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Vassula receives Holy Communion for the first time

Discussion in 'Video Blogs' started by davidtlig, May 19, 2016.

  1. Harper

    Harper Guest

    I'm posting this article for the record. It focuses not on the content of Vassula Ryden's messages, but on the physical evidence they present. It will be available to anyone who wants to check out the Vassula threads in the future.

    The Catholic Church requires physical evidence when it examines alleged miracles. Scientific studies of blood traces have revealed a relatively rare AB type blood on (alleged) relics of Our Lord.

    This article is posted by a man who is the author of books on forensics. His credentials would qualify him as an expert witness in a criminal or civil court in the US. He comes with a skeptical attitude -- which is good. True miracles have converted skeptics throughout the ages. And careful examination by those who have some scientific/legal expertise have revealed many false claims.

    Heaven’s Stenographer: The ‘Guided’ Hand of Vassula Ryden

    Investigative Files

    Joe Nickell


    Skeptical Inquirer Volume 35.2, March/April 2011

    She claims to receive communications not only from her guardian angel, “Daniel,” but also from Jesus and even Yahweh himself, who guide her hand to produce written messages. She has provoked both skepticism and credulity from Catholic laity and clergy, and her texts—an amalgam of Bible verses and Orthodox and Catholic teachings—have helped her attract an increasing following. Some claim to have witnessed supernatural experiences at her talks, although I did not when I witnessed her first appearance in Western New York in 2004. I have since sought to learn just who Vassula Ryden is and more about the phenomenon behind that name (Ryden 1995; “Vassula” 2010; Tokasz 2004).


    Vassula

    Born to Greek Orthodox parents in Heliopolis, Egypt, on January 18, 1942, Vassula Ryden emigrated to Europe when she was fifteen. She says as a teenager she saw herself surrounded by souls of the dead, although she claims to have been indifferent to religion for a time. Following marriage, the birth of two sons, divorce, and remarriage, she claims to have begun receiving messages from her own invisible “guardian angel,” Daniel. “I almost freaked out,” she said (Ryden 2004). That occurred in late 1985 while she was living in Bangladesh. Five years later, she “regularized” her marriage in the rites of the Greek Orthodox Church, to which she still belongs (“Vassula” 2010). Nevertheless, Ryden says that God revealed to her the Sacred Heart (a Catholic symbol of Christ’s love for the human family) to show her the equality of all faiths (Ryden 2004).


    In the mid-1990s, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued two notices of concern about Ryden. The first came in 1995, pointing out “several negative elements and errors.” It requested that bishops refuse to give her the opportunity to spread her questionable ideas within their dioceses and asked them not to treat her writings or speeches as “supernatural.” The following year, another notification encouraged priests to “exercise serious spiritual discernment” regarding Ryden’s messages, declaring that they must be considered merely “private meditations” and not divine revelations. However, some of her Catholic supporters observe that the church does not completely discount her teachings, and the publications of her organization, the American Association for True Life in God, have obvious Catholic trappings (“Vassula” 2010; Tokasz 2004).


    The Catholic Church is skittish about such freelancers—urging caution toward supposedly supernatural phenomena (such as stigmata or weeping effigies) and any reputed visions or messages. The Church is all too aware of delusional persons and pious frauds. However, such matters are usually left to the local bishop, and investigations are typically less about science than about how a claim comports with Catholic teachings.


    I determined to take an objective look at three aspects of Ryden’s purported messages (within my own areas of expertise): first, the distinctive handwriting (I am author of textbooks on writing and forgery, including Pen, Ink, and Evidence [Nickell 1990]); second, the text (I have a PhD in English, experience in examining unusual texts, and membership in the International Association of Forensic Linguists) [Nickell 2008]; and third, whether Ryden might have a fantasy-prone personality (I have studied this trait for years, especially under the direction of the late psychologist Robert A. Baker [Nickell 1997]).

    Continued...
     
  2. Harper

    Harper Guest

    Continued article:

    Handwriting

    Ryden insists that the messages she receives and writes down are not the result of spiritualistic phenomena such as channeling or automatic writing (“Vassula” 2010). However, neither phenomenon is defined as being limited to spirits of the dead; either may involve interaction with any type of alleged nonphysical beings, such as angels, deities, extraterrestrials, or the like (Guiley 2000, 25–26, 70–71). So, Ryden is by definition a channeler and an automatic writer.


    Reportedly, the messages began in late November 1985 when Ryden was about to make a shopping list. Her hand suddenly began to move, seemingly without her control, to form words and drawings, initiating a phenomenon that continues to the present day. The self-styled visionary reportedly receives about four to six hours of guided-hand “dictation” each day (Carroll 1995, ix; “Vassula” 2010). From a scientific perspective, (assuming it is not deliberately contrived) such a phenomenon is attributed to the ideomotor effect, in which a participant unconsciously produces a movement. The same psychological phenomenon is responsible for the motion of dowsing rods and pendulums, Ouija-board planchette movement, table tipping, and the like (Randi 1995, 169–70).


    Ryden’s messages supposedly “come through dictation by an audible voice within, then are written in a stately handwriting—distinct from her own—as she allows her hand to be guided supernaturally” (“About” 1995). Interestingly enough, the same “distinct” script that is used for messages from the angel “Daniel” is employed by “Jesus,” “Mary,” and “Yahweh” (see figure 1), rather than each entity having his or her own individual handwriting.


    [​IMG]
    Figure 1. Handwriting produced by artist Vassula Ryden—supposedly “supernaturally guided”—is drawn rather than freely written. (The same mannered script is used for messages from “Yahweh,” “Jesus,” “Mary,” and her guardian angel, “Daniel.”) It contrasts with her own handwriting.

