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A critical website on Vassula Ryden and the TLIG messages

Vassula Ryden and the True Life in God messages

A compendium of what every reader should know

 

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This article is undergoing a complete re-writing. During this period of re-edition, new items will be added regularly until completion.

Last update: February 2016

CONTENTS

1. Biographical Elements

2. Early "mystical" experiences

3. The beginning of the True Life in God messages

4. First reactions - Fr. James Fannan

5. Publication of the TLIG messages and Supporters Updated

6. Content of the TLIG messages, Vassula's teachings, claims of prophecies and miracles.

7. Catholic and Orthodox Churches highly critical of Vassula New

(New chapters will be added shortly.)

 

1. Biographical Elements

Vassula Rydén was born Vassiliki Claudia Pendakis [www.vassularyden.com/about.php] on 18 January 1942 in Heliopolis on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, where her Greek family had been established for several generations. Her father Georges Pendakis was an engineering architect and worked for a French company in Cairo [Neirynck, p.9-10]. Her mother Marie was a housewife. She had 2 sisters and a brother [Heaven is Real, p.12]. The siblings grew up in an upper middle-class milieu [Parodi, p.23].

Vassula was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church and sent to the English Mission College of Cairo, an Episcopalian missionary school [http://www.tlig.org/en/mission/reports/2003/1023-25/]. Although Rydén's personal website states that she never "received any catechetical instruction or theological formation" [www.vassularyden.com/about.php], she tells in her book Heaven is real, but so is hell that each school day started with a mandatory prayer [Heaven is Real, p.12] and mentions undergoing mystical/daydreaming experiences during "religion class" [Heaven is Real, p.14].

In 1958, at the age of 15, Vassula's family decides to leave Egypt because of the difficult political situation [Parodi, p.23]. They emigrated to Switzerland and took residence in the village of Pully [Heaven is Real, p.16]. There, Vassula concluded her studies obtaining a diploma in commercial secretaryship and fine arts [Parodi, p.23].

Vassula described her family as religious but not church-goers. During her childhood in Egypt, the family used to go to church only for the Easter celebration. In Switzerland, her father started to attend regularly the Sunday Mass on his own. Vassula's mother had a rich prayer life exclusively at home [Neirynck, p.10-11] and believed that Vassula had a special connection with the supernatural and could see future events [Heaven is Real, p.10-11].

At the age of 24, she married Johan Holmberg [Parodi, p.23], a Swedish Lutheran, at the Greek Orthodox Church of Lausanne (Switzerland), and moved to Sweden. Shortly afterwards, her husband took a job with the United Nations Development Program, which required him to reside for several years in different African countries (Sierra Leone, Sudan, Ethiopia, Mozambique). Their two sons, Jan and Fabian, were born during those years [Heaven is Real, p.16-18].

The marriage started to have problems, leading to a separation and a divorce which was concluded in 1980. Vassula met another Swede Lutheran, Per Rydén; they married according to the Lutheran ritual in June 1981. Many years later, following criticism regarding her marital situation, Rydén regularized this union in the Greek Orthodox Church and celebrated her religious marriage in Lausanne on 13 October 1990. Per Rydén's work for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also meant residing abroad, first in Mozambique and Lesotho, and later in Bangladesh [James, p.55-57].

During those years, Vassula showed little to no interest for religion and lived the typical life of an international professional's wife; she described it as a "constant round of receptions, bridge games and tennis tournaments" [Heaven is Real, p.24]. She had also acquired a certain reputation as a painter, her good looks made her a model for a day in an international gala in Dhaka (Bangladesh), and she won the national tennis tournament of Bangladesh (women doubles) in 1986 [Laurentin, p.7-8].

 

2. Early "mystical" experiences

At the age of six, Vassula experienced terrifying nightmares and waking dreams which she interpreted as the devil trying to kill her. At the age of 10-12, her waking dreams started to feature Jesus calling her and marrying her [Mon Angel Daniel, p.28-29] [Heaven is real, p.9-10].  

It was in her late teens that she said to be able to see and hear "the dead" asking her for help. She described them as "bald-headed, with greyish complexion, and they seemed emaciated". This "crowd of dead people" would often surround her at home. She wrote that she was impressed by their silence and the respect they had for her, claiming that they "knew" that she was called to become God's prophet. [Mon Angel Daniel, p.30-31] [Heaven is real, p.8-9].

 

3.  The beginning of the True Life in God messages

Main sources:  [Laurentin, p.8-14] [Mon Ange Daniel, p.15-30]

On 28 November 1985, while living in Bangladesh without having any religious practice, Vassula says that an invisible presence manifested itself to her. She was writing a list of groceries to buy when she suddenly felt a presence followed by a tingling sensation in her hand, as if an electrical current was passing [Heaven is real, p.24], and then her hand moved on its own and drew a heart with a rose. The strange presence identified itself as her "guardian angel Dan" (short for Daniel). Vassula realized that if she would think of a question, the angel would answer through her hand, but using a handwriting different from her usual one [Neirynck, p.18].

