Father Peter on a spiritual phenomenon
Vassula Ryden is a Greek Orthodox laywoman who has been receiving messages from God for almost twenty years. She is a married woman, the mother of two sons, now adult, who until the age of 43 had paid little attention to God or her faith. It was then that, first through her guardian angel Daniel, and then through each of the Persons of the Trinity, that she began to receive messages for our generation. The visible manifestation of this occurs in the taking over of her handwriting, which then exhibits a pronouncedly different character to her normal handwriting.
There are twelve volumes of these messages (transmitted in over 40 languages) from which has sprung the association of True Life in God, a name given by the Lord himself to those who read the Messages. Vassula has spoken on more than 700 public occasions in over 70 different countries. Theologians from both the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches have not only been unable to fault the ‘theology’ of the Messages but express their amazement that one entirely untutored in either Scripture or theology should write at such length without error. For many, this remains convincing evidence of their provenance.
How might we know for ourselves the trustworthiness of these Messages? For myself, I would say that it is sufficient to read them slowly and prayerfully. There follows increasing conviction that they come from God himself. In that sense, they are self-authenticating. Following Vassula’s own counsel to start at the beginning, I found in Volume I as early as page 8 an account by the Lord himself of the scourging that preceded his Passion. Reading that, I found myself reflecting: no-one, however inspired, could have written this imaginatively. These words come out of the consciousness of the very One who underwent it. Again, I was reading through the Lauds Gospel (from St John) one morning in preparation for the Office, when it struck me forcibly: the One of whose Presence I was conscious was the very same Person I was aware of when reading the Messages. I found myself responding with the words of St John on the Lake of Tiberias: ‘It is the Lord!’ (John 21. 7).
What do the Messages contain? We will find in them nothing but the one eternal Gospel, yet freshly uttered and powerfully re-stated. The Lord himself anticipates a possible concern: ‘… this Message adds nothing new to Scriptures. Everything I have said in this Message is written in Scriptures, but you have not understood yet fully what is written’ (10/12/95). The Messages are rather a ‘Reminder’ of the Gospel: ‘My Advocate is with you all, the Spirit of Truth … He is the Reminder of my Word, the Inspiration of your mind’ (13/9/89) (echoing St John: ‘… the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will remind you of all that I have said to you’(14:26)) The Messages speak then of man’s weakness in falling away from his Creator, and the wretchedness which sin works in him. Their primary focus is repentance and faith, taking up the Cross, growing in the virtues and in holiness. Much is written about prayer, and of peace, reconciliation and joy. At its heart as with the Gospel, the Message is one of love and unity. There is an urgent clarion call for Christians to unite: ‘Orthodox! Catholics! Protestants! Unite. You all belong to me! You are all One in my eyes!’ ‘Bend to be able to unite’ (27/10/87). The Lord gives a practical step to be taken: ‘Unify, for my sake, the Feast of Easter’ (14/10/91). Vassula herself speaks of the Messages as ‘a re-spelling of the Gospel’ directed to our generation. There are references to abortion, ecological concerns, and contemporary wars and conflicts.
What is the reason for God acting in this way? It comes across with increasing clarity as we read on. The Lord is not happy with the state of his Church: ‘My Church is crumbling like rotten wood’(18/2/92) He speaks of infidelity in his Church and an ‘apostasy’: ‘the spirit of rebellion’ (27/6/91). It is attributed to the loss of faith of our age, which has come about through ‘Rationalism’: human ways of thinking that have resulted in a turning away from the Law of God. ‘They rip my traditions to install frills and human doctrines’ (27/5/90) This gives rise to insincerity in the Church: there are stern words about ‘traders’ (cp Matthew 21. 12—––13) who use the Church for their own self-chosen purposes, and those who ‘go for seats and authority, but not for conquering and saving souls’ (7/2/91) Human thinking engenders pre-occupation with the structures of Church life to the detriment of her inner life: ‘Tell my people that I do not want administrators in my House. They will not be justified because they are the very ones who have industrialized my House’ (14/10/91). In order that this ‘rebellion’ may end, we are called on our part to ‘pray, pray, pray: this is my recommendation’ (13/4/90).
The Lord’s purpose is not merely corrective, however. He speaks with hope and joy – ‘Ecclesia will revive!’ is his triumphant, repeated refrain (24/9/87) et al) – and proclaims the imminence of a New Era for which the present purification, specific to our generation, is a necessary preparation: ‘Love will return as Love’ (10/10/88). He calls this Era ‘a Second Pentecost’, signified by life in the Holy Spirit, for ‘the inner power of my Church is my Holy Spirit…’ and his work one ‘… that transfigures, uplifts and turns you into real copies of myself’ (15/4/91). In this Era, the Church will witness its faith like the primitive, apostolic Church. ‘I intend to clothe you all in my garments of old, and rebuild my Church on its old foundation’ (8/7/90).
The charism of Vassula is a gift to the Church, and to be welcomed as that. It is also prophetic, and averred as such by the Lord: we are called to respond with faithfulness and integrity. The Messages will give heartfelt encouragement for any who have sensed that the Church has lost its way in recent years, and who seek a recovery of that confidence and conviction in the power and Truth of the Gospel, which earlier generations have witnessed. They are a powerful impetus and instrument for the Unity of the Church, which will be the visible confirmation of their Truth and provenance.
Father Peter Community of the Servants of the Will of God
Quotations are from ‘Vassula Conversations with Jesus’ Volumes I-XII.
Dates are given in brackets.