Dr. fr. Josip Marcelic, 1995
THE ROLE OF VISIONARIES
While thinking about the theme assigned, the word of John comes to mind: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life -
He is clearly speaking about seeing, and belongs among God's visionaries. The essential characteristics of a visionary are revealed in his words:
a) to see -
b) to see God's activity in Christ, in the history of salvation;
c) to testify, means: to transmit what is received.
d) to introduce into the mystery of Christ; to build up the individual and the community.
along with a) The reception from God can be realized on different levels:
In our case we are dealing with the latter way of God's giving of gifts, when, namely, the Lord reveals something to someone so that, having been transmitted to others and to the community of the church, they may serve for its edification. John, namely, particularly plunges into the mystery of Christ and saw what others, his contemporaries, did not see!
(Perhaps it is well here just to call attention to the justified and grounded debate among theologians on the difference between a vision and an apparition. It is possible, namely, for the vision to be able to arise from our interior seeing, granted by God -
along with b) One should be aware of and receive the salvific activity inside us, in the Church, in the world, in the history of salvation: that St. John clearly refers to Jesus Christ.
along with c) The witnessing to or the transmission of what has been received in our case becomes a reality according to the testimony of John's word, but it can be realized in various ways, about which we will speak more later.
along with d) John's testimony serves the purpose of inspiring others to faith and to lead them into the mystery of Christ. Compare also the conclusion of John's gospel which refers to that: "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name" (Jn 20:31).
The example from John helps us to observe the essential elements of the visionary's role. Those roles can also be observed in biblical-
We shall dwell on these elements, first historical-
THE BIBLICAL -
The Old Testament: Abraham, Moses, the prophets
The Bible of the Old Testament offers us ample examples for reflection on the role of visionaries: beginning with Abraham, Moses, Samuel and numerous prophets.
The example of Moses is particularly suitable for us and rich for the observation of individual elements of that role:
he meets God in the burning bush;hears his word from the bush, from the cloud, from the sky (Ex 1-
Of the prophets we could mention Jeremiah whose history is stormy and painful, which he feels deeply and describes in his call to the prophetic ministry and in his oracles where he speaks of his own bitter experiences and his break downs in the ministry of God's message: cf. Jer 1:4-
Like Moses the prophets also will:
receive God's word; be visionaries (hence their title "roeh" -
The New Testament: Jesus, Mary, Elizabeth, Simon, the apostles
Although Jesus is the source and archetype of every mediation between God and men, because he is the only Mediator, still it is not advisable -
Accordingly, there is an essential difference between Jesus and the other visionaries: He is the SOURCE of light, the others are merely a reflection, a mirror; He is the WORD, while the others are only the voice, the sound system. Therefore, we will rather dwell on the other New Testament personalities, as for example:
The Virgin Mary is a visionary,
who receives the annunciation from Archangel Gabriel and by the Spirit of God she receives the Word of God, she becomes the Mother of God:immediately gets under way and is in the service of redemption:transmits the action of grace of her own Son to Elizabeth and her son John;the hymn Magnificat she exclaims her praise to God and announces to Elizabeth and to all of us the great works of God.
Her role of "visionary" is very simple in its sublimely great loftiness: simple, as is the role of a mother conceiving a child, serving a child, carrying it, nourishing and bringing it up, and -
Mary's example, I think, is particularly important because in the history of the Church Mary very often appears to visionaries:
as if to hasten to the Judean mountains to assist her needy cousin Elizabeth, all of us in need;she carries the Saviour to us because she is His Mother;she reveals that in the words of her own hymn of praise: the Magnificat; in which the activity of the Saviour is seen in the little ones, the poor and rejected;
and she announces how salvation history is being fulfilled in Israel, and in the people of God in general!
Let us dwell also on John's Revelation, who reveals in visions the condition of the seven churches of Asia Minor (Rev 1-
the noticing, the observation of the condition of the individual Church,order to call it to conversion, to inspire it to perseverance, to comfort it, to reprove it,conduct it into the fruits of redemption,visionary in his visions observes the difficult battles at the end of human history,this difficult reality, the horror sin, the power of evil; he discovers also the power of God, the works of salvation; the role of God's angels;final victory of God.
