My Worst Fear

Recently, a friend and I were talking about our greatest fears. Among all the truly terrible things in this fallen world, from terrorism to child abuse, from torture to betrayal, from murder to rape, from among all these things and everything between, I am most afraid of this:

I fear becoming evil.

I fear becoming a terrorist, I fear being an abuser, a torturer, a betrayer, a murderer, a rapist. I fear becoming evil more than I fear being terrorized, abused, tortured, betrayed, murdered, raped.

The only thing worse than being a victim is being a victimizer.Murderer

Because I never want to hurt the people I love. I never want to take away someone’s beloved. And I never want to forfeit my soul, forfeit my God and the New Heaven and New Earth He will make for you and for me when He returns.

If I am a victim, the Lord can heal me (as he has before). If you are a victim, the Lord can heal you, too (just ask Him, let Him). Some of the most abused victims in Church history (e.g., St. Maria Goretti, St. Joan of Arc, St. Jean de Brébeuf, and even the Lord Jesus Himself) even went on to become beloved, beautified and beatified in God’s grace!

But if I am the evildoer… if I choose to be malicious and to remain in evil, if I refuse to repent and persist in perversions, then I am lost. I lost myself and hid myself from Heaven. Then I become evil: forgotten, forsaken, forever.

And the more evil I do, the more evil I remain. Until it is almost impossible to turn around… because I might even forget and even doubt I can turn back to God. He forgives all who repent (see Luke 15:11-32), but what if I do not let Him love me? What if I become so prideful that I believe my sins are greater than His mercy?

It could happen. I can be that stupid. And I am that free to choose.

And that is why becoming evil is my worst fear, and it should be yours also.

Please pray our worst fear remains merely a possibility.

But if it has become a reality, let us pray we turn back to the King so He can make us new.

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Forgiveness is For Giving (not withholding)

Hello! This post is unlike anything I’ve shared before: it’s an actual academic exegesis I wrote for my Synoptics class. You know how I sound when I write casually, now hear how I sound as a wannabe-scholar… (I promise, there are some really amazing things I learned and want to share with you!) The paper is based on one of my favorite verses in all Scripture, Luke 7:47: Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.

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Luke 7:41-50 (RSV)

[41] “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. [42] When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” [43] Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” [44] Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. [45] You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. [46] You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. [47] Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  [48] And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” [49] Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” [50] And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Introduction:

Ideally, the entirety of Luke 7:36-50, known as “A Sinful Woman Forgiven,” would be explored and discussed. However, the confines of this essay restrict us to an abridged reading covering only v.41-50, which exudes yet a great deal of wealth for faith that seeks understanding. The scene opens with Simon the Pharisee inviting Jesus to dine with him, which our Lord accepts. At table, a seemingly notorious woman approaches the Lord and begins to do him homage in the presence of Simon and others at table. Seeing this, Simon secretly criticizes Jesus for allowing this woman to even touch him, “for she is a sinner,” at which point, Jesus addresses a parable and lesson to Simon, and to us as well.

The Parable and the Pardon:

To help understand this parable in Luke 7, we must know the value of a denarius. In New Testament times, a sole denarius was a standard day’s wage,[1] and so in Jesus’ brief parable, one debtor owes fifty days’ worth of wages, whereas the other owes 500 days’ worth. Because the creditor cancels both debts, the difference between the debtors, with one owing a far larger amount, is important for grasping the message Jesus seeks to impart. Firstly, that the debtors cannot repay their debts, though the amounts owed would normally be repayable (unlike the debt owed by the unforgiving servant from Matthew 18:21-35), shows that perhaps unforeseen problems (e.g., debilitating injuries or disease) have arisen and made the debtors incapable of repayment. Allegorically, our debilitation is the sin of Adam, as well as all subsequent personal sin. Some bear greater sin than others, but all remain debilitated by Original Sin until Baptism, and then debilitated again with each following grave sin committed. Thus, sin is not merely debt but debilitation also.

