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Update On Sister Dulce

I’m sorry I’ve been away from the keys almost all day. My uncle had surgery on his broken leg this morning, and I’ve been waiting with the family at the hospital. He made it through fine, but the follow-up has been a lot longer than I expected. Still, I wanted to share this with you so you would know why posting has been very light today (and so you could, if inclined, offer a prayer for my uncle, who suffered a very bad break and has a steep recovery ahead of him).

Anyway, in the spirit of fairness, I publish with the author’s permission an e-mail from someone who was very close to Stephanie Lemoine, and who is very close to Sister Dulce, the Catholic nun who is believed by her supporters to have a spiritual gift of healing and discernment. Sister says God, whom she calls “Papa,” talks to her, and gives her words for those who come to her asking for prayer. Stephanie was a fervent follower of Sister Dulce, and told me (and a number of others) that Sister kept telling her Papa said she was going to live to see her grandchildren. Stephanie clung to that with all her might. In my post reporting Stephanie’s death on Saturday [1], I mentioned my anger at Sister Dulce for misleading Stephanie.

One friend of Stephanie’s told me today that Stephanie, citing Sister’s prophecy, told her (the friend) that her first transplant (stem-cell, I think) must have failed because God was testing her faith. She was sure the second one was bound to work. Another friend of Stephanie’s wrote yesterday to say she had long feared that Sister Dulce’s prophecy was not true, and it grieved her how much stock Stephanie put in it.

Today I received this from X., a person I know who was very close to Stephanie, and is very close to Sister Dulce. Again, I publish this with permission:

I really wished you had verified the message Stephanie was given by God before you shared your  opinion.

Stephanie and I have been friends for 17 years. We have been in almost daily communication since her diagnoses 3 ½ years ago. The message that Stephanie shared with me and her family was not shared with you in its entirety. When Stephanie was told by Sister Dulce that she would live to see her grandchildren, Stephanie asked her if that meant she would see them on earth or in heaven? Sister replied to her that she did not know. The reason Steph never shared with others the full version of her message was because her hope was that God meant to see them on earth. It is now clear that God meant she would see her grandchildren in heaven.

No one would be more hurt by this article than Stephanie. She loved Sister Dulce deeply and wholeheartedly believed in her gift.

I know Stephanie loved Sister Dulce deeply and wholeheartedly believed in her gift. That’s precisely why this upsets me so much. I can’t accept X.’s explanation for Sister Dulce’s prophecy. Sister’s words mounted to telling Stephanie, “You are either going to live, or you are going to die.” Any believing Christian could have said to Stephanie, “You are either going to see your grandchildren in this life or the next,” because it amounts to saying that whether you live or die, the death of the body doesn’t mean the death of the soul. That’s basic Christian teaching. It doesn’t take a prophet to say that.

This particular prophecy could only be meaningful to a cancer sufferer if the patient chose to believe that it applied to this life. Assuming that Sister Dulce really did believe these words came to her from God, it seems incredibly reckless and irresponsible, even cruel, to share them with someone who is fighting for her life, and holding on with white knuckles to any shred of hope she can. If those words did come from God — and I don’t believe they did, for the record — then what kind of God would toy so capriciously with His suffering child? It makes no sense to me. Besides, how can the prophet be wrong? I understand that prophecy can be ambiguous, but this one was straightforward. To say that what God, speaking through Sister, really meant was that the cancer-stricken woman was going to live on in heaven makes the prophecy unfalsifiable, therefore worthless. How on earth could Sister Dulce have not grasped that Stephanie was bound to hear her and to believe that she would survive this cancer?

Does this mean I think Sister Dulce doesn’t have a real spiritual gift? No, it does not. I knew another Catholic woman, now dead, who had a real and substantial spiritual gift — I saw it work dramatically on two separate occasions — but who also made some prophecies that were absolutely and unambiguously wrong. I think it’s possible that Sister Dulce may have a genuine gift, but a limited, fallible one — and that should make her approach her ministry to extremely vulnerable people with much greater caution than she showed Stephanie.

It was not only Stephanie, it seems. Today, a man wrote me to say that he had started to pay attention to Sister Dulce when she detected something specific about a friend’s medical condition that had eluded his doctors, who later found that the nun had been right. Later, though, when he asked the nun about his troubled mother, he says Sister told him not to worry about Mom, that Papa would take care of her. Shortly thereafter, she suffered two severe medical events, back to back, and died. He felt betrayed.

