Fr. John Trigilio
Based on my extensive research, for an article in the January-February 1994 issue of "Soul" Magazine, the publication of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, Asbury (Washington), New Jersey, concerning the alleged apparitions and locutions at Bayside, "Our Lady of the Roses" (A.K.A. 'Our Lady of Bayside') the appearances of the B.V.M. to Veronica Lueken have been judged non-credible and non-authentic by the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Of the more than 300 individual visions from 30 series of apparitions between 1930 and 1950 investigated in Western Europe, only 2 (two), Beauraing and Banneux (1933) have been approved by ecclesiastical authority. Fatima is the only other approved apparition in this century. Lourdes, LaSalette, & Knock occurred in the mid-nineteenth century, as did Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Guadalupe was in 1531.
According to Church authorities, the jury is still out on Medjugorje and Conyers, GA. Bayside has been discounted, however. The bizarre messages originating from Bayside that Pope Paul VI was drugged and kidnapped while an imposter (an Italian actor) was installed on the throne of Saint Peter is but one example of the spurious nature of this apparition. Alleged accounts of similar incredulous locutions are coming from Medjugorje and Conyers, nonetheless, which has precipitated more caution from the local diocesan authorities.
The possibility of Marian Apparitions is as Catholic as the Rosary and Brown Scapular. The probability lies within the realm of "extraordinary" phenomena, i.e., they are not common every day occurrences. The credibility and authenticity of any particular apparition lies within the singular parameter of the hierarchical authority of the Church. Note, for example, in Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Blessed Mother instructed Blessed Juan Diego to go to the local Bishop, the one possessing the legitimate authority to endorse public acceptance of the apparition. Sister Lucy, the only surviving grown up child of Fatima has consistently obeyed and adhered to the proper Church authority.
Despite increasing conversions, frequent Confessions, renewal of devotion and a resurgence of Marian piety, any apparition is ultimately a matter of "private revelation." This is de fide. Public Revelation ended with the death of Saint John the Evangelist. Marian apparitions, even those sanctioned and approved by the Church, still constitute private revelation. Pope Benedict XIV "insisted on the fact that the assent to apparitions was of human faith (as opposed to Divine Faith) following the rules of prudence." Whenever there is even the slightest hint of an apparent contradiction or confrontation between the B.V.M. and the Vicar of Christ, you know that it is a diabolical trick of the Devil. It is totally illogical and heretical to propose that the Infallibility and/or Primacy of the Roman Pontiff can ever be at odds with the Intercession of the Mother of God. The Papacy, the Magisterium and the Hierarchy were created, instituted and installed by the same Lord Jesus Christ Who was born of the Virgin Mary. Why and how could Our Divine Lord ever send His Mother to contradict the Church He Himself founded and gave the Keys of the kingdom?
I do not discourage pilgrims from going to Medjugorje or Conyers, nor do I publicly endorse such trips, either. I firmly believe in the authenticity of Guadalupe, La Salette, Lourdes and Fatima. I suspect that the B.V.M. can and is appearing to some people even now. What I do remind people from the pulpit is that as the Blessed Mother was assumed body & soul into Heaven, she is in the presence of God forever. This being true, wherever God is present, so, too, are those in His presence. I remind my people that they do not need to go out of town to be with Our Lady. She is here in every Church where her Son's Real Presence dwells. Ubi Christus Ibi Maria. She is there next to every Tabernacle of the world adoring her Divine Son. As she gave Him His human nature which consisted of a human body genetically coming only from her and a human soul coming from God, hypostatically united to the Divine nature under the One Divine Person, Mary is intimately connected with the Eucharist. She was a living Tabernacle for nine months. She gave Christ His physical body and she is therefore connected to His Sacramental Body as well. Ergo, one does not need to travel far to find Our Lady. She is next to her Son where she has always been.
That hundreds if not thousands will flock to any reported site of an Apparition is a compliment to their Marian Devotion, to be sure. That the same, if not a multitude more, do not flock to the local Catholic Church where the Real, True and Substantial Presence of the Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity of Christ is always present, is an anomoly at best and an irony at worst. The "Thomas" syndrome is that many want to "see" or "hear" the B.V.M. "Blest are those who have not seen nor heard but have believed, nonetheless." It may take more Faith to believe that Christ is really present in the Holy Eucharist and that His Blessed Mother is there with Him, next to Him and in union with Him, yet ours is a religion not of phenomena experienced but one of Faith believed and lived. As it was the B.V.M. herself who said in the Gospel, "Do whatever He tells you," I encourage people to heed Our Lady by heeding her Son, Who in turn said to Peter and the Apostles, "He who hears you, hears Me." By listening to the Pope and the Bishops, we listen to Mary and by listening to her, we listen to Christ. By spending time with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, we please Our Lady and we spend time with her as well, for she is with Him, now and forever.