To start off,
the Catholic Church does not ask anyone at all to believe inany private
appearances of Mary or the Saints. These things all belong tothe area of private revelation, not public. The Church claims authority
toteach in the area of public revelation, not in that
Today there are so very many claims of these private apparitions. TheChurch is very slow to accept those. Even miracles, the Church is slow toaccept. At the great shrine of Lourdes there have been reported thousandsof cures. Anyone going there - I have been there - can see countlesscrutches hung up there by people who no longer need them. But in over acentury the Church has checked and approved only a little over 60 allegedcures. And there must be no chance of suggestion. For example, in 1908,Madam Biré was blind, atrophy of the papilla (optic nerve withered whereit came into the back of the eye - can be seen with an ophthalmoscope).They took her to Lourdes. When the Blessed Sacrament procession passed
by,she said she was cured and could see. They took
her at once to the medicalbureau there. Any person
with an M.D. is welcome to check as much as hewants
there, even if he is an atheist Some have come to laugh, have comeback converts. The Doctors looked into her eye with the ophthalmoscope,found the nerve still withered. Yet she could read a newspaper. She wasseeing with a no-good nerve. It did recover in some weeks, but at thestart she saw with a useless nerve. No room for suggestion there.
Further, it happened when the Blessed Sacrament passed. No other Churchclaims to have an abiding presence like that. So the miracle worked thenwas a proof that He really is present in that Sacrament.
Incidentally, there are other marvels. At the small town of Lanciano inItaly, about 750 years ago a priest was saying Mass, and had doubts abutthe presence of Christ. Then something happened. The central apart of thehost continued to look like bread, but the outer part turned into meat,and the wine in the chalice into 5 clots of blood. This marvel is stillthere. I have seen it myself. It has been checked to the hilt by modernscience three times, 1971, 1976, 1981 by a team of biologists and
doctors.They found it is a part of a human heart, no
preservatives, contains typeAB blood. Normal
chemistry of the blood.
Is it possible that God could let some deceased person appear? We must notset limits to the power of God. If He so wills, of course it could
happen.And in Scripture we find many times that
angels appeared to human beings.And in the
transfiguration of Jesus, Moses and Elijah appeared conversingwith Him.
To return to private revelations, our faith does not depend on them atall. We depend on a rational process that works without calling on faithat first, then shows that faith is reasonable. An outline of this isenclosed. No other church can give such evidence. Certainly not Luther --cf. the enclosed summary in which Luther said: "If this article[justification by faith[ stands, the church stands; if it falls, thechurch falls. Poor man. It never did stand, for he, being either carelessor dull, never took the trouble to see what St. Paul meant by that wordfaith. Luther thought it meant confidence that the merits of Christ applyto me. But if you read all of St. Paul, it is clear it includes threethings: 1) When God speaks a truth, believe it in your mind; 2) When Hemakes a promise - have confidence; 3) When He tells you to dosomething--obey (Cf. Rom 1:5). But Luther thought if you have faith youcan disobey extensively and it will not hurt. In one letter ("Luther'sWorks," American ed. vol. 48. p. 182) he said: "Be a sinner and sinboldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. . . . No sinwill separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication andmurder a thousand times a day." He also said: "We must remove theDecalogue [ten commandments] out of sight and heart." (De Wette, 4, p.188, cited in P. F. O'Hare, "The Facts about Luther," Rockford, 1987,
p.311. De Wette was a protestant scholar who collected the most significantsayings of Luther in several volumes).
Yet he thought he had a guarantee of salvation. St. Paul did not thinkthat way. In 1 Cor 9:27: "I discipline my body and master it, for fearthat after having preached to others I myself should be rejected." Paulworked heroically for Christ. If anyone ever "took Christ as his personalSavior" it was Paul. Yet he knew he had to discipline his body, lest itlead him into sin, and he be lost. He did not think he had it made. If
onecommits a mortal sin and then does nothing but
believe it is all right, asLuther suggested, that
will not remove that sin. He is in danger of hell.
Luther thought he could run on Scripture alone. But he not only did notprove that, but, sadly, he found no way to be certain which books areinspired, and therefore part of Scripture. He thought if a book preachesjustification by faith strongly it is inspired, otherwise not. But,
sadly,most books of Scripture do not even mention the
subject. Strange dullnessagain? In context. St. Paul
in 2 Tim 2:2 told Timothy to hand on things toother
men who in turn could teach still others.
Really Protestantism at bottom rests on a foolish notion. It is as ifChrist told the Apostles: Write some books - get copies made - pass themout - tell people to figure them out for themselves. But books wereexpensive then, and so many could not read. and experience shows
Scriptureis not clear all by itself. If you need
proof, see the Yellow Pages of thephone book--there
are over 7700 brands of Protestantism in the world. Notall can be right!
Finally, if I had to believe that the Church was so deserted by Christthat it taught the wrong way to salvation for nearly 1500 years, I couldnot believe in Christ at all. He would be just a fake. And to think it
wasto be corrected by a man of such character, who
admitted his personalimmorality, who said one could
break all the commandments of God and stillnot be
separated from Christ!
P.S. If someone worries that we use the title Mother of God--this is thesame situation as saying a woman is the mother of John Jones. She sharedonly in producing his body, not also his soul. We do not say she is themother of the body of John Jones, but the mother of John Jones.
Similarly,Mary is the Mother of Him who is God. So we
say: Mother of God, notmeaning of course that she
produced the divinity, any more than Mrs.Jones
produced the soul of John Jones.