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A critical website on Vassula Ryden and the TLIG messages

Reading Guide to Heaven is real, but so is hell.

 

Title: Heaven is real, but so is hell

Author: Vassula Rydén

Publication: English editions published by Alexian (New York, USA / Bath, UK), March 2013. French edition published by Editions le Parvis (Hauteville, Switzerland).

Genre: Autobiography, although not marketed as such when launched in the USA.

Why read it? Written by Vassula, it contains mostly autobiographical information, some of which has not been printed before. It gives a good insight into her personality and how she sees herself. She clearly believes she was personally chosen by God and that it places her in a special place, which gives her authority to do whatever she considers necessary for the success of the "mission" she was given.

It is a must read for anyone interested in the Vassula phenomenon, although there is little new information for those who have been following her since the '90s. For those readers, the main interest of the book would be to relive the events of the TLIG saga from Vassula's perspective. They will however remain disappointed by the absence of some key episodes, such as the fallout with Fr. Fannan or her many clashes with Greek Orthodox authorities.

A critical reading guide is included hereunder in the form of a chapter by chapter commentary of the book.

Related articles:

Marketing Vassula. An insight into the marketing campaign for the launch of Heaven is real, but so is hell.

Who is Vassula and what is TLIG. A compendium of what every reader should know.

 

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Heaven is real, but so is hell:

A chapter by chapter review and commentary

 

 

Chapter 1 – PREMONITIONS

The chapter covers Vassula's childhood, teenage years, her first marriage and the birth of her two boys, her life in African countries as an expatriate, her separation and divorce, her marriage to Per Rydén.

Vassula's paranormal childhood and teenage experiences are basically the same she wrote about in her book My Angel Daniel. She insists here on her ability as a teenager to see “the dead” and be able to understand what they wanted. She writes that she was impressed by their silence and the respect they had for her, apparently because they knew she was called to become God’s prophet.

Several of the chapter's episodes are particularly revealing. For instance, the attitude of Vassula's mother towards her. Vassula’s mother believed that her daughter had the ability to see the future, to the point of cancelling a vacation to Lebanon only because Vassula had had a “premonition” that she would die during that trip (p.10-11).

Vassula describes her predisposition for daydreaming and entering what seem to be altered states of consciousness (which she describes as “floating away”), as well as having "supernatural" experiences (p.14).

The reader also learns that Vassula was not as catechistically illiterate as her supporters generally present her, since she attended a religious parochial school where “missionary schoolteachers” taught. Each day started with a moment of prayer and students had to attend religion class (p. 13).

Vassula recognizes having a big “ego” and not liking to be criticized nor losing. She seems to consider these traits positive, as illustrated by her attitude in school towards teachers and fellow students. Vassula tells that she did not like being told what to do and got easily bored. Therefore, she started to have a rebellious behavior in school, answering back to teachers and having disciplinary problems. This attitude and her sense of humor, she says, made her a popular girl. When her classroom had to choose a President, that is a student who would be in charge of maintaining order in the class during the teacher’s absence, Vassula was chosen by her schoolmates, precisely because she was the class rebel, who would make life easy and fun. But the minute Vassula got the “job”, she didn’t hesitate to immediately report to the teacher all her schoolmates who did not submit to her authority as class President (p.12-13), leaving her classmates stunned and feeling betrayed. She tells the story proudly. It shows an aspect of her character, which probably contributed in making her get as far as she did: being able to “betray” so easily those who a moment before were her friends, without remorse or second thoughts, in order to get the job done.

 

 

Chapter 2 – CONTACT

Vassula recounts how she was contacted by her "guardian angel", the purification she went through and her first conversations with God. These are arguments already covered in My Angel Daniel.

An interesting detail is her husband's positive reaction when she told him about her guardian angel contacting her by moving her hand: “Then [my husband] told me that he had read quite a bit on the subject of mystical experiences in his student days. He assured me that what had taken place was not unique – it had happened to others as well.” (p.25) As her mother did during her childhood, her husband encouraged her to be open to the phenomenon, which he sees as a "mystical" experience.

 

 

Chapter 3 – THE DARK NIGHT

After a period of contact with God described as an “infatuation” and how “new lovers” feel, all contact with the angel and God ceases abruptly. Vassula describes feeling "dead", and starts to see again the souls of the dead in Purgatory. She describes them as “gray bodies (…) creeping slowly out of a fog” and asking her for help. (p.36)

God re-manifests himself to Vassula, opens for her “the Gates of Heaven, allowing [her] access to His inner Courts, to step in and out any time [she] wished”. She glorifies God with a hymn of her composition, which brings to mind the Magnificat (p.39). The chapter ends with God promising Vassula to help her earn the gifts of Wisdom, fortitude and knowledge (p.41).

