"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.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mystical Theology Add-Ons...

On notifications and clarifications.
One of the reasons I believe seminarians need extensive training in mystical theology in our times is precisely because of all the spiritual frauds and their delusional devotees running around parishes and the archdioceses of the world these days.  Last week I came upon a post on mysticism and discernment written by a British Third Order Carmelite priest who claims to be an exorcist - (whenever he speaks to anyone it seems he makes this fact known) - in addition to being a mystical theologian.  His name is Fr John Abberton.  Fr. Abberton may indeed carry all of those credentials, but he has a lot of baggage on top of that - he promotes the false visionary:  Vassula Ryder.
The CDF issued the following notification on Vassula Ryder - who some say is more an occultist than mystic - as far back as 1995.  Fr. Abberton goes to great lengths trying to explain away the notification, but his arguments are less than convincing, if not without authority.
Many bishops, priests, religious and lay people have sought an authoritative judgement from this Congregation on the activity of Mrs. Vassula Ryden, a Greek Orthodox residing in Switzerland, who in speech and in writing is spreading in Catholic circles throughout the world messages attributed to alleged heavenly revelations.
A calm, attentive examination of the entire question, undertaken by this Congregation in order to "test the spirits to see whether they are of God" (cf. 1 Jn 4:1), has brought out-in addition to positive aspects - a number of basic elements that must be considered negative in the light of Catholic doctrine.
In addition to pointing out the suspect nature of the ways in which these alleged revelations have occurred, it is necessary to underscore several doctrinal errors they contain.
Among other things, ambiguous language is used in speaking of the Persons of the Holy Trinity, to the point of confusing the specific names and functions of the Divine Persons. These alleged revelations predict an imminent period when the Antichrist will prevail in the Church. In millenarian style, it is prophesied that God is going to make a final glorious intervention which will initiate on earth, even before Christ's definitive coming, an era of peace and universal prosperity. Furthermore, the proximate arrival is foretold of a Church which would be a kind of pan-Christian community, contrary to Catholic doctrine.
The fact that the aforementioned errors no longer appear in Ryden's later writings is a sign that the alleged "heavenly messages" are merely the result of private meditations. - Read more here.
"Merely the result of private meditations..."
I believe that has been the same assessment on the messages of Fr. Gobbi to the Marian Movement of Priests; not surprisingly, Fr. Abberton is also a member of MMP. 
Fr. Abberton, who also appears to be supportive of the alleged apparition at Medjugorje,  just posted another defense of Vassula Ryder today, 3 August 2010:
I write as a priest who has had over twenty-five years experience as a spiritual director of a mystic soul. Some who read this may want to ask how I know she (Ryder) is a mystic. The answer is that according to the usual rules of discernment in these matters, and through my own experience, and the experiences of others who know her, along with the general acceptance of those who have read her writings that she has not deviated from the teaching of the Church, my considered opinion is that she is genuine. A priest who gained his doctorate in a specialised study of mysticism agrees with my judgement, and she was accepted as genuine by a bishop who told her that he had never really understood the “Song of Songs” until he had read her writings. I do not mention this lady to distract from Vassula but in order to show that I have some knowledge and experience in these matters. - Omissions? Blank pages? Changed Messages?
On another site I found a rather disturbing warning regarding Fr. Abberton, written by someone who identifies as a Fr. Rabit - most likely a pseudonym, but the comment is worth considering:
Fr John Abberton is ‘the’ Catholic apologist for the occult ‘seer’ Vassula Ryden. Yes, there’s only one Catholic priest in the UK who speaks up for TLIG – just do a Google search and you’ll see what I mean. As such, Abberton is completely ignoring the CDF’s instruction on Catholics keeping a distance from this woman and her dangerous ‘ecumenical’ sect. - Medjugorje – Genuine or Hoax?
The CDF's warning ought to be enough for Catholic faithful:
Given the negative effect of Vassula Ryden's activities, despite some positive aspects, this Congregation requests the intervention of the Bishops so that their faithful may be suitably informed and that no opportunity may be provided in their Dioceses for the dissemination of her ideas. Lastly, the Congregation invites all the faithful not to regard Mrs. Vassula Ryden's writings and speeches as supernatural and to preserve the purity of the faith that the Lord has entrusted to the Church. - Vatican City, 6 October 1995.


Yet Fr. Abberton seems to devote a great deal of effort spreading these messages through his website, blog, and any other web opportunity which presents itself - around the world.  Unsuspecting Catholics pick up his writings, post what sounds good, and then link to his site.  The errors are thereby spread.  Whenever there is a valid question of error or vanity, self-will and pride, one cannot be certain the Holy Spirit is guiding the effort.  Even more so, when anyone acts in opposition to official Church teaching - in this case, a notification from the CDF - one cannot be assured that the other person's doctrine is orthodox, no matter how well educated the person may be.
Watch out for frauds and deceivers and their cults.
True Life In God Doctrinal Errors
CDF Clarification of Original Notification on Vassula Ryder   (Fr. Abberton goes to great lengths to dismiss this 1996 Notification as well.)
Many thanks to Diane at Te Deum Laudamus blog for the source material regarding the notification.
Photo:  One Clothed with the Sun Appears Enshrouded in efulgent light in Front of Vassula Ryden during a talk she gave on January18, 2009.


  1. I find Fr Rabit one of the few most rude and obnoxious commenters I have come across, at least on blogger. He does not appear to be Roman Catholic, by the way. Infact in some of his words, one detects actual ill feeling towards Rome, so he is surely not the best person, on who's criticisms of a validly ordained priest (Fr Abberton), we should take much note.

