Friday, August 3, 2012

Jesuit On Medjugorje Integrity

The Medjugorje visionaries
EWTN talk show host the Rev. Mitch Pacwa, who has been to Medjugorje and did a documentary about it with actor Martin Sheen, said the Vatican will look carefully at the reported messages. For example, early on, there was a dispute between Franciscans based in Medjugorje and a regional bishop, who was skeptical of the Marian apparitions. "Some of the visionaries took a stance and said the Virgin Mary is on the side of the Franciscans," Pacwa said. "That's odd. That's inappropriate. The church does not want the visionaries to ask questions trying to get answers. If it's from God, God is going to take the initiative." EWTN, the Catholic broadcasting network based in Irondale, Ala., welcomes Catholics who visit Alabama to go to Caritas, but does not take a stand on the apparitions or make recommendations to pilgrims. Pacwa said there is no chance for the visions to get approval while they're still going on, and it's a long shot even after they stop.
One quirk that emerged was when two of the Medjugorje visionaries said the Virgin Mary endorsed a book, "The Poem of the Man-God," that had been condemned by the Vatican. The fanciful 1940s biography of Jesus by Maria Valtorta contains details like a dancing girl brushing up against Jesus, Joseph giving young Jesus an anachronistic tool kit with screwdrivers and the Virgin Mary making statements such as "man disgusts me," Pacwa said. "The book had been condemned by the church in 1959 because it said a lot of silly things that contradicted what was in the gospels," Pacwa said. "The church rejected it. Any vision must be judged by revelation that exists in the gospels. You can't say anything you want." What may be the unraveling of the Medjugorje visions is the lack of any spiritual depth to the messages, Pacwa said.
"That is a much more pointed critique," he said. The writings of Sister Faustina, now a saint, describe visions from Jesus. "As you kept reading, a new depth of spiritual life began to show itself," Pacwa said. "You can see definite growth over the years in her spiritual messages. I don't see that with the messages of Medjugorje. They tend to be the same thing over and over again. Something I would look for is a growth in spiritual depth. I haven't sensed it." Pacwa said Vatican theologians will take all that into account and that Medjugorje in the end may be denied church approval. "I don't have a sense this is going to go swimmingly. I am very impressed with a number of the positive things I have experienced there. I have a lot of respect for the good things that have occurred. But I'm not going to be naive about some of the problems. It has to be dealt with, with full integrity."
Link (here) to STL Today


Maria said...

As I read this, I thought-- Fr. Pacwa is 'steadfast'. As in:

steadfast /ˈstɛdfɑːst, -fəst/

resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.

– derivatives
steadfastly adverb,
steadfastness noun.
– origin OE stedefæst ‘standing firm’ (see stead, fast1).

He is steady, with a firm fatih. What a rarity these days. He is a gift to us...

TonyD said...

Fr. Pacwa should choose to be quiet rather than make inaccurate statements about God and discourage those who follow God.

It may be appropriate for the visionaries to say that Mary is on the side of the Franciscans. It may further be appropriate for them to ask questions of God.

God gets to decide who can ask questions and when. There are times when the punishment for questions is severe, and there are times when questions are expected. God gets to decide. Those who communicate directly with God are not bound by the logic of priests.

Often, God sets up situations where others are expected to take the initiative -- that is routine. Why claim that initiative is always reserved for God? This is a serious problem. (More specifically, there may be serious consequences for someone who, from a position of authority, discourages those who try to follow God.)

Beyond that, there is the non-problem of the Virgin Mary saying "man disgusts me". Such a statement is a problem only for those who have no real experience of God. We should not turn God into a caricature who has no ability to recognize aspects of both good and evil in Man. Oversimplified religion is not religion.

And a "lack of spiritual depth"? The messages are often simplified as the audience size increases. There are a variety of reasons for this -- reasons which I cannot discuss. Suffice it to say that our worldly logic does not apply.

Qualis Rex said...