 

New Age and spiritualist concepts

When the book was launched in the USA, the marketing strategy described the target audience to be "Christian, New Age and Spiritual consumers" (http://www.pseudomystica.info/marketingvassula.htm ). This chapter is emblematic of how New Age ideas are subtly blended into a Christian context in order to make them appealing to both types of believers, but at the expense of orthodoxy.

For instance, one of the chapter's most puzzling statements (at least for a Christian) is when Vassula says she realized how important it was not to keep a grudge against those who have died, because that “holds them back” and keeps them “from higher realms; they seemed to remain chained and do not reach Heaven. We must forgive them” (p.37). This concept is connected to the idea that the souls of the dead cannot reach Heaven if they have "unfinished business" on Earth, a popular belief in New Age/Spiritualist groups. Christians instead believe that salvation of those who have passed away is in God's Misericordious Hands, and certainly not dependent on someone else's misplaced "grudge" or unwillingness to forgive.

Vassula also claims that by simply sprinkling water on the souls of the dead, she freed them from Purgatory: “I saw many of them whooshing upwards, like shooting stars being sucked up towards heaven. They were so happy!” (p.38)

Another puzzling information, is that Vassula says that she went to get Holy Water at the church “across from our house” (p.37). In chapter 2, Vassula described how the angel had told her to read the Bible, and when she told him that she lived in a Muslim country and didn’t know where to find one, the angel sent her to her son’s school library (p.27). That seems a bit odd, since we learn now that there was a Catholic Church right across the road. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to send her to that parish? We are not Christians on our own; we are Christians inside a community, a Church. The New Age movement instead considers that spirituality and contact with God must be direct and not through “institutionalized religion”.

It is only several months later that Vassula will be given instructions to approach Catholic priests only with the scope of informing them of her mission and get help to spread the messages.

 

 

Chapter 4 – ANGELS OR DEMONS?

In this chapter Vassula tells about a series of visions and encounters she had with the devil. The stories are meant to convince the reader of the existence of the devil based on her personal experience, but the descriptions are so caricatured that they seem to belong to a bad horror movie on exorcism: smell of sulphur in the air (p.45), insults, choking sensations as if a force was squeezing all the breath out of her (p.46), demons resembling chimpanzees (p.53), the devil manifesting itself in the form of a snake that her angel Daniel scares away with a broom (p. 50). She also describes Satan as busy in hell throwing lava at the faces of the damned (p.51). She says she overheard Satan instruct a demon to be after her in order to discourage her and destroy her “mission” (p.53).

Vassula reminds the reader of her first encounters with evil during her childhood in the form of a pair of hands trying to strangle her or a black dog with red eyes, as well as feelings of dread causing her to "freeze with fear" and feel the "heavy weight of evil" and "an awful stench of sulfur" (p.45).

Vassula states that she felt alone and that she had “nobody to turn to for advice or spiritual help” (p.48). Again, we are puzzled by this statement, as she informed us herself that there was a Catholic Church right across the street from her house, where the priest had been open-minded when she went for Holy Water to sprinkle on the souls of the dead (p.38).

Generally, people who are confronted with phenomena such as those Vassula describes, seek to put an end to it by requesting an exorcism or consulting a mental health professional. Although she says that she would have wanted to get advice or spiritual help, Vassula did neither. 

 

 

Chapter 5 – THE SPIRIT WORLD

The chapter is mainly dedicated to stories of how Vassula was able to see people’s sins and defeat the devil. She is the center of each story, where she seems to have supernatural knowledge and the power to make demons flee. 

For instance, while trying to get a reticent friend to talk about her sins, maggots appeared in that friend’s glass. Vassula tells her that it is a sign: “I said to her: Do you know what this is? This is one of Satan’s signatures. (…) I uncovered your sins but in truth it was the devil that was being revealed.” (p.59).

In another story, she reconciles a daughter and mother, and her success was confirmed when she saw “several demons jumping out of that window, fleeing the house. They all had the appearance of ugly chimpanzees” (p.60).

Vassula ends the chapter with one of her few attempts to be self-critical. She says that she wondered if the devil wanted her to believe that she was such an "important" and "holy" person, that her "mere presence [would] drive the demons berserk". So, she decided "to settle" with the theory that the devil "pretended to be scared" of her (p.62). She isn't very convincing and a few chapters later, she is back to writing "how wonderful to be feared by Satan" (p.96).

 

 

Chapter 6 - CONFRONTATION

In this chapter, Vassula tells how she was instructed by her "Guardian Angel" to contact a specific Catholic priest in order to get her experience authenticated as supernatural and of divine origin. These events have been previously narrated by René Laurentin in his 1994 book Qui est Vassula (Who is Vassula) and by Vassula herself in her 1995 book My Angel Daniel. 

