Have you ever heard of a recent apparition from the Blessed Virgin Mary? What are your immediate thoughts about it? Do you have to wait for Church approval before you believe in the said apparition?
While it is prudent to wait for Church declaration, we may sometimes feel that we may be missing a lot of blessings if we don’t take a pilgrimage to an apparition site that seems worthy of our belief.
We may have loved ones who are sick and we want to take them there for healing. Our faith may be wavering, and we feel called to take the trip so that we can re-ignite our belief in God.
If you are one of these people, please take note of some signs that could help you discern whether an apparition is true or not. While we should still wait for Church investigation, we may already see some obvious signs that a current apparition is a false one.
Here are some of the signs of a false apparition:
1. Teachings against the Bible
One sign of a false apparition is when it tries to spread teachings that are in direct contradiction to the truths found in Bible.
No matter how miraculous such an apparition seems to be, it should not be believed in as coming from God if it teaches something contrary to the revelation found in the Holy Bible.
Why would God spread such a confusion and contradict the inspired word of God?
“Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation.” – Dei Verbum
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NABRE)
2. Teachings against Catholic Dogma
An authentic apparition should not contradict Catholic teaching.
“The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes in a definitive way truths having a necessary connection with them.” (CCC 88)
“The whole body of the faithful… cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals.”(CCC 92)
Teaching anything against dogmas of the faiths should immediately alert the faithful about a false apparition.
3. False predictions
God cannot fail to keep His promises. If there is an authentic prophecy, it should definitely come true.
With false apparitions, this is not the case.
Because the evil one is also gifted with superior intelligence, he may use it to make it seem that a prophecy has been told about a certain event happening.
But the truth is that there is nothing supernatural about the said prophecy. Anyone with sufficient knowledge could have had a good probability of predicting what could naturally happen next.
At other times, the results are more obvious. A direct prediction has failed to take place. To mitigate this, excuses would be offered to explain why the prediction failed to come true. Another prediction would then be made, invoking false hope from its followers.
4. False miracles
True apparitions would never resort to tricks or false miracles.
In Our Lady of Fatima, thousands of people became witnesses to the miracle of the sun. In Our Lady of Lourdes, thousands of people have been healed by faith. A scientific bureau has even been formed to verify which of such healings cannot be medically explained.
Attempts to present fake healings as well as other counterfeit displays of miracles signify the absence of a true heavenly apparition.
5. Pride on the part of the seer
One of the most valuable evidence for the authenticity of apparitions is the life of the seer. If the witness fails to show a holy life later on, it is very doubtful that a true heavenly apparition has taken place.
The seer should be humble. One should not appear as having enjoyed the popularity and attention that comes along with one’s divine experience. If the seer becomes disobedient to one’s superiors such as the proper authorities of the Church, how could such an apparition be trusted?
The supporters of the apparition should also be observed. What is the fruit of such an event in the lives of the people it has touched? Have they become more virtuous? When confronted with criticism and other difficulties, do they become oversensitive and utterly intolerant of those who oppose their views?
6. Frivolous display of power
Some apparitions seem to attract people only out curiosity. It’s as though people should come there only to seek an earthly show or a source of amusement.
This should not be the case with true apparitions.
Miracles should support the deeper message behind the apparition. The people should be urged to trust in God and believe in His love.
It may take a long time for the Church to verify whether a certain apparition is worthy of belief. Before that happens, the faithful should take every precaution necessary to avoid being deceived by the evil one.
Let us remember that we can always know the result of a miracle by its fruits. If it is from God, it should bear fruits of truth, wisdom, humility and love.
“For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, who masquerade as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. So it is not strange that his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” – 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (NABRE)
Jocelyn Soriano is the author of the book Defending My Catholic Faith.
“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” – 1 Peter 3:15 (NABRE)
You may also want to read “Is It the End Times but We Just Don’t Know It Yet?”