Quite by 'accident' (while exploring the present contraceptive tempest in a teapot in the US), I came across this diatribe from an irate Christian complaining stridently that the Madonna of Medjugorje has had nothing to say about abortion, contraception or homosexuality in the past 'twenty five years,' since the article was written. Shock, horror, but no surprise to me.
Since the word ‘abortion’ brought no results, I next looked to see how many times ‘contraception’ was mentioned in all of these hundreds of messages. Same result – ZERO. Well, how about ‘pornography’ – nope, a ZERO again. What about ‘homosexuality’ or ‘sodomy’ – ZERO.
And yet these apparitions are supposed to be ongoing communications and warnings from the Blessed Virgin Mary urging us to turn back from our sins or else face great chastisements. The holocaust of legalized abortion is the defining crime and offense of our era against God, with millions upon millions of innocent victims. For this cause alone, God surely has in store for us a great chastisement. But in the public messages delivered over the course of the past twenty-five years, we do not hear one peep about abortion from the “Madonna of Medjugorje.” This is the kind of silence one would expect from that other false Madonna.
Those of us in the gay community who feel drawn to Medjugorje (and we are many) would not be surprised in the least by this revelation and would take it as one more positive sign of the essential balance and health of the whole phenomenon at its core, despite the peripheral aberrations (which include, to be scrupulously honest, the visits of known priestly pedophiles to Medjugorje). The apparitions simply don't fit into the traditional conservative mindset. The very first sermon I heard in Medjugorje on my very first visit three years ago was from an Irish prelate reflecting on "St Peter in Chains." It is we, the devout Catholic faithful, who put Peter in chains, the priest explained, by attributing to the Petrine office a constant, persistent, infallible authority it does not really possess. The prelate pointed out that Peter stumbles and falls just as often as he remains upright in the storms, and it is when we forget this and project upon Peter a sacred invincibility that is not rightly and humanly his that we contribute to the distortion of the Petrine office. Peter needs to be firmly confronted and chastised when he wanders off into the wilderness and misleads the flock. (This was clearly the case with Humanae Vitae and Contraception, a position almost universally rejected by the 'sense of the faithful.) While the Irish sex abuse scandal was not mentioned in the sermon, it hovered in the air and those of us in the audience (mostly Irish pilgrims) were certainly thinking of it. Wow, I thought to myself, what on earth have we here, from the pulpit of the parish church of Medjugorje? Fatima this is not! A more profound examination of the problems of authority in the Church would be hard to find. However, what was even more impressive than the content of the sermon was the Irish priest's evident joy, serenity and confidence in the protection of the Gospa, (as the White Lady is called), gracing us with her guiding presence and aiding us in healing the wounds of the Church. It was a quintessentially Catholic moment, far more profound and inspiring than the fawning adulation of authority that characterizes the false distortions of tribal religion. Hail Mary full of grace and indeed we were filled with grace on that Sunday morning, and the wounds of the sex abuse scandal and the distortions of authority in the Church seemed to dissipate before our eyes in the serenity and peace of Medjujgorje.
On another note, a reader of this blog very kindly sent me this link to a recent article on the apparitions of Medugorje in the distinguished journal of Transpersonal Psychology.
(Readers will have to copy and paste the above links, but the links below should work automatically.)
The article is entitled THE APPARITION AT MEDJUGORJE: A TRANSPERSONAL PERSPECTIVE
by Dr. Paul Cunningham. ( Part Two is here.) A look at his credentials revealed that he completed his BA degree at Our Lady of Providence Seminary in Providence, RI. Evidently he was at one time a Catholic candidate for the priesthood, but judging by his very sophisticated article he has moved far beyond the traditional Catholic framework of his youth. The article gives a very detailed and fair-minded survey of the various psychological theories that attempt to 'explain' the phenomena of the apparitions, and the possible psychological mechanisms behind them. You could not ask for a more up to date evaluation. The author's own perspective, which becomes clear by the end of the article, is very much a transpersonal, trans-cultural one, by which I mean he lifts the whole experience out of its explicitly Catholic context and examines it from a religiously pluralistic viewpoint. The most interesting question facing trans-personal psychologists today is not whether the apparitions are fraudulent or the product of psychological aberrations ( positions he rules out in light of the extensive psychological testing the visionaries have undergone over the years). Rather, the truly challenging areas of examination for psychologists and para-psychologists focus on the precise mechanism by which the images are created in the visionaries' consciousness. Assuming that there is a spiritual entity communicating to the visionaries (an assumption Cunningham does not take for granted), to what extent does this benevolent entity itself through a psychic energy transmission 'create' the image of a Croatian Madonna in the eyes of the visionaries and to what extent does this spiritual presence rely upon the psychic processes of the visionaries themselves to come up with the appropriate psychic images that conform to their own religious culture. This would then be a process that they would jointly communicate to each other telepathically. In other words, the visionaries would jointly 'create' the image most suitable to their own psychological development, but a creative process that is done in cooperation with a genuine, authentic trans-personal inspiration that is guiding them through the whole process . That is a very crude simplification of Cunningham's highly sophisticated, subtle and nuanced position. He ends with a call to psychologists everywhere to 'expand their metaphysical base,' because the present traditional scientific paradigm renders most psychologists incapable of doing true justice to phenomena such as the apparitions of Medjugorje. Cunningham does not assert unequivocally that the apparitions are 'authentic,' (i.e. the product of a genuine spiritual disembodied being communicating to the minds of the young visionaries), but he does clearly lean in that direction. He also clearly understands that this entire spiritual phenomenon far transcends it's limited traditional Catholic framework, which it has simply appropriated as a means of communication. Or to put it another way, the mystery of the Divine Black Mother God predates Christianity by thousands of years. And she is with us still.