I don't know if you read the recent reports about a soon-to-be-released statement from pope Francis about the purported apparitions at Medjugorje. Yesterday, he made some interesting statements during his homily. Here's how the Associated Press reported it:
In his homily, Francis dismissed those "who always need novelty in their Christian identity" and say: "But where are the visionaries who tell us today about 'The letter that the Madonna will send tomorrow at 4 p.m.?'"
"This isn't Christian identity," he said. "God's last word is called Jesus and nothing more."
I remember hearing a bishop speak several years ago; his topic was focused on apparitions. Apparently there was a so-called "seer" in his diocese who could predict exactly when the Blessed Virgin Mary would appear to her in her backyard. The bishop quoted the eleventh chapter of Hebrews:
"Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen." He went on to explain to us that these so-called "apparitions" were not in keeping with our understanding of faith, for faith is all about what we hope for; the movement toward believing in something or someone we cannot see." His conclusion was that those who "see" Mary are exhibiting something that is not of the faith at all.
This has stuck with me over the years. I think this is what Pope Francis was squarely addressing in his homily yesterday. The Pope was using the Catechism of the Catholic Church quite poignantly in his address. Here's what the catechism has to say:
65. . . . Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father's one, perfect, and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one. St. John of the Cross, among others, commented strikingly on Hebrews 1:1-2:
In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in his sole Word - and he has no more to say . . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.
The Catechism continues by speaking about "private" revelations, some of which have been recognized by Church authority, but that these do not belong to the deposit of faith nor do they "improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation."
I was at a Catholic conference recently in the American Southwest and there was a woman who had a booth in the exhibit hall. She receives daily messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary and shares these messages with people. I was surprised to see so many people at the booth. It makes me wonder when people seem to want some sense of complete surety when it comes to their faith lives, some "novelty," as Saint John of the Cross and Pope Francis put it.
I have often thought, or dreamed perhaps, of a day when God will speak directly to me; some booming voice to give me some new direction or some answers to my life's many questions. That bishop I referred to earlier said that when this happens, faith disappears. So, when I think about it further, I realize that God has spoken directly and that speech included just one Word. I just need to remember to try to live my life in a way that gets closer to that Word each and every day. This is tough sometimes, because in a world where we can find just about any bit of information through our on line searches, in a world where money seems to be able to buy just about any convenience, we've got to to realize that nurturing this relationship with Christ is something that takes work. And these "novelties," to me at least, just get in the way.
Any thoughts out there about Medjugorje and what you think the Pope will have to say? What do you think about these so-called "visionaris" and these "apparitions?"
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.