Monday, May 12, 2008

A first look at Medjugorje

Another story today. On Sunday after Mass some of us (like usual) picked a theology topic du jour. We began discussing private revelations. I have never been big on private revelations.

From CatholicReference.net

Private Revelations
Supernatural manifestations by God of hidden truths made to private individuals for their own spiritual welfare or that of others. They differ from the public revelation contained in Scripture and tradition which is given on behalf of the whole human race and is necessary for human salvation and sanctification. Although recognized by the Church and, at times, approved by her authority, private revelations are not the object of divine faith that binds one in conscience to believe on God's authority. The assent given to them, therefore, is either on human evidence or, when formally approved by the Church, on ecclesiastical authority according to the mind of the Church. Private revelations occur as supernatural visions words, or divine touches. Often it is impossible to distinguish the three forms in practice, especially since they may be received simultaneously.


I was making the point that some people take them too far and base their entire faith on the things "revealed". Its true. I can think of one organization that regularly takes pot shots at the Church and has been separated for some time now. But anyway...

Two people at the table had been to Medjugorje. One of them went in 1982, a year after the visions began. He related to us that because the Bishops have now condemned it, he stays away from it. (Faithful, eh?) Well, he then said when he was there he saw the Sun spin, in fact, they all sun the sun spin and change different colors. It was all very matter of fact. The other gentleman hadn't seen that in 1992 however but mentioned the numerous documented healings associated with the site.

I know literally nothing about Medjugorje or the apparitions. The local bishops have a negative attitude towards them. John Paul II is reported to have been favorable. Essentially we have to wait and see. Regardless, I came back home and did a little research.

I went to www.medjugorje.org and took a look at the FAQs. After hearing about the Sun spinning like a wagon wheel, I was plenty interested. A quick scan through the Qs and I had my answer. (my emphasis and comments)

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One one of the messages said that all faiths are equal. Isn't this against the Catholic Church's beliefs?

There was a question asked of Our Lady in October 1981 which was: Are all religions the same? Our Lady answered: "Members of all faiths are equal before God. [The Members themselves, yes, but not the religions.] God rules over each faith [No.] just like a sovereign over his kingdom. [The Kingdom of God, spoken of by Christ and realized in his Church, is absolutely incompatible with say, the Muslim faith (to name one.) ] In the world, all religions are not the same because all people have not complied with the commandments of God. They reject and disparage them." [This is false. The Catholic Church more than complies, it is the pillar and bullwark of Truth. ]

[The Author, not Our Lady continues...]

The difficulty that some Catholics have had with this answer is based on the belief that the only salvation is within the Catholic Church. [A defined dogma, no less. Note, it is mentioned "some Catholics." At least that part is the truth.] But the Catholic Church does not believe this. [yes it does.] In fact, Vatican II in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church "Lumen Genitum" says this: "Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own [! This is the kicker. Our Lady is proclaiming all religions are equal and the seers' supporters quote Vatican II to support them. It seems to me that anyone who goes to Medjugorje on account of devotion is absolutely NOT invincibly ignorant. Sorry. ] do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God, and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life." [Many Traditionalists view this as heterodox, but its not. Many Liberals view this as heterodox, but its not. This being a case in point. Yes, I meant to say it that way.]

It is a great privilage [sic] to be Catholic and I love my faith. [No doubt.] I share my faith through my actions and words whenever possible. But as Matthew 7 says "Judge not, that you may not be judged". [The herald scripture of the Church of Relativism, misused here too.] It is not up to us to decide who goes to Heaven and who does not by their faith.

(The entire FAQs can be found here.)

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But Matt, aren't you judging these people too? Not at all. I don't know the state of their souls and would never claim to. There are a LOT of good people who have gained a great devotion to Our Lord and Lady through Medjugorje for sure. That being said though, I'm not buying it. If this is one of the answers given by the woman who watched her Son suffer and die, get raised from the dead, traveled to Ephesus under the case of the Apostle John, was Assumed into Heaven upon the end of her earthly life, then it cannot be her. Our Lady would never use a Council of the Church to repudiate a doctrine already revealed.

Nor can the Church approve it I think. One of the conditions for approving an apparition is whether or not it somehow contradicts Church teaching. If it does, then game over. Now in this modern era we might think the Church will overlook this little snafu so it doesn't get anyone mad. I think on the contrary, it will merely leave it alone. That way it doesn't scandalize anyone not does it promote error. Sometimes infallibility is maintained by silence I guess.

If the Church does some day approve the apparitions, or part or them as some suggest, then so be it. She is wiser and older than I. That's putting it mildly. But for now I am going to keep moving and pay this "apparition" no mind.

6 comments:

Pilgrim said...

Matt... In some references the question asked on October 1, 1981 reads:

ARE ALL RELIGIONS GOOD? (not: Are all religions the same?).