Vassula starts by explaining that it was her Angel who told her to go to the parish’s seminary and ask for a particular priest: Fr. Jim. According to Laurentin’s book, the priest in question is Fr. James Fannan, a PIME priest and member of Fr. Gobi’s Marian Movement for Priests (MMP). Instead, Vassula meets another priest: Fr. Karl. The name of this other priest is not indicated in Laurentin’s account. It is probable that "Karl" is a variation of the priest's name, as "Jim" is of James Fannan's (there is no trace of Fr. Fannan being called "Fr. Jim" before).

Fr. Karl tells Vassula that he believes she has some type of mental health problem, perhaps schizophrenia (p.63). Fr. Karl then consults Fr. Jim, who concludes that the phenomenon is diabolical (p.64) and that she should throw away all the notebooks and refuse to write down any message from the entities (p.68). Vassula is disgusted by this conclusion. She suggests that the reason for the priest’s rejection was envy (p.67) and comments: “For several years this priest was to become such a thorn to me, followed later by others, so much so that without the consolation of God I would not have been able to continue” (p.67).

Vassula however follows the priests' advice, but only halfway: she refuses to communicate with "God the Father" and "Jesus", but continues to write down her Angel Daniel’s messages, because she “trusts” him (p.68). During this period of time, the Angel uses Vassula’s hand to draw pictures, which will later be used as illustrations for the covers of the first editions of the TLIG books (examples below).

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Vassula continues to have contact with Fr. Jim, who in the end tells her to go see a Catholic hermit: Fr. Dujarrier, who lives in a difficult to reach region, requiring a whole day of travel. In the original version of the TLIG messages, Vassula describes Fr. Raymond Dujarrier as a “French, semi-hermit, mystic, Catholic priest, but also Hindu, Moslem and Buddhist. All in one” (http://www.tlig.net/pageflip2/Volume1/files/assets/basic-html/page39.html ). Vassula describes her visit to Dujarrier as a sort of initiatic journey to consult a wise man, who confirms that she has been “given a gift and must not reject the calling of God. He wants to tell us something” (p.72).

Back in Dhaka, Vassula reports Dujarrier’s "discernment", which seems to reassure both priests. Vassula concludes the chapter saying that “after a time, Fr. Karl came to believe me completely and said, "You have a gift from God” and “prophesized” about the difficulties she would encounter in her mission (p.73).

Those who are familiar with the story of Vassula cannot help but notice that the conclusion omits any mention of Fr. Jim/James Fannan.  According to Laurentin, after Fr. Fannan’s initial rejection of the messages, Vassula had asked God for a sign, and received the following answer “I will bend him” [in Qui est Vassula, p.11]. Several months later, Fr. Fannan starts to believe in the authenticity of the messages and becomes Vassula’s spiritual director [Qui est Vassula, p. 14]. From that moment on, he became instrumental in making Vassula and her messages known in Catholic settings and took her defense in several occasions. He is mentioned in the messages as someone who would play an important role in the recognition of the messages by the Church [www.pseudomystica.info/dermine2.htm].

But something happened in 2001. Fr. Fannan was openly criticized by Vassula , who accused him of “silencing God’s Voice” for refusing to organize one of her meetings in Bangladesh [www.tlig.org/print/en/mission/reports/2001/1106]. Shortly after, he ceased to be mentioned in connection with TLIG, and his name was removed or replaced by “Fr.X” in the official TLIG website articles that mentioned him (for instance: www.tlig.org/india3.html ). All this suggests a major falling out, although there is no evidence that Fr. Fannan ceased to believe in her.

 

 

Chapter 7 – THE MISSION

Vassula describes the vision of the three iron bars that have to bend, representing the three Churches (Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox), and how God asked her to serve him by uniting the Churches (p.78). He tells Vassula that in this mission, she will have to serve him “among evil, unbelievers (…) where darkness prevails (…) where every good is deformed into evil” (p.77).

In order to succeed in her mission, she will have to transmit the TLIG messages to the Pope and other Church leaders, for the messages contain “the key to unity” (p.83).  God reveals to her that the reason of division in the Church is that “the people of the Church are divided and reluctant to die to their ego and reconcile”. He also tells Vassula that in the end, all Churches will unite, but “the question is, will it come through our voluntary cooperation, or through a Chastisement” (p.82).  The chapter gives the image of a God who will turn against his children if they do not do as He pleases.

It is 1987 and Vassula's Angel tells her that she will soon leave Bangladesh for Switzerland. Two weeks later her husband receives an offer to work for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in Switzerland (p.79). She leaves Bangladesh for Switzerland (p.100).

