Religious Research

Owl Imagery

The owl, a statue on top of Saint Margaret Mary’s, seems like an out of place figurine. However, the owl has specific meanings in Christian symbolism. It is most commonly associated with darkness and Satan. Because owls are nocturnal, it was assumed that they loved the darkness. In the Bible, they are referred to as beasts of the desert and often alongside dragons. They are also associated with mourning, desolation, solitude, and bad omens. In  The Aberdeen Bestiary, a medieval source, owls were symbolic of Jews because they rejected light when they rejected Jesus.

Leviticus 11:13-18: The law says that a variety of owls are included in “the birds you are to detest and not eat because they are detestable”. 

On the other hand, owls also have positive associations. They have been compared to Jesus as well because the owl, hidden in trees, reflects Jesus’ life amongst humanity without searching for glory. Joseph may be comparing Doug to Jesus in terms of the sacrifices he is willing to make for Kayleen. Outside of Christianity, they are connected with wisdom. Perhaps Joseph is contrasting ideas of intelligence. Because Kayleen is intelligent and constantly calling Doug stupid or an idiot, Joseph may be highlighting the difference between intelligence and wisdom. He may be arguing that Doug’s optimism and sense of embracing life and openness makes him more wise than Kayleen, despite her knowledge.

Angels

In the New Testament, the angel is not a guardian, but an intermediary between God and man.  Belief in the guardian angel can be traced to antiquity. A guardian angel is an angel that is assigned to protect and guide a particular person, group, kingdom, or country. The first Christian theologian to outline a specific scheme for guardian angels was Honorius of Autun in the 12th century.  He said that every soul was assigned a guardian angel the moment it was put into a body. According to Saint Jerome, the concept of guardian angels is in the “mind of the Church.” He said, “Each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.”

Healing Through Touch

Healing through touch is introduced into Americans from birth. Anytime a child is hurt, they take their booboo to mom or dad to kiss it and make it better. This kiss, and the love that comes with it, gives the child the courage to continue playing. However, not only does touching give us courage, it has been proven that touch can improve our health. The simple act of touching – not necessarily in a romantic manner – is so powerful that it can slow your heart rate, decrease anxiety, increase white blood cells, increase endorphin levels, help you sleep better, decrease your blood pressure, and strengthen your immune system.Our culture is not very affectionate, and we are losing out on the benefits of regular physical interaction with others. The healing power of touch is so necessary for life that babies not touched regularly don’t grow and develop normally, and children who are not lovingly touched enough are more likely to be violent as adults.

  • Jim Coan scanned the brains of married women in pain. As soon as the women touched the hands of their husbands, there was an instant drop in activity in the areas of the brains involved in fear, danger, and threat. The women, who had been exposed to experimental pain while they were scanned, were calmer and less stressed, and a similar, but smaller, effect was triggered by the touch of strangers.
  • The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine says it has carried out more than 100 studies into touch and found evidence of significant effects, including faster growth in premature babies, reduced pain, decreased autoimmune disease symptoms, lowered glucose levels in children with diabetes, and improved immune systems in people with cancer.
  • At the Institute for Postgraduate Dental Education in Sweden, a small trial involving 10 patients with fibromyalgia syndrome found that eight benefited from touch therapy.
  • While touch is used for stress and anxiety, research is now increasingly focussing on whether it can impede the progress of a number of diseases, including depression and cancer.

Jesus Healing Through Touch

In American culture, we are also fascinated by touching our idols. Imagine shaking the hand of your favorite singer, actor, or athlete. While Jesus was on earth, he was treated similarly. Whoever came to Him, He never turned away. The people often crowded around Him and many took the initiative to have Jesus come near and touch them. Jesus’ primary reason for touching people, however, was to heal them. Much of Christian belief is based on the idea that Jesus- a man- could heal through touch.

  • In Matthew 14, just after Jesus had walked on the water, people brought all their sick to Him and begged Him to let the sick just touch the edge of His cloak and all who touched Him were healed.
  • In Luke 6, people all tried to touch Him because power was coming from Him and healing them all.
  • In Luke 18, people were also bringing babies to Jesus to have Him touch them.

