Monday, May 15, 2006

Apparition Chasers

by Steve Ray on May 15, 2006

Written Saturday,  May 15, 2006


Apparition Chasers

I have never been one for chasing apparitions, though people send me information and arguments why I should go here and go there to hear the latest locutions and revelations. 

But yesterday Janet and I went to visit our first apparition site since becoming Catholics. It was approved by the Church in 1861 and has been visited by millions of people.

In 1846, two years before Karl Marx published his Communist Manifesto, Mary appeared to a 14 year old girl and an 11 year old boy 6,000 feet above sea level in southern France. They were tending a small herd of cows and the saw a “Beautiful Lady” weeping with her head in her hands.

Mary told the youngsters to tell the Christians to follow her Son and not to profane Sunday, keeping it holy for the Lord. She said many other things and then went up the hill and rose into the sky and disappeared into a bright light.

The bishop of Lyon, overseer for the town of La Sallette, approved the apparition on the anniversary of the appearance, on September 19, 1861.

Janet and I drove several hours from Lyon. At first it was relatively flat but soon we saw the snow-capped French Alps in the distance. We knew the site of “Our Lady of La Salette” was over a mile above sea level and as we wound back and forth up the mountains we soon drove above the snow line with remaining piles of snow to left and right.

The location of the church and complex honoring Our Lady of La Salette was indescribably beautiful. Janet and I had lived in Switzerland (studying with Dr. Francis Schaeffer) in the early 80’s and these mountains and deep valleys took us back in time and brought lovely memories to mind.

We took lots of pictures, prayed and worshiped God while we felt a little lightheaded because of the lack of oxygen at that height. I wondered why Mary revealed herself to young herdsmen way up in the cold pastures above sea level – far from the cities and churches below.

Then I remembered what Jesus said: that we had to become like little children to inherit the kingdom of God. I also recalled that Jesus had chosen the rough and coarse fishermen from the outback instead of the learned scholars in Jerusalem.

I also wondered why some Catholics are prone to chase after every supposed apparition or locution as though the word of God is scarce and must be sought after with great zeal. I find it curious that many travel the globe seeking to hear a word from God when their Bibles collect dust on the coffee table.

With many of the apparitions vying for our attention today we do not KNOW if it is really God’s word or not, but with the Scriptures we can hear the word of God with all certainty – and you don’t have to travel the globe to hear it! And the Mass and the tradition of the Church all provide the riches of God’s word and sacrament right in our own back yards.

What about apparitions? Are Catholics obligated to listen and obey them – referring of course to the Church sanctioned apparitions?

No, the Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states that they are private revelation and Catholics are not obliged to follow them. Here is what it says:

Revelations made in the course of history which do not add to or form part of the deposit of faith, but rather may help people live out their faith more fully. Some of these private revelations have been recognized by the authority of the Church, which cannot accept so-called revelations of faith that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of Christ confided to his Church.

Public revelation, of course, is that which was given by Jesus and the Apostles – the deposit of faith once delivered to the saints. It is contained in Scripture and Sacred Tradition and cannot be added to by any subsequent “private” relevelation.

So, we really enjoyed the visit to La Sallette and we prayed that the approved message of the “Beautiful Lady” will be firmly lived out in our lives. But, now much more grateful we are for the Holy Scriptures, the Sacred Tradition, the Liturgy of the Church, and the Magisterium.

No apparition chasing here – but definitely a love for all the riches Jesus Christ has given us in his Church.


Wonderful Afternoon

by Steve Ray on May 15, 2006


Written later in the day on Saturday, May 13, 2006

What a Marvelous Day

It was a wonderful day. After visiting La Salette, we stopped in the first village down the mountain named Corps for lunch – it was already 2:30 and we had a long ride back. A Swiss-looking village nestled on the side of the mountain. We found a nice hotel-restaurant and had no idea what awaited us.

(If you are uninterested in gastromical delights, skip down a few paragraphs.) Salmon wrapped in puffed pastry, appetizers to dazzle the senses. Sauces to delight the palate and sumptuous food like we have never eaten. Shrimp, oysters, olives, smoked meats, breads with bleu cheese and salmon and smoked ham or beef, pickled beets, creamed vegetables, and more. After 45 minutes of sipping the local red wine and eating more “starters” than I can ever remember or comprehend, they finally brought the first course. For Janet it was pigeon patte and for me a stuffed mountain pie full of meat and cheese and sitting on a mountain of the best mushrooms I have ever eaten with a sauce that cannot be described.

When I was a boy we used to collect Morel Mushrooms. Even last year I found a few along the tree line behind our house. We tenderly sautéed them with a touch of butter and cut them in small pieces to share and savor. Today Morels are more per pound than gold – I think. But our mountain plate was full of fresh Morels.

Then came Janet’s huge braised trout with two large crawfish in a delightful crawfish sauce. Then came my roast duck with more mushrooms in a different though equally delicious brown sauce. Setting in the middle was a huge bowl of scalloped potatoes.

But that was not all. Next came fruits, pies, ice creams and coffees. The whole meal took two hours and the British couple sitting next to us laughed about if we would need help getting to our car after eating so much food. It was a gift from God, we think, and we both said it was the finest meal we had ever eaten in our lives.

We had the chef sign the wine bottle which we will keep as a souvenir “That Day in France.”

Anyway, it started to pour and with windshield wipers flapping we descended the windy roads back to Lyon. But we had one more stop before hitting the mattress to prepare for an early flight on Saturday.

We went about 20 miles north of Lyon to Ars. We had been there during the Jubilee year in 2000 but we wanted to visit again to pray for all our priest and seminarian friends – and for our family – in the presence of the incorrupt body of St. John Vianney, the Cure de Ars.

We got there at 7 PM and expected the church to be locked up tight for the night. But that is not what God had planned for us – to put frosting on the cake of a very special day. We drove up in the rain and were amazed to see the church door open. We quickly parked and ran to the door expecting them to close and lock it at any minute.

No locked doors here! We walked right into the beginning of a Mass and realized before long that it was the Bishop of Ars celebrating the Mass. It was confirmation and many young people were dressed in their finest. We loved the Mass, rejoiced in God’s many gifts and stayed to pray and meditate for quite a while after everyone was leaving.

Dodging the rain we ran back to our car and took off for the hotel. Right now Janet and I are sitting in the Lyon airport ready to board our plane for another adventure – to dig around under old churches in Rome to discover the life and saga of the Apostolic Fathers.

More later.