 

 

Chapter 8 – THE DOVE

The chapter starts with Vassula recalling the visions that made her understand how she had been specially chosen by the Holy Spirit to receive God’s messages and make them known to humanity (p.87), followed by a brief summary of her first public meetings in Switzerland, the creation of the first prayer groups and the fast spreading of the messages. She tells how difficult it was for her in the beginning, but that she always trusted in God. She was even full of joy thinking “how wonderful to be feared by Satan”, because she was entrusted with something that the devil considered “a real threat against him” (p.96). Apparently, she no longer believed that "Satan pretended to be scared" of her (p.62).

Vassula mentions the negative stance of the local Catholic and Orthodox bishops, the latter having issued a negative statement regarding her. She suggests that the Orthodox Metropolitan took this negative stance because he was envious of the success she was having (p.93-95).

During that time, Catholic and Orthodox clergy advised her to put an end to her activities. She consulted Jesus on these persons who did not believe in the authenticity of her mission, and he answered her by affirming that those persons were “spiritually dead” and that he found “no holiness in them”:

“they are denying Me as God. (…) they are comparing themselves to Me. Do you know what they are doing? They are promoting paganism, they are multiplying My scourgers; they are increasing spiritual deafness; they are not defending Me, they are deriding Me” (p.98).

The whole chapter insists on the interpretation of any type of skepticism towards TLIG as the result of the devil’s intervention, and that therefore those Church representatives, who want to limit Vassula’s access to religious venues, are acting against God’s Will.

Throughout the book, Vassula never concedes that any of her critics or opponents (mostly clergy members) could have legitimate reasons to question the authenticity of her claims and warn the faithful accordingly. She consistently portrays her critics as lacking Christian virtues and being motivated by evil.

 

 

Chapter 9 – SUPERNATURAL

Vassula describes the different types of supernatural and mystical experiences that God gave her. She insists that the messages God writes down using her hand – but in a different handwriting - are not the result of automatic writing,  and refers to the opinion of Fr. Curty, an exorcist and graphologist (p.105). [See Fr. Dermine’s article for a rebuttal of Curty’s conclusions: http://www.pseudomystica.info/dermine3.htm ].

Vassula then describes how she discovered a tender God, who loves us in spite of our sins, wants us to love him right away and have a relationship with him without waiting until we are perfect (p.101). This is the theme of the first volume of messages, which draws most people to TLIG.

Vassula also presents two arguments in favor of the authenticity of the messages: her ignorance of religious matters and the good fruit. She writes: “How do you explain the knowledge of spiritual matters in someone like me who had not even received an hour of catechism?” (p.108), which is a misleading assertion, since in chapter one she tells about studying in a parochial school where missionary schoolteachers taught, and where daily prayer and religion class were mandatory (p.13-14).

Vassula then asserts that the conversions triggered by the Messages are proof of their good fruit and therefore of their divine origin (p.108-109). The argument of "good fruit" is a popular one when trying to authenticate apparitions and private revelations, but it is not enough. The case of the Legionaries of Christ is a good example of this. The conversions, deep life of faith and works of the lay and clergy members of the Legionaries of Christ were presented as proof that the founder, Fr. Maciel, was a holy person, to the extent that even when his terrible sins were publicly exposed, followers could still not believe them to be true. The way Fr. Maciel acted and covered up his deceit can be best described as “cynical” and “diabolical". Several Legionaries testified that their conversion would have never taken place without Fr. Maciel. The result was a deep crisis of faith in many followers.

Former TLIG followers have pointed out the divisions the messages cause in families and parishes, the doctrinal problems, the demonization of critics, the lack of respect for Church authorities that are not favorable to Vassula. These are also the "fruit" of the messages. In many ways, TLIG has become a religious group that acts on its own, with its “TLIG priests” and its “TLIG followers”, who consider themselves all part of the “TLIG family”, the chosen ones entrusted with the holy mission of making God’s message known to humanity. 

The chapter ends with two strange episodes. The first one involves Vassula interacting with a young boy, who ends up disappearing in front of her eyes, in what sounds like a typical ghost story (p.112-113). She claims God had sent this boy to console her.

The second episode is about another false seer, to whom Vassula wanted to give one of her rosary rings as a gift, but that God unmasks by making Vassula’s ring disappear from  her finger (p.113-114).  More strange stories will follow in chapter 11.

 

 

Chapter 10 – LIFTING THE VEIL

In this chapter Vassula tells her side of the story regarding her relationship with Fr. Stefano Gobbi, founder of the Marian Movement of Priests (MMP), which she avoids naming but is easily recognizable to anyone who was her follower in the 1990s. In her version of the events, a Benedictine monk was to blame for having spread “slander and calumny” about her to Fr. Gobbi, who later changed opinion after the intervention of the mariologist René Laurentin.

