Private Revelations and the Catholic Church
Throughout history God has seen fit to guide mankind in what is necessary to live in harmony with Him. From the earliest sacred writings, through the prophets of Israel, and by way of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, ample signs have been put in place to guide mankind in this quest for holiness. The road map drawn by God has grown clearer over time, as He revealed Himself little by little. That road map, called the Bible, contains all the wisdom and public revelation necessary for mankind to find its way from this world back to its Creator, a fact strongly supported by the Roman Catholic Church.
However, a good and just and loving God does not just go off and leave His people to their own wits. He is ever with them, ready to embrace them. He knows infinitely well how great was His gift of free will and how possible it is that this one or that group of His creatures will tend to stray away from Him. He is willing to help if asked, and sometimes intercedes with His people, either directly or through surrogates, when times of peril threaten to envelop them. This intervention, called private revelation, is a phenomenon strongly avowed by the Church since its earliest days, but with the caveat that belief in any particular such revelation need not be accepted by individuals as part of Church doctrine. In other words, the faithful are obliged to believe that God enters our world through private revelation, but are not obliged in any alleged revelation, even if recommended by the Church herself.
Since the last public revelation described by St. John in the Book of Revelation, the Church owes much of its direction and prodigious growth to ongoing private revelations. The great religious orders formed by saints like Dominic, Benedict, Francis and Teresa owe much of their success to astounding events visited on those founders. In fact, a steady stream of such events has seemed to grace the Church at times of greatest stress to individuals or critical groups. The incidence of such activity seems to have peaked in times of gravest danger, from ancient times to the medieval, from the Protestant Reformation to the present day.
Modern Day Apparitions
Ever since the Reformation, when the unity of Christendom was shattered, a pall of moral uncertainty has been seeping into Western Culture, culminating in the Enlightenment and the French Revolution of the eighteenth century. Since that time the world has been further convulsed by despotism, by communism, and by two world wars. Civilization entered the twenty-first century in a state of economic stability, but in moral and cultural decline. Now even economic stability is threatened and in the disarray of a great recession. Now, in an age of greed and radical madness, not even hearth and home are safe.
With exceptions like the appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531 and Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1675, perhaps the most singularly impressive series of modern visits from heaven have occurred in the last 150 years. All of these have involved the presence of Mary, the Mother of God, also known affectionately by the faithful as Our Lady and Our Blessed Mother, and announced by her under such titles as Immaculate Conception, Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, and most recently, Our Lady of Light. All of these have occurred at or around the time of some revolutionary or wartime episode involving the Church or the faithful. In 1830 at Rue du Bac (during the Paris revolution), Catherine Labouré received the Miraculous Medal. In 1846 at LaSalette (just before the revolutionary outbursts of 1848) Our Lady appeared to two peasant children. In 1858 she appeared to Bernadette during a time of great danger to the Church in France and elsewhere in Europe. Apparitions at Pontmain and Knock in the 1870s (around the Franco-Prussian War) occurred during hard times for the Church as well. In 1917 at Fatima (during World War I) Our Lady appeared in a country where the Church was being harassed and asked the children to pray for the conversion of Russia (only a combatant country then, but about to become a great scourge to the Church). At Beauraing and Banneux in Belgium in 1932-33 she appeared again to children, simply asking for prayer, but at a time and place just preceding the proximate rise of Naziism. In all of the examples cited, Our Lady came with warnings and a plea for prayers. Evidence suggests that an increase in piety among the faithful resulted in each case, steeling the faithful for the distress to follow. Only God knows what the result might have been had the response to Our Lady been more or less intense.
The latter part of the twentieth century saw another spate of apparition activity, this time with warning after warning about looming war clouds. Places like Uganda, Korea, Japan, Venezuela, Italy and Brazil hosted astonishing phenomena and drew crowds of the curious from around the world. The faithful heard about the life and experiences of Sister Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun whose cause was taken up by the man destined to become Pope John Paul II.
