When it comes to apparitions, we think of the “first-tier” appearances of Mary, and this year especially Medjugorje, which is about to receive a seemingly favorable papal envoy (“Every year the shrine is visited by 2 to 2.5 million pilgrims from across the world; the fact that Medjugorje is visited by so many faithful, who are no doubt spiritually enriched there, is something to be borne in mind,” he recently said) and Fatíma — which on May 13 celebrates its hundredth anniversary (at least as far as Mary appearing; an angel preceded her). Just this morning, we prayed for all of you before a pilgrim statue of her at our church.
There are rumors that the two youngest Fatíma visionaries, Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francesco Marto, who died respectively in 1920 and 1919, will be canonized this year. If so, they will be the youngest, but for the holy innocents, ever to be made saints, younger even than Maria Goretti — the first to make that exalted stature before puberty (nine and ten at death, from influenza; Goretti was 11). Let us pray.
It would be a quick path to canonization, but so were John Paul II’s and Mother Teresa’s.
At this writing, only rumor.
Let us now turn to other classifications when it comes to apparitions — here emphasizing “alleged.”
Last week, while in Georgia, we decided to stop by a site in Conyers, Georgia, where a seer named Nancy Fowler claimed to see Mary every month on the 13th (commemorating Fatima) for a period during the 1990s, culminating in what supporters and TV crews asserted was a crowd of 100,000 at a farm near her home for the final public one on October 13, 1998. [“Apparition Room,” right]
Fowler’s mystical experience actually began in Illinois in 1983, and her first apparition — of Jesus — was said to have happened in 1987, followed by locutions from Mary, a visit to Medjugorje, and full-blown corporeal appearances by the Virgin — as “Our Loving Mother” — in 1988. She told followers she was mystically led to Conyers (just half an hour drive from Atlanta); that occurred in 1990.
And whatever the assertion of Nancy, who like so many evoked great debate and controversies, the land there, about a hundred acres of rolling farm and brush, now in the hands of a non-profit organization, did seem to have unusual characteristics, as did Nancy’s own back property, with countless visitors taking paranormal photographs and witnessing miracles of the sun. There have been conversions and vocations from there, and so something seemed to be happening, at the least with the land itself — lonely now and just a few miles from an austere and decidedly, tangibly anointed Cistercian monastery. We certainly felt something there in the monastery church, which, however, has no connections with the apparition site.
We met Nancy, now deceased, back in 1992, and whatever occurred or did not, good people — very devout Catholics — have claimed benefits. While one bishop, from another city, issued a letter asking pilgrims not to go there, the current local bishop remains neutral, and this is very likely where it will remain: never to be ruled upon, for very few now visit (just a couple hundred on the annual anniversary days) and we were alone with the manager, an extremely warm, sincere former IRS employee named Michael O’Connor, who moved there from Virginia when he retired. So lonely now, but in the peak moments, even network TV covered it. The messages were to the U.S. (Wake Up America was one book.)
We take what is good, and throw not out the baby with any bathwater, in any situation.
There is also, for a while too from Illinois, more recently from Colorado, the former radio broadcaster and political consultant, now basically a full-time evangelist and Catholic blogger (though the blog is now relatively quiet), named Charlie Johnston, whose experiences — seeing angels, particularly Gabriel, allegedly — began when he was a boy and progressed, he says to seeing the Virgin and other holy figures despite his Baptist upbringing.
Charlie has taken a fairly well-deserved beating since the Inauguration, for he boldly, repeatedly, loudly, and wrongly quoted his messages as saying first that Barack Obama would not finish his term, then that Obama would not hand over power to the newly elected president, who he said would come from outside of political circles.
That much fit President Trump — and there did turn out to be abnormal, and perhaps even historic, resistance to his ascent, at times coming close to threatening his Inauguration (think: claims that President Trump had unsavory ties with Russia, which still are a hot issue). One must admit: Charlie’s statements many years ago warning about North Korea are currently very resonant.
But plainly speaking, Johnston’s prophecy about the presidency remains a stark error, if nothing else in the way a prophetic pulse or inclination or intuition was stretched or misinterpreted — meaning it did not come, in pure form, from Jesus, Mary, any saint, or an angel. Previous predictions about the economy were also in error. (Will his foreseen “great storm” materialize?)
Charlie vowed to leave the public eye and let the Lord deal with him if the prophecy failed, halting his public appearances, but we asked him if he had a statement, for, having to report exactly what happened as it happened, letting chips fall where they may, we had been a bit rough on him just before and then after that failure (warning that in all likelihood his political prediction would not come to pass), despite our respect for his devotion and sincerity, and despite our initial reporting on him, which, while cautionary, was open, a policy we will maintain toward mystics.
