Are They True? Apparitions South Of The Border Again Raise Issue Of Discernment
By Michael H. Brown
It certainly is a desirable place for a supposed apparition: now, Aruba -- the island in the Caribbean. According to reports, confirmed by contact with a spokesman for the seer, a young woman named Valerie Perez, born in Aruba in 1974, married and with three young children, allegedly has been experiencing apparitions since 1998. It's said that one of her daughters found a crown amid toys at a garage sale, and later that year, coming out of the bathroom into her bedroom, a gust of wind suddenly swept in and the entire house seemed to shake. There were colors all around, and lights seemed to radiate from the crown. Valerie reportedly heard a voice, and later claimed that Jesus had begun appearing and presenting messages to her.
We may report further on this in the future. But first we have to ask: Is this the real thing -- one in a series of events foreseen to take place, involving Jesus -- or a deception? The phenomena are certainly strange, and we have equal difficulty discerning alleged messages to a "stigmatic" named Katya Rivas, a theologically-uneducated woman who bears the wounds of Christ’s Crucifixion and in a continuous fashion writes what seem like profound theological teachings in Bolivia. Some say they are the most profound messages they have read in a long while. At least one inquirer has questioned their originality. There is controversy. There are heated discernments. But we are informed that the local bishop, Monsignor René Fernández Apaza of Cochabamba, has approved aspects of an apostolate based on the revelations and that an imprimatur has been issued for messages received from the mid-1990's into 1998. Once again, as in the Aruba case, we are in the preliminary stages of evaluation. As somewhat of an exercise we present some of the first messages below in what perhaps will be a collective discernment from those who read them.
Is it real? Is it good?
The story behind this apparition is that it began in 1993 when Katya began receiving messages. Then during a visit to an alleged site in United States, four rays of light are said to have come from a Crucifix into her hands, feet, and heart like bolts of lightning. The Fox Television Network heard of an Australian journalist named Mike Willesee's interest in Katya and they engaged him to produce a two-hour primetime special called "Signs From God" that was to feature her extraordinary story. "I was skeptical," said Willesee. I was sitting on the fence and I didn't believe. But after 35 years in journalism, I think I know something about people, and I wanted to see for myself what sort of people these were." He ended up a believer. Others did not. The bishop -- at least in documents posted on the apparition's website -- seemed enthusiastic.
Will these two cases develop? Or quickly fade into oblivion?
One reason we urge caution is that in cases where the supernatural seems to be at work, and where there are good fruits (especially positive signs from a bishop), there can be a mix. Seers are spiritual magnets. Different spirits can come in and out.
For those interested in the process of discernment, the messages have been posted on another website. Some day we may bring portions of the messages after consultation with the bishop's office. Real teaching? The subconscious?
"These pages have been written in less than 15 days, since the dictation began on January 6 and concluded on the 25th of the same month, with an 8-day break when I was ill, "claims Katya. "I do not know how long it took me to write so many pages, almost three notebooks, of about two hundred and three hundred pages. Sometimes I wrote for four straight hours; however, my hand did not get tired. At other times, I would write at night in the darkness, so as not to wake my husband; I asked the Lord to guide my hand and He did. Today, as I conclude the typewritten document, without any help in the correction of style and form, is May 17, 1996, the day on which the Novena to the Holy Spirit begins. Each day, during this period of transcription, when I would sit down to write, I always invoked the Holy Spirit, asking Him to be my guide and that these Messages should not contain a single word of mine. I think the Lord has been so good to me that He has foreseen everything so that I would finish today. I do not know anything about Theology; I am a common and ordinary woman. I was an office clerk, and now a housewife and Secretary of the Lord, as He mentions in some of the Messages. I, unworthy as I am, have suddenly become His secretary ... I, who never knew anything about Theology or read the Bible (I shamefully admit this now that I am starting to read it), all of a sudden start to learn of the Love of my God, who is also yours. I, who am a sinner and have been the least adequate person to give testimony of Jesus, all of a sudden see myself writing this introduction ... but take into account that none of the merit is mine! I say humbly: here is the Hand of Love, His infinite mercy, forgiving, healing, raising, but above all, loving. Fundamental teachings reveal to us that the only love that does not lie, does not deceive, does no harm, is His, and He invites us to live that love through the many messages, each one more beautiful than the other. I am not going to subject myself to disputes, but I shall humbly accept criticism. I surrender myself to the obedience of the Church, as I have personally manifested. My only desire is to accomplish what my Lord asks of me and for that, I say as my Heavenly Mother said: 'I am the handmaiden of the Lord. May Your Word be carried out in me.'
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