    Keeping in mind that Ryden is an artist (“About” 1995), it seems noteworthy that the “guided” handwriting has the characteristics of a script that is artistically drawn rather than naturally and freely written. It is a “mannered” or affected hand, rendered in a self-consciously non-slanted style—rather like the so-called “vertical writing” that was taught in American and Canadian schools from 1890 to 1900 but was deemed too time consuming to produce practically and subsequently abandoned (Nickell 1990, 124, 126; Osborn 1978, 140). Most mainstream scripts, intended for right-handed persons to render with some speed, slope in the forward direction, as does Ryden’s ordinary handwriting. Interestingly, an alteration in slant is one of the most common ploys used for disguising handwriting (Hilton 1982, 169; Osborn 1978, 147, 149, 211). Use of this simple change can thus instantly impart a new look to an entire page. The “stately” hand also differs from Ryden’s in size (being larger than hers), another common disguise ploy (Nickell 1996, 49).


    Apart from the “stately” affectation, the supposedly supernatural handwriting is essentially a formal, copybook version of Ryden’s own naturally jotted script that alternates with the “stately” hand in her notebooks. The “stately” hand avoids some of her script’s idiosyncrasies, yet it still has mostly printed capitals just like her own handwriting. On occasion, one of the copybook forms sneaks back into her natural script (replacing, for instance, her individualistic f, which has a backwardly made loop, with the standard copybook f) (see Ryden 1995, 171, 223).


    Consistent with its neat, drawn appearance is the fact that the “guided” handwriting is done on lined paper, with the lines showing in some of the reproduced pages (Ryden 1995, e.g., 232–33). This is consistent with the use of eye-hand coordination. One suspects that if Ryden were prevented from seeing what was being written, the entities supposedly guiding her hand would be unable to so faithfully follow the lines! I invite Ryden to accept my invitation to perform a scientific test to refute or confirm this suspicion.

    Continued...
     
  3. Harper

    Harper Guest

    Continued...

    Text

    On January 25, 1987, Ryden wrote:


    Courage daughter, I, Jesus Christ have instructed you that the cross you bear is My Cross of Peace and Love, but to bear My precious Cross, daughter, you will have to do much self-sacrifice; be strong and bear my Cross with love; with Me you will share it and you will share My sufferings; I was pleased to hear your prayer of surrender; in surrendering to Me I will lift you to the heights and show you how I work; I will mould you, if you let Me, into a better person; you have given Me your consent to become My bride, so what [sic] more natural for a bride to follow her Spouse? I am glad you realize your worthlessness, do not fear, I love you anyway. . . . (Ryden 1995, 233–34)


    Is this really a message from Jesus guiding Ryden’s hand? Not only is the handwriting the identical, mannered script that is also used for her “Daniel,” “Yahweh,” and “Mary,” but the perpetual use of semicolons is another similarity from alleged speaker to alleged speaker. All—except, appropriately, Daniel—call her “daughter” (Ryden 1995, 153, 188, 225), and they refer to themselves with the same construction: “I, Jesus,” “I, God,” “I ‘i Panayia’ ” (Greek for “Our Lady, most Holy”) (Ryden 1995, 155, 231, 293).


    Ryden’s purported messages can be compared with other alleged communications from Jesus. One set of writings was “received from Jesus” by Lilian Bernas (1999), a purported stigmatic. (Stigmata are the supposedly supernaturally received wounds resembling those of Christ. However, Bernas’s wounds—which I have seen up close—appear to be consistent with self-infliction [Nickell 2007, 59–66].) In one communication with Bernas, Jesus supposedly said (Bernas 1999, 23):


    My Suffering Soul—


    This is your Beloved. I have come as promised to embrace you with the spirit of peace. Take this time, and have respite from the wicked assaults of the evil one. My child, you have bent, but you have not broken. This pleases your Beloved. . . .


    My child—humble yourself now, and ascend the hill of your Beloved with your Beloved. . . .


    Nancy Fowler, a homemaker in Conyers, Georgia, claimed for several years to be receiving messages from both Jesus and, more often, the Virgin Mary. (The latter appeared punctually on the thirteenth of each month, and I was able to attend a session [Nickell 1993, 196–97]). One message from “Jesus” instructed the faithful (Fowler 1993):


    Come through My Mother on your journey back to Me. From this very cross I give the world My perfect love. I give the world, I give everyone in the world, My dear, Holy Mother. Please, if you accept My Love, then how can you reject, ignore, not honor, not love My Mother. I come through My Mother and I want you, dear children, to come through My Mother on your journey back to Me.


    I choose the word “Come” intentionally, not past tense. I still come through My Mother. Graces are poured forth through My Mother, the Graces come from Me.


    I am especially familiar with these two groups of writings, although they are supposedly received by clairaudience (trance hearing) rather than by automatic writing. (Therefore, errors of grammar and the like could be attributed to mistaken transcription by the percipient.)


    Now, whereas Vassula Ryden’s “Jesus” frequently identifies himself as “I, Jesus,” Lilian Bernas’s Jesus persona never does, nor does the one channeled by Nancy Fowler. There are many other differences among the three sets of texts; for example, the dominant theme of each: Fowler’s is the near-deification of the Virgin Mary (an emphasis sometimes disparagingly referred to as “Mariolatry”), Bernas’s is the importance of suffering, and Ryden’s is the need for divine love and guidance.


    Style also differs from channeler to channeler. Ryden’s “God” and “Jesus” (as well as “Daniel”) speak similarly, often using convoluted diction (for example, “do not leave yourself be drifted away” [144], instead of “do not let yourself drift away”); wrong prepositions (e.g., “irrespective to their deeds” [146], rather than “irrespective of”); missing prepositions (such as in “I, Yahweh will remind them in this call many events” [150], wherein “of” is missing after “call”); subject/verb agreement error (e.g., “the reasons that makes” [44]); faulty auxiliary verbs (such as “I have restored you since the time you have accepted Me” [158], the second “have” being unnecessary); incorrect verb forms (e.g., “I will progress you” [163], “I fragranced you” [34], and “Jesus flourished you” [42]); and so on.