Vassula said that her first reaction was to think that she was the luckiest person on earth and the only one who could communicate in this way with her angel. In a talk she gave in Marseille in 2011, she also told the audience that when the phenomenon started, she remembered an episode she had experienced in Egypt, hearing a school classmate saying that she could see her angel [http://fr.gloria.tv/?media=222713&connection=dialup, minute 6:00 of the audio].

This invisible manifestation accompanied Vassula several hours per day, even during her tennis practices, and asked her to read the Bible. As during her childhood, she felt another presence, dark and aggressive, which tried "to suffocate" her and against which "her angel" fought.

Three months later [Vassula, 1990, p.ix] and to Vassula's sorrow, the angel told her that he had to leave her because she had been "purified" and was now ready to meet "Christ". Then "Jesus" manifested himself by moving Vassula's hand in the same way and with the same handwriting used by the "angel".

In these first messages, "Jesus" appeared as a tender, forgiving and loving God, using the lovers’ language. He wanted Vassula to love him and spread the messages he was writing through her and which he called "True Life in God". Vassula says that those moments of bliss alternated with "attacks from the devil". She also sporadically received messages from the Virgin Mary, St. Michael Archangel, Father Pio, and also the devil.

Vassula wrote the messages on loose sheets of paper, which she later destroyed or threw away [Mon Ange Daniel, p.41]. After six months of experiencing the phenomenon, she started to use notebooks to write the messages in an orderly manner.

 

4. First Reactions - Fr. James Fannan

Although Vassula lived right across the road from a Catholic church [Heaven is real, p.37], it is only months after the phenomenon started, that her "angel Dan" instructed her to go to speak with an American priest of the nearby Catholic seminary. She met instead a German priest, Father Karl, whose assessment was that Vassula had some type of mental health problem, and advised her to see a doctor [Heaven is real, p.63].

However, Vassula kept on returning, so Fr. Karl consulted with the American priest, Father James (Jim) Fannan [Laurentin, p.11]. Together they observed Vassula writing down the messages, and Fr. Fannan concluded that the phenomenon could not come from God, that it was probably diabolical, and that she should refuse to write down any further messages [Heaven is real, p.64-68].

Disappointed but also disturbed by this, Vassula asked "God" for a sign, and received the following answer: "I will bend him". She stopped writing messages from "God", but continued nevertheless the dialogue with the "angel". During this period of time, the "angel" used Vassula's hand to draw pictures [Heaven is real, p.64-68], which were later used as illustrations for the covers of the first editions of the TLIG books. Vassula bought a Koran to read and compare it to the Bible [Mon Ange Daniel, p.37]. It is also during this period that she started to write the messages in notebooks and show them to her friends to read [Mon Ange Daniel, p.43].

Vassula returned to see Fr. Fannan, who told her to go to see a Catholic hermit: Fr. Raymond Dujarrier, which Vassula described as a "French, semi-hermit, mystic, Catholic priest, but also Hindu, Moslem and Buddhist. All in one." [Vassula, 1990, vol.1, p.59 - http://www.tlig.net/pageflip2/Volume1/files/assets/basic-html/page39.html]. Vassula described her visit to Fr. Dujarrier as an initiatory journey to consult a wise man, who confirmed that she had been "given a gift and must not reject the calling of God." [Heaven is real, p.72].

Back in Dhaka, Vassula reported Fr. Dujarrier's discernment. Several weeks later, Fr. Fannan who had always attributed the writings to the devil, changed his mind and became a believer in the authenticity of the messages as well as an active promoter and defender of Vassula's cause. He also acted as her spiritual director, although he said that "Jesus" had explained to him that his real function at Vassula's side was to "learn" [Vassula's mission in Asia].  

Then Vassula's husband received an offer to work for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Therefore in 1987 they left Bangladesh for Switzerland [Heaven is real, p. 79, 100].

 

Note on Fr. Fannan, PIME:

Member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, Fr. James Fannan was the first Catholic priest who believed in Vassula [Neirynck, p.5]. He was a member of Fr. Gobbi's Marian Movement of Priests (MMP), and taught Philosophy at the National Major Seminary of Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was instrumental in making Vassula's messages known. He would often accompany her to meetings to present her and vouch for her, and wrote the introduction to the first volumes of her messages [Vassula, 1990].

However, in November 2001 something happened. According to the report published by Vassula's official website, Fr. Fannan tried to cancel her planned visit to Bangladesh. The reasons are not clear, but the report says that Vassula realized that Fr. Fannan "was silencing God's Voice" and suggests that Fr. Fannan succumbed to "diabolical influences" [http://www.tlig.org/en/mission/reports/2001/1106/].

Later, Fr. Fannan was no longer mentioned in connection with Vassula, and his name was removed or replaced by Fr. "X" in many TLIG website articles in English [Bangladesh, 2001]. However, there is no evidence that he ceased to believe in her.

