Thursday, February 23, 2006

 

Touched by the Spirit of God, First in a Series

I am continuing with a testimony from Fr. Richard Beyer:

Selected Text from the Book Blessed Art Thou, By Fr. Richard J. Beyer

Father Richard J. Beyer is a priest and writer with first-hand knowledge of the healing power of God’s love. In his ministry to those recovering from substance abuse and other symptoms of “broken-ness” he introduces many who have known little human love to the love of Our Eternal Father expressed through divine revelations in classical works of mystical spirituality such as God Calling (A.J.Russell, ed.), and He and I, by Gabriel Bossis.

Possibly the most intimate and moving messages given byChrist and his Mother in recent times have been received byVassula Ryden, a fifty-three-year-old wife and mother livingin Switzerland.

I have never encountered messages that radiate the warmth, love, and even the pain of Christ as these do. Their power to move the heart and awaken the soul speaks of the immense grace they carry, far beyond the power of words.

“I come,” the Lord said, “to refresh all that has already been taught by Me. My message is one of peace and love. I come to show this world My mercy.” He is also affected by the corruptand immoral society of today, “Your era has lost all spiritual values. The world has incessantly been offending Me, and I, for my part, have incessantly been reminding them of my existence and of how I love them.” And divine love, of course, is the core of the messages just as it is the essence of God Himself. “I love you to a degree you are unable to grasp... I, God, love you to distraction.” This is the major emphasis of the revelations. Elsewhere the Lord states, “The weaker and more wretched you are, the more I seek you and love you.” And concluding many messages are the words, “Love loves you.”

Other messages speak of the profound vulnerability of God, a far cry from the theologies of a disengaged God, or an Un-moved Mover:

You come to me, my Vassula, yet you are not telling me what is in your heart. I feel your heart, Vassula; it is laden with sorrow and pain. Do you want to know why? I will tell you why: it is because Love suffers. When I suffer, you suffer too. I have given you the grace of synchronizing with Me at all times. You are My reflection. What I feel, you feel—I am letting you feel Me. Souls are piercing me anew.”

On January 6, 1988, Vassula transcribed this dialogue:

Vassula: Jesus, is your own glorified Body touched by suffering? Aren’t you and our Holy Mother beyond personal suffering now in heaven?

Christ: Vassula, I have no physical body [Christ has a glorified body], I am Spirit. Since I am Spirit I have no physical pain, but my soul suffers intolerably, as well as the soul of your Holy Mother, when we see our children heading straight into Satan’s traps.

Vassula: But Lord, do you also suffer when I suffer, for example, if one accuses me unjustly, would you suffer?

Christ: If you are accused wrongly, I suffer for both—for the accuser and the accused. Injustice comes from Satan, and since it comes from him it signifies that the accuser has been manipulated by Satan; as for the accused, my heart pains for the victim. I have my words in the Holy Bible; I am glorified, but since I am united to you, I feel all that you feel.

As a priest and spiritual writer, my personal judgment is that the revelations of Christ and Our Lady through Vassula are an extraordinary treasure of grace for this generation as it approaches the second millennium. “I tell you solemnly,” theLord has said to Vassula, “that I shall keep spreading my HolySpirit on your sons and daughters as has never happened among many generations, to nourish you from my own hand.” I have used the messages in my morning prayer, soon after awakening. As I slowly read along, I pause whenever I am struck by a particular phrase or image, closing my eyes and allowing it to fully penetrate. Sometimes I don’t get through one paragraph in half an hour, but that is not the point. It’s in reflection that grace nourishes the soul, which is the entire purpose of the revelations. In this case, do not read to know, so much as to feel. Of course any time of day is suitable for meditation, but I find that my mind is less cluttered in the early morning or late at night. I might add that this method of reflective prayer is also a key to discerning the messages of other apparitions. In a way it allows the Holy Spririt to do the discerning.

The full article can be read in the book entitled Touched by the Spirit of God, Insights into "True Life in God", ISBN No. 1-883225-21-3.

Monday, February 06, 2006

 

Vassula and the CDF

In the second book in the series, Touched by the Spirit of God, Fr. Edward D. O.Connor, CSC, teacher of Theology at Notre Dame for 41 years, provides a reliable analysis of the Notification by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dated October 1995.