    Ryden’s messages also have occasional misspellings: for example, “God” says, “work with Me writting [sic] down My messages” (231), and he also uses the misspellings “joyfull” (138) and “analising” (101, 105). If God deigns to use the English language, should we not expect it to be rendered accurately?


    Before we become invested in imagining what a deity might or might not do, we should note that Ryden’s own written text has similar faults—for example, using “sprung” when “sprang” would be correct, the misspelling “panick,” faulty subject/verb agreement (e.g., “Joy and Peace is”), and many others. At times the respective errors are eerily similar, as when “God” uses “do” for “make” (e.g., “do not get discouraged when you do errors”) just as Ryden does (e.g., “I do so many mistakes”) (see Ryden 1995, 22, 89, 93, 235).


    Fantasy-Proneness

    From the evidence, it looks like Ryden’s channeled automatic writings are merely emanations from a single source: her imagination. Indeed, she exhibits many traits of what is known as a “fantasy-prone” personality: sane and normal but with a propensity to fantasize, as described in a pioneering study by Sheryl C. Wilson and Theodore X. Barber (1983). Since childhood, Ryden has had various “mystical” experiences. She has encountered apparitions (such as the souls of “dead people”), had vivid or “waking” dreams (with paranormal imagery), experienced religious visions, interacted with invisible companions, received messages from higher entities, and had other experiences common to many fantasizers (Carroll 1995; Ryden 1995, xx–xxl).


    Taken together, the contrived handwriting, the linguistic lapses, and the indications of fantasizing all suggest that Vassula Ryden is not in touch with supernatural entities but is simply engaging in self-deception that in turn deceives the credulous. Her automatic writings therefore are not works of revelation but simply of pious imagination.


    References
    About Vassula Ryden. 1995. Publisher’s book-cover text, Ryden 1995.

    Bernas, Lilian. 1999. This Is the Home of the Father.... Poole, England: privately printed.

    Carroll, Robert J. 1995. I am your guardian angel and my name is Daniel. In Ryden 1995, ix–xiv.

    Christopher, Milbourne. 1970. ESP, Seers and Psychics: What the Occult Really Is. New York: Crowell.

    Fowler, Nancy. 1990–93. Purported messages from Jesus, in Journal 1993. 3–8.

    Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. 2000. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. New York: Checkmark Books.

    Hilton, Ordway. 1982. Scientific Examination of Questioned Documents, revised ed. New York: Elsevier Science.

    Journal of Reported Teachings and Messages of Our Lord and Our Living Mother at Conyers, Georgia, USA. 1993. (“Compiled by Our Loving Mother’s Children,” P.O. Box 309, Conyers, GA 30207), December.

    Nickell, Joe. 1990. Pen, Ink, and Evidence. Reprinted New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press.

    ———. 1993. Looking for a Miracle. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.

    ———. 1996. Detecting Forgery: Forensic Investigation of Documents. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.

    ———. 1997. A study of fantasy proneness in the thirteen cases of alleged encounters in John Mack’s abduction. In The UFO Invasion, edited by Kendrick Frazier, Barry Karr, and Joe Nickell. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 237–44.

    ———. 2007. Adventures in Paranormal Investigation. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.

    ———. 2008. Linguist. Accessed April 3, 2010. Available online at http://www.joenickell.com/Linguist/linguist1.html.

    Osborn, Albert S. 1978. Questioned Documents, second edition. Montclair, NJ: Patterson Smith.

    Randi, James. 1995. The Supernatural A–Z. London: Brockhampton Press.

    Ryden, Vassula. 1995. My Angel Daniel. Independence, MO: Trinitas.

    ———. 2004. Lecture at St. John Maronite Rite Catholic Church. Amherst, NY, May 31.

    Tokasz, Jay. 2004. Controversial “messenger” to speak. The Buffalo News, May 31.

    “Vassula Ryden.” 2010. Wikipedia. Accessed April 30, 2010. Available online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vassula_Ryden.

    Joe Nickell
    [​IMG]
    Joe Nickell, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and "Investigative Files" Columnist for Skeptical Inquirer. A former stage magician, private investigator, and teacher, he is author of numerous books, including Inquest on the Shroud of Turin (1998), Pen, Ink and Evidence (2003), Unsolved History (2005) and Adventures in Paranormal Investigation (2007). He has appeared in many television documentaries and has been profiled in The New Yorker and on NBC's Today Show. His personal website is at joenickell.com.​
     
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  4. davidtlig

    davidtlig Powers

    A Letter of Our Lord to His Church

    Rev. Christian Curty OFM
    Priest and Exorcist, Marian Movement of Priests
    Marseilles, France


    Automatic Writing Or Hieratic (Sacred) Writing?
    It is widely known that Vassula writes messages that she transmits to us under the dictation of Our Lord. At that time her way of writing changes and becomes quite distinct from her spontaneous and everyday handwriting. The personal handwriting of Vassula is normally small and tense, though orderly and well controlled by her will that knows what she wants. Moreover, it is affected by her warm and very refined personality, which has a good sense of proportion. On the other hand, the handwriting of the messages is characterized by its order, its clearness, its regularity and a certain majesty. Here the personality of Vassula fades away and finally vanishes behind what, at first glance, seems to be merely a facade that is a bit rigid and artificial.

    Consequently there arises the question that some people have, even though they judge positively the messages themselves. Quite legitimately, they ask themselves about the origin and authenticity of this "inspiration". Here, too, lies the origin of the suspicion of critical minds who find therein a significant argument for their objection to the messages as a whole. Thus they claim that it is a simple exploration of the psychic depths of Vassula herself. This interpretation reduces these writings to a phenomenon that is well known as paranormal writing. In that case, we would not be dealing with the Jesus of Christian faith and a revelation from Him. Instead, it would be something from Vassula's own subconscious that is gradually coming to light. Perhaps, they would say, there might even be another "spirit", in which case, it could only be an evil one.

