"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.
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."
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Curious painting, I'm sorry I do not know the artist. For me it represents Judaisim's history since the death of Christ. Well not really from then; the first Christians were Jews. Later on in history it all began, ebbing and flowing, until it embedded in the gentile unconscious - the determination to kill the so-called "Christ killers" - if not kill, then to marginalize and persecute.
Mel Gibson's outburst pretty much betrayed the perennial prejuduice laying dormant in many Christians, especially the very traditionalist, fundamentalist, Eastern European descendant element in Catholicism. (Although it's alive and flourishing amongst Hispanic and and Irish cultures as well.) When Dukakis was running for President of the U.S. I was talking to a Dominican nun, answering her question, "Who will you vote for?" I said I was thinking about Dukakis and she said, "You know his wife is a Jewess, don't you?" She was an older Irish immigrant and out of respect I never said what I was thinking, which would have been, "What difference does that make?"
Why are Jews so mistrusted? They possess a culture, a "sticking together" not unlike Italians, Mexicans, or the clannish Irish. What's the deal? They are not all rich, does anyone think for a minute Gibson's arresting officer was rich - on a policeman's salary yet? (It turned out he was Jewish.)
In our Store I have been told we are "Jews" because our prices are high, which they are not! (I'm going to write about "spiritual gluttony" in one of my upcoming posts - just because a person over-spends doesn't mean we are too expensive.) However there has to be a mark-up in retail; it pays for shipping fees, import fees, employee's salaries and benefits, not to mention electricity and equipment and the insurance needed to run a business.
Amongst conservative, traditionalist Catholics, let me tell you, there is an anti-semitic vein. A comment I received on another post said that this person did not "hate the Jewish people" but she said she hated the Jewish religion - how she made that distinction I'll never know, it contradicts the teaching of the Catholic Church. (See "Dominus Jesu".) I might better accept hating the secular nation of Israel for inflicting such damge upon innocent civilians in Lebanon, but never hating the Jewish people or their religion, especially since Christ came to fulfill the tenets of their faith and create the new Israel in the Church. As a Christian, the only thing one may hate is sin.
Disturbed when a contemplative nun began telling me about the Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, (those Jewish Masonic bankers, rooted in the myth traced back to the bogus "Protocols of Zion") she also told me that the Jews themselves were responsible for the Holocaust. Scandalized, I asked a very knowledgeable priest about it and he said she was correct - in part, because the Jews controlled the entertainment industry and the good Germans were scandalized at the perversion and decadent culture they were feeding them. In that sense, he felt they brought it upon themselves. I was taken aback.
Because there has been a disproportionate number of people of Jewish extraction calling the shots in media today does that warrant mass extermination? It just does not make sense to me. Everyone blames the Jews.
I think because of the war between Israel and Hezbollah there is a new , re-cycled ant-semitism emerging, that I am branding, "New Age Anti-Semitism". It's more prevalent than you think. In Rome neo-Fascists have been spray painting swastikas on Jewish businesses - that stuff spreads.
Gerald, from The Cafeteria is Closed has some good stuff related to this topic - thank you Gerald for your excellent blog.
I don't really think it's about Mel anymore.
(An autobiographical note: Before my conversion I investigated Judaism, convinced it was the true faith. In my studies I became aware of how Christianity was the actual fullfilment of the law and the prophets - which I understood in Jesus Christ. It has been said by some relatives that we have Jewish blood, I thrilled to that thought. I left my pursuit of Judaism,which helped me value my Christian roots, peripheral as my Judaic studies may have been, I eventually came home to the Roman Catholic Church. I can never understand how Christians cannot understand that they are grafted onto the family tree of Judaism, co-heirs with Christ. Do they never read the epistles of St. Paul?)