Our Lord then says a peculiar thing in mentioning love with his question in v. 42, the original Greek of which is agapēsei (ἀγαπήσει) and means a love more nuanced toward willingness and commitment.[2] This is strange, for the business relationship between debtors and creditors usually do not involve love of any real sort, much less agapic love. Appreciation, gratitude and further indebtedness would be more fitting, but here actually lies the potential for love: the creditor in cancelling debt acts not only generously, but acts charitably,[3] acts as a benefactor who need not do such a thing out of lawfulness, but out of lavishness, out of love. Justice calls for the repayment of debt, but love becomes possible when a great debt is given, or rather, is forgiven as a gift to the debtor,[4] a gift of such immense cost that its giving transforms any stranger into a benefactor, into a lover, and any stranger into a beneficiary, into a beloved, for such great love moves the beloved to love freely in return. Thus, our Lord brings love into the parable of debt to reveal that the relationship is not one of economic basis, but of intimacy. He is priming Simon to “reconsider the meaning of [the sinful] woman’s actions – not the repayment of a debt, as though she were a slave girl or prostitute, but an expression of love that flows from the freedom of having all debts cancelled.”[5]

Indeed Simon understands, for Jesus responds that he “judged rightly” with his answer, but then Jesus does another peculiar thing. The Lord, while having turned to face the woman, asks Simon in v. 44, “Do you see this woman?” Jesus here is addressing Simon, but is looking at the woman, and doing so implies that Simon, though he sees the woman, does not truly see her. In asking Simon from this posture and gesture, Jesus invites Simon to “adopt Jesus’ own view of matters concerning this woman,” to see her as he sees her, to stand in his place and look upon her, to “no longer viewing her as [merely] a ‘sinner’ but as one who loves extravagantly.”[6]

Jesus’ address to Simon is also toward us, for we also should imitate the Lord in seeing others not as mere sinners, but as beloved siblings in Christ. Furthermore, the Lord is calling us to also love him and neighbor extravagantly, as the woman loves. From vv. 44-46, Luke’s comparison of Simon’s lack of bare minimum hospitality with the woman’s overwhelming hospitality is also an allegory: Jesus is the divine guest to the household of man. He visits not for merely his enjoyment or sake, but exclusively for ours, and is yet met not only with inhospitality, but even with open hostility from his host.[7] The allegory continues as Luke reveals the woman expresses love with prodigality similar to that of the prodigal father from Luke 15. Her experience of the Lord’s mercy and love moves her to go beyond basic hospitality that society calls Simon to provide, and so Luke compares in vv. 44-46 the coldness of Simon with the woman’s affections, presented here as a table for emphasis, reproduced from Brendan Byrne’s text:[8]

SIMON

I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet,

You gave me no kiss,

You did not anoint my head with oil,

THE WOMAN

but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.

but she has anointed my feet with ointment.

With the case of Simon, as the host he should have extended courtesies to Jesus, and that would have been socially enough. Yet, the woman not only extends the courtesies, but humbles herself before the Lord in ways that would have been inconceivable for Simon to have done. Simon should have provided water for Jesus to wash on his own, should have welcomed the Teacher with a kiss and anointed his head, yet the woman not only gives water, but gives water drawn from her tears of love, and dries the Lord’s feet with her own hair, which is seen in New Testament times as a woman’s pride and glory. Moreover, the woman, like the centurion from just prior in Luke 7:6, does not consider herself worthy to kiss the Lord on his divine face, but only on his feet, and does not even dare anoint the Lord on his crown, but reaches for his feet alone. Her humility in act and her extravagance in provision show her gratitude and reflect the forgiveness she has experienced from Jesus. To forgive and seek forgiveness is an act of humility and extravagance both for the penitent and the person offended: humility because pride prohibits repentance from the sinner and prohibits mercy from the one sinned against, and extravagance because parsimony restricts atonement by the sinner and restricts charity by the one wounded.[9] The allegory deepens here and finds completion in v. 47, but before continuing, the term kiss deserves special discussion.