Of course, you could always say that God only promised to “take care of” his mother, not keep her alive through her crisis. By “take care,” that could mean He would receive her into heaven. Maybe. That would certainly provide plausible deniability for an apparently failed prophecy. But for this man, the plain meaning of the nun’s words gave him hope that she would come through this rough patch okay.

Despite that, he says that he can’t say for sure that she doesn’t have some sort of spiritual gift. All he can say is that he gives her the benefit of the doubt, in that he doesn’t think she’s intentionally malicious. At this point I would agree. Still, I think about how strongly Stephanie believed she was going to beat this cancer, and how much hope she placed in Sister. The last text she sent out to her friends and family list was on June 6, as her second transplant began to fail. It was confused; in it, she said the “can’t figure out” the last five weeks, and can’t explain them to others. I took this to mean that she thought this transplant was supposed to work, but it was failing, and nothing made sense. She went into hospice care shortly after that. The last words I have from Stephanie were in that June 6 note, in which she wrote, “please thank sister n tell her i love her.”

If you have any Sister Dulce stories, pro or con, please leave them in the comments thread, or drop me a note.

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43 Comments To "Update On Sister Dulce"

#1 Comment By Sam M On July 22, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

The idea that she would see them in heaven is meaningful if you believe in hell, no?

#2 Comment By Herbert On July 22, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

Good point Sam M, as well as if you’re not a universalist.

#3 Comment By Kevin On July 22, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

The prophesy could be that Stephanie would have any grandchildren. She wouldn’t see grandchildren in heaven or on earth if she never has grandkids to begin with, so technically the prophesy has some bite.

#4 Comment By Charles Cosimano On July 22, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

Sister Dulce does not seem very impressive. There are lot of people like her running around. But I suppose we should be thankful that she is not going around preaching about how God gave her seven Cadillacs and selling healing clothes that she prayed over.

At least I hope she isn’t.

#5 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On July 22, 2013 @ 7:55 pm

I suppose the world would be a more interesting place if prophecy were true. But I’ve experienced nothing that leads me to believe this to be so, and I think the nun is fooling herself.

One friend of Stephanie’s told me today that Stephanie, citing Sister’s prophecy, told her (the friend) that her first transplant (stem-cell, I think) must have failed because God was testing her faith.

Channeling a prior thread. If God does things like that then he’s a jerk.

#6 Comment By Turmarion On July 22, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

The fascinating book [2] has some insights that might be relevant here. Author Hansen’s thesis (to woefully compress and oversimplify) is that the paranormal–what would encompass psychic phenomena, prophecies, superhuman powers, and miracles, among others–by its nature operates in non-rational region of the human psyche. Because of this paranormal phenomena are intrinsically connected with aspects of the so-called Trickster archetype: ambiguity, obfuscation, the illogical, and sometimes outright fakery.

Hansen’s argument is that paranormal phenomena are real, but since they are by their very nature tied up with the non-rational and the Trickster, they are extremely difficult to document. In other words, it’s not that such phenomena are hard to study because they’re not real or because they’re rare; rather, by their very nature they’re resistant to the methods of science, that is, rationality, consistency, and so on. It would be like trying to get samples of water with a sieve–the nature of water and of sieves is going to frustrate you. Hansen also points out that the nature of the Trickster phenomenon results in confusing mixtures of the genuine and the fake–some individuals were literally caught faking, but also generated carefully observed phenomena that could not be debunked. Once more, Hansen says that thus is the nature of the beast.

It’s also possible to fit this into various religious frameworks. Thus, I think it’s quite possible that people who have genuine spiritual gifts and who exhibit extraordinary powers at times may at other times spectacularly fail or in some cases fake it (I’m not saying that of Sister Dulce–that doesn’t seem to be the case). According to Hansen’s analysis, we shouldn’t be surprised at this, but rather should expect it because that’s how these things work. He points out that in traditional societies where the non-rational hasn’t been driven out to the extent it has in ours, the people understand that and have evolved ways of dealing with these issues, rather than naively accepting (or rejecting) prophecies, miracles, etc.

I think our society tends to swing between totally gullible and completely skeptical, and thus doesn’t really understand how to interpret or deal with such things.