We could conclude this cursory overview of the role of the prophets-
Clearly emphasized are the roles of Scripture and of those who transmit that Scripture:
various benefits for improvement and growth,in the works of love toward perfection.
The message of God and, consequently, the role of visionaries as well, is in the service of life:
I have set before you life and good, death and evil; therefore choose life, that you may live! (Deut 30:15,19);comes to give us life, and the fullness of life (John 10:10);that reason John also writes his Gospel -
THROUGH THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH
The economy of salvation in the Old and the New Testament reaches out for God's messengers: angels, prophets, visionaries, apostles, -
Indeed, all throughout the history we see that it talks about how God in given moments reveals his will speaking through individual visionaries. . .
From more recent times we recall the visionary St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in Paray-
With St. Mary Margaret we see how through her the Lord calls to the living of the mystery of love of his Divine Heart. The revelations given through her were not immediately accepted but they met with resistance among the clergy of the church. It was only later that the Church accepted the essential part of these messages and starting from the biblical revelation, it especially recommended the devotion to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus (cf. Pius XII Haurietis aquas de fontibus Salvatoris: You shall drink water from the fountains of the Saviour). Here one nicely sees how visionaries do not add anything new to the public revelation, but they direct toward some aspect of it, which emphasis, in the given circumstances, inspires the faithful to a deeper Christian life!
With Bernadette and the Fatima visionaries we notice:
they are illiterate children who are not in a position by their own thinking to arrive at the messages of which they speak; accordingly, they received messages from Our Lady;announced them to the people,transmit them also to the pastors of the church,lived them in their own lives;the transmitting of the Our Lady's messages they find themselves in difficulties, from people, from civil and ecclesiastical authorities,the authenticity of their messages is noticed (from their lives, from the agreement of the messages with Sacred Scripture, but the fruits in their life, from the miraculous signs that accompany these messages.
Wishing to emphasize the role of the visionaries -
the reception of the messages,proclamation of the messages,living of the messages.
THE ROLE OF VISIONARIES IN THE "RECEPTION" OF THE MESSAGES
The philosophical principle is: Whatever is received, is received according to the manner of the receiver.
That explains clearly enough that messages are received in different ways by children and by adults, men and women, in different cultural milieus, at different periods of time (so that God proclaims the same substantial message differently to a black person than to a European; differently in the Middle Ages than in our times.) God chooses a "language" that the receiver understands: a child, an adult, a Jew, a Christian, a European, an African; a man with a medieval image of the world and of science, a man with a modern view of the world and of history.
Here it is sufficient just to point this out.
THE ROLE OF VISIONARIES IN RELATION TO THE "CONTENT" OF THE MESSAGES
By analysing the messages that the visionaries received in Lourdes, Fatima, and elsewhere (through the history of the Church) we see:
that they simply transmit messages that are already contained in the public revelation given to us,they transmit only some certain messages which have special importance for a certain time,they emphasize and underline these messages.
Since we already took St. Mary Margaret and the Fatima shepherds as an example, we will also emphasize that the former revelations emphasize the Love of God revealed in the Divine Heart of Jesus, and the latter revelations in Fatima put before us devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is interesting to notice this correlation: the love of God is revealed and offered to us in images that are available to us -
In relation to the messages that they transmit they are, accordingly:
an echo that re-
the building up of the Body of Christ, the Church: "Go out to the whole world. . ." (Mt 28:19)his role the visionary enters into relationship:the public Revelation of God;the hierarchy of the Church, which the Lord established to govern the Church;the people of God,the world.
(These are themes that we are only mentioning and which require a special deeper treatment, analysis and elaboration in regard to the messages that the individual visionary transmits!)
