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Medjugorje is generating what the Devil loves most: disobedience

St Bernadette lived a holy and humble life. I don’t think the same can be said for the Medjugorje seers

By on Friday, 11 February 2011

Pilgrims gather around a statue of Mary in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNS/Damir Sagolj, Reuters)

Pilgrims gather around a statue of Mary in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNS/Damir Sagolj, Reuters)

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. I have been to Lourdes on several occasions, largely drawn by the personality of St Bernadette herself. Being chosen by Our Lady as her messenger did not make Bernadette holy; it was how she lived her life afterwards, especially during the 13 years she spent at the convent in Nevers: often in pain, unable to take part in the regular life of the community because of her ill-health, lonely, isolated and constantly belittled by the mistress of novices, she nevertheless bore her crosses with exemplary patience.

St Bernadette has been on my mind ever since I got sent a YouTube film recently, advertising Medjugorje. J Edgar Hoover once said that the only certainties in life were death and taxes. I would add a third: controversy over Medjugorje. It seems that Catholics today are divided into two camps: you are either “for” Medjugorje or “against”. This, needless to say, has led to much unseemly in-fighting within the Church.

What annoyed me about the YouTube presentation (apart from the muzak and the hushed and reverential voice of the narrator) was its blatant way of referring to the alleged apparition as “Our Lady”, as if this were a foregone conclusion. It isn’t. I was further nettled by statements seeming to show that the late pope, John Paul II, as well as Mother Teresa, both “believed” in it, as if to demonstrate that the apparitions must be true, simply because of the witness of these two holy heavyweights.

I am not an expert on the subject of these alleged apparitions. But I have read enough of St John of the Cross to know what he means by “spiritual gluttony” in my encounters over the years with adherents of the place. One lady told me excitedly of her rosary turning to gold; another had been overwhelmed by watching the sun dance; a third became very angry very quickly when I expressed a little caution in my response to her assertion that Medjugorje only brought forth good fruits.

My own instinct is to think that Our Lady has not appeared thousands of times to the supposed seers, or given them dozens of different “secrets”. Nor do the seers themselves live lives like St Bernadette. Of course, you don’t have to be a saint to see Our Lady, as I said above; but there seems to be nothing humble, holy or hidden about the later lives of the Medjugorje “seers”.

Actually, what I think as a private person, or what the late pope wrote in a private letter to two friends who had sent him literature about Medjugorje, or indeed what the saintly Mother Teresa is said to have said, is neither here nor there; it is what the Church thinks that matters. What the Church thinks about alleged apparitions is left to the local Ordinary to investigate and pronounce.

Four years after the Lourdes apparitions of 1858, and after a lengthy investigation, the local bishop pronounced them authentic. In the case of Medjugorje, both Bishop Zanic of Mostar and his successor, Bishop Peric, fully investigated the phenomenon and decided that nothing supernatural was taking place. So why are bandwagons of pilgrims still going there? The answer probably lies in Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion by Donal Foley, available from Theotokos Books. Foley has his vociferous detractors, naturally enough, but he has done his homework and reading his book reinforced my own sceptical instincts. In particular, the scandalous behaviour he describes of some of the Franciscans closely associated with the place, seems shocking: Fr Slavko Barbaric, who died in 2000 and who I was told by one of the faithful at the time “has been taken by Our Lady straight to heaven”, had actually had his faculties for hearing confession withdrawn by Bishop Peric several months before his death; Fr Zovko, who was refused permission to celebrate Mass in Washington in 2002, had had his faculties also revoked; worst of all, Fr Tomislav Vlasic, deeply involved in the early years of Medjugorje, was laicised and dismissed from the Franciscan order very recently, in July 2009, for various misdemeanours including some against the Sixth Commandment.

Bishop Peric has spoken of other problems, apart from disobedient Franciscans: religious communities established without diocesan permission and ecclesiastical buildings erected without approval. What is going on? A sound Canadian priest once said to me, when I asked him about the “good fruits” of Medjugorje: “The Devil doesn’t mind a few thousand people becoming better Catholics after going there if, as a result, he’s got millions of Catholics being disobedient to the authority of the Church.”

Obedience is the issue. It’s what the Devil (you can’t get away from him – and my thanks to “paulpriest”, who pointed out at length to me after my last blog how very busy Old Nick is behind the scenes today) hates like poison. You can imagine Screwtape rubbing his hands with glee. St Bernadette was once asked what she feared most; her reply was: “Bad Catholics”.

  • Issuenite

    Ive been to medjugorje twice and even stayed with one of the visionaries in her home. And let me tell you, I saw nothing but humility and the love of God and Mary. Selfless sacrifice as marijana waited hand and foot on me her guest. Satan is not so dumb as to convert millions of people to Jesus as in medjugorje. Satan does not draw thousand upon thousands of people to mass and the confessional. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Yes, medjugorje is for real. The truth is in the message, pray, pray, pray!

