Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Great Battle Has Begun (part three)

This is the third and final installment with author Kelly Bowring for his book The Great Battle Has Begun.

(NOTE FROM CHERYL: I've disabled the ability for comments on this article but do suggest that the lively conversation be taken to Dr. Bowring's site where Dr. Bowring will be able to more directly answer questions etc. Thanks! Blessings, Cheryl)

part one is here
part two is here

(After Dr. Bowring answered all my questions—and more—I asked him to address a particular comment made by Jimmy Aiken who said that to “adhere to her [MDM] prophecies can result in the grave sin and canonical crime of schism.” Dr. Bowring’s answer follows.)

Jimmy Akin's overstatement is simply false, and it is very misleading (and even potentially harmful). Look at this scenario: The critics condemn MDM claiming that her messages are divisive, though they are not, while they themselves make false and misleading statements that are in fact very divisive.

 Akin actually accuses Catholics who follow the messages of MDM of being "grave sinners" and "criminals of schism"... this is untrue, and very harmful talk. Some of the critics overstate their conclusive opinions of condemnation ahead of the Church, almost as if they are above the Church.

As far as reported (neither approved nor condemned) private revelation like MDM, caution is recommended, while devotion is permitted. The determination of authenticity is the role of the Church, and the verdict on MDM is still out. The critics really need to be more responsible (and charitable) when they state their own opinions.

The truth is that meditating on and spreading the messages of MDM is permitted. This is the simple fact, contrary to all other opposing opinions... and I am a theologian in good standing while doing so. And Catholics benefit from hearing and spreading these messages.

If God is speaking to us through private revelation, even if the Church teaches that we are not required to listen, it is still helpful to do so. And it pleases God to listen, to respond, to help avert the times at hand, to help save souls, and to spread His reported messages. It pleases God. It does us (and others through us) much good.

And even if in the end it should be determined that a particular reported heavenly message is deemed inauthentic by the legitimate Church authority (with jurisdiction to do so), words of Pope Urban VIII: “In cases which concern private revelations, it is better to believe than not to believe, for, if you believe, and it is proven true, you will be happy that you have believed, because our Holy Mother asked it. If you believe, and it should be proven false, you will receive all blessings as if it had been true, because you believed it to be true.” Read the messages and put into practice what they are requesting; you will be glad indeed, and God will be pleased.

The Great Battle Has Begun (part two)

This is part two of the three part interview with Kelly Bowring for his latest book The Great Battle Has Begun:

part one is here
part three is here

(NOTE FROM CHERYL: I've disabled the ability for comments on this article but do suggest that the lively conversation be taken to Dr. Bowring's site where Dr. Bowring will be able to more directly answer questions etc. Thanks! Blessings, Cheryl)

Dr. Kelly Bowring is a Catholic theologian, author, and popular speaker. He received his doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Rome) and his licentiate from the Dominican House and the John Paul II Institute (Washington DC) while working at the US Bishops Office. He has a Masters from Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio). He has the Church’s mandatum to teach theology. Dr. Bowring has been a dean, chair, and professor of theology at the Graduate School of Theology at St. Charles Seminary, Southern Catholic College, and St. Mary’s College of Ave Maria University. He and his wife, Diana, have eight children and live in Atlanta, GA.

Cheryl: Dr. Bowring, would you please respond to the 7 points Mark Miravalle makes against the Maria Divine Mercy revelations starting with her revelation about the legitimacy of the pope elected after Benedict? (Due to limited space Dr. Bowring’s answers have been edited; for further information please visit Dr. Bowring’s website

Dr. Bowring: About Pope Francis, he [Miravalle] claims, “The message directly contradicts Catholic teaching as to the legitimacy of a validly elected Pope.” This is simply not true. Pope Paul IV’s Papal Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio teaches that if anyone was a heretic before the Papal election, he could not be a valid Pope, even if he is (validly) elected unanimously by the Cardinals. As well, Canon 188.4 (1917 Code of Canon Law) states that if a cleric (pope, bishop, etc.) becomes a heretic, he loses his office, without any declaration, by operation of law. While this does not prove MDM is authentic; it does establish that her message is plausible and thus, that Miravalle’s assessment is rightly dismissible from the start.