In Vassula's latest book Heaven is real, but so is hell, she refers to Fr. Fannan as "Fr. Jim" and only mentions his initial negative discernment of the phenomenon and implies that the reason for his behaviour was envy [Heaven is real, p.67]. His years of public support and belief in Vassula, the fact that he became her spiritual advisor and the falling out, are left untold [Heaven is real, chapter 6].

 

 

5. Publication of the TLIG messages and Supporters 

Three years after the beginning of the phenomenon, Vassula says that "God" asked her to make the messages known by publishing them under the title "True Life in God" (abbreviated as TLIG) and by creating prayer groups that would use them for meditation [Vassula, 1990, p.xiii]. Endorsements from well-known Catholic figures gave her a wide and international exposure. 

Publication of the messages

There is little information available on how the first edition of the messages was financed and published. From 1991 to 2006, the messages in English, including the first edition of the facsimile handwritten manuscripts, were published by Trinitas, a publishing house which seems to have been founded specifically for that scope [http://www.trinitaspublishers.com/index.htm].  

For the publication in other languages, Vassula was able to secure well-known Catholic publishing houses, such as O.E.I.L. for the French version (also known as Editions F.X. de Guibert [http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89ditions_Fran%C3%A7ois-Xavier_de_Guibert] (who also published René Laurentin), EDIBESA for the Spanish one and Edizioni Dehoniane for the Italian one . This ensured that the messages were well distributed in Catholic bookstores, where they could reach her main target audience. 

Today, Vassula's Foundation for True Life in God is becoming the main publisher of her messages in English.   However, her latest book "Heaven is Real, but so is Hell" was entrusted to Alexian Ltd, a publisher of New Age authors [http://www.pseudomystica.info/marketingvassula.htm]. The French and Italian editions of the messages are now published by fringe editors specialized in the promotion of all types of revelations and apparitions: Editions du Parvis in Switzerland and Edizioni del Segno in Italy.

 

Supporters

In Switzerland, Vassula presented the messages to the local Orthodox and Roman Catholic authorities, but they were not impressed [Vassula, 1990, p.xv-xvi]. Both would later issue negative statements regarding her. [Schwery] [Moerman, p.14]  

She was however able to obtain endorsements from the following well-known Catholic personalities and groups, allowing her to reach celebrity status as a "seer".  

 

Medjugorje promoters. At the insistence of her spiritual director Fr. Fannan, Vassula visited Medjugorje on 25 June 1988 [Vassula, 1990, p.xx]. Following this visit, the TLIG messages started to focus on the theme of Christian Unity, which is one of the main themes of the Medjugorje "apparitions". 

By 1991 Vassula had obtained the endorsement of three prominent Medjugorje supporters: Fr. René Laurentin, Fr. Michael O'Carroll, CSSp (who became one of Vassula's  spiritual advisors) and Fr. Robert Faricy, s.j.; and later Fr. Ljudevit Rupcic, OFM and Archbishop Frane Franic (Croatia). 

However, not all Medjugorje supporters shared their enthusiasm and a rift became apparent when Fr. Philip Pavich, OFM – who was in Medjugorje and in charge of translating the "Madonna's" messages from Croatian to English – got hold of photocopies of the original TLIG messages covered with marginal notes on what to correct, add or delete before publication [Sullivan, p.274-277] [Dermine].  

When the Vatican made public the 1995 Notification pointing out doctrinal errors in Vassula's writings and asking Bishops not to promote her, several Medjugorje centers and media (in particular Radio Maria Italy) clearly disassociated themselves from her.  

To this day, Medjugorje supporters remain divided on Vassula's case. The latest Medjugorje personality to have endorsed Vassula is Fr. Petar Ljubicic, OFM, who is supposed to reveal the "Ten Secrets" of the alleged apparitions of Medjugorje (not recognized by the Church) [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4YvmNyBqu8]. In 2014, Vassula had a meeting with Vicka, one of the claimed "seers" [http://motheofgod.com/threads/vassula-and-medjugorje.6045/ and http://www.tlig.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2147].

 

Charismatic Renewal. According to Vassula, the first to welcome the messages were a group of the Orthodox Renewal of Rhodes [Vassula, 1991, p.xv]. But the strongest support came from Catholic groups of the Charismatic Renewal mouvement. Vassula incorporated in her meetings many of their practices, such as healing prayers and being "slain in the spirit". She often participated in Charismatic Congresses or events, for instance in Canada and the USA in 1991 [http://www.vassula.org/meetings.htm], and in the Philippines in 2008 [http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligfaq.htm#Philippines]  

In the '90s she was endorsed by [http://www.tlig.org/en/testimonies/christian/catholic/tardif/] and former Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo [http://www.tlig.org/en/news/2000-10-20/291/], before his recruitment into Reverend Moon's cult [http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/sep/13/milingo-rev-moons-legacy-religious-unity/].

She also received the support of Bishops sympathetic of the Charismatic Renewal, such as Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of the Phillipines, who also gave her the Imprimatur to the messages [http://www.pseudomystica.info/tlignihilobstat.htm] and Archbishop André-Joseph Leonard of Belgium [http://www.chretiensmagazine.fr/2010/02/communique-de-vassula-27012010.html]. 