    God bless you all!

  • Anonymous

    Medjugorje has a load of problems that I outlined in an earlier post.  The Church is studying and should make a decision this year.  I’ll spend my time going to the Church approved sites like Lourdes, Fatima or Our Lady of Good Hope in Wisconsin.  Until the Church rules I urge Caution. 

    Your right about 1 thing, the devil is not dumb and can create the appearance of great good.

  • Mbozzini

    im pretty sure mary and jesus are at the heart of medjugorje and everything else…

  • Maryschultznz

    Excuse me, what you have written is utter nonsense.  Blessed are those who believe in this Holy work of Heaven.  

  • jazzerb

    I struggle with my religion because I have suffered at the hands of evil,but those off you who think that the devil can manifest himself through our lady should consider their own faith

  • Queuejt61

    ‘Assisted in exorcism? ‘  you said, since when has satan tried to exorcise himself ?
    he does not, and will not.
    We judge a tree by its fruit. If the fruits of Medjugorje are chaos and destruction, then its from the devil. If it brings unbelievers to God, then be very careful before condemning it. You may be liable to blesphemy against the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of man to bring them to the Lord.

    As for ‘DISOBEDIENCE , Peter showed the way: ‘Whether its right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God…’

    If you walk with the Lord, then do what the Lord tells you – not any man.

  • http://revertconvert.blogspot.com/ Susiefromomaha

     @ Bwaj – Sure he would!  He is DECEPTION incarnate, and the FATHER of LIES and an angel of … LIGHT. He can disguise himself as anything or anyone! He appeared to St. Padre Pio as a bishop/priest…how hard is it for Satan to put on a female face?  He doesn’t mind a few deep and true conversions of the heart, as long as he can get a few more millions to fall into hell.

  • MICHAEL

    Is it better to believe and be wrong, or to not believe and be wrong? Why do you conspire against these marvellous works, weather or not they are ‘real’ is irrelevant when thousands of people are expressing their faith (where is the harm?) If you think this is ‘Devil’ innovated you may wish to think again, is it not written ‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.’ Disobedience to the church is not the the same thing as disobedience to the Catholic faith! you seem to be fascinated with the pain and discomfort the st.Bernadette suffered in her years after her apparitions, and therefore you assume or frown on the option that one cannot live a happy and fulfilled life after being visited by our lady. Is it an evil to believe in an apparition, perhaps in St. Bernadette’s reply of ‘bad Catholics’ she was referring to those who did not believe in these visions? 

  • Dmikem

    Michael,

    First, you ignore all of the negative fruits of Mejugorje of which there are many.  Lourdes and Fatima were judged  worthy of belief by the Church following exhaustive investigations.  I believe when they finish studying Mejugorje they will find against it.

    Second you err when you say that to disobey the Church is not the same thing as disobedience to the Catholic faith (Church).  Christ set forth the authority of the Church (cf. Luke 10:16).  The Magisterium of the Catholic Church was entrusted with the deposit of faith by Christ himself and that includes the interpretation of Scripture.  So if you choose to disobey the constant teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium you do so at great risk to your salvation.  If you choose to ignore dogma, Tradition (T) or infallible pronouncement of the Pope you again do so at great risk to your salvation.

  • Marina

    For anyone who cares, I am a practicing Catholic who has never been to Medjugorje.  I have relatives who live in Northern Croatia whom I visit with friends from Britain from time to time.  My friends from the USA have put me off going by their cult like insistence that unless one goes to Medjugorje  one is not saved!  I have been to Lourdes and would like to go back to volunteer there, however that does not count for these people!  Their prayer groups are only for people who have gone or have paid money to visit Medjugore with the group!  It reminds me of Amway!  These people in the prayer groups visit 5 to 6 times a year and then tell me my faith is not strong because I will not spend money I do not have!  When I told a few priests connected with Pilgrimages to the site that I was being Obedient to the Authority of the Catholic Church by waiting to visit, I was told I was under a demonic attack! 

  • Dmikem

    Marina,

    If you spend much time on the Internet I’m sure you have received a religious email from a friend that says that you must must forward it to 12 friends immediately or suffer some kind of punishment.  The mail usually offers examples of dreadful things that has happened to those that did not forward it.  Some lost their job or a family member died or some other horrible thing happened to them. I recently received such an email from a friend.  I responded to her and simply asked, ‘Do you actually believe that God would approved of this email’?  Since when does God interfere with free will by punishing someone for not doing something!  She wrote back and said, WOW….I never thought of it that way.  From now on she and I may forward a religious email but we will first delete the nonsensical threat that a person will be punished for not sending it on.