    What then are we to think of all this? Are we, in fact, dealing with a revelation of the Lord, a letter of Our Lord to His Church, or is this simply an example of what is commonly called automatic writing? Is it the hand of Our Lord that writes to us through the hand of Vassula, or rather, is it Vassula who describes for us, in a state of trance, whatever arises from the depths of her subconscious? Is she guided by a parasitic spirit whom we had best identify so as not to be deceived by one who is presented to us as coming from the Lord? In the first case we would be dealing with an inspired writing. In the second case we would be dealing with the paranormal writing or automatic writing.

    What is Automatic Writing?
    It is a writing which involves either paranormal phenomena or some sort of divination. In our ministry as exorcists it is not rare to run across this phenomenon. The hand of someone who has given himself over freely to this sort of guidance writes by itself; it does not write by conscious thought or intelligence. Instead, it moves by an unknown force which is not subject to the will of the writer. Sometimes, in extreme cases, it is the instrument all by itself (a pen or pencil) which, by the mere contact of a finger, begins to write a message.

    The message can be of a high literary value, even spiritual, or it can tend toward the bizarre, the ridiculous, or the vulgar. Sometimes it speaks of a world beyond, which is a marvellous kind of paradise, or else it can give some simple counsel to the writer, or give him a command regarding his daily, practical life. At times, it simply answers questions that are asked, whether it be its own identity: "who are you?" or whether it concerns things that tend to the dangerous area of divination. At times, automatic writing can predict future events which, in fact, can actually occur. Thus it can give rise to falsehood; it can also simply reveal an imaginary but plausible past which leads the writer to the false and heretical belief in reincarnation.

    Let us ignore, here, the question of what we might call the problem of literary characteristics of automatic writing. It is quite unusual, in fact, that the speaker who, for example, claims to be Lamartine, actually writes lines of a quality worthy of Lamartine. For it is the subconscious of the subject who, though he may have some thoughts drawn from Lamartine, expresses only himself and not the well known author.

    To remain within the framework of this introduction, let us also here put aside the sometimes grave risks that those incur who deliberately give themselves over to paranormal phenomenon of automatic writing. There are risks at the level of the personality which becomes split, inasmuch as the subconscious rises to the surface, while the psychological awareness is kept in a state of slumber or as a passive listener. In extreme cases, this can result in a kind of artificial schizophrenia. There are also risks on the spiritual level where an evil spirit can take advantage of this lack of vigilance in a person and then intervene, thus taking control of the person. On the one hand, madness or a state of trance results; on the other a demonic parasitism! These are the two great dangers from which it is, at times, difficult to escape.

    What about the Case of Vassula?
    Now let us carefully see what is happening with Vassula. There are three situations to consider.

    • In the first situation, Vassula receives a "locution" of the Lord, an interior word. She can be, at the time, in a church or a public place. If this locution is a message for everyone, she will write it down when she has gone home. It is then that her hand is guided by the Hand of the Lord and the graphological characteristics of her personal handwriting are transformed. From her personal handwriting, which is small, animated and quick, with a slight inclination to the right, it becomes an upright, well ordered, calm, transparent handwriting with no particular emotion. In any case, it is not automatic writing, for there is first af all an interior word which is then followed by the actual writing of the locution. We are not here dealing with the paranormal.
    • In the second situation, there is a dictation which is made by the Master to Vassula, who simply writes down what she hears. She is then in the exact situation of any secretary to her employer. That means that she maintaince her personal autonomy, her freedom and her full contact with her surrounding. She can thus interrupt the dictation at any moment; e.g. she can answer the telephone, and then take it up again where she left off. Here, too the grapholigical pattern of her letters is not her usual one. Instead, it is a vertical, upright handwriting which is easy to read and always peaceful and measured in its respiration. Even though her handwriting is different here, Vassula maintains complete control of herself and the free exercise of her conscious faculties. She simply writes down, by hand, what she receives in an inner vision of Jesus and what she hears by this Voice that inspires her. We are thus far from automatic writing.
    • Finally, in the third situation, which, at times, blends in with the preceding one, Vassula receives an interior light which is infused and has no clearly pronounced words. This is what mystics call a "motion" of the Holy Spirit (whether spiritual or intellectual) which has to be put in our language with precise words and phrases and can require various expressions which, at times, are lengthy. Vassula then hastens to write down this "insight" or "understanding" that she has just received in this infused way. It is then, when she begins to write in her own spontaneous handwriting, that the Lord intervenes and shapes the letters made by Vassula's hand into the beautiful handwriting of His own, as if to give this revelation a seal from on high. It is thus in no way automatic writing. As if to convince us of this, the Lord, at times, proceeds in another way. Sometimes the messages to be communicated are quite long and the time available is quite short. Then the Lord permits Vassula to write the dictation in her own handwriting, which is alert and lively. That shows quite well that Vassula is in no way conditioned by this way of writing nor guided by some "spirit". Her spiritual "experience" has, then, nothing at all in common with the phenomenon of automatic writing.
     
  5. davidtlig

    davidtlig Powers

    Continued....

    It is Hieratic (Sacred) Writing

    Let us look carefully at this calm, dignified writing, measured in its movements and continually animated by a vertical tendency. The median letters or the vowels are not crushed by the loops and staffs which, nevertheless, are dominant, and move with ease in the space which is their own, like that of daily life, although they are, at times, a bit confined in the interior of words. But the text breathes in the space that is provided.

