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LOCUTIONS, LOCUTIONS: IN THE TURMOIL OF OUR TIME HAS BEEN THE TUMULT OF DISCERNING 'MESSAGES'
Locutions, locutions. Prophecy. When is it edifying? When does it pass the standard for "worthy of consideration"?
When is it simply a "tickling of the ears"?
2 Timothy 4:3: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires."
Of course, that relates more to cafeteria Christianity -- picking preachers (particularly New Age or prosperity ones) -- than mysticism, but the worry is always that what we seek is what titillates or what we want to hear.
In the true Christian walk, however, the spirit moves where it will and there is a place for the prophetic.
The recent worries over North Korea caused us to revisit an article we had years back on a former fundamentalist and radio talk-show host from Illinois who asserts he has seen a coming "great storm" in visions and apparitions that occurred with great specificity, he says, in 1993, 1995, and 1997. We received quite a bit of mail after re-running that archived story due to his statement back then that the "storm" would break through North Korea. "North Korea is the dragon's tail," said this man, named Charlie Johnston. "You'll know for certain that the storm has broken in its fullness when it comes through North Korea. For almost a decade now I have shuddered with an unknown and supernatural dread at the mere mention of North Korea."
The "tail" is attached, it seems, to China, which he called "a very bad actor." And while China thus far has remained detached from potential conflict -- and may even take action against North Korea -- no one is sure how matters will pan out nor whether it is simply North Korean gamemanship.
Johnston acknowledges that he has not always been correct. He had thought, for example, that Pope John Paul II was going die one year during which the Pope did not. But he had been correct when he prophesied that there would be a scourging of the Church -- though he believes the scandal is only the beginning of that scourging. He believes his messages are from the Blessed Mother and the Archangel Gabriel, who he claims have appeared to him since childhood (now Catholic, he was reared Baptist).
Recently we ran an article on how Saint Teresa of Avila discerned authentic ones. She mentioned how true locutions are laconic: right to the point and indelible. Johnston claims the same. "When language is used, it is extremely sparse and pithy," he wrote to us recently. "It seems to me like a finely cut jewel; small, dense and with many facets. I pay particular attention when language is used because it is a sign it is very important and it has the greatest emotional impact, regardless of what the emotion is. And it is utterly unforgettable. Some specific examples: First, the one decades ago that has so many who have been aware for more than a decade riled up right now: 'The storm will break through North Korea but will not be centered in North Korea.' On the eve of the Dallas (bishops') conference that was in response to the sex abuse scandals, Our Lady appeared to me and very sorrowfully said, 'Dallas will show you how bad things really are. They will scarcely even acknowledge my Holy Son.' I had told [my spiritual director] about that before the conference began because I thought surely it would be my escape. There had never been a conference where bishops had not, at least, given lip service to Christ. Midway through the conference he called me and said he had only heard Christ mentioned twice."
The world, claims this former talk-show host (for WKRS in Waukegan), is in for a roller-coaster ride during the next decade, with major events preceded by "rumblings" like September 11 that will lift the veil and show us the real existence of good and evil.
Between events will be what seem like recoveries (as after 9/11 and the 2008 financial collapse).
"There will be more than a few false dawns, and people will deceive themselves during these periods that the crisis is past," claims Johnston. "Then: sudden terror, more starkly terrifying than all that has gone on before. Despair will reign throughout the world. Then, the world will be miraculously, utterly, and visibly delivered from the terror by the Intercession of Our Lady the Immaculate Conception. Christianity will be reunified, Satan will be shackled, and the world shall enter a glorious period of peace and harmony under the rule and protection of the one, triune God." We are on the threshold, he claims, of new miracles. He sees this as occurring in a few years. There will be a time of great healing. But before that will be "trauma."
For our mulling over. Fear? God's justice will save the just.
There is no "silver bullet" when it comes to discernment.
Scripture tells us not to despise it but to test it, take what is good, and leave the rest. (No matter should be approached without fasting.)
Too often, with locutions, we take all or nothing -- when in fact, like life, there are gray areas. Inspirations come through the filter of personalities and preconceived notions.
