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Mary, Beyond Private Revelation

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?

One Response

  1. Dear Fr Joe,
    It is refreshing to hear a very mature, wise and certainly not cynical approach to all this stuff. I went on pilgrimage to Lourdes when I was in my teens back in the 60s and even then I was not sure. I have looked at Fatima and the asserted revelations and the conspiracy theories, even bizzarely seeing some specialist claim that the Lucia who recently died was an imposter because of her teeth……….not surprisingly they were false and thus very different to those of her childhood!
    Something certainly happened back then 100 years ago and even as God spoke to Abraham (or perhaps it was Moses) in the burning bush it is claimed, so possibly the sun did do aerobatics that were witnessed by some 60,000 or maybe it has just been hyped up.

    I am, however, very slowly begining to see that perhaps your stance is the better of the two for me. If I can gain all I require from the sacraments here at home in my parish I will not need to seek confirmation in other areas no matter how valid or otherwise those other areas might be.

    I’m an engineer and thoroughly practical so it is very hard work accepting that which can not be proved but only justified in Faith, and as I gradually work towards doing that the need for proof via the claimed apparitions becomes less urgent. I would love to see it as absolute proof in God, Heaven and an afterlife but, to be honest, some of the stuff especially by a seer called Sr Faustina, seems a little hard for this sceptic to swallow……..thank God that the Church doesn’t require me to believe it and makes no substantive claims itself. I believe that it only officially recognises very, very few miracles attributable to Lourdes even though there are many hundred claimed over the decades.

    With love, Paul

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