A View From Afar
The Full Version
A non-Catholic reader from New Zealand has become interested in Marian Apparitions and Messages dealing with the End of These Times.
Recently he wrote to share his "good fortune" ("good fortune" are his words) with us: He had just found out that Ivan, one of the Medjugorje Visionaries, was going to be very near his location and he would have the opportunity to hear about those messages directly from a visionary.
We felt just as fortunate. Since this gentleman, who had proven to be an honest and sincere man, would probably be able to give us an accurate "view from outside the Marian Apparition Circles". Therefore, we requested that he would take careful note of the entire event and send to us a report.
After sending his initial condensed version, he has now sent the
full version which we publish here now with his permission.
We feel that this would give the rank-and-file Faithful a
view through the eyes of an individual whom could be described as
"having landed in a
and walked into a Catholic event for the first time ever". That
a "virgin witness" with no preconceived notions nor passionate
regarding Catholicism and/or Marian Apparitions.
Keep in mind that the most powerful Evangelization that we can do is
by example - what others see and perceive. As we have said many times
before: "Talk is cheap" and the condition of the world today attest to
such reality after 2000 years of "Evangelization"..
What I intended to be a purely factual account, of course has been clouded with 'impressions' I have of the events tonight [24 February 2005].CONCLUSION
I have NEVER had ANY exposure direct to Catholic 'processes' - weddings, funerals, Mass etc., so tonight was a somewhat bewildering time!!!
The event was obviously sponsored by some local church as when I turned up, the 'Agenda' in the material we were handed was as follows;
6.00 pm Rosary
6.40 pm Apparition
7.00 pm Mass
8.00 pm Ivan's Talk
The place was packed (it was a Catholic boys school chapel and auditorium for the overflow people) I got there very early in a vain expectation of getting a front row seat, only to be left standing room only. It was obviously very well supported by the locals.
My initial impressions, when it all started, was that the whole thing was a slick business, both the event and the Catholic Church. What didn't help in my forming of this opinion was the one page 'flyer' that was also handed out: "Special Pilgrimages for 2005 - Five beautiful grace filled pilgrimages from 'XYZ' Travel World.
It was like an invitation to attend theme parks around the world "Hurry to book - Only a few spaces left" (Seriously !!) I decided that someone was making handsome profit from of all of this.
[Note from The M+G+R Foundation: What starts on a negative, bordering on the cynical, note has a happy ending and a lesson for all.]
Anyway, the Rosary started and I wasn't involved, as I basically didn't know what was said, in what order or how. I observed that there was a lot of repetition and ritual with it. It struck me that a large number of people were 'going through the motions' without really being involved or believing what they were doing, having said that I must also say that there were a few who were deeply involved in their experience.
One memory is of a man, with his family, who was very well dressed. In fact he appeared to be either about to go to or had come back from some sort of cocktail function as he was wearing a white bow tie and other slightly unusual attire. I noticed that while he was absorbed in his Rosary, that he yawned a couple of times.
That went on for an hour during which time Ivan appeared, and after a minute or so of his head bowed, seemed to be having a quiet conversation. I took a number of photos quietly. The crowd stopped and everyone leaned forward to watch him and it went silent. When he was finished several minutes later, the Rosary resumed.
The timing – how convenient (I thought). How is it that Mary appears at such a convenient time for a presentation. Although mind you, Ivan did stand up in the middle of the Rosary, interrupting it. But maybe that was to dispel the illusion of the convenient timing. Does she appear at the same time of day or night no matter where in the world Ivan is?
Personally, I had the feeling that people were expecting something profound to happen, and of course it did not. It was distinctly unsettling that almost everyone watching leaned forward in their seats at the same time as Ivan moved in front of the altar – the noise of this movement of so many people at the same time was quite clear. It was almost like it had been rehearsed or something. The strange thing was, everyone had a clear view in the chapel as the seating was staggered and raised toward the back of the building, and so why they all leaned forward for a better view, I have no idea.
I was disappointed somehow in the apparition part. That the ‘conversation’ was one-sided. I do not know, I guess I somehow expected him to be more animated. I somehow expected more of a big deal from Ivan over the apparition. That he would need some time alone afterwards, a private time to recover from the experience….. but maybe it's just so ho hum, so ordinary to him now, like he's speaking to an old friend. But that doesn't ring true either. It should be a deeply spiritual experience, something profound, and the impression I had was that it was no big deal.
Yes Mary is fundamentally a mother, but as a Heavenly manifestation I expected it to have a bigger effect on him. Yes, he did return quietly to his seat and the Rosary continued, so I guess he could have had some time to recover at that point.
