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Who Do You Follow: the Church or Apparitions?
Posted By Eric Sammons On August 11, 2009 @ 9:19 am In Our Lady,The Church | Comments Disabled
Reader Tim responds to my latest Medjugorje post :
I am a recent convert to Catholicism through Medjugorje. Once agnostic, I am now a devout Catholic. For me, Medjugorje has been a beautiful gateway to the Lord’s Church
This is wonderful news and I praise God for your conversion! As I mentioned, my own conversion to Catholicism was influenced by the Medjugorje phenomenon. I have met many people likewise who have been positively impacted either by visiting Medjugorje or by those who have visited it. There is no question in my mind that God has worked miracles through the events of that small village.
You wrote earlier that it is your opinion that it is extremely unlikely that the Blessed Mother is appearing to the visionaries in Medjugorje. What plausible alternative explanation do you have? The Satan theory is the one all skeptics resort to because there isn’t any other earthly explanation. The Satan theory makes no sense because the Blessed Mother in Her apparitions focuses on being devout to Christ and His Church – hardly something Satan would ever do.
I think there are a number of plausible alternative explanations, the “Satan theory” being the least likely, in my mind. I really do not know, but if I had to guess, I would suggest that one of two possibilities are most likely: either the whole things started as a hoax and then spun out of control, or that those involved had psychological episodes in which they really believed that they saw the Virgin Mary (possibly fostered by the local Franciscans).
I have a number of reasons to be very skeptical of the heavenly origin of the visions themselves, but my main reason is the disobedience of those who are closest to the visionaries to the local bishop. Christ has given us a authoritative Church to follow, and the realization of that authority in the local church is the bishop. Every local bishop has condemned the apparitions, and Rome has done nothing to reverse those decisions. As Catholics, we do not follow visions of Mary, we follow the Pope and the bishops in union with him.
But regardless of the origin of the apparitions (and note that I’m not 100% ruling out that Mary is really appearing, I’m just extremely skeptical of that possibility), that does not rule out that God is really working there; in fact, I think we can say with certitude that God is working there. Even if the origin of the apparitions is demonic, that does not mean that God – who is infinitely more powerful than Satan – cannot produce good fruit out of it. Again, I don’t really buy the “Satan theory,” but I do think that God can work good through any situation. It is quite possible that the originators of the Medjugorje phenomenon had less-than-virtuous motives, yet God used their actions for His greater good. Stranger things have happened in salvation history.
In fact, the priest, bishops and lay people who embrace Medjugorje are some of the most devout and conservative Catholics.
Yes, I agree that many who embrace Medjugorje are very devout. However, I have seen many of them twist the words of the local bishop and even the Vatican to try to justify the apparitions. As I said earlier, if a Catholic is faced with a choice between following a vision or following his bishop, there really is no choice: you follow the bishop. This is the practice of all the saints throughout the ages, even those who were themselves (wrongly) condemned by their own bishops. If the visionaries of Medjugorje and their supporters had submissively silenced themselves after the local bishop asked them to, I would have been more likely to believe that it really was Mary appearing to them. However, they have chosen to continue to promote the apparitions (at financial benefit to themselves, I might add), even in the face of opposition from the bishop. This speaks volumes to me.
The truth is that Our Lady IS appearing to the visionaries. It is just so incredible that some can’t accept the reality of God granting us such a wonderful gift in our time. But Christ and His Mother have been rejected before, both in their earthly existence and through other visionaries, such as Sr. Faustina. What I think causes people to reject Medjugorje is a deep seated fear of the true reality of God in our lives. If we as Catholics believe in the presence of the Lord in each of the millions of Eucharistic Hosts presented throughout time and throughout the world, how is it so difficult to believe that His Mother would appear and give us messages of hope, love and a path to Her Son?
I do not doubt that God can send the Blessed Mother to our world to give us messages of hope and love. I simply do not believe that this occurred at Medjugorje. One does not have to accept every claimed vision to believe that visions do really happen.
As Catholics, we do not put our trust in modern visions or apparitions. We put our trust in Jesus Christ, which we know through the Church he founded upon Peter. Until such time as that Church gives a positive appraisal of Medjugorje, I will remain skeptical, all the while thanking God for the wondrous fruit He can produce, even from sickly trees.
Again, praise God for your conversion and welcome to the Church!
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 Medjugorje post: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2009/08/07/medjugorje-redux/
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