90. Popular piety has always been interested in extraordinary happenings and events that are not infrequently connected with private revelations. While not confined to Marian piety alone, this phenomenon is particularly involved with “apparitions” and “messages”. In this regard, it is useful to recall what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about private revelation: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called private revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church” (n. 67)*.
*On this question see J. Ratzinger, Commento teologico, in CONGREGAZIONE PER LA DOTTRINA DELLA FEDE, Il messaggio di Fatima, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 2000, pp. 32-44
What are we to make of the burgeoning instances of believers claiming special revelation? Medjugorje seeings, as a prominent example, have been going on for decades. They develop great enthusiasm that doesn’t ever seem to be matched by liturgy, or the ho-hum experiences of day-to-day Christianity. What sort of inspiration are people seeking? Why do these private revelations have such attraction? What is missing in the rest of the Christian spiritual and religious experience?
The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.