    Father Abberton explains in a comment thread why he mentions that he is an exorcist. I think this may give a more balanced view of the situation, or at least allow Father to defend his stance and also allows folks to get a taste of the luvverly 'Father' Rabid, sorry Rabit, who does get expelled from the comment thread eventually. Find out why, here:


    Incase anyone doesn't have time to look, here is a brief excerpt from the above link, where Father Abberton speaks for himself regarding mentioning the fact he is an exorcist:

    These days "things" are so serious that we often need to say who we are and what we do - and take the risk. Fr. Jeremy Davies is well-known because he wrote a pamphlet on the subject, and there are others who are well-known throughout Europe (e.g. Fr Amorth). We often say who we are now because we have a point to make and often people listen if you let them know you are speaking from experience. In the past this was kept under wraps, but we are now living in more "serious" times with regard to certain spiritual matters, and sometimes we have to stand up and be counted. That is just the way it is now.

    Fr. John Abberton

    I like and trust him, by the way, as you may have guessed by now.....

  2. With regards to exorcists speaking about their personal experiences, I think it is better if this is not done. Rather, I think it is better of an exorcist uses what he knows, through aquired knowledge and grace, to catechize the faithful about Angels - good and bad - and the presence of the Evil One in the world. This can be done using examples from the lives of the saints, and from others (there are different forms of influence Satan can have from subtle suggestion up to full blown possession, and a few things in between). It's better to draw attention to what kinds of activities can open doors for influence and possession so that people can recognize and avoid these things.

    There is always a danger in speaking about one's own spiritual experiences. It can open the door to pride. This does not mean that this particular priest has pride - only God can judge that - but that it can become an occasion for - at the least - being unvirtuous and imprudent.

    I do not know this particular priest, but if he is promoting the works of Vassula Ryden, in spite of the kind of information found in the notifications and other theological writings containing doctrinal errors in her writings, it is not a good sign. I would ask why he does not spend that time getting the faithful familiar with the works of the Church Fathers, Doctors, saints, and others who make up a near limitless treasury to draw from. There are many things among their writings which are easily accessible to ordinary people because of their simplicity.

    Exorcists would do well to function the like the holy Angels. They need to go about their work silently, without drawing attention to themselves.

  3. I should clarify that second from last paragraph:

    There are many doctrinal errors in Vassula's writings cited by some very good and reputable theologians (and some things were altered according to Fr. Pavich, who proved this out... why?).

    Couple this with what is actually in the Holy See's explanations from 1995 and 1996, and it should give people adequate reason to spend their time reading things like the life of Catherine of Sienna, Teresa of Avila's Way of Perfection, the story of Bernadette, Sr. Lucia's memoires, the Confessions of St. Augustine, the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales, etc. Reading the biographies and writings of lesser known saints can be an exciting journey, such as Don Bosco's Forty Dreams, or the life of the young St. Dominic Savio as written by Don Bosco.

    Don't spend precious time on questionable and controversial alleged private revelations.

    In the case of Vassula Ryden, the Holy See was clear that these were not from God, but personal meditations (which contained doctrinal errors). Read the Vatican documentation your self and see.

    Because the saints lived "yesterday" does not make their writings and lives irrelevant. Virtue and holiness transcend time and place.

    If you feel yourself drawn to things which have never gained Church approval, ponder why you are not drawn to that which is approved instead.

  4. I cannot begin to describe how pompous and judgmental you sound to me, in your comments Diane. Your words drip implied accusations like a sticky syrup. Maybe you are a famous Nun or something. Although, having typed that, I doubt a nun would speak so publicly and suggestively about an ordained Priest but if you are just laity, Whoaaa!! hold up with the suggestions and accusations please!!
    I would go as far as to say it is bordering on scandalous, what you are implying about this priest and I thoroughly reprove you Sister.

    Re your closing advice in your second comment, (implying again) what I may or may not be drawn to, you don't know me from Adam, so don't presume.

    I think Father Abberton should be allowed to defend himself anyway, not have his inner motives implied and dissected in such a manner. We all have our opinions, but as laity, they are meaningless in the grand scheme of things. We may use them to build up, or destroy the body of Christ. That is all they are for, they don't bind or loose anything in heaven or earth.

    We do have to give an account of them though, if we put them into words, especially regarding the Lord's anointed. You might like to ponder that!

    Peace to you. And Power to the powerless.

  5. Here is a link to Father's blog, which may give people a kinder and more factual insight into this son of Our Lady.


  6. Shadowlands - thanks for the information you provide, I suspected Fr. Rabit may have been slightly rabid - couldn't resist that - nevertheless, I think he may have got this one right.

    I hope and expect that Fr. Abberton is a devout man and loves Our Lady very much, nonetheless it is innapropriate to promote spurious devotions and private revelations, instead one ought to teach sound doctrine as revealed by the Church. As you can see by the photo I used for this post, the circus that accompanies the speaking tours of dubious mystics makes a mockery of religion.

    As for Diane, I assure you she is not at all pompous and I esteem her for her good judgement. I suspect she is a well trained Carmelite who values authetic spirituality as opposed to dubious private revelations and occult devotions.

    Please do not take offense to my response - the fact that supporters of these matters do react so strongly suggests to me that something is off regarding the issue.

    Also, as for advertising the fact he is an exorcist, that does seem to be the trend these days, though innapropriate as far as I'm concerned - unless of course his bishop instructs him to do so.

