalities, Archangels, Angels.

Of the nine angelic orders, five are sent by God for external ministry among bodily creatures, as indicated by their names of Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels—all of which refer to some kind of administrative or executive office. Of these five orders, only the last three minister to human beings:

  • Principalities are in charge of the whole of humanity.
  • Archangels minister to nations — their leaders and those persons whom God tasks with special work to do on Earth.
  • Angels, the last order, are God’s messengers to and guardians of individual human beings.

That leaves the orders of Virtues and Powers who, by logical inference, minister to other bodily but nonhuman creatures. The latter would include the non-human animals, such as our pets, whom St. Bonaventure called “creatures without sin” — which is a happy thought indeed!

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

Archangel Gabriel appears to Mary. The Annunciation by Sandro Botticelli, 1485.

Gabriel’s name means “God is great.” The angel Gabriel appears to at least three people in the Bible:

  • To the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:16).
  • To the priest Zechariah to foretell and announce the miraculous birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19).
  • To the Virgin Mary to tell her that she would conceive and bear a son (Luke 1:26–38). As the angel of the Annunciation, Gabriel is the one who revealed that the Savior was to be called “Jesus” (Luke 1:31).

St. Gabriel is recognized as the patron saint of messengers, telecommunication workers, and postal workers.

St. Raphael, the Archangel

st-raphael1The angel Raphael‘s name means “God heals.” This identity came about because of the biblical story that Raphael “healed” the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels in the apocryphal Book of Enoch.

Raphael appears, by name, only in the Book of Tobit. , where he, disguised as a human named “Azarias the son of the great Ananias,” accompanies Tobiah, the son of Tobit, in his travels. When Raphael returns from his journey with Tobiah, he declares to Tobit that he was sent by the Lord to heal his blindness and deliver Sarah, Tobiah’s future wife, from the demon Asmodeus. It is then that the angel makes himself known as “the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tobit 12:15).

Although only the archangels Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name in the New Testament, the Gospel of John 5:1-4 speaks of a healing pool at Bethesda where “An angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under.” This passage is generally associated with St. Raphael, the Archangel.

St. Raphael is the patron saint of travelers, the blind, bodily ills, happy meetings, nurses, physicians and medical workers. He is often pictured holding a staff and either holding or standing on a fish.

St. Michael, the Archangel

The name “Lucifer” means “Morning Star,” “Son of the Dawn,” or “Light Carrier.” For that reason, theologians believe that Lucifer was a high-order Angel, most likely the highest order — a Seraphim. Aquinas thought him to be “probably the highest of all the angels.” But Lucifer admires and loves himself more than his Creator and thinks himself to be “as God.” And so, swollen with narcissism and grandiosity, Lucifer rebelled, taking a third of the angelic beings with him.

StMichaelTheArchangelA lower-order Angel, full of courage and love of God, rallied together two-thirds of the angelic ranks against Lucifer and the other apostates, in the First War that began the enduring conflict between good and evil. As related in Revelation 12:7-9:

Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it. 

That braveheart’s name is Micha-el, which means “Who is like God?” — Michael‘s battle cry.

St. Michael the Archangel is the prince of the heavenly armies and the most beloved of all the angels. He is mentioned in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he disputed with the devil about the body of Moses); and in Revelation 12:7 (where he led the heavenly armies against those of the “great dragon”).

Described in Revelation 10:1 as a “mighty angel…with a halo around his head; his face was like the sun and his feet were like pillars of fire,” St. Michael is generally portrayed by artists as wearing full armor and carrying a sword or lance, with his foot on the neck of a dragon. (Pictures of the martyred St. George are often similar, but only Michael has wings.)

Michael has four main titles or offices. He is:

  • Patron of the Chosen People in the Old Testament.
  • Patron saint and defender of the Church.
  • The Angel of death, who assists Jesus in the final judgment (thus, Michael is sometimes depicted with a scale).
  • Leading the good angels against the fallen angels or demons. For that reason, Christians consider St. Michael the most powerful defender of God’s people against evil. As such, Michael is also the patron saint of soldiers and policemen. (For the Prayer to St. Michael, go here.)

All of which is why St. Michael, the Braveheart of Angels, is my most favorite saint, whom I admire and love with all my heart. He is my commander in chief. As you can see from this blog’s masthead, he is also the protector of Fellowship of the Minds.

Happy Feast Day, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael!

Thank you for inspiring us with your humility, courage, goodness, and love for God.

Thank you, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for creating the marvelous Angels!

~Eowyn

For a fascinating account of one man’s experience with the Archangel Michael, click here. Check out FOTM‘s other angel posts here!