Saints and Martyrdom

  • Saint Lucy: Lucy, the Patron Saint of Blindness, saw Saint Agatha in a dream, telling her that her mother’s illness would be cured through faith in the 4th century. She used this to persuade her mother to give her dowry money to the poor and allow her to commit her life to God, rejecting a suitor. Angered, he went to the governor, who attempted to force her into defilement at a brothel. However, when the guards came to take her, they were unable to move her. They tried to burn her, but the wood would not light. Finally, they killed her with their swords. Her eyes were removed, but it is unclear who removed them- the governor or Lucy herself. At her burial, her eyes were restored.
  • Saint Erasmus of Formia: The bishop of Formiae, Campagna, Italy, and suffered martyrdom during Diocletian’s persecution of the Christians. He once fled to Mount Lebanon during the persecution and lived a life of solitude there for some time, being fed by a raven. After the emperor discovered his whereabouts, he was tortured and thrown in prison. Legend claims that an angel released him and he departed for Illyricum, eventually suffered a martyr’s death by being disemboweled and was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Erasmus is also invoked against stomach cramps and colic. This came about because at one time he had hot iron hooks stuck into his intestines by persecutors under Emperor Diocletian. Legend records that when a blue light appears at mastheads before and after a storm, the seamen took it as a sign of Erasmus’s protection. This was known as “St. Elmo’s fire.”
  • Saint Boniface: a Catholic saint born Wynfrith in 680. He was later nicknamed Boniface, which means good deeds. He became director of the school at Nursling, in Winchester, where he wrote the first Latin grammar in England. At thirty, he was ordained. In Hesse, in the presence of a large crowd of pagans, he cut down the Sacred Oak of Geismar, a tree of immense age and girth, sacred to the god Thor. Boniface had a successful missionary effort in Germany, where he was consecrated bishop. In old age resigned his bishopric and returned to work in Friesland. On June 5, the eve of Pentecost, 754, he was preparing a group of Frisians for confirmation when they were attacked and killed by heathen warriors.
  • Saint Margaret Mary: a Catholic saint born in 1647. She was bedridden for five years with rheumatic fever until she was fifteen and developed a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. At 20, she began experiencing visions of Christ.She refused marriage, and in 1671 she joined a convent. At 26, she began a series of revelations in which Christ informed her that she was His chosen instrument to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart. In 1683, Mother Melin was elected Superior and named Margaret Mary her assistant. She later established the feast of the Sacred Heart at the convent and built a chapel to honor the Sacred Heart. She died in 1690 and was canonized in 1920.

Other Martyrs

  • Saint Agatha of Sicily: Charged as an evil woman for refusing to be seduced by Senator Quintianus. Her breasts were cut off.
  • Saint Lawrence: one of the seven deacons, martyred in 258 on a gridiron.
  • Saint Hippolytus: Converted as a result of participating in the torture execution of Saint Lawrence. He was torn apart by horses in the 3rd century.
  • Saint Ignatius of Antioch: Bishop of Antioch for 40 years, who was eaten by lions after the Roman Emperor decreed all Christians should be put to death.
  • Saint Bartholomew: One of the 12 Apostles of Jesus who was skinned alive.
  • Saint Agnes of Rome: At 12 years old she was sent to a brothel and then condemned to be burned
  • Saint Catherine: Received a vision urging her to convert and attempted to convert Emperor Maxentius and his wife. She was condemned to death on a breaking wheel.

The Left Eye

In Egyptian mythology, Horus was a god who ruled with two eyes. Horus, who was the son of Osiris and Isis, symbolizes protection, royal power, and good health. The eye, associated with a falcon’s eye, represents the moon. It reflects fluid, feminine, lunar energy, and rules intuition and magic. The Eye of Horus was believed to have healing and protective power, and it was used as a protective amulet. The Left Eye of Horus explores the human nature of emotions and feelings, both positive and negative, sexual energy and birthing, death, certain psychic energy, and everything that is not logical. It represents abstract aesthetic information controlled by the right brain, intuition, and spiritual ability. Doug suffers several injuries to his left eye.

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