    Above all, there is a continual movement of coming and going which gives the whole an orientation from high to low and low to high. The text of the handwriting gives a vertical impression rather than a horizontal one, with a very evident predominance of the heights. There is, thus, nothing that is denied in the deep and instinctive life, but this depth is mastered and dominated by the higher faculties. There is nothing, then, in this handwriting, that is directed to the Past, and amazingly, nothing directed to the Future, as if only the Present moment were important, or rather, as if everything is Present in a single TODAY.

    There is no sign of any egocentric regression at this time. Nothing, indeed, indicates a falling back to the self; and the tendencies toward others are discreet, light, and always uplifting. There is an evident transparency everywhere of nobility, distinction, and marvelous clarity. The only thing that is important is this double upward and downward movement, which constitutes the continual interior rhythm. At times it descends to the earthly, human depths (which is the movement of the Incarnation), and at times, there is a perceptible elevation toward a superior being who can be none other than the Father. Moreover, there is a bit of rigidity and artificiality in this handwriting where, at least at first glance, it is difficult to discern a human temperament, so sensitive and subject to changes (as one finds, moreover, in the spontaneous handwriting of Vassula). Here this dimension is continually directed on high, relativized, and disappears behind what might seem to be a mask. In fact, as it stands, this writing makes one think of Hebrew, that sacred language par excellence, in which God spoke to Moses and his people on Sinai to reveal their Vocation. That is why we describe this writing as "Hieratic".

    What is Hieratic?
    In the ancient theatre, there was a mask worn by the actor to hide his human face and identify him with the "passion" of the person he played in the drama. Thus the individual, who was generally well known, disappeared behind whomever or whatever he represented. When Vassula writes under the dictation of the Lord, there is something like that in this writing that we can call "hieratic." She disappears-she is effaced behind the One who writes to us. Let us go even further. In the Liturgy, the hieratic gesture is preserved in the Great Oriental (Orthodox) Prayer and up until the time of the Council, it was also in the Roman or Latin Liturgy. It is a sacred, or more precisely, a sacralized gesture. It does not express a human temperament (that of the priest or of his assistants) which it arrests or constrains. It is performed by a man of flesh and blood, who has his own character, his emotions, his faults, even his nationality, but it is, first of all, a divine gesture. All that is relative to the individual himself and his social or geographic origins should be effaced behind an attitude that perpetuates itself in an unchanging way through space and time: for the hieratic gesture is beyond time. It is a gesture of God that is performed by a man. Such a gesture remains always the same through the vicissitudes of the centuries and changing climates and nationalities.

    This is the cause of its apparent coldness and rigidity. Here there is a risk, for if the gesture remains unchanging, it can perhaps fail to convey the Spirit and can come to resemble a branch where the sap no longer flows. That is the reason why the Second Vatican Council wanted to revitalize the liturgical gestures, giving them again a more human character that is closer to our modern sensibilities, but always under the condition that we do not forget that they are, above all, sacred gestures and not those of the media. The Liturgy is, above all, a prayer and not theatre. It is a work that is both human and divine, and it is thus not just an expression of our individual or collective sensibility. We cannot always be certain that this second risk is always carefully avoided in our conciliar liturgy.

    Let us return now to the "Beautiful Writing" of the Lord, as Vassula likes to call it. It is thus a hieratic writing, in other words, a sacred writing that is without a human aspect. It is austere and not individualized, but at the same time it is clothed with such a majestic solemnity. Certainly one can see a sensibility here, but it is all directed on high. In other words, it is directed towards the spirit in man. Without taking into consideration the rational content of the message it conveys, the writing itself inspires a great peace in us to whom it is directed, radiating light and serenity. Truly this Writing is beautiful and can only be good!

    What is the Reason for This Hieratic Writing?
    There remains the question, why is it that, in these messages which he entrusts to Vassula, the Lord has chosen to use this hieratic writing, which, as far as I know, he does not use in identical situations. In fact, so many souls are also receiving revelations from the Lord without this way of writing.

    First of all, is it truly the first time this has happened? In fact, one can ask oneself this question. Aren't the Holy Scriptures by definition a work of God, written, of course, by human hands, but under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? It is good to recall this, for there are many times in Revelation where God himself makes use of the hand-written Scriptures to conserve the message and to better spread it, and above all to engrave it in our hearts of flesh.

    That is what happened to the prophet Habakkuk who, like us, was troubled by the astonishing silence of God before the supplications of his people and the flood of Evil. He decided that: "I will take up my post-watching to see what the Lord will say to me, what answer he will make ... Then Yahweh answered and said: 'Write the vision down, inscribe it on tablets to be easily read, since the vision is for its own time only: eager for its own fulfillment ... if it comes slowly, wait, for come it will, without fail ... the upright man will live by his faithfulness.' (Hab. 2:1-4) Compare also in the Apocalypse, the "letter" of the Lord to His seven Churches; Write to the angel of Ephesus...." (Rev 2:1). Note, too, this unexpected and very meaningful interruption: "When the seven thunderclaps had spoken, I was preparing to write, when I heard a voice from heaven say to me, 'Seal the words of the seven thunderclaps and do not write them down.'"

    Even if one cannot say that in these cases God himself was writing by the hand of his prophet, there are nevertheless two cases where this is explicitly said.

    In fact, isn't it God Himself who, by the hand of Moses, engraved the Ten Commandments on a hard rock to engrave them on the hardened hearts of his people? These Ten Commandments were "written by the finger of God" (Ex. 31:18), but of course it was through the hand of Moses. This is proven by the words: "Cut two tablets of stone ... and I will inscribe on them." But God says to Moses "Write the words yourself ... and God inscribed on the tablets the words of the Covenant, the Ten Commandments" (Ex. 34:1, 27-28). Although we have not seen these two tablets engraved by the hand of God through the hand of Moses, it is clear that the typographical nature of the letters, their "Script" was in the Hebrew language, thus hieratic or sacred, depersonalized. They did not reflect the human temperament of Moses. Instead they reflected the power and the transcendence of God, who was not only the One who inspired them but also quite precisely the author; as it says, "God wrote...." Finally, we should also remember that Jesus Himself, the Man-God, the eternal WORD of the Father, one day wrote on the ground with His own hand! (Jn 8:6.) It is clear to the eyes of faith that any effort to make a graphological analysis here could only stammer before this writing that could not be classified in any known categories of writing which are necessarily limited. However, it is certainly closer to the hieratic writing of Vassula than to our own personalized handwritings which enter in well defined categories.
     
