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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Don't Shoot the Messenger


I've been stewing around about this question from a reader several days ago:

I am really interested in your comments about Medjugorje. Do they mean that you don't believe the visions are authentic?

Medjugorje represents a big problem for me. I have been there 3 times, but am still unsure about it. My husband is however totally convinced and loves the place so much. His faith has been totally renewed because of it.

The visionaries I have seen seem genuine people and the faith of the pilgrims is awesome. There is still something not quite right for me though......

Let me explain that the reader is referring to my statement that the Church has suppressed the Medugorje visions when the reader asks if I don't believe the visions are authentic.

I think I don't. The church agrees with me.

Medjugorje is a great example of why, in my opinion, the Church sighs a heavy sigh of dread whenever a new sighting of Mary rears it's head. It's the reason that Catherine LaBourre's confessor tried to ignore her pleas for him to have a medal made. Next thing you know, it's Mary at the chocolate factory, Mary on the turtle belly, Mary in the tree stump. I think there is a woman in Georgia who saw Mary in her dryer. Not in the lint trap, made out of lint, either. If memory serves me Mary was on the dryer door when she opened it.

Sigh.

Relating the facts of Medjugorje has always made my head hurt. There are a bunch of kids of various ages, pre-teen through teen. Mary comes every day with messages. As they grow up some of them don't see Mary anymore, some leave town. This continues for something like 13 years. There are one or two kids left who still talk with Mary every day. I may not have it all straight. Google it on the internets.

Whenever Mary shows up somewhere with something to say the Church assigns someone to go have a look to see if the sighting is authentic, meaning, "is it worthy of belief?" How do they decide? Did Mary say anything that does not jibe with Catholic doctrine or dogma? That's the main criteria.

The church has been studying the Medjugorje sightings all this time. Since the 80's. In my humble opinion, that what has caused the Church to hold off on any pronouncement all this time is how the faithful have reacted to the whole thing, with renewed faith. I've talked to many people who have been there and come back with their eyes aglow.

Hard to argue with eyes aglow. We love your eyes to be aglow. We don't want anything to unglow your eyes. We really really don't. And we love Mary. If your eyes are aglow because of Mary, that's just excellent.

I also have never heard of anything specifically that Mary may have said, during all this time, that is counter to the teachings of the Church.

But in the end the Church simply found it unbelievable that Mary had to spend 13 years talking with teenagers every day to get her point across.

Here's the thing: no one ever has to believe anything that comes to us through personal revelation. Not Fatima, not the mystic marriage of St. Catherine, not the visions of daily life in Purgatory....nothing. Believe It Or Not!

The Church gives a vision Her blessings and after that you're on your own.

The problem comes when the Church doesn't give Her blessing. That causes the whole incident to fall into the category of crystal balls and Ouija boards. Perhaps that is too strongly worded....but I don't think so. Why can't you consult a crystal ball? Because, not only are you putting your faith in Madame Blotsnefad instead of Jesus, you could be talking right to the devil.
The reason the Church bothers to authenticate a personal vision is to make sure everybody is not just falling into the devil's tricky trickery.

So I am very sad to hear that we the faithful have to toss Medjugorje. It seems to me that much good has come from it. I understand the town transformed...in a good way, not in a 'selling glow in the dark rosaries' kind of way. (Although a glow in the dark rosary is great when you have insomnia. I highly recommend picking one up.) I know people have been transformed. I understand the visionaries themselves were transformed. It doesn't seem right to toss out all that good.

But there you have it. It's not Believe It or Not! anymore. It's just Not!

Thank goodness it's Lent and we're of a mind to give things up.


14 comments:

radio45 said...