Of the four Gospels, only the Synoptic Gospels employ the term kiss, and of the Synoptics, Luke makes most use of the term. All three Evangelists present Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss, but only Luke presents kisses elsewhere in different pericopes: once in the parable of the prodigal, and thrice here regarding the repentant woman. The appearances of kisses is telling in Luke, since his first kiss is here in Luke 7, bestowed on the Lord by a sinner on behalf of repentant sinners, and the next kiss is that of God (through the person of the prodigal father) upon repentant sinners in Luke 15’s parable. Luke’s final kiss is Judas’. One can then read that Luke’s intent is much like how he closes some of his pericopes with open endings: what will we choose next? Will we join the celebration of the younger brother’s repentance and safe return, or stay in the darkness of resentment? Will we let the last kiss upon our Lord be that of betrayal, or will we kiss him again with love and gratitude from his forgiving us?

And therein lies the conclusion of the allegory, for in v. 47, not only has the woman shown great love to the Lord for his having forgiven her,[10] but Jesus has also forgiven us our many sins and we, as the character of Simon, have yet to show the Lord such love and gratitude. We have not been forgiven little, for we have even been forgiven for crucifying the Son of God with our sins, but then why do we love so little? And why do we love not only the Lord so little, but also our brothers and sisters who are no worse than we? In fact, we who come after the Lord’s Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension have far more to be thankful for compared to the repentant woman, and so we also are far guiltier since we have in malice sinned against the greater gift of the Lord’s full revelation. Thus, we should in repentance and reconciliation, through the sacrament of penance, express even more love than the woman here, for we have been forgiven far more.[11]

The Lord then declares to the woman: “Your sins are forgiven,” something that at this point is already obviously clear to the woman. Rather, Luke here suggests Jesus not as addressing the woman alone, but to Simon and his tablemates who were questioning the situation, and not merely to Simon and the others, but to us readers also. Jesus here is not assuring the woman of his forgiveness (for such had been done), but is declaring to Simon and the onlookers that the woman is now reconciled with God and with God’s people and should be treated and related to as such by the community,[12] and not as a “woman of the city, who was a sinner” (v. 37). The others at table, however, are not concerned about this restoration of a lost sheep into the fold, but rather turn to critique Jesus in v. 49 with words that hearken back to Luke 5:21, when Jesus earlier forgave the sins of the paralytic. How important it is for us not to follow in such critique, which may tempt us when we ourselves are grievously wounded and do not desire our offender to be reconciled with us or with Heaven. To prevent such further resentment toward a forgiven sinner, Jesus reemphasizes in v. 50 that indeed the woman’s faith has saved her and she is free to go in peace. Here, faith is not to be misunderstood as the instrument of her forgiveness, for the Lord alone forgives, but as the requirement to even seeking repentance in the first place. Faith is necessarily bound to metanoia, for “those who reject faith reject the everlasting life that Christ offers to the world.”[13] Lastly, the peace Jesus mentions in v. 50 is not limited to the woman’s personal and “‘spiritual’ well-being… but speaks of a restoration … to the full social intercourse from which she has been excluded.”[14] The woman was once lost but has now been found.

Conclusion:

Luke closes this pericope with an open ending, as mentioned earlier regarding the kisses found in the evangelist’s Gospel. Such endings challenge readers to imagine what Simon and the others at table will do, and ultimately what readers themselves will do. Will we love much since we have been forgiven much? Will we love the Lord extravagantly, fearlessly and without shame before others who may judge us as sinful and untouchable, perhaps even as unforgiveable? Will we ourselves in turn forgive others much since we ourselves have been forgiven infinitely more?

[1] Hahn, Scott, ed., Catholic Bible Dictionary, (New York: Doubleday, 2009), 211.

[2] Catholic Bible Dictionary, 553.

[3] The word forgave in vv. 42-43 is from the Greek charizomai and connotes “by way of gift,” as in charity. See: Johnson: 127, note #42.

[4] Johnson, Luke Timothy, The Gospel of Luke, (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1991), 127.

[5] Joel B. Green, Gospel of Luke, 312.

[6] Green, Joel B., The Gospel of Luke, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1997), 312.

[7] Byrne, Brendan, The Hospitality of God, (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2015), 88.

[8] Ibid., 87.

[9] The parable of the Prodigal Son and Father in Lk. 15 further elaborates this nature of forgiveness.

[10] Johnson, Luke Timothy, The Gospel of Luke , 128. The woman’s love is the effect of the Lord’s forgiveness, not the cause of the Lord’s forgiveness, as can be misread in various translations. The preceding parable in vv. 41-43 also requires such a reading in v.47.