"I have read some hideous things suggesting that the Church is going apostate – that the college of bishops and the Pope can no longer be relied on," says the alleged seer. "This is a sure sign that Satan is trying to deceive you. I have seen some say very negative things about our holy new Pope, Francis I. Frankly, I regard his election as the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy that was given to me almost a decade and a half ago: that, under the guidance of Our Lady of Tepeyac, the Old World would be re-evangelized from the New World. The first Pope from the New World has been sent to the Old World. Let us follow his lead and imitate his simplicity and obvious holiness."
Many have written to us about putative locutions displayed on a website called locutions.org operated by Monsignor John Esseff, a diocesan priest of Scranton, Pennsylvania, ordained in 1953. "In 1959, Padre Pio became my spiritual director," he states. "For many years, I was the spiritual director for Mother Teresa of Calcutta. As a favor to her, I traveled all over the world, giving retreats, to her sisters. Above all, I am privileged to be spiritual director for hundreds of souls, at every stage of the spiritual life. Some are beginners, others are advanced and some are mystics. For many years, I have been director for a special soul. Five years ago, Jesus and Mary began to speak to this soul through the gift of locutions (as described by John of the Cross). These locutions now total over eight hundred. I have discerned the validity of these locutions. Until now, these locutions were personal teachings given for the small community that gathered in prayer. Beginning on December 10, 2010, a new phase began, namely, some locutions were to be told to the whole world."
An example came last January 11 (2013), purportedly from Mary: "I can only gather up my own children and say, 'Let us go.' Yes, we must set out. America has chosen the road of darkness and I must lead my children by another road. It will not be easy to live out of the mainstream, away from the normal flow of life. However, I will teach my children how to survive when they, too, are banished. This is already happening. The good are persecuted and the evil are lauded but I will keep those children safe who are faithful to my teachings. To my children I say, 'Never, never compromise your beliefs.' Do not sell out to save your life. If you do, I cannot keep you safe. Your own actions will entangle you.
And January 13 (2013) from Mary: "The time is very short. The darkness will come suddenly and without much warning. Even if I gave warnings or provided great signs, people would reject them. People would say, 'If this is so important, why does Mary not appear?' I am appearing. I am speaking to the visionaries of Medjugorje. Have your read my messages? I have promised a permanent sign. Is it faith to wait until the permanent sign is in place? Even with the sign, many will have no interest. Such is the world. It seeks signs and does not even believe when the sign is given. I am giving these words. This is the sign for you. Believe and take them into your heart. You will see all that they will do for you."
January 16 Mary, concerning a coming Pope: "Who is this person whom I have chosen and whom I have so carefully prepared? Why have I kept him in the shadows, unwilling to expose him to the light? He has been mine from the very beginning, always the chosen one, always the one who resided in the very center of my heart. He knows who he is. He knows that he has been chosen. He knows that I have prepared him. He has no doubt. He does not trust in his own strength. He knows that I will raise him up. He already knows exactly what to do, although how this will be accomplished is still hidden from him."
When a locution mentions a specific politician or defames a Pope (not that this one did), what do we do with it? (We treat it with special skepticism.)
The same is true when there is disobedience, or the claim of it. No matter our own notions, the directions from a diocese must be followed (unless that authority has been removed by the Vatican).
Such complicated the case of a woman at Salta in northern Argentina who also claimed to see Mary since 1990 and built a hilltop shrine in 2000. It is a place where thousands of rosaries hang from trees, where countless have asserted miraculous cures, and where -- in the words of Vatican Insider -- there has been "liberation from demons that even exorcists have failed to cast out."
In an official statement, Bishop Mario Cargnello of Salta prohibited the laying on of hands there and questioned the messages, which he considered "revelations lacking content" and maintained that "the seer's desire to be in the limelight was evident." He further stated that he was never informed of the results of the psychological exam requested for this visionary. While distribution of messages from here was allowed in 1995, in 2006, after three years of study of the devotion to “Our Lady of the Hill,” the archdiocese announced it had no proof or objective witnesses to support a supernatural explanation of the alleged Marian apparitions nor messages that among other things called for the union of East and West, consecration to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, a greater awareness of God's love, and preparation for the "second coming of Jesus Christ" -- a message that is widespread. Yet other more controversial messages have come of late from Europe, in our topsy-turvy time, in our time when Heaven warns and the devil deceives.
[resources: The Final Hour and Michael Brown retreats: Portland, Seattle and Buffalo, Syracuse]
[see also: further remarks by Johnston and initial article]
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