Adventures in Apocalyptic Marianism

One link leads to another.

Mr. Burrell of All Manner of Thing recently added Bad Catholic to his blogroll, which prompted me to take a fresh look at Bad Catholic. Then I noticed “Heaven Speaks” on the Bad Catholic menu bar. Marc, the proprietor of Bad Catholic, says: “A year ago, my life was changed by the grace of God, through a little pamphlet written by Anne, a Lay Apostle, who claims to be receiving interior locutions (private revelation) from Jesus, Mary and the Saints.” Marc offers to send you one of said pamphlets if you drop him a note.

Marc’s endorsement made me curious, so I Googled “Anne lay apostle” and found Anne’s website, Direction for Our Times: Official Resources for Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King. I read Anne’s “Introduction Letter” — a little goofy with the mention of vague illnesses and such, but possibly genuine. She also mentions Medjugorje, which I’m pretty fond of, but which might be enough to cause other Catholics I know to spit on the ground and turn away. So I found my way to Anne’s online library. After poking around a bit, I discovered that the documents overlap. The “pamphlets” and “volumes” are compiled and organized into the “books” — so I gravitated to the latter, starting with the first one, Climbing the Mountain. Now I’ve read the first thirty pages or so of Anne’s account of getting a tour of heaven with Jesus Himself as the tour guide, and involving casual encounters with Anne’s grandmother, St. Clare, St. John of the Cross, St. Peter, St. Bernard, St. John the Apostle, Our Lady, and others. Heaven is vast, with mountains and streams and rooms, gathering places and places of solitude where souls absorb and learn from Jesus, festivals of celebration, and meetings where saints strategize about how best to usher in the renewal of the world and the return of Christ as King. “Jesus said that we live in an age of disobedience, which means that many souls are living in rebellion to God’s will. He says that we are moving out of this time, toward an age of obedience, when most souls will live in unity with God’s will. The time we are in now is a transition period.” It’s pretty heady stuff, exciting, astonishing — maybe even genuine and not just Anne’s own personal excursion into a creative writing project that got out of control … maybe!

So I returned to Google. Hmmm… “Claims of Private Revelation: True or False? An Evaluation of the messages to ‘Anne,’ a lay apostle” sounds possibly useful. Someone by the name of Ronald L. Conte Jr (his CV, of sorts, here) concludes that Anne’s messages are the genuine deal, to wit:

These messages do not contain any of the characteristics of false private revelation. In truth, they show every indication of being true private revelations from God. These messages are entirely in keeping with the messages found in the Gospel. In my humble and pious opinion as a faithful Roman Catholic theologian, the claims of private revelation to Anne, a wife, mother, and lay apostle, are reliable and trustworthy.

Hmm … side trip to his blog … whoa … okay, whacky, but … interesting. Back to Google and Anne. Okay. Here’s something. Semper Fi Catholic’s Letter to Anne’s Bishop. One a them wacky* forums you find on all sorts of topics. This one is an exchange wherein Anne’s real identity is supposedly revealed, someone provides a link to private emails someone else dug up between Anne and someone she was counseling to divorce her husband in 2001, etc. Supposedly this demonstrates that Anne is a fraud, etc. Oh boy. But I’m still leaning towards accepting Anne as the real McCoy.


* Or perhaps not so wacky; see comments below. And why did I spell it “whacky” just a few lines earlier, but “wacky” here? Speak to me, O Spellcheck. “Whack!”


  1. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    As a general rule, I ignore ongoing or recent purported private revelations, for reasons anybody here has probably already considered, if not accepted:

    Since private revelations are only trustworthy to the extent they do not contradict public revelation; since learning/living the contents of public revelation is already a full-time project; and since the risk of demonic and/or human deception — including self-deception — seems so great, therefore demanding time and thought to assess the authenticity of the supposed private revelation — for these reasons,the ‘costs’ of paying attention to a private revelation seem ordinarily to outweigh the benefits.

    I usually treat reports of private revelations the same way I try to treat everyday occurrences, conversations, news reports, art, etc.: As reminders of what and Whom we already know from public revelation.

    Since the Church makes room for private revelation, though, I do, too — once the recipient of said revelation has been dead for a few decades or centuries, investigated, and perhaps canonized. Bonus points for being Dominican.