However not all the Charismatic Renewal groups accept Vassula, and some have publicly warned about her, as is the case in Hungary [http://www.karizmatikus.hu/]. 

 

Father Tardif gave no endorsement to Vassula

In spite of an interview which is reproduced in several websites, Father Emiliano Tardif did not give his endorsement to Vassula. Answering a query regarding that interview where he appeared to be recognizing the authenticity of Vassula’s claims, he wrote that he had barely read her messages and denied having ever said that Vassula was an “authentic mystic”. For more information, see: www.pseudomystica.info/tardif.htm

 

Marian Mouvement of Priests (MMP). According to René Laurentin, in 1991 Vassula obtained the endorsement of Fr. Gobbi, founder of the Marian Mouvement of Priests, in spite of opposition from the MMP Swiss representative [Vassula, 1991] [Heaven is real, p.119-121] [http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=4152].  

 

Pseudo-Catholic Spiritist/New Age groups. Among the supporters listed in the TLIG official website, we find the name of the late Fr. Guido Sommavilla, s.j. [http://www.tlig.org/en/testimonies/churchpos/cdfresources/sommavilla/], close to the Italian pseudo-catholic spiritist association Movimento della Speranza. This group believes that it is possible and compatible with Christian faith to communicate with the dead through automatic writing and audio registrations. Several Italian dioceses have repeatedly warned against the errors of this movement and prohibited the participation of priests in Masses celebrated in that context [Porcarelli, p.225] [Conferenza episcopale dell'Emilia Romagna] [Vescovi delle diocesi di Pesaro].  

In 1996, Fr. Sommavilla wrote the introduction to the messages of Giampiero Campana, a young man who committed suicide and later allegedly communicated with his family through automatic writing. Fr. Sommavilla wrote in favour of the phenomenon, presenting many of the same arguments usually used to defend Vassula's case: graphology study, claimed conformity with Catholic doctrine, good fruit and conversions. [http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligsommavilla.htm] 

In 1998 Vassula, Fr. Laurentin and Fr. Sommavilla participated in the annual congress of the Movimento della Speranza [http://www.vassula.org/it9809.htm]. 

Other Vassula supporters who promote the ideas of the Movimento della Speranza are author Marino Parodi and Fr. Antonio Gentili [http://www.defending-vassula.org/reflection-gentili?lang=fr], who has written several books promoting Eastern/New Age practices and beliefs [http://www.campello.barnabiti.net/pubblicazioni.php].

 

Note on Marino Parodi: 

An Italian writer, psychologist, therapist, philosopher and proponent of the New Thought movement, which promotes healing through the power of the mind [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Thought]. 

In 1997, he wrote a book on Vassula Ryden aimed at re-introducing her to the Italian public after the negative effect of the 1995 Notification issued against her by the Vatican. The book's introduction was written by Fr. Antonio Gentili.  

In 2008 and 2009, Parodi published two books on how to communicate with the dead, advocating in favour of this practice. In his latest book, he discusses miraculous healings as the result of the power of one's own mindset. [http://www.marinoparodi.com/mp-libri.htm]  

Finally, he proudly mentions in his biography that he was granted the honour of becoming an "Ambassador for Peace" by the International Federation For World Peace (IFFWP) [http://www.marinoparodi.com/mp-biografia.htm], an emanation of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF). Both were founded by and are affiliated to the cult of Reverend Moon. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Peace_Federation#Universal_Peace_Federation][http://www.upf.org/about].

 

 

Support from Catholic and Orthodox Bishops. Both the Catholic and Greek Orthodox authorities have pronounced themselves negatively on the claims of Vassula Ryden. Both Churches consider that her writings are not compatible with their doctrines and have asked the faithful not to participate in her activities. Nevertheless, a few bishops of both Churches publicly support Vassula's claims [http://www.tlig.org/en/testimonies/churchpos/].

Catholic:

-          Brazil: Bishop Emeritus Joao Terra (Brasilia)

-           India: Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo (Ranchi). Archbishop Vincent Concessao (New Delhi), Bishop Anil Couto (Delhi), Bishop Felix Toppo (Jamshedpur), who gave the controversial nihil obstat to Vassula's messages [http://www.pseudomystica.info/tlignihilobstat.htm#Bishop].

-          Lebanon: Cardinal Sfeir (Emeritus Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East).

-           Philippines: Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles (Lipa City), who gave the imprimatur to Vassula's books [http://www.pseudomystica.info/tlignihilobstat.htm].

-          South Africa: Cardinal Napier (Durban).

-          Venezuela: Georges Kahhale Zouhairaty (Exarch of the Greek-Melkite Catholics of Venezuela). 

-     Cardinal Prospero Grech, who was the CDF consultant acting as intermediary between Vassula and the CDF during the 2001-2004 dialogue, published a very supportive review of her book Heaven is real, but so is hell. He states however that, contrary to what had been previously thought, the answers provided by Vassula to the CDF in 2001 had not satisfied the CDF and that the 1995 Notification continues to be in force [http://insidethevatican.com/magazine/people/vassula-reviewed].

