After posting the article, I received this message from a disgruntled reader who disputes the fact that Bayside is hogwash:
Wow. Lets just pray that Our Lord and Our Lady have mercy on us. True seers have been discredited and disbelieved at every now-approved apparition. I am a good fruit of Bayside. I turned from an immoral life to one of struggling daily to be pious and holy. Our Lady, through her apparitions at Bayside, saved my life-my eternal life, the only one that truly matters- at a time when I least expected it and needed it most. I am not unstable at all. I am a young,attractive, educated, cradle Catholic who had lost my way until I rediscovered the love of God through Our Lady of the Roses. Yes, the prophecies are dramatic, but time will tell ALL. Paying attention to Syria right now?(check the messages). Condemning Bayside followers for quietly living lives of piety and devotion is not good. We should realize that it is better in God's sight to believe humbly and sincerely, even if you are wrong- than to lead others away from the truth, even if outrageous, because of your pride. The messages of Garabandal and Fatima seemed ridiculous at the time and were suppressed by local clergy. I know I can't convince you- that is God's work. I will just keep praying, as I'm sure you are too. As for me,whether anyone else believes it or not, by God's grace I will witness to these messages until my last breath. I am content to suffer ridicule and shame, even from "the elect", for my Queen. After all, she was gracious enough to stoop low and save me from myself.
Where to begin.
First of all, Deo gratias on your return to the practice of the Faith. I am always amazed at the paths that people go down when returning to the Faith. I've run across ex-Mormons, ex-Adventists, ex-Pentecostals, ex-everything who have all returned to the Church through various paths. I myself returned to Catholicism through the means of a schismatic, proto-Catholic body known as the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC), which formed the bridge between the pentecostal Protestantism I was familiar with and the Roman Catholic Church I was tending towards.
This commentator had a similar experience. She stated:
I turned from an immoral life to one of struggling daily to be pious and holy. Our Lady, through her apparitions at Bayside, saved my life-my eternal life, the only one that truly matters- at a time when I least expected it and needed it most. I am not unstable at all. I am a young, attractive, educated, cradle Catholic who had lost my way until I rediscovered the love of God through Our Lady of the Roses.
So Bayside was a stepping stone to bringing her into the Church. Well and good. But (and this is the key here), we must not confuse the stepping stones or paths that God uses to bring us home for the destination itself. God used the CEC as a bridge to bring me back to Catholicism, but the fact that He uses such a means does not imply any sort of affirmation of the CEC itself. God often uses secondary causes as motivations for us, "rods" to prod us along or judge us, but the rod itself may be good, neutral, or bad. The fact that God uses the CEC, or Bayside, does not have any bearing on whether either is pleasing in His sight.
In the Bible, God used Assyria as His "rod" to punish Israel, but this did not mean that Assyria was any more righteous than Israel. On the contrary, God warns that he will punish Assyria for its haughtiness:
Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath!...Does the ax raise itself above him who swings it, or the saw boast against him who uses it? As if a rod were to wield him who lifts it up, or a club brandish him who is not wood! (Isa. 10: 1,13)
Those who are familiar with my writings on Medjugorje will recognize the next statement. She says:
I am a good fruit of Bayside
First of all, whether one is a good "fruit" is dependent entirely upon whether or not the apparition in question is legitimate, man-made, or from the devil. If an apparition is from the devil, like those of the Army of Mary in Quebec, then it is pointless to talk about good fruits, since the adherence of one to such a sect is not a good fruit but a bad fruit. So whether or not a person is "good fruit" from Bayside is dependent upon whether Bayside is in itself good. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit, and vice versa.
But secondarily, we could point out that good fruits (return to the faith, increased prayer, use of sacraments, etc) does not establish the veracity of an apparition. Good fruits will necessarily accompany every true apparition, but they alone cannot establish it as true. I have already written on this extensively and recommend my article on the "Fruits Argument", which was written in the context of Medjugorje but can be applied to Bayside as well.
True seers have been discredited and disbelieved at every now-approved apparition...The messages of Garabandal and Fatima seemed ridiculous at the time and were suppressed by local clergy.
