Can a born again Christian be a member of a cult and be involved in idol worship? I once thought this was an impossibility until it happened to me. Now I understand why Jesus warned us that, in the end times, there would be an appearance of great signs and miracles that would deceive even the elect, if possible. I confess I have been seduced by signs and miracles associated with apparitions of Mary, and I offer my testimony so others may be warned and delivered.
Until recently I was serving as Director of Public Relations for the Queen of Peace Center in Dallas, Texas. This non-profit organization disseminates information and messages from Marian apparitions in Medjugorje and around the world. I co-authored a full page ad that was published in the June 25, 1993, Dallas Morning News at a cost of $10,000. This add announced "Mary's" prescription for peace and listed locations of her recent appearances. It also listed phone numbers to call for up-to-day recorded messages of Mary's latest apparitions, such as the one in Dallas (214) 233-MARY. I once thought it was special to be the only non-Catholic on the Queen of Peace board . . . that is, until I met Mike Gendron and his wife, Jane.
A Divine Appointment
Neighbors and close friends of mine knew I was seriously contemplating becoming Roman Catholic. They told me that Mike had been a Roman Catholic for 37 years and was now a pastor at a non-denominational church in the Dallas area. They said he understood many of the issues involved in being Roman Catholic and could help me with my decision. I looked forward to meeting both Mike and his wife, not for my sake, but for theirs. I felt certain the information I had collected about "Our Lady's apparitions" in Medjugorje would surely lead them back home to the "true" (Roman Catholic) church. Providentially it appeared, I attended a Queen of Peace board meeting the night before we met and asked the board to pray for this lost pastor and his wife, who had fallen away. When I arrived at their door the next morning, I first introduced myself, before returning to my car for the large stack of books and newspapers I had brought to persuade them. The materials would help explain what was happening in Medjugorje and how the Virgin Mary would help change their lives.
Confronted by Contradictions
After we met, they showed me a film titled Catholicism: Crisis of Faith. This film lovingly and objectively contrasted how the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church contradicts the teachings of the Sacred Scriptures. Mike would stop the film after each segment for my questions and comments. Initially, I was argumentative and felt uneasy and rather adamant about what I was witnessing. Mike realized he had forgotten to pray before starting the film and asked if we could ask God to make His truth clear, and that all deception would be exposed. After the prayer my whole countenance changed.
Each question I asked, Mike validated his answers using Vatican II documents and an official Roman Catholic catechism. It was amazing to me how Roman Catholic teaching contradicts the very Word of God. Question after question, he would bring the Bible over to me and knell to show me verses in context. His servant's demeanor and patient, understanding heart helped in unraveling falsehood after falsehood. There wasn't a question I could have asked him that would have provoked anger. As a reflection of our Lord, this man allowed Jesus to pull the scales away from my eyes.
There were three things in the film and our discussion that were most alarming to me. First, a church in South America has Mary placed on a crucifix rather than Christ. It reminded me of my visit to Our Lady of Guadeloupe Cathedral in downtown Dallas where Mary is positioned as the focal point at the alter and the crucifix is placed in another part of the church. These two scenes made me realize idolatry is practiced within the church.
Second, the Roman Catholic Catechism by Rev. William Cogan, now in its 44th year of print, has altered the 10 commandments of God. The 2nd commandment given to Moses reads, "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or in the earth beneath or in the water under the earth" (Exodus 20:4). The Roman Catholics have deleted this commandment but still came up with ten by splitting the 10th one into two separate commands. "You shall not covet your neighbor's good; and you shall not covet your neighbor's wife" (Exodus 20:17). I was reminded of the scriptural warnings for those who add to or subtract from the Bible.
Third, Mike told me the only place in the Bible in which the queen of heaven was referred to was in the Book of Jeremiah. He encouraged me to study the passage and it would expose another false doctrine concerning Mary. Anyone who is familiar with the prayers and meditations of the rosary can tell you that in one of the mysteries Christ supposedly crowned Mary the queen of heaven after she was assumed into heaven. Neither of these events have scriptural validity, but I had decided to blindly accept these doctrines because all of the other meditations on the life of Christ were verified by Scripture.
The Queen of Heaven
After returning home, I looked in the Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible for the passage in Jeremiah 44. Here, the Lord was angered by the wickedness of the people choosing to serve other gods. The people refused to listen to the Lord. Instead, they would "burn sacrifices to the Queen of Heaven and pour out libations to her." The woman "made for her sacrificial cakes in her image and poured out libations to her?" (Jeremiah 44:17, 19).
In Hebrew the word for queen has reference to "the heavenly handiwork" or "the stars of heaven." The reference might be to Ishtar, the goddess of love and fertility, who is identified with the Venus Star and is actually entitled "Mistress of Heaven." (The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, p. 975)
My head was spinning and filled with questions after reading this. Doesn't Mary usually appear with stars for her crown? Who then is the woman in Revelation 12:3-6? And most importantly, why would the Roman Catholic Church give the mother of Jesus the title of a pagan goddess? Had I been promoting the ministry of a pagan goddess whose messages were inconsistent with the Bible? Indeed her messages do contradict the Bible. In fact, she speaks of another gospel, another plan of salvation that nullifies and opposes the all sufficient sacrifice of Jesus. The apparition of Fatima said, "You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go, so save them, God wishes to establish in the world, devotion to my Immaculate Heart." The apostle Paul condemned anyone, even an angel from heaven, who would dare preach a different way to be saved other than through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (Galatians 1:6-10).
As for the woman described in Revelation, she is not Mary, the mother of Jesus, but God's chosen people, the Jews. When the passage in chapter 12 is read in context with the rest of the book, and Genesis 37:9-10, this clearly refers to the nation Israel. God fulfills His promise to the Jews, by protecting them in the desert during 3 1/2 years of tribulation.
I later realized my prayers to Mary and the saints, the reciting of rosaries and chaplets of divine mercy, and the wearing of Marian medals and scapulars had taken my focus off of Jesus. I had allowed doctrines of the Roman Catholic church to do the very thing Saint Paul warned against, "But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." (2 Cor. 11:3).
An Angel of Light
Recently, a person whom I love dearly, and who has a "Marian devotion" asked me, "Why are you bothering the people who are already good people instead of worrying about those who are lost?" The answer came to me the other evening as the Lord continues to guide me through His sacred Word. Saint Paul wrote that "Satan masquerades as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14). We know the mother of Jesus would never oppose her Son, and since the apparitions do just that, they could very well be Satan masquerading as Mary. Saint Paul also wrote, "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them . . . everything exposed by the light becomes visible" (Ephesians 5:11-14). Therefore, I feel called to expose these attempts by the evil one to divert people's devotion away from Jesus. The most authoritative way to do this is with the light of God's Holy Word. My new test for truthfulness is -- if it does not agree with the Scriptures then it must be rejected.
Freedom in the Truth
Now that I have torn down the altar in my bedroom, where I knelt and prayed to St. Anthony of Padua each night, and now that I have placed my rosaries, scapular and medals away, I have found a new freedom. The truth really does set people free! I have found special peace in knowing Jesus alone is my Savior, and not co-redemptrix with His mother. The Holy Spirit continues to lead me into all truth and is now the only teacher I need (1 John 2:27).
To all my precious friends who I have encouraged to seek Mary and to obey the misleading messages of her apparitions, I pray these Scriptures would minister to you -- "And it came about while He said these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, 'Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts at which you nursed.' But He said, 'On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it." (Luke 11:27-28)
This article was submitted by a former Director for a "Mary, Queen of Peace Center."