Tony - you epitomise those who follow Medjugorje: little knowledge of Catholic theology and very big on feelings and emotions. When the Vatican condemns/surpresses Medjugorje, I sincerely doubt you (or the other Medj fanatics) will remain within the church. I know this sounds harsh, but if Bayside is any indicator, that's how it will go.

Maria - I wholeheartedly agree. I don't fault the church for not immediately condemning the Medj messages, which range from the banal to the heretical (yes, for all you Medjmaniacs, I HAVE read them, and IN CONTEXT). The Vatican is not stupid, and I think they realize that since this is not a legitimate apparition it will eventually die out with the claimants once the money dries up. So, I believe their plan is to wait it out, rather than to denounce these so-called seers as charlatains at the exepnse of angering the more dim-witted.

Bottom-line; gospels first, apparitions If latter EVER contradicts the former, then you have your answer to its legitimacy. Unfortuantely so few people these days bother to know the gospels.

TonyD said...

The real issue here is not whether Medjugorje is true or false. Rather, it is how to enable our progress in this existence.

Obviously, God could proclaim Medjugorje to be true to everyone -- if He wanted to. But He doesn't want to.

There are overlapping goals. Goals for individuals, goals for groups, goals for various communities, and even goals for those who simply observe (As readers of this blog should know, thoughts are known and reacted to. But most people are already involved in many lessons for themselves and others and no particular reaction from God is warranted. The thoughts are simply "data-points" about a particular person's progress.)

So what kind of response is appropriate? The answer is not simple, since there are many people here at different stages of their understanding, so appropriate responses will vary.

As Catholics, we have revelation in the form of the Gospels which provide a certain level of understanding. We should love our neighbor. Miracles are real. Evil is real. God works in this existence and uses evil to his purposes. Judgment/Hell is real. We are a people unable to control the destruction caused by accumulated wealth. We are a people unable to prevent the abuse caused by a monetary system that uses interest/usury as a component. We need to rely extensively on faith and obedience because we lack the judgment to make decisions in these areas. Humility should not be underestimated.

So there are many appropriate responses to Medjugorje. There is no need for the Church to recognize Medjugorje. God's miracles and God's saints are God's miracles and God's saints. They require no Church recognition.

But is not appropriate for a Catholic to undermine those who are clearly trying to follow God. It is not appropriate to claim an understanding of what God may have told them to do. It is not appropriate to tell those who may be prophets or saints that they should not ask questions of God. It is not appropriate to tell those who may be getting direction from God that they should not take the initiative.

So the real issue here for God is how to change Catholics into real Catholics. A Catholic can be forced to behave in a way consistent with "love your neighbor", but such change is not a genuine intrinsic change for the associated soul. We are seeing God operate in this existence. And we are seeing the failure to create real change. Not all problems can be fixed by omnipotence in this existence.

Qualis Rex said...

Tony - no, the real issue is truth vs lies. Truth is of God, lies are of Satan, the father of lies. There is no separate truth or reality for some. That new-agey clap-trap about "overlapping goals" underscores my previous point; you either know very little about Catholicism or simply are not paying attention to its teachings.

Medjegorje is either REAL, in that Our Lady is REALLY "appearing" to a group of people giving them "messages" that run contrary to Catholic teaching, or this is all a lie. As much as people like you would like to muddy the waters and talk about "goals" and how the messages "speak to me on a personal level" etc, but that does not changethe equation (which is an easy one for anyone who understands Catholicism).

TonyD said...

Qualis Rex,

The objective existence of good and evil does not invalidate "love your neighbor". It is not correct to choose one truth and use that to present your perspectives as though they were objective truths.

Christ did not say "love your neighbor unless they are lying". Evil is real and love your neighbor is real -- as are many other truths.

It would be worthwhile to consider possible reactions to Medjegorje that would be consistent with "love your neighbor". That would be an advanced practice for most people so expectations should be low. The conclusions of most people would be very distant from God.

And there would be many different correct conclusions to such an exercise, unless you think that God doesn't recognize that people are at different levels of progress with the different associated goals for them at their current level?

