Bishop Changes Prayer As Rome Objects To Words From 'Approved' Dutch Vision
Dutch bishop who approved a controversial apparition has asked devotees to change a prayer associated with that revelation after concerns were expressed by the Vatican.
The apparition, known as "Our Lady of All Nations" (and about which we maintain neutrality), involved appearances of the Blessed Mother to an Amsterdam woman named Isje ("Ida") Johanna Peerdeman, whose main experiences began on March 25, 1945, at the close of World War II -- when Ida, an office worker at an industrial firm, was 40 and receiving the visit of a Dominican priest.
At that time the seer was drawn to an adjoining room by a mysterious force. "There she saw a brilliant light," said a book published years ago in Holland. "A Lady stepped towards her out of this light and spoke to her. To the seeress' question, 'Are you Mary?' she replied, 'They will call me 'Lady, Mother.'" During a series of 56 apparitions, lasting 14 years, a wide array of prophecies were given to Ida, along with an image of the Blessed Mother standing on a globe with a cross behind her and the following prayer:
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send now Your Holy Spirit over the earth. Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations, that they may be preserved from degeneration, disaster, and war. May the Lady of All Nations, who once was Mary, be our Advocate! Amen."
The Vatican has taken issue with the phrase, "who once was Mary." The current controversy began when the Secretary of the Vatican's Congregation of Faith, Archbishop A. Amato, wrote to bishops in the Philippines regarding this “one particular aspect” of the devotion and asking that it be eliminated. The local bishop, Joseph Mary Punt, of Haarlem-Amsterdam, has issued a directive in compliance with the Vatican request, which was made after an inquiry by a group in the Philippines.
"This concern was communicated to certain Bishops of the Philippines, to the religious community, 'Family of Mary,' as well as to the Bishop of Haarlem, Mgr. Dr. J. Punt," notes a press release from the Dutch diocese. "The concern of the Congregation is part of a long tradition. Initially the first local Bishop, Monsignor J. Huibers, who dealt with this devotion sixty years ago, struggled with this clause. At first he considered the removal of the clause, but upon later reflection he accepted it and granted permission for the ‘Imprimatur’. Up to this day, the prayer has as well received the Imprimatur of approximately seventy Bishops and Cardinals worldwide. This indicates that they saw no contradiction with any teaching of the Church. In 1996, the Prefect of the Congregation permitted the public release of the devotion. In 2002, the local Bishop recognized in its essence the authenticity of the apparitions. Naturally, the Bishop contacted the Congregation and expressed his opinion on this matter. In the meantime, he has asked the authorities of the devotion to respect the pastoral concern of the Congregation by leaving out or praying silently the clause during public prayer until further notice.
"The Bishop realizes that for many people this may cause a tension between conviction and obedience," says the press release, issued last week, "but he refers to the example offered by the visionary herself. Once she experienced a similar type of dilemma and then heard the following words from ‘the Lady’: 'obedience comes first.' Of course, obedience does not exclude ongoing and open dialogue on this issue, he states. Also the great and actual importance of this prayer, that asks the 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father' to send 'now' the Holy Spirit over our wounded world, completely remains."
The intervention of the Vatican in an apparition that currently bears local diocesan approval is unusual but continued a tradition of controversy which started with rejection of the apparitions by previous bishops under advisement of the Vatican. Until Bishop Punt reversed those rulings, and until a movement evolved to name Mary as "co-redemptrix" (something that was strongly requested by the revelation), the Dutch apparition had been relegated to a mystical backwater. It now has a significant following of devout and loyal Catholics.
The question now is whether the Vatican has tightened its reign with the tenure of Pope Benedict -- who once headed the Congregation with oversight of apparitions, and has opposed the co-redemptrix dogma -- or whether it is simply another in a long chain of controversies connected with the apparition.
Most of the apparitions occurred in Ida's home (which became known as the Chapel of the Apparitions), but two messages were also given in a local Dominican church; about twenty were recorded during the seer's visits to Germany; and two locutions were received (in 1966 and 1969) at the Miraculous Medal Chapel in Paris.
In 1958, Miss Peerdeman reported "Eucharistic experiences" and locutions which ended on March 25, 1984. There were allegedly 151 mystical experiences associated with the Holy Eucharist, which included communication, it was claimed, from the Trinity. A number of important visions were tied to the Feast of the Assumption.
