Finally, another review for you! I was hoping to do one per week, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to be happening.
Ah, well. That’s ok, because today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite potential apocalypses: Medjugorje!
(Medjugorje is a great word. It’s pronounce MEH-juh-gor-ee.)
Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that, unlike me, most of my readers didn’t spend their teenage years obsessively reading up on these prophecies. So some context is in order.
The story goes that in 1981, the Virgin Mary appeared to six kids on a hillside in Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She offered to tell them each ten “secrets” about future events. The secrets are written on a parchment that only the six visionaries can read. When the time is right, the words on the parchment will be revealed to a local priest, Father Petar Ljubicic, and he’ll announce each event to the world three days before it happens (which doesn’t give us much time to prepare, but I guess that’s the point). Until then, we don’t know what these events are–they’re secrets, silly–but four of them are apparently pretty scary, and they’re set to happen within our lifetime.
Meanwhile, the Virgin appears to the same kids, who are now grown, on the 25th of each month, and she gives them messages which I’ll post here. I actually really like the messages–they’re mostly some variation of “I love you, and please be nice to each other” followed by vague foreshadowing.
The cool part comes next: Some day, all six visionaries will have received all ten secrets. Then the Virgin will stop appearing forever and won’t return to earth again until after the Second Coming. It’s all very deliciously apocalyptic!
I’m sure there are plenty of things to snark about when it comes to the Medjugorje apparitions, but I’ve decided not to put my snark hat on today. To be honest … well, this was my very first apocalypse, and as such I have a kind of emotional attachment to it. Hating on it would be like hating on your baby blanket.
I’m a little bit worried that, after my first review, you’ll be under the impression that all I do here is snark. That’s a thing that I do (especially to Left Behind) but it’s not the point of this blog. If it were, all that snarking would get pretty tiring pretty quickly. I know these things I’m talking about are people’s beliefs, and, as silly as they may sound to us, they are sacred to someone. They’re crazy and random and weird, but the whole world is crazy and random and weird–and that’s awesome. So when a belief gives someone hope and encouragement, that’s not a thing to snark at. That’s a thing to appreciate.
That being said, there are sacred things that give people hope, and then there are sacred things that give people an excuse to act like a douche. If I come across someone using the excuse “but God said X” to act like a total jerk, you can bet I will unleash all of my snarking capabilities upon them. I also fully disapprove of people using apocalypses to traumatize other people (which, if you think about it, is sort of a sub-category of being a jerk). Fred Clark has written a nicely-put article on Harold Camping where he addresses that topic. (I tend to agree with Fred Clark alot, so you might want to get used to that.)
But back to Medjugorje. A few weeks ago I said that Catholics and the Rapture don’t mix. I should probably back up and clarify that a bit. The Catholic Church as an institution doesn’t like to encourage apocalypses, especially not the Rapture–that’s more of a Protestant thing. But Catholics themselves love a good apocalypse just as much as their non-Jesus-eating brethren. For some, yes, that includes a Rapture. After all, 11% of Left Behind‘s readership was Catholic.
(Eleven percent … Ugh, Catholics, you’re embarrassing me.)
And enough of them were apparently freaked out by it that a cursory search on amazon reveals a ton of books on whether or not Catholics will be left behind.
Still, if you want to go the more traditional Catholic route and still believe we’re living in the End Times, there are plenty of other options. Marian apparitions are a great one, especially since the Virgin Mary is totally a Catholic thing.
People who claim that they were visited by the mother of Jesus are nothing new. They’re as old as Christianity and possibly older, depending on when you think Christianity became its own thing. Only in the past 150 years have Marian visions become much more apocalyptic. Right now I’m reading about them in this book, which goes into much more detail, and which I highly recommend. But for those of you who, for whatever reason, decide not to rush right out and read pages and pages of scholarly articles, I shall summarize in the language of the internets:
Yeah, I think that about captures the nuance and complexity of the subject.
So, yeah, Medjugorje is one of several modern Marian apparitions that follows this apocalyptic trend. It doesn’t involve an actual Rapture, but there are plenty of similarities that will appeal to Rapture fans: God is going to send a ‘sign in the sky’ to alert the faithful that events are about to unfold, a series of vaguely prophesied disasters will occur, and then, once we’ve been properly ‘chastised,’ Jesus will return and bring free cookies for everyone!* Yay!
*Note: There is nothing that explicitly says free cookies, but what is heaven on earth without cookies?!
Plus, the Medjugorje version of the apocalypse has some really cool things of its own to offer. For example, did you know you can actually pray away the disasters before they start? It’s like one of those reality shows where the audience gets to vote on who gets cut before the next episode begins. As of today God is sending only nine secrets–not ten–because so many people have repented already that Zie decided to nix the seventh one entirely.
I’m really, truly, hoping that, right before zir death, the last visionary will say, “Oh, actually, ya’ll prayed away all ten secrets, so God decided not to end the world after all. Good job, guys!” No one will ever be able to prove them wrong.
The other cool thing about the Medjugorje apparitions is that they don’t discriminate between religions. One of the visionaries got a lot of push back for saying that “before God all the faiths are identical” and that you can’t be a true Christian if you don’t respect other religions.
Yes! That! That right there is why I love Medjugorje! It’s a Biblical apocalypse for everyone!
Naturally, some folks are using the above quote as proof that the Medjurgorje apparitions must have been sent by Satan. But that’s a tangent for another post. In the meantime, here are some links where you can learn more:
http://www.medjugorje.org — This has been my go-to site for years. It posts the new messages in the center of the page each month.
http://www.medjugorjetoday.tv/ — This one is a little easier to navigate, however.
Medjugorje, The Message by Wayne Weible — I thought this book was fantastic when I was 16 and completely bought into this stuff. Haven’t read it since, so no word on how it will appear to a skeptic. Still, it’s nice in that it’s quite detailed and also talks about Medjugorje’s effects on the author’s personal spirituality.
In sum, Medjugorje is a great potential apocalypse for Catholics, and I’m terribly disappointed that this has been going on for thirty years and no one has written a Da Vinci Code-esque thriller about it. Get on that, Dan Brown! (Because Dan Brown is totally reading this blog.)