Has It Been Approved?


Has It Been Approved?

This is a popular question these days as relates to private revelation. We hear it often in this mission. It is a valid question but it is most often misguided.

It is a misconception that approvals are necessary if a Catholic is to believe in a private revelation, which is simply not true. Another misconception is that it is unwise to believe in private revelation not approved by the local bishop. The Church does not teach that.

If one sets the limit on God that he or she will only believe in “approved” apparitions, then that person is left with little else than Fatima and the like. That is a problem since private revelation is very time sensitive. Our Lady of Fatima, for example, was addressing the world of 1917, not the world of 2020… Things were comparatively good back then. Heaven has a lot to say to the current situation. If you wait for something to be approved it will likely not be in your lifetime, so the message is entirely lost to a person in this case. It makes God unhappy when He sends prophets and they are ignored:

And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).

Unfortunately, pharisaism, so opposed by Jesus, and clericalism are alive and well in the Church.

I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all this will come upon this generation. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! (Matthew 23:34-37; compare Luke 13:32-34)

It is understandable that the faithful want assurance, since there are many false messengers; this has been revealed through Lucia Phan (message of June 4, 2013). But the lengthy process of approving private revelation is not a priority of the hierarchy. For example, the recently approved apparitions at Laus, France, took 290 years to be approved. Another such example is Champion, Wisconsin, which was approved 151 years later. In the case of the latter, that was a very time sensitive message addressing the situation back then. To be sure, one can glean good things from any past private revelation, but the argument can clearly be made that it can be foolish to wait for such approvals. Another issue is that the approval system is not infallible or perfectly reliable if one is relying on it; in the history of the Church, no bishop’s approval has ever been overturned, but there have been disapprovals that were later overturned. An approval can be a good indication about a private revelation, but it can take an extremely long time and may not be perfectly reliable.

What is the Church saying in an approval? It is, contrary to what many think, not saying an apparition occurred; it is simply a statement that, after very careful and exhaustive study, an apparition is deemed by the local bishop or the Vatican to be credible, worthy of belief. Some confuse the level of belief that is required in such cases. Only certain elements of public revelation, which all are bound to believe in, require “divine faith” (faith in God) on the part of the faithful. Private revelation, even when approved, can be rejected in good conscience by a Catholic since no one is required to believe in it. Private revelation is about “human faith” (faith in humans) on the part of the believer. Some try to get absolute certainty from the hierarchy, but the hierarchy does not attempt to require divine faith regarding private revelation. The hierarchy never says whether a private revelation occurred; it says no more that it is “worthy of belief” if one is so inclined to believe. In every case, it is strictly up to the individual in the end whether or not to believe. Even with Vatican-level approval, the same is true, despite official feast days, statements on the part of popes, etc.

Unfortunately, other motives for people seeking approvals can be unwillingness to do research or hardheartedness in some cases, in which people want an excuse not to believe so that they do not have to change (the basic message of private revelation is conversion, penance, and prayer, which many do not want to do). Innocence, which is a basis of wisdom, can also play a part; as Scripture says, love “believes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Does one sin in not believing? No, but on this point, Pope Urban VIII is reported to have said this: “In cases which concern private revelations, it is better to believe than not to believe, for, if you believe, and it is proven true, you will be happy that you have believed, because our Holy Mother asked it. If you believe, and it should be proven false, you will receive all blessings as if it had been true, because you believed it to be true.”

What heaven does heaven does and it is not subject to a bishop’s approval. In other words, God and Mary do not need to check with the local diocese beforehand to see if They can appear there! Some practically hold this position…

Sure there are false messengers, and these do considerable harm in turning the faithful away from even authentic messengers. But to adopt reactionary positions regarding private revelation is not the answer. We are not called to be naïve, but nor are we called to be cynical.

For example, should the Old Testament prophets have waited until someone approved them before speaking? Should St. Paul have waited until St. Peter approved Jesus’ revelation to him before evangelizing? Should the Aztecs have waited until Guadalupe was approved? If they had, nine million people would never have converted to the true Faith. Were the 70,000 people at Fatima disobedient, rebellious or foolish to go to Fatima on October 13, 1917, to witness the promised miracle of the sun? Of course not.