 

Cardinal Ratzinger and Vassula 

Mrs Rydén’s official website also lists Cardinal Ratzinger – now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI - as her most prestigious supporter, backing it up with letters, statements he is said to have made and photographs of him with Vassula [http://www.tlig.org/en/testimonies/churchpos/cdf2005/ratzletter/]. 

However, a closer examination of the Vatican documents available is less positive. Cardinal Ratzinger was head of the CDF when the 1995 Notification was published, followed in 1996 by a press release confirming its validity.  

A series of efforts were done by Dr. Niels Christian Hvidt – a Danish follower of Vassula who was studying theology in Rome – in order to convince Cardinal Ratzinger to reconsider Vassula’s case. His insistance was rewarded with the CDF giving Rydén the opportunity to answer the objections made in the 1995 Notification. This “dialogue” ended in 2004 with a semi-official meeting between Vassula and Ratzinger. At the conclusion of this meeting, Hvidt took a photo of Vassula with Cardinal Ratzinger, who granted it under the condition that it would not be used for "cheap propaganda" (as reported by Hvidt himself [http://www.cdf-tlig.org/dialogue.html]). That condition has not been respected: Hvidt has put the photo on Internet and authorized its public use through Wikimedia Commons [https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vassula_Ryden_Ratzinger.jpg]. The photo gives the false impression that Vassula has received Ratzinger's approval and it is used to promote her books and conferences [for instance: http://www.duesacratissimicuori.it/1/home_266684.html]. The photo is even used as the cover of a booklet in Italian, in which the Church is presented as positive towards the seer [Corona, pp. 77-80 Although the booklet was published in 2012, it doesn't mention the 2007 CDF communication, in which the Notification's negative doctrinal assessment of Vassula's writings is re-confirmed].

In fact, although the dialogue is presented by TLIG as positive, the Notification was never cancelled nor modified. In 2007, when Ratzinger was then Pope, the CDF issued a new document confirming the negative doctrinal assessment of the Notification, the only change being that Ryden’s writings were no longer considered as “private revelation”, but rather as the result of her own meditations (a conclusion Vassula fought against to no avail), and advising against the participation of the faithful in her prayer groups [http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070125_vassula-ryden_en.html]. 

Finally, during the TLIG international pilgrimage to Rome that took place in 2012, the group was not greeted by its name during Pope Benedict’s Wednesday public audience. According to long time supporter Fr. Abberton who was present, they were asked not to carry banners and they got the impression that they were not welcome.[Comment posted on Catholic Light blogspot:  http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/index.php/2012/01/false-mystic/].

 

Greek Orthodox:

-           Theodorus II, Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa. He seems however to have taken some distance after the Patriarchate of Constantinople declared Vassula's teachings contrary to the Orthodox faith [http://www.pseudomystica.info/tliggreekorthodox.htm].

-           Archbishop Seraphim (former bishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria, Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa). He was one of the bishops who gave Vassula a "certificate of orthodoxy" that was rejected by the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Rhodes and the Patriarchate of Constantinople [http://www.pseudomystica.info/rhodesmetrop.htm]. In 2010, Archbishop Seraphim was transferred to the smaller Archdiocese of Zimbabwe [http://orthodoxwiki.org/Seraphim_(Kykkotis)_of_Zimbabwe].

 

 

6. Content of the TLIG messages, Vassula's teachings, claims of prophecies and miracles.

The content of the 1'150 pages of published messages (1989-2003) is of a religious nature, combining teachings from Catholic and Orthodox doctrines, mixed with apocalyptic as well as New Age elements.

Jesus is returning – a New Era. The messages request followers to lead a life of conversion and repentance while waiting for the imminent return of Jesus, which will not mean the end of the world, but the end of an epoch and the beginning of a new era. [http://www.vassularyden.com/messages.php] The Vatican's 1995 Notification pointed out that this teaching regarding an "intermediate" coming of Jesus (that would not mean the end of the world as announced by Jesus in the Gospel) is considered erroneous and close to millenarist ideas [http://www.pseudomystica.info/dermine4.htm#errors]

 

Chastisement by Fire. According to Vassula, the TLIG messages are a "last minute" call for humanity to convert and believe in God before a "hurricane of fire" destroys "three-fourths of the Earth" [Heaven is real, p.167]. This destruction would involve an earthquake of magnitude 8 on the Richter scale and she says that "the elements of the earth will catch fire and fall apart" [Heaven is real, p.208-209]. She refers to this prophecy as the "Chastisement by Fire"; she claims the Virgin Mary told her that this was imminent and could no longer be avoided "because His [God's] Message [TLIG] had not been heeded" [Heaven is real, p.178-179]

The Chastisement, as well as the other tragedies and catastrophes, are presented as God's response to people's lack of faith, sins, division among the Churches, the world's rejection of God's Word, atheism, immorality, turning Christmas into a commercial holiday, refusing to believe in the TLIG messages and other private revelations and impeding their spreading. Vassula asserts that the only way to diminish the effects of the destruction by fire is for people to repent, convert, believe that God talks through the TLIG messages and Churches end their divisions by "uniting around one Altar" [Heaven is real, p.166-181].

