Sunday, February 05, 2006

More Catholic than your bishop?

My dh tells me that we have more religious pictures, icons and statues in our home than they do in many churches. I always reply that as long as they keep taking them out of churches, I'll have to keep putting them in my home! I say this to illustrate the fact that I am not a religious or liturgical minimalist, by any stretch of the imagination. I am an avid devotee of Our Lady and rely on her for strength and comfort.

But, one thing that has distressed me in the past couple of years is the rabid following that unapproved Marian apparitions have garnered. There are Church-approved apparitions, such as Our Lady of Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe, as well as the appearance of Our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary. Our Lady has many legitimate titles in on which we can meditate and ask her to pray for us.

The late 20th and early 21st century has seen a boon in reported citings of Christ and Mary all over the globe. While this could be a good thing, it is unsettling to witness the disobedience of some "seers" and their followers. There is a real danger in these so-called "seers" publishing directives supposedly told them by Our Lady or even God Himself, that go against centuries of Church teaching and are often against the local bishop's stated wishes.

What this phenomenon does to those who follow it, is to take well-meaning, pious, traditional people and put them on the fringes of the Church. Some are perilously close to being outside the Church because of their disobedience to their local bishops who may have forbidden the promulgation of these texts.

A brilliant article by Father Peter Joseph says,
"No private individual has the authority to judge definitively and officially which private revelations are true and which are not.

The authority to rule on the genuineness of a private revelation rests first with the local Bishop. It is forbidden, as well as sinful, to propagate private revelations which have received a negative judgment from the local Bishop, the conference of Bishops, or the Vatican'’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."

And yet, there are many people who use up their valuable God-given gifts of time, talent and energy almost forcing these "messages" on anyone who will (or often won't) listen. The contents of these "messages" often contain sheer panic about the current state of the world and sometimes have specific "directives" that "must" be done to "save ourselves."

Here's a news bulletin for you: We already know what is necessary for salvation. It cannot be added to. Also, each one of us will die. Some of us much sooner than others. Jesus said to us, "You know neither the day nor the hour" of the end of time. Yet, many of these "apparitions" insist that they know exactly when it will occur and only they have the secret to avoid it--often in magical sounding directives that have never been a part of (any) church's teaching.

The Lord has given us such comfort in the Church. We have the prayers and practices of the Church, as well as the Sacraments and Scripture, to guide us down the bumpy road of life. Following these unapproved apparitions only serves to distract us from the treasure we already have available to us.


Ogilvie said...

Amen to you comments on unapproved apparitions. Also, we too have many statues in our home, including a large one of the Sacred Heart which sits in the corner of our living room. It certainly catches the eyes of visitors. Our nicest statue of Our Lady was given me by a Catholic school custodian who said his principal wanted it removed as it was " a safety hazard." The principal was worried it would fall down and hit someone, and told the custodian to 'get rid of it' !

4HisChurch said...

I wonder how many beautiful statues have been relagated to the dust bin!

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"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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