Also, you may wish to consider that each visionary is a filter (not a theologian) and will differ in their vocabulary used in responding to questions.

At the time of these early apparitions, many of the answers and messages were not recorded but simply passed on by word of mouth. This can lead to distortion.

When analysing Our Lady’s messages from Medjugorje, it is better to take them as a whole, rather than one message, or a particular line from any message.

If we applied your method of analysis to the gospels (isolating one single passage and taking issue, sentence by sentence) then the fullness and the richness of the message of repentance and salvation would not be understood, and perhaps dismissed.

Our Lady’s messages from Medjugorje are simply the Gospel message – a call to reconcile with God and each other because the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

You may ask why would Our Lady would want to present herself to the world in this way. But then why would any mother visit her children as a matter of urgency if she considered everything was at ease.

I guess it has something to do with love. Why else would our heavenly Father send his only Son to redeem the world and suffer such a painful death?

A mother’s love, knows no bounds, and we should not be surprised that the Mother of the Church is prepared to assist in such a way.

I know children always think they know best (especially the ‘clever’ ones who know the rule book inside out), but mothers and fathers know otherwise.

We are all free to believe in the Medjugorje messages and apparitions until such time the Church says otherwise. After 27 years, the Church has still not ruled for or against the apparitions.

And even if the Church did approve the events at Medjugorje, no Catholic is obligated to believe, anyway.

Medjugorje is very much concerned with conversion of the heart – on a daily basis. As a convert to Catholicism, you may understand this process better than many ‘cradle’ Catholics who have not had to face the issues of ‘conversion’.

Matt said...

pilgrim-

This was my first look into the subject. And it was not a positive one. I of course understand many like I said are benefitting from this devotion. I don't deny that nor wish it to stop.

In fairness, I will give it another look but as of now I will have to say it doesn't seem 100% orthodox. The stories of miracles and hearings however are intriguing. I very much appreciate your comment. Please don't think I'm a harsh traditionalist. I'm a trad but a charitable one.

Pilgrim said...

Matt, I see that you blog is under the patronage of St Augustine. No doubt you will be familiar with St Augustine’s prayer to Our Lady.

How it echoes so wonderfully all that Our Lady announces from Medjugorje!

O blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay thee thy just dues of praise and thanksgiving, thou who by the wondrous assent of thy will didst rescue a fallen world? What songs of praise can our weak human nature recite in thy honor, since it is by thy intervention alone that it has found the way to restoration. Accept, then, such poor thanks as we have here to offer, though they be unequal to thy merits; and receiving our vows, obtain by thy prayers the remission of our offenses. Carry thou our prayers within the sanctuary of the heavenly audience, and bring forth from it the antidote of our reconciliation. May the sins we bring before Almighty God through thee, become pardonable through thee; may what we ask for with sure confidence, through thee be granted. Take our offering, grant us our requests, obtain pardon for what we fear, for thou art the sole hope of sinners. Through thee we hope for the remission of our sins, and in thee, O blessed Lady, is our hope of reward. Holy Mary, succour the miserable, help the fainthearted, comfort the sorrowful, pray for thy people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God; may all who keep thy holy commemoration feel now thy help and protection. Be thou ever ready to assist us when we pray, and bring back to us the answers to our prayers. Make it thy continual care to pray for the people of God, thou who, blessed by God, didst merit to bear the Redeemer of the world, who liveth and reigneth, world without end. Amen.

Moonshadow said...

Strange topic, Matt, directly related to Friday's post ... you know, source(s) of revelation.

On this feast of Our Lady of Fatima, I'll declare, God forgive me, that I will not believe in any Marian apparitions. But, as the cliché goes, that doesn't mean they aren't real. :-) And I remember Romans 14.

I blogged a recent gathering (hopefully without violating any norms of confidentiality) during which fantastic signs like spinning suns were poo-poo'd in light of God's full revelation, the Bible.

No doubt I take the inspiration of Scripture for granted but the Bible doesn't prove God's existence any better than miracles.

It's plausible that Medjugorje's message has been garbled, as pilgrim says. May it bless those it's intended for ... and not trouble the rest of us.

Matt said...

Its interesting you don't accept any apparitions. Of course that doesn't make a heretic of any of us. I have a healthy skepticism regarding every apparition I hear about.

I neither believe or deny them with the same vigor as Public Revelations. If the Church says "Hey, this is a good one." then I'll pay more attention to it.

But like the Church teaches, Public Revelation ended a long time ago.

Moonshadow said...

It is interesting, I agree. Maybe a visit to Lourdes or Fatima would change my mind. That circus in Marlboro started just after I moved to NJ. Still, I have no trouble believing St. Anne's ... I've seen it myself.

that doesn't make a heretic of any of us

Enough of the core Christian doctrines need strengthening that I can't allow myself those distractions. I skimmed this and Aquinas puts it well. Anything's possible but, please God, not permanent. Peace.

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton