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Jul 09 2012

Verifying the Virgin

We know that Mary, the mother of Jesus, likes to show up in unlikely places such as toast, water stains, and the like. But it is not always a clear-cut identification, especially since we have no idea what Mary, or even Jesus for that matter, even looked like. So what should you do if you think Mary has appeared on some item of yours to make sure that it is the real deal before you start worshipping it, telling your friends about it, or flogging it on eBay?

The New Humanist magazine says that the Catholic Church recognizes this problem and in its thorough way has provided a set of guidelines on how to verify such claims. It turns out that this document was created in 1978 but not officially published until now. No doubt this action was triggered by the recent spate of Virgin sightings.

The Catholic Church may be cavalier in the way it treats pedophile priests and sexual abuse within its ranks but no one can accuse it of laxity in the really important things like making sure that visions are authentic. After all, it would be terrible to confuse an ordinary piece of toast with a Virgin Mary piece of toast, no?

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Myoo

    I took a gander at those guidelines. I find it quite interesting that one of the positive criteria is this:

    Personal qualities of the subject or of the subjects (in particular, psychological equilibrium, honesty and rectitude of moral life, sincerity and habitual docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority, the capacity to return to a normal regimen of a life of faith, etc.)

    So, even if god did exist and it manifested itself, the church wouldn’t recognize that manifestation unless the subject was agreeable to the church’s authority.

  2. 2
    'Tis Himself

    Personally I’m not as concerned with Mary showing up on pieces of toast as with Jesus appearing on dogs’ arses.

  3. 3
    Paulino

    And bird shit! Never forget the bird shit Virgin!

  4. 4
    Marcus Ranum

    The bird poop virgin or the wood-grain jesus are useful comebacks when the faithful make sniffy comments about the LHC.

  5. 5
    Leni

    I would absolutely slap it up on Ebay. I’d love to get 10K for a pretzel. Or a piece of toast.

    And if the church wanted to buy it I’d triple the price.

  6. 6
    machintelligence

    Short summary:
    Positive criteria — good faith
    Negative criteria — bad faith

  7. 7
    Christoph Burschka

    Even if a face positively appeared on your toast, how do you distinguish a Virgin Mary piece of toast from a Jesus piece of toast?

    Or, at that, a Virgin Mary from some other random person of unknown virginity who may or may not be named Mary?

    I. CRITERIA FOR JUDGING, AT LEAST WITH PROBABILITY,THE CHARACTER OF THE PRESUMED APPARATIONS OR REVELATIONS

    Healthy devotion and abundant and constant spiritual fruit (for example, spirit of prayer, conversion, testimonies of charity, etc.).

    Behold the Catholic scientific method.

  8. 8
    Aliasalpha

    Its been a while, what if she’s had sex in the last 2000 years? Would you be able to charge as much for “formerly virgin mary” toast or a “took her a while to get going but she sure gets around nowdays mary” water stained bit of wall?

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