#7 Comment By Emily On July 22, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

This is so difficult to talk about, because I don’t think any of us can know (unless they’ve been terminally ill) how we would cope with the twin stresses of a ticking clock and an uncooperative body. I can’t imagine I would be any more realistic or logical than Stephanie or Ruthie, given how bent out of shape I was about three days of e.coli in France last week.

But I did discover this prayer during one of my long afternoons alone. It begins with an invocation to Christ the Healer, and then states: “O Lord, visit me in my suffering, and grant me grace and strength to bear this sickness with which I am afflicted, with Christian patience and submission to Thy will, trusting in Thy loving kindness and mercy.” It moves from there into a general confession, and then continues: “Grant that my sickness may be the means of my true repentance and amendment of my life according to Thy will, that I may spend the rest of my days in Thy love and fear.” Then it ends with some words about preparation for eternal life.

I was shocked to see how little this prayer mentions healing — the obvious goal of anyone who is sick! But I think that’s the point. Sickness exists for a reason: we just don’t know what the reason is. The goal is to learn something from the sickness, not to recover as quickly as possible. And the question is, how will we deal with the illness that is given to us when it comes? I dealt with it by whining and sulking and turning eventually to prayer. Ruthie and Stephanie dealt with it by intentionally obscuring the truth while drawing strength from their close network of loved ones. We all have good and bad moments in our journeys — toward health or the grave.

We are pretty bad at being sick in this time and place, mostly because we can’t imagine a situation in which we wouldn’t return to “normal,” that is, our pre-sick state. But in reality, it will happen to just about all of us, and multiple times. A good lesson to learn early, though not a fun one.

#8 Comment By jaybird On July 22, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

I’ll go with George Carlin on this:

I noticed that of all the prayers I used to offer to god, and all the prayers that I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answered at about the same 50% rate. Half the time I get what I want. Half the time I don’t. Same as god, 50/50. Same as the four leaf clover, the horse shoe, the rabbit’s foot, and the wishing well. Same as the mojo man. Same as the voodoo lady who tells your fortune by squeezing the goat’s testicles. It’s all the same; 50/50. So just pick your superstitions, sit back, make a wish and enjoy yourself.

#9 Comment By EliteCommInc. On July 22, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

I am unclear if you only desire to have comments posted about the niun inquestion or if general comments are allowed.

Excuse my misunderstanding.

God’s gifts in this area are not a joke and are not to be toyed with. I have known peoiple that have said if so and so has a gift then they will know such and such —

— that is not the case. The gifts of the spirit are for very specific purposes. And they are intended as primary to the gifted and those that receive them. The power of this dynamic is rife with issues and suspicion and those engaed in self deception, someimes innocently and sometimes for fame, money or both.

Why Jesus healed that person or this person when he was here is unknown. Why he didn’t heal everyone is unknown, aside from the fact that it requires faith. The vessels of God’s gift are not Christ. They are human beings still as yet unperefected by the end of all things. Stiill as yet living on a planet striving to make a living, and deal with people. They are devoid of mistakes in judgement or otherwise.

No prophet of God can utter error whe speaking as God shows them, unless they themselves bend what it is that is being communicated. But if God does not lie then those speaking as he has showed or spoken to them cannot utter a lie. No prophet of God is ever wrong — ever.

And in fear I add, not everything that is shown is meant to be spoken. That is my view — no scripture supports the idea, that I am familiar with.

#10 Comment By aegis On July 22, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

” If those words did come from God — and I don’t believe they did, for the record — then what kind of God would toy so capriciously with His suffering child?”

Book_of_Job.txt

#11 Comment By MIkeS On July 22, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

As long as there is a market for special prophecies, there will be suppliers like Sister Dulce. (“My child, you will either live, or you will not”… “Wow, what a gift…”)

#12 Comment By Josh DeCuir On July 22, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

I know this might open a can of worms – and Lord knows Orthodoxy has had its fair share of battles between the hierarchy & starets, but as far as I know, Sr. Dulce’s Prayer Center has no official recognition or status within the Diocese of Baton Rouge, & I think the diocese issued an official statement a few years ago expressing guarded caution with respect to what Sr. Dulce was/is doing.

