The Ecumenical Mary
Jesus warned those who live in the last days, 'If anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect' (Matthew 24:23, 24).
How may we know if these unusual revelations are authentic—or something created by a supernatural power that is not from God? How can we be sure that the messages coming from what is believed to be the Virgin Mary are really from heaven? In this article, we'll consider these supernatural appearances and what the Bible says regarding such phenomena.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that 'public' revelations ended with the death of the last living apostle. Marian apparitions are treated as 'private' revelations of public revelations but are said to never add anything new to the deposit of faith.
There have been 295 reported apparitions studied by the pope through the centuries, and twelve have been approved as authentic. Such revelations are believed to be evidence of Mary's ongoing presence and activity in the life of the church. The church follows a process of formal investigation of apparitions and has set up guidelines to determine if these appearances are genuine.
Perhaps one of the most well-known apparitions approved by the Roman Catholic Church is the 1531 apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Saint Juan Diego claimed to have seen an early morning vision of the Virgin Mary and was instructed by her to build an abbey. When the local prelate questioned his account and asked for a miraculous sign, an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe was said to have been imprinted on the saint's cloak.
Other famous apparitions include Our Lady of Siluva (1608) in Lithuania, Our Lady of Laus (1664-1718) in France, and Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (1830) in Paris. In the latter, a nun reported that Mary appeared to her and asked that a special medallion be made, and then said to her, 'All who wear this medal will receive great graces.'
Apparitions that have been canonically approved by the church are also located in La Salette, France; Lourdes, France; Pontmain, France; Gietrzwald, Poland; County Mayo, Ireland; Fatima, Portugal; Beauraing, Belgium; and Banneux, Belgium.
Besides these, many other apparitions have been reported by local churches. Some people have claimed to observe statues of Mary that supernaturally weep human tears, tears of blood, or tears of oil (sometimes smelling like roses). Many of these have been investigated and found to be hoaxes, while others are claimed to be genuine by local church leaders.
Some believers, such as Julia Kim from Korea, claim other phenomena connected with supernaturally weeping statues of 'Our Lady,' such as suffering from stigmata (showing the same suffering marks of Christ at His crucifixion), and claiming that the Eucharist bread literally turned into bloody flesh in her mouth. Korean bishops now claim that these activities were not genuine and have excommunicated her.
Closely related to Marian apparitions are acheropites, icons said to be made without human hands. These are appearances of icons of Jesus or Mary that are said to have come into existence by miracles.
There are also perceptions people have of religious imagery in natural phenomena. One example is the 'Clearwater Virgin,' where an image of Mary was said to have appeared in a glass window of a finance building in Clearwater, Florida. Other images of Jesus or Mary have been seen in cloud photos, trees, plastered walls, shadows, and even tortillas.
Along with some of these apparitions (and other phenomena) are reported conversions, healings, and changed lives. People claim to be healed of cancer and other maladies when visiting shrines and churches dedicated to such apparitions.
Another phenomenon connected to Mary is called 'interior locutions.' This mystical concept is a form of a private revelation (different than a vision or an apparition)—a type of supernatural communication to a person's ear, imagination, or directly to their intellect. Writers who study this religious experience admit that it is challenging to distinguish these manifestations from one's own inner monologue.
Nonetheless, people have written down what Mary has supposedly spoken to them. It is interesting, especially when compared with the Bible, to consider the content of these revelations. One collection of such sayings can be found in Ted and Maureen Flynn's book The Thunder of Justice (Maxkol Communications, 1993).
An introduction to the book reads:
'Heaven is stirring with extraordinary warnings and graces. Even the most lethargic of Christians know something is afoot. Lately, stories in magazines such as Life, Time and Newsweek have covered the flood of heavenly phenomena: visions of The Blessed Mother, heavenly messages and warnings, miraculous healings, weeping statues and icons. There is no longer any excuse for someone to plead ignorance. … This book does what few books on Marian apparitions have done. It provides a comprehensive overview of the phenomena - from Our Lady's appearances in Guadalupe, Mexico, in 1531, to her flood of visits around the world today.'