I really hate to disagree, but maybe just a small tiny bit. The Church doesn't tell people they cannot go to this place. They are not ready to give any kind of endorsement. For example, it is perfectly all right for there to be organizations supporting Medjegorje. These organizations and their members are not excommunicated for there beliefs. And when a charter goes to this place, a priest can go along to hear confession if people wish. The Church is very reluctant to give a full endorsement, with good reason. I am no expert, but I believe Fatima wasn't endorsed by the Church right after it happened either. Usually they like vision to be in the past. I also believe that the Church loves stuff to be all in the past, and they love visions to be tested by time and trials. And even after that. Well, we just have to remember that Sr. Faustina's visions weren't considered in such a great light until much later. I believe these visions were considered heresy or close to it. In any case, Sr. Faustina became Blessed Faustina and the rest is history. I am not the biggest believer in Medjagorje, but my mother went and she was impressed, and tons of good comes from there, and there are no messages which go against church teaching. It all leads me to believe that God is using this place for some reason known only to Him.

Sister Mary Martha said...

I agree that tons of good seems to come out and I am very uncomfortable telling anyone they should abandon thinking about Medjugorje. But the Church has made an official pronouncement and it isn't good.

Sharon said...

Sister, could you give me a link to the official pronouncement about Medjagorje.

Jeff Miller said...

Last year the Bishop of the alleged seers said:

Therefore I responsibly call upon those who claim themselves to be “seers”, as well as those persons behind the “messages”, to demonstrate ecclesiastical obedience and to cease with these public manifestations and messages in this parish. In this fashion they shall show their necessary adherence to the Church, by neither placing private “apparitions” nor private sayings before the official position of the Church.

They totally ignored him and continued in their disobedience. If this total lack of humility - I don't know what is.

One of the "seers" reported that Mary told her to read "The Poem of the Man-God." Considering that this book use to be on the index of forbidden books this does not exactly lead to credibility.

The silliest thing about the whole thing was that the group of children had the first apparitions after stealing some cigarettes and going out to smoke and listen to music. These events were described in the original interview tapes recorded shortly after this all started. Most people have never heard of the contents of the tapes since they go against what they later claimed to have happened. The interviews show the fact that during the first week of these so-called visions that the Gospa never spoke to them and in fact just did a lot of laughing. There were no messages at all. They also reported that Mary's hand was shaking.

The definitive book so far on the subject is "Understanding Medjugorje Heavenly Vision or Religious Illusions" by Donal Foley.

The book is amazing in some of the details such as the fact that the local Franciscan supporters of the apparition actually attacked and kidnapped the Bishop. The amount of dissent around the whole thing is quite something.

Bridget said...

Its about time!! Thank you sister!!

anon said...

You forgot to mention the lady who found an image of Mary burned into her grilled cheese sandwhich.

Sister Mary Martha said...

I actually did not forget about the grilled cheese sandwich. I just didn't want to mention it...again....

Anonymous said...

From Peter ( Australia )

If that Lady who is not sure about Medjugorje, please believe me about the following :

" GOD IS CALLING US AGAIN THROUGH HIS MOTHER IN MEDJUGORJE. HOW LONG IS HUMANITY GOING TO KEEP RESISTING HER ? GO THERE AND PRAY FOR ME. " My Dearest Beloved Child, these words were spoken by Our Lady`s Pope John Paul II, as a answer to a question asked by a priest, about Medjugorje. I personally know that this answer given by Pope John Paul II, is true because, the Priest ( Fr. Peter, had been e-mailing me for about 8 months ). Fr. Peter was a good personal friend of a of another priest ( Fr. John, who, believed and had been many times to Medjugorje, was trying to help me with my life, until till his death ), this is why he was e-mailing me to take over from Fr. John and all the people that he was helping. For some time we had been talking about life and about my beliefs in a place called Medjugorje.