    Anyway - I'm posting this because one thing leads to another: Abberton may be a saint, but his promotion of Ryder poses problems for simple believers, the risk being confusing their faith and corrupting pure spirituality.

    I would never have known about this priest if I had not found a reference to him posted on another blog I respect and expect to be orthodox.

    That is the problem as I see it.

  7. I appreciate your concerns Terry, both for yourself and other Catholics. I would encourage you to give Father Abberton's blog a quick look-see, as it may reassure you.
    I just don't want to see the priest's reputation harmed, through a half sided tale.

    Regarding Vassula, my only comment was in response to Diane's comments:

    "Don't spend precious time on questionable and controversial alleged private revelations." and
    "If you feel yourself drawn to things which have never gained Church approval, ponder why you are not drawn to that which is approved instead."

    I found this quite amusing actually, considering one of her blogs is totally devoted to an as yet, unnapproved appearance.

    Anyway, I hope we can agree to disagree occasionally Terry, as I do like visiting here, and the odd scrap is good fun too, don't you think?

  8. As I said before - you are always welcome here and I appreciate your candor. Thanks!

  9. Austringer10:15 AM


    I don't have a dog in this fight as I don't pay much attention to private revelations (I'm too busy trying to absorb and incorporate the public one). However, you did write something which touched a small nerve: "We all have our opinions, but as laity, they are meaningless in the grand scheme of things."

    I don't think the opinions of laity are meaningless. True, my opinion is only that -- my opinion -- and has no authority, but fer Pete's sake, we sheep have had to put up with some pretty lousy shepherds from time to time, and frankly I wonder if less damage would have been done if we laity were less inclined to passively keep our mouths shut and treat our clergy as being above criticism.

  10. Well, I just heard about this, and I should perhaps try to answer some of these things, though I suspect it is pretty useless given the general tone.

    First of all, I refer you to a book published recently on "Christian Prophecy" by Niels Christian Hvidt, a lay-theologian. The foreword is written by Cardinal Ratzinger who knows Hvidt - and knows he is involved with Vassula. In fact Vassula is mentioned in the book in a favourable light. It was Cardinal Ratzinger himself who answered two South American bishops regarding the Notification, and he also gave an interview with the Italian magazine "30 Days" (I expect you will find the reference if you search it) in which he said that the Notification was not a condemnation. Actually it could not be because there was no canonical process. He described it as a "warning" After Vassula gave her answers to the questions posed by the Notification, with the aid of Fr. Prospero Grech who has worked for the CDF, Cardinal Ratzinger called her answers "useful clarifications" and said that the CDF response would be "modified" (all this is naturally on record). He also insisted that her answers be printed in one of her books - thus showing that if anyone wanted to see them, they would have to get a book. Hardly the thing to do if you want to dissuade people from reading them! (again this is on record).

    As regards the Notification itself and the timing of it, the late Fr. Michael O'Carroll was on his way to Rome with a dossier he had compiled. He did not present it before the Notification was issued. A Brazilian bishop (I can provide reference to his talk on video) who worked in the Pontifical Biblical Institute and knew the Cardinal asked him personally what he should do about Vassula's writings since he had gained so much from them. He was told, "Don't worry. All is well" and that he could carry on as before.

    As regards Fr. Mitch Pacwa, I know that ALL his criticisms have been answered in detail. I have seen the article that was personally sent to him. Maybe he did not receive it, but he did not reply.I have attempted to give a more positive view to different people, but it seems useless because if some people are determined to doubt Vassula it seems they often do it in unjust and uncharitable ways, even casting doubt on other's (mine) sincerity and good standing with the Church. I can assure anyone who is interested that I am in good standing.My bishop knows about my involvement. I would just suggest that with regard to Vassula people look at the official site - tlig.org and see all the information there. Surely that is the just and correct thing to do rather than just following the negative view. But that is up to you.

    As reagrds admitting I am an exorcist, the criticisms - however muted - may be right. I have often wondered if I should have done that, and I am certainly not a saint, so I freely admit to being proud at times as well as stupid and otherwise sinful. However I am trying and I pray every day to be a good priest. Perhaps those who think so badly of me (without knowing me?)should pray for me and the work I do. it is sometimes very difficult.

    I am always ready to discuss these and other issues. May I suggest that this is the best way - to discuss with me rather than to discuss around me, behind me or, in fact rather than discussing me. I'm sure there are far more interesting subjects.

    A final note. The ohoto myou showed at the head of these posts is a genuine photo. I know that lady who took it and I know some who were at that meeting. It was shown to some people who know about photography. You can pour scorn on it if you like, but please do not suggest that it is somehow manufactured or dishonest. You do not know the photographer - I do. Unless you now want to call me a liar (that has happened before). The full information is presented quite openly on the website. Surely reading that and asking serious questions is better than cheap jibes.

    God bless.

  11. Shadowlands,

    I was in no way addressing you. In fact, when I wrote my comment, it was a response to Terry's post. I had no time to read any comments so I was unaware of you position.

    I stand by my position that there is a much greater arsenal of things do draw from within the body of writings of approved private revelations.

    A good spritual director will have his charges spending enough time on Scripture, the Church Fathers and Doctors, the saints, magisterial docs, etc, that they ought not have cause, or time, for personal meditations which, according to the Holy See, contain doctrinal errors.

    Some say, "Vassula has given explanations to the Holy See".

    Why then, after all these years, has the Holy See not seen fit to update it's notification?

    May God bless you!

  12. Thank you very much Father for adding your comments - I promise to keep you daily in my prayers.

  13. Austringer said

    'frankly I wonder if less damage would have been done if we laity were less inclined to passively keep our mouths shut and treat our clergy as being above criticism.'