Of most note has been the claim by Ida that Mary strongly requested and even demanded that she be declared "co-redemptrix, mediatrix, and advocate."
At one time the apparition bordered on Church condemnation (with the Vatican issuing an advisory), but an image fashioned after the apparition was approved by the local bishop, Most Reverend M. Bohmers of Haarlem, in 1996, along with an associated devotion and the prayer, followed by official approval of the apparition itself by Bohmers' successor, Bishop Punt.
At the same time, Bishop Punt has emphasized that "the influence of the human element still exists" and quoted then-Cardinal Ratzinger as saying that they come "through the filter of our senses, which carry out a work of translation" and "are influenced by the potentialities and limitations of the perceiving subject." The bishop called the apparitions "a help in understanding the signs of the times and to help live more fully the Gospel."
Occasionally, Ida was herself thrown into fits of great doubt over the authenticity, or at least the goodness, of her visions. And when that happened she begged the Blessed Mother to give her a proof. At three a.m. on February 19, 1958, Ida allegedly received a message predicting that Pope Pius XII would die at the beginning of October, 1958. The message was sealed and opened after Pius XII died unexpectedly on October 9, 1958.
Detractors argue that the current bishop had no right to reverse the disapproval of previous bishops, pointing out that a book about the apparitions was placed on the Vatican's "index of forbidden books" in the 1960s -- an index that was later abolished.
Despite the controversies, the private revelation remains very much alive.
Bishop Punt said he had asked for the advice of theologians and psychologists concerning the outcomes of previous investigations and found no theological or psychological impediments "for a declaration of supernatural authenticity."
"In light and by virtue of all these recommendations, testimonies, and developments, and in pondering all this in prayer and theological reflections, I have come to the conclusion that the apparitions of the Lady of All Nations in Amsterdam consist of a supernatural origin," stated the bishop when he approved them.
As in many other apparitions, the Blessed Mother spoke of the moral decline in the world, of people led astray by false prophets, and of the world degenerating with calamitous effects and future disasters. Yet she also promised to bring the true peace now lacking in the world and announced that she would obtain spiritual unity.
An image based on "Our Lady of All Nations" found its way into a convent chapel in Akita, Japan, where during the 1970s it exuded tears that a bishop later declared as supernatural. It was seen as another sign.
"And the signs of our times are dramatic," stated Bishop Punt. "The devotion to the Lady of All Nations can help us, in my sincere conviction, in guiding us on the right path during the present serious drama of our times, the path to a new and special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Who alone can heal the great wounds of our times."
In Amsterdam, Mary allegedly exhorted the U.S. to "remember your faith" and predicted that England would find its way "back to me."
In one prophecy about chastisements, the Virgin purportedly indicated eastward, where there were many stars, and said, "That is where it will come from."
[resources: The Final Hour]
From the mailbag: 'I'm confused over the latest on Our Lady of All Nations'
Explaining “Who once was Mary”
By Mathew Tsakanikas
One of my favorite websites, Spiritdaily.com, recently carried the link to a news article which contained a statement apparently from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It read: "Your Excellency," the CPDF said, "is requested to take into consideration the above mentioned advisory and inform the members of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines that the CPDF does not permit any Catholic community of Christ's Faithful to pray to the Mother of God under the title of 'Lady of All Nations' with the added expression 'who was once Mary'.” Needless to say, such a statement is a surprise to many faithful, obedient Catholics.
While respectful and obedient, I am confused by the reasoning; especially when the prayer has been in use for over 50 years with over 70 imprimaturs from bishops all over the world. The article linked at Spiritdaily contained Bishop Amato’s statement that: "In fact, this Dicastery, in a letter to His Excellency, The Most Rev. Francois Bacque, Apostolic Nuncio to the Netherlands, has indicated that Marian devotion must be nourished and developed in accordance with the indications given by the Holy Father in "Redemptoris Mater" and "Rosarium Virginis Mariae" and not according to private apparitions nor according to a 'new' name of Mary, such as "Lady of All Nations who was once Mary.” In the minds of the faithful it would seem most important that the prayer be in line with the Holy Father’s Christology, from which his Mariology flows. Most importantly, the prayer needs to be in line, not only with his theology but with the Church diachronically, too. The prayer meets all of these demands.