 

Prediction of Catastrophic Events: Vassula affirms that the messages have already successfully predicted catastrophic events: the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2004 Asian tsunami, the fall of communist Russia and the eruption of the 2011 Islandic Volcano [Heaven is real, p.166-181]. She claims that the latter was mitigated thanks to her prayer groups, which also prevented a meteor from crashing on Earth [http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligmeteor.htm] [http://www.pseudomystica.info/heavenisrealreview.htm].

 

Unification of Easter Date: Vassula says that if all Christians agree to celebrate Easter on the same date, God will put an end to wars and natural catastrophes, bringing about a period of peace in the world [http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligcrecan.htm]. In order to attain this goal, her organization launched an international petition called "One Date" [http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligfaq.htm#onedate]

 

Sharing the Sacraments without doctrinal unity:   This is presented as a direct request from God, although it clearly contradicts the Catholic and Orthodox understanding of Sacraments. [http://www.pseudomystica.info/rhodesmetrop.htm#oikonomia]

 

Claims of miraculous healings: In 1989, Vassula told Fr. Laurentin that people had been physically healed by the messages, cancer in one case and AIDS in another, but she did not provide any medical proof [Vassula, 1990, p. xviii]. In her latest book, she claims to have healed persons who suffered from illnesses such as crippling juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (the only case for which she has a medical record, but it is a condition where spontaneous remissions are frequent), leukemia, mouth cancer, deafness, and other less serious health problems [Heaven is real, p.182-184].

 

Claims of extraordinary phenomena: These involve Jesus' face superimposed on hers, the sun "dancing", celestial beings appearing on photographs as luminous forms, "mysterious" glitter, smell of roses and incense, and a phenomenon she calls "shekinah", described by her as the manifestation of God's presence which "usually appears in photographs because of the sensitive eye of the camera" (ipse dixit!) [Heaven is real, p.134, 140-143]. For a short period of time in the '90s, Vassula also claimed to "experience the Passion of Jesus" in public [http://www.tlig.pl/pl/spirituality/passion/index.html- http://www.tligvideo.org/passion.html].

The Australian TLIG prayer group has also alleged extreme "supernatural" manifestations including a statue oozing oil, a bottle "miraculously" filling itself with oil, Eucharistic miracles and a member of the prayer group bleeding from her eyes and hands, a phenomenon interpreted by the TLIG group as a manifestation of the Passion of Christ caused by the lack of belief in God communicating with mankind through Vassula and other seers.  [http://www.tlig.net/Marianne/

 

7. Catholic and Orthodox Churches highly critical of Vassula

The following documents have been published by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches regarding Mrs Rydén's writings and activities.

The Roman Catholic Church

1995 Notification on the writings and activities of Mrs Vassula Rydén - Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) [http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19951006_ryden_en.html] 6 October 1995. The document lists the "doctrinal errors" contained in the TLIG messages, mentions the "suspect nature in the ways these alleged revelations have occurred" as well as the "ecumenical disorder" caused by Ryden's frequent reception of Catholic Sacraments which puts her "outside the ecclesiastical discipline" of her own Orthodox Church. It requests Bishops not to authorize the promotion of TLIG in their dioceses and advises the faithful not to consider the messages as of divine origin.

2007 Circular Letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences regarding the writings and activities of Mrs. Vassula Rydén - Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) - 25 January 2007  [http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070125_vassula-ryden_en.html] The letter refers to the dialogue that took place with Mrs. Rydén in 2002-2004, which brought the CDF to conclude that her writings are not "divine revelations" but only her "personal meditations". In spite of the clarifications given by Mrs. Rydén, the Notification's negative doctrinal judgment is re-confirmed and the participation of Catholics in TLIG prayer groups is considered "inappropriate". 

These two documents are the basis on which diocesan bishops have intervened in order to avoid Rydén being advertised in Catholic parishes and media. For a list of such interventions, see http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligtheologians.htm

 

Greek Orthodox Church

2001 Rulings of the C.S. on sects for Vasoula Ryden and Panagiotis Toulatos - Committee on Heresies of the Holy Synod - Orthodox Church of Greece [http://www.pseudomystica.info/tliggreekorthodox.htm] The ruling published in the magazine of the Church of Greece Dialogos (number 25, page 32, 2001), concludes that Mrs Ryden has "thrown herself out" (ekpései in Greek) of the Orthodox Church.

On the basis of that ruling, the Metropolitan of Rhodes intervened in 2010 to forbid Vassula from receiving "the Holy Eucharist and participate in the Sacrament of Baptism as godmother to a relative." (Vassula resides in Rhodes). [http://www.pseudomystica.info/rhodesmetrop.htm]

2011 Announcement by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople on Vassula Ryden's teachings - 16 March 2011 - [http://www.pseudomystica.info/tliggreekorthodox.htm] The strongly-worded text states that Rydén's teachings deviate from Orthodox doctrine and are therefore unacceptable. Vassula and her followers are asked to discontinue the dissemination of the TLIG messages and renounce their teachings in order to avoid ecclesiastical sanctions. 