    I must have missed that passive inclination. I seem to read nothing but criticism these days, and I have done some of it myself, God forgive me and Our Lady help me.

    Regarding worries aound priest issues, there is a process and procedure for dealing with problems, I have heard. I am not sure what it is, but I know a man who will...Father Z.

  14. Diane said

    'A good spritual director will have his charges spending enough time on Scripture, the Church Fathers and Doctors, the saints, magisterial docs, etc, that they ought not have cause, or time, for personal meditations which, according to the Holy See, contain doctrinal errors.'

    Obviously, You need to find a new spiritual director Diane. You're spending far too much time on all this pallava. As you said, you didn't even have time to read my comment, yet it looks as if you are answering in your comment, directly to me.

    God bless you too, by the way.

  15. Dear Father,

    We were posting at the same time.

    1)My comments about exorcists pertained not to you personally, but to the many who are found quoted almost routinely anymore talking about their personal experiences. I do not know if you are among them. Where the mark of the priesthood is ever in the crosshairs of the angel of darkness, how much moreso for an exorcist? Speaking publicly about personal spiritual battles - for anyone - presents a danger. That is why we have confessors and spiritual directors (and exorcists have other exorcists with whom they ought to talk). People do not believe in Satan, so catechesis on the angels - good and bad - is necessary.

    2) As regards Vassula, what spritual good does it do for my soul to spend time on her personal meditations over the works of St. Teresa? Or, St. Augustine? Or, the memoirs of Sr. Lucia of Fatima?

    3) Until I see a modified notification on the Holy See's website, I will not be reading any arguments which suggest the Holy See was satisfied. I need to hear this from the Holy See. Feel free to notify me through my blog email when it is visible, with protocol number.

    I will pray for you, and ask for your prayers as well.


  16. michael r.11:49 AM

    Wikipedia has a good review of this matter:


    It is clear that the Vatican does not approve of this business.

    The photo reminds me of all of the zillions of similar ones at all of the other apparitions. They are a dime a dozen. It's a matter of statistics. If everyone is snapping away, there are bound to be a certain percentage of double exposures & other photographic anomolies.

  17. Clarifying my final sentence on (1) above, catechesis is necessary, but not in a way which discusses personal experiences. I am most especially disurbed when I see an exorcist make a public statement about Satan at work in the Vatican.

    Of course the Angel of Darkness will go after those in the Holy See, moreso than priests or individual bishops. But to paint it with a broadbrush in such a way, as I have seen, does nothing more than to create suspicion and contempt for Vatican officials of everyone's choosing. If they don't like a decision made by someone, it becomes easy to disregard it on the premise that it was not God's will, but Satan's influence. Then comes the "non serviam" to a legitimate decision by a competent authority in union with Peter (regardless of whatever faults he may have)....

    Who then played into the devil's hand.

    This is what was on my mind when I wrote my initial comment about exorcists.

  18. It's normal that CDF would not issue a "condemnation" about Vassula Ryden or propose any corrective actions toward her personally. This is because Mrs. Ryden belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church and does not claim to be a Catholic. The Catholic Church respects the jurisdiction of her Church towards her.

    The CDF notification about Mrs. Ryden was issued in 1995, and Cdl. Levada wrote not too long ago (in a letter to bishops 1/25/07) that there has been no change in CDF's position. Any intervening talk of a 'rehabilitation' must not have been well-founded.

  19. Diane said

    "I am most especially disurbed when I see an exorcist make a public statement about Satan at work in the Vatican."

    I bet old nick ain't too pleased either. Exposure isn't exactly his favourite game. He likes to hide himself under all sorts of pleasant sounding guises. But then, you would know that Diane. I mean, with you being such an expert on these matters. What confidence you must hold, to presume to tell a priest who he ought to discuss exorcisms things with I mean. That's some authority you speak with. Where did you say you got it from again?

    I'm feeling pretty disturbed myself, at the moment, with some of the things you have been coming out with.

    God bless.

  20. Thank you. I would just like to suggest again that those who are interested and have the time might like to look at he official web site. There is no need to get "involved" or anything like that, but it is surely a matter of justice to see what the "other side" are saying if you are condemning something or somebody.

    Why is it - may I ask - that many people assume that the negative view is the correct one? Why assume that the positive is not correct? Isn't that called prejudice?

    As I have tried to show, the "Vatican's" viewpoint is not as simple as some believe. The information I gave is correct. If the CDF is so against Vassula, why does the Pope allow a book to be published with his foreword in which Vassula's case is put quite favourably (by this I mean allowing for the possibility that she might be viewed favourably)? Why would he insist on Vassula's answers being printed in her books if he felt that people should not read them? Why tell bishops they can continue to read them? Why remind us that the Notification is NOT a condemnation?

    Cardinal Levada's letter is confusing and contained some factual errors. Since that letter was published there has been more dialogue - and hopefully this will continue. I would not dream of telling people to accept Vassula or to read her writings. What I do insist on however, is the respect which is owed not just to my conscience but to the consciences of others who freely choose, in sincerity, to do so. We have not been condemned. This is a matter now for mutual respect and charity, not easy insults and false accusations (are those most recent remarks about some exorcists directed at me?)and jibes. Easy to do that - more difficult to do more research and come to a more mature decision.

  21. Austringer2:56 PM


    You wrote: "I must have missed that passive inclination. I seem to read nothing but criticism these days, and I have done some of it myself, God forgive me and Our Lady help me."