Vassula tells about an episode where Fr. Gobbi forced the Benedictine monk to make peace with her, although the monk maintained his negative opinion. She also claims that some years later the monk fell gravely ill and “before dying, he accepted his mistake and repented”, implying that he recognized the authenticity of Vassula’s messages (p.119-121).

The rest of the chapter is a collection of signs – such as unexplained perfumes smelt by people in Vassula’s house - that contributed to their religious conversion. She also reveals that she receives personal messages from God to private persons, which she writes down and gives to the persons in question. 

 

 

The "miracle" of Jesus' face

Answering a question regarding signs (=extraordinary phenomena), she advises to respect them and not question them. Regarding the “sign” that people see the “miracle” (p.137) of Jesus’ face superimposed on hers, Vassula explains that God told her that it is to “prove” that “I am is the Author of True Life in God” (p.136).

There might however be a simpler explanation for this “miracle”.  Vassula’s conference venues are decorated with posters and banners representing Jesus’ portrait in the version created by NASA and based on the shroud of Turin. Vassula herself has even painted her own version of this image, which is also used for banners. These images are placed right in front, above or next to the podium where she will speak. If you look at those images, you will see that they represent Jesus with an oblong face framed by long hair falling on the sides. That is also a description of Vassula’s own face.

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Now, add the other effects that usually precede Vassula’s performances: singing and repetitive prayers that can last as long as an hour, touching testimonies from members of clergy and lay people who present Vassula as God’s prophet directly in contact with the divinity. Then Vassula enters the scene. Spots on her and the banners. Dimmed lights. People expecting to see something extraordinary. They are set up to see that phenomenon and some do see what they wish to see. And once Vassula gets the fame of “showing” Jesus’ face, suggestible people will see the “phenomenon” manifest itself in other circumstances, as those described by Vassula.

 

The Shekinah and the miraculous glitter

Both the Shekinah photos and the "miraculous glitter" seem to have become popular in the Charismatic Renewal – both Pentecostal and Catholic – too often thirsty for "unexplainable" phenomena "proving" God's presence among us.

Vassula describes the Shekinah as a visible presence of God in the form of "white mist that looks like a cloud" and claims that it "usually appears in photographs because of the sensitive eye of the camera" (ipse dixit!). In fact, there are websites claiming to have captured God on film "for the first time in recorded history", such as http://thenewholybible.org/picture_of_the_cloud_of_gods_glory.htm . In this case, the photos show a sunset with some light effects.

Another website mentions the Shekinah in connection with the miraculous glitter,  to which Vassula also refers as “escarchas”. Some research on the Internet came up with two series of articles mentioning the “miraculous” glitter being analyzed. The first article (http://www.spiritdaily.net/Sign_Wonders/escarchas.htm ) refers to two sets of studies (1993 and 1995) performed by the Central University of Venezuela on samples that had been taken at a Catholic monastery and a Marian conference. The glitter was different from the commercial type available, and was found to contain protozoans, algae or fungi, bubbles of air, water and crystals, without activity: "They seemed like fossils". Nothing out of this world then. (Note: the title of the Spirit Daily article is misleading, because the studies DID identify the composition of the glitters.)

A second series of articles referred to the claim made by charismatic Christians and Evangelists, of God manifesting himself by producing a glittering substance, which is also referred to as “Gold Dust”, “Glory Dust” and “Shekinah Glory”. According to the website of Max Greiner (http://www.maxgreinerart.com/ShekinaGloryDustMiracle.html ), an evangelist who claims to have received this “anointing” himself and gives tips on how to see it, the “Glory Dust first appeared in the (sic) North America in 1998, with the arrival and testimony of a Christian mother from Brazil, named Silvana Machado”, who started a healing ministry after being “miraculously” healed of cancer when Christians prayed over her. Since then, the glittery powder is said to fall from her head when she prays for others.

Charisma magazine (no longer on-line, but the text is copied here: http://www.banner.org.uk/news/flash%20archives/Flash-archive1.html#plastic ) looked into the matter and had two samples of the flecks analyzed by the US Geological Survey in Washington, D.C. , that “found the substance to be more like plastic glitter, with no gold content.” A similar conclusion was also reached by the University of Toronto, that described the substance as “some type of plastic film”, and therefore man-made.

Vassula asserts that this miraculous glitter appeared on her face and in her hotel room during the TLIG pilgrimage to Turkey (probably the one that took place in 2007, (http://www.tlig.org/en/spirituality/pilgrimages/ ). The interesting fact is that this glitter appeared in the presence of a friend of Vassula’s who not only pointed out the glitter to her and offered her an explanation for it (a manifestation of the Holy Spirit), but also mentioned knowing another person who received daily glitter in her home. One becomes suspicious then of the common denominator, which is not the glitter, but the person that so conveniently is present in both cases.