Cheryl: Miravalle’s second point that the Maria Divine Mercy contain heresy.

Dr. Bowring:  Miravalle claims the messages contain “the heresy known as Millenarianism.” It is true that the Church has condemned the heresy of Millenarianism, a belief that Christ will come again to reign physically for a thousand years.

But, in the Book of Revelation (20:1), it does speak of an end-time thousand year period of peace. This period of “a thousand years” is symbolic, biblical language for a long period, but not necessarily a literal thousand year period of time. Christ’s second coming is a “returning” insofar as He will manifest Himself to this world in a glorious way, will establish a new Eucharistic Reign, and will bring His Will and His Kingdom to this world is a fuller way that is spiritual, not physical. The messages of MDM concur as much and thus on this point remain in good standing.

Cheryl: Miravalle’s next two points say that the revelations are false because they dismiss the need for church approval and because the seer remains anonymous. Please speak to these points.

Dr. Bowring:  The messages are not saying the Church’s authority is not important, in fact they state the opposite, but that whether the Church approves them is not important only because these messages will unfold and occur before the Church has time to assess, evaluate, and approve them. This does not in any way make the messages themselves false.

It is commonly known that MDM lives in Ireland and has been in contact with her Bishop. He knows who she is and what she is reportedly receiving. Given the seriousness of her messages and the significant influence they are having on the faithful, it seems obvious that either the Irish Bishops (who have immediate jurisdiction over validating MDM) or the CDF (who have universal jurisdiction) should make some clear and public statement in regard to these messages. For some reason, they have chosen not to do so to date, which allows for the faithful to continue to read and spread them.

As of today, MDM’s messages are not condemned by any official Church authority with jurisdiction to do so, though certainly they have not received Church recognition either (which is a much more time-delayed process anyway). The fact that they have not makes it such that the Catholic faithful are permitted to read and spread these messages, and they are still permitted to do so even while some Catholic commentators (and even Bishops) have given their own negative opinion about the messages.

On the other hand, several of her prophecies have been fulfilled, and her messages are congruent to the other related legitimate sources of prophecy being given in these times. So, in summary, at this point, the Church faithful may read and spread MDM’s reported messages and pray her prayers.

Cheryl: What about the theological errors that Miravalle mentions?

Dr. Bowring: If true, theological errors would be enough to unauthenticate MDM in one swoop. But, Miravalle fails to establish any actual examples of doctrinal errors. I have examined all the messages and have not found them to establish a single error in her reported messages.

Cheryl: And then there’s the issues of the mid-2011 message in which a time-frame was mentioned but then did not prove true.

Dr. Bowring: The problem with this point of his evaluation is that it does not prove an “error” or establish a “falsity.” The phrase “a few months” is non-specific and thus leaves open the possibility of an undetermined amount of time. If her messages had said a specific date or moment in time and then that time passed without the prophecy occurring, then one might be able to propose that an error has occurred. But, this is not the case here. Additionally, one must also remember that prophecy has a conditional aspect which includes the possibility of a divine delay in its fulfillment, especially due to God’s mercy.

Cheryl: Something that really caught my attention, especially because of my own research in the past few years, was Miravalle’s mention of an “absence of the authentic Christian fruits of spiritual peace, joy, and trust, and charity; and, in their place, manifestations of greater fear, anxiety, and dominant negativity.” Please speak to that.

Dr. Bowring: What about the serious and dramatic prophetic messages of La Salette, Garabandal, or even Medjugorje (as related to the 10 Secrets)? Would Miravalle then say the same about these other reported messages? Of course not. The reported messages of MDM, if they are true, come as the final and thus understandably most detailed and serious of all of God’s warnings to humanity about the times we are living in. If they are the last heavenly warnings, as they claim they are, then it makes sense that they are the most detailed and serious.

