What it comes down to in the test of authenticity is to watch what progresses this year to see if the prophecies will be fulfilled. Considering the tone, content and the course world events have taken, they sound like they are from the Blessed Virgin and coincide with earlier messages imparted to Saint Bernadette Soubirous, the simple, naieve French peasant girl who lived along the sewer-ridden Gave River in 1858 when Our Lady first appeared to her. No one believed her then and, we suspect, that same skepticism still exists today. We could fall back on the oft quoted statement by Pope Urban VIII that "In cases which concern private revelations, it is better to believe, for if you believe and it was proven true you will be happy that you have believed because our Holy Mother Church asked it. If you believe and it should be proven false, you will receive all blessings as if it had been true because you believed it to be true." But we have not been able to prove the veracity of that either. Did he say it, and if so, when? If anyone out there knows, we'd love to hear from you. We do know that printing private revelations not yet approved by the Church is in total accord with the Church as long as it does not contravene faith and morals per Pope Paul VI's directive to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Acta Apostolicae Sedis 58.1186 of October 14, 1966. This Congregation today is the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples under the Prefect Cardinal Josef Tomko.
What would greatly help those who have been struggling with whether the Prophecies to Saint Bernadette have any merit, is to put it all into context. Just as one can take anything out of context in the Bible, so also one can do the same with private revelation. That is why we encourage readers to study the similarity of the messages with much of what was imparted to Father Don Stefano Gobbi and Saint John Bosco as well as the messages of La Salette, Akita and other apparitions in the latter part of this century. We say this because those two consecutive day editorials in May were prefaced by three months' worth of material in our weekly megafeature on the Church today - Where is Holy Mother Church Heading as we near the Millennium? which is carried in every Thursday issue of the DAILY CATHOLIC. For reference we refer you to February 12th, installment fifty-eight; February 19th, installment fifty-nine; February 26th, installment sixty; March 5, installment sixty-one; March 19, installment sixty-two; March 26, installment sixty-three; April 2, installment sixty-four; April 16, installment sixty-five; April 23, installment sixty-six; April 30, installment sixty-seven and May 7, installment sixty-eight. This should help all better understand the purported messages to Bernadette in the context of what Our Lady is referencing and why.
The key, however, as we have communicated to so many, is not to worry whether they are authentic or not, but to live the messages Our Lady asks which entail conversion of heart in turning back to God through Faith, reconciliation, penance, fasting, the sacraments,living and evangelizing the Word of God and being obedient to His Holy Church. The rest really isn't relevant. The important thing to remember is Prayer is the only answer to fulfilling God's Will! That's why Our Lady repeats over and over and over: "Pray! Pray! Pray!" Too many try to interpret messages and messengers without a proper perspective compass. Too many take things out of context or go by their opionions of mind rather than by their hearts and souls. They can't see the trees through the forest because they're too busy chasing messages and messengers without truly hearing what Heaven is trying to convey. They want the sensational and consequently make things too complex while overlooking the obvious and the simplicity of the messages which must be totally Scripture-based and in accord with Church teaching. There is nothing new in private revelation, only a contemporary twist, so to speak, on Divine Revelation to help us better understand.
For that purpose we have published over the past nine plus years, in conjunction with the Medjugorje Messages, the Messages to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart always after they had been submitted beforehand to a wise and holy priest for his discernment. All messages have also been submitted to the bishops of the particular See to which Cyndi was obedient to while she was receiving these private revelations from Our Lord and His Blessed Mother between 1990 and 1995. While a few were questioned by her bishop in Arkansas, after meeting with him, he agreed that they were in accord with Church teaching and Sacred Scripture and, in no way, contravene faith and morals. He stopped short of approving the Messages in the first stage because, after all, what ordinary wants to get involved in private revelation? The mounds of paper work and headaches of filing with the Vatican are more than most bishops want to handle. That is one reason you have so few messages or messengers under investigation. Some bishops are open to private revelation but ask that we check with each parish pastor if we're going to distribute the messages in his parish. Such was the case with Bishop Robert Brom in San Diego and Bishop Charles Grahmann in Dallas. Other bishops don't want to deal with private revelation at all, opting to ignore the whole concept in hopes they just go away. It's the ostrich syndrome.