Fr. O’connor, makes several comments regarding the Notification by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF):

Episcopal Support for Vassula

Whatever authority be attributed to this Notification, it is counterbalanced to a serious degree by that of the bishops who have spoken favorably of Vassula, in some cases even after the Notification. It would be a great misconception to think that the CDF represents ‘Rome” (or even of the Pope) in a particular locality. Bishops are the ordinary pastors and teachers of the church, instituted for this responsibility by Christ himself. The CDF is a commission set up by the papacy to aid in the role of supervising the teaching going on in the Church. Just how the authority of the bishops relates to that of the CDF is difficult to define; it may not be at all susceptible of a simple formulation. No doubt, the CDF, being composed of professional theologians specializing in doctrinal issues, has a competence in judging theological issued that few bishops could match. On the other hand, bishops are by and large better placed to appraise the fruits of a particular work; and this is crucial for evaluating someone like Vassula. Thus, someone who believes in Vassula cannot be accused in standing against the teaching authority of the Church as represented by the CDF; he is following the lead of bishops who have been commissioned to make just such a judgment.

Errors about the Trinity

Let us take up now the particular errors which the Notification attributes to Vassula’s writings. The first consists of “ambiguous language in speaking of the persons of the Holy Trinity, to the point of confusing the specific names and functions of the Divine Persons.” The document does not offer any examples of this ambiguous language; however, a lengthy study by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., two years prior to the Notification, made a similar criticism [“Critique of a visionary”, Catholic Twin Circle, 8/1,8 and 15 1993]. Perhaps the CDF relied on his work; in any case, the instances given by Fr. Pacwa can serve as plausible examples of what the Congregation may have in mind.

Fr. Pacwa cites as heretical the statements Vassula attributes to Jesus, “The Father and I are one and the same,” and “the Holy Spirit and I are one and the same.” He calls attention to a text in which Jesus tells Vassula that she can call him Father, and concludes that she is confusing the first and second persons of the Blessed Trinity. But since Vassula’s writings on the whole clearly differentiate between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, as Fr. Pacwa himself acknowledges, the text just cited should not be understood as denying the distinction of the divine persons, but simply as insisting on their unity.

In one of here earliest messages, Vassula tells how Jesus asked her to “design how the Holy Trinity is.” She described having “a vision of one light. Then one light coming out then another one, making three.” She adds the comment, “When the Son is in the Father, then they are one. The Holy Trinity is ONE and the same. They can be 3, but all 3 can be one. Result, One God.” [TLIG message 11/4/87]. This is a faultless statement of the Trinitarian mystery, in the light of which other statements ought to be read [it also employs a metaphor that goes back to the Nicene Creed which declares that the Son came forth from the Father as “light from light .” this image has since become classic in Christian thought. For example, Symeon the Theologian, a Greek mystic who lived shortly before the great schism between the Orthodox and Roman churches, writes of “the One who was in the beginning, before all ages, begotten of the Father, and with the Spirit, God and word, triple in unity, but one light in the three. (hymn 12,14-18)].

A few months later came the sort of statement that disturbs critics. Jesus said to Vassula, “I your Holy Father love you I am the Holy Trinity, you have discerned well! write it “ Vassula herself added, “I discerned while Jesus was saying I am your Holy Father, a ‘triple’ Jesus, like those fancy pictures of one person but made as though they are 3, one coming out of the other, all similar and all 3 the same.” Jesus then continued, “I am the Holy Trinity, all in One.”

If you look just at the initial statement attributed to Jesus, you might wonder if he is not identifying himself with the Father and then with the entire Trinity. But when you read on, it is clear he is not. And the analogy of an image in triplicate is just as tolerable as the shamrock popularly attributed to St. Patrick.

….None of the inspired writers of Scripture were theologians in our sense (not even John, despite his nickname of “Theologos”). God chose weak and foolish messengers to carry his Gospel to the world and those messengers often used inept expressions for which we must be willing to make allowance if we are ever to hear what the Lord is telling us.

Fr. Pacwa is a very skilled exegete, and we are all indebted to him for a masterful expose of the errors of New Age religion [Catholics and the New Age, by Mitch Pacwa, S.J. Servant Publications, Ann Arbor, MI, 1992]. But he seems to have gone through the writings of Vassula the way some professors read examination papers, looking for errors and pouncing fiercely on the least inaccuracy. Would it not be more appropriate, when coming upon a questionable assertion, to stand back and ask in the light of the whole of her work, “What is this woman trying to say?”

More can be read in the book entitled Touched by the Spirit of God, Vassula and the CDF, ISBN No. 1-883225-25-6.

Friday, February 03, 2006

 

Testimony from Rev. Ljudevit Rupcic, OFM

Significance of the Messages Given Through Vassula

By Rev. Ljudevit Rupcic, OFM, Theologian, Professor of Exegesis, Author, Zurich, Switzerland

Father Rupcic is well known to many Medjugorje pilgrims for his invaluable insights into Marian apparitions that have occurred throughout Church history.