    I do want to be clear that I don’t think less of anyone for being interested in, or devoted to, a private revelation. Every individual’s circumstances are so different, the ‘cost/benefit’ analysis that prevents me from following up on private revelations might work out differently for someone else, or even be irrelevant. And of course, God can use either genuine or spurious private revelations to reach people in their unique circumstances.


    • I agree with Angelico about the, you might say, opportunity costs and risks of delving into most private revelations being too high in most cases. On the other hand, Fatima did play a significant role in getting me to take my faith more seriously, pray more often, and get to understand Catholicism better during those crucial adolescent years.

  2. Cubeland Mystic says

    I was taken out of my body and brought to the edge of New Orleans, and there a somber looking Walker Percy met me. “Why are you grieved?” I asked him. He looked up from within his Saints hoody, and stared at me for a long time with a determined urgency and then said, “You need to read my books boy!” Then he took me through all the levels of New Orleans, and revealed to me great secrets along the way.

    I will share that revelation in my up coming book. But back to the subject, I know about Anne and a little bit about her journey. While I was listening to her stuff all my mystic sensors were going off and I found those emails posted on the internet. I don’t recall it saying anything about going to Ireland and faking private revelations, but there was some pretty harsh language. Probably along the lines you get here at the Flying K. And then when I found them it was a lot closer to the time when it had occurred, and there wasn’t that much time between the emails and revelations.

    I am sort of in Angelico’s camp on this one. She raised my suspicions right away with her stuff. There is fund raising projects and stuff like that going on as I recall. They are building something, and raising funds for that. Come on, think out of the box. We don’t need another shrine. Why property? Why not a movie studio or some sort content production studio a long the lines of what we’ve discussed? Ideas change the world not buildings. If the Holy Spirit is speaking to me beyond the voice within the blue column of light that appears to me occasionally, the talks with my guardian angel, and the ability to bi-locate, then I would say that God wants us to use art to reach the world. Not create a static shrine that .000001% of Catholics will get to experience in their life.

    I’d giver her the benefit of the doubt, whose to say, but I would keep a sharp jaundiced eye on her. Too many people are looking for that supernatural stuff and we don’t need anymore scandal.

    I am keeping an eye on Father Barron too. He makes me ever so slightly uneasy. Perhaps it’s the polish and media savvy, but more likely the recent scandals have made me weary. BTW I am loving Catholicism. It is very well done.

    • Mystic, are you sure it’s a good idea to publicly raise questions about Fr. Barron based on nothing but a vague feeling? I haven’t followed him much, but anything I’ve ever heard him say seemed nothing but sensible, charitable, and free of the sort — not sure what to call it… pride?arrogance? — that always made me queasy about such figures as Fr. Corapi. Fr. Barron has always struck me as a guy who simply wants to serve the Lord using his talents as best he can. But anyway, I return to my original comment: is it wise to raise questions about him based on a private and vague feeling you get, which *may* well be caused not by the man, but by the recent scandals? If you agree, then I encourage you (and give you or the Korrektiv editors my consent) to delete both this post, and the relevant portion of your own.

    • Jonathan Potter says

      CM — I’m looking forward to that book! A Korrektiv Press Mystics and Madmen Series title, right?

  3. What you say about the need to give up the time one might spend exploring that which has already been approved by the Church in order to spend on something that might be spurious makes a lot of sense. Well, everything you said makes a lot of sense.

    This could, of course, be authentic, but I can’t see why Mr. Conte’s opinion as to their authenticity should bear any weight. Who speaks for Mr. Conte?

    I tend to think favorably about Medjugorge because I’ve seen a lot of good fruit come out of people’s pilgrimages, and because some very down to earth priests have told me that hearing confessions there convinced them that something good must be going on; however, I’m content to wait and see what the Church says, although, being dead by then, I will probably know already.


  4. This looks like just the kind of thing that could become at least a week-ling obsession for me, distracting me from my other obsessions, so thank you in advance. Personal revelation does fascinate me, but given my past tendency towards the occult and my new-agey phase I try to handle these things cautiously. I do have a photo a friend took at Medjugorge, wherein an image of the Virgin Mother appeared after she got it home. I like it, and I trust her. (And Mother Mary–I trust her a lot, too). I hadn’t thought to be wary of Fr. Barron, and now that idea is going to be lodged in my head. I feel properly korrekted for the day.