[11] Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, II-II, q. 72, a. 11.

[12] Green, Joel B., The Gospel of Luke, 314.

[13] Catholic Bible Dictionary, 764.

[14] Green, Joel B., The Gospel of Luke, 314.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Let me tell you the tale behind this latest Holy Smack card:

As with all of the cards, I wait for the Holy Spirit to prompt me and provide me with art and prayer to pair together into a holy card. Without the Spirit’s guidance, I do nothing. One thing that being a former seminarian has taught me is to be obedient to God’s will. And when we obey His will, amazing things happen that we could never have imagined.

With this card, I was searching for images of our Lord’s Sacred Heart. I had been on the lookout for many months, but nothing came up that rendered me speechless, until I stumbled on this blog and saw this piece. As soon as I saw Him and His heart, I knew this was the image I was always meant to find, and meant to find at that specific moment in time.

At that point, I had been going through a severe struggle in my life. Someone precious to me had been suffering in spirit and body, and like anyone who ever loved, when one’s beloved is in sorrow, one is in mourning also. Yet, when I saw this image of our Lord, the power of His light cut into my darkness. I had to find out more about the artist.

It turns out, the beaming Sacred Heart of Jesus here is a freak “accident” of flash photography! The image is a photo taken by a priest, and the blast of holy light is only a reflection of the camera’s flash. The shot was perfect, and so the priest posted it on his blog, and that’s where the digital paper trail ends, for after contacting Father, I was informed the artist is unknown, and perhaps even deceased.

And for the next four months, I deliberated and waited, I searched and listened. I found a prayer and I finished the entire card’s design, yet I still hesitated. Something was not yet in place. And then my precious friend shared with me more tragedy.

It was then I knew the time had come to print. The card was meant for her all along. The Lord was meant for her, His Sacred Heart was for her, the humble prayer was for her. And the card is the first to be dedicated to anyone.

Please pray for her.

Thank you, and if you happen to know the artist of the image, please do inform me so I can seek her or his forgiveness for using the image without permission.SacredHrtFrontSample2.png

SacredHrtBackSample2.png

Note: as with all of my cards, please know I would be honored to share them with you for free and that any donation would be appreciated to support the continued ministry.

LML: The Secrets of the Cover Art

[WARNING: what follows is an interview that reveals the details and depths of Little Miss Lucifer: The Legend of the Exorcess. SPOILER ALERT.]LML MiniCard

—You: So last time we wanted to get into the cover art and the book’s design. First question for you Mr. Pham: what’s up with all the black?

—Evan: Actually, if you look closely at the cover, it’s not all black. There’s something in the black – something in the dark. (Click here for the front cover art.)

—You: I’m noticing the swirls, grey swirls and curves.

—Evan: What do the grey swirls and curves look like? Just on the front cover.

—You: Hmm… There! In the bottom right corner! I see… I see her now. All the grey is her hair! Who is she?

—Evan: Tagline time: She is a secret.

—You: And she’s looking at something… a butterfly? There are a few words too – looks like “Dare to see in the dark.”

—Evan: Correct. I dare you. See in the dark. So many times we’re distracted by the bright, the light, that we miss the beauty in the black, the signs in the dark.

—You: What signs, exactly?

—Evan: Signs of more. Even in the most dark and forsaken places and persons, there are signs that there is more to them… signs that they are still beloved. Beloved forever.

—You: Hmm, so who is the girl we see on the cover?

—Evan: I told you, she’s a secret. But I can see you want more, so I’ll let Saint Paul elaborate: “She who was not beloved, I shall call ‘My beloved.’” So the girl was not beloved, and the story is about how she is being called “beloved” again.

—You: A redemption story? A love story?

—Evan: Both.

—You: But the cover…

—Evan: Is full of symbols. You might notice there are things in her hair.

—You: Grey flowers?

—Evan: What kind?

—You: Roses…

—Evan: And they appear in the story. Throughout. What else do you see?

—You: A red heart, it’s pierced.