Vassula says that she researched the matter and found out that “scientists have examined these occurrences and found that it is a living matter, a sort of plasma, and not paper or aluminum. It is something that is not of this world” (p.142). However, those who did study the glitter identified it as dead organic matter in one case, and plastic in the other. As for glittering plasma, it can be found in the lava plasma lamps that were in vogue in the 1970s, but they too are from this world.

 

 

 Chapter 12 – THE DAY OF THE LORD

Vassula explains her visions of Purgatory and of the “purifying fire” which has already started. This “Day of the Lord” - which she says is the equivalent of a “Baptism of Fire” or a “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” – is described in the following way:

“The terrible Day of the Lord (…) is a sort of a mini-tribunal before the actual Day of Judgment. (…) This Fire reveals and rids you of your innumerable sins. You can call it, ‘God’s Merciful act’. God is love, and not less when He reveals Himself as a consuming Fire. It is better to experience this purifying Fire here on earth rather than later in Purgatory. Why? Because your life will become like an unceasing prayer, pleasing to God and it will lessen the amount of time you’ll spend in Purgatory after you die, where the soul’s suffering is even more intense due to its separation from God. God, in His benevolence, showed me in 1986 a vision of the Purgatory I would have gone to had He not come with His Fire.” (p.146)

She affirms that this purification has already started and that many as herself have experienced it (p.149).

She also says that God told her that He had planned to give the TLIG messages to humanity through Vassula well before He “created” her and that He “created [Vassula] at this specific time in history, for this specific mission”.  She believes that she is “God’s child, trained by Him and sent as an unsuspected ‘secret agent’ on earth to look after His Interests” (p.150).

 

 

Chapter 13 – THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE

Vassula starts the chapter by explaining that “spiritual life is spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare is the battle between Good and Evil and the battlefield is us”. She then explains that demons exist and seek to destroy God’s plans by using people and circumstances. They are responsible for all evil in the world, including the lack of unity among Churches.  (p.153-154)

Vassula then repeats that Christ gave her the mission to unite the Churches, and that it is a battle such as that fought by the prophets (p.155). She then narrates the events of a conference in Puerto Rico, where the attendants witnessed a miracle of the sun and saw Christ’s face in the sky and on hers. (P.157-158)

Incidentally, the Puerto Rican Bishops were among the first to warn the faithful about attending Vassula's conferences, in this case pointing out that:

While the reunion of the separated ecclesial communities with the Catholic Church is indeed an objective of the greatest importance, for which we should all work and pray to the extent possible, there also exists a danger that certain persons, even though well-meaning, may propose false, inadequate, and confusing paths toward that unity which we long therefy impeding rather than fostering true ecumencial progress. For that reason, Catholics should not feel themselves called to participate in any self-styled ‘ecumenical activity’ that has not been approved by the competent authority of their own Church.” (see: http://ephesians511blog.com/2013/03/03/vassula-ryden-fr-brian-harrison-puerto-rican-bishops-warn-against-vassulas-false-ecumenism/ )

The chapter ends with her "mission" to inform Pope John Paul II of TLIG , how she was able to tuck into his robe a piece of paper with a message during a public audience, a series of visions she had and a dream which made her understand that the Pope “had read the Messages ad that he appreciated them, and that they are a good means of evangelization.” (p.164) She seems to consider this conclusion as a fact, although it only happened in her mind. It was during John Paul II's papacy that the Notification against Vassula was published (see: http://www.pseudomystica.info/dermine.htm )

 

 

Chapter 14 – PROPHECIES

Vassula recounts the catastrophic prophecies she has received and shows how – in her eyes – they corresponded with events that occurred: the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2004 Asian tsunami, the fall of communist Russia and the eruption of the Icelandic volcano. She also speaks at length about the gravest of the prophecies which is still to come: a destruction of three-fourths of the earth by a hurricane of fire. She refers to this prophecy as the “Chastisement by Fire”, which the Virgin Mary told her was imminent because “God’s wrath cannot be sustained any longer and that it will fall on us because man refuses to break with sin.” (p.179)

According to Vassula, this Chastisement, as well as the other tragedies and catastrophes, are God’s response to our lack of faith, our sins, division among the Churches, the world’s godlessness and rejection of God’s Word, atheism, immorality, turning Christmas into a commercial holiday, refusing to believe in the TLIG messages and other private revelations as well as opposing their spreading.

Vassula writes that “God will not allow us to offend Him forever” (p.181) and the only way to avoid or diminish the effects of the destruction by fire is for people to repent and convert to God, believe that God talks through the TLIG messages and Churches end their divisions by “uniting around one Altar” (p.179).