  5. That was meant to be week-long, not week-ling, though week-ling is what I may become afterwards, come to think of it.

    • Jonathan Potter says

      I’m the same way, Elizabeth. I go off on headlong weeklong obsessions over this kind of stuff on occasion and end up feeling weak at the end of it.

  6. Most people I rub elbows with consider private revelation to be slightly nuts at best, so of course, I tend to do the opposite–approach it with a “could be” attitude. Honestly, I’m a spiritual director, and I think there is a lot more mystical experience going on out there than many realize. There’s a difference between a perceived communication of any sort By God for oneself and what is meant for the world’s benefit. But if this sort of thing is happening with some frequency and incognito most of the time, sure, this COULD be true. I wouldn’t rest my faith on it (and if someone asks you to, you’re talking to the wrong person), but our great visionaries were not immediately approved by bishops, etc. Who knows? If it turns you to the Gospel, good, and stay with the Gospel.

  7. CM, I feel the same way about Father Barron. Instead of being edified by an articulate defender of the church, I am skeptical. When did it come this?

    • Cubeland Mystic says

      I am kind of sorry I wrote that now. I wasn’t thinking, about how that might sound. This goes back to the Barbara Nicolosi sharing of her negative experience. A lot of it has to do with Fr. Corapi, Fr. Pavone, and then Fr. Eitenour (sp?). Sorry I don’t feel like looking up the spelling. With Corapi my antenna went up about two or three years ago, his tales kept getting taller and more embellished through the years.

      I don’t mean that Fr Barron is a bad priest or anything but honorable. I am just uneasy about him and his popularity. My uneasiness is due to my lack of trust. I am unwilling to let my guard down now. That is all it is. It is me not him that is in error. It is really hard now to trust him. I think the series is great. And I am edified by the series, but the sad part is he might as well be Kenneth Clark or Michael Wood. I don’t hold them in esteem as presenters of history, but certainly respect them. Fr Barron perhaps should be honored like Bishop Sheen was/is, but I cannot go there.

      I think that is the sad heart of it. Like you, I am skeptical. I think that explains it. I hope no one duffies me, because I certainly respect him, but there is a little part of me that is keeping its distance. So like with Corapi I am going into this one with a trust but verify attitude. I will keep my game face on.

      • OK, I see what you’re saying, but I still don’t think it was a good idea to post about such feelings publicly. Fr. Barron is indeed popular, and that is bound to bring its own challenges for him, and no doubt he is a sinner like you and me, but Corapi, Euteneur, Pavone AND (for good measure) Fr. Maciel, always had a type of zeal that I always found somehow off-putting or off-balance (even when I did not think there was anything scandalous going on). The point is that when I heard about scandals associated with them (actually, I never heard what the Fr. Pavone thing ended in…) *it made sense*. I don’t get that vibe at all from him and would be truly shocked to find out that something similar was true in his case. I’d as soon suspect Lickona of living a double life, which is not to say that it’s impossible, but simply that I’d extend my trust to him exactly in the way I would extend it to a friend.

        • Cubeland Mystic says


          I made a deeper explanation and shared my regret before you posted your concern, and I do agree with you on one hand. So I hope you believe that I am sincere about this. But on the other hand a lot of us are really scandalized, by abuse scandals, and then the recent celebrity priest scandals. It has effected me in very real ways. Should I pretend that I am not very slightly uneasy about Fr Barron? Maybe a better term is concerned about his success, and if he can handle it. I am concerned that he might go off the rails. I certainly did not disparage him in any way, and even the first comment I was somewhat tentative.

          Jonathan’s post is really about discernment. I give Anne the benefit of the doubt, because she is only claiming locutions as I recall. However it is not my cup of tea, if it is of God it will thrive and I wish her well. I went to her site just now. I recalled from a couple years ago they were raising funds for a shrine or something. I had absolutely no trouble finding the DONATE button on her site. There are suggested donations of a $1000 a month.

          Then I checked out the Missionaries of Charity site, first I had trouble finding a site. There is something called the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center. I think it is a MOC website. I found no DONATE button, but I did find this after digging into the FAQ

          “May any fundraising be done using Mother Teresa’s name?

