Father Rutler was born in New Jersey on March 23, 1945 a year after his father Adolphe Rutler returned home after a tour of duty in World War II with the Merchant Marines. He was raised a strict Episcopalian and conditioned to consider the Roman Catholic Church as a Faith of superstition which was exaggerated further when he entered a Catholic Church where there were a plethora of votive light candles and it seemed to him the church was on fire. It would not be until God's time that the Holy Spirit would enkindle the flame of love for the true faith in Fr. Rutler. It would be after his school days at Dartmouth where he excelled in both studies and extracurricular activities , becoming the most eligible bachelor in New Jersey Episcopalian circles. He decided he wanted to be an Episcopalian priest and entered studies for that purpose, spending time in England and Oxford University where he helped out in London's poorer Anglican churches and on the side began reading Cardinal Newman's "Apologia Pro Vita Sua". It was during this time also that he sought a higher Anglicanism for the Episcopal Church was in the process of affirming women priests and he did not feel comfortable with that. After becoming an Episcopal priest in 1969, he was sent to Philadelphia to a church in Rosemont which exemplified the high Anglican liturgy he was looking for. Yet, something was still missing. When the pastor left, the vestry elected him the new rector and he had to give up a scholarship to Oxford and a doctoral fellowship he had set his heart on. Yet, at the young age of 26 he became the youngest rector in the American Episcopalian Church. Besides his duties at Rosemont, he was serving as chaplain at Bryn Maur College, a university for women. Because of his high profile, eligible brides were lining up. Marriage to the upper class was inevitable. Yet, there was still a void that he could not pinpoint.
Through the Grace of God he picked up further writings of Cardinal Newman and Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, now Pope John Paul II, and began reading. The more he read, the more he realized the truths of the Roman Catholic Church. He became interested in the American Church Union which was an offshoot of the Oxford Movement and which began a journal titled the "New Oxford Review". He began to write articles for the publication. The turning point in his life came when his Bishop allowed a collection be taken up for a counseling center that would condone and promote abortions. He could not, in good conscience, go along with this and when the vestry overruled him, the hand-writing was on the wall.
In 1978, he resigned his pastorship of Rosemont and as yet unmarried, was elected National President of the American Church Union and grew closer to Rome for he was convinced that those members of the ACU should make a collective submission to the Sovereign Pontiff. When other members balked, Father George put it in God's hands and took the big step on his own. In September, 1979 he contacted Cardinal Terrence Cooke of New York and asked to become a Roman Catholic. Through the cardinal's assistance, Father George was initiated into the Church on September 28, 1979 at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Shortly after, Cardinal Cooke paved the way for him to travel to Rome to meet Church requirements for his transitioning from Episcopal priest to Catholic priest. After two years studying theology in the eternal city, he was ordained a deacon and returned to New York where Cardinal Cooke welcomed him with open arms and ordained him to the priesthood. He then returned to Rome to complete his doctoral thesis on Cardinal Newman who had so moved him and tweaked his conscience that ultimately had climaxed in his becoming a priest in the Roman Church. Once his studies were completed it was back to New York where he was appointed a teacher at Our Lady of Victory Church in the Wall Street area of the Bronx.
His preaching and manner in which he touched hearts soon became legendary and he reached countless financial businessmen, bankers and stockbrokers not only from the pulpit but in the confessional as well, prompting a plethora of conversions of heart. Father Rutler was moved by this important ministry because he was able to reach so many youth and young businessmen who were growing up in a world devoid of morals and conscience and translating that to their business ventures. His counseling and inspiration helped set many of the yippie generation right. The more he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and heard confessions, the more he came to appreciate the Sacramental nature of the priest's role in salvation, unlike the administrative clericalism "caretaker" role in other denominations, which sadly, he points out, so many Catholics consider their priests in that light as well. They are not "bureaucratic professionals" but rather anointed men meant to serve as the Gospel calls for.
In this decade Mother Angelica heard about his prowess as a preacher and reacher of souls and invited him to do a series of programs for EWTN and he has been a mainstay there ever since. In addition he has written numerous books, most notably "The Seven Ages of Man" and "The Seven Wonders of the World", both of which are meditations on the Seven Last Words of Christ. He has also written "A Crisis of Saints", "The Cure of d'Ars Today" and "Beyond Modernity" which is a reflection of a Post-Modern Catholic. His own conversion came through the Grace of God and the instrument of Cardinal Newman's writings providing fruits long after the good prelate had passed on to his reward. During the crisis of taking that blind leap of faith, Father Rutler puts it best, "It was quite clear that the Holy Spirit was doing something miraculous, and I wanted to be a little part of it." He has since indeed been a part of it, but not as little as he thinks.
