I spent the better part of this “Month of Mary” researching Marian apparitions.
While researching all these apparitions, one thing that struck me was the emphasis by Mary on penance and reparation for sins. Our Lady of Lourdes even encouraged Bernadette Soubirous, “penance, penance, penance,” during one of her apparitions.
The messages of Our Lady of Fatima, from her apparitions in 1917 have been filling my Facebook newsfeed recently, and are referenced in various other research of apparitions since her appearance. I suspect the chatter I keep seeing on Our Lady of Fatima is because next year marks the 100th anniversary of those apparitions. If you are interested in learning more about the dire predictions of Our Lady of Fatima, you can read about it on the Vatican website.
As I researched apparitions, trying to determine whether or not I believe that Mary did appear to faithful members of the Flock, I was reminded that the Catholic church does not require me to believe in the apparitions. As I stated in my earlier post on this subject, the Church in her infinite wisdom, allows me to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism. At the conclusion of this month of Marian apparition research, I remain a skeptic.
I will concede I have enjoyed reading the messages – with all reported apparitions, there are messages given. Most of them are filled with ways to make the receiver, and the world, more faithful and more vigilant against evils in the world. Perhaps my favorite line from an apparition appeared in my post last week, with Our Lady of Good Help, when Mary called the United States, “…this wild country…”
I am struck by two opposing views between the apparitions, and the Divine Mercy message being touted during this Year of Mercy. There are the warnings from Our Lady of Fatima, which make everything seem hopeless. Contrast that message with Our Lady of Sorrows, encouraging everyone to atone for sins and seek God’s mercy. Then, there is the message of Divine Mercy, where God’s mercy is likened to the depths of an ocean.
I have caught myself thinking, time and again this month, if the world were headed downhill, how could God continue to allow our civilization to procreate? Would He inflict the end of the world on those who are the most innocent among us – babies and small children?
And, I am thankful that I am not told I must believe these apparitions and their messages, because I don’t know how to balance them, while maintaining the joy of proclaiming the Gospel.