—Evan: The pierced heart represents compassion, and “compassion” means “to suffer with, to suffer alongside and together with another”. One of the signs of real love is if another is willing to endure the pain with you, to tough it out as a team. It’s one of the reasons why pain, sorrow, mourning and suffering actually give us chances to love, and to mature in that love. And in the Catholic Christian tradition, the pierced heart defines the Blessed Virgin Mary – the Mother of God. The icon of her in sorrow at the death of her Son is called Stabat Mater Dolorosa aka: Our Lady & Mother of Sorrows.

When I watched the Passion of the Christ, I wasn’t as moved by the scenes of Jesus being tortured, mutilated, mocked and murdered as others were. Throughout the film, I knew He was all right. He’s God after all. He can take it!

But the scenes when they show Mary – His Mother… I broke down with her when I saw how hurt she was. In a way, she was suffering even more than Jesus! For any mother, any parent for that matter, to see their beloved child being abused and slaughtered… and being helpless to stop it… now if that’s not compassion, I don’t know what is.

Then it gets real theological when you realize that Mary could have told her Son to stop it all. Jesus is the perfect Son in every way, obedient to the Law, there to fulfill it all, including the law of honoring one’s parents. And since He is the God-Man, He really could have snapped His holy fingers and ended all the violence. All.

But He doesn’t. And she never tells Him to do so. Even though He did do the miracle of making wine from wash-water… at her request! But this time, there is no request… there is only compassion.

—You: Wow… all that meaning from a little broken heart on the cover?

—Evan: I had a lot of time to think about it! And the fact that this particular heart is in the butterfly means even more!

—You: Now, I noticed that the antennae on the butterfly look funny. They look more like horns.

—Evan: They are horns. For obvious thematic effect.

—You: Of course. But tell me about how the butterfly image looks. The little white dots…

—Evan: Now that I reminisce, it was about twenty years ago that my second grade teacher taught me how to do that. For a Christmas project, she passed out pages from a coloring book, and the images where Christmas scenes like reindeer and a sleigh, presents under a tree, etc. What we did was put a sheet of black construction paper under the coloring book pages, and instead of using crayons, she gave us pins and cardboard. The board went under the black paper, and we poked holes along the black lines of the coloring book pages, tracing by pinprick. When we were done, we peeled the sheets apart, held the black paper to a window and I never forgot how dazzled I was. The little points of light looked like stars, constellations in a night sky.

So I did that for the butterfly design. I actually call it the Flutterfly. The name makes more sense, since I’m not too sure they taste like “butter” anyway…

—You: Haha, yeah that does make more sense!

—Evan: Thanks for laughing. It builds my confidence.

—You: No problem, please… continue. I feel there’s more to the Flutterfly than merely it being pretty.

—Evan: How about you tell me… what do you think?

—You: Well… aren’t angels usually symbolized by stars? Like, the name “Lucifer” itself means “Morning Star”. So that makes me think of that third of angels that the devil swept down along with him when he fell from Heaven. One-third of the stars were shot down. Right?

—Evan: Right! Revelation, Chapter 12 recounts that. When Saint Michael the Archangel routs Satan and the other demons out of Heaven. I call it Dragon Fall.Like Lightning

—You: Like lightning. That’s what Jesus said right? He saw the Devil fall like lightning from Heaven.

—Evan: Looks like someone knows their Sacred Scripture!

—You: I try… but I don’t know any Chinese, or is it Japanese? What’s the characters on the cover?

—Evan: It’s Chinese, and it translates the title basically. The first three characters say “Lucifer” and the last two say “Miss” or “Little Miss”.

—You: Why Chinese?

—Evan: Because the story is set in China in the near future, rural Southern China specifically.

—You: What a perfect segue to the back cover… Chinese characters galore!

—Evan: And they all mean something. I’m not one to use a character just because it’s nifty lookin’.

—You: Right… like the majority of Chinese tattoos on people who don’t know any Chinese.

—Evan: Yep. And you see those seven reddened characters? In the back cover’s background? Those are key words. If it’s all too busy to tell what they are, the full text is on the last black page of the book. On that page, the reddened ideographs are white and all others remain grey.

—You: You aren’t going to tell me what it all means… are you…?

