A reader writes…

A reader writes… January 11, 2012

…about prophetic tizzies and I attempt a reply.

Warning: if you–despite abundant evidence to show you are wrong–are a true believer in Garabandal, Conyers, Bayside, or Medugorje, please be aware that I am not and adjust your blood pressure meds accordingly. I speak frankly.

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  • It’s too late, or early, in my day to conjure some pith, so let me just agree in spirit with your reader and with your response.

    My Catholic upbringing kept me from such hand-wringing worry when I found myself in the non-denominational world of the Charismatic movement outside of the Catholic brand of same. Young as I was, I wondered how one could miss one of our Lord’s more straightforward pronouncements about the future.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    Sheesh, Mark, is your hit counter getting low or something? You realize that you’re going to get hate from everywhere (again) on this one, right?

    Is there such thing as “internet sweeps?” If so, make sure you save your next Pants post until then!

  • Jared

    “When I was a Protestant, I was pretty sure Catholics believed Mary was another God. When I became Catholic I discovered that *some* Catholics believe Mary is another Pope.”
    I’m afraid to ask, but could you elaborate on this part?

    • Andy

      Speaking only for myself – I taught at an evangelical college for a couple years – fresh from my doctoral studies and needing a job. I was dumbfounded when I was told by one of the ministers on campus that I was going to hell, as a Catholic, because the Catholic Church teaches that Mary is equal with God, that we as Catholics worship her as a “Goddess”. Such is the misinformation about the Catholic Church in many of the closed circles found in the evangelical movement. I do not know about Mary as Pope.

    • I think the “Mary is another Pope” idea is one that some apparition fans espouse: specifically, that it is fine to disobey your bishop because Mary Trumps All.

      I have news for those people. Mary is a member of Christ’s Church and is subject to the Church’s authority. If there’s an apparition where Mary is being disobedient, it ain’t real.

      • I’m not sure Mary (or the saints and angels) are subject to the Church’s authority as such. For example, I doubt that a bishop could order Mary not to appear in his diocese, or tell her what she can and can not say. However, Mary would certainly not tell anyone to be disobedient to their bishop.

        • Why not? Are Mary and the Saints not members of the Church? I am firmly convinced that if a bishop explicitly told Mary not to appear in his diocese (as stupid as that would be), she wouldn’t.

          • As far as I know, the Church’s authority extends only to those living on Earth. While Mary, a saint, or an angel certainly could never contradict a teaching of the Church, I don’t think they are under the jurisdiction of the Bishop in the sense that a person living on Earth would be.

            If so, I would recommend that a bishop command Mary and the saints to appear and tell us lots of heavenly wisdom.

            • Andy, Bad Person

              The bishop’s authority is certainly not unlimited, no. However, a bishop certainly has the authority to say who can and cannot preach in his diocese. If the bishops have no authority beyond earth, what say you to “Whatever you hold bound on earth is bound in heaven,” etc.?

              Mary has no obligation to appear anywhere. She is bound by her Church, however.

          • Rosemarie


            I don’t think the Church Triumphant is under obedience to the heirarchy, which is part of the Church Militant. Our Lady herself is Queen of heaven and Queen of the clergy, so that in effect trumps the heirarchy. Of course, she is also a humble Queen who wants us to be obedient to our earthly shepherds, so she would never counsel disobedience.

            I don’t recall a bishop ever attempting to command the cessation of a legitimate apparition, so I don’t know whether it would work. Examples come to mind of the Blessed Virgin making demands on the local bishop, typically that a chapel be built on the spot of the apparitions (see Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima). This is then accompanied by a great miracle that confirms the validity of the apparition and her request (St Juan Diego’s tilma, healings from Lourdes water, the miracle of the sun).

            In such a situation, it probably ill-behooves a bishop to ignore her request, even though it is a private revelation. In situations where there is no overwhelming miracle (and especially if there is something “funny” about the seer or the messages) the bishop generally just tells faithful Catholics to stay away. He is within his rights to do that, of course. If a message is from heaven, trying to command the apparition itself might well be beyond his jurisdiction. Of course, if it is from “the other place,” then a command in the form of an exorcism would not be out of order.

