The link between revelations and the Church has become more and more evident as we have progressed in this study. At times we had the impression that we detected opposition to private revelation on the part of the Church. But as we came to examine the details, we quickly noted certain facts which helped us to understand the unity of all aspects of the problem.
First of all we have noted that the best proofs for the existence of revelations reside in the supreme authority of the Church herself, which has provided them through the popes and the Councils .1p273
Then, in the very difficult quest for discernment, we have taken into account that, in the last analysis, the certitude and authenticity of revelations depend upon the Church because miracles, which are generally considered to be the decisive criteria for the discernment of revelations, assume their value as a proof only after they are recognized by the Church. Certainly the miracle may be sufficient in itself for one who has experienced it personally or who is the eyewitness of it, or who can study it at leisure. But there is still the whole body of the faithful for whom it will always remain problematical. Miracles are difficult to discern because of the hidden forces of nature, because of the always possible intervention of the devil, and because of the considerable attraction which appearances may exercise upon the human mind.
Finally, it is in the life of the Church that revelations find their meaning. They show that the Lord remains always with the Church to direct her not only in an invisible way, but also through sensible manifestations of His presence in the affairs of a community or of an individual. Revelations are, moreover, very frequently occasions of a remarkable expansion of the life of the Church, for in places of apparitions one sees men of every race and language coming together in a unity of faith, prayer, sacramental penance, and Eucharistic communion.
Again, the fruitful use of revelations depends in a very intimate way upon the Church. This is demonstrated especially when social revelations are involved, but private revelations do not escape her vigilance. Through confessors and spiritual directors, who are normally aware of these revelations, it is still the voice of the Church which is making itself heard.
Thus, throughout the course of this work, we have been able to note that revelations receive their strongest supports from the Church. It is in the Church, indeed, that they find the best guarantee for their existence, the surest criteria of their discernment, and it is in her that they realize their meaning and fruit.
All this does not surprise us when we consider the link which exists between the Church and revelations. They are inscribed in her history and they belong to her as subsidiary signs by which God manifests invisible realities to man. That is why, if one does not recognize in the Church a close and mysterious union between the visible facts and the invisible realities, one can understand neither the existence nor the meaning of charismatic revelations.
If the Reformers rejected revelations in principle it was not solely because of abuses which they found. More profound reasons - among others, lack of understanding of the Church as the "Body of Christ" (Col 1:18) - induced them to reject revelations. Thus an eminent representative of our separated brethren, Emile Brunner, could write: "What is the Church? That question is the unresolved problem of Protestantism." If one does not see in the Church the Body of Christ, that is, a mysterious continuation of the Incarnation of the Word, one cannot understand why God intervenes in the history of the Church and touches her through the medium of the senses.
Now God willed to realize the Incarnation through the Blessed Virgin. Within that perspective we can understand why theologians, following the example of many of the Fathers, call the Blessed Virgin Mary "the prototype of the Church." They refer to her thus chiefly because Mary is the Mother, Mother before the Church, for the Church and in the Church. Since this is so, it should not surprise us to witness today devotion to the Church and to the Blessed Virgin Mary progressing simultaneously in the consciousness and the life of Christian people. Neither should it surprise us that theological thought dwells with special interest on both the Church and Mary. It is not by chance that Pius XII, at the end of his encyclical upon the Church, 'Mystici Corporis', gives a whole doctrinal synthesis upon her who is the "Mother of all the members of Christ" (Epilogue).
But a mother is naturally solicitous for her children who are in danger. Thus Pius XII said, at the end of the Marian Year of 1954, that Mary "has not ceased to pour out upon poor humanity all the treasures of her affection and of her sweet attentions."
Did she not display these sweet attentions in striking fashion in such places as Lourdes, La Salette, Fatima? Is it not permissible to think that it is because she is a Mother, solicitous for her children that she, more than any other heavenly personage, has had recourse to such extraordinary means as apparitions? Thus she seeks to reconcile a great number of her wayward and disobedient children with God.
Because of the great Marian apparitions and in order to understand them better theologians are seriously seeking the proper meaning of revelations and to construct a theology of them. It may be affirmed that this meaning will be found only in the mystery of the Church, "the Body of Christ" of which Mary is not only the most illustrious member but also the Mother.
We should be proud and happy and grateful to be members of the greatest and grandest organization on earth. We enjoy her protection and share in her graces. The remembrance should make us thank God every night for such a privilege. It should also cast before us a challenge.
The history of the Church has shown us those things which hamper the Mystical Body of Christ in her efforts to carry the graces of the Redemption to mankind; we have seen those things which help her bring the inspirations of the Holy Spirit to their fullest fruition. With the challenge and the warnings of the lives of the saints and the sinners of twenty centuries before us, the torch of Faith is placed in our hands. We now are to have our brief day. Will we bravely carry the light forward or will we bravely carry it back? Will we hold it high or dash it to the earth? Will we build up the Mystical Body or tear It Down.
The Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, has been walking the earth, preaching and teaching and doing good for almost 2000 years. We have seen her despised, rejected, disobeyed. We have seen her made to suffer and die a thousand times, all that men may live.
But we are that Mystical Body. Christ can now live and work in the world only in and through us. He can also be persecuted in and through us. What shall it be? Our human wills, under God's grace, hold the answer. What shall it be? Will we be with Him or against Him? Will we be with or against our holy Mother, the Holy Catholic Church, the divine Spouse of the Holy Spirit?
There is no question that the liberals have torn down the Body of Christ by ignoring or rejecting the rules and laws of God and His Church. But the self-righteous ( "traditional") crusaders who have defamed, detracted, and calumniated the Church's ministers, her priests and bishops, have likewise torn and shredded the flesh of the mystical divine Lamb. We must now turn, all of us, toward building and healing Christ's Body in unity and love and understanding for each other united to the one true Vine, the Holy Catholic Church. We must be the cause of true reconciliation and ecumenism by our patient charity and genuine humility.
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Bibliography (Referenced by number and page; i.e. #p#)
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22. Shook, Dennis, 'Ex-'Moonie' describes life inside church', Wisconsin Report; Brookfield Wis., 11-18-82; Vol. 7, No 46.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2008