          During her lifetime, Mother Teresa forbade the use of her name for fundraising of any kind. Likewise, after her death Mother Teresa’s name, work or relics may NOT be associated with fundraising in support of the Missionaries of Charity, the MTC, the Postulation or on behalf of any other organization. We would appreciate being notified of any such misuses of her name.”

          I have no idea how I would give the MOC money.

          Here is Anne the lay apostle’s DFOT property purchase that I saw a few years back. They were buying an Abbey and appears they have.

          This is from the above you link. Hit the show more button.

          “On January 24, 2008, Direction for Our Times signed a contract to purchase Holy Trinity Abbey. The price for the buildings and land, totaling approximately 44 acres, is 2,500,000 Euro. Closing is scheduled for December 8, 2008, at which time the purchase price will need to be paid. Once we have closed on the property, we plan to refurbish the buildings as needed and rename it Holy Trinity Centre for Prayer.”

          An earlier video about raising money

          This is all my opinion and should be treated as such. I don’t want to disturb anyone’s faith, but when I look at Mother Teresa and compare it with DFOT’s DONTATE button I am more than a little skeptical. I don’t care about her alleged “scandalous” email interchange. I read it awhile back AFTER my internal warning bells went off. In the end it is no different than some of the stuff here at the Flying K. Just two old friends talking.

          Fr Barron is what he is. Like I said in the original comment, I love the series, but I am weary. I was very skeptical about even buying it because I thought it was going to be the documentary equivalent of “There Be Dragons” and I was surprised that it was not at all. I did not want to spend the money, but as a supporter of Catholic media I did. I look at it as a blow against the culture of death. Just like when I bought the recent bad Fatima movie, Michael O’Obrien’s books, all the okay JP2 movies, the okay Mother Teresa movie, the crappy St Francis movie, and some other crappy Catholic films that are full of death and sadness that I cannot show to my kids.

          Since we are all supposed to be in community how should I deal with this skepticism? Since scandal over the last 12 years has shaken apart my microbial faith into some DNA shards floating within a thin liturgical soup I find it difficult to keep my concerns under wraps. Especially since the culprits behind the fracturing have been folks who typically are beyond question.

          • Cubeland, I understand your perspective here, but I must strongly agree with Bernardo that a public forum is not the appropriate place to raise these concerns based on so little. I’m going to pull these comments for the time being as I have limited Internet access while traveling. I think sometimes we assume there’s nobody here but us chickens but that really isn’t the case. I’m leaving my own comment up for about ten minutes and then will pull this one down as well.

            • Jonathan Potter says

              I put the comments back. CM takes pains to explain that his misgivings are not due to any real problem with Fr. Barron. I think it’s an important discussion thread.

              • Matthew Lickona says

                I also think it’s important to note that Cubeland said that Father made him just the slightest bit uneasy. Not exactly an accusation, and it was followed immediately by this: “Perhaps it’s the polish and media savvy, but more likely the recent scandals have made me weary. BTW I am loving Catholicism. It is very well done.” Self-accusation, and then praise for Father.

            • the Duffer says

              Agree with Expat.

              The thread is not more important than maintaining an innocent person’s good standing.

  8. Jonathan Webb says

    Charisma is suspicious. Which is why you should all follow me.

  9. Kevin Symonds says


    My name is Kevin Symonds, a member of the “Semper Fi Catholic” forum.

    I wish to express my displeasure at your having insulted my friends on SFC with your “whacky” remark. I have known some of those folks for years and they are in good standing with the Church.

    You have insulted otherwise good people for no reason and on a subject that you, by your own admission, know next to nothing about. This is not wise.

    I strongly encourage you to retract the statement & issue a public apology.

    -Kevin J. Symonds

    • Jonathan Potter says

      Well, okay. I’m sorry. I intended to portray my own admittedly fallible and possibly wrongheaded impressions as I Googled around and followed link after link. “One a them whacky forums” wasn’t necessarily aimed at you and your friends specifically but at my impression of Internet forums in general. I would probably apply the same adjective to this here blog and my own self from time to time. For all I know, you guys aren’t the least bit whacky, though; so, insofar as I think Internet forums tend towards whackiness, I hereby retract my implication that Semper Fi Catholic is included in that hasty overgeneralization. On the other hand, if you are willing to accept that this whole business including asking for a public retraction and apology is all pretty whacky then perhaps we can exchange whacky olive branches and be friends in whackiness under Christ.