There are, sadly, a few bishops which we fortunately have not come across personally, who will not allow any private revelation to be promulgated in their dioceses unless they have been fully approved by the Church. That leaves Guadalupe, Rue de Bac, Lourdes, La Salette and Fatima as "sure" things but greatly curtails others which all play a part in the great tapestry God has woven in these two centuries by sending His very Own Mother. This episcopal refusal can surely harm the Medjugorje movement as well as other messages that merely complement Divine Revelation. Sadly too many priests and bishops, as well as the laity, fail to realize that much of the Church's structure, devotions and Religious Orders grew from the seed of private revelation. That is not conjecture, but rather fact! Check the Lives of the Saints, Documents of the Church as well as the History of the Church, the Popes and origins of Religious Orders and it's there in black and white. What if all purported private revelation had been suppressed until after the Church formally approved it? First of all, how would Heaven's words ever be promulgated? Secondly, the Church would not be as rich in tradition as she is and there'd be a lot fewer religious - practically none! For that reason, as well as the articles prefacing it all in February, March, April and early May on signs and messages leading up to our May editorials, we went ahead and published the purported Prophecies of Saint Bernadette last May. Are they authentic? Time will tell, but not to publish them would have been a disservice to our readers. After all, private revelation doesn't always need to be private!
Though his pontificate was troubled by mistrust and cleaning up the messes of his predecessors, he was also a humble man and in this humility was the salvation of the papacy. He had already made many concessions to the Council for the sake of the Church, even to acknowledging the decrees at Constance which ruled that the Council's power is superior to the Pope. Eugene realized that though some of the battles had been lost, the war was not lost and with this spurring him on moved the Council from Basle to Ferrara, Italy. He had been strengthened by the Greek alliance which was precipitated by the call to the West for help to fight the Turks by John VII, Eastern Emperor. This had opened talks of reunion with Rome. Though his crusade against the Turks failed miserably with a bloodbath of papal troops at Varna in Turkey, the Easterners appreciated the effort and agreed to recognize the Pope's primacy, accept the statements on the Filioque which had been a consternation point in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and agreed on the Church's stance on Purgatory and the Holy Eucharist. With this agreement set, many of the Council Fathers abandoned Basle and joined the others at Ferrara where Eugene presided. Those left at Basle, rather than submitting to the Pope and seeking harmony, opted for the other course of action: to depose Eugene and elect a new pope, in effect - another antipope.
Felix was not as enthused about his nomination as those who had elected him and he reluctantly accepted, being crowned on June 24, 1440 after he had abdicated his dukedom. But, just as he feared, he would not get the recognition necessary for this kind of movement to succeed and, though he appointed some eminent, influential men as cardinals, this schism, thank God, never got off the ground. Meanwhile Eugene was gaining steam from the alliance with the Greeks and their power block, along with a growing list of those throwing their support beind Eugene. Yet there was still much to accomplish and those promoting democracy over hierarchy were encouraged by the fact that both France and Germany declared neutrality in the issue of recognizing the Pope as Supreme Pontiff over the Council. An insurrection near Ferrara and subterfuge by those left at Basle prompted Eugene and the Council to agree to move the Ecumenical Council to Florence. Eugene was very familiar with this central region of Italy which was among the leaders in a new form of art called the Renaissance. He introduced the Renaissance artisans to Rome and the Vatican, commissioning them to various projects at the Vatican including the bronze gates at the entrance of St. Peter's and a new chapel there. These would give way to what would become the grand and glorious St. Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel a century later. In Florence Eugene held the upper hand and, with more council members joining his camp and fewer to dissent there because the majority of the malcontents and hardliners had remained at Basle in what was called the "rump council," Eugene IV and the papacy were finally triumphant in 1445 when, just before closing, the Seventeenth Ecumenical Council declared the Pope was superior to a Council. Democracy was dead in so far as the Church was concerned and the papacy, as Christ had intended, was preserved for posterity with the successor of Peter being recognized as the Sovereign Pontiff.
Politics puzzled Eugene who had longed to return to his simple, religious atmosphere as an Augustinian monk. France and Germany both tried to play chess with the Holy See in striving to capitalize and garner more power and authority, but Eugene again fell back on God's Will and was able to weather the storms that were brewing. He was quite adroit in not offending anyone, but only offering good things about everyone. This not only helped him win friends at the Council and throughout Christian Europe and beyond, but also prompted Felix V's secretary Cardinal Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who would become Pope Pius II twelve years later, to return to Eugene asking forgiveness. This final act sealed the doom for the rump council at Basle and Felix basically withdrew from all activities. He would willingly abdicate and reconcile with Eugene's successor in 1449.