It is this announcement that was wrongly considered a formal excommunication of Vassula. It is instead a severe warning worded as an accusation of heresy. Vassula and her followers ignored the Patriarchate's requests to cease promoting TLIG. On 5 May 2011, Vassula released a new message from "Jesus", in which followers were encouraged to continue to spread the TLIG messages and "Jesus" promised punishment for those who "stone his prophets". [http://www.pseudomystica.info/tliggreekorthodox.htm]

 

REFERENCES 

1. Biographical Elements

JAMES, Marie-France. 1992. Le Phénomène Vassula – Etude critique. Nouvelles Editions Latines, Paris.

LAURENTIN, René. 1994. Qui est Vassula. François-Xavier de Guilbert – Office d'Edition d'Impression Librairie, Paris.

MULLER, Valeria. Vassula's visit to Brighton, UK, October 2003. True Life in God official website, http://www.tlig.org/en/mission/reports/2003/1023-25/

NEIRYNCK, Jacques. 1997. L'énigme Vassula. Editions Favre, Lausanne.

PARODI, Marino. 1997. Vassula Ryden: mistica e profezia alle soglie del 2000. Edizioni Mediterranee, Roma. http://books.google.ch/books?id=lGud4asCTuIC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

RYDEN, Vassula. 2005. Vassula à Montreux, Suisse. True Life in God official website in French, http://www.vassula.org/ch0509.htm

RYDEN, Vassula. 2013. Heaven is real, but so is hell. Alexian Limited, New York / Bath.

Vassula Ryden's website. Consulted on 18 March 2013. About Vassula. www.vassularyden.com/about.php

 

2. Early Paranormal Experiences

RYDEN, Vassula. 2001. Mon Ange Daniel. Editions du Parvis, Hauteville/Suisse.

RYDEN, Vassula. 2013. Heaven is real, but so is hell. Alexian Limited, New York / Bath.

 

3. The first written messages

Audio registration of Vassula's 2011 conference in Marseill, France: http://fr.gloria.tv/?media=222713&connection=dialup

LAURENTIN, René. 1994. Qui est Vassula. François-Xavier de Guilbert – Office d'Edition d'Impression Librairie, Paris.

NEIRYNCK, Jacques. 1997. L'énigme Vassula. Editions Favre, Lausanne.

RYDEN, Vassula. 2001. Mon Ange Daniel. Editions du Parvis, Hauteville/Suisse.

RYDEN, Vassula. 2013. Heaven is real, but so is hell. Alexian Limited, New York / Bath.

VASSULA. 1990. La Vraie Vie en Dieu – Volumes 1.Editions O.E.I.L., Paris.

 

4. First Reactions – Father James Fannan

LAURENTIN, René. 1994. Qui est Vassula. François-Xavier de Guilbert – Office d'Edition d'Impression Librairie, Paris.

NEIRYNCK, Jacques. 1997. L'énigme Vassula. Editions Favre, Lausanne.

No author. 1998. Vassula's mission in Asia – Part 3. http://www.tlig.org/en/mission/reports/1998/0121-27/  In the report, the name of Fr. Fannan has been replaced by Fr. "X", as can be verified by accessing the web archive: http://web.archive.org/web/19990202043320/http://www.tlig.org/india3.html

No author. 2001. Bangladesh (report of Vassula's visit to Bangladesh). http://www.tlig.org/en/mission/reports/2001/1106/. In the report, the name of Fr. Fannan has been replaced by Fr. "X", as can be verified by accessing the Spanish version of this same report: http://www.tlig.net/sp/spbanglarep.html

RYDEN, Vassula. 2013. Heaven is real, but so is hell. Alexian Limited, New York / Bath.

RYDEN, Vassula. 2001. Mon Ange Daniel. Editions du Parvis, Hauteville/Suisse.

VASSULA. 1990. La Vraie Vie en Dieu – Volumes 1 et 2.Editions O.E.I.L., Paris.

 

5. Publication of the TLIG messages and Supporters 

Conferenza episcopale dell'Emilia Romagna. 2000. La Chiesa e l'aldilà. Nota pastorale.

CORONA, Irene. 2012. Vassula la forza della profezia.Edizioni Segno, Tavagnaco (UD). http://www.ibs.it/code/9788861386242/corona-irene/vassula-forza-della.html

DERMINE, François-Marie. 1995. Vassula Rydén: Indagine Critica. Ediz. Elle Di Ci, Leumann, Torino. The main points of the book are summarized in the following article: http://www.pseudomystica.info/dermine.htm

GRECH, Prospero. 2014. Messages for All Humanity. In the January 2014 issue of Inside the Vatican, p.51. http://insidethevatican.com/magazine/people/vassula-reviewed

HVIDT, Niels Christian. Dialogue between Vassula Rydén and the CDF. http://www.cdf-tlig.org/report.pdf

KREMSKI, Mary Beth. 2001. The Marian Movement of Pirests: is it safe for faithful catholics? http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=4152

MOERMAN, Joseph. 1996. A propos de Vassula Ryden. In the February 1996 issue of Choisir magazine, Geneva, p. 11-14. http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligchoisir.htm

PARODI, Marino. 1996. Intervista di Emilio Tardif. In the October 1996 issue of Il Segno del Sopranaturale, Tavagnacco (Italy).

