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Jose Jackson
Jose Jackson

Apparitions



As Kant was writing about the possibility of spiritual apparitions, the emerging medium of the phantasmagoria used hidden magic lanterns to startle audiences with ghostly projections. Andriopoulos juxtaposes the philosophical arguments of German idealism with contemporaneous occultism and ghost shows. In close readings of Kant, Hegel, and Schopenhauer, he traces the diverging modes in which these authors appropriated figures of optical media and spiritualist notions.




Apparitions



The term "appearance" has been used in different apparitions within a wide range of contexts and experiences. And its use has been different with respect to Marian apparitions and visions of Jesus Christ.


In some apparitions such as Our Lady of Lourdes or Our Lady of Fatima an actual vision is reported, fully resembling that of a person being present. In some of these reports the viewers (at times children) do not initially report that they saw the Virgin Mary, but that they saw "a Lady" (often but not always dressed in white) and had a conversation with her. In these cases the viewers report experiences that resemble the visual and verbal interaction with a person present at the site of the apparition. In most cases, there are no clear indications as to the auditory nature of the experience, i.e. whether the viewers heard the voices via airwaves or an "interior" or subjective sense of communication. Yet, the 1973 messages of Our Lady of Akita, which were approved at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1988 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) are due to Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa who had been totally deaf before 1973 (and remained deaf until 1982 when she was cured during Sunday Mass as foretold in her messages), suggesting means of communication other than airwaves.


In some apparitions just an image is reported, often with no verbal interaction, and no conversation. An example is the reported apparitions at Our Lady of Assiut in which many people reported a bright image atop a building, accompanied by photographs of the image. The photographs at times suggest the silhouette of a statue of the Virgin Mary but the images are usually subject to varying interpretations, and critics suggest that they may just be due to various visual effects of unknown origin. However, such image-like appearances are hardly ever reported for visions of Jesus and Mary. In most cases these involve some form of reported communication.


And apparitions should be distinguished from interior locutions in which no visual contact is claimed. In some cases of reported interior locutions such as those of Father Stefano Gobbi a large amount of text is produced, but no visual contact is claimed. Interior locutions usually do not include an auditory component, but consist of inner voices. Interior locutions are generally not classified as apparitions. Physical contact is hardly ever reported as part of Marian apparitions, unlike in cases of interaction with Jesus Christ. In rare cases a physical artifact is reported in apparitions. A well known example is the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe which is reported to have been miraculously imprinted on the cloak of Saint Juan Diego.


According to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, the era of public revelation ended with the death of the last living Apostle. A Marian apparition, if deemed genuine by Church authority, is treated as private revelation that may emphasize some facet of the received public revelation for a specific purpose, but it can never add anything new to the deposit of faith. The Church will confirm an apparition as worthy of belief, but belief is never required by divine faith. The Holy See has officially confirmed the apparitions at Guadalupe, Saint-Etienne-le-Laus, Paris (Rue du Bac, Miraculous Medal), La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima, Portugal, Pontmain, Beauraing, and Banneux.


As a historical pattern, Vatican approval of apparitions seems to have followed general acceptance of a vision by well over a century in most cases. According to Father Salvatore M. Perrella of the Marianum Pontifical Institute in Rome, of the 295 reported apparitions studied by the Holy See through the centuries only 12 have been approved, the latest being the May 2008 approval of the 17th- and 18th-century apparitions of Our Lady of Laus.


Other apparitions continue to be approved at the local level, e.g. the December, 2010 local approval of the 19th-century apparitions of Our Lady of Good Help, the first recognized apparition in the United States.


An authentic apparition is believed not to be a subjective experience, but a real and objective intervention of divine power. The purpose of such apparitions is to recall and emphasize some aspect of the Christian message. The church states that cures and other miraculous events are not the purpose of Marian apparitions, but exist primarily to validate and draw attention to the message. Apparitions of Mary are held to be evidence of her continuing active presence in the life of the church, through which she "cares for the brethren of her son who still journey on earth".