    Actually, I wasn't thinking of the blogosphere when I mentioned the laity's "passive inclination". Instead I had in mind the churches whose sanctuaries were stripped bare, with beautiful statues removed, lovely chalices replaced with clunky ceramic, and so on. All while the sheep sat passively in their pews. In particular, I recall a friend's story of her home parish in South Dakota: the priest called in an "expert", who tore out the communion rail, replaced the marble altar with some big clunky slab of wood, and painted everything -- including the statues -- pea-green. Pea-green carpet went over the marble floor. Only when the priest was going to rip out the pews and re-arrange them in a "theater-in-the-round" arrangement did anyone step in and say STOP. Why couldn't someone have said stop sooner?? Because, in way too many people's eyes, the priest is always right.

    I have a great deal of respect and admiration (and not a little awe) for the priesthood. I've met some fantastic priests who live up to the dignity and importance of their vocation. But there are also arrogant, selfish priests who thrive on the unquestioning devotion of their flock. Does Father do something nasty? Does Father have a girlfriend? Not to worry, no one will believe it, and even if they do, they're too passive to actually stand up to him. Do you think that the sex abuse scandals would have reached the level they did if more people had been willing to say, "Something's wrong about how Father is with the boys"? There's plenty of blame to go around, but certainly the passivity of the laity is a factor.

  22. @Austringer - that's the biggest rabbit hole I've seen in any post to date.

  23. Austringer3:31 PM

    Diane, help me out -- I don't know what you mean.

  24. "Pea-green carpet went over the marble floor. Only when the priest was going to rip out the pews and re-arrange them in a "theater-in-the-round" arrangement did anyone step in and say STOP. Why couldn't someone have said stop sooner?? Because, in way too many people's eyes, the priest is always right."

    Well, it had a lot to do with all the daft fashions in the seventies as well. I mean, they weren't just doing it in the churches. The passive sheep themselves, in their own sheepish way, were going 'crazy with the green' all over the world at that time. For example,they all owned or bathed in an avocado coloured bath (at least they did in the UK) and some folks will actually remember ripping out their china basins to replace them with plastic avocado suites.

    you also said:

    "Do you think that the sex abuse scandals would have reached the level they did if more people had been willing to say, "Something's wrong about how Father is with the boys"?

    I don't think the kind of language or questioning necessary to call such behaviour to attention was available then. People just wouldn't have believed it possible. Knowledge with the internet etc is instantaneous, but not so in the seventies.Also and once again, it wasn't just the church, it was other institutions and religions and unfortunately even relatives in people's own homes.
    The church will always include sinners. Wheat and weeds are allowed to grow side by side, for a time, until some of us are picked and thrown into the everlasting fire. Aaaagh! I've scared myself silly now.
    Some priests can drive me a bit doolally at times, but I am trying to pray for them. I even see their annoyance as a kind of poke from Our Lady, telling me that they need prayers. And I am sure, on the very rarest of occasions ofcourse, that even I can be slightly bothersome, to others. ;)

    PS wot is a rabbit hole, when used in the previous commenter's way?

  25. Austringer3:56 PM

    "Well, it had a lot to do with all the daft fashions in the seventies as well."

    True, but in the case of my friend's home parish, she claims that the changes were unwanted and bitterly resented by the parishioners. I asked her why no one stepped in and had a word with the priest: she shrugged and said that the people had the attitude that the priest was in charge -- who were they to say anything? It was my friend's father, by the way, who finally put his foot down when the priest was going to re-arrange the pews: he was a wealthy man, and told the priest that if he went ahead with that scheme, he would not be giving another dime to the parish coffers. So, money talked....as usual. Too bad it didn't raise its voice sooner!

    "I don't think the kind of language or questioning necessary to call such behaviour to attention was available then."

    That's hard to believe. There's nothing new about this or any other sin (it's all been done before...).

    "The church will always include sinners. Wheat and weeds are allowed to grow side by side, for a time, until some of us are picked and thrown into the everlasting fire. Aaaagh! I've scared myself silly now."

    Amen to that!

    "PS wot is a rabbit hole, when used in the previous commenter's way?"

    I have no idea, which is why I asked Diane to clarify. I asked my husband, and he didn't know either, so maybe it's a regional expression.

  26. Father Abberton,

    You said: Why is it - may I ask - that many people assume that the negative view is the correct one? Why assume that the positive is not correct?

    If you are referring to the doctrinal assessment, which to me is the most important of all, then it is the CDF that is correct.

    The caution issued by the CDF in which it said (link provided in Terry's post):

    A calm, attentive examination of the entire question, undertaken by this Congregation in order to "test the spirits to see whether they are of God" (cf. 1 Jn 4:1), has brought out-in addition to positive aspects - a number of basic elements that must be considered negative in the light of Catholic doctrine.

    You want me to take your word, your view, your assessment, your experience, over a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has repeated it's doctrinal position?

    In 2007 Cardinal Levada wrote (Prot. N.: 54/92 – 24945):

    1) The Notification of 1995 remains valid concerning the doctrinal judgement on the writings examined...

    The doctrinal assessment of the writings stated that, a number of basic elements that must be considered negative in the light of Catholic doctrine.

    When I see the Holy See change it's position in the form of a notification, with a protocol number, which matches your view, then it may warrant my attention for a closer look. Until then, there is a treasury of writings worth consulting which are approved and doctrinally sound. If I never watched TV again, I could not get through them all.

    In general, I have a problem with a priest who claims to be a diocesan exorcist, and who would publicly disagree with a notification by the CDF. If the case continues to be worked on, why do you then not work discretely? Why not suspend "defending Vassula" as you work discretely with the Holy See on your arguments? When, and if, they reverse what remains of what is negative in their findings, then by all means promote it.