But, having read all of the messages of MDM myself, I find them while serious to be precisely contained in the context of “spiritual peace, joy and trust, and charity.”

Cheryl: I want to thank you for your generous time and ask that you offer a closing thought to what I believe is the most controversial—and maybe inflammatory—message from MDM about the pope elected after Benedict?

Dr. Bowring: We must be cautious and continue to discern with prayer and docility to the Church and the Holy Spirit. Time will make things more clear in this delicate matter, as to whether MDM’s messages deserve repudiation because she is in doctrinal error, her messages are inauthentic, or she is eventually rightly condemned by the Church (by those who have proper jurisdiction to do so officially). Otherwise, her prophecies will continue to validate themselves as events unfold and they come true.

In the meantime, ecclesiastical law requires that the faithful must presume we have a valid Pope, unless the Church’s highest authority formally declares otherwise (just how they would do this remains unclear as there is no precedent). So, one may consider the possibility that an “anti-pope” could potentially come from a valid conclave, and this does not constitute a false or “heretical” position as a Catholic.

Thus, it is actually possible to remain faithful to the Magisterium AND consider that the messages of MDM are authentic, and that the Pope plausibly might be the false prophet, and even that the Church herself states that this IS at least possible, and all the while remaining faithful to the Church and to the Pope.

The Great Battle Has Begun (part one)

The folloiwng is the first of a three part series on the Kelly Bowring book The Great Battle Has Begun.

(NOTE FROM CHERYL: I've disabled the ability for comments on this article but do suggest that the lively conversation be taken to Dr. Bowring's site where Dr. Bowring will be able to more directly answer questions etc. Thanks! Blessings, Cheryl)

When I was a teenager in the 1970s I worked for a home security company. The workers who installed the systems were always in and out of the office for a variety of reasons. One worker in particular scared the daylights out of me.

He was a Christian (denomination not important) and he was always talking about Jesus coming back. Although I was a baptized Catholic, mostly I was immersed in the Jewish faith and hadn’t yet made the connection about Jesus being a Jew and knowing that him coming back was a good thing.

So, this big, boisterous guy would come into the office and my stomach would rumble and my heart would jump all over inside my chest. After a minute of two of him talking I would lose my appetite for the day and sit motionless waiting for the skies to open up and my life to be over. I simply didn’t know what to make of all of his proclamations about Jesus and repentance and judgment and heaven and eternal damnation.

It all scared the hell out of me.

That was then.

This is now…and now I get it.

Every day I look to the skies with eager anticipation of Christ’s return. To some, I might be as crazy as that guy. Thirty years later I get his excitement about the prospect of the second coming. I don’t think I’m crazy but, then again, to others I may very well seem that way.

So it was no surprise that the latest title of Kelly Bowring caught my attention. The Great Battle Has Begun says it all: the great battle is underway. Put on your armor, grab your gear, get your life in order. Buckle up because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Bowring’s book relies heavily on the private revelations of Maria Divine Mercy which are excerpted throughout. I admit that prior to reading Bowring’s book, I had never heard of this person (I believe she is a woman although she remains anonymous). In fact, I haven’t been much of a private revelation enthusiast until about a year ago when I was doing some research for a book I was writing. My interest was Fatima. In retrospect, that research laid the groundwork for me to begin to understand private revelation and Church teachings on it.

This past year I’ve also read up on Catholic prophecies as part of that research. I’ve read the prophecies of Brother Louis Rocco and Marie de la Faudai—both from the 19th century. Another set of prophecies that I’ve read include those of Jeanne le Royer who was born in the early 1700s.

