Visionary From Phoenix Says She Was Warned Of Church Crisis And Long War
By Michael H. Brown
It had been a while since we last spoke with our dear friends, Reyes and Estela Ruiz of Phoenix, and so we gave a call last week to catch up with them. For those unfamiliar, Estela, a former school administrator, and mother of seven children, began receiving apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1988 (despite her skepticism of such things). At the time, Reyes, long a devotee of the Virgin, was on a trip to Medjugorje. During his trip, Estela, who was afraid her husband had become a fanatic, heard a voice from a portrait of the Guadalupe Virgin that hung in their hallway -- an image that she was thinking of taking down.
"Good morning, daughter," the voice said in a nearly melodious way that unforgettable morning.
Obviously it was a shock to Estela and that was only the beginning. Soon she was experiencing apparitions. She described the Virgin as appearing with long dark brown hair hidden in large part under a veil. Bathed in streams of brilliant white light, the Virgin comes with such luminosity, says Estela, that it's like the sun has just come out. "Her face is slightly round, very beautiful and radiates affection and concern, while her voice is soft and uplifting, with a gentle maternal tone," recounted writer Thomas Petrisko in a book about the Ruizes (For the Soul of the Family). "Estela does not fail to note that while Mary appears small and delicate, she actually comes across as a strong and powerful woman. Despite her strength, though, the Virgin radiates a femininity that is total. She is kind and humble, yet strong and confident."
While the apparitions did not win formal Church recognition (a commission failed to find definitive proof of the supernatural), the local bishop, Thomas O'Brien, allowed distribution of her messages -- and many of them pertained to the United States, for Our Blessed Mother appeared to Estela and continues to speak to this day under the title of "Our Lady of the Americas."
This is not to be confused with the apparitions to the Ohio nun Sister Mildred Neuzil (to whom the Blessed Mother appears as "Our Lady of America," singular). But there is this similarity: both Estela and Sister Neuzil have formed highly reliable witnesses, and their experiences are among the very most interesting in a long line of alleged American visions.
Estela, who holds a master's degree in education and who with her husband has opened a school for the impoverished, has long reported messages pertaining to the corruption of America and its need to urgently turn back to the Lord. "Oh, my beloved children, I have come to warn you that what you sow will be what you reap," the Virgin said in 1993. "What will be your harvest, my children, your earthly goods, your earthly ways? Or will you heed my call, turn your eyes on your God and reap love, peace, and joy which only He can bring?"
She warned many times of evil. We'll do a separate story on that. While uplifting, there was always a gravity to her messages. "I come to warn you, my little ones, that the world is at a crossroad," she allegedly said in 1990. "It will either cross into the path of destruction, or allow Our Lord to reign in the hearts of men. Time is running short. I am here to beg all who listen to turn to God."
While always accenting the positive -- and noting that there are bright developments -- the Virgin years ago told Estela there was a "crisis in the Church." This came after Estela asked the Virgin about all the rumors she and Reyes were hearing about priestly scandals -- something that has long been known to those circulating around the nation, yet something that could come out only in God's timing. "She had said, 'This is the beginning of a great crisis that will occur,'" reported Estela.
"I think we're in the middle of it," added Estela when we spoke last week. "It's close to peaking. But we're still in the middle of it, and we're not going to see it go down for a little while longer. The Blessed Mother said she will soon give me a message for general publication. I've been waiting because she said 'soon,' but we found out with Our Blessed Mother that when she says 'soon' it could be anytime."
In Christmas messages late last year, Estela says the Virgin, commenting on September 11, said "Why are you surprised that these things are happening? Did I not come to warn you about these things?' She came to warn us along time ago and specifically said the world would be devastated not by God, but by man, that we would destroy ourselves because of hatred, anger, lack of respect for one another and our beliefs and faiths. I went back to her message and most of the messages she gave me were about not being able to love each other as human beings. Those were her messages to me: learn to love each other as God loves you. Don't look at yourselves as different according to race, color, and creed. She spoke a lot about that. And so she said, 'Why are you so surprised, when that is what I came to tell you, to warn you?'"
When we asked how she felt about the United States, Estela expressed concerns that reminded us of similar comments by Maria Esperanza -- that the U.S. should be careful about involving itself in war. During the Gulf War, "Operation Desert Storm," Estela says she was told by the Virgin that "the battle has been won, but the war will continue" and that the United States had "now crossed the path of no return.'"
Could this be true? Was the Gulf War a major turning point in American history -- the trigger for what will now be a long-running series of events?
We believe that could well be. It was soon after that the first attack occurred on the World Trade Center (in 1993). And we have great respect for the Ruizes, who have conducted themselves in a humble, faithful manner despite great trials and obstacles. In the end, humility is the most important marker for discerning a visionary. Many were asking for signs, the Virgin told Estela, "yet you ignore the signs around you." There were "signs of the times" everywhere, she noted. Mankind had to change, Mary told Estela, or there would be great war and destruction. "I cannot and will not stop calling you until I can do it no longer," the Virgin said -- adding on September 11, 1993, "There is no horror, no despair, so great that Our Lord cannot conquer it for you."
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