On humbly submitting to Church authority on private revelations

In a recent post, Plenary Indulgence for Cemetery Visits in November Extended, I mentioned something at the end about coping in these uncertain times (please note the bold italics:

“Hang tight, pray the Rosary daily and stick close to the Church. And by that I mean the Mass and Sacraments, your Catholic Bible, the Catechism (The ‘Roman Catechism’ of the Council of Trent and/or the 1994 Catechism of Pope St. John Paul II) and if you’re going the route of private revelations, educate yourself and please only place your faith in the approved ones. And have the humility to submit to Church authority in determining what is approved; your personal opinion on the private revelation should always be subject to the Church’s authority.

I administer an unofficial Militia of the Immaculata Group on Facebook (there’s an interesting story about how I came to be in charge of it. Maybe I’ll tell it someday.) Recently I had to deal with a member of the Group who repeatedly posted links to a false and fraudulent private apparition that has become popular this past decade. I finally had to “get tough” and remove her from the Group because she refused to accept the Church’s decision that this particular revelation is false.

I am really getting tired of ostensibly ‘orthodox’ Catholics who think they are more knowledgeable than the Bishops and more pious than other faithful and defy the decisions of the Bishops on such matters. You are exhibiting pride and and are unaware that you are doing Satan’s work in undermining the Church. Sounds drastic? Yes, it is.

If a private revelation has not been approved, I strongly suggest that you do not invest much faith and emotion into it, lest the Church condemn it and you face a crisis of fidelity. Too many dissent or go schismatic when their favorite revelation is condemned; they regard the Church is ‘wrong’ and spare no few words of vitriol in being critical of the Church and how Her error is evidence of Satan’s influence. In doing so they basically have established their own magisterium (like anyone who thinks the Church is ‘wrong’ on matters of faith and morals) and go off and do their own thing.

Bad idea.

Our Lord and Saviour willingly submitted to the legal and authentic religious authorities of His day, and they condemned Him to death. He knew they were wrong, but did He use that as an excuse to rebel against their authority? No, and given that Jesus is God, He was the authority over them, but did He use that? No. He submitted and opened not His mouth.

The three little shepherd children of Fatima obeyed the Portuguese Church authorities when they were ordered to keep silent about what they were seeing in the Cova da Iria. Even though they knew the Bishop and priests were wrong, they obeyed.

St. Pio of Pietrelcina obeyed the Church authorities when they ordered him to stop public celebration of the Mass. He knew they were in error in telling him this, but he obeyed.

The Divine Mercy Message was suppressed for several decades, until there was evidence that Her initial decision was based on flawed translations of St. Faustina’s writings. The curators of the Divine Mercy message knew that Rome was wrong, nevertheless they obeyed.

There are probably other examples throughout Church history when she was wrong about some ongoing thing, but later rescinded the ban or prohibition when the truth comes out. And that is key: if something is True, it will eventually become known and the Church will acknowledge this.

If you honestly believe that whatever private revelation that you support is true, then there is no reason to defy the Church if she initially declares it to be false. Although I know of no private revelation where the Church reversed her decision on its veracity, nevertheless, in all humility if the Bishop or Rome itself declares it to be false, then accept that. Offer the pain up, if needed.

In light of the examples given above, do you think that you can defy the Church when Jesus Himself did not defy the Jewish authorities? Or the Fatima children? Or St. Padre Pio? Who are you to say that you can reserve such a right to yourself?

Such people need to be prayed for. I just walk away when I encounter them in social media forums; there rarely seems to be any point in arguing the Church’s decision. Their mind is made up and that’s that and any attempt to change their minds is met with stubborn, pride-filled resistance.

So ends this rant. You’re welcome!

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  1. Well said. I once did some research on the number of PR claims of this past century, and to my dismay, I discovered there were far more unapproved PRs than approved ones. I’ve also read many of the purported messages given by Jesus and Mary that are so bizarre that I can’t believe some Catholics would fall for these as authentic. The false visionaries or seers are acting on their own mental states and playing on people’s emotions which explains how it is their rational judgments are being clouded. Satan does tinker with our emotions to misguide and mislead us from the truth. On a final note, the false PRs discredit the true ones.

  2. Unfortunately, there are more unapproved PRs than approved ones. And most of these contain messages from Jesus and Mary that are bizarre. Bernadette of Lourdes obeyed her bishop and parish priest and stopped going to the grotto for a while. The Blessed Virgin would never dishonor her Son by defying the episcopal authority that he established before his ascension. I can’t imagine her appearing to people who are being disobedient to the ecclesial authority. The disobedience of visionaries and pilgrims is a sign of demonic influence.

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