If you blog, you know what I'm talking about; if you don't, suffice it to say that it's just exactly like getting spam in your regular email inbox, except that the spammers are trying to sell you something blog-related or to interest you in some topic they think is earth-shakingly important in the hopes that you will blog about it, even if the odds of you being interested is vanishingly small. Now, sometimes actual readers of my blog will give me a "heads-up" to something I definitely am interested in writing about, and I'm always grateful for that sort of thing. But the "spam" type emails I'm talking about are the kind that in no way relate to anything I've ever written about or would even presumably be interested in, even if it's vaguely Catholic.
That last is what happened to me this week, as a gentleman I will not name sent me several emails I don't intend to quote (despite my policy which says I can quote emails sent to me unless they are labeled "private") trying to get me hooked on the prophecies of Maria Divine Mercy.
If you are one of the many Catholics who has never heard of Maria Divine Mercy--well, be thankful. She's yet another of the crop of dodgy prophets who arises from time to time spreading "messages" which are supposed to be from Our Lord or Our Lady--yet, unlike a real seer, these sorts of self-proclaimed prophets are rather wary of letting the Church decide if they are actually receiving messages worthy of belief by the faithful, or are somehow deluded or even actively hoaxing people. Jimmy Akin discusses why Maria Divine Mercy isn't a credible prophet here, and Dr. Mark Miravalle dissects her alleged "messages" here.
And theologian Ronald Conte has much to say about Maria Divine Mercy here, including this:
In my humble and pious opinion as a Roman Catholic theologian, faithful to the Magisterium, and a Bible translator, the claimed private revelations to an anonymous woman, in the form of messages posted on her website (www.thewarningsecondcoming.com), are not true private revelations from God. These messages contain many substantial doctrinal errors, in addition to the heretical claim that this woman will write a book which will become a part of the Bible, and which will be equal to one of the Gospels. Her claimed private revelations endanger souls and contradict the clear and definitive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on many points; therefore, these messages are not from Heaven. A list of examples follows.Go here for more.
Now, you might point out that this Maria Divine Mercy hoax/scam originated back around 2010 (if I'm not mistaken) and that her alleged identity as an Irish business woman has been known since some time last year, and you would be right. So why bother writing about "MDM" (as blog shorthand calls her) now?
To be honest, I'm writing because of my email correspondent. This gentleman is apparently interested in "proving" that MDM is right about Pope Francis being a false pope (yep, that's one of her more bizarre claims) and that MDM herself is the seventh angel about to break the seventh seal at which point there will be a schism in the Church prior to the thousand years of the peaceful reign of Christ on Earth for the handful of good people who got in on the Messages early. Or something. He is not interested in reading the reams of sane, quiet reflection that real Catholic prophets don't usually diss the Church, attack the pope, and try (unsuccessfully) to remain anonymous while telling groups of disaffected Catholics exactly what they so desperately want to hear (e.g., that the Church is in chaos and tatters and some Faithful Remnant Group of Faithfulness is going to be the only ones who survive, clutching their blessed candles while the Three Days of Offline Darkness rages about them and they consign their relatives and friends--well, relatives, anyway; these sorts seldom have actual friends--to the outer darkness, and so on). I know, I know--it's hard to believe that a nice Irish business woman might not actually be receiving secret Catholic messages of doom and destruction which have so far only failed to come to pass a few times, but might, instead, be either deceived herself or a deceiver. It's almost like finding out that a spunky saintly devout Catholic Internet nun was actually--well--none of those things, except the Internet part.
The truth is, the dodgy prophets of doom don't bother me nearly as much as their followers do. Their followers tend to accost you at church or in a religious bookstore, or at a Catholic conference, or in your email inbox, and earnestly tell you that they're hoping you'll listen to what they have to say about the True Secret Truly True Thing they've just learned about, and then they hit you up with chancy messages, off-kilter apparitions, alleged visionaries, pseudo-seers, and the like. So long as you listen and nod and say noncommittal things ("Um, interesting! Yep, yep...oh, my kids are waiting for me--gotta go!) they are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. But the minute you say, as kindly as possible, that the particular apparition they're fond of was judged as being not of supernatural origin a decade or so ago (for example) or that lots of really smart people have looked into MDM's claims and found them sadly lacking (for another example) they can turn on you like some kind of cross between a Jehovah's Witness and a pit bull, and tell you that when the sky starts raining down fire-breathing cicadas on your head you'll be sorry you didn't listen to them, because they know the Real Truth about it all.
And that, to me, sums up the difference between credible visions, apparitions, and prophecies, and frankly incredible ones. The credible ones tend to exhort you to be a better person, yourself, to pray and repent and receive the Sacraments and reach out in charity toward your neighbors. The non-credible ones tend to puff you up in your own pride as they encourage you to believe that you are one of the lucky ones who will have the proper kind of sacred blessed asbestos umbrella (patent pending!) with which to avoid the caustic rain of fiery cicadas, and that if other people won't listen to you, it will be their own expletive deleted fault when the End comes and they are utterly destroyed. Which is not exactly a Christian sort of attitude to have, not at all.