    But to openly and publicly contradict the Holy See on doctrinal points, as seen in this article at the "Defending Vassula" website, is wrong. Those advancing these kind of arguments publicly, at this stage, given the notifications to date by the CDF, have become their own "magisterium".

    With regards to the last comment about exorcists that I made, it appears that you have somehow misunderstood what I said.

    You seem to think I was speaking about you, but you cannot know about whom I was speaking. I have never encountered you or any of your writings before today so I have no idea what you have said publicly beyond what is here and in the links provided.

    I made a general comment about some things I have read in the media - statements made by exorcists - which ultimately has the potential to create, in the faithful, suspicion and mistrust of the hiearchy in a broad way (which is anti-ecclesial in my book). People hearing an exorcist say this then feel they have just cause to dismiss decisions that come down as they see fit because they believe Satan was behind it that particular decision.

    My comment was based on a broadbrush statement made some months ago or even last year - probably innocently, and without any thought for how some members of the faithful might use such a statement in unvirtuous and sinful ways.

  27. LOL - sorry, folks...

    Definition of a rabbit hole in this context...

    A post is made about "A" and someone jumps in and takes it off into a completely different subject. That, is my definition of a rabbit hole.

    This thread has two rabbit holes. I created one when I discussed my concerns about exorcists, which sidetracked discussion of Vassula Ryden, which is the real subject of this thread.

    Austringer then introduced something that was so far removed from the topic, that well... it really derailed discussion about Vassula.

    Perhaps we can all get back on topic. But, I'm having intermitten internet connection problems, so I don't know when I can get back to this thread if it happens again.

  28. A "rabbit hole" in general is slang for some sort of exploration, probably unfruitful.

    In this context -- a discussion on an internet forum -- a "rabbit hole" would be a digression from the main topic.

  29. This post caught my eye because prior to my defection from ( and more recent subsequent return to) the One True Church, I remember my aunt being very interested in Vassula and her writings. She bought us some of the volumes, and although I read them I always held them at arms length "just in case".
    Now that I have returned to the church I have a new perspective on private revelations. Honestly, I think I had a bellyful of that in the Evangelical/charismatic church that I attended.
    I leave the judging of these matters to the church and anything that isn't approved I won't touch with a barge pole. Not because I don't believe some of these revelations to be authentic, but because of my weakness.I need to depend on the church so that I am not decieved.
    I've wasted enough time as it is.

    Fr Abberton
    I don't know about Vassula but I appreciate the tone of what you have written here.
    May God bless you in holiness and wisdom.

    Diane seems to have rubbed you up the wrong way.
    But when I read this:
    "But then, you would know that Diane. I mean, with you being such an expert on these matters. What confidence you must hold, to presume to tell a priest who he ought to discuss exorcisms things with I mean. That's some authority you speak with. Where did you say you got it from again?"
    I was struck by two things.
    Firstly the sarcasm which detracts from your point.
    And secondly it didn't read to me as though Diane was giving Father an authoritative instruction, but rather sharing her own concern. And perhaps also offering fraternal correction, which Father is free to sift as he wishes.
    As you know ( because I have seen you disagree with Fr Longenecker on his blog) You don't need to have "authority" in order to charitably disagree with a priest.

  30. A rabbit hole is where Fr Rabit lives.

  31. Thank you for the rabbit hole clarifications.

    Now then, what's everybody's favourite cheese?

    only joking!!!

    I am off to bed as it is December 2011 here. Well, not quite, but we are further ahead timewise.

    As Andy Williams used to say "Goodnight everybody" just before the Osmonds came on stage in lime green suits.

  32. Clare said
    'As you know ( because I have seen you disagree with Fr Longenecker on his blog) You don't need to have "authority" in order to charitably disagree with a priest.'

    Yeh, to his face. Not behind his back. There's a difference in my book. And I already stated that I did this in a previous comment on this thread to Austringer above:

    "I must have missed that passive inclination. I seem to read nothing but criticism these days, and I have done some of it myself, God forgive me and Our Lady help me."

    I wasn't deliberately being sarcastic Clare. To be frank, I was rather appalled at some of the treatment dished out to Father John, who has not retalliated with anything other than good manners and wise suggestions, to his critics.

    Father Longenecker has, on occasions apolagised for some of his words if deemed hurtful to others. However, there is no question of that here, in this case, so I think it's a bit of a rabbit hole for you to even bring it up. ;)

    PS. If you do comment back Clare, I won't see it until morning,so don't worry if I don't reply.

  33. Terry, WOW!
    You lit the "proverbial" H-bomb here!

    I have stayed clear of V. Ryden since E. Michael Jones' articles;
    if the Vatican says there are "problems", then that's good enough for me, they will settle the matter.

    I must confess that the "automatic writing" business (or whatever is involved here) is a big problem for me.

    The connection with Medjugorje is also a big problem; I know, I know, there is a commission in the Vatican working on this, etc.
    I still have a problem with M. and it boils down to the documented disobedience and lies of the seers.
    Again, Rome will sort this out.

    I'm not condemning anything; I just stay away from it and encourage anyone who asks me in direction or otherwise to be careful.

    In these dark days, even the elect can (and will) be deceived. That scares the hell out of me!

  34. Austringer5:25 PM


    Thanks for the explanation of a rabbit hole -- and you're right, I did fasten on some small comment of Shadowlands' and take it into another direction entirely. Mea culpa!