Is he a totally “false visionary”? A deceived one? That’s for you to decide. Time will tell. Perhaps the debate is now nugatory. The archdiocese in Denver has not (and, like Conyers, in all probability never will) formally rule on him, but it has issued statements warning of those who still promote his errant missives and does not want him speaking, at least as a mystic, on Church grounds. Anyway, in the interest of fairness, his statement:
“I promised all my life that if the things I had shown became visible I would speak publicly of them – and I promised that I would take full responsibility and accountability for all I said in the Lord’s name. I have kept both promises. I was a little baffled that so many had advice on what I should have done differently. I did the only thing I could consistent with honor and my promise. While some of the criticism stung, the only thing that could have disheartened me is if I had abandoned my promise. Now I am spending time doing serious reading and study again, something that always takes a hit when I am active and that I don’t just enjoy, but revel in. I am working on a short non-prophetic book that posits, in plain-spoken language, why Jesus is the sure way to the joy, peace and brotherhood so many seek and so few find in these times. Though I have retired from public life, I remain on alert for the next year and half – another promise I am keeping. I remain grateful for and obedient to the lawful authority the Lord has placed over me. I want everyone to know when you see fearful things, both in the world and in the culture, that everything that happens will be used by God in His plan to renew His people.
“You don’t have to take my word for it, just take His. In the end, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph. So press on, acknowledging God, taking the next right step and being a sign of hope to those around you. It is the sure way of peace no matter what wind and waves swirl around you. It is what I continue to do. The details around me change, but the fundamental commitment endures. I thank all of the wonderful people who have been so kind to me these last few months. You have been a profound sign of hope to me.”
There, to be fair, is his statement. We wish all involved — pro and con (and critics of his have been attacked and hurt, also) — the best.
Let’s all get along.
We all have gifts and we seek the same Jesus.
Scripture says that what is not real will fade while what is of God cannot be destroyed by men.
We’re lastly reminded of a message years ago from another controversial visionary, Christina Gallagher, whom we met in Ireland (her homeland) back in 1991.
While she too has been held in question by many, particularly by the media, to do with finances, it was interesting to revisit an alleged message of hers from 1993, when — supposedly, says a website devoted to her — “Our Lady warned that there would be a third world war if people did not turn back to God and repent. She warned Christina of future wars and conflict involving America, Russia and China if people did not open their hearts and turn back to God. Christina was shown visions of what would happen if a third world war was to break out and she could see the possible use of nuclear weapons in this war. The warning of war coming to the world is mentioned frequently in the messages over the 25 years they have been made public.”
“Soon…the world will be plunged into the black apostasy that will engulf the world,” she quoted Jesus as intoning on the 29th of July 2010. “There will be war… God does not desire you to fear. He desires your response… World powers are at work, drawing upon the forces of evil to cause destruction. All transactions through banks and all government services throughout the world will be made powerless… Hospitals will not function, food will be limited… Make preparation now.”
Says the website: “He continues to warn of the devastation caused to the people and the earth if people do not turn back to Him. On the 15th of March 2011, Jesus again warns of the war and devastation coming to the world as it has rejected the love and mercy He offers. He warns, ‘what you have witnessed in the death of many forms of wildlife is merely a warning of the death coming to humanity as a consequence of sin and denial of Me.’ A few days later on the 18th of March 2011, Jesus speaks again warning of war and conflict coming to the world, saying, ‘The unrest leading to war — to the third world war — causes Me great pain… Poverty will follow the unrest and war from country to country… I am the Lord but I must permit this in My Justice on account of the great sin of the world.’
“This warning is continued in October 2012 when Jesus again speaks to Christina, ‘There will be earthquakes, drought, diseases and hunger in the Americas and throughout the world. Listen, My people, hear and respond as I have called you for even worse turmoil is on its way… The third world war will soon be upon you… My dearest children, you who have responded to live by My Word, do not be sad or frightened. You will be in the light and safety of my Mother’s Heart when this takes place throughout the world.’
“These warnings which are strong and show a firm but merciful God are only a few among the many more which have been given to Christina over the years. As Jesus says, they are not intended to sadden or frighten us but to make us more aware of the dangers around us and to urge us to turn back to God before it is too late as it is only in God that we will find love, mercy and protection.
Turn also to Our Lady of Fatima. She can stop the fire (as she did in the third secret).
More to come …