Faith in the Holy Spirit

Faith in the Holy Spirit

Last Tuesday, Archbishop Hart sent a letter to Melbourne parishes, warning against the Maria Divine Mercy messages I’ve previously blogged about.

The action elicited a surprisingly global response online. I think this is the first time Archbishop Hart has made headlines at Spirit Daily. The response in other quarters has been less edifying, and I won’t reproduce or link to them here.

The incident has revealed to me just how quickly and deeply the MDM messages have penetrated. I’ve exchanged e-mails and messages with many devotees — good, faithful Catholics with active prayer lives — who are honestly mystified that their family and friends are dubious of the messages, and object to bishops’ expressing their opinion on the matter.

I’ve heard it again and again. “The Archbishop has no right to condemn these messages.” “If the Archbishop must speak, he should state his opinion only, not impose his will.” “The Archbishop of Melbourne is outranked by Jesus, so we must ignore him.”

I’m mystified myself. These aren’t like other apocalyptic revelations. They explicitly reject the reigning pontiff. In this, they are categorically different to Garabandal, Međugorje and other disputed apparitions. There’s not a bishop in the world who wouldn’t instinctively object to them, and it’s easy to see why Archbishop Hart acted as he has.

Even if these messages are true, and Francis really is an anti-pope who has usurped Benedict, it’s unconscionable that Our Lord would want us to disobey and malign bishops when they are exercising their legitimate authority. That’s not how the Catholic Church works. It’s not how our Lord works!

There are many reasons for losing faith in the Church. The apostasy of recent decades. The evil inflicted on children. The consequent cover-up. The hypocrisy of church leaders.

But loss of faith in the Church is a temptation we must resist. To lose faith in the Church, I think, is to lose faith in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the Church’s “guarantor.”

It simply isn’t coherent for a Catholic to confess faith in Jesus while abandoning faith in the Church. When a person does this, they cease to be Catholic and instead become Protestant — not in the historical sense of the word, but in its literal sense.

As always, GKC says it better than I can:

chesterton-catholic

I don’t ask MDM devotees to reject her messages. I ask them to discern prudently, mindful of the Church’s teaching authority. Authority invested by Christ, and manifested by the Holy Spirit. That means obeying legitimate episcopal authority — a leap of faith in the Holy Spirit — even while believing that MDM’s messages are authentic.

Incidentally, St John of the Cross, one of the Church’s greatest mystics, relates this counter-intuitive advice to anyone who discerns that visions are impacting their prayer life — for better or worse:

It is always well, then, that the soul should reject [visions], and close its eyes to them, whencesoever they come. For, unless it does so, it will prepare the way for those things that come from the devil, and will give him such influence that, not only will his visions come in place of God’s, but his visions will begin to increase, and those of God to cease, in such manner that the devil will have all the power and God will have none.

So it has happened to many incautious and ignorant souls, who rely on these things to such an extent that many of them have found it hard to return to God in purity of faith; and many have been unable to return, so securely has the devil rooted himself in them; for which reason it is well to resist and reject them all.

For, by the rejection of evil visions, the errors of the devil are avoided, and by the rejection of good visions no hindrance is offered to faith and the spirit harvests the fruit of them.

It is clear, then, that these sensual apprehensions and visions cannot be a means to union, since they bear no proportion to God; and this was one of the reasons why Christ desired that the Magdalene and Saint Thomas should not touch Him. And so the devil rejoices greatly when a soul desires to receive revelations, and when he sees it inclined to them, for he has then a great occasion and opportunity to insinuate errors and, in so far as he is able, to derogate from faith; for, as I have said, he renders the soul that desires them very gross, and at times even leads it into many temptations and unseemly ways.

This quote from St John of the Cross contains a translators’ error. An amended version is available on a later post.

29 Comments

  1. Michael
    May 21, 2013

    Hi Father. Great blog and post.

    I have a question concerning Fatima. I myself am a faithful and orthodox Catholic.