There is a theological term for this, the laity’s “sensus fidei fidelis” – Latin for “faithful sense of the faith.” What does that mean? As the Vatican website puts it:

By the gift of the Holy Spirit, ‘the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father’ and bears witness to the Son (Jn 15:26), all of the baptised participate in the prophetic office of Jesus Christ, ‘the faithful and true witness’ (Rev 3:14). They are to bear witness to the Gospel and to the apostolic faith in the Church and in the world. The Holy Spirit anoints them and equips them for that high calling, conferring on them a very personal and intimate knowledge of the faith of the Church. In the first letter of St John, the faithful are told: ‘you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge’, ‘the anointing that you received from [Christ] abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you’, ‘his anointing teaches you about all things’ (1 Jn 2:20, 27). As a result, the faithful have an instinct for the truth of the Gospel, which enables them to recognise and endorse authentic Christian doctrine and practice, and to reject what is false. That supernatural instinct, intrinsically linked to the gift of faith received in the communion of the Church, is called the sensus fidei, and it enables Christians to fulfil their prophetic calling.” (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_cti_20140610_sensus-fidei_en.html)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Jesus Christ is the one whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and established as priest, prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ and bears the responsibilities for mission and service that flow from them” (783). Therefore, the faithful can have an innate aptitude to accurately discern matters of the faith. This is an ordinary gift of the Holy Spirit that all the faithful can exhibit.

Regarding private revelation, one must be careful but not closed. The position of the Church toward private revelation is, in a phrase, “open but cautious.” This is the perfect position because we must be open to gifts coming from God, but be cautious, owing to the many false messengers that are out there. As Scripture teaches, “Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything; hold fast what is good […]” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). As we see in the life of the God-man, Jesus, what comes from the Holy Spirit can be alarming and unwelcome to the people of God – especially at first – because the Holy Spirit is not a timid Spirit. He constantly needs to wake His people up.

Hence it is not surprising that the Vatican has loosened restrictions in this regard, completely revoking two laws in Canon (Church) Law that dealt with private revelation. The old Canon 1399 forbade, by right of publication, certain books, such as those that were concerned with visions, revelations, miracles, and prophecies. This Canon was revoked in 1967. Ecclesiastical permission to publish such books was no longer required. The old Canon 2318 carried penalties for those who transgressed the laws of prohibition and censure. This Canon was revoked in 1966, so no one now can incur ecclesiastical censure who goes to apparition sites, etc., including those not recognized by the local bishop or the Pope. These dramatic revocations signaled a new era for private revelation. This makes all the sense in the world since the amount of authentic private revelation skyrocketed in the 20th century, as heaven started to prepare us for the end times. If the Vatican is not reactionary about private revelation anymore, why would you be?

Nevertheless, in the end, God wins over human unbelief. In the Book of Isaiah we read: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (55:10-11). God never fails. What He intends always achieves its purpose (despite any lack of cooperation on the part of humans.). So it is with all authentic private revelation. So it is with the messenger Lucia Phan. What comes from God is victorious. As Pope Urban VIII taught, it is better to believe than not to believe, all things being equal.

But a Pharisee in the council named Gamali-el, a teacher of the law, held in honor by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a while. And he said to them, ‘Men of Israel, take care what you do with these men. For before these days Theudas arose, giving himself out to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was slain and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!’ So they took his advice […]” (Acts 5:34-40).

As Jesus taught, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit” (Luke 6:43-44). “Wisdom is justified by her deeds” (Matthew 11:19). All truth from God is vindicated in the end. The miracles surrounding Lucia Phan – voluminous messages and the ability to capture miraculous images of the Eucharist – themselves testify to her authenticity. On a human level, no one can receive messages that are hours long (they are recorded), and there are over 4,000 of them at the time of this writing, and the miraculous photos and videos cannot be counterfeit. Others can see, through her camera, the live images as they are being captured. The messages are rock solid from a theological perspective. So in the end it is obvious that the source of all this phenomena is beyond human capability, so it is either God or the devil behind this. It cannot be the devil since there is nothing in the messages that is unorthodox or supportive of his objectives, and it is likewise with the images. Therefore, logic tells us that God is the source of this phenomena; it is miraculous, a prodigy of grace for humanity.

Be not afraid of private revelation. Be not afraid of the private revelation being given through Lucia Phan. It may be a hundred years before Lucia Phan is approved. By then the messages will not be as relevant as now. These are the end times; as the saying goes, “He who hesitates is lost.” You need to know what is happening and what to do. The Book of Revelation is unfolding … now.

The devil hates private revelation, since it is extremely powerful for those who believe in it and follow what Jesus and Mary are telling us to do. He does everything he can, therefore, to debunk it and marginalize it. He knows well that it can literally change the world. He has a great fear and hatred for authentic private revelation since it is the mouthpiece of God in these times. He does everything possible to discredit authentic messengers and thus nullify God’s message. Do not have an unhealthy reliance on the hierarchy in this regard. Pray to the Holy Spirit, simply asking Him to tell you what to think. He rarely lets us down. You have the “faithful sense of the faith.” As Pope St. John Paul said over and over: “Be not afraid!” God is sending us prophets as in the past. We do well to listen to them. Everyone is wondering what is going on now in the world. If you wait for approvals, you may never get the message that God is trying to get to you now in these crucial times. “Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, Speak, LORD, for thy servant hears.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came and stood forth, calling as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for thy servant hears’” (1 Samuel 3:9-10).



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January 2021