When many Catholics ponder the Virgin Mary, their thoughts do not pass immediately to the Gospel narratives but stray to the many apparitions, approved and dubious. Messages from heaven, albeit purportedly through visionaries and those receiving inner locutions, frequently take center stage. Pilgrims visit the sites of these visitations and there are plenty of peddlers ready to sell them trinkets. I do not mean to sound cynical, and I myself place great value in the stories around Lourdes and Fatima, but we must never forget that all this sensationalism is about private revelation. A Catholic is not obliged in faith to assent to any of it. Even the approval that the Church renders certain apparitions is rather negative in formulation. The authorities simply assert that there is nothing contrary to Catholic faith.
Of course, there are unapproved events, seers and messages which receive various levels of rebuke. The official Church verdict is still out about Medjugorie. While the local bishop insists that there is nothing genuinely supernatural going on and priest-involvement in pilgrimages is discouraged, pilgrims of faith keep coming. Miracles seem to be happening and people are repenting of sin and coming back to the Lord. Might Mary be involved with this?
Is not the movement of faith in itself something supernatural and from God?