Well, I don't believe Garabandal either, which is not an approved apparition (it has the status of non constat, which means it has not been ruled a fake, but not been certified as supernatural, either). but that is beside the point. We could do a whole post about this concept - the "persecution complex" developed by those attached to false apparitions.
The thinking seems to be that, since all apparitions, even legitimate ones, are doubted initially (Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima), disbelief in an alleged apparition actually becomes a kind of evidence in favor of its authenticity. Bishop Zumarraga doubted St. Juan Diego until the miracle of the roses; Bernadette was doubted until the appearance of the miraculous fountain and the many healings; the three children were thought mad until the Miracle of the Sun. Similarly, we can expect that Bayside will be disbelieved at the outset.
However, note that, in each of the three cases mentioned above, initial disbelief was turned to belief by:
(1) The working of a miracle of sufficient awe to silence criticism (not something banal like unidentified lights or shapes showing up in photographs, see picture at the top of this post).
(2) The doctrinal integrity of the messages and the personal holiness of the seers
(3) The eventual affirmation of the apparitions by the local bishop.
Bayside lacks all of these criteria. The promised miracle, which is supposed to be some kind of comet crashing into the earth (the "Ball of Redemption"), has not happened - and it will not happen, since Veronica prophesied it would happen before the year 2000, a patent falsehood that should be enough to discredit these apparitions on their face.
The messages of Bayside lack any sort of doctrinal integrity and are rife with errors both historical and theological. Bayside teaches that televisions are inherently sinful, that priests are consecrated by priests (not bishops), that the indelible mark of baptism can be lost, believes that Paul VI was replaced by an impostor look-alike pope, and it also affirms the doctrine of the Rapture as understood by Protestants. The apparitions also state that all religions have a place in heaven and tries to make a distinction between the Beatific Vision and the "Mansions" our Lord spoke of in the Gospel:
"For My Father's House, My Son has repeated over and over: remember always that My Father's House-there are many rooms in the Mansion, signifying faiths and creeds. However, the Eternal Father, the Beatific Vision, is reserved for the Roman Catholic following. This it has been deemed by the Eternal Father since the beginning of time." - (Our Lady of the Roses (Blue Book), the “messages” of Bayside, published by Apostles of Our Lady, Inc. Lansing, MI, 1993, p. 81.)
Finally, Bayside has never been approved or endorsed by the local ordinary. Unlike Lourdes, Guadalupe, Fatima, etc., the ordinary has condemned these apparitions unreservedly. In 1986, Bishop Francis Mugavero stated unambiguously:
"No credibility can be given to the so-called "apparitions" reported by Veronica Lueken and her followers...Because of my concern for their spiritual welfare, members of Christ's faithful are hereby directed to refrain from participating in the "vigils" and from disseminating any propaganda related to the "Bayside apparitions." They are also discouraged from reading any such literature. Anyone promoting this devotion in any way, be it by participating in the "vigils," organizing pilgrimages, publishing or disseminating the literature related to it, is contributing to the confusion which is being created in the faith of God's people, as well as encouraging them to act against the determinations made by the legitimate pastor of this particular Church (c.212, para. 1)."
Yes, true apparitions are frequently doubted at first, but this is because doubt is supposed to be the first reaction of a faithful Catholic to any claims of this sort. If the apparition is valid, initial doubts are dispersed by miracles, the doctrinal integrity of the visions, and the support of the local ordinary. Since none of this has happened in the case of Bayside, faithful Catholics are correct in maintaining a disposition of incredulity towards them. As I said above, doubt is supposed to be the default attitude of the faithful towards any alleged supernatural occurrence, even when it happens to us. The reason for this is the great difficulty humans have in discerning the origin of supernatural messages or experiences. If the devil were to appear to you, how would you, without the grace of God, know whether he were himself, your guardian angel, or God Himself? This why the Catholic Encyclopedia, when treating of Private Revelations, makes the following statements:
"Illusions in the matter of revelations often have a serious consequence, as they usually instigate to exterior acts, such as teaching a doctrine, propagating a new devotion, prophesying, launching into an enterprise that entails expense. There would be no evil to fear if these impulses came from God, but it is entirely otherwise when they do not come from God, which is much more frequently the case and is difficult of discernment...“To prove that a revelation is Divine (at least in its general outlines), the method of exclusion is sometimes employed. It consists in proving that neither the demon nor the ecstatic's own ideas have interfered (at least on important points) with God's action, and that no one has retouched the revelation after its occurrence.”