The first visionary placed under the "Foxscope" was Katya Rivas, a resident of Cochambamba, Bolivia, who was a fallen-away Catholic, having been married three times. Her faith was the farthest thing from her mind and heart, but through a series of events that the network did not go into, she returned to the Church through a full conversion of heart. She first experienced the visible Stigmata, she claims, during a visit to Conyers and the visionary Nancy Fowler whose experiences with visions on the 13th of each month have since ceased. For many years prior to traveling to Atlanta, she had been receiving locutions from Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, a spiritual phenomena that has been repeated very often in the last few decades throughout the world. But the difference between all the other messengers and Katya is the fact that she is the only one with the visible Stigmata. There have been many who bore the "invisible Stigmata" but the last one to bear the visible Stigmata is now well on his way to sainthood, having been beatified in May by Pope John Paul II. We're speaking, of course, of Blessed Padre Pio. Katya's cause hasn't been introduced yet but what we saw signifies that she is special in God's eyes. She has over nine books of hand-written messges, many in Latin, Greek or Polish and she speaks only Spanish. Add to this that she is a high-school dropout and one gets the sense that this must be supernatural. Add also to this that the Archbishop of the See of Cochabamba, Archbishop Rene Fernandez Apaza has already approved the visionary's experiences in the first stage.
Cochabamba sits high in the Andes in West Central Bolivia and is the country's second largest diocese with 95% of the population of over 330,000 being Catholic. It is a fertile, productive agricultural region where the Rio de la Rocha river flows through and was founded in 1574 as Villa de Oropeza and renamed Cochabamba in 1786. The See was established by a Bull from Pope Pius IX on June 25, 1847. That is an interesting date for June 25th is the date Our Lady first spoke to the visionaries of Medjugorje 134 years later and half way around the world. Once again, God chose a remote spot in the mountains. It follows the pattern of La Salette, Garabandal and Medjugorje to name a few.
The amazing thing is that FOX went in filming, assuming Katya would experience the Stigmata on Good Friday for, after all, that was the day Christ died on the Cross. To their surprise, it was a "no go" but they did not come away disappointed; rather their ambitions were anxious for Katya received a message from Jesus in which He affirmed the Stigmata would occur the day after His Feast of Corpus Christi. It would be further proof of the Mystery of the Eucharist - Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. True to His word, on June 7th this year the cameras were rolling as Katya slowly drifted into a perplexed anxiety and retired to her home chapel to pray, then to her bed where right before the world's eyes the miracle of the visible Stigmata appeared as Katya writhed in reverent agony for hours, often exhibiting signs of being near death. All of this replicated the circumstances Our Savior experienced as He hung on the Cross. Blood began exuding from Katya's forehead first in accordance with what a crown of thorns would do to one's skull. Next her hands and feet began to show a cross and shortly after the cross gave way to larger wounds in which blood flowed from both her hands and feet. A priest and doctor, as well as friends and producer Michael Willesee, Sr. were all in attendance during this miraculous phenomena. What struck us about the entire program was the reverence Mr. Willesee expressed for the event and he was careful to extract on a swab traces of her blood that would be tested and revealed live Wednesday during the program. He had earlier extracted blood samples to know Katya's blood type. The results showed the blood was indeed hers, but what truly amazed Willesee and others was when he visited her the following day on June 8th, she showed hardly any signs of wounds. No medical expert could explain it. All the wounds on her body had miraculously healed.
During his time with Katya in preparing this documentary and showing it last night another miracle happened; this one was with Willesee himself. Call it the miracle of the heart for, in his own words he became a believer. We don't know what his faith is or background. We have attempted to contact him to do a follow-up interview with him which we hope to bring you down the road on his own experiences and conversion of heart, but it was another example of God's graces working through signs and wonders.
The second messenger placed under the network's microscope was Milla Carrazco de Ortiz in Monterrey who is a simple housewife and mother of two children and who, along with her husband, live in the cramped quarters of a two-room house, having to share bathroom and kitchen facilities with four other families. They have no phone, no address even. Literally dirt poor! The Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has appeared indelibly in the floor of her home, much in the same manner as the image in Florida on the office building, on a tree in northern California, and so on. There is no mistaking the image of Our Lady embedded larger than life miraculously in the terrazo surface. In addition rose petals placed in the bible and prayer books develop images of Jesus and Mary and saints that cannot be copied under normal circumstances. This same phenomena has occurred in the Philippines in Manila and Dick Polak of Denver had a collection of the "miraculous rose petals" which we have seen first-hand. He since lost them on a pilgrimage to Garabandal when his suitcase was lost in flight, but he at least still has photos of the miraculous petals.