  6. davidtlig

    davidtlig Powers

    Continued....

    A Letter of the Lord to His Church

    Therefore, if the Lord, when speaking with us, does not use the usual rapid, emotive and very moving handwriting of Vassula and instead prefers to use this hieratic and transcendent handwriting, He has His reasons. In all humility, and without exaggeration, it seems that I can say these things:

    In other messages which have been entrusted to other privileged souls, the Lord is speaking to all souls of good will, at times to specific persons, at times to communities, or even to all the faithful (the shepherds and lambs). However, here He is speaking, first of all, to the shepherds, to those who are responsible for his Church, those whom the Apocalypse calls "The angel of the church of...." It is thus a LETTER TO HIS CHURCH, so very much divided for such a longtime and still menaced by internal schisms, caused quite often by personal reasons rather than different liturgical traditions or different schools of theology. Moreover, who could claim, except for the God Man Himself, to sum up in a single spirituality, in a single theological vision, in a single sacred rite, the complete ineffable mystery of the Three Who are One!

    Jesus, in this End of Times, in this Time of the Nations, wishes to make us come in direct contact with the fact that it is truly He who is speaking with us and writing to us. The secretary in this case is without importance and should vanish from our eyes. This is true to such an extent that even her personal handwriting, which reveals her deepest being, should vanish behind this handwriting which is apparently impersonal and artificial but is on the contrary transcendent. Just as the individual personality of the typist-secretary reflected in her handwriting disappears totally behind the printed letters of the typewriter.

    Here, it is therefore the Lord who speaks, the Man-God. It is He who bursts through all the categories of character or graphological order in which one might enclose Him. He is the one who goes beyond all our psychological categories, all our schools of theology that we use to define Him. He is the One about Whom all our sacred rites and our diverse liturgical traditions try to stammer out the mystery without ever being able to exhaust it.

    And He speaks to His Divided Church. He is writing a letter to it to announce that His Return is close and He invites us to a conversion of Our Hearts to His Heart in union with the Heart of His Mother by taking the path to Unity, especially in the united liturgical celebration of Easter. Then all mankind can believe that Jesus is Risen and is indeed, the Son of God and Savior of all. (Jn.17:21-23)

    In giving His writing this hieratic and sacred form so close to icons and evocative of Hebrew, the language of Revelation, does not the Lord perhaps wish to say something still more profound! Does He not wish to remind us that He is the Author of the Holy Scriptures that illumine all our human history and that as we arrive at the end of this Sacred History, He is intervening personally to open up the Book of the Apocalypse to reveal for us the mystery contained therein?

    One cannot fail to be reminded of the passage in the Book of Revelation which is so evocative of the spiritual experience lived by Vassula: "I heard behind me a strong voice like a trumpet that said to me: 'What you see, WRITE IT IN A BOOK and send it to the seven Churches. I turned to see who the voice was that was speaking to me, and I saw in the midst of the seven Lamp stands of gold (the seven Churches) someone who looked like a son of man who said to me: I am the First and the Last, He Who is LIVING... l was dead, and behold, I live forever and ever, holding the keys of death and the underworld... "' (Rev.1:10).

    "Yes, happy are those who listen to what the Spirit says to the Churches and who faithfully keep its contents, for the time is near"(Rev. 1:3).

    I might add that normally Vassula, the secretary, out of respect for her Master, writes His Dictation on her knees. Might we not also receive (at least figuratively) on our knees, this letter of Our Lord to His Church, to the Seven Churches which we are?
     
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  7. lynnfiat

    lynnfiat Fiat Voluntas Tua

    Joe Nickell
    [​IMG]
    Joe Nickell, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and "Investigative Files" Columnist for Skeptical Inquirer. A former stage magician, private investigator, and teacher, he is author of numerous books, including Inquest on the Shroud of Turin (1998), Pen, Ink and Evidence (2003), Unsolved History (2005) and Adventures in Paranormal Investigation (2007). He has appeared in many television documentaries and has been profiled in The New Yorker and on NBC's Today Show. His personal website is at joenickell.com.​

    It seems that Mr. Nickell also does not believe in the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin:

    Controversies
    The Shroud of Turin
    [​IMG]

    Shroud of Turin
    The Shroud of Turin, claimed to be the burial cloth of Jesus miraculously imprinted with the image of his crucified body, is one of Christianity's most famous icons. The Roman Catholic Church, in possession of the Shroud since 1983, has allowed several public viewings and encourages devotions to the image, but takes no official position on the icon's authenticity.[37] Nickell and others contend the Shroud is a 14th-century painting on linen, verified through radiocarbon dating. One of Nickell's many objections to the Shroud's authenticity is the proportions of the figure's face and body. Both are consistent with the proportions used by Gothic artists of the period and are not those of an actual person.[38] Experts on both sides of the controversy have tried to duplicate the Shroud using medieval and modern methods. Claimants to the Shroud's authenticity believe the image could have been produced at the moment of resurrection by radiation, electrical discharge, or ultraviolet radiation; Nickell created a credible shroud using the bas relief method and contends that forgers had equivalent materials available during the 14th century.

    People assume it was about religion. ...I put together a team that had Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and agnostics. ...For us it was not a religious issue, it was a matter of evidence. ...You want people to be precisely correct about evidence. Details matter.[26]
     
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  8. davidtlig

    davidtlig Powers

    Well spotted, Lynn!
     