The extended fourteen-year council had taken its toll on Eugene and two years after concluding the 17th Ecumenical Council, he died on February 23, 1447 but not without honor and a sense of accomplishment for in the long run, despite the bitter battles that had claimed its share of casualties, he and Holy Mother Church had won the war. The purity of the papacy was preserved.
Next issue: Pope Nicholas V: First in the line of the Renaissance Popes
"My Father," Jesus prays, "I thank you for all the beauty of nature with which You surround Me, Your Son. I thank You that You give to Me at this time these beautiful souls who love Me, and thus love You. Let the Divine Will be made known to them who seek comfort as the darkness of My Passion approaches."
A timid knock on the door, and a woman enters. She is dressed in a light linen dress of dark color, and her veil completely covers her face as she hurries across to kneel before Jesus. It is evident she is crying.
"Martha," says Jesus with utmost kindness. "Do not weep. Am I not here to help and comfort you?"
His gentle tone helps Martha to lift her head and the stains of her tears are evident. She appears to me to be of medium height and build. Her face has a beauty that comes from within, but is not the beauty the world ponders and desires. Her eyes are large, dark velvet brown awash in her deep inner sorrow.
"O! Master! The tears have flowed all day. Even I do not understand them. But my heart, (here she strikes her breast) does understand. All you have said to us concerning Yourself is about to happen, and I, I--."
"Martha, do not grieve. You are strong. You have always been strong. The hour has come for Me, that is true. But you must believe also that which the Sacred Scriptures foretell of Me after My death."
"O! I believe. But, I... O! My Lord, My God, to not have you any more! When shall I see you again?"
Jesus gently touches her grief-stricken face and then lays His hand in blessing upon her head. "Martha, you are one of my strong believers. And in the days to come, many who, for now, are weaker, shall look to you for strength. Martha, I shall always be with you. You shall truly feel My presence. This I promise you until I call you to Me in Heaven. And you will also have My Mother!"
"Yes," Marthaís lips quiver slightly. "O! Master, what is my grief compared to that of Your Holy Mother? Jesus, allow me to be of service to her, who is blessed among all women."
"You shall comfort each other, my beloved daughter. Be at peace, Martha. Now is the time for strength."
Martha takes His right hand and kisses his long, slender fingers, then leaves the room. The door does not close. Rather, another enters, an older woman, yet stately. Despite the heat of the day which still lingers in the room, she wears a dark dress, a mantle and veil also of dark color. She crosses to Jesus, who instantly takes her outstretched hands and gently moves into position another chair, until they sit knee-to-knee.
"Well, Aunt?" Jesus beings, gazing at Mary fondly.
"My Lord, I -" Mary looks down, then up and directly into His eyes.
"I have come to ask forgiveness."
"You have it, Mary. But of what do I need to forgive you, my dear aunt?"
"O! Jesus! I am often a foolish old woman. I...I have caused You grief because of my worries over my sons. I have been proud to have James and Judas in your company. But..."
"Continue, Mary. I am listening and I read your heart."
"Jesus, I have always believed you to be The Son of God, the promised Messiah. Yet never could I conceive that all that Scripture contains about You - Your death - could really be true. I did not want to accept it."
"I know. James and Judas do not accept fully. Only My Mother...."
"I need Your forgiveness, Jesus. And I need your blessing. All I ask now is to remain faithful."
"Dear Aunt Mary, I do forgive you and I do bless you. Have no fear. You and your sons shall serve Me faithfully and you shall assist My Gospel to spread far and wide. You shall have My Mother to continue to guide and instruct you. I give you My Peace, Mary of Alpheus. Do not be troubled, for I solemnly tell you that in My Fatherís Kingdom your place is prepared."
Mary, Jesusí aunt, now breaks down and really sobs and Jesus, compassionate, allows her cleansing grief to run its course. At length He rises, and leading Her gently by the arm walks to the doorway with her. He says once again, "Peace, My beloved Aunt. I will always be with you."