Both women expressed a simplicity and pious faith found in so many Hispanic women and the filming crew and reporters showed a tremendous respect for their piety. The producers were smart to send reporters that were bilingual as well and their handling of the entire series of events and the two hour program were beyond reproach. They covered all angles, calling in various experts including Dr. Richard Castanon of Bolivia who was once an atheist and whose sole purpose in life was to debunk supernatural phenomena. He has written numerous books on his global investigations of many claims, proving fraud in several and has even been employed as a "Devil's Advocate" by the Vatican for some investigations, but through his experiences with Katya his perspective was entirely changed and he came across as a believer live on FOX. Other secular experts were Michael Reid, Professor of Environmental Horticulture at UC-Davis who examined the structure of the petals and could find no process added to them to indicate tampering. The same for Will Shank, an art conservator who tried to show that by pressing a coin image against the petals one could reproduce the same image and therefore debunk the credibility of the authenticity of the miraculous rose petals, but the image he pressed could not measure up to the detail of the miraculous rose petals and he would not turn the petal he pressed over to see if it had the same clear image on the back which the process of pressing could not fully do. His findings were, to say the least, inconclusive and deceiving. The other secular expert was Lisa Calandro, a Forensic Anaylitical Lab biologist who tested the DNA of the blood of both Katya's Stigmata and the blood that miraculously flows from a bust of Christ in Milla's home. The findings were surprising for they were not Our Lord's blood type nor Milla's but that of a woman and it was Michael Willasee who pointed out that it could very well be the blood of the Blessed Virgin Mary for it was her blood that gave life to her Divine Son in her womb through the mystical insemination of the Holy Spirit. Willasee's comments were truly profound. The lone "expert" representing the Church was not the Archbishop of Cochabamba but Father Peter Stravinskas, the well-respected editor of "The Catholic Answer" who is an excellent writer and has written volumes on spirituality and the Church. But he was visibly uncomfortable in front of the FOX cameras and it showed as he stuttered his way through, never saying anything definitive and mouthing the Church's conservative viewpoint on private revelation. It was interesting that he still expressed skepticism after the Archbishop had already proclaimed belief in the first stage. He was questioned on this by the two FOX moderators and he hemmed and hawed his way through an embarrasing few minutes in which he defended his stance by calling on that time-worn refrain that Catholics don't have to believe private revelation. That is true, but the way he delivered his comments, in essence poured cold water on the hearts of many viewers that might have otherwise been on fire through these signs and wonders. In short, he came up short in explaining the Church's stance and contradicted the Magisterium of the Church in light of Archbishop Apaza's findings.
But even Father Peter's unfamiliarity with the camera and awkwardness couldn't dampen the spirits of so many who were so touched by the reverence shown for Catholic beliefs and the miraculous phenomena that science, as a whole, could not refute. In conclusion, we leave you with Christ's Own words in Luke 13: 32 when the Pharisees informed Our Lord that Herod wanted to kill Him, Jesus said, "Go and say to that fox, 'Behold I cast out devils and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I am to end My course. Nevertheless, I must go My way today and tomorrow and the next day, for it cannot be that a prophet perish outside Jerusalem.'" Our Lord continues to cast out devils and perform cures today through these wondrous Heavenly signs that man may believe and it cannot be that a true prophet perish outside Jerusalem for God will protect those truly chosen as His messengers no matter what science or skeptics say. For once, FOX has exceeded everyone's expectations with that excellent two hours Wednesday night. To borrow from Tobias' words in Esdras 4: 3, "Let them build. If a fox go up, he will leap over their stone wall." The FOX Network has built up many walls preventing true Christian morals in its programming, but, in giving the devil his due, this time FOX truly has lept over the wall of division and immorality by bringing us programming that produced excellence in depth and devotion. In other words, given the network's track record, it was a remarkable FOX hunt for the truth!
Most of us have had the experience of a young child, upon seeing his father come home from work, being so happy to see him, he stops what he’s doing and runs to greet his father with great glee. “DADDY!” he shouts.
No one is offended with that action. Actually, we are touched with the beauty of the childlike love and joy. Certainly, none of us would say that the child is being disrespectful. The child’s heart is filled with great love and joy in knowing that his “daddy” is home. Of course, “daddy” is a familiar term. But in our human experience, it is not a disrespectful term.
Many people think of God as being “way out there” somewhere. He is so great that the distance between Him and us is infinitely wide. But God has shown us throughout Salvation History that He does not want to be a God that is distant from us. Throughout the Old Testament God walked and spoke to people. In the New Testament, Jesus, the Son of God walked this earth for 33 years to show us how to live and love. On the cross His Supreme Sacrifice was made that we would spend eternity with Him. The reality is that God DOES want us to be familiar with Him. That is, He wants us to know that He is close. He wants us to know that He hears every heartbeat of ours and every whisper of our lips.
He wants us to know that He is not a DISTANT God. He has more care and love for us than all of our friends put together. He wants us to talk to Him as we would our very best friend ... sweetly, confidently, warmly, and yes, familiarly. He would say: “I want you to be familiar with Me, but remember that I am God.”
It is possible to have a respectful familiarity with God. Like the child who calls out “Daddy!”
In this year of God, the Father, as proclaimed by Our Holy Father, let’s more frequently call God “Abba!” “Daddy!” It’s OK! It may take some getting used to, but it is all right, if you mix it with love and respect.
We don’t think enough about God, the Father. We don’t talk to Him enough or give Him enough credit for being so close and loving with us. Jesus never did anything that He would not welcome us to imitate. So when He called His Father, “Abba!” ... “Daddy!” He was giving us an example that we may do likewise.
So may God, our Father, our Heavenly Daddy bless you and yours.