Thursday, August 03, 2006
"Miraculous" photos and vague messages.
The photo here is over St. James Church in the hamlet of Medjugorje. It is called "Our Lady's Eyes" a supposed miraculous photo showing Our Lady's eyes in the clouds. It's a stretch if you ask me. As an artist I can see faces in any pattern, from wood to marble to ceiling tile in a Dr.'s office, and especially clouds. I used to do a lot of "smoking" when I was younger - I could make out entire tableaux in clouds.
Medjugorje is a phenomenon I have a lot of trouble with. For how many years did Our Lady visit every day? Now I think she only appears once a month to one seer with pretty much the same message. This visionary will stop receiving apparitions after she receives the tenth secret. Here is the latest message from July's apparition:
"Mirjana reported that Our Lady gave the following message: 'Dear children! In these peaceless times I am coming to you to show you the way to peace. I love you with an immeasurable love and I desire for you to love each other and to see in everyone my Son – the immeasurable love. The way to peace leads solely and only through love. Give your hand to me, your mother, and permit me to lead you. I am the Queen of peace. Thank you.' "
If the communication is from Our Lady, it is a nice message, yet remains enigmatic. At Fatima the Holy Virgin also repeated herself saying, "Pray the rosary everyday." Nevertheless there was much more to it. In addition, Fatima is an approved apparition, verified with a miracle, as well as prophetic fulfillment. Even Pope Benedict has purportedly expressed incredulity at the apparitions going on for so long with very little content to the messages. However both Popes, JPII and Benedict, have expressed themselves favorably in regard to those who have had their faith revitalized as a result of the influence of the Catholic Church and her ministers at Medjugorje. Regardless, that unofficial approbation would only be in regard to people returning to the sacraments and prayer with no tacit approval of the events at Medjugorje.
Devotees of Medjugorje have returned to their homes and some have had their own locutions and apparitions. We have a woman in the suburbs of Minneapolis, actually a few of them, who claim supernatural revelations. Many people attend the prayer meetings of these mystics and look forward to the messages. In the spring, on Rome-ing Catholics, I did a post on some of the imminent things that were to happen. For one, the "warning" was supposed to occur this year by May. It did not. That whole warning thing emanates from the Garabandal apparitions in Northern Spain from the late '60's; it is expected to be some sign that will illuminate the consciences of all mankind, revealing their sins and causing mass conversions, followed by a chastisement within the year of the warning. It could happen. Many saints and mystics have foretold the same event. When prophecies do not happen, devotees of the apparitions and locutions claim the events were mitigated by prayer and penance. I worked with one fellow who every year said that would be the year for the warning and chastisement - for years he said this.
As a pilgrim in Europe I visited my share of sites where apparitions were said to have taken place. The approved ones, Fatima and Lourdes certainly are authenticated. Garabandal seemed reasonable and I experienced only peace there. I went to San Damiano in Italy and actually met the seer, Mama Rosa. She and the entire place seemed false, there was a disturbing lack of peace I felt there. People claimed to see the miracle of the sun there, I looked, I could look straight at the sun. It is in the Po valley where mists sometimes allow one to do so, while the sun appears as a silver disk. No one said it danced, they were just impressed that they could look directly at the sun.
When I met Mama Rosa, she was being wheeled to the apparition site for her appointment with the Madonna of the Roses. I asked her to pray for me and she waved me away rudely saying "I pray for the whole world." I wasn't impressed.
People simply cannot base their spiritual life upon revelations and apparitions, nor mystics with spurious communications. (And watch out for dates and times with complicated details. "No one knows the date or the hour.") Founding one's spiritual life upon extraordinary phenomena is like building one's house upon sand. I do not believe God is ever pleased with curiosity, nor is He pleased with extraordinary communications needed to warn people to repent - "We have the law and the prophets" - the Gospel, Jesus and the Church. I love the story of John of the Cross on an outing with the novices who were excited to visit a local stigmatist. St. John gave them permission to go see the mystic saying he would rather stay away and read scripture. This anecdote is very much like something from the wisdom of the Desert Fathers.
I am not saying that we should ignore possible mystical revelations or purported apparitions or locutions, rather we ought to be careful and discerning, guided by the Church. God does speak to us, to each soul, while common sense enables us to read the signs of the times. The Church is our ark of salvation, we ought to listen to Her and wait for approval of purported apparitions and miracles, in obedience, humility and charity. We must be obedient to our Bishops, our pastors, without argument or defiance. Some of these modern 'seers' and 'hearers' and their followers seem to want to circumvent the cautions expressed by their local Bishops.
"Obedience is better than sacrifice."