Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Unapproved Catholic Apparitions

Many years ago, I used to follow the apparitions crowd.

I didn't do it necessarily to be on the inside track. I did it because I love the Blessed Mother.

I did find that there was a lot of focus on the end of the world. And there were a lot of people who needed to be on "the inside track".

I also found that sometimes there was a blatant disregard for obedience. The controversy surrounding Medjugorje is the most obvious example of this. ("Medjugorje" is the Catholic Church's "abortion debate" whereby opposing sides are very entrenched in their positions and argue vociferously about it.)

Catholic spiritual tradition is clear: if a visionary is legit, they will obey the bishop. If they don't obey, that's a red flag that the apparitions are not authentic.

The truth is that with these visionaries, you cannot judge from your vantage point behind your computer, who is a truth visionary and who isn't. When I was in the apparitions loop, I would receive emails of messages delivered by the Blessed Mother to a given apparitionist, and the messages were usually fairly innocuous-- something along the lines of keep praying and fasting for sinners and the souls in purgatory-- so you would do that because it's what you're supposed to do anyway. But there was no means of verifying whether this visionary was the real thing or someone developing a cult of personality. All I had to go on was some email messages and maybe some websites.

I gave up on these apparitions when I read of predictions of some catastrophe and they didn't come true.

I am a Big Skeptic when it comes to announcements about the end of the world. I am a student of Catholic history. These predictions have always existed, have always been wrong and will continue. They are often not informed by genuine Catholic tradition on the Last Days.

I think apparitions happen. But due to their intimate nature, they will not be mass culture events, at least in their initial phases, unless they are accompanied by public miracles like a spinning sun. That's why the Church does not make it obligatory to believe them.