And about "emotional, muddy, and new-agey", I can assure you that you have no idea of the horrors I have participated in and seen. Even things that are by definition good in the eyes of God often have aspects of suffering that are beyond description. I wish that I didn't know the things that I know.

TonyD said...

I don't want to address specific reactions to Medjegorje that might be viewed positively in the eyes of God. Instead, a worthwhile example of "love your neighbor" would be the Health Care Law just passed here in the United States.

It is viewed positively. Yet, it is, in many ways, horrible. It was passed by a Congress that serves the wealthy -- so it serves the insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and American Medical Association more than it serves the citizens of the country. And the cost is so high that it threatens the entire economy. But millions more people will get health care, and that is a very positive thing.

Polls have shown for decades that people don't want their government to force them to help others through higher taxes. And polls have shown for decades that people do want widespread healthcare for their citizens. These are valid concerns. Our government should be set up to try to reflect the values of its citizens, rather than the wealthy and their party system.

Instead, with modern technology we could set up a government that looks for ways to reconcile the interests of its citizens and makes appropriate trade-offs. For example, it would be possible for government to have stopped the flow of money from increased productivity over the last 25 years from going almost exclusively to the wealthy. That means that every citizen would get approximately a 50% increase in their wages. That increase, in conjunction with fairer wages, could then be used by each person to pay for their own health care.

Some people would have problems that could not be covered by the increase in pay. They would die.

Some observers might claim that this is socialism (government control of labor and product markets), while others might claim that this is capitalistic (market for health care and market for labor), while others might claim that this is ungodly (intentionally setting up a system where some people will die due to lack of funds.) But this illustrates both "love your neighbor" and its respect for community values, and the trade-offs which should be made in such a context.

TonyD said...

All the prophets and saints would have qualified for medication.

I've found the concept of "proof" to be misunderstood. To the person who is experiencing revelation proofs may be offered. Those proofs may be well outside the bounds of understanding defined by the Gospels. Yet those same proofs are, generally, not offered to those who the prophet or saint is expected to interact with. I used to find this somewhat mystifying.

Instead, the prophet is expected to communicate at the level of understanding of others. And in the context of their beliefs. The prophet is expected to understand that "truth" and "justice" and their own understanding of greater truths exist in the context of "love your neighbor". I hope that those at Medjugorje figure this out before they cause harm. New saints and prophets, like others, have lessons to learn.

john konnor said...

bodies in heaven possess the aspect such that their form perfectly actualizes their potency …this means that in this way they are not subject to change(immutable)….from this we can continue…medjugorje and its visions can be refuted with some simple theology …and a bit of applied logic… try to set emotion aside for a scripture reveals…The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable, who can know it? ……Aug. 2, 1981: That evening during the apparition, those present followed one another in order to touch “the veil, the head, the hand, the dress” of the apparition. “At the end the Virgin seemed dirty, full of stains.” (Bubalo, p.73-74)
heresy-The soul is not defiled by inferior things, by their own power, as though they acted on the soul: on the contrary, the soul, by its own action, defiles itself, through cleaving to them inordinately, against the light of reason and of the Divine law.-thomas aquinas summa theologica….. since Mary is in heaven with a glorified body anything earthly could not defile her in any way… since she is glorified and impassable in heaven….. her nature is eternally configured it cannot be changed since she is one with God in heaven… anything attached to God cannot be altered in any way… God is immutable and so the things of heaven are since they are like him… this is also an apparition it is hard to believe that it has any temporal character namely that it is made of solid matter that can be touched….now it is “impossible” that the sins of humans can have any effect on the celestial body of Mary who is glorified and impassable in heaven…however the seers stated it was the people’s “sins” that sullied the Virgin’s veil… God will bring good out of bad… but the fallout from medjugorje will be tremendous after the vatican concurs with the local bishop that the visions are not from heaven….any good at this place stems from the sacraments of the church and any sincere prayer that has been made through people owing to their belief and faith in God …their only fault being invincible ignorance ortheir failure to properly research this place and placing some of their faith at the whims of either liars or seers who themselves are victims of some more veiled and sinister collusion….pray for me…as i will continue to pray for us all…God bless