—Evan: Of course not… not in English at least! In Latin, the big clue awaits in Salvage: Chapter 5. The “Gregorian Chant and Latin Glossary” in the back also helps. Not to mention the online Chinese dictionary mentioned in the “Chinese Glossary” in the back also!

—You: I guess I’ll just have to investigate those later…

—Evan: And you’d guess right. You’re very patient.

—You: Do I have to guess about the origami too?

—Evan: Well, I tried to make them speak for themselves. What do you see?

—You: Turtle… flutterflies… and…

—Evan: Good! But before you guess the big purple origami, you should know that only half the time do people recognize it at first. Let me help you get it right: it’s swimming, and swimming to the right. Its tale is to the left. Its song is eerie, and the color of its origami snout is part of its name. That’s all I’m gonna say.

—You: Haha hmm… blue snout. I can see why it’s difficult for some to guess, because it’s not an animal we normally see in origami. Is it a blue whale? Swimming along the origami letters… and along the waves of her hair!BlueWhale

—Evan: Brrravo. The girl’s hair from the front cover becomes part of the back cover’s design, and see what it does by the sea turtle?

—You: Looks like claws, reaching for something… something beyond the cover’s borders.

—Evan: Reaching, yes. Reaching for…

—You: More. Yes?

—Evan: Yes. And let me add that the origami patterns are from actual origami paper originating from Japanese artists. I looked through hundreds to find the ones I decided to use. Let’s just say that I now have great admiration for the talents of those anonymous artists.

—You: Origami paper can get expensive…

—Evan: You’re tellin’ me! I saw some that were going for almost three dollars for a 5-inch square! But that paper was not ordinary. It even felt expensive to touch. Lots of layers, weaving, and detailing.

—You: But why origami?

—Evan: You’ll have to discover that when you see what the girl does with scrap paper… For now, you’ll have to be content with two words: Origami Army.OrigamiGirl

—You: Interesting! And the red exclamation point at the cover’s bottom left is screaming for attention: Attention: This book contains content forbidden in ≥ 50 nations (Hell included). What’s that about?

—Evan: There are at least 50 nations, territories, political states in the world where Christian tradition and belief are banned. Sacred Scripture is contraband in those places, and devout Christians are persecuted. It’s sort of like ancient Rome before Constantine: Christianity was outlawed, and we were hunted down and killed. So this book too would qualify as contraband, and perhaps nowhere as much as in Hell.

—You: What do you mean? That the Devil forbids this book?

—Evan: Exactly. You see, if the Nazis, or Communists, or Terrorists, or Satanists, etc., are okay with me, if those groups are comfortable around me, then I have a big problem. I don’t want people like that to see me as one of them, or to be acceptable to them.

—You: Because that would mean you’re like them… right?

—Evan: Exactly right. And I’m opposed to them! If evil likes me, then I’m evil! But if evil despises me, vilifies me… then I know I’m on the right side.

—You: And this book attacks them?

—Evan: It attacks Satan himself. But not with hate, not with curses or violence… but with beauty, mercy, grace and blessings. With Motherhood, with Fatherhood, with Childhood. With Love. With God. And those are more potent than any voodoo.

—You: Wow… wow… I guess that’s a great way to end this for now, with a bang. I mean, the other things on the cover seem self-explanatory enough.

Stigmata Hand—Evan: Except you forgot the book’s spine. If you look there, you’ll notice the logo for my publishing entity (Banned Books Press), the red handprint at the bottom. It’s also the same logo I use for the HolySmack.com blog. The red handprint represents the blood of the Christian martyrs who died of love for the crucified and resurrected Christ, symbolized by the cross on the palm – not unlike the phenomena of the stigmata.

—You: Stigmata?

—Evan: Tradition has it that some of the Church’s great saints have been granted the stigmata as a way for them to literally know first-hand how Jesus felt, by suffering the same wounds as their beloved Jesus. Their hands, feet and even side had unexplained open wounds, bleeding but never bleeding out, festering but never infected, gaping but never decaying. Sometimes the wounds would heal completely without a scar, and then return, then disappear again. It’s really mysterious. Off the top of my head, I remember Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Catherine of Siena, and Saint Padre Pio all had the stigmata.

—You: Looks like I have a lot of research to look up until next time!

—Evan: Happy discovering!