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11/23/05

Mary Page News items give insight into our interest areas, our outreach, and the many ways people honor Our Lady. We welcome your input and your comments.

 

Liturgical Season

To celebrate the month of November with Mary:

Marian Commemoration Days

Mary Page offers a variety of resources inviting study, reflection and meditation.  We also list important Marian dates for each month of the year.  Please see Marian Commemoration Days for the month of November.

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New Resources

A section on Children's Resources has been added to our About Mary page.  The latest addition was Rosary Chapel at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Expect more sections to follow.

A section on international stamps with images of Mary has also been added to About Mary page.  The latest added was Venezuela.  Expect more countries to follow.

We have updated our Advent Calendar, material on the dogma of Mary's Immaculate Conception, and a list of Marian Thoughts from Benedict XVI.

We have also enhanced our search utility to allow users to examine the holdings of The Marian Library.  Please try out the new feature at Search and send us your feedback.

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  News from the Marian Library

Alumni Update

Father John T. Myler successfully defended his S.T.D. dissertation, Mary, The U.S. Bishops, and the Decade of Silence: The 1973 Pastoral Letter "Behold Your Mother, Woman of Faith," at The Marian Library on November 18, 2005.  Father Eamon Carroll, a major contributor to the Pastoral Letter, was in Dayton to attend the defense.

Richard May, an MSA member, will be on EWTN TV on their Living His Life Abundantly program.  The show will premier on Monday, Dec. 5 at 10 pm and repeat on Tuesday at 3 am and 5 pm, and on Thursday at 10 am of that week.  All times are Eastern.

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Polish Madonna Prints Still Available!

While the note-cards are now out of stock, eleven different prints are still available from Wislawa Kwiatkowska's "Polish Madonnas in Art and Poetry" exhibit. There are nine 11" x 14" prints and two 8.5" x 11" prints.  All pictures are printed on 80# paper.

The 11" x 14" pictures available are:


Madonna of the Sowers


Madonna Covered with Cherry Blossoms


Mother of God of Lichen


Mournful Mother of Czestochowa


Madonna of the Mushrooms


Our Lady of the Birches


Golden-Green Mother of God


Madonna of the Mountains


Madonna Riding on a Deer

The two 8.5" x 11" prints available are:


So Human


Christmas Carol

The 11" x 14" prints are $5 each.  The 8.5" x 11" prints are $3 each or 2 for $5.00.  There is an additional charge of $5 for each quantity of 11 prints or less to cover postage and handling.  Here is an example of the postage and handling rates:

1-11 prints: $5 per ORDER (not per print)

12-22 prints: $10

23-33 prints: $15

Specify which prints and quantity you want and make a check or money order out to "The Marian Library." Mail it to:

The Marian Library
Attention: Prints
University of Dayton
Dayton, OH 45469-1390

We also have a "Polish Madonna" Windows PC screensaver that shows all twelve of the pictures that were in the St. Anthony Messenger article.  It sells for $5.00, which includes postage and handling.

If you have any questions, please call 937-229-4214.

Print Descriptions

Christmas Carol: Compassionate animals draw close to Baby Jesus in the manger and warm him with their breath.

Golden-Green Mother of God: Mary and Baby Jesus sit in a dill garden. Mary looks tenderly after her children with the same attentiveness that she looks upon the cherished golden-green dill of her garden.

Madonna Covered with Cherry Blossoms: Delicate cherry blossoms frame the faces of Mary and Baby Jesus while butterflies--symbols of the Resurrection--circle around them.

Madonna of the Mountains: This snowy scene shows Mary in solidarity with all creation; she knows what it is like to be cold and hungry, yet she is determined to overcome all the wintry trials of life. In her basket she carries two little bears that are eager to see Baby Jesus.

Madonna of the Mushrooms:  These mushrooms of autumn are attractive but deadly; Mary draws out the poison and warns against the allure and perniciousness of sin.

Madonna Riding on a Deer: Based upon a Polish legend, this picture shows Mary and Baby Jesus being whisked away from danger by a swift and noble deer.