Sources:

  1. Mortimer J. Adler, The Angels and Us (New York: Macmillan, 1982).
  2. Matthew Bunson, Angels A to Z: A Who’s Who of the Heavenly Host (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996), pp. 181-184.
  3. Michael H. Brown, Prayer of the Warrior (Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing Co., 1993), p. 34.
  4. René Descartes, Meditations On First Philosophy, trans. by Donald A. Cress (Indianapolis & Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1979).
  5. John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited with an introduction by A. D. Woozley (Cleveland & New York: Meridian Books, 1968),
  6. Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Volume One(New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947).

Noah’s Problems…

noahs-ark

In the year 2016, the Lord came unto Noah, Who was now living in America and said: “Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me. Build another ark and save 2 of every living thing Along with a few good  humans.”

He gave Noah the blueprints, saying: “You have 6 months to build the ark before I will Start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights.”

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard – but no ark. “Noah!,” He roared, “I’m about to start the rain! Where is the ark?”

“Forgive me, Lord,” begged Noah, “but things have changed.”

government-incompetence

“I needed a building permit.”

“I’ve been arguing with the boat inspector about the need for a sprinkler system.”

“My neighbors claim that I’ve violated the neighborhood by-laws by building the ark in my backyard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the local Planning Committee for a decision.”

“Then the local Council and the electric company demanded a shed load of money for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage for the ark’s move to the sea. I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear none of it.”

“Getting the wood was another problem. There’s a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the Greater Spotted Barn Owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls – but no go!”

Noahs_Ark

“When I started gathering the animals the ASPCA took me to court. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued the accommodations were too restrictive and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space.”

“Then the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that I couldn’t build the ark until they’d conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood.”

“I’m still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I’msupposed to hire for my building crew.”

“The Immigration Dept. Is checking the visa status of most of the people who want to work.”

“The trade unions say I can’t use my sons. They insist I have to hire only Union workers with ark-building experience.”

To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets, claiming I’m trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species.”

“So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least 10 years for me to finish this ark.”

“Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky.”

Noah looked up in wonder and asked, “You mean you’re not going to destroy the world?”

“No,” said the Lord. “The Government beat me to it.”

the-laughing-funny-cat

DCG

Sunday Devotional: ‘Who dwells in unapproachable light’

1 Timothy 6:11-16

But you, man of God, pursue righteousness,
devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called
when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I charge you before God, who gives life to all things,
and before Christ Jesus,
who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession,
to keep the commandment without stain or reproach
until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ
that the blessed and only ruler
will make manifest at the proper time,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light,
and whom no human being has seen or can see.
To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

The Holy Trinity of three Persons in one God is an enduring mystery that, through the ages, the brilliant minds of the brightest theologians have not been able to plumb.

Since Jesus, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, became incarnate, lived with, and was seen by countless percipient witnesses before He ascended and left our mortal coil, the “King of kings . . . who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see” referred to by St. Paul in the above passage can only be the First Person — the Father and Creator of the Universe.

As St. Paul said in Colossians 1:15:

“The Son is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.”

Indeed, Jesus Himself said (John 14:6):

“I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Here’s a little glimpse of the unimaginable awesomeness of the Creator, “whom no human being has seen or can see”:

And yet the Being “who dwells in unapproachable light” sent His only Son to suffer and die for us puny wretched humans. In the words of St. Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5-6:

“For there is one God.
There is also one mediator
between God and the human race,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
who gave himself as ransom for all.”

How He must love us . . . .

Christ crucified

May the love and peace and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

The stuff of nightmares: UFOlogist Dr. Stephen Greer has a double row of lower teeth

While watching another video on YouTube yesterday, I noticed a video claiming that “Stephen Greer is a Reptilian”. Out of curiosity, I clicked it on, and saw this alarming image of him with what appears to be TWO rows of lower teeth:

Not knowing who he is, I found out that Steven Macon Greer, 61, is a retired ER medical doctor and ufologist who claims to have seen an unidentified flying object at close range when he was about eight years old, which inspired his interest in ufology.

In 1990, he founded the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI) to create a diplomatic and research-based initiative to contact extraterrestrial civilizations. In 1993, he founded the non-profit Disclosure Project to disclose to the public the government’s alleged knowledge of UFOs, extraterrestrial intelligence, and advanced energy and propulsion systems.

In 1997, Greer along with other members of CSETI, including Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, made a presentation at a background briefing for members of Congress. In 1998, Greer gave up his career as an ER doctor at Caldwell Memorial Hospital to devote his full time to the Disclosure Project.

According to a 2002 report in the Oregon Daily Emerald, Greer has gathered 120 hours of testimony from civilians and various government and military officials on the topic of UFOs, including astronaut Gordon Cooper and a brigadier general.

To verify the “Steven Greer is a reptilian” video, I found a video of Greer speaking to a roomful of people, which he uploaded to YouTube on August 21, 2016, in which he claims to have been approached by 5 ETs.

I slowed down the video and took a series of screenshots, the first of which (at the 0:08 mark of the video) definitely shows he has a mouthful of teeth:

stephen-greer-08

More screenshots reveal that he indeed has what appears to be a double row of lower teeth:

stephen-greers-double-row-of-lower-teeth

Eeek!

