As a Catholic, I’m very familiar with the stories and history of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Many would argue that these are hoaxes put on to fool the masses, but I don’t believe that to be true. I also don’t think it really matters whether they’re real or not…here’s why.
Regardless of their validity, the purpose of these apparitions is not to prove that our faith is true. We, as Catholics, shouldn’t point to these apparitions and say, “See? I told you what I believe is the absolute truth!”. Our faith can’t be proven true, that’s why it’s called “faith”. Those events are given to us to help point us in the right direction and keep us all on the right path.
Looking at each of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary, the message(s) that comes from them always revolves around Jesus and turning back to him. Mary comes to remind us to strengthen our faith. Whether you believe these actually occur as we’re told they do or not, it really doesn’t matter. If your faith is strong and you’re reminded to continue to work on it, that’s the end result Heaven is looking for.
I had the privilege to go to Medjugorje a few years ago and witnessed an incredible peace and an amazing display of faith by those that live there and by the many pilgrims from all over the world. I did find it interesting, however, how many people were looking for miracles and I wondered why. In many cases, the miracle desired revolved around healing of a loved one, which is perfectly understandable. Perhaps, though, these miracles were needed for confirmation (or proof) of that persons’ faith. It’s always good to get that, as we all question our faith sometimes, but we need to remember not to dwell on that confirmation if we receive it.
We need to avoid getting caught up in the signs given to us and focus instead on what those signs are pointing to. Think of it like this, you’re driving with a friend to Phoenix. On your way you see a road sign that says “Phoenix – 150 Miles”. Would you really stop the car at the sign and point out to your friend how amazed you are that this sign exists and is proof that Phoenix exists? The sign is only there to point you to your destination, nothing more. We should still be grateful for the sign as it keeps us on the right path (in this analogy, it confirms you’re still going to Phoenix), but your focus should remain on your destination.
Pulling this back to our faith, our life’s destination is union with Christ in Heaven. These apparitions are signs that point towards Him and we should learn from them and follow any guidance they provide, but our gaze must remain on Him.