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Apparitions, Visions and me

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Most apparitions actually take place within the soul but are so vivid that they sometimes appear external to those who experience them. But they are not in reality "external" in so much that only the visionary (or visionaries) can see them and then, if you read the descriptions from visionaries, even in approved apparitions like Fatima, each individual visionary reports a slightly different view of the apparition. For example, this might explain why the boy in Fatima did not always see the figure of the Blessed Mother but experienced her in other ways. In Fatima we basically only had the descriptions of the visions from one of the visionaries since the other two were taken to God early in life. In Medjugorje, we have the unique experience of being able to chat with several of the visionaries and each describes something slightly different.

A Theophany is an instance where the Divine Power of God is manifested OUTSIDE the soul and unlike the apparitions, can be witnessed by thousands of people. What happened at Fatima with the Miracle of the Sun is considered by most theologians to be a theophany. As far as we know, there has only been ONE theophany in the 20th and 21st century. Fr Benedict Groeschel of EWTN TV, tells the story of one agnostic who was present at the "Miracle of the Sun" (in Fatima). He had to be carried away in an ambulance - the experience he saw which destroyed all his skepticism about God was too much for him to take - he suffered a heart attack.

Thus since visions and apparitions take place in the soul, they are sometimes subject to some misreporting and misunderstanding on the part of the visionaries who are imperfect humans. Because of that, visions should neither be totally debunked nor taken wholly and literally. Separating the God part from the human part has always been a difficult task for the Catholic church.

"If you do no more than dismiss these things, you're simply an obscurist. If you mindlessly embrace them, you're just a dope. We have to resist the obsessive-compulsive demand for a clear, definitive answer to these questions. This is a field for people who don't have to have it all figured out, who don't need it cast in black and white. There's a lot of grey mist around this stuff and you have to be prepared to deal with that. Once in a while, a bright, shining light comes through and we should be grateful for it. Because the rest of the time we have to feel our way through the twilight. [However] Without the supernatural graces there would be no religions, only philosophies." Fr Benedict Groeschel.

As an example of something which MIGHT BE a misunderstood vision, St Catherine of Laboure' described seeing the Savior in the Sanctuary at Mass. He was wearing a crown and royal robe like a king. He proceeded to take off the robe and the crown. She interpreted this vision to foretell the de-throning on an oppressive monarch in her country. But I have often wondered if Jesus wasn't telling her something much simpler and more according to His Biblical message i.e. the old message that "My Kingdom is NOT of this world!"

To illustrate the nature of a vision, the following is my own personal experience:

Recently, I visited an 87 year old lady whom I will call, Annie - not her real name - to bring her Communion for three weeks prior to her death which was a Holy Death. The first time I saw her, I was truly amazed at her face - it was radiant, the most beautiful face I had ever seen. We seemed to have an immediate communication between us like we had known each other for years - I prayed with her and gave her Communion. She was so beautiful, it was unsettling because she was a very ill woman, no longer could fix her hair or in any way adorn herself and had tubes in her nose for O-2 and yet I had never seen anyone so beautiful and even young looking!  The face I saw had no wrinkles!

It was even more unsettling when the head of the Care Ministry, M----,  phoned me the following day apologizing to me for sending me to visit Annie. She explained she had visited on Sunday and Annie had refused Communion and had been negative and not real friendly. It didn't sound like the same lady I visited. M---- was shocked to hear that my experience was totally different. I couldn't explain what happened the day when I visited Annie, one day after M--- had visited her and saw Annie so radiant with God shining through her face. Annie's daughter also called me, warning me (she had been present when her mother had given this other care minister a hard time) and was shocked when I had to tell her that my experience with her mother was almost of the opposite of what the others had experienced and was very close to being like seeing an angel.

So the next week when I visited Annie, I was apprehensive, thinking I had somehow made a mistake and not seen the reality. But again, it was the same, like visiting an angel. She was radiantly beautiful, so much so that I couldn't help remarking on that. After Communion, we prayed the Rosary together - and I told her she ministered to me. She touched her frail hand to my arm and whispered in a papery thin voice, "we minister to each other." The last week I saw her, it was the same. She looked so radiantly beautiful that I again had to comment to her about this. She was feeling poorly that day and after Communion was not strong enough to pray the Rosary. (She was falling asleep). I put my hand on her arm and said "Annie, you know I love you." And she said "I know and I love you too."

It was the last time I saw her. She was taken to the Lord in a Holy Death three days later.

It took me weeks to sort out what happened. My understanding of it, was clarified, when the daughter sent me a Holy Card with Annie's photo on it. The photo had been taken a few years ago. It did NOT look much like the Annie I had known. The photo was of a pleasant looking lady who was in her 60's or 70's. Although she was nice looking, she bore little resemblance to the radiant and stunningly beautiful face I saw when I visited Annie.

I then realized that what I had seen was a vision, a glimpse of how Annie LOOKS NOW when she is with God, the soul shining out, God bringing her to a Holy Death and purifying her! A vision, if you will, which God gave to me. For not only the purpose for MY edification to help give ME serenity about death, but to help Annie get ready FOR HER Holy Death and to meet Jesus. And perhaps to unite me with a new friend whom I will look forward to seeing when the time comes for God to call me back to Him!

It was one of the most profound experiences of my life! God is good....



The information about visions was taken from quotes from Fr Benedict Groeschel who can been seen weekly on the Catholic TV station, EWTN.

To reach Fr, write to

The EWTN website is