What is Involved in Apparition Discernment?
The CDF released a document in 1978 which had been available only to bishops. In that document, criteria was laid out for the discernment of apparitions. It is a process for bishops to follow since they are the first level of ecclesiastical authority with jurisdiction. It has since found it's way into the public domain. Apparitions since 1978 fall under this, as well as those still under investigation prior to 1978.
Apparitions True and False
As a prelude, I should state my own interest in private revelations. I have visited Paray-le-Monial (where Jesus showed His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary in the 17th century). I have visited Rue de Bac (where the Miraculous Medal was given to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830). I have visited Lourdes, Knock, and Fatima, and also the two Belgian towns where Our Lady appeared: Beauraing (1932-33) and Banneux (1933). I wear the Brown Scapular and the Miraculous Medal. I have conducted Holy Hours to celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy since 1993.
I think, from all this, you can see that I am not opposed to private revelations. But I am opposed to false revelations; I am opposed to dubious revelations; I am opposed to disapproved revelations; I am opposed to obsession with private revelations. I am opposed to all these things precisely because I do believe in genuine private revelations and their role in the life of the Church.
The abundance of alleged messages and revelations in the past 40 years makes ever more necessary the traditional caution and discernment of spirits. Amid today's confusion and spiritual wasteland, many Catholics are seeking contact with the supernatural via new private revelations, regardless of whether or not they have been approved, or even whether or not they are in accordance with the Faith.
Michael W. Petrides wrote a commentary that appeared in The Catholic Transcript, September 10, 1993 issue. Dr. Petrides has done extensive study in brain laterality and visual perception research at the Institute of Living, and has doctoral training in clinical psychology at St. Louis University. At the time this article appeared he was the director for the Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic’s mental health services for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut.
The international French-Italian scientific theological commission ‘on the extraordinary events that are taking place in Medjugorje’ examined the apparitions of Medjugorje the most competently and the most expertly. The assembly of seventeen renowned natural scientists, doctors, psychiatrists and theologians in their research came to a 12-point conclusion on January 14, 1986 in Paina near Milan.
Our Lady appears to six visionaries, which can see her and talk with her during regular apparitions. During some of these apparitions, Our Lady gives messages. One of most frequented topics of these messages are appeals for prayers and love.
On June 24, 1981 at around 6pm six little children went outside of Medjugorje on a little hill named Podbrdo, or locally known as Crnica.
Those children were Ivanka Ivanković, Mirjana Dragičević, Vicka Ivanković, Ivan
Dragičević, Ivan Ivanković and Milka Pavlović. While there, they saw a beautiful, young woman holding a baby in her arms. She never said anything that day, but tried to show them with her hands to come closer to her. The children got very scared and ran away, although they all thought they saw Virgin Mary.
Supernatural signs are a method God has used throughout history to know Him and to bring His children to conversion. It is a way God speaks to us or to incite our hearts to believe and come to Him. Yet, Jesus once said:
“An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.”
Yet still, Our Lady says:
March 25, 1990
“…God wants to save you and sends you messages through men, nature, and so many things which can only help you to understand that you must change the direction of your life…”