Madonna of the Sowers: From the lilac heather, through the morning fog, the wind pulls threads from Mary's shawl and wraps them around the trees and branches, protecting the autumn seeds.

Mother of God of Lichen: Mary fingers her rosary and gazes prayerfully at the insignia of the Polish eagle on her chest, as the animals are drawn to her loving maternal presence.

Mournful Mother of Czestochowa: In this portrait of the famous icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Baby Jesus tries to comfort his mother as she mourns for the fate of the Polish people. Around Mary's shoulders is a blue and gold ribbon from which hangs the Virtuti Militari--the highest Polish military honor that is given in recognition of bravery. (The two slashes on the face of the original icon were inflicted by Hussite soldiers in the fifteenth century.)

Our Lady of the Birches: The white of the birches symbolizes the purity of Mary, while the storks gathered around  her represent prosperity and the hope for children.

So Human: In a conversation with the saints in heaven, St. Ann reminisces about her little Mary, who loved to gather flowers and frolic with the animals.


New Web Addresses for The Mary Page

In order to make our web site more accessible, The Mary Page may now be reached at the following URLs: marypage.org; themarypage.org; and themarypage.net.  The original address on the University of Dayton site remains active as well.

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Web Collaborators

Two important Catholic websites have added The Mary Page to their list of Media Partners.  CatholicWeb.com highlights items from The Mary Page in their section on Catholic News.  Catholic.net includes a Mary Channel on their navbar with Mary Page articles. Please visit these site in return.  We expect continued collaboration with them in the future.

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Current Exhibit

"Lost in the Beauty of Her God," the inspired works of Sister Marie Pierre Semler, M.M. (1901-1993), will be displayed in The Marian Library Gallery through January 20, 2006.  Visitors are welcome weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or by special arrangement.  For details call 937-229-4214.  Click here for a virtual exhibit.

Creches and Straw Art are also on display in our museum.

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International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

IMRI courses for the Spring 2006 semester are scheduled to begin on February 20.  The course schedule for this semester is now available.

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Advent Morning Retreat

When: Friday, December 2, 2005 9 am - 1 pm
Where: The Transfiguration Center For Spiritual Renewal 3505 Calumet Road Ludlow Falls, Ohio
Cost: $25 per person (which includes a continental breakfast and lunch)

Come and enjoy the peaceful beauty of the Transfiguration Center, and share an inspiring retreat with Father Robert Barron, STD, Professor of Systematic Theology at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago.  Please register early, as seating is limited to 50 people.  For more information call 937-698-7180.

Click this link for a list of all of the current Marian Events by geographical position.

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You are invited to help us pray for our Prayer Corner intentions.  Please take a look! This site has been updated and enhanced and now allows users to directly submit prayer requests or to volunteer as a prayer partner for these intentions!

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Pilgrims and Shrines, Gifts of the God-Love in Asia Today

This is the theme of the second Asiatic congress on the pastoral care of pilgrimages and shrines, which is being promoted by the Pontifical Care for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and is due to be held in Seoul, Korea, on November 21 to 23. The meeting will be attended by 90 pilgrimage directors and rectors of shrines, who will have the opportunity to share their experiences in order to identify shared pastoral criteria. The work of the congress will be opened by Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the pontifical council, who will speak on the subject of shrines as "privileged places where God welcomes His people ... and where ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue is favored," especially in a continent such as Asia where shrines are frequented by pilgrims from various Churches and ecclesial communities, as well as by believers from other religious traditions.

67th Lourdes Miracle Officially Proclaimed
Italian Woman Cured of Heart Trouble in 1952

Rome, November 15, 2005

An archbishop in Italy has officially proclaimed the "miraculous cure" of a long-suffering woman who went to the shrine at Lourdes, France, in 1952. Archbishop Gerardo Pierro of Salerno made the proclamation last Friday. It is the 67th miracle tied to Lourdes and officially recognized by the Church.

The patient, Anna Santaniello of Salerno, now 94, suffered from childhood from a cardiac malformation, declared incurable by doctors. At age 40, her health deteriorated severely and, despite the opinion of her doctors and family, she decided to travel to Lourdes. Her malformation hindered her ability to walk and speak clearly. It also caused cyanosis in her face and edemas in her lower extremities.

