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An Irish mystic who claims life-long interactions with angels asserts she has had encounters with the devil during which heavenly visitors assisted her and that angels also have served up warnings for the world.

The alleged mystic, Lorna Byrne, a practicing Catholic born in the Old Kilmanham part of Dublin, gives no date but asserts in a book called Angels in My Hair, distributed by Random House since 2008, that "I have been shown different paths for the world. At times, I have watched and been terrified."

"Some of the possible futures I have been shown have been truly atrocious, and if one of those come to pass I don't want to be alive to see it.

"But I have also been shown many wonderful paths, where there is room for everyone to live in harmony and at peace. I believe the world in the future can be a wonderful place, but every single person has to play their part."

That sounds good and in line with alleged apparitions of for example the Blessed Mother but there are those who have questioned whether some of Lorna's reputed experiences tend to the New Age or at least unorthodox descriptions of the Blessed Mother, whom Lorna -- who claims she has seen angels continually since early childhood -- says once appeared to her and for a moment seemed to have a luminosity that was like angelic wings.

The Blessed Mother has been depicted in certain artwork as having wings -- as in the Virgen Apocalipitca.

While the Virgin Mary has long been known -- like angels -- to change her appearance in a way that most comfortably fits with a seer's culture or expectation (in Guadalupe she appeared Indian-like, where at Lourdes, Fatima, and Knock she was European), never has she been described in a major apparition as having wings, and there is always the caution with angelic encounters due to potential contamination by the devil, who -- Scripture warns us -- can come as "an angel of light."

That is precisely how she describes one encounter with an angel she took to be Mary -- filled with light. Of course, the Blessed Mother is always described as coming with a light -- and colors -- beyond anything of the earth. You discern. Except for a couple of lapses and potential areas of dispute,  as well as at least one controversial statement by the author during interviews, the book itself, overall, carries no flavor of occultism, the majority of it strictly in line with Church teachings. Still, as always, we advise caution.

Lorna describes angels as coming "in all kinds of sizes: sometimes they would appear as a spark which would then grow and open up to full size; sometimes they would be massive, much bigger than the person they were minding. The guardian angels were radiant and were often dressed in all gold or silver or blue, or wore a variety of colors."

She saw an angel named Michael -- later identified as the "archangel" -- as appearing like a prince -- with a golden crown and a robe of white and gold tied loosely with a gold and black belt, his hair shoulder length and flowing as if in a constant, gentle breeze. He had sapphire blue eyes that were radiant -- are radiant -- and a "smile of Heaven." His eyes were so bright, says Lorna, that "it was as if you could see for miles and miles inside of them; as if you were going down a long, long road; as if you were passing through time itself." Other angels she said radiated a light brighter than the sun.

But the Blessed Mother went far beyond and was introduced by another angel -- in a way somewhat reminiscent of Catherine Labouré and the Miraculous Medal apparitions.

Encountering a white angel in a hall after coming from her kitchen, says this peasant woman, who has appeared on various major television programs, she was told to go to her front room.

"When I opened the front room door I saw another 'angel,' a much more powerful and exceptionally beautiful angel, standing by the window," she writes in the book. "She smiled at me. She was very, very different from any angel I have ever seen before, or since. Her dress was stunning -- fiery red and gold. I have never ever seen a dress like it.

"On top of her head was an exquisite crown and, emerging from the center of the crown and flowing down over her whole body were millions and millions of fine, silk-like threads, plaited together.

"Each plait was entwined with diamonds and sapphires of all colors. This beautiful angel had dazzling wings, like fiery flames rippling constantly, with sparkling jewels within the feathers.

"She was unique, perfect in every way; every part of her seemed to be alive. She was so dazzling, I had to look away for a moment because my eyes could not take in all the beauty.

"Her face was radiant with life. She was perfect; her eyes were blue and shone like the sun, but a billion times more radiant. How can words describe that? All I can say is, when I looked into her eyes there was such gentleness, compassion, peace, and such love radiating from them.

"I know this superb angel standing in front of me could see everything. It was as if she recognized and knew every particle within the universe -- something completely beyond our human comprehension."

When Lorna pleaded with her that the world needs a miracle -- for Mary to "appear for the whole world to see," in order to rectify its transgressions -- the Blessed Mother, claims this Irish mystic, smiled with love radiating from her eyes and radiance surrounding her like fiery flames and said, "I will reach into people's hearts and, one day, I will appear and the whole world will see me as you can now."

Adds the mystic: "I believe that, some day, the Queen of Angels will appear for all to see, not just some, and will appear, not just for a fleeting moment, but will remain for some time, for the world to see and acknowledge. She will come to provide the evidence that mankind, in its weakness, requires -- and this will be the beginning of a major change for the human race."

A deception setting the way for a greater future deception, or a revelation in line with various other reputed apparitions that have spoken or great miracles or signs, especially since the 1960s?

How many of those other apparitions are authentic?

We have to be so cautious and yet also  careful not to toss out mysticism based on a few items that may not be in the realm of our limited expectations (and logic).

Only with prayer -- and fasting -- do we discern.

The Bible tells us to test the spirits and keep what is good, tossing out of a revelation what we do not discern as good (but not necessarily tossing the baby with the bathwater).

It is a challenge for our time.

Of further note are the times Lorna claims to have been attacked by Satan, and how she also has an alleged healing gift.

The purported angels once warned her that she would be tested by "the presence of Satan," and indeed she had encounters with him or, allegedly, his minions, in various forms. She felt him coming " a million miles away... but getting closer all the time."

While protected by her guardians, she recounts feeling a strange coldness when she was attacked. The devil came from "a long dark tunnel into nothingness" and she banished him by saying, "Satan, go away, I choose God over you."

"Satan does exist," she writes. "I have no doubt about this at all. If we allow Satan into our lives he will come in. He will act as a 'god' and may let great things happen in our lives. There may be great wealth, great external success; but at an enormous cost.

"Satan does not want us to evolve spiritually and will oppose those who try to open the hearts and minds of others and help them to see differently."

The devil blinds people "to the circumstances in front of them."

A horrific power, but a limited one.

Our angels, she says, are always there to protect us -- but we don't call on them nearly enough. As soon as we do, they are greatly "empowered."

Let us add: it should always and only be done in the Name of Jesus.

Satan plays both sides of the fence and comes both to deceive us with false apparitions or to attack authentic ones through those who are closed-minded. Please note our caution.

But there is no doubt that Mary appears and also no doubt that many have had experiences with angels.

The Archangel Michael, Lorna alleges, once appeared in special splendor to her and opened a scroll with a "prayer of thy healing angels."

It goes this way (again, pray to discern):

"Pour out, thy healing angels, thy heavenly Host upon me, and upon those I love. Let me feel the beam of thy healing angels upon me, the light of your healing hands. I will let thy healing begin, whatever way God grants it, Amen."

Angels do heal; we recall Raphael. God always hears prayers. But sometimes the healing is not physical; it is emotional; it is spiritual. It is available to us all. So are angels. That much we can take from this fascinating book. After Mass one day, Lorna prayed over an elderly woman who was approaching death with fear and an angel appeared to the woman herself. From then on, the fear was gone.

"Give this prayer to everyone who comes to see you," she claims Michael, who wore crucifixes on his sandals, told her. "It has been given to you by God."

[See also: Does Irishwoman see angels?]

[resources: Angels in My Hair]

[Michael Brown retreat, Mass,  San Antonio: signs of the times, Jan. 30 (online here, or 386-446-8139 and Michael Brown retreat, San Francisco: future events, afterlife: February 27]

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