In one e-mail sent on 19th of October 2002 Fr. Peter said : “ PERHAPS IT WILL BE A SHOCK TO YOU BUT I DO NOT BELIEVE IN MEDJUGORJE. I HAVE MY OWN CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THIS SUPPOSEDLY APPARITION AND AS FAR AS I AM CONCERN IT IS NOT HAPPENING AND THE PRIESTS OVER THERE ARE IN A ‘ MAKING MONEY OPERATION ’ THAT NOT ONLY OFFEND GOD BUT IS ALSO AN OUTRAGE FOR THE CHURCH TO WHICH THEY BELONG. ’ After some more e-mails exchanged I received this one on 18th of December 2002 which in part said : “ I AM LEAVING FOR MEDJUGORJE TODAY…, I HAD A PRIVATE AUDIENCE WITH THE HOLY FATHER THE OTHER DAY, AND I ASKED ABOUT MEDJUGORJE AND DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT HE TOLD ME ? HE SAID TO ME ‘ PETER, GOD IS CALLING US AGAIN THROUGH HIS MOTHER IN MEDJUGORJE. HOW LONG IS HUMANITY GOING TO KEEP RESISTING HER ? GO THERE AND PRAY FOR ME. ’ THIS HAS BEEN A GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT FOR ME. ”

Sister Mary Martha said...

Anonymous, what can I tell you? That was then and this is now.

Seeker said...

I never had a whole post written as a result of a comment by me before! Lol!

Although I am uncertain about Medjugorje myself, I feel a little bit unhappy about some of the things you have said, Sister. I am just playing devil's advocate really!

Firstly, I cannot find anywhere that there has been any new pronouncement on Medjugorje recently. If you are referring to the Bishop of Mostar's sermon last year, there is nothing new about his opposition. It is certainly no proof that the apparitions at Medjugorje are not happening. Bishops have been known to be wrong before!

I fully understand the argument that the visions have gone on too long. To me, the messages all say much the same things and, whilst it is true that the world has not headed the calls to repentance, it seems odd that nothing spectacularly new is said. The whole idea is kinda hard to grasp.

On the other hand, I have seen one of the visionaries and she seems like somebody who doesn't particularly relish all this attention. I have seen film of one of her recent visions and it would be hard to fake her reaction (she is often distressed and in tears and she seems unaware of what is going on around her.). In fact, it would be a pretty amazing feat for six people of varying intellect to fake all of this for all this years. Surely one of them would have cracked by now? If this is all a big deception, then I really take my hat off to these guys!

I know that the conversions do not necessarily mean that the visions are authentic, but if the devil is behind all this you'd think that he would be getting a bit cheesed off with all the conversions by now!

The number of people who have seen the sun spinning and doing other strange things puzzles me too. We have seen nothing ourselves , although my husband had a woman right next to him who was obviously seeing something and was staring right at the sun when it was too bright for my husband to look anywhere near it. I know these events are unimportant by themselves - but if they come from the devil, why is he doing this? It is interesting to note that the same phenomena occur at many other Marian shrines, including Fatima (which is, of course, approved by the church.)

Nearly all the doubters I have known who have gone to Medjugorje have come back convinced. I feel a real unbeliever because I still have some doubts! I am keeping an open mind on the subject though; I think there are still many, many unanswered questions!

CMinor said...

Isn't the crux of the matter that no one's faith should rest on what might or might not be happening at Medjugorje?

Just wondering.

Michele Q said...

Whether or not the happenings in Medjugorje are authentic or not is not the point. The issue is obedience. Plain and simple it really is. The Bishop has spoken and like it or not he should be obeyed.

Conversions and all that has happened there or as a result of it, are wonderful. But disobedience to a legitimate authority (such as the Bishop) is a sure sign of something not being right. Read about other private revelation - obedience is key!

cattiekit said...

I, for one, fall in the camp of those that say that Medjugorje is something that sounds plausible on the face of it, but seems suspicious in the details.

cminor, I think you hit it on the head. :>)

Marie said...

I was quite ready to believe in Medjugorie until I read several articles reporting that one of the visionaries heard the "apparition" say that "All religions are equal in the eyes of God."

The visionary confirmed this in several interviews explaning only that that's what the apparition told her.

Well...there goes all the blood of martyrs who died for the Faith. If all religions are equal in the eyes of God, why bother being a Catholic?

It may be true that someone or something is appearing in Medjugorie. But not the Blessed Mother.