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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Part 1 - Answers to Questions - Apparitions of Mary

I'm going to try to tackle some of these wonderful questions which were asked in response this post.

1. One thing that was not well explained was the different, "Our Lady's".
We heard Catholics talk about a devotion to a particular lady , ie fatima, Lourdes, but as a new convert/revert we couldn't understand this. Did Catholics have different Mary's that they venerate?

Good question. I'm sure there is a deeper theological explanation, but since I am not a theologian, I'm not going to even come close to tackling that. So I'll give the general answer:

Mary has appeared in many places throughout the world, some in approved apparitions, some thus far under investigation. Before an apparition or revelation to a "mystic" or "seer" is approved, the person in question must be deceased and the apparitions come to an end. So, for example, although the apparitions at Mejugorje are very popular and a souce of common devotion, they are not yet "approved" as they are ongoing, and the visionaries still living. They are not condemned by any means, but rather, simply under investigation, which will go on for as long as necessary.

As far as the other apparitions go, such as Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, these have been approved by the Church (to the best of my understanding).

Now, the "meat" of your question: At every appearance, Mary had a different message to convey, and she may have been dressed differently to clarify the association of her appearance with the specific message. People with a particular devotion to a particular apparition are devoted to Mary for there is only one Mary. However, they may choose a particular image because it's one they can identify with in some way, perhaps the message struck a particular chord, or perhaps, through her intercession, the individual associates the answer to a prayer to a certain appearance.

Mary also seemed to change her race at some of the appearances; for example, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared as an Aztec princess, her pregnancy with Jesus showing, and she appeared to an indio, Juan Diego. Her appearance in Mexico was needed for the conversion of the people, the miracle needed to help the people understand the love of Christ for them, the committment she had to them in her motherly love.

I have a special connection to Our Lady of Guadalupe as I have been to her Basilica twice, although when I pray before this particular image, asking for her intercession, I am not praying to an image: I am, very simply, praying to Mary in ALL her images for she is one and the same.

I would encourage anyone with further information and insights to post your knowledge and links for the benefit of those who share this same question.

For some general information about approved and unapproved appearances, check out this link.

God bless you!