Friday, July 01, 2011

Fr. Gobbi: Mixed messages and locutions.



The Marian Movement of Priests:  Is It Safe for Faithful Catholics?
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Note: That is the title of an article from Catholic Online by Mary Beth Kremski.  It is a good question to ask these days when false mystics rise up around us.  Kremski's article is very good, based upon documentation from the MMP relaying the request by the CDF that the claim of locutions/messages be changed to Fr. Gobbi's private/personal meditations, while within the semi-private communication circle of the MMP, the supernatural character of the messages continued to be affirmed.  Nevertheless, the CDF never interfered with the apostolate.  To see why there was concern in the first place, please read Kremski's article.
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Silence of the tomb.
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With the death of Fr. Stefano Gobbi comes the assessment of his locutions and messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary to her priests in the Marian Movement of Priests and the faithful who support them in cenacles of prayer.  Many good priests and bishops have found spiritual support and encouragement through Fr. Gobbi's apostolate, I suspect most believe in the authenticity of the messages.  While it is true the CDF recommended that Gobbi no longer make the claim that the messages were from Our Lady, but rather his personal meditation, none of his writings were ever banned or condemned.  Fr. Gobbi cooperated willingly with the requests made of him by Church officials.  He strikes me as a very humble and holy man, deeply devoted to Our Lady and the priesthood. 
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Deluded or mistaken?
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Personally, I was immediately attracted to the spirituality of the Marian Movement since it emphasised devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as revealed at Fatima, but I never could 'get into' the Gobbi messages, nor did I carry any sort of veneration for Fr. Gobbi beyond his being a priest.  I actually lost all interest in him after the instruction from the CDF to refer to the locutions as personal meditations.  Likewise, his endorsement of Medjugorje helped me detach myself from trying to follow along with the messages, a few of which concerning the future were eventually proved wrong - at least in the literal sense.  Deluded?  Perhaps, but suffering from delusion doesn't always make someone a bad person - just mistaken.  Well intentioned, but deluded.  Sincere, but mistaken. 
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Locutions are apparently very popular these days amongst nouveau-mystics, yet they can be confusing phenomenon even for the saints.  For example, the Lord's words to St. Francis, 'rebuild my Church' is a very good example.  Francis thought he meant the run down church of San Damiano, but Pope Innocent III in his dream about the Saint understood that Francis and his order were called to help rebuild the whole Church - the people of God.  Hence the Pope himself approved and defined the mission of St. Francis, while subsequent popes have continued to do likewise for the Franciscans throughout the centuries.
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God's ways are not man's ways.
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St. John of the Cross explains why locutions are not always dependable, and how the recipient of the messages may misinterpret them.  I'm frequently reminded of Sr. Lucia of Fatima who wrote several things that seemed to hint at the contents of the third secret, yet when the secret was revealed and interpreted by the Church, some people felt there were contradictions and or omissions, although Sr. Lucia herself affirmed the secret had been revealed in its entirety, just as she affirmed that the consecration Our Lady requested was accepted by Heaven as being fulfilled.  Sr. Lucia, referring to the secret said that the details and meaning were "up to the Church to interpret".  In this she was absolutely correct.  She demonstrated great humility and obedience subjecting every thing to the better judgement of the Church, mistrusting even her own interpretation of events - since as John of the Cross states, "the soul is easily mistaken" - and in some cases even the person's spiritual director can be misled.
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Visions and locutions, even though from God, can mislead us. 
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St. John of the Cross in Chapter 19 of the Ascent lays out proof from Scripture on how this can be, for the sake of brevity, I will only high light a few passages to help explain the dangers and misunderstandings locutions can and do generate.
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"We mentioned the two reason why, although God's visions and locutions are true and certain in themselves, they are not always so for us.  The first reason is because of our defective manner of understanding them, and the second because their basic causes are sometimes variable.
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Clearly in regard to the first, not all revelations turn out according to the literal meaning.  The cause is that, since God is immense and profound, he usually embodies in his prophecies, locutions, and revelations other ways, concepts, and ideas remarkably different from the meaning we generally find in them.  And the surer and more truthful they are, the less they seem so to us.
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We behold this frequently in Scripture.  With a number of the ancients, many of God's prophecies and locutions did not turn out as they had expected, because they interpreted them with their own different and extremely literal method."
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The letter kills, the spirit gives life.
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John goes on to cite several passages from Scripture, explaining why and how the recipients got it wrong and events turned out not as human nature expected.  John then explains:
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"[...] Souls are misled by imparting to God's locutions and revelations a literal interpretation, and interpretation according to the outer rind.  As has been explained, God's chief objective in conferring these revelations is to express and impart the elusive, spiritual meaning contained in the words.  This spiritual meaning is richer and more plentiful than the literal meaning and transcends those limits."
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[...] "Anyone bound to the letter, locution, form, or apprehensible figure cannot avoid serious error and will later become confused for having been led by the literal sense and not having allowed for the spiritual meaning which is divested of the literal sense.  ('The letter kills, the spirit gives life' - 2 Cor. 3:6)"

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"It is impossible for someone unspiritual to judge and understand the things of God correctly; and one is not spiritual if one judges them literally." - All quotes from St. John taken from The Ascent, Bk II, Chapter 19
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Prayers for Fr. Gobbi.  Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
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 H/T Spirit Daily

2 comments:

  1. The Marian Movement of Priests has been a very large part of my spiritual life, right from the beginning of my conversion. I have always believed in the messages, and will continue to do so unless they are formally condemned by the Church. It is always better to believe than not to believe. These messages can be meditated upon for years and still remain new and beautiful. They are not meant to be quickly read, but to used as a slow spiritual formation.
    They are the thoughts and concerns of a Motherly Heart for Her little children in these our times.
    Peace

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jim - I think that is wonderful - God bless you!

    ReplyDelete


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