In Italy, Padre Pio became a household name, and thousands flocked to Pietrelcina to see his stigmata and hear him espouse prayer and personal holiness.
Beginning in 1973, an Italian priest named Father Stefano Gobbi began reporting messages from Our Lady. A great following ensued and prayer cenacles formed throughout the world. Warnings in his messages from Our Lady about coming hardships and the consequences from lax faith got people’s attention. Large groups enthusiastically welcomed him as he traveled the world, giving retreats and presiding at assemblies honoring Mary.
Then, in 1980, a small town of Medjugorje in the mountains of Yugoslavia began to make headlines, with a group of children there claiming to see the Virgin, and thousands of people seeing signs and wonders around the hamlet’s environs. Eventually war endangered the little town, but never visited it. Many thought that what saved Medjugorje had a lot to do with the prayers of its residents and visitors from throughout the world. A great number of prayer groups sprung up during the 1980s, especially in the United States, and pilgrimages increased dramatically.
Local Conditions in 1991
The local economy in Greater Cincinnati was in pretty good shape in 1991. Most people had jobs, cars, houses, bills they could handle. In short, life was good. Many people, however, began to be concerned about the apparent weakening moral fiber in the country, and particularly about the spiritual direction of society in general. People were in control of life, more or less, but something wasn’t quite right. Churches and what was in them seemed to be lacking something.
Following the Second Vatican Council, churches in Greater Cincinnati experienced turmoil in the ranks, as did many around the country. Factions supporting the sweeping changes they felt the Council demanded faced off against those who wondered about those changes, and the degree of the changes. Eventually the new ways, with influence from a society rapidly adapting to a demand for more freedom of judgment by individuals, became implemented. Rites were streamlined. Rules were simplified and often relaxed. But many Catholics, dedicated to principles and procedures they had lived since birth, held firm to their old ways. While a majority eagerly adopted the changes, the “traditionalists” were branded intransigent.
But then things began to change. Word came from overseas about apparitions in far-off places, weeping madonnas, strange phenomena, prophecies-come-true. Some events, like those surrounding Padre Pio and Father Gobbi, even involved priests. People began to travel to the sites reported, bringing back with them tales of the call by heaven for a return to prayer and devotion. As these travelers began to pass on stories and describe their experiences, they also began to organize and gather together for group prayer based on exhortations reported by certain visionaries.
Local priests and religious became involved. Large prayer groups formed, some in cenacles promoted by Fr. Gobbi, some dedicated to the Medjugorje events, some around the life story and prayer ritual of Faustina. Into this environment came an unknown local visionary, a visionary claiming to receive messages from Mary, the Mother of God, a visionary who was to relate her story while remaining anonymous. She reported that Our Lady had promised to appear at a certain time, at a certain place, at midnight on a certain date.
Needless to say, given the temperament of residents, the media, and the local Catholic hierarchy at the time, the prevalent attitude in most circles was, “OK, show me.” In the wake of the promised August 31, 1992 event at St. Joseph Church in Cold Spring, Kentucky, we are left with a range of descriptions of what transpired there. Some say exciting things happened that night. Some say nothing happened. But information abounds. There were alleged messages. There were reports of rainbows, some of them at night. Some saw what was called the “miracle of the sun” during the day. Some described having smelled the scent of roses. There were even eye witness reports of sightings of the Lady herself. The bottom line? Good things have happened as a result of the various events, in 1992 and beyond. Coincidence? Hallucination? Perhaps what has happened here over many years is a put-on by a very clever, psychotic lady. But the fact of the matter is that the anonymous visionary’s Lady brought out the best in people whose rosaries turned golden, who saw the sun “spin”, who smelled the roses, who saw the lights, or who just plain believed in her presence, and who then committed to a ramped up spiritual life. This visionary’s experience wasn’t supposed to have any effect on the faithful, and for a lot of people it didn’t. But then, after the miracles at Fatima, Lucia’s and Francisco’s and Jacinta’s didn’t either.