I suppose that means these matters are best left to the judgment of individual Catholics. I have had some doubts about Sr. Dulce’s cult (I used that term in its generic, ecclesial sense, not in the “kool-aid” drinking variety). For one thing, I’m always a bit suspicious of religious who don’t live in community, or don’t identify with their religious community. Padre Pio, for example, always lived both the life & spirituality of a Capuchin in the monastery, most especially when he was silenced by the Church.

[NFR: That’s my understanding too — that Sister Dulce’s prayer center has not been officially approved by the Diocese, and that they can’t say mass at the chapel there because of that. I might be wrong; if so, please someone correct me. — RD]

#13 Comment By Charles Cosimano On July 22, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

My objection to Sister Dulce, other than her odd name which sort of makes me giggle, is not the prophecy thing, though I think that is always a stretch, and certainly not the healing. It is the idea that only certain people can do it. Miracles are a dime a dozen and anyone can cause one or two occasionally and sometimes they can be pretty spectacular.

That is one of the reasons I really like Pentecostals. They don’t believe that anyone has a “special grace.” For them anyone who believes can work miracles. Some may do it better than others, but everyone can.

I remember, badly, one time Brother Davis (a Pentecostal preacher when I was hanging out with them) was giving a sermon on miracles and he said, “And Jesus said greater than these you will do. Now, he didn’t say greater than these Peter will do, and he didn’t say greater than these Andrew will do and he sure didn’t say greater than these Judas will do! He said greater than these you will do, and that means all of you, not just the preacher who comes to town, all of you.”

I think that is why people like Sister Dulce stick in my craw.

#14 Comment By David J. White On July 22, 2013 @ 11:05 pm

The oracle at Delphi had a reputation, at least in literature, of being maddingly ambiguous, and — again, at least in the stories told in literature — people who consulted it seemed to have a tendency to interpret the prophecy in the way most favorable to them, without asking pesky follow-up clarifying questions. Herodotus’ story of Croesus going to war against the Persians is a good example, as is the story of the prophecy given to Pyrrhus of Epirus when he was considering going to war against the Romans.

#15 Comment By surly On July 23, 2013 @ 12:41 am

I know this is really emotional for you Rod, but not having been there for the conversations between the Sister and Stephanie, how can you know what was really said? You wrote very powerfully about your sister’s need to keep herself in a place where she could keep going. It wasn’t what you would have done, and it was hard for you to watch how she chose to receive information about her prognosis.

It is impossible for those of us who have not stared death in the face to know what went on between the sick person and their caregivers. I have seen several examples in my family where two people in a room with a patient will report diametrically opposite things when both heard the same words from the doctor’s mouth.

When my husband’s mother was ill, we both went into the doctor’s office with my father in law. I was there simply to take notes so that my husband could concentrate on what was being said. My FIL could walk out of a conversation where it was clearly spelled out that MIL was not going to make it and was only going to receive comfort care and he was quite sure she’d recover and that the doctors were doing everything in their power to make her better.

People have an infinite capacity to hear what they need to hear. It’s what makes us capable of unconditional love, faith, and other steadfast behaviors. The unfortunate flip side is this denial in the face of a terrifying reality such as terminal illness, addiction or mental illness.

[NFR: True enough, but in Stephanie’s case, she told a number of her friends about Sister’s prophecy. Her friend of 17 years who wrote in affirmed that Sister told Stephanie that this was what God told her about Stephanie, but that she (Sister) didn’t know if it meant that Steph would survive the cancer. My point is that Sister’s defender — someone who knows Sister intimately and knew Stephanie intimately — affirms that Sister told Stephanie that she would live to see her grandchildren — but she says that Sister added that she didn’t know if those words, purportedly from God, meant that Stephanie would survive the cancer. I wouldn’t say that Sister deliberately misled Stephanie, but I think it’s really reckless and wrong to speak that kind of prophecy to someone who has a terminal illness — even if you add a caveat to the prophecy saying, “I’m not sure the obvious meaning of this prophecy is what it means.” How is a dying person supposed to take that? It grieves me to think of how much Stephanie held onto that prophecy. I never spoke with her that she didn’t bring it up, usually more than once. — RD]

#16 Comment By surly On July 23, 2013 @ 1:09 am

Rod–you are taking the words of people who were in a highly emotional state, praying and caring for a friend that they loved, who were listening to the words of a dying woman and a mystic (or a crazy person, depending on your POV).