The theological formula "who once was Mary" actually makes tremendous sense when analyzed from a common sense perspective, a biblical perspective, and simultaneously a Balthasarian perspective (a great influence on John Paul the Great). This prayer has not caused any mentally and emotionally sound Catholic to believe there is a difference of persons involved within the formula. When my Grandmother was young, people called her Martha. When she had children, people called her “Mom.” When these children became adults, their children called that same Martha by the name “Grandma.” I never doubted she once was Martha when I learned she actually had a name previous to what I called her.
Childbearing causes a real change in people and new relationships. More so than for anyone else, childbearing for Mary caused a real change in her relationships since she bore the Christ, God incarnate, the head of the mystical body. Saint Louis De Montfort makes clear that it is a horrible thought to think the mother of the head is not simultaneously mother of the body. Related to this, we must reflect on John Paul the Great’s first Christological encyclical Redemptor Hominis: "Not only is the dignity of this Motherhood unique and unrepeatable in the history of the human race, but Mary's participation, due to this Maternity, in God's plan for man's salvation through the mystery of the Redemption is also unique in profundity and range of action" (RH #22).
From a Balthasarian perspective, Abraham - who once was Abram - receives a name change expressing who he is...what his vocation and task is...to be the "Father of many nations" (Gen 17:5). The faithful no longer call him Abram. We rightfully call him Abraham. According to Balthasar, we become the person we were meant to be by fulfilling our mission within God's will. Mary did fulfill her calling and became the new Eve, Mother of All Peoples (Nations).
The Mother of All Nations "who once was Mary" receives a name change expressing who she is...her vocation to forever be the Mother of the Church scattered throughout the world in many nations. At the annunciation she was already called a new name: "Full of Grace" and she started her role as new Eve. According to Redemptor Hominis, "By his Incarnation, he, the son of God, in a certain way united himself with each man" (RH #8). Correlatively, this means that "in a certain way" Mary is united to each man as his mother and is therefore the "Lady of All Nations who [before the Incarnation] once was Mary." There is not a conflict with such a statement so long as it is read within the Tradition, diachronically.
Was not Abraham once Abram? Will not Christ give every man a new name (cf. Rev 2:17)? How much more so than Simon (whose name was changed to Kephas) does Mary deserve to be seen more as Mother of All Nations (new Eve) now that she is transfigured in glory, having completed her temporal mission. In the Spirit, is she not continuing her mission as Mother of the Church from heaven (cf. LG #62)? Is not the Church called to gather and be a light to the nations (Lumen gentium)? Surely Bishop Amato stands against separating Mariology from Christology though the article only referenced Redemptoris Mater and Rosarium Virginis Mariae. Vatican II placed the chapters on Mariology within the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, not separate from it. Surely John Paul the Great's Christocentrism, from his very first (Christological) encyclical, wanted to bear fruit in Mariology when he began ending all his encyclicals with a reflection on Mary.
This is written not to encourage dissent, but to encourage patient obedience and clarification. The faithful must obey their bishop. If communities were praying “who once was Mary” in public devotion, then they should obey their local bishops if or when they apply Bishop Amato’s recommendation. Maintaining obedience, they should write Bishop Amato and their local bishop and ask them to reconsider such a ruling and ask for clarification. This devotional has played a large role in the spirituality of many sound and faithful Catholics who understand the significance of the phrase “once was Mary” in terms of “new Eve.”
Vatican II reminded bishops not only that they should avoid false exaggeration about Mary’s role, but also that they should avoid “too summary an attitude in considering the special dignity of the Mother of God” (LG #67); a special dignity which is very much under attack in many Catholic parishes and amongst Catholic theologians who cast doubt especially on dogmas about her ever-virginity. This and many other attacks are the reasons why so many bishops and Cardinals supported the request to apply the title “Co-Redemptrix” to Mary. They wanted to re-clarify her special dignity in an authoritative manner so as to preserve it in the minds of the faithful. In Vatican II, bishops are advised to “rightly illustrate the duties and privileges of the Blessed Virgin which always refer to Christ” (LG #67). “Who once was Mary” refers to the Incarnation and Mary’s motherhood given to all at the Cross. These episodes “always refer to Christ” and so always represent an authentic Mariology.
Matthew Tsakanikas can be contacted at email@example.com
Originally published as Ladyofnationsfeedback
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