    I’ve been studying Fatima lately and I’ve come to learn that there is some controversy over (i) the consecration of Russia and (ii) the third secret.

    I don’t know enough to have any decent view of my own. However I came to the conclusion that I would follow what the Vatican has been saying and if any wrongdoing has occured the fault will rest with those in charge and not myself who is not smart enough to figure out what is true and what is false.

    What is your view on the matter. Has the consecration of Russia been validly preformed? Fr. Gruner and his apostolate say no, and promote a view that apparently we dont have to accept what some in the Vatican have said on this matter and that many priests and bishops do not believe the consecration has been done.

    Do you have any views on the matter?

    • Fr John
      May 21, 2013

      What I really wonder about is Pope John’s decision not to release the Third Secret in 1960. Wasn’t that the timeframe requested by Our Lady? And then two of his successors — maybe more — perpetuated his decision.

      I wonder, but I don’t worry. That’s the Pope’s concern, not mine.

      I might have had views once, when I used to read a lot about this sort of stuff — long before I was in the seminary — but eventually I realised that my interest in the apocalyptic was only distracting me from the essence of these messages: prayer and sanctification. These days, I focus on prayer and sanctification to the exclusion of prophecies and warnings. (With only marginally better results, perhaps, but that’s a different story. Ha ha.)

      • Michael
        May 21, 2013

        agreed. does it ever still bother you? if you are 28 are you too long to join the seminary?

      • Michael
        May 21, 2013

        *old

  2. Joel
    May 21, 2013

    Excellent post my good man.

    • Cathy
      May 21, 2013

      This comment has been removed.

      Fr John.

      • Joel
        May 21, 2013

        That’s an excellent question. I’ll take it to prayer.

  3. Adrinan Mannix
    May 21, 2013

    Hi there. this should answer all your questions about fatima:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gYE5TyijxE

    As MuMu warns, this video has nothing to Fatima. It doesn’t have much to do with anything really. You can still watch it. It’s harmless enough.

    Fr John.

    • MuMu
      May 21, 2013

      Don’t bother, folks. It’s a hijack. Nothing to do with Fatima.
      The Content of the Third Secret and its interpretation by Cardinal Ratzinger (as was) is on the Vatican website. No mystery, no deceptions and Fr John, I believe it was up to the pope when to reveal the secret – no constraints put on its publication by Our Lady. Gruner has had his faculties removed. Priestly ones, I mean.

      • Michael
        May 21, 2013

        Interesting. His website says Gruner still has faculties in Hydrobad.

        MuMu lol is that your real name? Are you from Fr. John’s actual parish? Im from New York btw.

  4. Cathy
    May 21, 2013

    Somebody has stolen my screen name posting things I do not say, Father John will see to it, I feel I have been deliberately targeted in a very malicious way. I would never use language like that!

    • Michael
      May 21, 2013

      Sorry Cathy, but why would people target you? I think thats very random since you are not the topic of any comments or even the blog?

      • Cathy
        May 21, 2013

        This comment has been removed. The author has, indeed, usurped another commenter’s identity as her own.

        Fr John.

    • MuMu
      May 22, 2013

      I hope everyone else realised straight away that the foul-mouthed “Cathy” wasn’t you, Cathy. Fr John’s excellent blog, proves the aphorism “No good deed goes unpunished”.!

    • Joel
      May 25, 2013

      Cathy – I notice you distance yourself from the language used but not the sentiments of the message. Oh well.

  5. Michael
    May 21, 2013

    Ok, I think at least from my end this conversation is ended. I’m sorry if I offended you Cathy, and I will pray for you. Ave.

    • MuMu
      May 22, 2013

      Michael, to respond to your earlier queries; I’m not in Fr John’s parish, but our paths cross frequently. MuMu not real name (in the 60s a billowing long, loudly patterned sundress called a mumu was briefly in fashion. I never wore one…)

      There’s plenty of evidence on the net about Gruner, who seems to have wanted to sabotage the true Fatima Message by using the old trick of divide and conquer (setting the apparition at loggerheads with the pope or the bishops) but this piece by famous apparition inquisitor Rick Salbato is also colourful and entertaining to read.