Salerno's La Città newspaper explained that the patient said she could "scarcely breathe anymore" and told her brother that "my last desire is to go to Lourdes," where she arrived "alive but on a stretcher."

Nuns lowered her into the pool and "the water was freezing," Santaniello recalled. "But I immediately felt something boiling in my chest, as if my life had been restored to me," she said. "After a few seconds, I got up on my own and began to walk, refusing the help of the stretcher-bearers, who looked at me in disbelief."

On her return home, Santaniello asked for an appointment with a well-known cardiologist, who "told me I didn't have anything, that I was very healthy and that he couldn't understand all the certificates and examinations that had previously been made."

Santaniello has returned on subsequent occasions to the Marian shrine at Lourdes to offer her service as a volunteer in assisting the sick. She and her family and friends attended the ceremony to proclaim the miracle, held in the John Paul II Metropolitan Seminary in Pontecagnano.

On Vocation of the Laity
"Apostolate Depends on the Laity's Living Union With Christ"

Vatican City, November 13, 2005

Here is the conclusion of the Angelus address Benedict XVI gave today from the window of his study to the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

In conclusion, I would like to recall that last Sunday in the Cathedral of Vicenza a mother of a family was beatified, Eurosia Fabris, known as "Mamma Rosa," model of Christian life in the lay state. Let us commend all the people of God to all those who are already in the heavenly homeland, to all our saints and, first of all, to Mary Most Holy and her husband, Joseph, so that in every baptized person the awareness will grow of being called to work with commitment and fruitfulness in the vineyard of the Lord.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims. In French and English he said:]

I greet you, beloved French-speaking pilgrims. Charles de Foucauld, who was just beatified, invites us to spiritually follow the path of Nazareth and the silence he lived in the desert. In fact, from there, with Mary, we can discover the mystery of Christ, who became humble and poor to save us, to make us children of his own father and brothers in humanity.

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The director and editors of Mary Page under the auspices of the International Marian Research Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature. Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing the secular press.

Ministry in Lorain County Has Its Believers--and Skeptics
[Source: Plain Dealer (Cleveland), September 24, 2005]

A dense fog and a nearly full moon create an eerie effect as hundreds of pilgrims gather on a recent Wednesday night at the Holy Love Ministries in Lorain County.

The visitors have traveled from as far away as Arizona, New Jersey and Florida. Security guards with bright orange flashlights wave them into roped-off parking areas on the 80-plus-acre complex, located in what used to be soybean fields in Eaton Township.

Neatly dressed senior citizens, Latino youth groups and families with wide-eyed children file into the haven of the brightly lit mission center. They crowd into the gift shop where items such as the ministry’s scapular, a monastic cloth collar, are available. They cluster in the chapel, gathering literature and praying before the many statues.

Perhaps a few are lured by the special favors promised, such as the extra angel said to be conferred on each visitor. Some come as a last resort, their faces dulled by pain or sorrow. Many are loyal repeat visitors. And a few arrive with giddy anticipation, giggling and hushing each other like fans waiting for a celebrity to appear.

Who are they expecting? The Virgin Mary.

These believers won’t actually see or hear Mary. That honor is claimed by the ministry’s visionary, a woman named Maureen Sweeney-Kyle. The Cleveland-area woman, in her 60s, says the Virgin Mary has appeared and given messages to her almost daily for the past 20 years.

According to the ministry, Sweeney-Kyle also gets messages from Jesus. As well as St. Michael, St. Raphael, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis and others.

Promise of message is ministry's draw

Each of these messages is faxed to Sweeney-Kyle’s spiritual adviser, the Rev. Frank Kenney, a retired priest from Dayton, for approval before it is given to the public.

Maureen Sweeney’s first apparition occurred during a prayer service in 1985. She said Mary appeared at the front of the church holding a rosary. Its beads were in the shape of America’s 50 states. No one else that day noticed anything out of the ordinary.

She is shy and often in poor health, but as her visions continued, she developed a following.

