Mark was born in San Francisco on February 18, 1959 and grew up in Millbrae, on the peninsula near San Francisco International Airport. After elementary and high school, he enrolled at the University of San Francisco where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Theology from the Jesuit-run college. He followed that up with postgraduate studies at the St. Ignatius Institute Catholic Great Books Program at USF before crossing the Atlantic to take up residency in Rome, attending the Angelicum where he first earned his Sacred Theological License and then his Sacred Theological Doctorate, graduating Magna cum Laude from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in the early eighties.
It was during these years of study that he came to know and truly appreciate two special women in his life. One was his bride Beth, a convert to Catholicism and the other, of course, the Blessed Mother. As Mark and Beth settled down to begin life together forming their own Catholic family, the role and purpose of the Blessed Mother came more into focus. More and more he realized the link between Fatima and Medjugorje, and why Our Lady has been appearing so frequently in these latter days of the twentieth century. He recognized the urgency to the messages. He also came to the realization how the declaration of the "Final Dogma" will clear the way for the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart as Mary promised at Fatima.
Having thoroughly studied the Four Dogmas of Mary that proclaim the truths by the Church of the Motherhood of God, the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, and her glorious Assumption into Heaven, Mark realized the time had come, at the summit of this era often referred to as the "Marian Era," for Christ's Vicar on earth to officially proclaim and define the fifth and final Marian Dogma which is, of course, Our Lady's universal mediation as Coredemptrix with her Divine Son Jesus, Mediatrix of all grace at God the Father's permission, and Advocate for all of God's children. Her role defines these titles as permitted by God as His chosen vessel. Just as the other doctrines on Mary were nothing new, so also these titles have long been accepted and taught by the Church but not declared Dogma. Mark could see the need, realizing her apparitions and the crises and triumphs of the Church, of which she is Mother of the Church, were pertinent to the entire tableau being formed by Heaven. He could see the pattern intended, "Her titles are her works, her titles are her functions, and the solemn proclamation of our Mother's titles will lead to the full release of her most powerful sanctifying functions of grace and peace for the many crises experienced in the contemporary Church and world."
As the clock wound down on the 20th century Mark could see it was time to go into action on behalf of his Heavenly Mother. He recognized that, "The solemn declaration of Our Lady as Dogma by the Vicar of Christ ushers in, in a way both profound and supernatural, the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. It is the key that unlocks the graces of the Triumph." He also understood the meaning behind Our Lady's purported apparitions in a remote area of western Yugoslavia, which today is Bosnia-Herzegovina. Thus he delved deeper into the Messages of Medjugorje, studying them intensely and releasing his first book in 1985 entitled "The Message of Medjugorje: The Marian Message to the Modern World," one of the first books on the spiritual phenomena in Our Lady's special Oasis of Peace half-way around the world. He followed that up in 1988 with "Heart of the Message of Medjugorje," published by Franciscan University Press in 1988. He had been hired on a few years earlier as Professor of Mariology and Sacred Theology by Father Michael Scanlan, TOR ( our 23rd selection of the TOP 100 CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY last week) and the Board of Directors of Franciscan University of Steubenville. It was a wise decision for Mark has received the Columbia Devlin Award as Teacher of the Year not only in 1987, but also in 1993, 1997 and last year as well.
In 1991 he released his third book on Medjugorje also published by Franciscan University Press titled "Medjugorje and the Family, Helping Families Live the Message." It was a work close to his heart for he and Beth already had several children in building a family that today numbers seven - John-Mark, Michael, Christiana, Mariana, Joseph, Annaleah, and Mary Bernadette.
During all this time he served also as a contributing writer to New Covenant Magazine founded by Ralph Martin (our 25th selection of the TOP 100 CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY last week as well), to the National Catholic Register and Mary's People both owned by publisher Bob Schaeffer who had formed Queenship Publishing. It was here that Dr. Miravalle published his five books on the Fifth Dogma beginning with "Introduction to Mary, The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion" in 1993 along with his most famous book "Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate" that same year. He expanded on the latter by contributing to and editing two theological anthologies entitled "Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate: Theological Foundation, Towards a Papal Definition?" in 1995 followed by "Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate: Theological Foundations II, Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical" in 1997. Last year Queenship published his eighth book "The Dogma and the Triumph."
His writings and numerous appearances on EWTN with Mother Angelica on her Mother Angelica Live weekly show along with Johnette Benkovich's series and weekly radio show "Behold Your Mother" on WEWN catapulted him into the international limelight, garnering a cover story in Newsweek Magazine in August 1997 as well as numerous interviews on CNN, the BBC, Fox News and Catholic Family Radio where he also has a weekly show on the Blessed Virgin Mary and a TV program entitled "Franciscan Focus". In addition he conducts a Mariological series at the Apostolate of Family Consecration headed by Jerry and Gwen Coniker (the 70th selections of the TOP 100 CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY).