When the Rosary finished, I could not stand the idea of going through an hour of something similar in the form of a Mass, so I left to get something to eat and a coffee. (Sorry - as I said, I have never been to anything Catholic, and this was all a bit too heady and laborious for the first time).
I left feeling disillusioned and that there was this big circus and business built around the whole thing. We spent some time discussing the events we had witnessed while away from the venue.
I returned with about 15 minutes of the Mass left.
We walked in and sat down in another part of the venue that had been set up with a large screen that was transmitting the event in the main auditorium – there was simply no way to get back into the main chapel. The service had reached the point of the blessing of the bread and wine, and other priests came to the building we were in after a few minutes so that the people in our building could partake.
I had struck up a conversation with a much older gentleman next to me who was asking why I had attended – it was probably obvious that we were not used to the proceedings in a Catholic service. I explained that we were there to see Ivan, and when it came our row to go up and receive communion, the gentleman motioned for us to go ahead. I mentioned to him that neither of us was Catholic or had been confirmed, so I felt it was not appropriate for us to go up.
What I thought was quite nice was at the end of it everyone hugged or shook each others hands (this must be part of the 'process') I have not encountered this before, and I felt it put a really 'human' touch to everything.
Then Ivan came out again and spoke through an interpreter. I still felt a bit like he was part of a whole stage show, until part way through his presentation.
He seemed stiff, reserved, humbled and hesitant. There was an awkwardness about him. This could have been because of nerves, although an experienced speaker like Ivan should surely have relaxed into his presentation sooner than this.
Initially in his presentation it felt like he was reciting a story he'd told a thousand times, which of course he probably has. Particularly because of the way the interpretation was done too – very short, staccato.
The need for an interpreter was very intrusive and distracted from the message somehow. Almost like Ivan was going through the motions too. Why did he need an interpreter? He does so much travel overseas, in English speaking countries. He obviously understands English – from the way he corrected the interpreter at one point, and maybe another instance… I can't remember.
If his main purpose was to get the message to the masses, why have such a prolonged mass, and other ritual, particularly if the majority are not engaging in the mass anyway. Why sacrifice the opportunity to get a genuine message, a genuine opportunity for conversion, to make an impact?
My feeling is that something did happen at Medjugorje but they're now riding on the coat-tails. He's sick of it all.
He talked about the first few days of the apparitions. He then focussed on the message, that 'Our Lady' was the mother of peace and love and that we have a future and we have turned so far away from God. She is not here to tell us of the end of the world. The repetition is important as we are her children, and when we teach our children, we tell them things hundreds or thousands of times before it sinks in - this is the same with prayer and her message.
Ivan asked that instead of people asking him questions and him answering, that everyone said a certain number of Hail Mary's and something else which I do not recall. Again, being non-Catholic, I wondered why the number would be important.
I also thought that it was very convenient that there was no time for questions and answers. He comes from all the way around the world to tell the message and yet doesn't have time for questions and answers. [Although with a crowd that huge it would have been a logistical nightmare.]
Suddenly what I observed earlier was starting to make sense. Also he said that she says we must pray with our hearts, not just the words.... even more of what I observed earlier was making sense.... The scene I had witnessed earlier that left me with the impression that people were going through the motions.
[To quote words of m de Portugal addressed to me via private communication: "...How happy would Heaven be if most of those who take the "holier than thou" attitude would get their hearts and souls where yours are...."]
I see what you mean now. I am no Saint, but as I contemplate deeply on our condition and my own. Any prayer would be sincere.
My focus on the events associated with Marian apparitions has been that, if prophecy is fulfilled, there probably is a God and these events were real. I had missed the real message until tonight - I had heard and read it, but had not REALLY heard it: Love, Forgiveness and Prayer.
As a result, I came away, feeling happier and positive. I think perhaps we can make a change in the world. Having said these things, my lingering impression is that something unusual and profound did indeed happen in Medjugorje all those years ago, but I am not sure what is actually happening now with the, then children, who were involved.
I still think there has to be some mixed messages in these types of events - Ivan on his own would have been better, without all the sideshow attached.
Please excuse my lack of understanding of the church.
The "view from afar" that miguel de Portugal has through Divine Inspiration matches exactly with what this gentleman experienced, thus for those who do not believe in Divine Inspiration (if it disagrees with their set beliefs), this report constitutes a concrete un-edited, concrete and living example.
Perhaps what Mr. C.H has taken the time to share with us may help the Faithful understand how Catholics are perceived by members of other Faiths and by God Himself, i.e. "... people were going through the motions..." and, even more important yet: Understand why because in spite of millions upon millions of Masses and Rosaries the world continues to sink into the abyss. If the reader needs further confirmation, the prophet Isaiah has it for you in the First Chapter of his Book.
Copyright 2005 by The M+G+R Foundation. All rights reserved.
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