Connection to Fatima
The Age of Mary and Its Rapid Pace
The Age of Jesus on earth established His kingdom as the reign of faith and love in the hearts of mankind. Knowing their weaknesses, however, He established for them and for this faith a visible guide and guardian, His holy Church. His Church and His people have flourished for two millennia, progressing together along a sometimes rocky path toward His kingdom.
Now a new episode of spiritual time is unfolding in our world. It was and is the Age of Mary. It heralds a time of great love and mercy from God, a kind of final amnesty for a mankind gone frighteningly awry. It defines as never before the love of God for all of His creatures, especially His mother, and the high degree of intense, loving, intercessory effort she expends on man’s behalf. As never before, the fire of love in His Sacred Heart and her Immaculate Heart for every creature grows more and more clearly defined. But this Age of Mary speaks also of God’s justice, of a time of a kind of purification of His people, of a second coming of Jesus and of the establishment of a true kingdom of Christ on earth. A growing consensus of modern prophecy seems to project that this coming of Jesus does not mean a time of final judgment, the end of the world. No, that seems to be far off. Rather, many foresee a time of the reign of the truly noble human spirit in the world, a world in near-perfect harmony with man’s Maker, his Savior, and the rest of creation, a world almost like a new Eden.
Many place the onset of this Age of Mary as the events in Fatima, Portugal in 1917. But the tone for Fatima, and for present times, was probably set earlier with Our Lady’s appearance to St. Catherine Labouré at Rue du Bac in 1830, and her gift of the Miraculous Medal. It was there that Our Lady first lamented the condition of mankind and warned of disaster if strong measures were not soon taken by people of faith.
But the popularity of Fatima, and the fact that many people are aware of events and prophecies there, is a good starting point for defining this age. For this was assuredly a powerful statement of God’s mercy, a source of great prophecy and promise for His people. Ringing through the words given to the peasant children were powerful theological undertones associated with the burning love of Jesus’ Sacred Heart and Mary’s Immaculate Heart. Truly at Fatima there was food for every level of Christian faith and understanding.
Events at Fatima were witnessed by many. Its messages and prophecies were approved by the Church in 1930 in the only way in which the Church approves apparition phenomena, i.e., that associated events and messages may be believed by the faithful without risk to the faith. Since official approval by the Catholic Church, Fatima has been much reverenced and much studied by the faithful. But like most other private revelation, Fatima has lost some of its popular appeal over time and is today honored and respected by but a small fraction of the faithful who believe that Mary would see fit to visit God’s people and that her messages, given in 1917, would still apply to her people today. In short, people have forgotten.
In a message of December 31, 1993, at a seemingly peak point of world immorality, Jesus, through a personal revelation to the anonymous Batavia visionary, speaks of His Mother as being sent among us in this Age of Mary as declared in heaven. He states that she is to untangle us from our sins and is to lead us to His Sacred Heart. He laments, however, that in this special Age of Mary we have already witnessed many of her manifestations throughout the world, yet still do not accept her. Mary as Our Lady of Light comments on this acceptance and understanding of apparitions in a message of February 3, 1994. She reminds us that it is only through faith that the spiritual veil is lifted from our hearts and that, if we wish to see, we must first believe.
The concept of a special age of Mary seems to fit precisely, given the many years over which we have experienced a multiplicity of her mystical phenomena, locutions and visions occurring all over the world. Such events are calling us to return God and His laws to the forefront of our lives so we can become a people of personal holiness and prayer. They also warn of the dire consequences of following the path we now tread. An apparently common thread woven through her messages, and those of Jesus, is that we are approaching a spiritual climax of grave, eternal consequence. Her request that we become Mary’s Special Apostles is her response to our concerns. The path to follow, she says, is a spiritual one and not one with a safety net based on stockpiling worldly goods in anticipation of some impending physical catastrophe.
In a personal message of December 8, 1994 (Chapter 2 of Personal Revelations of Our Lady of Light, Volume 4) to the Batavia visionary, Our Lady says,
I came here as Our Lady of Light in days past (September 1, 1991) and I wish to be known here in America as Our Lady of Light in the days to come and for all future generations.
