by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto


In a recent issue of our local Catholic newspaper, as I am sure was true in many other newspapers, I read that the Vatican discouraged "official" pilgrimages to Medjugorje.

Needless to say, I was irritated with the short article because it lacked so much factual information. And needless to say I thought that many people would read it, analyze it only superficially and make a negative judgment about Medjugorje. And indeed I heard that some persons, who at one time believed in our Lady's appearances in Medjugorje, under a desire to obey the "Pope," judged that they should have nothing to do with those reported apparitions. "I'm sticking just with Fatima," they say...forgetting that many people at the time of the Fatima apparitons were NOT open to Our Lady's appearances there and therefore did not respond to her request to pray the rosary. Then what happened? Another war! much suffering! Satan does not get good people to rob banks, but he can get them to be such goody two-shoes, that they are blinded by a lack of good spiritual common sense.

Dear, dear people...those of you that read the above mentioned article only at the surface...have you forgotten the words of Jesus Whose Authority surpasses all? Have you forgotten that Jesus said: "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit." We are talking here about the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. He Who is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life! He Who knows all things.

Today Satan is using even Catholic papers to create confusion and disbelief in the works of God. Theology has many branches. Theology is like a tree. God is the Roots of the tree, providing the life and nourishment. The trunk of the tree is the Church. And the branches of the tree are the various facets of theology. There is Sacramental Theology, Dogmatic Theology, Moral Theology, Theology of the Spiritual Life, Mariology, Mystical Theology, for example. Do you know any priest that is an expert...I mean a degreed expert in everyone of these fields? I don't!

Let's compare this with the medical field. Do you know any medical Doctor that is an expert in every field of medicine? I don't! I have a nephew who is a most accomplished Orthodontist in Amarillo, TX. He is as top-notch as they come...IN HIS FIELD. But do you know what? I wouldn't recommend that he be brought into an operating room to perform brain surgery! Neither is he a heart surgeon, a dermatologist, or a podiatrist. Am I putting him down? Not in the least...only facing the reality that he IS an expert in orthodontistry, not in the other fields mentioned.

Somehow, however, we human beings PRESUME that a priest is an expert in every theological field of study mentioned above. No, no, dear trooper! Face the same reality about priests as I tried to convey regarding the medical field. As a matter of fact, of the many priests that I have met and know, they all have told me that they have had little or no training in the seminary in the area of Mystical Theology. (Yet many of them presume to make pronouncements about reported apparitions.) Would you allow a podiatrist to perform heart by-pass surgery on you? I wouldn't! I would want an expert regarding any particular medical concern I might have.

My point is...THINK MORE DEEPLY. Because a printed article states that a "statement came from the Vatican" is NOT an implication that it came directly from the Pope any more than a statement issued from the White House always has its direct origin from the President of the United States. It might come from the Secretary of State or the Attorney General.

The Holy Father has made many "private" positive statements about Medjugorje, including one to Bishop Trinan, the former Bishop of Idaho who told me personally that the Holy Father told him: "It is good for people to go there. [Medjugorje]

Also the term "official" pilgrimages must be understood. I've led 9 pilgrimages to Medjugorje. Should they be classified as "official?" What are "official" pilgrimages. Those led by Bishops or Pastors of a parish? Is the statement one which forbids Catholics to go to Medjugorje? I don't think so.

And if one looks honestly, as Jesus Himself directed, at the FRUITS, can one say that what is happening in Medjugorje is from the devil? People by the thousands are going back to confession after being away for 15, 20 years and more. The devil wants this? These are bad fruits?

Think deeply folks! I'm hearing things like..."The devil can work miracles too!" Where are the EXPERTS in Mystical Theology? Not the ones making these statements! Anyone who takes an HONEST, FAIR look at the good that is wrought in Medjugorje and uses the words of Jesus by which to judge cannot fall into the misconception that Medjugorje should not be visited.

Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church in Paragraph 67 does not forbid people to visit such places. As a matter of fact, it indicates that the sensus fidelium, the sense of the faithful knows how to discern. If people do not go, how can Rome judge the fruits?

The Holy Father Himself looks favorably on Medjugorje. I plant my flag in his corner. Read with great discernment. God bless you!