      • Kevin Symonds says

        Dear Jonathan,

        Peace be with you! For my part, I accept your apology. I have notified the SFC webmistress of your article.

        I would also like to say that I have been researching this “Anne Affair” for nearly six years. If allowed to continue, there will be serious scandal and I hope we can resolve it “in-house.”

        @Mr. Lickona: I loved your article in Columbia last year.

        -Kevin J. Symonds

  10. Matthew Lickona says

    Jonathan – why are you inclined to believe she’s the real McCoy?

    • Jonathan Potter says

      Well, either she’s a liar, a lunatic, telling the truth, or some confusing mixture thereof. The little bit I’ve read of her writings combined with the preliminary endorsements of her bishop in Ireland and others such as Marc of Bad Catholic point to “telling the truth” as the simplest explanation. But I agree with Cubeland that there are red flags. And the emails someone posted at Semper Fi — however dubiously they were acquired — also seem somewhat damning, although not definitively; not for me at least. So I’m wary, but willing to continue exploring the writings with an open mind. As with Medjugorje, the claims are so astonishing *and contemporary* that I don’t quite agree with Angelico’s cost-benefit analysis. I think it does merit at least the weeklong obsessive investigation indicated by Elizabeth K, if not a more extended look. But my faith is weak.

  11. Well, I’ve watched every episode of the X Files and quite a bit of Dr. Who, so if you need and expert on any of that you can ask me.


    • Matthew Lickona says

      What did you think of the visionary pedophile priest in the second X-Files movie?

      • I feel like I’ve stepped on a landmine.

        In what way do you mean? Do you want to know if I think that it was wrong to have a pedophile priest as a protagonist. I’m a little fuzzy on the details of the movie, but I remember the part about the priest pretty well.

        One thing I know for sure is that I am eternally grateful that I have a lust for ice cream and chocolate and not for little boys. I wonder if I would be as unsuccessful controlling the latter as I am with the former.


        • That’s not to say that I don’t think that pedophilia is horrible, because, of course, I do.


          • Matthew Lickona says

            Oh, sorry, no landmine intended. I thought it was a fascinating move. A man beaten by his demons to the point where he self-castrated, a man who hates his flesh because of the war it is forever winning against his spirit, a man who has driven himself into a truly terrible desert in an effort to atone for his sins/remove the occasion of sin, and who is tormented with visions nonetheless. Scully can’t accept that said visions are from God. The moviegoer is asked to believe otherwise.

            • Oh, well yes. That’s pretty much exactly what I thought. One thing that I liked about X-Files was that things like this (only not so serious usually) were always coming up. There is one which features a small town where there are a bunch of Satan worshipers and where mysterious deaths have been occurring. (Satan worshipers–death–Whodda thunk it?) One of the SWs tells Mulder that the reason for the deaths is that the followers aren’t true worshipers anymore–they don’t practice the faith in the correct way, and Mulder says, “You mean like grape juice for Communion?”

              I was surprised, really, and happy to see them take point of view wrt that priest. I remember reading a comment on a website once saying that pedophile priest were monsters and should burn in Hell. Well, I think that perhaps many of them are burning in Hell at every moment of their lives–that they know they are monsters and would love to be able to do something about it. Society not only says, “You are a monster,” but also, “There is NOTHING that can be done about it. You can’t be cured.” Not that I think former abusers should ever be put in a position where they are alone with children, but I think we somehow have to do better. They used to say that to alcoholics, you know, “They can’t be cured.”

              I have had to think about this a lot because 3 children who are close to me have been abused, two of them by a priest. You can’t keep holding on to hatred and ever expect to be healed yourself.

              See, I’m sure this isn’t what you expected when you asked that question. 🙂


              • Matthew Lickona says

                I try not to have too many expectations. But thanks for your reply!

                And I am truly sorry to hear of the children close to you falling victim.

                Bless you for trying to let go of hatred.

                • Well, I’m not sure what that means, but that’s okay. As I was pushing that button, as I was thinking, “Why am I doing this.”

