The following is my reply to a posting in a talk-group, and I think it might be of use to Catholics in general.
Wu Siu Yan
5 Sept 2002
I have checked out the websites you listed (except those of foreign languages I cannot understand). Here are my views and questions.
Is the Bible used by the Catholics the same as that used by Christians (neglect the differences in translation) ? I have the Gospels (Matthew/Mark/Luke/John) translated by the Catholics (into Chinese) and the same Gospels translated by Christian, and I find, except differences in translation, no material difference. But as I do not have the Old Testament, nor the rest of the New Testament (of the Catholics), therefore I need your help in clarifying this. The Bible I used is the American (Revised) Standard Version, which you may easily obtain in the shops.
If I quote verses from the (Christian) Bible, would you find it difficult ?
From the Bible, we know that angels, or even LORD Almighty Himself did appear before human. [Genesis, Judges].
Even Moses, Elijah appeared to Jesus. [Mt 17]
Therefore whether Mary, or Moses, or Elijah, or any of the prophets of old who have died and been resurrected appear to us is not of great importance.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
If LORD Almighty, or Jesus, or Mary, or Moses, or any of the prophets, appears to you, and tells you to do certain things, would you simply obey without giving it a thought ?
How are we to know whether the person appearing before us is LORD, or Jesus, or Mary, or Moses, ... ? There are people who are expert in "make-up", e.g. those in the film industry. Do you believe in the existence of Satan, and other "fallen" angels ? What if they "make-up" their outward appearance and try to deceive us ?
If he/she orders you to do an unlawful thing, would you do it ? (First of all, you must know the Laws and Commandments of LORD, otherwise, you could not distinguish what are lawful and what are not lawful.)
For me, my criteria in deciding my actions are :
(*) WHAT IS RIGHT AND NOT WHO IS RIGHT -- meaning, even if LORD GOD, or Jesus, or Moses, or Mary, .... appeared before me and told me to do an unlawful thing, I will not do it.
(*) TRUTH AND TRUTH ONLY -- I must act according to TRUTH -- honesty, uprightness, right in the sight of LORD, in accordance with TRUTH or not, ...
What I do must be LAWFUL AND RIGHT IN THE SIGHT OF LORD. In the Last Day, Judgement Day, I will stand before LORD and give an accounting. What if he questioned me about an unlawful act and I answered him : "I just followed order from an angel." (Remember the Nazi solders during Nuremberg trial ?)
Therefore making a decision is never easy.
And everyday, there are many things for us to make decision, and each decision requires our careful consideration.
GUIDING PRINCIPLE FOR OUR EVERYDAY ACTION
That principle is simple,
KEEP THE LAWS AND COMMANDMENTS OF LORD => BLESSING
BREAK THE LAWS AND COMMANDMENTS OF LORD => CURSE
and complete trust in the Almighty who created the Universe, with Earth and the multitude of plant/fish/animal/insects/human on it, and who upholds PERFECT JUSTICE.
If a nation breaks the Laws/Commandments of LORD, that nation would not exist for long, similarly for us individual. This has been borne out by history (Israel ceased to be a nation for nearly two thousand years, and it was not a nation until after WWII, after the Holocaust; Mayans of America are not today.)
If we know the Laws/Commandments of LORD and walk in them, and after searching our heart, we do not find in ourself any law-breaking acts, we would be at ease. Then no matter how the outside world changes, or how temptations are thrown at us, how other people would do, or angels/Moses/Mary/Jesus/LORD appearing to us, .... is of no relevance.
But if we do not know Laws/Commandments of LORD, and break the Laws/Commandments, then we are easily swayed by temptations, outside events, what other people do, miracles, .... and we could never find joy and peace in our heart, but uncertainty and doubt.
Therefore we should study the Bible every day, walk in its teachings, and increase our knowledge of the Almighty every day, know thoroughly His ways and teachings, pray to Him, cleave to Him, and walk humbly with Him (Jesus is He in human form). By so doing, we would be at peace with ourself and have certainty about the future.
Jesus was a good example. He did what was right in the sight of LORD, brushing aside persecution/anger from priests/scribes/Pharisees, even death on the cross. He has been resurrected now, and he is our model.