  9. Harper

    Harper Guest

    Nickell wrote the book in 1998, before some of the recent scientific studies that suggested different processes were going on. He was working on a time frame from an early carbon dating of the 14th century, and using materials of that time period created a forgery that had some of the characteristics. I appreciate this study; it shows he took the shroud seriously. Certainly there is new scientific evidence at this time, and new experiments to reproduce a shroud-like image given the now-known characteristics of the shroud would result in different outcome.

    As for Fr. Curty, he is taking a theological look at the messages, not a practical one. He has NO experience in forgery or in forensic document examination. He seems completely "in the tank" for Vassula from the beginning. His flowery prose is actually disconcerting to me:

    "Here, it is therefore the Lord who speaks, the Man-God. It is He who bursts through all the categories of character or graphological order in which one might enclose Him. He is the one who goes beyond all our psychological categories, all our schools of theology that we use to define Him. He is the One about Whom all our sacred rites and our diverse liturgical traditions try to stammer out the mystery without ever being able to exhaust it...

    "One cannot fail to be reminded of the passage in the Book of Revelation which is so evocative of the spiritual experience lived by Vassula: "I heard behind me a strong voice like a trumpet that said to me: 'What you see, WRITE IT IN A BOOK and send it to the seven Churches. I turned to see who the voice was that was speaking to me, and I saw in the midst of the seven Lamp stands of gold (the seven Churches) someone who looked like a son of man who said to me: I am the First and the Last, He Who is LIVING... l was dead, and behold, I live forever and ever, holding the keys of death and the underworld... "' (Rev.1:10).


    I, actually, fail to be reminded of the "spiritual experience lived by Vassula" when I read this. I am thinking more of what, say, the FBI crime lab would report given the documents for examination. Nickell comes closer to that.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2016
  10. Harper

    Harper Guest

    As for Fr. Curty, Vassula's website includes a copy of a letter he sent to the Cardinal Ratzinger in the mid-'90s, pleading her case and citinghis expertise as a exorcist as support for his criticism. The letter must have been part of the case considered and then rejected by the CDF when it reaffirmed the negative Notification on Vassula in 2007.

    We cannot lose sight of the final and pretty definitive ruling of the Church on Vassula and her -- as Cardinals Ratzinger and Levada ruled them -- "private meditations."
     
  11. Peter B

    Peter B Powers

    I strongly feel that it is time to close this thread as a total waste of time. It is clear that some forum participants believe in Vassula's authenticity and some don't. No producing of evidence is likely to change that. All I can say is that frankly, when one side resorts to quoting 'Skeptical Inquirer' as if it were a balanced source of information, this discussion has really scraped the bottom of the barrel and it's high time to talk about something else. It's perfectly fine to think that Vassula Rydén is bogus, but the point has been now been made ad nauseam and nothing is gained by re-hashing the arguments.

    None of the 'material' against Vassula presented here is about to make me jettison an opinion formed by months of independent textual study and shaped by the views of the likes of René Laurentin, Emiliano Tardif, Cardinals Grech (did you see his review of Vassula Rydén's autobiography in Inside the Vatican magazine?) and Napier, Maronite Patriarch Rai, Archbishops Léonard and Franic, Bishop Jozef Punt (who authorised the Our Lady of All Nations apparitions), as many as twenty Indian bishops, not to mention all those people, including former critics, who have come forward to testify that they saw Jesus in person at Vassula's meetings. Perhaps all of these folks are totally deluded - could be. Only God knows. But I'll wait until I myself have founded thirty orphanages and evangelized in several dozen countries over three decades before I cast any stones.

    Time to change channels, please....
     
  12. Sorrowful Heart

    Sorrowful Heart Principalities

    The way that she describes the way Our Lord comes to her reminds me of the way the one time Our Lady came to me. I never knew about Vassula until coming to this site, and I started to read through the messages. The messages appear to me to be very genuine.
     
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  13. Harper

    Harper Guest

    I agree on closing the thread. I object to the"bottom of the barrel" comment, Peter B, but then I never expected to change the minds of any long-time supporters such as yourself and David -- just to put "material" such as the CDF rulings on the record.
     
  14. Sorrowful Heart

    Sorrowful Heart Principalities

    by their fruits ye shall know them

    Vassula travels the world delivering the message to convert back to God and for the divided Churches to unite.
     
    lynnfiat and IXOYE4me like this.
  15. Dolours

    Dolours Powers

    Whether or not the thread is closed, there's enough information to caution people that this lady does not now nor will ever likely have official Church approval. Thanks, Harper, to you and others for the heads up.
     
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  16. Peter B

    Peter B Powers

    I've now said enough about Vassula Rydén, but I maintain my stance regarding Joe Nickell, and would do so even if it is subsequently proven that Vassula is a total and utter fake (as the two issues are logically separate).

    Nickell is an archetypal scientific reductionist of precisely the type that I and many professional colleagues have spent a great deal of time countering in recent years (his French counterpart and fellow Turin Shroud debunker Henri Broch is a similar case). His investigations are not objective because the possibility of supernatural causation is ruled out at the outset. This elementary philosophical error (given that an inquiry is illegitimate if the conclusion is already built into the premise) was most famously and disastrously made by Hume in the 18th century and has been repeated by generations of scientific materialists ever since.

    Judge for yourselves:

    'To date, science has not required a supernatural explanation for anything'
    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.fr/2013/06/an-interview-with-joe-nickell-author-of.html

    "Turin "Shroud" still a Fake"
    http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/turin_shroud_still_a_fake/

    "The New Pope Saints" (attacking the miracles adduced for the canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII):
    http://www.csicop.org/si/show/the_new_pope_saints
    'What is truly objectionable are miraculists’ attempts to trump modern medical science—not only by downplaying science’s role in cures but by choosing remarkable cases so as to emphasize their supposedly “medically inexplicable” nature. No matter how well-intentioned, by attempting to assert superiority over science with supernatural claims and the illogic of arguing from ignorance, one succeeds only in promoting superstition.'

