Deal W. Hudson
July 13, 2008
Mark I. Miravalle teaches theology at Franciscan University and is known around the world for his lectures on Mariology, private revelation, and Marian apparitions. He also heads a Catholic movement promoting an understanding of the Blessed Mother as “Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate for the People of God.”
When I spoke to Miravalle on Saturday, we were in Chicago at a Eucharistic Day of Renewal organized around a visit of Anne, the locutionist from Ireland. I wrote about Anne a month ago, after my visit to Ireland, in a Window called, “Receiving Messages from God in Ireland.” Her ministry, Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King, is growing quickly.
Miravalle’s public support of Anne’s apostolate has earned him some criticism, but in his speech at Rosary Hill he was unapologetic.
Miravalle explained that the Church judges private revelation by three criteria: conformity to the faith, conformity to the mystical tradition, and its spiritual fruits. According to Miravalle, Anne’s writing and her ministry easily meet all three standards. She gets “five stars in each category.”
“Anne has been obedient at every level – she could not be more obedient,” said Miravalle. She submits all her books to her bishop, Rev. Leo O’Reilly of Kilmore, before their publication. Bishop O’Reilly himself has submitted these writings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. When asked whether he or Anne needed to meet with the Congregation to discuss them, he was told by the Congregation, “You may proceed.”
The spiritual fruits of Anne’s ministry, according to Miravalle, have been “unprecedented” and “ubiquitous.” He says there have been so many graces, conversions, and healings the organization “can’t keep up with the documentation.”
Anne’s voice is already being heard in 15 different languages on five continents. It’s especially important, he says, that Anne’s books have found their way to the underground Church in China. A month ago, when I visited Anne in Ireland, she had just passed the 700,000 mark of distributing books; now she is getting ready to pass the 1,000,000 mark.
Miravalle told me that he believed Anne’s apostolate was being “protected like no other” he had ever known. He sees her spiritual significance as stemming from that of St. Faustina (d. 1938) to whom Christ gave the message of Divine Mercy. Her constant teaching is a “blanket of grace” to the damage done to ourselves and our families by contemporary culture (which Anne believes is more serious than any other generation).
It rained all morning before the Eucharistic Day of Renewal began, but the tent was nearly full when Anne made her first of two speeches. Nearly 1,500 people from 27 states had preregistered for the event. I was struck by how many young moms and dads were there with their children. This was not a gray-headed crowd, though it was predominately women.
I came to Chicago because I like Anne and find her common-sense spiritual teaching helpful. “We will not draw people into the Church with our hands on our hips, in a judgmental way,” she said, talking about the need for evangelism among the laity. There’s nothing imperious about Anne as she speaks – she wears sandals, a work shirt, and what were described to me as clam-diggers.
The theme of her first speech was humility: “We cannot act,” she says, “like we are any better than anyone else.… Jesus looks at us and he doesn’t see the sins, the mistakes; he sees the drama of our soul, the movement toward holiness and perfection. We should not concentrate on our sins, but on our potential for holiness. Our love is flawed, but it is there.”
During the break, I met a variety of people from all over the country: a wealthy lobbyist from Northern Virginia; women from Dallas who have written a study guide to one of Anne’s volumes; and the Dominican nuns who live at Rosary Hill where the American headquarters of Anne’s ministry is located. All of them were thrilled, and left somewhat stunned, by the way, her books are making their way around the world.
When Anne returned to the stage she also returned to the theme of humility:
Peter did not do as well as John on Good Friday. He struggled. He betrayed Christ three times, and the entire Church was founded in Peter who repented and was forgiven. God couldn’t take chances with Peter’s humility – he had to be humble.
She concluded with a description of a vision she says she was given of the “mountain of holiness.” Anne saw a stark contrast between that mountain a century ago and today. One hundred years ago, “people were helping and encouraging each other; everyone pulled each other up.”
Those on the mountain of holiness today are very different: “People are climbing toward holiness, but they are scared and isolated, without fellowship. There is no general spirit of obedience, but they are tough and hearty.” Those making it to the top do so by virtue of their obedience, even if they lack the advantages of fellowship that belonged to their counterparts a century ago. “They are saints; they aren’t at risk of falling, of back-sliding, because of their obedience.”
When Anne finished, another speaker made his way to the stage, but someone rose from the audience and asked everyone to join him in a Memorare. Sitting in a front row, I suddenly felt hundreds of voices speak in unison the words, sounding like a women’s chorus, with absolute and resolute clarity. “Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to Thy protection… .”
There may be something afoot in Christendom.