    You so-called friends unkind and wrongheaded warnings that faith is weak or you cannot be saved because you haven’t travelled to Medjugoje is put BUNK!  This is not from Christ!  Keep in mind that it was Christ Himself that warned us not to be judgmental.  In Mt 7:1, “[1] Judge not, that you may not be judged,  For with what judgment
    you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be
    measured to you again. [3]
    And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye; and seest not the beam
    that is in thy own eye? [4] Or how sayest thou to thy
    brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own
    eye? [5] Thou hypocrite,
    cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the
    mote out of thy brother’s eye.  Their jugmentalism and cult like behavior should be a warning to you to stay away from them…pity them and pray for them.

    Medjugorje is riddled with problems.  Some of the so-called seers have been caught in lies.  Some have encouraged disobedience to their local ordinary.  None have been called to religious life.  There have been no miracles in spite of their many predictions.  The founding priest was defrocked after making a nun pregnant.  Seers have gone on TV or YouTube and as soon as the camera began to role they when into ecstacy (apparently the Blessed Mother is at their beck and call).  Their messages are empty; they are just light religious messages to love God, love one another…..bla bla bla….no prophecies, no warnings, no requests…things common to all other apparitions e.g. Fatima, Lourdes, Akita….. 

    I personally believe that Medjugorje is a fraud but, like yourself, will await the Church’s finding.  People who are trying to browbeat you into going to Medjugorje and call your faith and salvation into question are the ones in trouble….DON’T let them pressure you.

  • Johnkonnor72

    Thank God for articles such as this… i am a moderator on a popular catholic chat and i am amazed how good people are led astray … medjugorje is definately a brand of new age pluralism  whereby adherents relinquish the powers of their reason to the lower appetites associated with emotion… once they are in this state  it seems everything gets turned upside down…they think with their emotions instead of their cognitive reasoning…. certitude  of faith  based on God’s revelation from the universal magisterium and scripture and tradition , gets replaced by presumption based on subjectivism and the fidelity to love of the law is replaced with obstinancy and inordinate self love… whenever you test the spirits of some of these adherents they either explode in rage or they resort to detraction on your character as a favourite offense … its all emotion and no logic….it is not this way with all medjugorje people  but many…i mean this is obviously contrary to the gospel where the apostle states that love is longsuffering and patient and endures all things …. medeival exorcists used many epithets for satan and one was “pistor” or baker of hell  and that is just what he does he cooks up a cauldron of  division through disobedience which tastes sweet in outward appearances it is appealing to the flesh and the lower appetites but not the spirit….since true union with God transcends the senses since God is transcendent we cant feel him per se…  the devil also does his work in a counterfeit way just like in the garden or as in revelation where the angel with  book was showing what happens when we desire things of a mystical nature (things we dont understand)…the book was sweet but when it was swallowed by John it became bitter…. eventually thiings will turn bitter for medjugorje as well when the vatican  concurs with the bishop that nothing supernatural is happening… the sad thing is many of these people have wandered in error so long that they will certainly be in denial and it will take time for medjugorje to go away… a long time….  thanks again for your wonderful article

  • Dmikem

    Great post.  I know many who have taken in my Medjugorje in spite of its many problems.  When I suggest that that hold on to hear what the Church has to say about it they get miffed and explain the wonderful experience going to Medjugorje was, how they were overwhelmed with the spirit while there.  When I suggest that the great deceiver is capable of producing kind of experiences and feelings they retreat to their emotional ties and lash out or become dismissive.
     
    I quit going to my local parish because there is a great liberal bias among the lay staff.  Not only do they promote Medjugorje, they promote Anne, the lay apostle and the reading list for the women’s club promotes heretical books like “The Shack”.  It’s a shame really and I agree it will take a long, long, long time for the effects of Medjugorje to be recognized for what it is.