As I read Bowing’s book, I couldn’t help but see the connection between what was in it and the words of those Catholic prophets that had been part of my research. With my interest piqued I started to investigate Maria Divine Mercy. No matter where I looked, no matter whose columns and editorials I came across, I found that her revelations were being vehemently dismissed—along with the Catholics who may have been giving them credibility. The private revelations of Maria Divine Mercy have been ridiculed, dismissed, and discounted by countless Catholic personalities from Jimmy Aiken to Mark Miravalle.

This caused me to contact the author Kelly Bowring immediately and ask him dozens of different questions. While I continued to read the book, I needed to understand why Bowring would be so intent on sharing the words of a woman whose role in private revelation was being swiftly and thoroughly attacked throughout the Catholic world.

The Great Battle Has Begunputs us squarely in the beginning of The Great Tribulation. It approaches end-times in a way that many people desire to understand. It offers insights into false prophets, the anti-Christ, the seven seals and our role in our personal salvation as well as our obligation to others through our prayers and fasting. Bowring has weaved into the private revelations of Maria Divine Mercy excerpts from the Book of Revelation as well as various Scripture excerpts.

Every Advent we prepare for Christ’s second coming; The Great Battle Has Begun affirms the need for that preparation. Like right now. It makes it real and not just a warm and fuzzy season we celebrate as Catholics.

The controversy surrounding Maria Divine Mercy adds an unexpected dimension to the book and is why I think it is important to share Bowring’s responses to my questions which will be posted tomorrow as part two of the series.

part two is here
part three is here

Cheryl Dickow

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why We Still Love Lucy

I’ve always watched I Love Lucy. Lately, though, I notice that there is something about it that speaks to me in a very personal way. It sort of tugs at me. I can’t say that the show takes me back to anything in particular because it isn’t from a time in my personal life; but, rather, it seems to address a desire for simplicity that lives at the center of my heart.

Despite the fact that in real life the marriage of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz did not survive, I have found in talking with friends that the show really taps into something that exists at the core of many women.

We love the quaint Ricardo apartment. There isn’t a lot of furniture or tons of space. It is as neat as a pin and we can totally imagine living in that space. When Lucy and Ricky host a card game they need to move the couch out of the way to bring in the folding table and chairs. And yet the card games are always fun despite the tight space. The sparse kitchen is behind a swinging door and, upon close inspection, we see it has very little cupboard or countertop space and yet Lucy and Ethel were able to make hundreds of jars of homemade salad dressing in the confines of that small area. We just knew they managed!

Over and over again we watch the antics taking place in the Ricardo apartment and there is a little spot inside of us that desires that easier, simpler life. The small sofa and the easy way Ricky lounges while he reads the paper just seem so inviting. We want to be right there. Even if we aren’t a “keeping up with the Jones’” type of person, there is still a simplicity in all the scenes that draws us to Lucy’s life.

The gang’s move to the country was no exception. The place was a bit larger but still the simplicity of life emanated from the wood panels and the view of the yard. Consider when they began raising chickens or growing tulips. We can see ourselves trying to do those exact same things and can feel the satisfaction—even when none of it works out—for our efforts. Simplicity in life does that—it brings a sweetness that settles our chaotic mind and restless spirit.

I’ve read numerous articles on how Lucille Ball’s follow-up shows were never quite as successful as I Love Lucy. No one seems to be able to put a finger on it and they say such things as “viewers no longer wanted to watch her antics” but I think they have sorely missed the point. I know why none of her following shows ever achieved the success and endurance of I Love Lucy: they didn’t capture the essence of what pervaded that original show—and why we still love Lucy, maybe now more than ever.

I Love Lucy, with Lucy doing housework in a dress and heels, touches our hearts because we all long for a simpler time. Maybe that time never existed in the “real” world but that doesn’t remove the desire we all have for it in our daily lives. I see it as placed there by God. We don’t quite understand—we cannot grasp or maybe we just don’t want to believe—that simplicity can be so rewarding. But there it is, sitting deep down inside each of us—that longing for a simpler life—and it is why we still love Lucy.

Cheryl Dickow