    Nor should my rabbit hole be taken as indication that I don't take the subject at hand seriously: I do. Mostly, though, I find it depressing. I was at a Marian Congress some years back, and saw a great deal of this kind of apparition-chasing. Since I'm a revert, it was my first exposure to this phenomenon -- quite surprising and also saddening. For example, while waiting for the next speaker, two women in the seats in front of me discussed their private revelations of Mary: "..then Mary said to me...", as casually as if discussing a visit by a relative. Dang, if Mary spoke to me I'd be so terrified that I would run screaming in the other direction, and I sure wouldn't be telling anyone! Several people showed me photos of pictures that they had painted, assuring me that mysterious healings came from touching them. A woman in the next booth became quite stiff and distant after learning that I came from a parish whose pastor had been critical of Little Mary (a local woman who claims to receive messages). So many sheep without a shepherd...like I said, it was depressing.

  35. If I may add something here; I think Austringer's "rabbit hole" is, in fact, an example of how the "stripping of the altars", if you will, is both a sign and a result of the "loss of the supernatural"; it is also the reason that people hunger for "signs and wonders".
    I love E. Michael Jones' statement that "for every feminist nun there is a busload of ladies (or men, for that matter) to the latest 'apparition'". What he means by that is the de-supernaturalizing of our Catholic Faith (Marian devotions, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and most especially, the secularization of the Mass) creates a "void"; people who hunger for God, who do not have a theological formation (which is not a "slap", here) and who are completely fazed by the rapid changes in Catholic worship, faith and life, need, want, hunger for what was, in the past, something that was a common experience; transcendance, beauty, communion with God, our Lady, the saints...in devotions, Novenas, the transcedant "ethos" of the Traditional Mass...the silent church, the Rosary, the votive candles in the shrines, etc., etc.
    The "wasteland" of the post-VII experience (which, I might add, is not the fault of the documents of said council, but it's faulty interpretation) is what Austringer describes: a "wrecked" sanctuary; a devastated vineyard (to use D. von Hildebrand's term). And people needed to find a way to "reconnect" with the supernatural.
    This is the real "crux" of the issue: where the leaders of the Church have failed; where they have devastated the vineyard, created wastelands, made the holy into the profane, visionaries, mystics and prophets (both authentic and fraudulent) will take up the slack.
    Discernment, according to Ignatian principles, as well as our beloved St. John of the Cross, are the Catholic response to any messages "from the beyond".
    But the faithful, esp. the little old ladies, the simple, the vulnerable, the addicts, the sinners...these can be the victims of both the spirit of the "anti-Christ" (in the guise of "progressive" theology) as well as the pseudo-mystics...we have an example of this in our own Diocese of La Crosse...heard of Necedah?
    I will not go into the whole history of the sordid and demonic event; but it took YEARS to sort this all out.

  36. Austringer7:05 PM

    Nazareth Priest -- Amen, amen, amen to everything you wrote!

    By the way, I was just passing through Chippewa Falls this past Sunday -- if I'd known where your Institute is, I would have stopped by (presuming that your community is open to passers-by). Ah well -- maybe next year!

  37. wow... how did I not get an invitation to this party!?!

  38. np, the only thing I need to know about M is that the alleged vision allegedly speaks against the Bishop.

    One thing that we must all remember is that we're not required to have faith in any private revelations, and should not have anything to do with those revelations the church has called into question but rather take a more prudent course; let the church figure it out. There are many approved apparitions and devotions along with many saints, beati and solid Catholics whose causes of canonization have been opened but who have not as of yet been elevated whose life stories I can read.

    I recently read a biography of Fr. Michael McGivney, who founded the Knights of Columbus. Bishop Fulton Sheen's Cause for Canonization is open and that of Bishop Baraga has just been sent to Rome. I've also read the Teresa section of the biographies; Ss Terese of Lisieux and Teresa of Avila, as well as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, whose relics I recently venerated.

  39. Nan: I totally agree.
    I am so careful now about "recent revelations" and especially when there are "cautions" or "negatory" kinds of notices from Rome.
    We are in a very perilous time; even our bishops can be suspect.
    And I say this with reserve and a heavy heart; really.
    The perennial Catholic Faith, as Terry so wisely stated, is given to us in the Magisterium which interprets the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers and the private revelations (which, I must say, Fatima ranks the highest right now...Pope Benedict, in his recent pilgrimage there made it clear that the "filth" within the Church is the greatest persecution).
    The Holy Mass, the Holy Rosary, the traditional devotions to St. Joseph, St. Michael and the other saints, the authenticated revelations of the saints are my food and drink.
    Everything else must pass the test of time and discernment.

  40. As a further reflection:
    there are all kinds of "connections" between pseudo-mystics, esp. in this day and age.
    Medjugorje has been the locus of many condemned seers and mystics within the USA (Theresa Lopez, etc.).
    We are so hungry for God; we are so ready to believe the latest revelation because this age of "God is dead" (proclaimed by TIME magazine in the '60s) makes us ready to believe anyone who looks pious, holy, other-worldly.
    Well, let me tell you.
    Borderline personalities, schizoids, paranoid schizophrenics can also look like that until someone casts aside the "veil"; and it's scary, very scary.
    God is God.
    He communicates to us through His Church, through the Sacred Liturgy, through the approved mystics and doctors of the Church.
    He can also communicate with us in the present moment; but it must be within the boundaries of sanity, orthodoxy and orthopraxis (sound Catholic practice)...we have seen Fr. Maciels, Fr. Durans (of Miles Jesu), etc. that "looked holy" and are not.
    Discern, pray and be obedient.