The life of Vassula Ryden, her experiences, and efforts to spread the message of Jesus constitute a particular phenomenon, the cause, consequence, and true meaning of which are not yet fully recognized.

Vassula Ryden sees interiorly and receives messages from God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary, and angels. Her experience differs from numerous other experiences throughout salvation history only in the method by which she receives these revelations. The Bible, after all, is replete with messages from God the Father, Jesus and others to people on earth. This has certainly continued beyond Biblical revelation to the times in which we live.

Vassula’s phenomenon has its historical, religious, theological, and salvific contexts which make it more easily comprehensible. In this context, we can see how this phenomenon not only fits into a historical and religious reality but is also deeply rooted as a logical continuation of God’s redeeming efforts throughout history.

Authentic divine revelations must not be discounted or ignored on the grounds of being non-Biblical. Nor should anyone, if God chooses to speak, respond: “This is not my concern.” This would be the attitude toward God of a non-believer. Authentic apparitions or mystical phenomenon, even if they are without verbal messages, as at Knock in Ireland – always confide revelations. They are an unearned gift from God for the good of the Church, the whole world, and for all souls. Apparitions always fit into an historical context, bearing a relation to particular circumstances of the time and to the needs of the people touched by these graces.

The dialogue between God and man in the last 150 years has intensified in relation to the historical and religious situation. Vassula is a living witness that this dialogue still continues today. Her writings are the newest evidence of this, and in them God follows the logic of salvation with stress on priorities specific to our time. From Vassula’s notes it is easy to see that the Savior of the world is at work extraordinarily in man. From the messages it is also clear that the trends and development of our time have doubtless hastened the day of Christ’s coming and mankind must face that fact.

The full article can be read in the book entitled Touched by the Spirit of God, Insights into "True Life in God", ISBN No. 1-883225-21-3.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

 

More Testimonies

Why do we Receive Private Revelation if we Already Have the Full Revelation Through Christ?

By Fr. Dr. Michael Kaszowski, teacher of theology at the Archdiocesan Seminary, Katowice, Poland

Prophecy in the form of private revelations helps us toward redemption and does not threaten the Holy Bible. On the contrary, private revelations encourage Bible reading, mediation, and deeper understanding of Scripture. Private revelations would not be authentic if they resulted in displacing Bible reading. Authentic private revelations lead to hunger for God’s Word.

Those unwilling to accept private revelations certainly would not reject the need for sermons, conferences, or reading theology because there already exists one revelation, one Holy Scripture and the body of Church teaching. When we put the Holy Scripture as first and most important, we do not at the same time say that there is no value in sermons. We acknowledge that these do not contradict or substitute for the Holy Bible but deepen our appreciation of it.

No believer has to choose between accepting public or private revelations, just as the faithful need not choose between the Holy Bible, Tradition or the Magisterium of the church

There is no need to oppose those things that mutually enrich each other since they all have the same source: the Holy Spirit. “There are different kinds of service but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one of the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:4-7).

There is need for caution but it should foremost guard against errors, not prevent the authentic voice of the Lord being heard. When the Lord speaks, man should fall on his knees and listen and change his life. We must not be caught saying: “Why is God speaking now when He has already said everything I the past?”

A cautious person, as St. Paul says (Thes.5:19), will not put out the Spirit’s fire. We must not ignore the hand of God extended toward us nor His Mother’s for we would be wounding their love for us. We must not prevent others either from receiving the grace of God as Jesus himself warns saying: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the Kingdom of Heaven in men’s faces. You yourself do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

And what of the false prophets? The Holy Scripture warns us of false prophets.

But the same Holy Scripture announces the multitude of prophets (Acts 2:17-21) and, at the same time, opposition toward prophecy in the Church (Zech. 13:3-4).

There will, therefore, be authentic and false prophets. The authentic prophets will be persecuted (Luke 6:26). So, it will be necessary to thoroughly examine every prophet. Jesus gave us instructions how to recognize the genuine prophets, for His prophets will bring good fruit.

The history of the Church teaches us a wonderful lesson. Were the many schisms and errors perpetrated by private revelations or were they the creation of theologians basing their theories on their own ideas? We can equally ask today whether the current attitudes in the Church, such as questioning the authority of the Pope, rejecting the sacrament of reconciliation, rejecting adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, rejecting the Eucharist as the perpetual sacrifice, disappearance of the cult of Our Lady and other saints, are a result of private revelations or do they originate from other sources?

Private revelations today call for the return of all those traditions of the Church which somehow have been put aside. Isn’t the private revelation revealed to Vassula thus given in order to open our eyes?

The full article can be read in the book entitled Touched by the Spirit of God, Insights into "True Life in God", ISBN No. 1-883225-21-3.

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