Since we’ve been waxing apocalyptic here of late, it’s not at all surprising that certain private revelations have come up which warn of dire things to come in the immediate future. Foremost among these in the comment boxes has been “Maria Divine Mercy”, whose “messages” from on high can be found here.
I admit, I read with interest certain of her prophecies, particularly after she predicted the departure of Pope Benedict from the papal office a year in advance (and repeatedly so) and certain other messages that seemed interestingly timed, like warnings of coming earthquakes just a few days before LA, Yellowstone, Chile, Oklahoma, and others started experiencing earthquakes of and unusual seismic activity. There are things I can’t explain about these “messages”, things that were predicted which seem unlikely without foreknowledge of some kind.
And while most of the dozen or so I read seemed compatible with Catholic life, they almost always made me feel uneasy. I certainly have no authority to confirm them or, for that matter, to condemn them. Since I know it will come up, I’ll say this: I don’t discount them because of what they say about Pope Francis; he may not be the false prophet that MDM’s “messages” say he is, but he’s doing plenty of damage either way, and I am forced to admit that if he were revealed to be this “false prophet”, my most likely reaction would be, “Well, that explains some things.” Nor do I discount them because they claim that Pope Benedict was forced out of office. I’m afraid that that’s a possibility I haven’t yet been able to fully discount — and logic demands we admit that if he was coerced, he would hardly confess it when asked if whatever danger he had been threatened with still existed.
But this is all speculation. If we’re going to personally accept or reject private revelation that the Church has not yet spoken definitively on, it should be for more substantive reasons than things which can neither be proven or disproven within the contents of those “revelations”. There are certain aspects in some of the MDM messages which force me to conclude that they are most likely not genuine. The messages are supposed to be dictations from Mary, God the Father, and Jesus, but the messages themselves do not, in my opinion, reflect the sense of the way any of these heavenly figures would speak or have spoken (when taking other approved apparitions into account). Further, I find the messages like this deeply troubling, and entirely outside the realm of Catholic thought. My analysis is lifted directly from the comment boxes:
The big problem with that message … is this:
“Never interfere with the Power of the Holy Spirit for this is a very serious sin. In these messages the Voice of the Holy Spirit is being poured out to save mankind from eternal damnation. You may deny Me, your Jesus, or the Divine messages given to you by My Beloved Mother and you will be forgiven. For all of you have the right to discern such Holy Messages because of your gift of free will. However, when you reject the Holy Spirit and publicly blaspheme against it this is an eternal sin and only a miracle, sanctioned by God the Father, can save your soul.”
I have been skeptical since I first encountered the messages, but some of them confirmed my own suspicions or predicted things that seem impossible to have predicted. But it was when I read the words above that I felt strongly for the first time that these messages are fake. The Church never demands that we follow private revelation. Instead, she teaches:
“Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium[collective sense of the faithful] knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept ‘revelations’ that claim to surpass or correct the revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such ‘revelations’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 67).
God would never demand that people believe what the Church — to which He has given the power to “bind and loose” — does not compel them to believe. Nor would He say that those who are skeptical of private revelation are “blaspheming” against the Holy Spirit. This is a major red flag. First, because this is not the Church’s understanding of the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The Church believes (see Aquinas/Augustinehttp://www.newadvent.org/summa/3014.htm ) that the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is actually the act of “final impenitence” — namely, that a person has so cultivated a habit of malicious sin that he is unable to be repentant at the hour of death. It has also at times been understood to mean suicide, because again, final penitence for the mortal sin of taking one’s own life is impossible. (You could argue that these are both sins against hope, especially hope of eternal salvation, which is a virtue strongly associated with the Holy Spirit). Secondly, because this seeks to squash criticism or critical analysis of these private revelations. Truth bears every scrutiny and stands unscathed. Trying to create the fear of hell in those who might be critical of private, non-binding revelation is simply not in line with any Catholic conception of God. As much as there is something interesting happening here, I am growing very wary of it’s nature and source. That it could bear good fruit in your life may have nothing to do with the messages themselves and everything to do with God rewarding your faith in Him, even if these are not real messages *from* Him. He can certainly draw good from evil, so the experience you’ve had is not outside the realm of possibility.
Also germane to the discussion is something pointed out by a commenter named Tim, who says:
Visions are not like sacraments, which produce their effect by their own power (that is, the power of Christ working through them) in those who do not place an obstacle. One of the most approved series of visions are those of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. On one occasion, He had told her to do something, but her Superior did not approve. When He came again, she asked Him about this, and He replied: “Therefore not only do I desire that you should do what your Superior commands, but also that you should do nothing of all that I order without their consent. I love obedience, and without it no one can please me” (Autobiography of St. Margaret Mary # 47).” That’s quite a contrast from the “Jesus” of mdm who says” Obedience to Me at all times is expected of you.” (message of Oct. 13, 2011)
It always comes back to obedience. To the visible structure of the Church that God left us. We simply can’t trust any private revelation that seeks to circumvent or supersede the Church’s God-given authority.
I believe that it’s possible for the man everyone thinks is pope to not truly be pope, and thus give the appearance of promulgating error, but I also believe that the only man who has the authority to address or correct this would be a legitimate successor of Saint Peter — whether he says it from Rome or from a catacomb somewhere. We don’t know what will befall the Church before Christ comes again, but there’s enough biblical prophecy and approved private revelation out there telling us it may not be pretty that it’s not unreasonable to believe that it…may not be pretty.
I’m really not interested in starting a flame war in the comments, but I feel it’s important for me to address this issue since I brought it up by quoting Dr. Bowring’s work.
For the time being, I’m forced to conclude that Maria Divine Mercy’s messages — whether in their entirety or in part — should not be trusted. I’ll leave it to the Church to put the nail in that coffin or not.
UPDATE (4/16/2014): The Archbishop of Dublin has now released a statement condemning the messages of Maria Divine Mercy. You can read his statement here.
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.