In these 'messages' from heaven, Mary supposedly shares many good things, including the condemnation of many social ills of our day. She also supposedly states, 'Satan has been the uncontested dominator of the events of this century of ours. Bringing all humanity to the rejection of God and of his law of love. Spreading far and wide division, hatred immorality and wickedness. Legitimizing everywhere divorce, abortion, obscenity, homosexuality and recourse to any and all means of obstructing life.' Catholics and conservative Protestants are united on such issues.
Many manifestations of Mary also addresses the importance of prayer and, of course, most Catholics take that to mean to pray the rosary, a prayer to Mary herself. She also is said to encourage people to 'recite and keep' the Ten Commandments—though the Catholic Church openly states it has, by her own authority, changed the fourth commandment. (See https://www.sabbathtruth.com/sabbath-history/how-the-sabbath-was-changed.)
She is also claimed to emphasize the importance of peace and supposedly said,
'Forgive, reconcile. I desire to bring all of you to the peace which only God gives and which enriches every heart. I invite you to become carriers and witnesses of my peace to this un-peaceful world. Let peace rule in the whole world, which is without peace and longs for peace.'
And who could argue against a message of peace? Although, the Scriptures warn us to be careful about how we speak of peace. Paul wrote: 'When they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape' (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Indeed, even Satan can talk about love and peace and keeping the Ten Commandments—just as long as you don't keep all ten. (See James 2:10.)
Mother of All
Mary also is said to call people to unite to bring the entire human race together. For example, she has reportedly said, 'I am Mother to all of you. Come closer to me, overcoming differences in nationality.'
In another statement, she is reported to have said
'If all my children in this world transcend national boundaries, racial barriers and factional differences, and form a unity and harmony with each other and display the power of love, the church will be revitalized, a shining, new Pentecost will be realized, and this world will be saved by the Lord.'
This purported Mary also said, 'You will know by the sign in the heavens, which is I myself, that the time is at hand for the instantaneous conversion of the multitude. The miracle is for the conversion of the whole world.'
This reported Mary also said that the fall of communism was not due to political and economic factors. Historians usually credit Ronald Reagan, John Paul II, and political maneuvering in Poland with the downfall of communism. Yet this Mary said that she was the one who actually brought the Soviet Union down, because John Paul II dedicated Russia to her:
'Not because of political movements or persons, but through my personal intervention has your liberation that is from Marxism finally come about. It will again be in the name of Mary, that I will bring to completion my work with the defeat of masonry, of every diabolical force of materialism and of practical atheism, so that all humanity will be able to attain its encounter with the Lord, and thus be purified and completely renewed with the triumph of my Immaculate Heart in the world.'
Many of these phenomena took place during the pontificate of John Paul II, a pope who was a strong proponent of Mary. He even called the twentieth century the 'century of Mary.' John Paul II gave credit to Mary for saving his life. On May 13, 1981, on the anniversary of the Fatima apparition, the pope was moving through St. Peter's Square. Over 70,000 people gathered to see him, and another 10 million were watching on television.
When John Paul II saw a girl holding a picture of the Virgin of Fatima around her neck, he bent over to give this girl a kiss and at that moment shots rang out. Viewers of the film believe that if he had not bent over at that moment, he would have been struck by bullets in the head and instantly died. John Paul II believed the Virgin Mary spared his life.
You may read or hear many good things supposedly stated by Mary, but are any of these really incidents of Mary the mother of Jesus speaking?
One of the key tests of a spokesperson for God is found in the Old Testament, where Isaiah the prophet says, 'To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them' (Isaiah 8:20).
When a person (or an 'interior locution') teaches that which is contradictory to the Word of God, we must question the source. For instance, it has been reported during an apparition that Mary said,
'I want the lay people to obey the pope, cardinals, bishops and all the priests. They are my most beloved sons and have received the power to forgive sins of countless people, who have become contaminated with sins. For this reason, even my son Jesus comes down from heaven to earth in obedience to them.'
