Saturday, September 18, 2010

What about the promises of St. Fidgetta?

NOTICE TO THE HUMOR IMPAIRED: THERE IS NO
ST. FIDGETTA AND THERE ARE NO FIDGETTINE MONKS, AND TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE THERE IS NO SUCH PLACE AS BUGTUSSLE ARKANSAS.


Dear Rev. Know it all,

Have you heard of the 18 promises of St. Fidgetta? She had a vision in which the Archangel Meshugas revealed amazing things. Among them are that the stock market would spike in June of 2012. This would be followed by eight days of smog after which would come the final judgment. We will only be able to breathe if we have face masks blessed by the Fidgettine Monks of Bugtussle, Arkansas. Can you share any insight on the topic?
Mr. Perry Noid

Dear Perry,
The promise of St. Fidgetta comes under the heading of private revelation. The catechism discusses private revelation in Paragraphs 66 and 67.
The Christian economy (This does not have to do with money. In this sense it means God’s plan for salvation.) therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ." Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.
Throughout the ages, there have been so-called "private" revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium (good sense of the faithful) knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.
Christian faith cannot accept "revelations" that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such "revelations".

So there is public revelation and private revelation. The treasure of public revelation is to be believed by all who are members of the Church. God speaks to His people through private revelations in order to apply His truth to the present historical situation and to remind us of what He has ALREADY said. There is nothing new or different in an authentic prophetic word given as private revelation. Catholics are not obliged to believe private revelation. In fact, we are encouraged to be a little skeptical. If a revelation encourages prayer, fasting and works of mercy, all well and good. If we are encouraged to buy real estate in the vicinity of Bugtussle, that may be a different matter.
Two Bible passages might help you understand what the catechism is saying: (John 16: 4) “I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.” The purpose of Christian prophecy is not to foretell the future with precision. Even about His own prophesying Jesus said that the disciples would only understand the prophetic warnings when they happened. The goal of the Christian life is not fortune telling, but trust. The Lord warns of things so that when they happen we will know that He is involved and we can count on Him. Sometimes there are very clear references to the future, but they are only understandable when they happen, or shortly before. The Fatima children were told that before the next and more terrible war, there would be a strange light in the sky. “When you see a night that is lit by a strange and unknown light, you will know it is the sign God gives you that He is about to punish the world with war and with hunger, and by the persecution of the Church and the Holy Father.”
On January 25, 1938 a mysterious light filled the night sky over much of the northern hemisphere. It was an unusual aurora borealis. When Lucia, by then a nun in Portugal, saw it, she realized that it was the light that the Blessed Mother had told them about. Less than two months later, on March12, 1938, Hitler annexed and invaded Austria, and began the devouring of Europe that took untold millions of lives. There was nothing more to be done about it. The Lord had already said that repentance could change history, but who listens to that sort of thing. We want stock market tips. When the light appeared over Europe, it was as if the Lord was saying, “Fasten your seat belts. Here we go.” All you can do at that point is trust God. It’s not as if we weren’t warned then and as if we haven’t been warned now.
Then we have 1 Corinthians, 13: 8-9, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease.; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part.”
I am really big on Fatima. It was an amazing event that changed world history. For those of you who have never heard of Fatima or don’t take it seriously, I quote O S├ęculo, Portugal's most influential newspaper, which was pro-government in policy and avowedly anti-clerical. (On Oct. 13, 1917) "Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people." The phenomenon was visible to many throughout Europe, not just in Portugal. I actually knew someone who was in Rome at the time and saw it. I know a woman whose father was a soldier in the trenches of World War I. He said all the soldiers with him saw the sun doing strange things. They thought it was some new German weapon. What happened at Fatima was a miracle comparable to the pillar of fire and cloud in the story of the Exodus. It is among the most amazing things to ever happen. Still, it wasn’t perfect. On that amazing day when the sun seemed to dance and fall from the sky Lucia stood up and said. “It’s the end of the world!!!” She was wrong. You may say “Obviously that means that the whole thing is nonsense.” I would beg to differ.
Fatima is a private revelation. No Catholic is obliged to believe it. You may agree with the cretins who pass for historians who blame the whole event on hysterical children and swamp gas. Lucia may have been mistaken about the end of the world, but about a whole lot of other things she was right on the money. Still it is private revelation. The Catholic Church never requires belief in a private revelation. The most we will say about a revelation is that there is nothing harmful to the faithful in the content of the vision. Fatima urges prayer, fasting and a life of moral integrity. These are good things. As for the rest, well, we’ll wait and see.
There are endless visions that promise if you wear this, if you pray this etc. All these are predicated on sincere repentance, if they are authentic. This is the Gospel message. There is no guarantee given by God and His Church except saving trust in Christ. If someone wears the orange medallion of St. Fidgetta which promises that the wearer will be in the ten items or less line on the day of judgment, and then dedicates his life to bar hopping and tripping little old ladies, he is not guaranteed salvation. If one wears the medallion, or the scapular or whatever as a sincere sign of repentance and a reminder of God’s love, then these things are of great help. Remember what the catechism says about superstition in paragraph 2111,
“Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.”

We want a sure thing, but the only sure thing is Christ. These private revelations and devotions are meant to draw us to Him. They are wonderful gifts from God, but remember the Scriptures: “God will not be mocked. As a man sows that shall he reap.” (Gal.6:7) If you use these great gifts such as scapulars and devotions as an expression of a sincere desire for God’s grace, God is merciful and faithful. If you use them as substitutes for repentance you are only fooling yourself.
Yours,
Rev. Know-it-all

2 comments:

  1. Dear Fr. Know-it-all (Father, bless!):

    Okay, you lured me in with Fr. Z's screed about your posting on the 20-something wackos who are getting married these days. You had me with your compendious posting of the history of the Hootenanny Mass.

    And then you go and seal the deal with your able allusion to St. Fidgita and other Parodies by the late and lamented John Bellairs.

    That, together with some of the most able and off-the-wall presentations of the faith since G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and Robert Farrar Capon.

    Consider me your fan, now. Any chance I can link my weblog to yours?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Fr. Know-it-all (Father, Bless!):

    Are you in the habit of deleting fan letters to you? I am curious about this, because I sent one which I thought praised your website and your writing, and it appears to have disappeared. May I ask why?

    ReplyDelete