PIO, Maria Laura. 2006. La sorprendente alianza de la Sra. Vassula Rydén con el Padre Guido Sommavilla y el espiritismo seudo-católico. http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligsommavilla.htm

PIO, Maria Laura. 2007. Did the TLIG messages get a nihil obstat and imprimatur? http://www.pseudomystica.info/tlignihilobstat.htm

PORCARELLI, Andrea. 1998. Spiritismo.Cose dell'altro mondo. Edizioni San Paolo, Cinisello Balsamo (Milano).

PSEUDOMYSTICA website. 2013. Marketing Vassula. http://www.pseudomystica.info/marketingvassula.htm

RYDEN, Vassula. 2013. Heaven is real, but so is hell. Alexian Limited, New York / Bath.

SANDS, David R. 13/09/2012. Milingo: Rev. Moon's legacy is in religious unity. In the Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/sep/13/milingo-rev-moons-legacy-religious-unity/

SCHWERY, Heinrich. 1991. Pastorale Hinweise zum Werk der Vassula Ryden. Diocese of Sion, Switzerland. http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligtheologians.htm#schwery

SULLIVAN, Randall. 2004. The Miracle Detective. Grove Press. New York.

VASSULA. 1990. La Vraie Vie en Dieu – Volume 1. Editions O.E.I.L., Paris.

VASSULA. 1991. La Vraie Vie en Dieu – Volume 4. Editions O.E.I.L., Paris.

Vescovi delle diocesi di Pesaro, Urbino, Urbania, Sant'Angelo in Vado, Fano, Fossombrone, Cagli e Pergola. 2001. Disposizioni pastorali circa i fenomeni della superstizione, della magia e dei nuovi movimenti religiosi. http://www.cesnur.org/2001/disp_past.htm

 

6. Content of the TLIG messages, Vassula's teachings, claims of prophecies & miracles.

DERMINE, François-Marie. 1995. Vassula Rydén: Indagine Critica. Ediz. Elle Di Ci, Leumann, Torino. The main points of the book are summarized in the following article: http://www.pseudomystica.info/dermine.htm

PIO, Maria Laura. 2010. Vassula claims that her prayer groups prevented a meteor from crashing on earth. http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligmeteor.htm 

PIO, Maria Laura. 2011. Vassula had been the object of a prohibition to receive the Eucharist a year before the Patriarchate's announcement. http://www.pseudomystica.info/rhodesmetrop.htm 

PSEUDOMYSTICA website. 2010. Illicit concelebration during Vassula's visit to Romania. http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligcrecan.htm 

PSEUDOMYSTICA website. 2014. Reading guide to Heaven is Real, but so is Hell. http://www.pseudomystica.info/heavenisrealreview.htm

RYDEN, Vassula. 2013. Heaven is real, but so is hell. Alexian Limited, New York / Bath. 

TLIG website. 1993. Vassula experiences the Passion of Jesus.  http://www.tlig.pl/pl/spirituality/passion/index.html 

VASSULA. 1990. La Vraie Vie en Dieu – Volume 1.Editions O.E.I.L., Paris. 

VASSULA RYDEN Website. True Life in God Messages. http://www.vassularyden.com/messages.php

 

7. Catholic and Orthodox Churches highly critical of Vassula

CHIEF SECRETARIAT OF THE HOLY AND SACRED SYNOD of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. 2011. Announcement on Vassula Ryden by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. 16 March 2011. http://www.ec-patr.org/docdisplay.php?lang=en&id=1306&tla=gr Published on the website of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. English translation available at the Mystagogy webloghttp://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/03/announcement-on-vassula-ryden-by.html.

LEVADA, William. 2007. Circular Letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences regarding the writings and activities of Mrs. Vassula Rydén. Dated 25 January 2007. Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070125_vassula-ryden_en.html

PIO, Maria Laura. 2011. Vassula had been the object of a prohibition to receive the Eucharist a year before the Patriarchate's announcement. July 2011. Published on the Pseudomystica website: http://www.pseudomystica.info/rhodesmetrop.htm

PSEUDOMYSTICA website. Some Statements from Orthodox authorities regarding Vassula Rydén's True Life in God messages. http://www.pseudomystica.info/tliggreekorthodox.htm

PSEUDOMYSTICA website. Theologians and bishops warn the faithful. http://www.pseudomystica.info/tligtheologians.htm

RATZINGER, Joseph. BERTONE, Tarcisio. 1995. Notification. In L'Osservatore Romano, English edition. No.43, 25 October 1995. p.12.http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19951006_ryden_en.html