Tradition? Scripture? Mysticism?
Or What?

For many years, I have been reading Catholic theology/mythology in an effort to better understand how that cult functions and what it believes. The more I read, the more confused I get.

I often have read that the doctrine of the RCC is derived from three basic sources: Scriptures, tradition and the teaching authority of the Magisterium. According to my understanding of what I have read, the Magisterium is the sole authority within the RCC for interpreting Scripture.

I have asked how Catholics might know with complete assurance what constitutes the body of tradition that the Magisterium uses to determine what is to be taught within the RCC. I have asked if there is a Canon of Tradition. I do not recall reading a response pointing to an authoritive source for such information.

My research took me to the Chaplet of Mercy and the claimed appearance of Jesus to Sister Faustina Kowalska, beatified by John Paul II and known in the RCC as the Apostle of Divine Mercy. I read several reports and studies, all from Catholic sources, and my confusion mounted.

According to Faustina's diary, Jesus appeared to her in 1931. She received from Him a message of mercy that she was told to spread throughout the world. She was asked to become the apostle and secretary of God's mercy, a model of how to be merciful to others, and an instrument for reemphasizing God's plan of mercy for the world. He told her to paint an image, gave her instructions for a feast whereby sins might be forgiven, dictated prayers, a Novena and other writings for Faustina to enter into her diary. In 1931, she “offered” herself for the lost and the Lord, according to her diary, responded with these words: "I am giving you a share in the redemption of mankind. You are a consolation to Me in the hour of My death."

In her diary, she wrote:

"In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw the Lord Jesus clad in a white garment. One hand raised in the gesture of blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From beneath the garment, slightly drawn aside at the breast, there were emanating two large rays, one red, the other pale white. In silence, I kept my gaze fixed on the Lord; my soul was struck with awe, but also with great joy. After a while, Jesus said to me:

"Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus I Trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the entire world.

"I promise that the souls that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over its enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory."

Jesus announced to her a new feast, to be celebrated the first Sunday after Easter -- the Feast of Divine Mercy. When Jesus gave this Feast to Faustina, He reportedly told her:

"Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.

"This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of My tender mercies.

"It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter ... I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fountain of My mercy.

"I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy."

Having shared all that, I ask Catholic readers to consider these questions:

1. Are Faustina's writings, allegedly dictated by Jesus, considered Scripture or tradition?

2. If Scripture, are they now considered part of the Canon of Scripture?

3. If tradition, are they now considered part of the Canon of Tradition, if there is such a compendium?

4. Who determined the nature of Faustina's diary?

5. Sister Faustina is called the Apostle of Divine Mercy. How does this Apostolic appointment correspond to the Apostolic appointments of the Twelve?

6. As I understand RCC doctrine, all sins are forgiven and a person enters a state of grace at baptism. Future mortal sins cause a person to lose grace and that cannot be restored except through the sacraments of Confession or Extreme Unction. Why does the special forgiveness of the Feast of Divine Mercy require Confession and Communion in order that sins be forgiven? Is this a conflict in doctrine?

7. According to the diary, Jesus promised eternal security to all who venerate the image He inspired Faustina to paint. Does not such veneration constitute idolatry?

8. The Bible tells us that when Christ returns for His bride, it will be announced with a shout and the sound of a trump (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). In Matthew 24, we are told of the great tribulation that is to precede Christ's Second Coming, and that when He does come, the entire world will know it. Since the Church has not been raptured and the entire world has not seen Christ returning in glory, what authenticates His reported visitation to Faustina?

9. According to the "inspired" writings in her diary, the Lord gave Faustina a share in the redemption of mankind. Does this place her in a position comparable to, albeit of inferior status, that of Mary? Is she, together with Mary, a co-redemtrix with Jesus?

10. Among non-Catholics there are well-known media personalities who claim to have visited with Jesus in a manner similar to that described by Sister Faustina. Every orthodox or conservative Christian I know, and those I have read, consider these claims to be specious. What is the difference between a non-Catholic media minister's claim of direct Divine revelation and that claimed by Faustina?

Things to think on.

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