  41. Nazareth priest gave a description of the types of people open to deception from false apparitions. There are other types though, just as much, if not more in danger.

    False devotion to our Lady, by St Louis de Montfort.(this guy is kosher, )!!

    (I am just citing one of the false tpes here, as they take up much space. For the others see my blog post Sun 2nd Aug). It gives some good church approved safety directions). He concludes with a description of true devotion and it's worth a read for truth seekers.

    "92. There are, I find, seven kinds of false devotion to Mary, namely, the devotion of (1) the critical, (2) the scrupulous, (3) the superficial, (4) the presumptuous, (5) the inconstant, (6) the hypocritical, (7) the self-interested.
    Critical devotees
    93. Critical devotees are for the most part proud scholars, people of independent and self-satisfied minds, who deep down in their hearts have a vague sort of devotion to Mary. However, they criticise nearly all those forms of devotion to her which simple and pious people use to honour their good Mother just because such practices do not appeal to them. They question all miracles and stories which testify to the mercy and power of the Blessed Virgin, even those recorded by trustworthy authors or taken from the chronicles of religious orders. They cannot bear to see simple and humble people on their knees before an altar or statue of our Lady, or at prayer before some outdoor shrine. They even accuse them of idolatry as if they were adoring the wood or the stone. They say that as far as they are concerned they do not care for such outward display of devotion and that they are not so gullible as to believe all the fairy tales and stories told of our Blessed Lady. When you tell them how admirably the Fathers of the Church praised our Lady, they reply that the Fathers were exaggerating as orators do, or that their words are misrepresented. These false devotees, these proud worldly people are greatly to be feared. They do untold harm to devotion to our Lady. While pretending to correct abuses, they succeed only too well in turning people away from this devotion."


  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. Diane (and others)

    The Notification is still valid, but as a "warning" (Card. Ratzinger's word) A warning is NOT a condemnation. Card. Ratzinger told bishops they could continue reading Vassula's writings. We have this in print and on video. This means that your very strict interpretation of what the CDF is saying is wrong - otherwise the Pope is wrong. Are you disagreeing with the Pope?

    Since we are not getting anywhere with this, and since it all too often strays into personal attacks, I see no point in continuing the discussion about Vassula. many of the problems and questions are answerd by better people than me ON THE WEB SITE.

    I am off to Walsingahm for three days.

  44. I want to note that unaddressed as my point about the doctrinal assessment, which seems to be contradicted at the "Defend Vassula" website.

    Also, videos and other letters, notes, etc., without a protocol number, which are not made plainly visible by the Holy See on such an issue, is no substitute for official word from the same Holy See.

    This is not "strict interpretation" when I accept the Holy See's doctrinal assessment as valid, and the "Defend Vassula" website publicly does not.

    To me, the issue of whether the material is ok to read, that was bound up in the context in which I previously quoted. Discussion about reading/not reading is secondary to the doctrinal matters for me.

    Interestingly, the Holy See must have thought so too, because in each of it's letters, it called attention to doctrinal errors.

    No thanks. I'll stick with Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Siena.

  45. Austringer8:50 AM


    I think if you had overheard the conversation, you would not have attributed this to good pious Catholics merely speaking fondly and warmly of Our Lady. Trust me, this was very different....

    I'm with Diane -- I'll stick with St. Terese of Avila and others. I don't have the knowledge and discernment necessary to be interested in any of these private revelations -- I'll let the Church be my guide.

  46. Anonymous12:27 PM

    I received the following undated letter via snail-mail on Saturday, Dec. 4. It was sent out, apparently by the "American Association for True Life in God", presorted First Class Mail US Postage Paid Permit No. 65 Oak Grove, MO (return address is in East Amherst, NY).

    At first I thought it was a solicitation and was going to trash it, but then realized it was something a bit more interesting. The long and the short of it is that Fr. John Abberton sent out this letter to everyone on the TLIG mailing list (including those of us who are agnostic on the whole subject of God and religion and basically keeping an eye on the shenanigans out of personal interest). I should note that I believe I threw out the newsletter referenced herein.

    Here's the text of the letter (typos are likely mine):

    From Fr. John Abberton.

    Recent Problems and the U.S. TLIG Newsletter

    Dear readers of TLIG,

    You may have heard that a Romanian Orthodox priest has been severely disciplined by his bishop because of his involvement in a TLIG meeting where he celebrated an Orthodox Mass in the company of a Catholic priest (it was NOT a concelebration!). Unfortunately it seems that the enemies of TLIG are now trawling the internet and looking for anything they can use against us.

    Although we have to avoid becoming paranoid about this, at this time we need to take great care to avoid the possibility of anything remotely connected with clergy of different traditions standing together and dressed for the Liturgy getting into the wrong hands. To avoid any mistakes I have taken the view that we need to be VERY careful about the American Newsletter which contains a photograph of this kind. Therefor I am asking you to remove that photo from the Newsletter or to destroy the Newsletter itself. All it takes is for one of these to get into the wrong hands and we are "off again". The attacks are particularly vicious at this time and although we are expected to deal with persecution, we have a priest in Romania who needs our help. His enemies will seize on anything they can to throw at him and his family, so please comply with this request.

    At the same time, I ask your prayers for him. He has not been defrocked, but at the moment has been told to leave his church and has no means of support. I would also ask you to keep this matter entirely within the TLIG family. Do not go around speaking about this to people who are not involved in TLIG.

    Let's hope we can quickly recover from this situation.

    God bless.

    Fr. John Abberton

    (end of letter)


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