This is not something that you can hope to sort out, and being angry at Sister Dulce is a useful outlet for being angry that Stephanie died and Ruthie died and all these good people and their prayers are grieving.

You’ve had a lot of body blows in the last few years—your sister, your friend in Europe, Stephanie, moving, changing jobs. I would really let this thing go. It’s not healthy to be angry about something that may or may not have happened, and may or may not have helped Stephanie not go crazy with fear and pain.

#17 Comment By Isyou39 On July 23, 2013 @ 2:00 am

With all due respect, you should drop this Sister Dulce stuff—now! It makes you look spiteful and petulant. What is the point? That some old nun has given needy people some hope, albeit false hope, in their suffering? As long as she’s not bilking them out of cash—-and I assume you’d have made that accusation if you had any evidence whatsoever—-what’s the harm? For people in hopeless cases, false hope can be a hell of a lot better than none.

Give it up and let it go. You’re making yourself look bad.

#18 Comment By J.C. Marrero On July 23, 2013 @ 8:31 am

When it comes to prophesy, even the greatest saints, can err. St. Therese had a cousin who had been unable to conceive. Sometime during the last few months of her own life, Therese wrote a note to her cousin saying that from heaven she (Therese) would take care to send her a “little angel” from heaven. The cousin, Jeanne LaNeele and her husband never had a child. Jeanne, however, adopted a little girl after her husband’s death. It is hard to say what is a prophesy and not just a word of encouragement or even a prayer. Perhaps, there is an implied “if God wills it” tag hanging on every prediction.

#19 Comment By MargaretE On July 23, 2013 @ 8:41 am

I’m not sure I understand why you’re so angry about this, Rod? Sister Dolce gave Stephanie great comfort – and we now know it wasn’t even FALSE comfort… that she didn’t lie, but acknowledged the ambiguity of her message. I think you’re wrong to assume that what the sister told Stephanie couldn’t possibly have been a comfort to her had she interpreted it in terms of spiritual (as opposed to physical) life. You say, “That’s basic Christian teaching. It doesn’t take a prophet to say that…. This particular prophecy could only be meaningful to a cancer sufferer if the patient chose to believe that it applied to this life.” I strongly disagree! No matter how faithful a Christian might be, doubts creep in. In the midst of terrible suffering, to have a holy person confirm that, indeed, you will “live” to see your grandchildren – in WHATEVER realm – would be deeply comforting, to my way of thinking. For me, one of the hardest Christian concepts to believe in – and the one I so desperately want to! – is the promise of everlasting life (and especially one in which I’m reunited with those I love). So, for me, Sister Dolce’s prophecy would have meant the world if I were facing immanent death….

#20 Comment By Andrew S. On July 23, 2013 @ 9:34 am

MH – Secular Misanthropist said: “‘One friend of Stephanie’s told me today that Stephanie, citing Sister’s prophecy, told her (the friend) that her first transplant (stem-cell, I think) must have failed because God was testing her faith.

Channeling a prior thread. If God does things like that then he’s a jerk.”

Didn’t God basically destroy Job’s life in order to test his faith?

#21 Comment By Jon Cogburn On July 23, 2013 @ 10:49 am

With all due respect to surly and lsyou39,, I’m just not reading the posts as being offered in any angry spirit.

I mean it’s a pretty important topic.

When I was a kid I played guitar in the house band for a charismatic church in Alabama. After communion you’d have to hang onto the last chord you played and not stop until people started gibbering and prophesying. The prophets would close their eyes, raise their hands in the air, and speak in first person as if God was speaking through them.

I still remember the Sunday when I realized that different people who didn’t like each other in the congregation would use their prophesies to not so subtly criticize each other.

And my faith has never really recovered, though I pray daily that it will.

If anything instantiates the claim that pride goes before a destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall, it’s people who have conversations with God and share with us the exact words that God tells them. I don’t know if God ever does speak to humans in that way. But in any case it’s a very, very dangerous business, and you don’t find people like Thomas Merton engaging in it.

