Chocolate Mary and Winking Jesus

Posted by Censor Librorum on Aug 20, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

I read a story yesterday about a worker who found an image of Mary in a chocolate vat. Every time I see one of these things–like the Virgin Mary pizza slice on Ebay–I put the paper down, groan, and worry that it will reinforce prejudice against us as silly idolaters. And yet, like furtively reading the Star or National Inquirer in the King Kullen checkout line, I need to know the whole sordid tale…so I pick up the paper and keep reading.

Last Monday, a worker at Bodega Chocolates in Fountain Valley, California discovered under a vat a 2-inch-tall column of chocolate drippings that she and others believe bears a striking resemblance to the Virgin Mary. Since the discovery, employees have prayed and placed rose petals and candles near the tiny figure.

Kitchen worker Cruz Jacinto was the first person to spot the lump of melted chocolate when she began her shift Monday cleaning up drippings that had accumulated under a large vat of chocolate. “When I come in, the first thing I do is look at the clock, but this time I didn’t look at the clock. My eyes went directly to the chocolate,” said Jacinto. “I thought, ‘Am I the only one who can see this? I picked it up and I felt emotion just come over me. For me, it was a sign.”

“For Jacinto, the discovery came just in time. Raising a son on her own, she struggled with marital problems for months and said she was about to lose her faith, ‘I have big problems right now, personally, and lately I’ve been saying God doesn’t exist,’ she said, pulling the dog-eared prayer card out of her pocket. ‘This has given me renewed faith.'”

The chocolate Mary story follows on the heels of the July story of the Winking Jesus of Hoboken, New Jersey–the “Miracle on Jackson Street.” Set outside a housing project in the middle of the block, the 2-foot statute is enshrined within an elaborate enclosure of artificial roses, crosses, figurines and candles. “Since God opened one of the eyes, you have faith,” said Vincent Ortiz, who often prays before the statute on his way to work.

Julio Dones, 53, fished the statute out of a garbage bin in Jersey City two years ago. He was cleaning the statute when, he claims, its left eyelid suddenly lifted, revealing an eye “as blue as the sky.” As word spread, within hours hundreds of people–young and old, believers and skeptics–flocked to the display to get a glimpse of the winking statute. Some wept, others dropped to their knees in prayer.

A year ago, the Diocese of Newark disregarded the “miracle,” but supported the idea of people visiting the shrine. “We certainly hope that if someone would go to this particular statute, they’d look at it as an opportunity to find a way to deepen their faith,” a spokesman said.

The Jesus statute and the display have become a point of pride for the residents on the block. “Nobody messes with that,” said Taisha Fragosa, gesturing toward the shrine. “Everything else, but not that.”

If we are to judge something by its fruit, the chocolate Mary and winking Jesus are full of goodness. For some, especially those in need, they restored faith; and gave others a sense of hope, purpose and pride. Whether this qualifies as a sign from God or even miracle, I don’t know–perhaps it does. I won’t say no.

The stories left me with the question: where does faith begin? More times than not, with all the stories I have read or heard, it seems it starts with finding something unexpected, like finding Jesus in a Jersey City rubbish bin with other discarded junk no one wants anymore. And like the chocolate worker lady in California, the discovery renews a desolate, deserted place inside, when for no apparent reason, we look someplace else than where we usually do.

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