 

The question of evil

The general message of the Chapter is that you better love God and fear him, or he will destroy you in the cruelest way you can imagine in order to "appease" his wrath (p. 177, 190). So here, we face the question of evil: Why would God allow evil to exist? The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) answers that it is a mystery linked to God creating us as creatures with free will on a journey to perfection. Every single aspect of the Christian message is part of the answer to the question of evil, illuminated by Jesus' death on the cross to vanquish evil. God does not answer to evil with evil, but seeks a way to cause a good to come from that very evil. (CCC n. 309-314)

Vassula is close to this understanding of the question of evil, but with a twist as to what motivates God. According to the TLIG messages, God permits evil because people "offend" him and don't love him, making him feel angry, and so it is the only way to make them "learn to fear" him (p.190) and convert. She makes him go as far as saying that when the chastisement will come, even if people call to him, he “will not listen” (p.209). Many of us have grown up with that flawed image of God, perhaps the result of a too literal interpretation of biblical texts. However, any expression of love and conversion under that type of duress are not real and only the result of intimidation. Why would God want to force us to love him?

The Gospel is clear: if someone has to die for our sins, God sacrifices Himself. He sent His Son to show us His True Image. His only motivation is His love for us. He is the Father of the prodigal son, on the threshold waiting for our return (Luke 15, 11-32). He does not punish us by refusing to listen to our prayers, even if they come late. He suffers with us the consequences of evil, but with the knowledge that He can make good come out of it. And only understanding this will our conversion be as sincere and complete as that of Zacchaeus (Luke 19, 1-10).

 

The prophecies

Most of Vassula's visions and prophecies are quite generic, and therefore it is only a matter of time until a natural or man-induced catastrophe can be fitted to them, at least approximately. For instance, a meteorite is called "star" by Vassula to back up the claim that her prayer groups had prevented a meteor from crashing in the Midwest region of the USA. (The meteor was the size of a basketball, so it would not have done a lot of damage anyway. See http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligmeteor.htm ).  

The same 2009 text used to claim the prediction of the Midwest meteor sighting was then used again to claim the prediction of the 2010 Icelandic volcano eruption (http://www.tlig.org/en/spirituality/letters/prophecies-2010/ ), although a much more catastrophic event had occurred first: the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, that had shown people covered in ash-like dust. Vassula's text read: “From the horizon a star will be seen; the night will be ravaged and ashes will fall as snow in winter, covering Your people like ghosts (…)”. The Haiti earthquake caused the death of at least 100 000 people and the destruction of over 250 000 houses (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Haiti_earthquake). The Icelandic volcano instead was in an inhabited region and therefore could only cause financial damage to commercial airlines that had to cancel flights because of the great amount of ash in the atmosphere. 

One wonders why “God” would be more interested in preventing such low-impact and not so rare events in rich countries, and not say a word about the horrible Haiti earthquake.

The only Vassula prophecy that does have a sort of “wow” factor, is the one matched to the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The text mentions “towers” and is dated September 11, 1991, exactly ten years before the attack: “The earth will shiver and shake and every evil built into Towers (like the tower of Babel) will collapse into a heap of rubble and be buried in the dust of sin!” But considering the way the other prophecies were made to match, it probably is a sad but “lucky” coincidence.

 

 

Chapter 15 – MIRACLES

In this short chapter (4 pages) Vassula tells about the miraculous healings performed by the Holy Spirit through her witnessing and praying over people. Vassula claims that in this way she has healed several persons who suffered from illnesses such as crippling juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (a condition where spontaneous remission is well known, see: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2927687/ ), leukemia, mouth cancer, a deaf boy, as well as other less serious health problems.

In the case of the little boy suffering from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, Vassula says that this is the only case where she has the medical file, which was sent to the Vatican, but without receiving any response. The boy is now a teenager who has visions of the Virgin Mary and “has also received the gift of being able to see other people’s Angels as well as his own.” (p.184)

 

 

Chapter 16 – THE NARROW PATH

This chapter deals with the events that took place during the six year period that Vassula lived in Rome, which according to the details she gives, seems to have been from 1999 to 2005. Those were sad and tough times for Vassula, for in a period of two years she lost several close family members: two of her siblings and her mother, as well as two other members of her family. At the same time, her oldest son was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and had to go through chemotherapy without knowing if he would survive. Vassula says that God reassured her that he would not die. (p.195-196)

Vassula confides how difficult it was for her to face these events in such a short period of time and wondered who would be the next victim. She expresses her conviction that all these deaths were the result of “witchcraft” used by Satanists against her and her family. She connected this to the fact that she had found spiders in one of her purses, and that a famous exorcist had confirmed to her that it was an “evil manifestation done by someone who worked with Satan and against [her].” (p.191 and 196)