CONTENT OF THE MESSAGES
(This is neither the time nor the place to dwell in a particular way on the content itself of the messages, which is -
Perhaps we could present the role of the visionaries metaphorically:
they are receivers. However, not every receiver is equally fit for the reception of all wavelengths; one should be on the same frequency; we should tune the radio dial for each station separately. It is interesting that among visionaries there are many children, and that among them somehow we more frequently meet females; it must be that children are more sensitive and unburdened with their own frequencies, and they more easily accept God's frequency; and it seems that females are the more sensitive receivers, and therefore Heaven more easily establishes that link of transmission with them.are microphones,are also selectors,also have the role of amplifiers,own frequency is mixed in with the reception and transmission of the messages just as is the frequency of their own environment. Here in its own way a "vitalization" of the messages is included: namely, the messages pass through their lives and become more noticeable and more legible. We recall how in the Old Testament the Lord transmitted his messages many times through symbolic and sometimes even very painful actions (cf. Ezekiel, Hosea etc.)
RELATIONSHIP OF THE VISIONARIES TO THE HIERARCHY
This is a particularly sensitive question and it is necessary to say something about it. Here one is actually dealing with the relationship between the charism and the Institution in the Church.
Vatican Council II explicitly referred to the relationship between the charismatic gifts of grace and the hierarchy. It said that it is necessary to be open to all the gifts of grace of the Holy Spirit, to the ordinary and the extraordinary, and that the pastors of the Church are called not to reject these gifts, but to discern between them; to accept the good and to reject the unauthentic. (Cf LG 12)
Therefore, the question is raised on various levels about the criteria of authenticity of charisms, that is, of those who have these charisms, concretely -
THE CRITERIA OF AUTHENTICITY
We recall, moreover, that the question of the authenticity of the visionaries-
Accordingly, criteria are necessary for the discernment of authentic prophets, apostles and visionaries. One should seriously take account of these criteria. We shall mention some of those that refer to the role of visionaries:
the visionary should proclaim God and God's plans of salvation; if he does the opposite in his proclamations and does not proclaim the plans of God, but rather his own, then, of course, that visionary is not authentic.visionary proclaims God's revelation in order to build up the People of God, that is, the Body of Christ, the Church; therefore, if a visionary's proclamation sows division, undermines the Temple of God, tears apart the Body of Christ, that visionary is undoubtedly not authentic;activity of God's revelation should be obvious first of all in the same visionary, as St. Paul emphasizes, defending his own apostolic mission.
I would particularly mention here the principal criteria that I have adapted from the book by Dr. Heribert Muehlen New Encounter with God, (Croatian translation, Jelsa 1994, pp 205-
are the visionaries on the way of abandonment to God:to faith, hope and love?they lean on their own capabilities and methods or on God's strength?is their love toward the Church:they moved by love for the concrete Church: the people of God?is their relationship toward the pastors of the Church?they inspire the building up of the Body of Christ, the Church?they open to the service of people?they seeking their own glory and profit or the benefit of other people?they disposed to cooperation?their criticism, if expressed, for building up or for tearing down?they imitate Jesus in their daily life?do they fulfil their own duties of their state of life: in school, in the family, at work?they carry within themselves the fruits of the Holy Spirit?they spread peace or confusion?they carry joy in their heart which also encompasses love?they possess love which wants to be given away?are they regarding exaggeration and negativities?they exaggerate the truth and the good?they stress the negative?they dwell on dark sides, on interior wounds and injuries?
(This indicates the activity of Satan -
A REVIEW OF THE MEDJUGORJE VISIONARIES
one should inspect closely all the circumstances of their reception of the messages: visions (observed physiologically, psychologically, spiritually and mystically),content of the messages which they transmit in the name of Our Lady (biblically, theologically, ecclesiastically, juridically, ascetical-
Here we have only adverted to this subject.
That is the theme of a separate long and detailed researching and studying.
The role, therefore, of the visionaries in public and private revelation -
It responds to our individual and communitarian structure, as well as to the historical environment and dynamic of the human race.
Of course, their role is completely subordinated to the role of mediation -
The archetype for created mediators is the Virgin Mary. She in complete silence transmits the INCARNATED MESSAGE -
In a certain way Mary's visionaries participate in our "Canas," in our "Calvaries," by listening to and repeating the words that he Lord puts in their hearts: "Do whatever he tells you!" (John 2:5)
fra Josip Marcelic, 1995
Dr. fra Josip Marcelic-