[NFR: Thanks for this. I’m certainly not trying to “get back” at Sister Dulce, or transfer my sadness over Stephanie’s death into anger at someone else. Like Jon says, I am wary as a theological matter of people who say “God told me” something. I know from personal experience, with my sister and with Stephanie, how intensely people facing terminal illness look for hope. I don’t think it’s innocent for someone like Sister Dulce to use the authority granted them by extremely vulnerable people like Stephanie to instruct them about what God supposedly said. I don’t know if Sister was being purposely manipulative, and would assume, in charity, that she was not. But it’s still reckless, and it still matters. Anybody who is believed to have a direct pipeline to God has tremendous power over people who accept it. This is why the Church exercises so much caution about approving apparitions. It’s a big deal. — RD]

#22 Comment By Franklin Evans On July 23, 2013 @ 11:19 am

Turmarion’s use of “non-rationl” is the key point here, as is the notion that one “spirit” fits all. Success breeds popularity — a harsh judgment in matters as personal and traumatic as facing the end of one’s life — and the more intense a person’s situation is the more intense is that person’s need, be it for compassion, solace, moral support or just keeping a grip on sanity.

There is a difference between the street-corner “prophet” and the pastoral counselor. It is subtle and subjective, but here goes: The “prophet” tells one what one wants to hear because there is quid pro quo involved (monetary or reputation, or both). The counselor tells one what one needs to hear according to the counselor’s ethical judgment in the specific circumstances.

The counselor could fail in his or her judgment. That is a human failure. The prophet risks no such failure, because the “spirits” (fill in the blank as needed) are never wrong. The counselor attempts to clarify the necessary ambiguities, the prophet depends on them to cover any mistakes. The counselor is accountable for mistakes, the prophet shirks accountability (unless, like Cassandra, she or he becomes the target of the angry mob).

Sister Dulce treads the line between prophet and counselor, in my opinion based on the limited information presented here.

#23 Comment By Mark Brown On July 23, 2013 @ 11:26 am

Say you have a prophetic gift and say a terminally ill person asks for something that is their heart’s desire. By your gift you are granted to see that how they want it is not going to happen. What do you say?

a) Sorry, you are going to die and offer what hope you can plainly. The biblical promise of eternal life.
c) Vague wordings that can be taken as hope now or eternal hope.

It seems that the sister (based on the two stories told) defaults to vague words. Which is more graceful? What is the true purpose of the prophet/prophecy – to offer knowledge or to bolster hope and faith?

She could still be a huckster, but if true, the options for the prophet (and the calling) are not exactly easy. Nobody seeks a prophet over a choice between puppies or kittens.

#24 Comment By MBrown On July 23, 2013 @ 11:44 am

Rod, I share your skepticism, though I’m obviously far removed from the situation. So I recognize that it’s easier for me to rationalize what was said and accept it.

A couple thoughts. First, prophecy doesn’t always involve the communication of hidden knowledge (i.e. foretelling), but is sometimes simply the application of already revealed knowledge to a particular person or circumstance, by the direction of the Spirit. Second, this could very easily have been prophecy of the second kind. Your friend very likely was concerned about the loss that would come from having her life shortened, especially the loss of being present with her posterity. In light of that sense of loss, the prophecy could have rightly been more closely related to communicating to your friend not how long she would live, but rather the nature of the life that she was actually seeking. On the surface, perhaps she felt that she desired longer physical life. But perhaps her deeper longing was for a rich, full life spent in joyful fellowship with her children and grandchildren. Indeed, that is likely what she will have: life more joyful and eternal with them in heaven than she could have even hoped for in this life. So, perhaps the nature of the prophecy wasn’t to tell her that she was going to live long on earth, but rather to point her past her immediate longing and call her attention to a deeper longing that she had difficulty discerning, in light of her present struggle.

Again, I share your skepticism, and am obviously far removed from the situation and your sense of loss and anger. Obviously I hesitate to speak into this kind of a situation from which I am so far removed. But it is important to recognize that there is much more to prophecy than telling the future. Prophecy is a gift of God for the building up of his people, warning them, and directing them to His truth. An understanding of seeing her grandchildren in heaven could conceivably be seen as legitimate prophecy.

#25 Comment By MBrown On July 23, 2013 @ 11:47 am

Andrew S. –

God did not destroy Job’s life to test his faith. God allowed Satan to destroy Job’s life to prove his faith. And then God gave Job back more than he had lost.

Big difference between testing and proving.