We see here how the Church proposes a very conservative approach to judging these apparitions. This is different from the approach out commentator would have us take. She said:
We should realize that it is better in God's sight to believe humbly and sincerely, even if you are wrong- than to lead others away from the truth, even if outrageous, because of your pride.
Because private revelations come from somewhere other than God "more frequently" than not, incredulity is the proper disposition. The burden is on the seer to disprove out incredulity, not on us to just believe every private apparition out there until we get burned or wounded. She also states:
Condemning Bayside followers for quietly living lives of piety and devotion is not good.
I have never condemned the followers of Bayside. I have simply stated that there are serious doctrinal and historical problems with the apparitions and that they do not deserve out credulity. That is not the same thing as condemning the followers of Bayside, although if one's spirituality is so wrapped up in Bayside that raising doubts about the legitimacy of the visions cannot be perceived as anything other than a personal condemnation, that is problematic and signifies an imbalanced spirituality.
Yes, the prophecies are dramatic, but time will tell ALL. Paying attention to Syria right now?(check the messages).
This is a reference to the fact that the Bayside apparitions point to Syria as the place from which World War III will start, or as the key to peace in the world. To quote the apparitions:
"Syria has the key to the solution of world peace or the Third World
War. It will be the destruction of three-quarters of the world. A world
with also the Ball of Redemption." - Our Lady, May 30, 1981
Not so fast. The messages regarding Syria are not for today, or if they are, Our Lady has a weird way of showing it. Check out the following apparition and note the date:
"Wars are a punishment for man's sins. Syria holds the key to peace at this time. However, I place in front of you, My children, a graphic picture for you to understand. It will be a parable for some, and some will turn away not willing to hear what Heaven has to say in these desperate times." -Our Lady, May 28th, 1983.
Syria is said to hold the key to peace, but "at this time" and "in these desperate times." These words were spoken in 1983. If Mary's statement in 1983 that Syria holds the key to peace or World War "at this time" was actually meant to refer to events twenty-nine years later, that would be quite a stretch.
Besides, Bayside certainly does not hold a monopoly on prophecies about Syria relating to the end. There are two famous prophecies found right in the Old Testament that seem to suggest that there will come a time when Syria, or at least Damascus, is destroyed in judgement:
- "The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap...In the time of the evening, behold there shall be trouble: the morning
shall come, and he shall not be: this is the portion of them that have
wasted us, and the lot of them that spoiled us." (Isa. 17:1, 14).
- "For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof..." (Amos 1:3).
I know I can't convince you- that is God's work. I will just keep praying, as I'm sure you are too. As for me,whether anyone else believes it or not, by God's grace I will witness to these messages until my last breath. I am content to suffer ridicule and shame, even from "the elect", for my Queen. After all, she was gracious enough to stoop low and save me from myself.
Okay, again, more with the persecution complex. Nobody is ridiculing you, lady. Nobody is judging you. But you (and all Bayside adherents) need to realize that these messages are highly dubious, requiring an extraordinary stretch of reason to accept (for example, that Paul VI was taken away in 1972 and replaced by a look-alike). As usual in these sorts of arguments, the commentator ignores all of the unfulfilled prophecies relating to Bayside - a "martyrdom" of Paul VI, a comet striking New York City before the year 2000, the successor of John Paul II undoing all the late pontiffs work (Benedict XVI is actually trying to canonize him; odd way of undoing JP2's work!), and much similar nonsense.
Please, for the love of God, exercise some precision in your thinking and abandon your support for this dubious apparition.