From his books, appearances, interviews, his extensive research, and the encouragement of countless cardinals, Vatican officials, a groundswell of the faithful and Schaeffer, he formed the International Catholic Movement Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici to promote and promulgate the importance of the Final Dogma. Not only did he meet several times with His Holiness Pope John Paul II but with numerous cardinals and bishops as well. The Advisory Board consists of at least 34 members of the Sacred Conclave including Cardinal John O'Connor and Cardinal Jamie Sin (the 65th selection of the TOP 100 CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY) as well as Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, one of the fastest rising prelates in the Church today. Two of his strongest endorsers are no longer with us on this earth but now interceding in Heaven. They are the late Dominican Cardinal Luigi Ciappi, who served as Papal Theologian for every Pope from Pope Pius XII to our current Holy Father, and the late Mother Teresa, who not only heartily endorsed it, but personally asked Mark to send a copy of his book to everyone of her 600 plus Missionaries of Charity houses worldwide. Vox Populi also received the official endorsement of the international council of the Legion of Mary. Dr. Miravalle addressed numerous Episcopal Conferences with his Mariological Presentations in Costa Rica, Nigeria, South India and Venezuela as well as giving Mariological Lectures in Austria, Bolivia, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Philippines and throughout the United States. He has consulted often with another renowned Mariologist Father Rene Laurentin, (the 33rd selection of the TOP 100 CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY). Father Rene is considered the world's foremost expert on Marian Apparitions and spiritual phenomena and Dr. Mark has learned from the master.
Dr. Miravalle's work has been distributed throughout the world, translated into nine different languages including English, Spanish, German, Polish, Dutch, Russian, French and Italian. Over the years, from 1994 on, several million signatures have been collected worldwide on a petition for the Final Dogma in Dr. Miravalle's effort to unite the faithful through a grassroots effort among Eucharistic and Marian Prayer groups as well as various parish organizations worldwide. While the petition continues today, Mark did present the petition and signatures received to the Holy Father which read, "Your Holiness, With filial love, we the faithful wish to humbly petition you, the Vicar of Christ, to solemnly define as Christian dogma the Church's constant teaching on Mary's co-redemptive role with Christ the Redeemer of humanity. It is our belief that such a definition will bring to light the whole truth about Mary, Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mother of the Church. Therefore, it is our prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide you, Holy Father, to define and proclaim the Blessed Virgin Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all grace and Advocate for the People of God." For more, see the Vox Populi website at www.voxpopuli.org.
All truly believed that these petitions and the leaning of the Holy Father to place this final dogmatic crown on the head of the Immaculate Mother of God, whom His Holiness has dedicated his pontificate to through Totus Tuus, would become a reality last year during Pentecost when hundreds of thousands of lay groups descended on Rome including Dr. Mark. On the evening of May 31, 1998 he helped coordinate a Rosary procession of 8,000 behind St. Peter's Basilica to a statue of Our Lady in the Vatican gardens. At the end of the Rosary the Holy Father appeared and offered his prayers, encouragement and blessings. But no proclamation was made. In retrospect the opposition from within the Vatican and a threat that it would set back ecumenical process because of the nomenclature and perception that Mary was equal to Christ, in reference to the term "coredemptrix," made it politically impossible for the Pope to proclaim it on May 31, 1998 when Pentecost coincided with the Feast of the Visitation and the traditional Feast of Mediatrix of all Graces. Though Mark had emphasized that date as theologically and liturgically appropriate for the definition in accordance with the writings of many saints including Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, it was never the official position or prediction of Vox Populi. Therefore, though disappointed that the Pope did not make the proclamation when many thought he would, Mark continues undaunted, for he truly believes it will happen as he told Inside the Vatican, "Our vision is simple: We believe that it is not a question of 'if' but 'when' in terms of the eventual definition of the Maternal Mediation of Our Lady as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces, and Advocate. She is truly the Mother of Peoples and we believe she will be officially acknowledged as such."
Despite the political intrigue and liberal opposition, many believe the Jubilee Year 2000 could be a landmark year for many things, including pronouncing the Final Dogma. This includes Cardinal Vincenzo Fagiolo, the President-emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts who wrote: "May God grant to the Church the joy of opening the Third Millennium of the Christian era with the dogmatic proclamation of Mary Mediatrix. Have courage, Holy Father, the Christian people will follow you and you will not lack the support of good theologians, who are numerous. What a happy, glorious, immortal crown for the Holy Year 2000!"
Glorious indeed and when it does come, the Church can thank the tireless dedication of this young lay theologian from Northern California who said "Yes" to Our Lady in his efforts to acknowledge to the world Mary's true role in God's Plan.
Rev. Gomas isn't about to bolt for Rome, but speaks of the many people who are ignorant of what the Bible really says. Mixing up poetry with history, symbolism with literacy.
"I think it is fair and sad to say the level of biblical illiteracy is very high," he continued. What Rev. Gomas is saying is perfectly true. However, just who is biblically illiterate is the big question.