  • Johnkonnor72

    It is better to not
    beleive and be wrong… since by believing and being wrong you establish
    yourself as an authority over and above thchurch since the church has  not endorsed the alleged appartion… you open
    yourself to all sorts of dubious doctrine and run the risk of relying upon the
    things seen and replacing them with a pure faith that relies on the darkness of
    spiritual light… it is a dark light since it is untenable by the intellect
    alone .. it relies on God’s revelation through scripture , tradition and the extraordinary
    universal magisterium not what any seer claims…. at the beginning the
    apparition openly rebelled against the pope and the bishop claiming that the
    suspended Franciscans may exercise their suspended faculties as priests
    contrary to what the pope had decided…. if we do not believe and it is wrong
    we lose nothing since all revelation necessary for salvation ended with the
    death of the last apostle… we are not obliged to believe in any private
    revelation although we may err in prudence if the Vatican approves any of these
    revelations however it is no sin… on the contrary it is a sin to oppose the
    bishops who have been appointed by the Vatican… By opposing the bishop you
    oppose Christ and you divide the church since the church is the mystical body
    of Christ and the bishops are the rightful succesors to the apostles… true
    the local ordinary on his own is not infallible… however we do owe him practical
    obedience … just like in the false apparition of Palmar the apparition openly
    defied the requests of the bishop … now the palmarian church complete with a
    false antipope has risen… this is the fruit of disobedience… true some
    people will emerge from medjugorje with a sound conversion however the fruit of
    disobedience is a huge obex to grace… as john paul 2 said… ‘Cut off
    from the Bishops, not even devotion to the Eucharist itself can unite the
    faithful to the Mystical Body of Christ.’ [Pope John Paul II,
    Ecclesia de Eucharistia 2003, Chap 4, part 39]

  • Dmikem

    Michael,

    You are badly misguided.  No it is not better to believe and be wrong.  You dismiss the Church like it doesn’t matter.  Let me remind you…Christ founded the Church.  Disobedience to the teachings of the Church is the same thing as disobedience to the faith because Jesus appointed the Church as his teaching arm.

    Perhaps you should look to the many, many problems associated with Medjugorje…there is no shortage.

    You reference to St. Bernadette is simply not relevant.

  • Johnkonnor72

    in order to discern the veracity of the messages you have to analyze “ALL” of them not just the ones that appeal to our subjective sense of what is right… it is this way if you take  a few drops of arsenic and infuse them into a cup of water you need to throw the whole cup of water away because it is tainted ….  there are also messages which promote disobedience to the pope as well that detract from the character of the bishop saying he is a man with no love of God in his heart…. mary is also  alleged to have told the pope that he can do as he wants..yet the alleged apparition allows the suspended franciscans to exercise their suspended faculties as priests..which is indeed contrary to the decree of the pope… Mary can’t possibly say this… remember whatever the apostles biind on earth will be bound in heaven… Mary can’t change the prerogatives of the pope after he has made a decree … church authority has already made a declaration stating the apparitions are not of supernatural origin… how many times do they have to tell us this?   

  • Susiefromomaha

    ‘An intellect that does not control the senses will
    fall into evil because of them: deceived by the pleasure of sense
    objects, it depraves itself.’
    St. Thalassios the LibyanI’m not saying “all” who go to Medj. are falling into evil, but there are many who are/have. I do believe that. It’s all so ‘emotional’ and sensory, very feelings-oriented, i.e. Protestant-like, talking with some I know, personally, who have gone there, multiple times.  Not many have been very “Marian” with regard to gentleness either. Some are quiet, and don’t push it, but most are not, and that’s quite sad, actually.  I do find it is mostly the women who’ve gone there that are so pushy about it, and so defensive and rude if you express some doubt, not the men. Hm. Interesting observation, eh?  Eve was the first to disobey and eat the fruit. Hm.The “decision” we’re to get this month can’t come soon enough, imo.  +PAX+
     

  • Johnkonnor72

    As john of the cross
    said in his famous poem the ascent of mount carmel…he was able to go out from
    his house(soul) because all(the senses) within were asleep… so too with the
    bible passage…if therefore they(your desires) shall say to you;behold he is
    in the desert(the inner part of human where as a result of our fallen nature
    all the lower appetites contend for supremecy) go ye not out, (meaning go not
    out of your faith as established by the grace of God, do not go out of the
    church)…behold he is in the inner chambers (meaning the imagination and the
    memory the faculties that are separated from reality) believe it not….as well
    a great theologian said… “Some
    people want to look upon God with their eyes, as they look upon a cow, and want
    to love God as they love a cow. Thus they love God for the sake of external
    riches and of internal solace; but these people do not love God aright …
    Foolish people deem that they should look upon God as though He stood there and
    they here. It is not thus. God and I are one in the act of knowing”

    …meaning the kingdom
    of God is within… God speaks to us not through the intellect or the will or
    the senses… his grace works on the secret part of the soul that is made in
    his image if God spoke to us through the senses of the intellect then these faculties
    would have to transcend themselves it is not this way…. as Christians our
    life is a way of the cross… to love God for consolations and good feelings is
    wrong… if we attend the sacraments with the intention of having God be a drug
    for us where we take him in to feel good then when we have periods of dryness
    we will associate that with lack of God but that is wrong God never leaves us
    only when we sin does he do this(it is us who drive him out) he never wants to
    leave… otherwise he is close… just outside the door… anyway thanks for
    the posts and hope all turns out well as it will because God will bring good
    out of bad… remember no obedience no virtue, no virtue no good, no good no
    God…. God bless

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