I was beginning to freak out.

Fortunately, I did some more research and discovered a dental condition called hyperdontia.

From Wikipedia:

Hyperdontia is the condition of having supernumerary teeth, or teeth that appear in addition to the regular number of teeth. They can appear in any area of the dental arch and can affect any dental organ.

There is evidence of hereditary factors along with some evidence of environmental factors leading to this condition. While a single excess tooth is relatively common, multiple hyperdontia is rare in people with no other associated diseases or syndromes. …

Hyperdontia is seen in a number of disorders, including Gardner’s syndrome and cleidocranial dysostosis….

hyperdontiaFrom the website Supernumerary Teeth:

The supernumerary teeth occur a lot more among the permanent teeth compared to the deciduous [or baby] teeth…. The case of the teeth occurrence is same for deciduous teeth for both males and females. But when it comes to the permanent teeth the incidences of the extra teeth is twice as much in males compared to females…. Classification according to location gives only two types, that is, those found among the front teeth (also known as mesiodens) and those found at the back of the mouth.

And so, just because Steven Greer has extra lower teeth doesn’t make him a reptilian. What remains a mystery is why Greer, who must have made a good income from being an ER doctor, never corrected his hyperdontia by having the extra lower teeth extracted and the remaining teeth straightened with orthodontia.

Things I learn (that I don’t really need to know) by spending too much time on the web. LOL

~Eowyn

Angel over Ground Zero, September 2016

On September 9, 2016, a professional photographer named Richard McCormack took a pic of the New York city skyline, and captured the beam of light shooting up from One World Trade Center — Ground Zero of 9/11.

Photo by Richard McCormack

Photo by Richard McCormack

On Sept. 12, 2016, McCormack posted the pic to his Facebook page, with this comment:

Zoom in to the top of beam do you see something, I took this photo no photo shop no gimmicks took many and only one showed this image ,copyright Richard J McCormack 9/9/2016

Here’s a close-up of the figure at the top of the beam of light.

angel-over-ground-zero-closeup

McCormack describes himself as a clerk at the County of Hudson, and a photographer at The Jersey Journal.

His intriguing photo has been published in a number of venues, including New Jersey 101.5:

Richard McCormack took several pictures of the Sept. 11 memorial lights on Friday. All of the pictures looked pretty much the same – all but one that depicts an image he can’t quite explain.

At the very top of one of the beam, where it meets the clouds, there appears to be a distinctly human-like figure. The Jersey City man, who freelances as a photographer around Hudson County, said the image didn’t appear in any of the identical photos he took from the same location, and the pictures wasn’t altered or edited in any way. In fact, McCormack said, he doesn’t even know how to use editing programs such as Photoshop.

According to McCormack, the picture was taken from the waterfront in Hoboken during a festival late last week — just two days before the country held countless services and events in memory of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The Hudson County man, a former postal worker who serves on the Jersey City Zoning Board, has seen the memorial lights before. He’s photographed them numerous times, but he says seeing the image at the top of the beam was a complete surprise.

“I did a double-take not knowing really what it was, but as I zoomed in it almost looked liked a vision of the Lord with his arms crossed,” said McCormack, who still remembers the horror that unfolded on 9/11. “I got very emotional, and I got tears in my eyes.”

McCormack said that while he does believe in prayer, he admittedly doesn’t go to church every week. He can’t say with any certainty what the image at the top of the beam is, but several people who commented on his picture on Facebook believe it’s spiritual, with many people saying they believe it to be an angel. At least one person recalled seeing it with her own eyes as she was driving.

“Yup. It’s an angel. Noticed it last night driving on the parkway,” Diane Brennan commented on the image, which McCormack posted around 9 p.m. Monday night and was quickly shared almost two dozen times.

Other people also commented, saying they believed it to be an angel or Jesus. Others, who know of McCormack’s lack of photo editing abilities, even commented on the authenticity of the picture.

“If someone else took the pic I would think this was Photoshopped…great pic Rich,” Linda Conner said.

Another person, Yvette Cid, also posted a comment saying, “Rich I know you don’t photo shop that’s an awesome pic wow I lost my two boys and I believe this is a sign to all that have lost a love one.”

Nancy Diaz, another commenter, said “it looks like there’s someone up there looking down.”

In fact, although he took the photos last week, McCormack said he didn’t even notice the anomaly until today. He said had he seen it yesterday, on 9/11, he would’ve been even more emotional.

“That day turned a lot of things around and changed our country,” he said of the terrorist attacks.

McCormack acknowleged that many people would either assume the photo was altered or that they would believe the image atop the beam can be easily attributed to other, non-spiritual factors such as the shape of the clouds. As of now, though, he still has no explanation but said he’s content knowing that so many people found a sense of comfort in seeing the photo.

See also “Angel and Devil on 9/11“.

~Eowyn