                  They are all middle-aged now, by the way, and the one that I am still in touch with is doing fairly well.


              • My very most favorite ever line from the X-Files is from that episode about the devil worshippers (I think–if not that one, there’s another about devil worshippers): Mulder says to one of the satanists who isn’t too happy with the way things worked out: “Did you think you could call up the devil and make him behave?”

                An epitaph for the modern world, perhaps.

  12. Reading this discussion, I’m mostly curious to know what Craig would think of having started all this.


    • Jonathan Potter says

      I’m kinda curious about that, too.

      • Just enjoying the ride. This is a very good thread, to which I have nothing of substance to add.

        Except I will say that Fr. Barron doesn’t make me feel wary at all.

        As for private revelations, I think Angelico hit a home run right off the top: I have enough trouble with the black and white, and don’t need the murky grey. I mostly steer clear of purported revelations, though Lourdes and Fatima have a place on the periphery of my devotional life. Dante also.

  13. Matthew Lickona says

    Here’s what Cubeland means by scandalized: everything in me distrusts these revelations, to the point where I’m nodding along with whacko YouTube videos that contrast her vision of Purgatory as a lovely, peaceful place with the Church’s teaching that it is a place of painful purgation.

    I don’t know if this always would have been the case. But I’ve seen a couple of things – not about Anne, but about other hugely popular private revelation figures – that have put me in this place.

    Of course, I am not the ultimate judge, and my distrust is not a measure of trustworthiness. So I don’t think I’m offending against charity when I say all this. But I will keep my distance, for my own sake, and for Anne’s. Going on that week-long investigative bender would be an occasion of sin for me.

    • Jonathan Potter says

      I haven’t read her stuff on Purgatory, but I’ll admit that I’m drawn to the rosy portrait she paints of gentle Jesus guiding her around heaven and how he lets the saints do their thing without micromanaging, etc. Part of my response has to do with the residual effect of reading Jung’s Answer to Job awhile back, a book that got under my skin in a bad way and left me struggling with a jaundiced view of God and his mysterious ways. Yes, my faith is weak, so weak that a little book by Jung could rock it pretty significantly. What I’ve read of Anne’s writings so far has served somewhat as an antidote to the Jung book. If it turns out to be a creative writing project by “Anne” rather than experiences that really happened to her, I’m still interested. Granted, if it’s all a Whopper of a lie and a fraud she’s concocting, there are problems with that. Huge, hairy problems. But even then, I don’t find myself devastated by the scandal of it. I can take the writings for what they are or are not. Either way, for me, where I’m at, this stuff has the effect of propelling me, not away from the primary documents and sacraments and disciplines of our faith but toward them — whether Anne is the real deal or not.

      I can see how that might be far from the case for others, but that’s how it is for me, and it has been the same with Medjugorje. I don’t pin my faith on it, but I have spent some time examining it and I am intrigued, edified even. The result hasn’t been that I want to delve further and further into Medjugorje but that I want to turn to the majesty of our tradition, the deposit of faith, the sacraments, and our Lord Jesus Christ at the center of it all. If Medjugorje and Anne both turn out to be a sham, the effect they’ve had on me won’t be diminished — speaking entirely for myself, personally, and the odd circumstances of my mind and station in life, how I came to the Church, and probably even my own particular whackiness.

      • Matthew Lickona says

        At least your faith was rocked by Jung. Mine gets rocked by far less significant waves.

        Not sure much more need be said, except maybe to emphasize that, like you, I am emphasizing my own reaction much more than the truth or falsity of Anne’s claims. You benefit – praise God. I fear I would not, so I must keep away.

  14. Betty Duffy says

    The life of St Gemma Galgani holds some interesting insights into false apparitions. The devil appeared to her in the disguise of her priest confessor, a black dog, a hirsute midget, and a resplendent angel.

  15. Kevin Symonds says

    Mr. Potter (et al),

    Perhaps you would be interested in the following article:

    -Kevin J. Symonds

  16. After reading this post several weeks ago, I wrote up a response, inspired by Father B. Groeschel’s “A Still Small Voice, A Practical Guide On Reported Revelation.” I found that he had some very sensible tips for Catholic lay people on how to think about, and deal with, unapproved revelations such as the one(s) promoted by DFOT.

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