      It’s my opinion that most of the alleged Marian apparitions since Fatima serve to supersede, discredit and outdate the genuine messages as they have great import for the whole world and the devil wants Fatima forgotten.

      http://www.unitypublishing.com/Apparitions/FATHER%20NICHOLAS%20GRUNER.html

      • Michael
        May 22, 2013

        Are you a religious or lay person MuMu?

  6. Florence
    May 23, 2013

    Fr John, I think people should be very cautious is speaking negatively about our present pope. We can make a note of prophecies and every prophecy should be tested. Our Pope Francis I personally consider to be a good pope. He is encouraging the faithful to spread the Good News. He is urging the faithful to profess Jesus Christ as Our Lord and Saviour. It is our duty to pray for both our popes. At every Mass, we pray for Pope Francis. We cannot disconnect the Holy Catholic Church from THE HOLY SPIRIT. Let us Trust Our Triune God and let us be faithful to both Popes. The faith of the Faithful will defeat The evil. Good has always triumphed and Our God has triumphed over evil. Let us be Obedient to Our God and to Our Pope.

  7. Lovey
    Jun 3, 2013

    Fr. John, I agree that the MDM messages have some sort of strange “hold” on the believers unlike other messages. Even when I point out that there are numerous contradictions in the messages, or that my Jesus would never say things like, “You will crawl on your stomachs and scream out for Me. You, who blasphemed against Me, will want to cut out your tongues…”, or that God wouldn’t call the Pope the “imposter” or the “false prophet”, it falls on deaf ears and riles the believer. I’ve actually been told that the church has been hijacked and we have to listen directly to Jesus now through these messages in order to save the church. The followers believe they are the “remnant army” that will keep the church teachings safe.

    All I can do is pray. Words don’t seem to work on the MDM spell.

    miraculousrosary.blogspot.com

    • MuMu
      Jun 4, 2013

      MDM has exactly the same kind of hold on people that Medjugaga, Garabandal, Poem of the Man-God, etc etc etc, Lovey.

      But your analysis of the problem is spot on, I agree –so easy for the cunning devil to sabotage the lawful authority of the Church in the office of the bishop by saying things like “A third of Cardinals, bishops and priests are falling into hell and taking many faithful with them…” (“Our Lady” of Garabandal). The fact that most of these predictions have failed to materialise doesn’t bother its adherents.

      Priests don’t help by refusing to speak out on this dismal phenomenon, adopting the attitude that the beliefs of the afflicted are somehow akin to a beautiful pet rattlesnake which will suddenly rise up and strike if it hears the words “unapproved”, “Not consistent with Church teaching” and – best of all – “authority of the local bishop on the matter”.

      As for the “Warning” (Garabandal and other frauds), it’s an insult to the Mercy of God, as it means an instant and complete illumination of conscience, which would kill the vast majority of us on the spot.

      The Cure of Ars asked the Lord for such an illumination of the state of his soul. The Lord complied, and Vianney promptly despaired, begging God to make him forget what he had been shown.

      The people these apparitions depict are largely threatening or saccharine, terrifying or banal. It’s logical to conclude that in swallowing the predictions, prophesies, etc, the afflicted loses her/his true sensis fidae, which I reckon is a very serious matter.

      What happens when they die? Do the Ladies of Medjugaga, Garabandal, etc, appear and lead them to …?

      Terrible thought.

      • Fr John
        Jun 4, 2013

        I have to disagree with you there MuMu. I think MDM belongs in a different category to the other private revelations you mention.

        That’s not a comment on their authenticity. I’ll leave that to the teaching authority of the Church. But I’ve never seen anything like the reaction MDM is eliciting.

      • jeff
        Jun 5, 2013

        Mu Mu,

        I am not sure of “what Hold” you are referring to with MDM, and obvious flaws?