…Know that my coming here to America as Our Lady of Light was a special gift of the Father, honoring the special feast of my Immaculate Conception.
In reading previous messages, you can see that it was on December 8, 1991 that I first announced that I would be coming here to St. Joseph Church. I had sent that message through another of my messengers. I also said that I come, Mother of God, Bearer of Light, to be among you as a shining beacon in this very urgent time.
You will also recall that I promised you a miracle would be sent on December 8, 1991 and that this miracle was granted through the Father. This miracle, the fall of Communism, was part of the fulfillment of my Fatima messages that communism would be defeated and that my Immaculate Heart would triumph.
On December 8, 1993, I brought forth my third ambassador, the priest of the west, Father Lawrence Sweeney of Ogden, Utah. His appearance on this date was no coincidence.
To further explain the importance of the feast of my Immaculate Conception, the date of the eighth day of each month was chosen for my appearance at my Farm in Falmouth (Kentucky) in order to coincide with the feast date of December 8.
…As I have spoken many times, I am the same lady, giving the same messages, even though I may have to approach some in a different manner or under a different title. This is simply my plan to reach more of my children.
…You could not see in the beginning all that has happened here, even though I foretold it, and you cannot see what lies ahead now, but I can.
Our Lady of Light Ministries has started here as a small seed but will grow into a giant faith that will flow over this land and then over the world. For this reason, it is still my desire that all work done for me here in this area, and at all seven apparition sites, be contained under and within my Our Lady of Light Ministries. This is to avert any confusion that could arise in the future.
The Fulfillment of Fatima
The fulfillment of Fatima is transpiring here. “The foretold fulfillment of Fatima is upon us.” An astounding statement, isn’t it? In a personal message to Father Leroy Smith, Our Lady said:
Tell them of Our Lady of Light Ministries and ask that they join in this movement to help bring about the triumph of my Immaculate Heart as promised at Fatima. As I have already spoken, I am the Lady of Fatima, continuing here in this land and in these times as Our Lady of Light. What is transpiring here now is the fulfillment of the promises and prophecies made at Fatima at the beginning of this century. Remind my children that these times are very serious, but also very blessed.
When visiting any area (of the country), ask the people there to join my movement. Ask that they accept and wear my holy scapular, that they take up and pray my holy Rosary daily. These are the tools I gave in earlier days to defeat the fallen angel. I ask that they consecrate themselves and their families to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to my Immaculate Heart.
She has invited everyone to become her Special Apostle and to be an active part of her newly formed Our Lady of Light Ministries. This has started here as a small seed, but remember, “it will grow into a giant faith that will flow over this land and then over the world.” Our Lady promised it!
She has asked Father Leroy Smith to enlist others in establishing Our Lady of Light centers so that her ministries can continue to expand in America. She wants her messages, and those of her Son, distributed from these centers to the children of our country.
Here in America most do not realize the great spiritual awareness now forming through the movement called Our Lady of Light Ministries. Hearts are changing and a spiritual reform back to Jesus is under way. As evidence, a U.S. News and World Report survey showed that no less than 61% of Americans believed Jesus Christ would return to earth. A third of those thought that would occur within the next few years or, at most, the next few decades. A lot of Americans seem to be on the same interesting page!
Authority of the Church
Upon the approval of Pope Paul VI, on October 14, 1966, with the abolition of previous Canons 1399 and 2318 of the former Canonical Code, publications about new appearances, revelations, prophecies, miracles, etc., have been allowed to be distributed and read by the faithful without the express permission of the Church, providing they contain nothing which contravenes faith and morals. This means that no Imprimatur is necessary when distributing information on new apparitions not yet judged by the Church. (Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, S.A.S. 58 1186.)
The message contents of this website have been discerned by the Batavia visionary’s spiritual advisor and a panel of priests as containing nothing which contravenes faith and morals.