Not all claims of visitations are dealt with favourably by the Roman Catholic Church. For example, claimed apparitions of Our Lady, under the title of "Our Lady of the Roses, Mary, Help of Mother's", Jesus Christ and various saints at Bayside, New York have not been condoned or sanctioned in any way, nor those at the Necedah Shrine in Necedah, Wisconsin. The behavior of Ms Veronica Lueken and Mary Ann Van Hoof, who claimed these heavenly favors, was deemed not to compare favorably with the "quiet pragmatism" of St. Bernadette Soubirous - Church authorities are said to use Bernadette as a model by which to judge all who purport to have visitations. Indeed, both women seriously criticized the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, allegedly even harshly, and Mrs. Van Hoof is said to have subsequently left Roman Catholicism for an independent local Old Catholic Church.


Marian apparitions are sometimes reported along with weeping statuesof the Virgin Mary. However, to date only one single example of acombined weeping statue and apparition (namely Our Lady of Akita) has been approved by the Vatican and the rest have usually been dismissed as hoaxes.


An Apparition is an appearance. In that sense, there have been reports of apparitions since the earliest history of the Church. I have always found St. Matthews account of the crucifixion to be one of the most fascinating. After the Lord Jesus surrenders Himself in Love for our redemption we read this account:


Messages: Often in an apparition, a message is given to the seer (the person who beholds the vision). It may be a warning about the need for prayer and penance to avert a coming war or disaster. After apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, Our Lady of Fatima told Sister Lucia de Santos that a pope would be shot. This prophecy was verified on May 13, 1981, when Pope John Paul II was shot in Rome.


During the past several years, the number of reported apparitions has been greatly increasing. While concentrating on Marian apparitions, our purpose here is to view all popular piety in the context of the total picture of Catholic faith, devotion, and discipleship. Our approach is to strike a happy medium between vain credulity and sterile skepticism. Perhaps we could label our position as one of critical or moderate realism.


These four criteria may also be restated in a negative way. There must be no doubt that what is occurring is truly exceptional and beyond human explanation. There must be no doctrinal error attributed to God or to the Blessed Virgin Mary or some other saint. The third negative criterion is that there must be no hint of financial advantage to anyone connected with the apparitions, nor must any of the visionaries be accused of serious moral improprieties at the time when the visions were being received, nor may there be evidence of mental illness or psychopathic tendencies.


The Bishop's decision regarding alleged apparitions usually does not attempt to interpret or give the spiritual significance of the events, nor to interpret the messages or identify the heavenly persons who may have appeared.


As the bishops are entrusted with these responsibilities stemming from the nature of their office, so there are fundamental responsibilities on the part of the members of the diocese. First, they are to obey their bishops when the latter act as Christ's representatives (canon 212), that is, when they teach formally or establish binding discipline as pastors of a particular church. This obedience owed to the bishops in their capacity as leaders of particular churches is intended to promote the common good. Canon 753 also speaks of the "religious assent" owed to the bishops' teaching authority, which means a special quality of respect and gratitude, along with critical awareness and good will. Hence, there should be intelligent obedience to ecclesiastical authority in the matter of alleged apparitions.


A new era opened in the canonical regulations dealing with apparitions occurred in 1969. In that year, Pope Paul VI deleted certain canons of the Code of Canon Law (1917). These canons had specifically forbidden the publication of all books or pamphlets about new apparitions, revelations, visions, prophecies, and miracles, or which introduce new devotions, even though justified as private. Such prohibitions are not part of the Code of Canon Law (1983). So the many reports of Marian apparitions may in part be due to the new freedom to discuss freely and to report such occurrences to the media, without first submitting them to ecclesiastical approbation.


Our faith cannot rest on private revelations and apparitions. Even with properly approved apparitions, we must maintain a proper perspective -- viewing them as an assistance to nourish our faith in the central dogmas of the Incarnation, the Trinity and the Eucharist. In their 1973 pastoral letter, Behold Your Mother: Woman of Faith, the American bishops called authenticated appearances of Mary "providential happenings [which] serve as reminders of basic Christian themes: such as prayer, penance, and the necessity of the sacraments." (# 100). 041b061a72


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