        I cannot speak for anyone other than myself. MDM is either the final messenger sent by God, or a person with serious mental problems. It has to be one or the other. In either case, shouldn’t we pray for this person?

        Remember what happended to all of God’s prophets from the Old testament? What happended when God sent his only Son? The world’s hearts have grown cold just like in history.

        I would look into the prophecies given to The St. Francis of Assisi before I would make any judgements on MDM. Also, read about Our Lady of La Salette, Venerable Bernard De Bustis, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, Blessed Maria Taigii.

        We can be fairly certain about Medjgorge after E. Michael Jones’s thorough invetstigation. That was all about money!

        Pray for The Church. there is much corruption at its core!

  8. MuMu
    Jun 4, 2013

    Father John. You are right.

    Having secured millions of Catholics, the false apparition industry must become more bold, more outrageous, more incredible — or people will get bored. It’s really just more of the same (if you can be bothered trawling through all the bilge of unapproved whatsits) but like pornography, has to intensify to satisfy.

    “There was an old lady (well, millions, actually, if we use this nursery rhyme to illustrate how those gullible travellers hang on the words of the latest prophets ) who swallowed a fly.. then a frog… a cat ……a dog … and (eventually) a horse…
    Of course!”

    We have the modernists on one side of us, the schismatics on the other and the signs and wonders addicts in the middle. Above them all is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church with Francis the Great at the tiller!

    • Cathy
      Jun 4, 2013

      Mumu,
      did you know that there were many people who condemned Fatima at the time, but had to bite their tounge when it was approved? Some private revelations are easier to investigate than others, I agree that MDM has some pretty obvious flaws, and this should be easy for Church Authority as it is very transparent and cannot be backed with scripture and Church Teaching. I know many people who have condemnded the Beatification of Pope John Paul II because they have disagreed with some things he did during his pontificate, however he is Beatified and hopefully soon one day be Canonised regardless of their opinion. Another is people scoffing and not wanting to have anything to do withe the Luminous mysteries of the Rosary when they were introduced. People claimed that these were not given to St Dominic so they will not say them, because it is new they are sceptical, but give it a few centuries and it will become commonplace. The bottom line is that the Church has the Authority and guidance of the Holy Spirit in such matters and we should remain prudent and obedient to its final decisions regarding such matters.

  9. MuMu
    Jun 5, 2013

    Agreed, Cathy, the authority regarding these things is indeed the Church – but most people attached to these things rely on anecdotes to authenticate their pet vision: i.e. someone allegedly witnessed John Paul 11’s reaction to a question about Medjugorje and he allegedly wagged his head vigorously, smiled beatifically and said “Ahhhh! Medjugorje! Medjugorje!” This is what passes as papal approval for some.

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19780225_norme-apparizioni_en.html

    The link above is the Holy See’s published norms concerning discernment. You will notice several significant sentences regarding the authority of the local bishop.

    It’s common sense to confine devotion to the tried, true and major revelations which are safely embedded in the Church calendar: Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe. When private revelation is not part of the deposit of faith, who among us has the time to spend on these things instead of studying, for instance, the Catechism?

    Not I.
    No more on the subject from me.

  10. Cheryl Dickow
    Jul 6, 2013

    I recently read a book which relied heavily on the MDM messages: The Great Battle Has Begun. I found the author to be a very devout man and your readers may enjoy his responses to my questions about MDM.

    http://bezalelbooks.blogspot.com/

    • Fr John
      Jul 7, 2013

      Thanks Cheryl! I’ll look it up.

    • Cathy
      Jul 7, 2013

      Cheryl, I have read your link however I do Believe the Bishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane words regarding this MDM were that the messages were not to be taken seriously, discussed or distributed in the diocese of Brisbane.
      Bishop Denis Hart also has said that any leaflets or messages regarding MDM are to be disposed of in the diocese Melbourne, the Bishops do and have Jurisdiction to do this.
      Several other Bishops around the world have also stated similar messages.