Today, Bible study groups are cropping up all over the Catholic Church. This is both praiseworthy and a problem. Praiseworthy that Catholics, which the Church always encouraged, are rediscovering the beauty and strength of the Bible. The problem? That many of them are making their own way through them.
"First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Peter 1:20-21)
Throughout the Scriptures, we see men chosen by God, clearly, as though who spoke (prophesied) in His name. They were the ones the people went to interpret those words. If the Scriptures are the sole authority, whose Scriptures do we rely? The Catholic? The King James Version? Maybe the Jehovah Witness' version? Whose? In the Middle Ages, the Albigenese 'scriptures' sanctified immorality. Sexual intimacy outside of marriage was sanctified, whereas marriage was held as an evil. Birth was seen as an evil since it would 'trap' a soul in sinful flesh. This 'abuse' of the Scriptures prompted the extreme action of the Council of Toulouse (not an ecumenical council) which had to restrict the layman's use of the Bible until they could be sure that they were receiving a correct interpretation instead of the Albigensian's version. This led to the fallacy that "the Catholic Church kept the Bible from the laity and burned it." The only Bible which was burnt (if any) were the Albigenese ones.
Scripture reads: "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3: 16-17). But what if the Scriptures are misinterpreted, mistranslated, or distorted to fit an idea or agenda? How profitable is it then?
We hear of radical feminists who say that God is a woman since, in the Old Testament, wisdom is personified as Sophia (from the Greek word meaning wisdom). This is the gnostic interpretation which has Sophia as a gnostic 'goddess', where Christ is, at best, a demiurge, a demi-god. Or that Lydia was a priestess as was Phoebe. None of these can be justified by a true interpretation of the Bible, only a misinterpretation or distortion. There are even biblical scholars who are questioning whether the woman in Isiaih 7:14 was a virgin, or just a young woman. And whether her child was a boy or a girl. Of course, if the woman is interpreted as not being a virgin then the Virgin birth is a sham. And if the child is a girl, what of Christ?
We hear militant gays saying that homosexual practices aren't condemned as a sin. Again, they say that it was male temple prostitutes that St. Paul was condemning. That God punished Sodom for being inhospitable (imagine God punishing an entire city for not offering visitors tea?) In short, name the movement, the agenda, the notion. One can, or will, find a 'Bible' that supports it or a Biblical study guide. Rev. David Stout even joked that "they are going to come out with a pre-natal study Bible." One can only imagine what it may say, depending on who publishes it. Planned Parenthood's interpretation will be far different from that of Right To Life.
Rev. Gomas points out that this stems from Biblical illiteracy, from 'educated' men and women who are really not literate in the Scriptures. The thing is that they all see themselves as biblically literate. Either through secular or religious universities, or via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
We may, and should, accept the Scriptures as authoritative teachings. That they are "inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." The problem comes, whose interpretation of those Scriptures do we believe and follow? Rev. Gomas' interpretation is no doubt different from those of Jerry Falwell, which is different from Oral Roberts, which is different from Jimmy Swaggert's. Just as Luther's interpretation was different from Calvin's, which was different from Wesley's, which was different from Knox's (not to mention Joseph Smith's [Mormon] and Charles Taze Russell [Jehovah Witness]).
Scripture tells us: "There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability" (2 Peter 3: 16-17).
Where then do we go for 'authoritative' teaching if we must be wary of " the ignorant and unstable" and " lawless men" who distort the Scriptures to their own, and our, destruction?
Scripture itself gives us the answer. The Church, the pillar and bulwark of truth is the 'authority' of the Scriptures (ref. 1 Timothy 3:15). Not the Church as in the people of God (if it were, we'd be back were we started) but the Church as in the hierarchy of the Church, established by God to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you;" (Matthew 28: 19-20) With Peter as the head of that hierarchy (ref. Matthew 16: 16-19).
As St. Augustine wrote: "I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so."
Scott Hahn, an ex-Presbyterian minister and Theologian, asked whether truth was to be found in the Church, the Bible, or Both. As Rev. Gomas pointed out, "Scripture is just one of the gifts and graces of the church" Just as in the Old Testament, God gives His people His words, His teachings, His commands. And we go to His 'representatives' on the earth to help us interpret those words, teachings and commands.
If we don't, then we are simply replacing one Magisterium for another. The Magisterium of ourselves. Not the Church of the People of God, not even the Church established by God, but a church made up of one. No doubt, many can be found to agree with this singular church, but the truth would not be what is found there.
So, this Biblical illiteracy can be seen as the cause of great misfortune. Schisms, heresies, apostasies have all come about due to this illiteracy. But rather than making ourselves biblical scholars according to the thoughts of Moody, Harvard, etc. we can rely on God and His Church to reveal the truth of Scriptures.
"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Timothy 4: 1-5).
Pax Christi, Pat