#26 Comment By JohnE_o On July 23, 2013 @ 11:59 am

I think it would be interesting for Rod to consider the difference – if any – between his skepticism and frustration regarding Sister Dulce and the skepticism and frustration that agnostics and atheists feel towards religion generally.

#27 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On July 23, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

Andrew S said:

Didn’t God basically destroy Job’s life in order to test his faith?

The Book of Job is probably my favorite book of the bible. I’ve read several analysis of it over the years, and I agree with the thinking that it’s actually commentary on a folk tale from Hebrew culture. The authors used it as a vehicle to explore the problem of evil and how to deal with misfortune. For example the theodicy offered by Job’s friends is intended to be unsatisfactory and serve as a negative example. God’s explanation to Job is equally unhelpful leaving Job to struggle with his dilemma. Even God restoring Job to health and wealth is unsatisfactory because the reader’s first thought is that Job will always have painful memories of his first family.

So it’s supposed to leave the reader somewhat off base because the problem of evil is so vexing. From my point of view the authors missed the obvious explanation, but they were in a culture where atheism was unthinkable.

#28 Comment By bones On July 23, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

At what point does a Christian wonder what’s really behind Sister Dulce’s ‘ministry’?

When I read this blog yesterday, I was immediately reminded of the experiences I had (mostly by proxy through my mother) of the Catholic charismatic movement in the 1990s, and of Medjugorje. The concept of prayer as quid-pro-quo, the singularity of the gift, the weird specificity of the prophesies, the subtle predatory nature of the relationship – and the dubious ‘results’. And today I read Josh DeCuir’s comment about Sister Dulce’s status in the Diocese, and it seems pretty clear that this nun isn’t out there doing God’s work. Snake-oil at best, and something-something at worst.

#29 Comment By Lois On July 23, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

A favorite Rumi quote comes to mind,
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

#30 Comment By Elijah On July 23, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

“Sister Dulce does not seem very impressive.” I second that.

I am very very suspicious of anyone who claims to get these sorts of highly individual messages directly from God.

Years ago we had a man at a local church claim he received messages from God similar to those of Sr. Dulce. A member of the congregation’s brother was stricken with cancer; the “messenger” told the member that his brother would live if “he prayed hard enough and believed”.

Stage 4 Lung Cancer – the brother died, as we expected, even though we prayed for his healing. The “messenger” said “Well, you either didn’t pray hard enough or didn’t have enough faith, or he would have lived.”

He was asked to leave the church.

I do not deny miracles, or prophecy, but I am very skeptical of what Mr. Cosimano rightly terms “special grace”.

#31 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On July 23, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

MBrown said:

God did not destroy Job’s life to test his faith. God allowed Satan to destroy Job’s life to prove his faith. And then God gave Job back more than he had lost.

A distinction without a difference if you’re an all powerful being who created Satan in the first place. It’s also incredibly callus because it views Job’s wife and children as disposable pawns to test Job.

#32 Comment By Mike W On July 23, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

I certainly think that God grants certain people certain gifts. But it can’t be a sometime thing. You either have “it” or you don’t. If you think you have the gift of prophecy, for example, and you’re also letting other people think you are the source of God-given insights then you better be irrefutably right, 100% of the time. You can’t sorta be a prophet any more than you can sorta be pregnant.

#33 Comment By KC On July 23, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

I’m with you, Rod! I think Sister’s false prophesy to a dying woman was cruel whatever her intentions.

Unfortunately the only hope offered to the terminally ill is an impossible one : cure or greatly expanded life expectancy.

Sister offered nothing of possible hopes. Hope for meaningful quality time with loved ones. Hope for freedom from pain & fear. Hope for spiritual comfort & eternal life.

Stephanie was cheated of the truth & denied the opportunity of making the most of her dwindling days & preparing her soul to meet her Maker.

Why not offer the dying hope that is achievable?

#34 Comment By MBrown On July 23, 2013 @ 7:55 pm

MH –

There’s absolutely a difference. If he is testing Job’s faith, then there is a question as to the outcome, and whether it might be ultimately good or bad. If he’s proving Job’s faith, then the outcome is not in doubt and the process is purposed to bring about good.

As for God’s use of Job’s wife and children, I’ll leave it to God to decide what is fair and good. Humans lives are not the ultimate value in the universe. If a higher purpose is served by the way God uses them, well, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Finally, Romans 9:21.

