|OTHERWORLDLY WHITE LILY OF THE NILE|
The so-called apparitions at Medjugorje are not now, have never, and will never be my thing.
If they're your thing, fine.
But they're not my thing. And until further notice, they're not the Church's thing.
In fact, as of October 23, 2013, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith directed that bishops be advised that “clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such ‘apparitions’ would be taken for granted.”
In other words, whatever our stance on the "apparitions," until further notice we're not to participate in public conferences sponsored by those who assume they're true.
Enter a woman from Scottsdale, Arizona, who a year or so ago invited me to speak at a "Marian Conference" that's to take place August 21-23, 2015.
"We'd love to hear your conversion story," she said. And I love to tell it. So I said I could come Friday evening, speak as early as possible Saturday, and leave after my book signing.
So far so good. I have tons to say about Mary: fierce, tender, courageous, long-suffering, noble.
As the time drew near, however, I wanted to make sure the info I'd put down on my Events page was accurate. So last month I googled "marian conference scottsdale" and what came up, to my horror, were two main sites: http://www.medjugorje.org/medconf.htm and http://www.medjugormag.com/conferences.html.
The website for the Arizona Peace Center, the organization claiming to back the "Marian Conference," has a whole tab for Medjugorje. Here's a representative paragraph:
"Gospa has appeared every day since June 24, 1981. The visionaries say she appears to be 18 to 19 years old, is beautiful beyond description; she has dark hair, blue eyes and rosy cheeks. She always comes with twelve stars around her head and hovers above the ground. Sometimes she is accompanied by angels."
In other words, however the conference is styled, the apparitions at Medjugorje will be 1) prominently featured and 2) taken as true.
I told my contact I was troubled that the conference had been represented as a Marian conference when there is no Marian conference site, but rather direct links to sites with the word Medugorje in the address sites that are aimed at and focused exclusively upon those who subscribe to the truth of the apparitions at Medjugorje.
She assured me that the conference was in full compliance with the Church and that the local bishop was giving the introduction. She was professional, courteous and responsive.
Nonetheless, I returned my 50% deposit. I removed the conference from my Events page. I told her, "I do not want my name associated with the conference in any way" and asked her to remove my name from all promotional materials.
Unfortunately, in some instances it was too late to do so.
Either way, the whole incident makes me uneasy. I'd hate to think even one person was encouraged to go to the conference with the expectation of hearing me speak. I'd hate to think someone was encouraged to disobedience, and to listen to a talks based on apparitions that may or may not eventually be accepted as authentic by the Vatican on the strength of my name.
So just for the record, I am not connected with, nor will I speak at, nor do I support the "Marian Conference" to take place August 21-23rd in Scottsdale, Arizona.
There are millions of useful, interesting, thought-provoking things to reflect upon vis-a-vis Mary. Why, out of all those, would we focus upon a facet on which the jury of the Church is still out?
Why, bathed in the light of truth, would we ever have to disguise, hide, double-speak, dissemble, masquerade?
More to the point, why would I go halfway across the world to see an "apparition" when, right outside my door, are a mockingbird, a palm tree, a cloud?
|AN "ORDINARY' JACARANDA TREE|