The ministry was formed around 1986, meeting in homes of followers or a few welcoming churches. Then came a time of upheaval.

Sweeney insisted that the Virgin Mary’s messages demanded that she be given a new title, one recognized by the Catholic Church, that of "Our Lady Protectress of the Faith."

The Cleveland Catholic Diocese turned down this request. And soon the lengthy messages that Sweeney dictated into a tape recorder began denouncing the Catholic Church; others commented on political details of the day. Several members of Sweeney’s small ministry became disillusioned and left.

With the failure of their first mission, the group took on a different name, Project Mercy, in 1990, and made anti-abortion issues its new focus. A professional fund-raiser improved the group’s budget with mail solicitations and a 900 number.

The ministry found a permanent base when a follower opened a home he owned in Seven Hills to the group. It was there that Sweeney directed to have a well dug in the yard where the water, to be known as Maranatha Spring, would have miraculous healing properties. Anecdotes about the water spread. As the crowds grew at the Seven Hills location, the ministry was charged with zoning violations. Soon they were looking for a permanent site.

Sweeney’s organization purchased the Lorain County property in 1995. The name was changed again, too, this time to Holy Love Ministries. A circle of carpeting was brought along from the Seven Hills home and is now in a locked display case as the chapel’s Blessing Point. A guidebook encourages visitors to leave prayer petitions, have rosaries blessed and "venerate this special area of grace."

Another well was dug, again named Maranatha Spring. "Joyfully, I reveal to you today that the waters of Maranatha are as the Lourdes of this continent," Sweeney said in a message ascribed to the Virgin Mary on May 31, 1995. "They are comparable in healing grace, both in body and soul."

Changes affected more than the organization. The visionary was divorced from her husband, Paul Sweeney. Two years later, she married Don Kyle, a former Middleburg Heights police officer who became a key member of ministry.

A request to interview Sweeney-Kyle was denied. "The visionary does not give interviews," an official with the Holy Love Ministry said.

The organization’s Web site, at www.holylove.org, offers testimonials, an archive of Sweeney-Kyle’s messages and a history of the organization that "documents the Ministry’s struggles and the unwarranted attacks, untruths and calumnies by Diocesan officials of Cleveland."

It’s clear the organization remains at odds with the Catholic Church. The ministry sought approval of Sweeney-Kyle’s messages through official channels for several years, but the Catholic diocese issued a statement urging extreme caution in 1999. Holy Love Ministries reacted by claiming to take an ecumenical approach, but rails against the church in many of its printed materials.

The Rev. Ralph Wiatrowski, chancellor of the diocese, says his concerns have only grown more serious.

"Private revelations, like Lourdes, underline what we know to be true--prayer and penance. But these ‘messages’ are getting more complex, elaborate and contrary to the teachings of the church. What’s disturbing is they are self-authenticating. They are said to be true because ‘Mary told me.’ We don’t want to discourage anyone from praying by any means, but we want them to stick with what we know to be true: Scripture, the teaching of the church and the celebration of the Mass."

A professor and biblical scholar at John Carroll University, Sheila McGinn, says that the messages Sweeney-Kyle attributes to Jesus are not consistent with the tone or content of his utterances in Scripture. For example, Sweeney-Kyle released a Sept. 2 message said to be from Jesus, claiming that Hurricane Katrina was a punitive act by God because of "those who condone homosexuality, lewd conduct, destruction of the innocent and all who disregard the Ten Commandments." Says McGinn, "When Jesus talks about two disasters that took place in his time, he says those events were not due to the victims being any more guilty than the rest of the population (Mark 13:1-4)."

Moment of message is anticlimactic

But on this September evening, the faithful are interested in the fruits of their pilgrimage, not controversy surrounding Sweeney-Kyle’s messages. The visionary has said that Mary will appear at midnight after a special rosary service. At 10 p.m., the gift shop closes and the chapel door is chained shut. People reluctantly set off from the bright mission center.

Pilgrims walk along the dark roadway on the property. They carry folding chairs, umbrellas, water bottles, flashlights and high expectations. Chartered buses file past on the narrow lane. Their headlights outline the figures trudging in the fog.