Does the Bible teach that priests have the power to forgive sins? No. God alone forgives sins. The Pharisees demonstrated this long-standing belief, accusing Jesus of blasphemy when He forgave the sins of a paralytic. Of course, Jesus, our High Priest in heaven and the incarnation of God on earth, explained to them 'that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins' (Matthew 9:6).
This Mary also reportedly said that we are to have confidence in her for salvation: 'I alone, I'm able still to save you from calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved.'
However, the apostle Peter told the Sanhedrin, 'Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved' (Acts 4:12).
Apparitions have also claimed to intercede with Jesus in order to appease the wrath of the Father:
'In order that the world might know his anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son, I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father.'
Though this Mary claims to be the way to the Father, Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me' (John 14:6). Moreover, 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life' (John 3:16).
This Mary also says that we should participate in the mass.
'I am calling you to more attentive prayer and to greater participation in the Mass. I want you to experience God within yourselves at Mass. Come in love and accept the Holy Mass. Let everyone coming to Mass be joyful. The Mass is the greatest prayer from God and you will never understand the greatness of it, let Holy Mass be your life.'
Catholic Mass is supposedly the literal transmutation of the bread into Christ's flesh and the wine into Christ's blood—that Christ is literally in the wine and the host. However, Scripture does not say that Jesus is present literally in the wine and in the host. He was speaking symbolically, saying that emblems represent His body. (See John 6:36.)
Some say that this 'Mary' even goes so far as to say we should use amulets to be protected from the power of Satan. 'Today I invite you to put more blessing objects in your homes, and may every person carry blessed objects, because you are armored against Satan, he will tempt you less.'
There is no place in Scripture where you will find that by having a holy object or an amulet, you are going to be protected from the power of the devil. Such jewelry is idolatry and useless. (See Isaiah 2:6; 3:18–20; Ezekiel 13:18, 20, 21.)
There are many clear statements made by this Mary that are contradictory to Scripture. For instance, she tells us to pray for souls in purgatory, to use the state to accomplish the purposes of the church, and that she, 'the mother of all believers' will speak and appear 'under various forms.'
And while God speaks in Revelation about putting His seal on the foreheads of His people, this Mary claims:
'If my adversary is signing with his mark all his followers, the time has come when I, also your heavenly leader, I'm signing with my heavenly seal all those who have consecrated themselves to my immaculate heart and have formed part of my army. I am imprinting my seal on your foreheads with the most holy sign of the cross of my son Jesus.'
Many times, this person who claims to be Mary has taken themes from the book of Revelation, verses that apply to Jesus, and assigned them to herself.
The Voice of Scripture
How might we know if interior locutions and apparitions actually come from Mary? It boils down to whether you believe the mother of Jesus is even alive today. While the Catholic Church teaches that Mary died, was buried, but was then assumed to heaven after her body saw no corruption, the Scriptures are silent regarding her death and say nothing of her resurrection or assumption.
But if we believe, as the Bible teaches, that the dead rest in their graves until the second coming of Jesus (www.truthaboutdeath.com), then we must ask, 'Who is speaking if Mary is still in her grave?' When Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He defended against the powerful arguments of the devil by quoting the Scriptures, saying, 'It is written' (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).
Any voice that supposedly speaks on behalf of God must be compared with the written Word of God. Even if many things are stated—words right from the Bible—we must consider all of the teachings and see if they line up with Scripture.
Many of the teachings of this 'Mary' do not harmonize with the Bible and even clearly contradict it. And the Lord cannot contradict Himself: 'God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?' (Numbers 23:19).
If Mary supposedly sits in heaven next to Jesus, would she speak things to us that are the opposite of what has been revealed in God's Holy Word? Would she glorify herself above Christ? Would she intercede in the place of Jesus as our Advocate? Would she tell us to look to humans for forgiveness instead of our heavenly High Priest?
We can only conclude that the apparitions we hear of and the messages communicated through this so-called Mary are not true because they go against the Word of God. And if these messages contradict the Bible, it is because 'there is no light in them' (Isaiah 8:20).
*This series of articles is based on messages by Pastor Stephen Bohr.
To find additional information on his ministry, please visit www.secretsunsealed.org. To purchase his full series on Mary, please click here.