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Through the Eyes of Jesus View Comments
By Father Roger Vermalen Karban

Was Jesus’s public ministry prompted solely by his desire to get all of us into heaven—or did he have something more in mind for his followers? Having studied and taught Scripture for over forty-five years, I’m convinced Jesus is as interested in our lives now as he is about where we’re going to spend eternity. In fact, he links the two.

This conviction was powerfully reinforced by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons’s book, The Invisible Gorilla (Crown Publishing Group).

Had this book been written 2,000 years ago, I think Jesus would certainly have made its first chapter required reading for all his followers. It may help readers to understand the faith and teachings of Jesus more than any book besides Scripture itself.

Technically, the opening chapter has nothing directly to do with faith. It’s simply a scientific exploration of a basic human question: What do we actually see when we’re looking at something immediately in front of us?

The two psychologist-authors discovered that we see only the object on which our eyes actually focus. By nature, we miss much of what else is directly within our field of vision. No one sees everything. Those who presume they can or do are badly mistaken. For those who doubt that statement, the authors offer many individuals who never saw what to others was obvious.

More than twelve years ago, Chabris and Simons conducted an experiment (available on YouTube) in which they asked people to count the number of passes made by a specific basketball team. As the players were throwing the ball back and forth, a young girl in a gorilla outfit appeared, threading her way among the players, in full view of anyone watching the action.

After the passes stopped, the viewers were asked: How many passes did their team make? And did you notice the gorilla walking among the players while they were making the passes?

Almost everyone gave the correct number of passes; but more than half never saw the gorilla! This book has spoken to so many people and situations that it has already been translated into fourteen languages with another four in progress.

Surprising as the authors’ findings are, they have a great deal to do with our faith.

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Father Roger Vermalen Karban was ordained in 1964 for the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois. He writes a column for several newspapers and a website on the Sunday Scripture.

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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire, therefore, of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

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