#35 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On July 23, 2013 @ 8:06 pm

MBrown, proving to who? To Job, to Satan, or the reader?

As for God’s use of Job’s wife and children, I’ll leave it to God to decide what is fair and good. Humans lives are not the ultimate value in the universe. If a higher purpose is served by the way God uses them, well, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

That doesn’t sound particularly benevolent to me.

#36 Comment By MBrown On July 23, 2013 @ 11:29 pm

MH –

Fortunately, I don’t have to entrust myself to your sense of benevolence.

A view of the universe that places humans and their temporal happiness at the pinnacle of the universe is not compatible with Christianity. I don’t know if you are a Christian, so I don’t expect you to agree. But the reality is, if you come at it from a Christian perspective, God doing what is ultimately the most glorifying to himself is the very definition of benevolence, as humans find their ultimate joy in His glory.

#37 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On July 24, 2013 @ 6:51 am

MBrown, I am not a Christian, nor do I believe in any anthropomorphic gods that involve themselves in human affairs.

To me your reply sounds like evil isn’t evil if God does it, and good is anything that makes God look good. To me this makes good and evil concepts we can’t understand or even act on. Only God can understand them because he’s the only being who can understand himself and his opinion.

Moreover who is God glorifying himself to? It sounds like he’s doing it for himself since his opinion is the only thing that counts.

#38 Comment By JohnE_o On July 24, 2013 @ 8:12 am

But the reality is, if you come at it from a Christian perspective, God doing what is ultimately the most glorifying to himself is the very definition of benevolence, as humans find their ultimate joy in His glory.

c.f. Stockholm Syndrome

#39 Comment By MBrown On July 24, 2013 @ 11:30 am

MH – your understanding of the Christian view evil is precisely right. God is the standard by which good and evil are measured, not the other way around. We are able to act on good and evil by virtue of our conscience, what we understand from nature, and what God has specifically revealed.

So, it’s not that evil becomes good if God does it, but that if God does it, it was never evil for him to do in the first place.

#40 Comment By Johnny F. Ive On July 24, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

I wonder if people knew of her reputation as a healer prior to seeking her. Were they looking for a schizotypal shaman who acted like an intermediary between God and themselves, or someone who could heal them?

Rod, she’s on youtube check it out (she says she can relieve people of physical pain and take it onto herself):
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#41 Comment By April Brabham On December 30, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

How can I contact Sister Dulce

#42 Comment By Mic On October 3, 2014 @ 2:21 pm

What role does Msgr Robert Berggreen play in Sister’s ministry?

#43 Comment By Sharon R On December 16, 2016 @ 12:38 am

I am a Christian, but I also believe that miracles do occur when God chooses to allow the miracle to occur. I think a miracle has a lot to do with a person’s faith and belief in God’s healing powers and with their state of mind. Science has explored how an ill person who “believes” that they can be cured has a much greater chance to get better than an ill person who has a negative state of mind about the chances that they will get better or be healed. I believe that people can and will get better physically through simply believing that God will have mercy on them and will heal them. In my own personal experience, a family member was advised NOT to seek chemo treatment for cancer by a doctor, then decided and insisted on having chemo for a cancer believed incurable, and that person not only beat the cancer, but against all odds and reason, it never returned! If you are a non-believer, please don’t put down those who have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ! The strength that faith provides in the life of an ill person is the same as a sword provides to a soldier! Faith is an instrument that sustains, protects, comforts, and strengthens the sick as they face the uncertainty that all humans face in our lives – we shall never know just what is ahead physically (illness or health) and when it will happen to each of us. We don’t control how short or long our lives will be, only God knows that; however, we should not measure our lives by the number of our years lived but by our deeds and by the number of lives that we touch in positive ways as we live out the years we end up with here on Earth. I think that Sister Dulce can comfort the sick and offer them peace even if she is not always able to prevent their death. A Christian believes in a life after death where there is no sickness and no more pain, and for the terminally ill, this belief is a powerful comfort as it offers them peace and hope for another life after their life here on Earth full of promise and the chance to be reunited with loved ones. Bless Sister Dulce Maria for her ability to heal through the power of Jesus and for the peace and comfort that she provides to the sick and ill as she prays with them and offers them hope, which is often the greatest comfort of all.