Muslims should also study the Bible. Even Quran said that Moses and Jesus were prophets, and in the Bible, you can find the teachings of Moses and of Jesus. If Muslims increase their knowledge of LORD GOD, and not just "pray 5 times, fast one month, wash hands and feet, eat no pork, give alms, visit Mecca, life here-after, ...", they would have the same confidence as Jesus, and not like them today, uncertainty and a sense of loss, and totally powerless before their strong adversaries.
I have read the story of a Catholic woman (from the book "Rescuers"). She is a very kind-hearted and courageous woman. During the Second World War, when the Nazis were after the Jews, she hid away many Jews, fed them, did daily work for them and cared for them. After the war, one of the Jews she saved asked her to marry him, and she consented. Her husband works as a dentist today, and she helps him everyday.
One day, she heard a voice telling her to write her story and publish it. She obeyed, she wrote. But as her work is many - household work, work with her husband in his dental office, write book, her health deteriorates. On many nights, when she wanted to rest, the voice told her to continue, not letting her rest, and she obeyed.
She is thin to the bone.
Question : Would LORD be so merciless as to drive a person relentlessly this way. Would you drive a person this way ?
"Kindness, mercy" are two chief qualities of LORD. And "do according to our strength", and LORD will give us proper rest, and not push us beyond our strength.
In my opinion, the voice is not from LORD. I would simply pay no attention to it, as I know LORD and what kind of person He is.
If I were her, I would write the book, because it is of value to the younger generation (at least, her story touched me), but I will work according to my strength, taking proper rest.
Therefore let everyone of us beware, Satan/demons/fallen-angels will pretend to be angels of light, or even the Holy Ghost, or the Almighty.
Wu Siu Yan
I have seen TV programs about Catholics visiting places of St Mary's apparitions or other places of miracles.
I can sense the feeling of brotherly/sisterly love among them, their care and goodwill toward one another.
No doubt, anyone who have visited such place would be spiritually uplifted.
Did not Jesus teach us to "love one another, wash one another's feet" ? And he will be with us if we do his words ?
Therefore, similar experience would be felt by Muslims who visit Mecca, though to a lesser extent, because "love, kindness, mercy, meekness, lowliness, pure as a child, humble as a child, honesty, uprightness" are not emphasized in Quran.
In Old Testament times, LORD told the Israelites to gather together twice a year -- one week in spring time (14 ~ 21 of first month, Feast of Passover), and one week in autumn time (15 ~ 22 of seventh month, lunar calendar, Feast of Booth), and they were to offer "peace offering" -- (sheep, cattle; part of the meat, the breast and right thigh, were to be given to priests/Levites; rest of the meat they share with their poor neighbours). Thus what they earned in that half year, they took out some to share with their poor neighbour in the form of peace offering. Therefore they all had joyous time together.
Unfortunately, no Christians nor Catholics would do this nowadays. Therefore they lack the opportunity to gather together so as to share their spiritual experience, to share their mutual care and love (except within churches, many of which have less than 1000 people).
Visiting places of Mary's apparitions would serve the same function as those "Feasts of Passover, Feast of Booth". No doubt, the people benefited a lot spiritually.
I love the Old Testament, and I love the Statutes/Ordinances/Commandments/Laws of LORD, and I love the rules of cleanliness, .... which are found in Moses' Five Books. And if Christians/Catholics/Muslims listen to LORD (Muslim must read Moses' books and Jesus' teachings, even QURAN said they were prophets), to gather twice a year, and to set aside part of their earnings to buy food for the poor so that they may have a joyous time, then twice a year, we would have the feeling as of visiting places of "Mary's apparitions".
Also, many Catholics who have fallen ill and sought miracles in those place would not have become ill, if they had listened to Moses' teachings of (a) Eat no fat nor blood (b) Eat no unclean things [Levites Chapter 11] and observed LORD's Laws and Commandments.
Wu Siu Yan
P.S. In my previous post, I talked about Laws/Commandments, because I have the feeling that Catholics would not study the Bible (both Old Testament and New Testament) as hard as we Christians do, nor walk in their teachings as hard as we do, but instead place their faith in the "priests", and walk in the teachings of the priests, whereas we place our faith in LORD, walk in the teachings of LORD/Jesus, and we pray "Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed by Thy name, .... "