A woman pushing a stroller stops to rest. Behind her, a group familiar with the long walk pause to talk about their experiences at Holy Love Ministries. "I was here when it was a sea of mud and strong faith in Our Lady," says Bernadette Zahumensky from Pittsburgh. "I’m blessed to be here every visit."

Finally the pilgrims reach the large field where the service is to be held. On a hill stand statues of Mary and St. Joseph, decorated with flowers and bathed in light front and back. Clusters of people climb up to the statues to kiss them and have their pictures taken with them. A vehicle drives behind the hill, perhaps carrying Sweeney-Kyle, who will remain sequestered.

There’s to be an hour-long service at 11 p.m., then the crowd will be asked to kneel when Sweeney-Kyle receives a message from the apparition at midnight. An aura is supposed to appear around the statues or lights dance in the sky when this happens. Picture taking is encouraged.

Outside, a group of travelers from Michigan sits together, quietly biding their time. "You come away from here with a true illumination of your own conscience, " says Linda Norder of Grand Rapids, a regular visitor.

Robert Lewis of Warren, Mich., explains that his wife found comfort coming there when she was given a diagnosis of cancer. He doesn’t mention how her health is, but she is there next to him. Their lawn chairs touch.

At 11, music suddenly blares from the speakers. The hour opens with a brief talk by a Nigerian priest. The rosary service begins after a solemn procession. The repetition and flow of words in English and Spanish is mesmerizing. Fog swirls in the beams of light around the statues. Cameras flash as if the event were a rock concert.

Near the end of the sorrowful mysteries, the pilgrims are suddenly told to kneel. This signifies the presence of the Virgin Mary to Sweeney-Kyle. People who had been walking around and talking during the service stop. Heads are not all bowed. Many people look up for the promised wonders. Cameras continue to flash, creating a dizzying effect. The only aura seen around the statues is the interplay of fog and temporary lights.

The moment is anticlimactic. After a few minutes of silence, it is announced a blessing has been received from Mary. Everyone clambers up from their knees. Final prayers are concluded.

Next are love donations. Ministry workers go through the crowd with golden bags, lit from within. Still the divine message is not read to the crowd. Some, perhaps knowing they will get the text via e-mailed newsletter, start the long walk back to their cars.

Finally, 10 or more minutes after the closing prayer, the message Sweeney-Kyle has dictated is read. It exhorts followers to pray, avoid sin and uphold Holy Love since " God will not hold back his justice much longer."

Then, in single file, hundreds of cars line up. One by one the pilgrims drive off tenuously. There are no streetlights on the rural roads beyond the ministry. The fog is so thick that mailboxes alongside the street appear to hover like cautionary angels.

Cathedral Damaged in Attack
[Source: Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia), September 20, 2005]

An elderly man went on a rampage, destroying several religious statues at Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral yesterday.

One of the items destroyed was a 5ft statue of the Virgin Mary, dating back to 1882.

The man, believed to be homeless, also pushed over two antique angels after he entered the city church just after 4.45pm.

It was reported he was muttering angrily as he vandalized the icons.

Police arrived soon after and arrested him. He was taken away and questioned.

A police spokesman said the man, who was charged with malicious damage, was deemed mentally unfit and would later be scheduled.

There were several people in the church at the time but no one was hurt.

"The statues are quite old; they're antiques," a police spokesman said.

"It's hard to determine the value of the statues which were destroyed. These were significant religious artifacts," he said.

The arrested man was aged in his 60s.

It comes just four months after another attack occurred at the Catholic cathedral.

On May 4, Nepalese man Biswash Paudel, 34, set fire to the altar of the church, causing about $50,000 damage.

Paudel, who was also mentally ill, was charged over the fire--and with torching a travel agent's office the same day.

Let's See a Little Evidence
[Source: The Irish Times, September 20, 2005]

Skeptical Eye: About 20 years ago Ireland was in the grip of a veritable epidemic of moving statues, the most famous of which performed in Ballinspittle, Co Cork.

People flocked to witness the event and reports of the statues' movements were widespread.