While in Rome, Vassula worked on getting recognition from the Vatican, and certainly one of her main achievements was to obtain the opportunity to defend her case with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Vassula gives a very brief account of this dialogue with the CDF, which she hoped would lead to the cancellation or modification of the Notification that had been issued against her in 1995. She insists that the outcome of that dialogue was positive, and that this was confirmed to her by then Cardinal Ratzinger during a private audience he conceded her in 2004. She says that this “positive rapport” was later contradicted by Ratzinger’s successor as head of the CDF Cardinal Levada, who “decided to send out a letter to all Catholic Bishops of the world in 2007, reiterating the Vatican’s Notification of 1995”. She also admits that “As of writing of this book, the situation with the Catholic Church is in flux, as it is with my own Greek Orthodox Church” (p.199). For details on both Churches' positions, see http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligchurchposition.htm  and http://www.pseudomystica.info/tliggreekorthodox.htm .

 

During her time in Rome, Vassula found a supporter in the late Msgr. Fortino, who was Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the Vatican. Msgr Fortino obtained her audiences with the successive heads of that Office, including Msgr Cassidy, who considered Vassula’s activities as “harming our progress in unity” (p.193).

Regarding these audiences, there is a detail one cannot leave without mentioning. Vassula says that in one occasion, she accompanied a Greek Orthodox Archimandrite who was going to meet the then head of the Christian Unity Office Msgr Cassidy. She writes: “Later they took a picture and I purposely stayed out of the picture so the Cardinal wouldn’t think I wanted to use a picture with him to promote myself” (p.194). But, in 2004, during the private meeting that then Cardinal Ratzinger was kind enough to grant her, Vassula asked him if she could have a picture taken with him. According to Dr. Niels Hvidt, who took the picture, Cardinal Ratzinger accepted with the express condition that it would not be used for “cheap propaganda”.

This picture is today all over the net, including web pages promoting Heaven is Real, and has even been used as the cover of a booklet in Italian as "proof" of Pope Benedict’s support of Vassula and TLIG. Clearly it is used to facilitate the selling of her books to a Catholic public. This picture started to be used in this way when it became clear that the result of the dialogue between Vassula and the Vatican had not been an approval of her writings and that the negative doctrinal assessment of the 1995 Notification remained in full force.

In spite of the propagandistic exploitation of emeritus Pope Benedict’s image, Vassula included at the end of chapter 16 the description of a vision where she sees several cardinals trying to open the gate of a Cathedral and failing to do so, and then herself arriving and opening it without difficulty. She writes: “From this vision I understood that the leaders of the Church are not listening to Christ’s Message that can lead them to Unity” because they lack “humility and love”. The only Cardinal she names in her vision is Cardinal Ratzinger, suggesting therefore to the reader that he did little for unity even as Pope, because lacking basic Christian virtues.

Is this a sort of payback for what happened during the 2012 TLIG pilgrimage to Rome? In that occasion, the TLIG organizers had taken all the necessary precautions in order to make sure that the TLIG group would have been welcomed by Pope Benedict during the customary greeting of the pilgrims, where all the groups present are mentioned by name. Instead, according to Fr. Abberton who was present, they were purposefully ignored: “It was clear that we were not exactly welcome since we were not allowed to carry a banner, and the group was announced as ‘The group of Peter and Paul’. We did not even know that was us!” (Comment posted on Catholic Light blogspot http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/index.php/2012/01/false-mystic/ ).

 

 

Chapter 17 – END OF TIMES

The conclusive chapter is a call for the reader to be aware that humanity is living the End of Times, which Vassula defines as a spiritual battle between good and evil, whose outcome will be defined by people’s choices (p.205). Vassula warns that if humanity does not choose God, then there will be a devastating destruction of Earth, brought upon by humanity’s lack of “values of life” and change of heart (p.217).

Vassula says that she saw this destruction in a vision, and that it would involve an earthquake of magnitude 8 on the Richter scale, the skies becoming dark at daytime and stars falling or speeding away (p.208). She then quotes the “Voice of God” saying that His Angel will throw a censer with Fire “down to the earth and (…) a violent earthquake will come, and the elements of the earth will catch fire and fall apart.” God is also quoted as saying that people will call to Him, but that He “will not listen” (p.209).

 

The last pages of the book resume Vassula’s Mission and “solution to make a better world", as well as contact details for her USA Prayer groups, information on TLIG pilgrimages and retreats, her charity work through the Beth Myriams, and where to buy the complete 1'150 page TLIG Book of Messages.

 

Written by a former TLIG follower. Published October 2014. For comments, write to staff@pseudomystica.info