In my humble and pious opinion as a faithful Roman Catholic theologian, the claim that the messages to the woman who calls herself “Anne, a lay apostle” are private revelation is trustworthy and reliable.
A list of reasons and examples follows.
1. Withholding her real name
This woman does not give her last name or her address. The first name that she uses, “Anne,” is given in quotation marks, implying that this is not her real first name. The reason for this anonymity is given in the following message:
The Virgin Mary, April 16, 2005: “I want you to retain your private life as a mother and wife. In order for this to be possible, souls must obey my instructions. Anne, you will speak for Jesus and represent this mission. When you are speaking, you are Anne. When you are working for this mission, you are Anne. When you are serving your family at home or away from home, you are a mother and wife and you belong to your family. Souls must be respectful of this because your vocation must be protected. If the situation arose that you were serving this mission and your family was suffering, we would take you from the mission. You have a heavenly duty, Anne, so please advise souls to be respectful. You will bring great graces to others but only through obedience to heaven. I will help you with each situation but we are serious about this distinction of service. Your family will not suffer. I am personally appealing to each soul to respect this woman's anonymity.”
This request to remain anonymous is not typical of true private revelation. However, it is also not contrary to faith or morals. The reason given clearly places the role of mother and wife above that of lay apostle, which shows the correct order of priorities for a married woman and mother. Therefore, this is not an indication of false private revelation.
Update added January 5, 2007: More information is now available about Anne. Her diocese is that of Kilmore, Ireland, and her Bishop is Bishop Leo O'Reilly.
2. Using the title 'a Lay Apostle'
It is true that all faithful disciples of Christ can properly be considered as apostles, each in their own way. And the messages do not use the word 'apostle' about Anne in any way that would exalt her above other disciples of Christ. All who answer the call are considered as 'little apostles,' (message of April 19, 2005), and Anne is called 'lay apostle' and 'little soul' in the messages.
But my criticism is that, in using this phrase with capital letters after her name on the cover of the volumes, it appears at first glace that she is given some type of special role above that of other disciples, above that of even the Bishops. Upon reading the messages, clearly, such is not the case. But the appearance of self-exaltation might push away some readers. Perhaps the cover should say: 'As given to Anne: a wife, mother, and lay apostle.'
[Note: the editor of the Directions for Our Times web site informed me that it was the publishing company that decided to capitalize 'Lay Apostle' and that Anne was not comfortable with that decision. Also, I was informed on 03/17/2007 that in the revised editions (2006) of Volume One and Volume Two, as well as the books "Climbing the Mountain" (2005) and "Mist of Mercy" (2006), "lay apostle" is not capitalized.]
3. No moral or doctrinal errors.
I have read through numerous messages from selected volumes by Anne, I find no moral or doctrinal errors. I find nothing that contradicts or undermines any teaching of the Church. In fact, the messages express a good understanding of moral and doctrinal theology.
Update added January 5, 2007: The Bishop of the diocese (Bishop Leo O'Reilly; Kilmore, Ireland) has assigned a priest as spiritual director over Anne and Directions for Our Times. This implies some degree of approval from the Bishop for these messages.
Update added January 10, 2007: quoted from an e-mail from the Fr Paul Casey, the Diocesan Secretary of Kilmore:
The bishop of Kilmore has given permission for the publication of these messages on the basis that there is nothing in them that is contrary to faith or morals, and much that is positive and nourishing for the faith. The messages have not received the impriimatur. They have been submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for examination.
The Bishop has not given any kind of definitive approval of this claimed private revelation, perhaps partly because it is still on-going. However, he obviously has a favorable view of them.
4. Helpful advice and insightful theology
The exhortations and advice in these messages are both profound and subtle in their moral and theological insights. This is one common characteristic of true private revelation. When Jesus and Mary speak to us, they cannot refrain from truly helpful advice, nor can they hide their truly profound understanding of the faith. And such is the case with these messages.
I did not find one of the more common characteristics of false private revelation, that of long, rambling, and ultimately unhelpful exhortations to holiness. False messages talk about holiness, but give no real or substantial advice, other than repeating a few basic tenets of the faith, such as prayer and the Sacraments.
5. No eschatological errors.
There are no clearly false statements about the future. There appear to be no errors of eschatological theology, not even subtle ones. In truth, not much is said in these messages about the future. The FAQ contains this note (not a message of private revelation):
Is the end of the world coming soon? Is Jesus really returning to the earth now?
Nowhere in His messages does Jesus say the world is ending soon. He does, however, say He is returning to the earth “now.” That does not necessarily mean a return in the sense that we will see him physically descending on a cloud in the near future. As souls convert to God, Jesus returns to the earth one soul at a time, a process that eventually lifts the darkness. The question of when He physically returns is as unknown to us as it was to the original Apostles. His advice, as you recall from the Scriptures, is to be “always watchful.”
In eschatological discourse, statements that Christ is returning 'soon' should not be interpreted to mean that He is returning within a few years, nor a few decades. The next to last verse of the Book of Revelation states that Christ is returning soon, but it has been nearly 2,000 years since that statement was written.
I can find no message that explicitly states that Christ is returning “now.” I believe that the editor of the FAQ has rephrased what the message said. The following messages refer to the Return of Christ.
June 1, 2005: “Be joyful servants of your Returning King and you will see great changes in your world.”
December 1, 2004: “I send graces down upon your world. Indeed, at this time, I begin to flood the world with heavenly graces that will heal souls and convert hearts. Dear children of the one true God, your Saviour prepares to return. I want each one of you to welcome My return to the world. In order to do that, you must quiet your heart and accept the gift of My divine grace. I hold the greatest acceptance and forgiveness for you all. My heart bursts with the love I have for you all. And I am returning to reclaim you all. Children of heaven, feel My joy. The time of desolation for souls is at end. I am returning.”
These expressions, which say that Christ is returning, are not unusual in Catholic eschatology. The Return of Christ is, in one sense, an event that occurs on a particular day (the exact day is unknown to us on earth). However, it is also correct to say that the Return of Christ is prepared for by our actions and by various events, so that it can be seen as a process occurring over many centuries, culminating in that one day of His Return.
Christ's return to the world is also properly understood metaphorically, in that, as the faithful return to Him, they bring Christ to the world.
False private revelations almost always make erroneous claims about the future of the Church and the world. No such false claims are found in these messages.
6. Other characteristics of false private revelation are absent.
There are no self-exalting claims made by Anne or her messages. There are no distorted teachings about the Antichrist. The messages do not exalt or overly-emphasize evil or the devil. There are no long diatribes in a threatening and merciless tone. There is no worldly language, nor an over-emphasis on current worldly events. There are no vague and rambling predictions of future afflictions.
In general, the tone of the messages is calm, peaceful, merciful, forgiving, and loving, with helpful, gentle correction and advice. Such a tone is entirely in keeping with the Message of the Gospel.
These messages do not contain any of the characteristics of false private revelation. In truth, they show every indication of being true private revelations from God. These messages are entirely in keeping with the messages found in the Gospel. In my humble and pious opinion as a faithful Roman Catholic theologian, the claims of private revelation to Anne, a wife, mother, and lay apostle, are reliable and trustworthy.
by Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Oct. 18, 2005