            Finally, I heard an anecdote a long time ago. It went something like this:

            One day, a monk was praying in his cell when Our Lord appeared before him in glory. While he was gazing on the apparition, the monastery bell rang, calling the monks to prayer. The monk naturally didn’t want to leave, but knowing he had to, he got up and went to the chapel. After the Divine Office was finished, he returned to his cell to find Christ still there. Jesus said, “If you had stayed and missed the Divine Office to be with Me, I would have left, but because you went as was required of you, I am still here.”

            I don’t know whether this is a true story, but it illustrates how heaven wants us to obey spiritual authority on earth, even WRT private revelations.

            • it illustrates how heaven wants us to obey spiritual authority on earth, even WRT private revelations.

              Perhaps, but certainly not when it directly contradicts the temporal authority that bishops possess (which, as you may recall, was given to them by Christ). To allow such “trumping” opens a huge can of worms. Simply put: you are not required to believe in any private revelation. Public revelation ended with the death of the last apostle. Authority now rests with the institution Christ began: the Church.

              All that said, I have no worry that such a conflict would ever happen. If an “apparition,” be it Mary or some other saint, contradicted the Church, I’d be positive it was false.

              • Rosemarie


                Um, I think you agree with me. I’m saying that a legitimate apparition will *not* contradict the authority of bishops or other superiors in the church, the way Christ in that story rewarded the monk’s obedience to the Rule of his order.

                • Rosemarie

                  That should have read, “…even as Christ in that story rewarded the monk’s obedience to the Rule of his order.”

  • Babs

    The elephant in the room is that even approved apparitions aren’t required to be believed.

    What I don’t really get is the demand that any given person share a devotion to any given apparition. It’s a rich history in the Catholic Church, I have plenty to choose from!

  • Richard C.

    Great piece!

    Incidentally, I wrote a few pieces about dodgy mystic Christina Gallagher over at the Catholic Light blog a few years back. For instance, she gave Our Lady a new title as “The Matrix” and had a medal struck with it: http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/archives/2008/05/kook-watch-gall.html

    Can you get any cooler than that?

  • I think some of the current apparitions/locutions are authentic. It takes careful discernment, but if they have spiritual directors well versed in the phenomena, the purported visionary is obedient, and there are good fruits, it is at least worth considering. Christina Gallagher is not one that I am inclined to believe is authentic, though.

    Amos 3:7 – Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.

    1 Thess. 5: 19-21 – Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything; hold fast what is good.

    Joel 2:28 – And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.

  • Ray Toelstedt

    test test
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  • Ray Toelstedt

    Check out the seer who has been making predictions for Sungenes and Jones


    Be sure to send in your $$$ for your incense and decoder ring!

    A real Bayside Kook of the 1st order.

    Ray the Atheist

    • Rosemarie


      Unfortunately, kooks like that are a dime a dozen, and they all end up on the internet peddling their nonsense.

  • Linebyline

    I’m not sure we can immediately say that Medjugojresefnasdf…That last one…can be safely written off as bogus. Now, my entire knowledge of the subject comes from Jimmy Akin’s Medjugorje Special, from which I got the impression that the Church was deliberately not giving a flat-out no, but also was definitely not giving a yes. (Special devotions, pilgrimages, etc. are of course no-gos unless and until the OK is given. For the likelihood of that, see your comments elsewhere on the “Ents of Rome.”)

    I’m not saying I buy it, though; just that it’s not obviously and unquestionably wrong. Since there’s also no good evidence that it’s legit, I’m going to go with your conclusion: “stay far away.”

    Garabandal, on the other hand…oy. Apparently the final Garabandal apparition will include a simultaneous religious experience for everyone on earth in which we all have a burning in the bosom and are intensely sorry for our sins, after which Jesus will show up to perform the greatest miracle He has ever performed. (At least, if I’m remember the material they sent me correctly.) If anyone out there thinks this doesn’t sound fishy, I recommend you head to the nearest body of water and re-accommodate yourself with the sound of fish.

    (Look, I’m not a writer, okay? The sound of fish. That’s my metaphor, and I’m sticking to it.)