Miracle of the Sacred Heart
by Bette Stockbauer ( January 1992 )


In March 1991, Share International reported on an incident at San José Catholic Church in Austin, Texas. On 11 January, a parishioner of the church was praying in his home before a picture of the Sacred Heart when blood appeared on the picture. The bleeding occurred again in the presence of seven family members, two of whom reported having visions of war. (Later that same day President Bush approved the use of force in the Middle East.) The family brought the picture to the church where it was publicly displayed. Many of those viewing it received healings, messages, or visions.

On 19 January the diocesan bishop requested the picture be removed for investigation - this being standard procedure in occurrences of this kind.

Meanwhile, the spiritual life at San José continued to unfold. For many years, a Thursday night healing service, alive with mariachi music and the spirit of renewal, has been held at the church. So many of the parishioners have received messages, visions, and healings that such phenomena are considered "normal." They are readily embraced and openly discussed.

Late in July, a parishioner received a message from Mary that she would appear on 15 August . She requested that the rosary be prayed at San José between 1.00 and 3.00 pm and promised that something beautiful would be seen in the sky. During the rosary several people reported having visions of Mary. Healings were also reported. After the rosary, the 500-600 people gathered outside to look for the promised sign. About 4.15 the viewers reported that the sun began to spin. This continued for 10-15 minutes. Those present were able to view the sun directly without hurting their eyes. Most people in the crowd were witnesses to this event.

On 16 August, the picture was returned to the parish with the following statement, "An investigation conducted by the diocese of Austin concluded that divine intervention could not be verified in regard to the picture."

A small, portable building has been erected and the picture is available for viewing every day. In addition, shortly after the picture was removed, construction began on a 24-hour adoration chapel (already in the planning stages). Called the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, messages and miracles regularly occur here as well. In addition to the usual Sunday church services, the spiritual life of San José is rendered vibrant and meaningful in a deeply personal way by the experiences gained in the presence of the picture, the adoration chapel, and the healing services.

Father Fred Underwood has been the pastor of San José since 1982. We spoke of these events in his modest office in Austin.

SI: Describe for me the work that you do at San José.
Father Underwood: I basically would describe myself as a Catholic evangelist. I am anxious to spend as much time as I can leading as many people as possible to a personal loving relationship with Jesus as a brother and very best friend. If you think of Jesus as a Lord and Savior, you can't really get intimate with a Lord and Savior, but you can with a brother and a very best friend.

We are now beginning to have busloads of people making pilgrimages to the church, and to make the day more meaningful we take them through a conversion experience. By a conversion experience I mean a greater turning to Jesus, so that we are not just nominal Christians, but are striving daily for a closer and greater openness to the Holy Spirit. We experience the same power that the early Christians experienced after Pentecost.

SI: What is the dominant theme of the messages being received?
FU: "I love you." "I want you to spend more time with me." "I want you to listen when you're praying, just be still and quiet." And the Lord always talks to them. The beautiful thing is that He has led a few people into passive contemplation. In ordinary contemplation we do all the work - the praying, the thinking, the loving - but in passive contemplation, we don't have to do anything. Jesus has taken over our intellect, our mind, and our heart, so we are kind of in a trance - a beautiful loving trance - and we are just enrapt in His love.

Tell me about some of the healings.
FU: I have never seen the Lord work more powerfully - in healing services or anyplace - than He is through that little picture. So many people are healed, of cancers, diabetes, heart conditions, while viewing the picture.

When the picture was first displayed in January, a lady who was five months pregnant came to pray. Her doctor had found that the baby had a bad heart and both he and her husband wanted her to have an abortion. Even more disturbing was that the baby had not moved for several days. The picture was placed on her womb and the baby immediately started kicking. In May the mother gave birth to a healthy baby boy. She says, "I call him my Sacred Heart miracle baby. People remark that there's something special about David. He radiates so much love and joy."

Another woman, a Baptist with no knowledge of Catholicism, had been suffering for years from anorexia and severe depression. She came to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel after being declared incurable by a local hospital treatment program. Kneeling down, she cried her heart out, then sat down in the front pew. Soon she felt a hand go inside her chest. Frightened, she started to get up, but a hand pushed her back in the pew and a voice said, "Be at peace. I am Jesus. Be at peace." Then He reached inside her chest and grabbed her heart. She could feel all 10 fingers massaging her heart, and when He was finished, the depression and anorexia were gone. Her psychiatrist has pronounced her cured and she is now a powerful worker in the church.

Now that the Sacred Heart picture has been returned, how are the parishioners responding to its presence?

FU: The Blessed Lord is actually speaking to people, especially men, and not just Catholic, inviting them verbally to come to the building. When they come by car or pickup truck, it is as though remote control takes over. They get out and don't even know what's in the building. But once they view the picture, the Lord zaps them, and they have such a beautiful conversion experience, sometimes even visions.

One young man was watching a football game and the Lord said to him, "Pray." So the guy figured he could have the best of both worlds and, kneeling in front of his television, began to pray while still watching the game. The Lord said, "No, no, I said pray." So the young man drove to the church, and as soon as he got on the grounds the Lord took over the steering wheel and guided him to the little building. He had a very deep conversion and now works with the youth group at the church.

About half of the people who view the picture have an experience known as "resting in the spirit." A person is so overwhelmed with God's love that they go into a trance and are just aware of total love, peace and joy. Often they will lose consciousness and fall, though they are never hurt. Many are given messages, visions, and healings during this time.

SI: Why do you suppose that so many of these visions are occurring in Hispanic and poor communities?
FU: They are occurring all over the world, not only in these communities. One of the reasons that these messages are given to children, and to not necessarily poor people, but childlike people, is so that we will know that this is not something cooked up by the theologians or some very learned person. It is extremely difficult for people who intellectualize their faith or people who have good positions either politically or in business to become childlike because they want to be completely in control. They say, "God, I think you're great, but you stay out there, let me show you what I can do."

This is one of the reasons that Jesus in the Gospel has insisted on the importance of becoming childlike. So many of our people are receiving visions and messages because they are childlike and have such strong faith. I'm trying to emulate them because I see that that's where it's at. Many of them are great saints, little people, you know.

SI: I guess that everyone at San José wakes up loving to go to work in the morning.
FU: We always have, but even more so now. We feel so privileged to have the picture of the Sacred Heart here and Our Lord working so actively in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. You see so many external phenomena happening right before your eyes - visions and conversions and instantaneous healings. It is like watching Jesus heal people and work and walk the earth 2,000 years ago.








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