Spiritual Experiences in Italy Series: St. Marina the Monk and Her Incorrupt Body

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When my wife and I decided to travel to Italy, I did not realize the extent to which we would encounter profound and deeply moving spiritual experiences. Certainly, much of my focus in planning the trip was on how to connect with the early Church, but what I didn’t realize was how much of an impact some of these places would have. The journey began well in advance of the trip, as I poured over several books and other sources, including soliciting recommendations of friends, to map out where I could find plausibly authentic* relics of saints, and visit sites significant to early Christian history. I am excited to share a series of posts on our Spiritual Experiences in Italy, beginning with this one about what for me may have been the most moving moment of the whole trip: seeing the incorrupt body of St. Marina the monk, an early Church saint who I grew up hearing about in the reading of the Synaxarion at Church, and who I have always greatly admired as an example for her resilience in humbly, and silently, accepting false accusations, pursuing Christ’s example as the innocent lamb silently led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7). Continue reading

This Afterlife Story Just Got Very Real

Coptic_Choir_Accident_Heliopolis_Egypt_1999-MariamSobhy.pngA friend of mine sent me a kind message regarding my book and then shocked me as she revealed she knew one of the girls in the book whose afterlife experience had been recorded. My friend Mira was asking me for more details, but I was the one eagerly seeking to learn more. Continue reading

God, Why Do “Bad” Things Happen?

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The earthquake in Nepal, the deliberate plane crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, 9/11, the relative who was diagnosed with cancer, the friend who died in a fire, the horrible boss, mean professor, financial woes, difficulty finding a partner, or simply a bad day: it feels like “bad” things happen all the time, from the personal problems we face in our daily lives, to the large scale calamities in this world. The first thing many often ask is, “Why God?”

Like everyone else, I’ve had my share of very difficult times in life, and over time I developed a framework to understand God’s place in all the difficulties. By God’s grace, that frame of mind has sustained my belief in a loving God in whom I trust, but there are unfortunately too many of us who eventually turn away from God when the tribulations we see around us become unbearable, and usually it is because people have a hard time answering the question, “Why God?” (For an accompanying PDF lesson, click here) Continue reading