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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Apparitions of Mary, Part I, Medjugorje

Sources: Wayne Weible, Medjugorje the Message and Medjugorje the Mission.

The quote below from Whitley Strieber’s recent journal is not added here to suggest that Mary is an alien (nor to deny it) but to suggest that apparitions of Mary are part of our strange paranormal/spiritual/miraculous universe. They should not be ignored.

“Everyone involved in these denials [of ufo and abduction phenomena] is an oppressor of the human spirit, and as life on earth becomes more and more difficult, their presence in leadership is going to become harder and harder for people to bear until, in the end, there will be an explosion against it, and whatever is known behind the scenes will finally be revealed. I would not be surprised if it involves a secretive ET presence here. But I would also not be surprised if it turns out that ET is NOT here, and that the origin of the strange phenomena that we see all around us is very much stranger.”

Why investigate Mary?

I want to look at the phenomenon from all sides, pro and con, but first I want to emphasize that these events, which have taken place since the sixteenth century, are Earth shaking, global, and, for better or worse, paranormal/spiritual in nature. I do not believe for a second that they are hoaxes.

Furthermore, it’s very easy for everyone on Earth who is not a Catholic to compartmentalize away these apparitions and just pretend they never happened. Don’t read about them. Don’t think about them. We do that with things that are beyond all possibility of comprehension. Understanding the Mary phenom, or at least noting its influential and mysterious existence, is important. And I have to admit that with all my study, I don’t have all the answers. I only have lots of questions.

Whole books have been written about all of the apparitions. Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico swept thousands of Native Mexican Indians into the Catholic Church and also rebuked the hubris and vanity of the oppressive church officials from Europe. After reading the story, I stomped around for an hour telling God that if He didn’t arrange that situation, He should have. It was something that the Earth was crying out for. It was a huge slap in the face to all that was going wrong in the European culture and the Catholic Church.

A rather ecumenical Mary

In this post, however, I want to address the most recent apparitions which began in the Croatian city of Medjugorje. In 1981, Mary and the infant Jesus appeared on Podbrdo Hill to several teens of the rural village. Six of them became regular visionaries. Word spread quickly, changing the city’s destiny, and later appearance, forever.

Mary’s messages were fairly simple. Pray, pray, pray. Pray the rosary, pray at home with your your kids, pray for peace. Prayer and fasting can stop wars and suspend laws of nature. The way to conversion is through prayer, fasting, and penance. Confess your sins. Give yourselves wholly to God, to Jesus her son, and to her Immaculate Heart and her message.

She seemed to know that bloody, tragic war was on the horizon and had a plan to mitigate it or stop it altogether. But of course, her nemesis Satan was always on the prowl and was trying to thwart her plan, so that aspect of her plan was not successful. From the Balkans to the Soviet Union to the Middle East, war was lurking at the gates and hasn’t ceased even today.

She had some things to say that I found really surprising. (I use the word “she” with a grain of salt because in the spirit realm, what you see is not always what you get.) She verified that she cannot heal. Only God heals. People should pray to Jesus rather than to her. Hell is only for people who are exceeding wicked and really don’t want anything to do with God. Their rejection of Him is total. Most people go to Purgatory. Many are released from there on All Saints Day or on Christmas. Some people in Purgatory who pray a lot are allowed to communicate with the living.

To get to heaven, just live a simple and good life. No one has to do great penance or have a great amount of faith. (She didn’t say you have to be Catholic.) Every home should have one sacred object. Homes should be blessed regularly. (Any Christian who studies ufos or alien abduction could understand why ‘she’ might encourage that.) Respect all religions. Not all are equal, but “people of all religions are accepted by her son.” Basically, religions are similar. This is a crucial statement in a region where Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Muslims kill each other on a regular basis (See Medjugorje the Message, Chapter 7).

The end of the world as we know it?

She also seemed to hinting at a future apocalypse of some kind. She had 10 secrets to give to the 6 visionaries. The first ones were personal. The 7th was quickly done away with through prayer and penance of the people. The last 3 were serious global judgments would occur close together. They could not be prayed away, but could be lessened. Each visionary was to select a priest to share these last secrets with when the time came for them to occur. I assume that the purpose of the sharing is to verify that the event is God’s prophesied judgment rather than just a natural occurrence. As the secrets come to pass, people of the earth will have to convert quickly or perish. It sounds as if more will die than be left alive.

Medjugorje and today’s charismatic movement

There were miracles. Silver rosary chains would turn to gold, sometimes while in the pocket, sometimes while the rosary was being used. The sun would dance and spin as it did in Fatima; people would be miraculously converted; some were healed of dread conditions; the ethnically diverse and scrappy city quit growing tobacco as a main crop; ethnic clashes diminished; people called into Mary's service would sometimes hear a gentle, guiding voice that corrected them like a mother corrects a child; obstructive difficulties were dealt with in miraculous ways.

Many of the priests favoring the Medjugorje apparitions are charismatic, believing in the gifts mentioned in the Bible such as healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues. They are full of the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, etc. So the Medjugorje tree has produced lots of good spiritual fruit. Many Catholics have been renewed in their faith and are living better lives.

Silver chains turning to gold is not much different than some very convincing Evangelical claims that gold crowns appear in the mouths of the needy. Gold dust appears on this speaker, that one finds manna in his Bible, feathers fall from the ceiling and gems are found on the floor. And of course, there are exorcisms and healings in the Pentecostal world. Everyone agrees that the greatest miracle is when lives are changed. Forgiveness replaces hatred, violence turns to peace. These things happen all across Christendom.

The nagging concerns

I would rather cut my hand off than speak a word against something that God really approved of. I would feel awful if I dismissed this whole affair as satanic, then got to heaven and found out that in my narrow, doctrinaire viewpoint I had trashed an important work of the Holy Spirit on Earth. After all, Mary made it clear that she cannot just make her own plans. She cooperates with the will of God.

But there are questions. Nagging concerns. Biblical passages to look at. Connections with Fatima. The Part II post will deal with those concerns, but gently, because the Medjugorje apparitions have born much good fruit and have not belabored the people with a load of dogma and superstition.

Part III will deal with the apparitions of Bayside, New York. When we get there, stand back. I have no hesitation as to what to say about that event.