    "'Miracle' Statue of Fatima"
    http://www.csicop.org/sb/show/miracle_statue_of_fatima
    Fatima, Portugal, was the site where—in 1917—the Virgin Mary appeared to ten-year-old Lucia Santos and her two cousins. The only one to talk with the apparition, Lucia clearly exhibited the traits of a fantasy-prone personality. Her own mother would come to declare her “nothing but a fake who is leading half the world astray.”

    At the end of a six-month period of appearances, there occurred the famous “Miracle of the Sun,” proclaimed as such by the Catholic Church. Of thousands in attendance, some maintained that the sun spun pinwheel-like, while others claimed it danced or seemed to fall toward the spectators.

    However, since people elsewhere in the world—viewing the selfsame sun—did not see the reputed gyrations, it is likely that the effects were optical ones caused by temporary retinal distortions (from staring at the intense light) or by darting the eyes to avoid fixed gazing. Meteorological phenomena and so-called “mass hysteria” may have also played a role. Sun miracles have since been reported elsewhere (Nickell 1993, 176–185; 2009).

    "The Pope's Non-Exorcism"
    http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/the_popes_non-exorcism/
    We should look for more details about this aspect of the case, which could suggest that there was an attempt to take advantage of an unsuspecting pope. Catholic anti-abortion crusaders often hijack some “miracle” claim for political use. For example, the traveling Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima is accompanied by a message of world peace but when the glass-eyed effigy occasionally “weeps” some link the phenomenon to the legalization of abortion. (See my article forthcoming in Skeptical Briefs, Summer 2013.) When the Virgin Mary “appears” to purported visionaries (like Nancy Fowler whom I heard at Conyers, Georgia, in 1994), the supposedly channeled message is frequently an anti-abortion rant. And the Image of Guadalupe (a 16th-century picture of Mary that supposedly appeared miraculously but was in fact painted) is often seen reproduced as a banner at anti-abortion rallies.

    Meanwhile, one hopes that the man (reportedly named Angelo) gets whatever psychological help he may need, and that those who still, in the 21st century, believe in devils and demons will do likewise. (For more on demon possession and exorcism, see my
    The Science of Miracles, Prometheus Books, 2013.)

    Whatever anyone thinks of any given alleged mystic - and I fully accept that there are big differences of opinion -, let's not take material from the likes of Joe Nickell at face value in the light of the quotes above. Some words of the Apostle Paul come to mind here:
    1 Corinthians 6:1 'When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints?' (New Revised Standard Version Anglicized Catholic Edition)
     
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  17. Harper

    Harper Guest

    Peter B,

    Are you sure you want to stop arguing? It doesn't seem so.

    I hadn't realized the Nickell article would strike such a nerve. He's a skeptic? So what? He is also a document examiner, and he cites textual material (consistent grammatical mistakes, idiosyncratic phrasing) including physical evidence of similarities in writing style. He includes photos to support his conclusions. This is apparently the only independent study by someone with any forensic expertise on Vassula's writing. Other mystics, including the seers of Medjugorje, have been studied extensively by outside experts (videotaped, hooked up to sensors). Why not Vassula?

    Let me ask again: If there were a report from a document examiner from New Scotland Yard or the FBI that concluded the writings from Vassula messengers had only one source -- Vassula-- would you accept that?

    You cite St. Paul from an Anglicized Catholic source (are you Anglican, Peter?) Yes, I would dare take a a scientific matter to a scientist. That is the method the Church itself employs. The Catholic Church itself presented the Shroud of Turin for examination by a panel of scientists multiple times. These experts were not all Catholic; many if not most were scientific skeptics. The Church fully accepted their work in the '90s, and it has accepted the revised evidence. (As you know, the Church has never formally concluded the Shroud is the actual burial cloth. I piously believe it is; the Church does not insist on that. )

    The Church employs objective medical testimony to determine the authenticity of any claimed physical healing. It never vets its experts by their religion or lack of religion.

    I have friends working hard for the declaration of a woman as "Servant of God." They have transcribed and submitted a great deal of complicated medical testimony to the Vatican. They have also collected testimony from former staunch non-believers, a doctor and two nurses, who converted to Catholicism as a result of treating her. Prior to working with this woman, these professionals would immediately have ruled out any supernatural causation in medical matters; now they testify to "inexplicable" healings. The authorities have found their conversion particularly impressive.

    Faith and reason are not opposed. This was a core message of Pope Benedict. This is the position of the Roman Catholic Church.
     
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  18. Peter B

    Peter B Powers

    Now I really have said enough and will be silent (on this discussion, at least!). Readers have sufficient material on this thread to judge for themselves. Blessings to your friends working for the recognition of the woman you mention.
     
  19. garabandal

    garabandal Powers

    You don't think it is a problem that Nickell is a skeptic and an unbeliever?

    We don't live in a vacuum - Nickell's mind is set on the earthly and he denies the supernatural. We are either for Christ or against him and those who live by the flesh cannot have the mind of Christ or His Church.

    http://www.joenickell.com/Humanist/humanist1.html

    Joe Nickell's own words:
    Once a Baptised Christian, by college I was a humanist (my definition, "an atheist with a heart"). Humanism affirms that people can solve their problems without imagining supernatural beings; the arts and sciences flourish when ignorance and superstition are thus overthrown. I am a signer of Humanist Manifesto 2000, and in 2004 I was given the Isaac Asimov Award by the American Humanist Association.

    You have chosen a funny bed fellow Harper:D
     
  20. garabandal

    garabandal Powers

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