Discerning a True Apparition from a False One

I’ve had apparitions and apocalyptic prophecies on the mind lately. First, there was last week’s discussion of Medjugorje. Then there’s the ongoing rise of Barack Obama the False Messiah of the New Age. This morning, I was thinking about the whole “Three Days of Darkness” thing, and found this interesting (locked) 43-page thread from Catholic Answers last year.

Skimming through this rather heated discussion made me think about some basic principles we can apply to use reason when hearing about these messages.

First, as last week’s post discussed, we must always remember that the Devil can, and often does, come disguised as an “angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).

We must also remember that the Catholic Church clearly condemns superstition:

2110 The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.

2111 Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition. (Catechism of the Catholic Church; emphasis added)

Many of these “seers” make a big deal about certain sacramentals, especially when they talk about the “Three Days of Darkness”. This is clearly contrary to Catholic teaching. Yes, Sacramentals are crucial to the fullness of our lives as Catholics. Yes, they are powerful weapons against the Enemy. However, the most important weapon against the Enemy is purity.

Apparition fanatics tend to rely on poor research and hearsay. For example, in the above discussion, there were many references to “Padre Pio talks about it,” along with many citations of how there is no documentation of Padre Pio saying or writing anything about Three Days of Darkness. Again, we hear, “Many saints and blesseds talk about it.” But, the closer we get to legitimate sources, the more general they are–just people saying that there will be “three days of darkness” or whatever. All the explicit details and “how to prepare” stuff ultimately comes from the *least* credible sources, unapproved apparitions, etc. But it’s all mixed together.

It’s like with the Third Secret of Fatima. The Vatican has revealed the Message of Fatima. Many people try to say otherwise, but, in doing so, they are basically saying they don’t trust the Holy Father. Now, if you actually study *Fatima*, you will see that the Blessed Mother did not intend the “secrets” for public consumption. They were meant for the Popes, specifically. There was the *option* of revealing them (I forget how the exact history went), but she left that ultimately up to the Popes and to Sr. Lucia’s religious superiors.

To hear the apparitionists tell it, however, there has been a Vast Vatican Conspiracy to cover up this vital information, a conspiracy that’s still ongoing. Thus, numerous other alleged apparitions (including the approved apparitions at Akita) have claimed to be the “true” revelation of what the Vatican tried to cover up. This, of course, leads to mistrust of the legitimate authority of the Church. I think it’s pretty clear that not all bishops are trustworthy in this day and age, if ever; after all, Judas was a bishop. There may even be some really bad apples in the Vatican Curia.

However, this is about convoluted conspiracy theories designed to prove people’s agendas, without any evidence to support them. This is about undermining the very authority of the Holy Father. They also have crazy conspiracy theories involving Sr. Lucia.

Ironically, it’s also about undermining the legitimate apparitions. Think about it. Fatima’s message was simple: pray the rosary; offer up your sufferings; have a devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The messages were there, obviously, and there were reasons for them: to prove the apparitions to the Popes by the fulfillments of the prophecies; to give an incentive to people to fast and pray; to emphasize the reality of the situation.

However, Medjugorje, and the many lesser cases, all have to do with being the “real message” that has supposedly been suppressed in the case of Fatima. This is kind of like the arguments Protestants make: “the real Christians were suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church for centuries till we appeared.” Well, why did the suppression suddenly stop? When did it appear?

If Fatima is being somehow covered up, why wouldn’t this alleged conspiracy be successful in covering up Akita, or Medjugorje, or other alleged apparitions??

In reality, these are all taking people away from the authentic Fatima message.

But, most of all, a thought came to me today, particularly as someone who used to be all into this stuff: a genuine apparition is about love; a false apparition is about fear.

Medjugorje is all about fear. Its supporters say, “Look at the lines for confession!” Yes, look at the lines of people queued up for confession because they’ve been told they’re going to die in a nuclear holocaust. Fatima said, “Pray for the Conversion of Russia.” Fatima was about praying that sinners be converted. Many of these apparitions seem to be more about “I can’t wait till the Three Days of Darkness, when all the sinners will get killed!”

4 responses to “Discerning a True Apparition from a False One

  1. Medjugorje is all about fear. Its supporters say, “Look at the lines for confession!” Yes, look at the lines of people queued up for confession because they’ve been told they’re going to die in a nuclear holocaust.

    John, when one observes from a distance, one’s observations can only be unclear. Your statement about confessions at Medjugorje is sheer nonesense. Ask any priest who has been blessed to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation at Medjugorje.

    To accuse those who go to Medjugorje of confessing through fear of a nuclear holocaust shows just how much you misunderstand the God-given grace of repentance and reconciliation.

    And did Our Lady ever threaten a nuclear holocaust in any of her messages from Medjugorje, or is this just another misunderstanding on your part?

  2. John C. Hathaway

    I have read numerous books about Medjugorje–Michael Brown, Wayne Weible, etc–and they all focus on these “10 Chastisements” and “8 Warnings” and whatever.

  3. John, it doesn’t matter how many books you read on Medjugorje that focuses on chastisement, it shouldn’t detract from the God-given grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I can assure you, pilgrims do not confess their sins in Medjugorje because of any threat of nuclear holocaust. If this was to be the case, then why travel to Medjugorje to do this when they can avail of the Sacrament elsewhere and nearer to home? Why even the Bible warns of chastisements…

    I can genuinely see the point you are trying to make, that the messages should not be fearful. And this is the case. They are not fearful. Read them.

    However, there are always those who choose to highjack or distort the messages because of their own fears and agendas. This is nothing new. Look at how some Christian churches go about proclaiming the Gospel through fear and threat of damnation.

    What is inside a man is expressed through his speech. If someone has a fearful heart, then it will be a fearful message that he spreads. If someone has a loving and merciful heart, this is the message he will speak of.

    But we must not make the mistake of misinterpreting the message because of someone’s fearful heart. The Medjugorje visionaries do not interpret the messages, they convey the message. Each of us is invited to understand the message through prayer.

    There are 10 “secrets”, not chastisements or warnings. As to what these secrets are, nobody knows except the visionaries themselves. Anything else that is put forward is simply speculation.

  4. I happened to come across your blog while searching on “Padre Pio,” and I saw your Medjugorje discussion. Apparently we are being warned about chastisements because of our sins, abortion being the worst I believe. So I looked up in a concordance of Medjugorje messages at medjugorje.org, for the word abortion in the messages. There is not one reference to the word abortion in all these years of messages. Not one mention of the word divorce either. Nothing about contraception. This is very suspicious.
    Frank, a former believer.

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