I remember Gay Byrne dispatching a self-professed skeptic from among his radio show research staff who returned to Dublin converted. She had seen it with her own eyes--what more could be said. It was true.

This concrete statue defied the law of gravity in full view of many dependable witnesses including a local Garda sergeant. All of the witnesses could not be wrong. Or could they?

There are many ways in which our perceptions of the world may be distorted. In the case of the Ballinspittle statue, staring at the lighted crown atop the head of the Virgin Mary against a dark background resulted in the impression of movement where there was none.

The effect was in all likelihood heightened by the expectation of the pilgrims and the cries of those who "saw" the statue move. Stone statues do not levitate. However, this fact of physics may be undone by a wish to believe in magic combined with the right atmospheric conditions.

The legends of ghosts, fairies and banshees that inhabit our folklore may have emanated from such real events as the wailing of cats in bushes on dark windswept nights as revelers returned home on deserted country roads, or from the sudden sighting of a barn owl moving silently across a dark laneway, its white face and underside gliding in the manner of a phantom.

It is well known that our eyes and ears play tricks on us. We see and hear things that have no apparent physical presence. In the phenomenon of back masking, in which music is played backwards, demonic messages can indeed be heard. Perhaps the most vivid example comes from Led Zeppelin's song Stairway to Heaven. But the message has not been inserted by the band nor anyone else. We construct it from the gibberish in our attempt to make sense of what we are hearing.

The persistence of beliefs in a paranormal basis for phenomena such as those outlined above is facilitated by many anecdotes and testimonials as to their veracity.

"I saw it with my own eyes." "My brother, cousin uncle witnessed the event." Testimonials can be very powerful from a psychological perspective in convincing people of some very, very unlikely things. And the tendency to be fooled is not necessarily correlated with intelligence or training.

The well-known Harvard psychiatrist John Mack, who sadly died in a car crash last year, began working with people who claimed they had been abducted by aliens. They were so convincing and emotionally intense in relating their stories that he came to believe that they were telling the truth. He came to this conclusion despite a lack of objective evidence.

Another psychiatrist, Brian Weiss, claims that many of our problems emanate from events that occurred in previous lives. He now also claims that as well as regressing patients into their past lives, he can progress them into the future.

He bases much of his therapy on these untenable notions. His praises are sung by an Irish psychiatrist, Michael Corry, and his co-author, Aine Tubridy, in their book, Going Mad? Highly trained professionals can produce and promote some very bizarre ideas.

I often attend alternative medicine fairs. At these events everybody is right and there is no debate, just mutual encouragement of a plethora of practices no matter how crazy they might seem. Critical thinking is not encouraged and you are expected to leave all critical faculties at the door and revert to the supposed sanctity of your childhood credulity as you enter.

Mainstream practitioners, such as doctors, scientists and so on hold conferences at which data and ideas are presented and debate ensues as to how useful or not the presented material is.

Skepticism and critical thinking are actively encouraged and it can be daunting to present and have your research or theories challenged and criticized. This activity, however, serves to aid progress and the development of new ideas and is helpful in pointing out errors.

Alternative practices, on the other hand, lack this kind of discipline and languish in a mire of stagnation. They lack the practical and theoretical tools to progress, constantly insisting on the wisdom of the past and the power of the esoteric knowledge of the ancients.

Science and modern medicine is where the future lies despite the difficulties evident in both disciplines. Problems in these professions are faced and tackled and things move on. Those who depend solely on the lore of the ancients for their health may place themselves at serious risk.

At one alternative fair I met a man selling ESSIAC tea. This is claimed to cure cancer. When I challenged this notion he became immediately defensive saying that he was not claiming that ESSIAC cured cancer. He then handed me a large sheaf of testimonials stating that it was the users who were making the claims. In my view he was simply passing the buck and denying responsibility.

Any claim that is supported only by anecdotes and testimonials should be treated with extreme caution. As a sole source of evidence, these criteria are worthless. The claims of virtually every alternative practice that I know of fall into this category. Caveat emptor.

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This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by Kris Sommers , was last modified Wednesday, 11/23/2005 11:16:22 EST by Michael P. Duricy . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.