Reverend Frank Kenney S.M., ST.D. - Doctor of Marian Theology, Catholic University of America • January 1, 1998
The Holy Scriptures are filled with marvelous accounts of God's interventions, either personally or through His messengers, in the lives of His people. These accounts are part of Divine Revelation and we have to believe them by Divine Faith. But what about the many reported private revelations that also claim to be from God or from His messengers? The history of the Catholic Church is filled with such communications to Saints, Founders of Religious orders and Congregations, Popes and ordinary people.
Private revelations are a continuation of God's communications at particular times in history, to particular persons, and for specific reasons. Private revelations add nothing essential to the teachings of the Faith. Furthermore we do not have to believe in any private revelation by Divine Faith.
Private revelations have always and still continue to play a very important role in God's dealings with His people. They are appeals, cries from heaven. At times they give warnings together with promises of punishments to come if things do not change for the better. They remind us of God's existence and His concern for our well-being. They are meant to arouse our faith and bring about conversion.
A private revelation may be given for the benefit of the Universal Church or it may be directed to a specific person or certain group of people. Fatima, for example, was intended for the entire Church, as were other private revelations. If Mary's requests at Fatima had been spread sooner around the world and carried out, perhaps the Second World War could have been avoided and Russia would not have spread its atheism around the world.
When the Church approves a private revelation, she says it is believable by human faith alone, and that there is nothing contrary to faith or morals connected to that private revelation. We are certainly free to believe in our hearts the supernatural nature of a private revelation that is supported by convincing signs, such as miracles, conversions, healing, the presence of crowds of people, etc. We must always be prudent in our belief of any private revelation. There are, and always have been false private revelations and we need to guard against them. We should avoid two extremes, of believing everything and of believing nothing.
Here is a quote from Pope Urban VIII (17th century) that is often cited in books about private revelations, "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 the blessings as if it had been true, because you believed it to be true." We must be aware that there are those who have a mindset against private revelations and are quick to ridicule them without any justifiable reason. A message given to Maureen Sweeney-Kyle is apropos: "Today, many consider my apparitions around the world fair game for rash judgment and detraction. While I do not say my children must believe under pain of sin, similarly they must not rash judge or detract my messages anywhere under pain of sin. The commandments are still the commandments."
Marian private revelations have a history of bringing about conversions on a grand scale. Think of Guadalupe, Fatima, Lourdes where even today millions of people make annual pilgrimages to these places and many others like them. Cardinal Ratzinger who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Office that deals with examining Marian Apparitions, has called this the Age of Marian Apparitions. He also stated a few years ago that over 300 Marian Apparitions have been submitted for judgment to his Office. Thanks to Pope Paul VI, who in 1966 abolished two former canons that restricted the publication of reported private revelations, they are now permitted to be published without Imprimaturs, provided that they are not against Church teaching regarding faith or morals. Pope Paul VI wrote that, quoting St. Paul, prophesy should not be despised, that testing everything and holding fast to what is good, is the path to follow.
We are now free to speak or write about reported private revelations in the lives of the faithful. The final judgment of the authenticity lies with the Roman Catholic Church. Local Bishops are to make their investigations first and then submit them to Rome. In the case of Medjugorje, the local Bishop's negative judgments have been rejected by Rome to date. It would seem that local Bishops tend to ignore reported private revelations and Rome is in no hurry to approve them either. "By their fruits you shall know them" is a Gospel principle.
It would seem reasonable that if you are permitted to speak and write about private revelations, you should also be permitted to investigate them and visit the places where they take place. If nobody ever went to such places, there would be no reason for Bishops or Rome to take any action. It would also seem proper for Bishops to remain neutral regarding reported private revelations, until and unless they conduct a proper investigation. A non-approval is not a disapproval. Usually waiting for an official Church approval would take several lifetimes.
Maureen Sweeney-Kyle's private revelations have been accompanied by claims of healings, conversions, miraculous signs in the heavens, instant changes of rosary chains to a gold color, and other supernatural phenomena. The fundamental message of Holy Love is at the heart and center of the teachings of Christ and His Church. Loving God and loving our neighbor sums up all His teaching. Maureen has been called to spread that message all over America and beyond. She has spoken to thousands of people in over a dozen states of America and also in Ireland. Many thousands of people have come to pray and listen to her messages at the ministry's headquarters in Elyria, Ohio.
For me to be asked to be her spiritual director, has been a great blessing. Besides spiritual graces, I have been healed of a heart palpitation condition. The quality and frequency of her messages from both Jesus and Mary is extraordinary. While Mary has stopped visiting on a regular basis many other reported visionaries, at this writing, both Jesus and Mary still continue regular visits to Maureen.
Faithful and devoted lay people are the backbone for the support of private revelations and their propagation. Authentic private revelations promote faith, prayer in general, and above all, attending Mass, receiving the Sacraments and living the Christian life to the full. The ministry of Holy Love, as I see it, has no other purpose in mind.
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