It all began with the stroke of a pencil. Vassula Rydén, an ordinary, rather attractive woman aged forty-three began another day’s work on 28 November 1985. She was no different from any of the other women expatriates in Third World countries who try to alleviate the tedium of their exile with a social life devoted to tennis, bridge, and receptions; she rarely thought about God. However, while she was writing a grocery list, she suddenly experienced a light electrical feeling in her right hand and at the same time an invisible presence. She felt led by this presence, and permitting her hand to be guided, before she knew it she wrote a line in a very different style than her own with the words, "I am your guardian Angel and my name is Daniel." Using her hand her Angel drew a heart, and starting at the center of the heart he drew a rose.
This experience was the beginning of the conversations between Vassula and Daniel who gave her what she describes as "a crash-course in Christian doctrine." A few weeks later Christ himself started communicating with her, teaching her how to pray and how to love God. Before this miraculous manifestation God rarely crossed her mind. Now her life has turned into an unceasing prayer.
Since the beginning of these prophetic revelations, Vassula has written down ten thick volumes of conversations with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, as well as with the Virgin Mary and the Archangel Michael. The books, entitled True Life in God, have been translated into thirty-seven languages since 1991 and have become bestsellers. Vassula does not receive any royalties from her books, but if she did, with all rights, she would be a millionaire by now. In Brazil, where an estimated half million copies of her books have been translated and distributed by a priest and two nuns in Portugal, running their own printing press at night, Vassula has drawn crowds as large as 30,000. Her meetings have attracted similar audiences in India and the Phillipines.
Archbishop Franic of Split, for years the head of the Yugoslav Catholic Bishop’s Conference and an expert on mystical phenomena, calls Vassula "one of the greatest mystics of our times" (Trinitas press release). He is just one of many theologians and Church leaders who cannot understand how a normal woman who has never received any theological training can write down messages whose beauty and profundity are held to reach the peaks of spiritual writing in our century. Theologians have published altogether thirty different books highlighting the importance of her mission. In their eyes, her experience mirrors to a remarkable extent the pattern of accepted Christian prophecy.
Vassula’s baffling experience raises many questions. Does the Almighty God reach down to earth and speak to human beings today? Would He not thereby cheapen his divine works? Is it possible that He—the Creator of all things, the inaccessible light—would lower Himself, step down from His throne and speak words in modern English to modern man? Thousands of Christians consider this to be the case. They believe that He did not only speak to Abraham and Moses in the time of the Old Testament but has revealed Himself throughout the Christian era, appearing to be at work today more than ever before. In fact, theologians speak of a proliferation of prophetic manifestations in our times. Some believe that the approach of the Second Millenium gives man reasons to reflect upon where he is heading; they see this as the reason for the proliferation, as something similar happened at the end of the First Millenium. Others see the prophetic increase as an expression of God’s saving help in a time of money and technology that sociologists have called the post-religious era, a time when religious meaning seems threatened to the point of extermination and Christianity challenged by rationalism.
Vassula was born in a desert. Her parents were part of the Greek community in the town of Hiliopolis in Egypt, and Vassula was baptized in the Greek-Orthodox Church. Early in her life the family moved to Switzerland. Her husband’s work brought the couple from one Third World country to another and finally to Switzerland where they have lived for eight years. Vassula has two sons, both of whom have left home, one for work and one for college.
When the revelations began the family was living in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. "My only responsibilities were the occasional cocktail parties I had to arrange for my husband," Vassula says. "Otherwise I was living a rather placid and privileged life which I filled with tennis and painting, my two favorite occupations. Whenever you wanted to find me, the place to call would be the tennis club, where I spent most of my time." Vassula won the doubles finals of the Bangladesh national championship. Also, her paintings were becoming quite famous. She won a competition with a portrait of the last emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, which was transformed into a postal stamp that was printed in nineteen denominations. "I loved my family, my friends and had no worries, no sorrows, nothing that moved me to reflect deeply about life or about religion," she continues. "I did not speak to my children about God, nor did I speak against him. I was as many people are today—indifferent. Religion was just not important to me. Thus, when I had the first revelation of my Angel, I was totally unprepared. I took the experience with great joy and considered it a pearl which I revealed only to my closest family and friends. They immediately believed me; they knew I was not crazy."
Vassula realized that what had happened to her was unique, and she did not know where her angel would lead her. She was unaware that many people in the history of Christendom had visits from God or from angels, and so she agreed with the opinion of her ten year-old son Fabian when he said, "Mum, you must be the first person God is speaking to since Abraham!" She was soon to learn that this was not quite the case. In fact, Christians, especially Catholics, believe that God has spoken many times throughout the ages to chosen souls.
Prophets receive their authority directly from God but it never seems to go unchallenged.
Prophetic words believed to originate from God himself cut to the heart of the present situation in which revealed truth is often dismissed as politically incorrect. God infuses a light into the intellect of the prophet that enables him or her to see the truth of the present situation more profoundly than others. This light may as well lay out and illuminate the future, disclosing what is to come. But prophecy is about more than fortune telling. If the prophet foretells future events it is not in order to satisfy human curiosity but rather "so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them," as Jesus tells his disciples (John 16:4). The prophet through visions experiences the word of God. When he repeats it to his contemporaries he presents it to be not his own word but a direct "Word of the Lord." This tradition of Prophecy goes through the entire Bible - both the Old and the New Testament. But what happens with the end of the last book of the Bible? Does God suddenly stop manifesting Himself and his omniscience? Does he pack his suitcase and take a long holiday until the day He will be "coming on the clouds of heaven" (Mk 14:62)? Or does He continue to reveal himself today whenever He finds it appropriate, just as He did throughout earlier history?
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