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This is a beautiful and helpful reflection. thank you!

Darlene, thanks for this. With all respect to the presbyter who said such a thing, but the very formulation "they didn't do anything for me" is in error. That is like saying, "Well, church was off for me today since I didn't get anything out of it" or "the sermon didn't make me feel better about myself."

I think your interpretation of the presbyter's ill-wrought phrase, prefaced by "in other words" -- your interpretation was far better than what he actually meant. Your interpretation really points to how we should respond to every manifestation of grace, whether explicitly supernatural or implicitly natural (the two categories are probably coterminous).

Unfortunately, I have to answer confidently your poignant question, "can one's heart be hardened" in the presence of a supernatural phenomenon? In a word, yes.

Thank you for your kindness. Via con Dios, indeed.

Father, bless! I will think on these things you have written concerning the blessed Theotokos. There is much swimming around in my head, but I must let it all settle before I compose a response to your triptychs.

I've never been in the presence of a weeping icon so I cannot lend any anecdotes. Perhaps if I saw such a thing... Who can know what the response of a heart might be? A priest once told me that he'd witnessed weeping icons and "they didn't do anything" for him. In other words, they didn't inspire him to greater heights, or motivate him to repentance, or spur him to love God more, etc. Can one's heart be hardened if they leave untouched after being in the presence of a weeping icon? Again, I don't know since I've yet to experience such a phenomenon.

Many blessings to you this day. Go with God and I will do my best to do likewise by the power of His grace.

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