Book Thoughts: Direction For Our Times: Volumes One to Ten

Direction For Our Times is a new Catholic charity and movement based around a woman named Anne. Basically, Anne claimed to have been receiving words directly from Jesus for many years. He told her to write down the words to help others. At first she ignored the words because she was a sickly person trying to raise a family and didn’t think she could handle more obligations. She has had health problems most of her life. It is hard to do work when not feeling well. After enough insistence from Jesus though, she started writing the words down. At some point she approached her local priest with her story and writings. The priest believed her writings could be inspired and referred her to the bishop. After examining her writings, the bishop considered them in line with Church teaching and stamped the imprimatur on the texts.

Note that “in line with Church teaching” is not the same thing as verifying that the writings were inspired by Jesus. The imprimatur is a special designation that only means a text is free from errors in faith and morals. It says nothing about whether the writings were inspired. Investigations into potentially supernatural events are handled by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in Vatican. The bishop submitted the writings to them, but they tend to take years to investigate these matters. It will be unknown whether Anne’s writings were inspired (of divine origin) or not for years.

Anne’s claim of Jesus speaking to her The Catholic Church calls private revelation. It is revelation that someone claims to have been inspired with but is unverifiable. There are no miracles witnessed by anyone to prove what the person claims is true. I’m generally skeptical of private revelation. The mind on its own can create pleasing thoughts that may appear to have divine origin. Additionally, the devil can plant fake thoughts in a person’s mind to distract them.

Our pastor gave the first two volumes to all parishioners, and I found the rest for free from the movement’s website. Our pastor didn’t mention anything about Anne’s claims, but I think he should have. I agree with the bishop that the writings have no errors in faith and morals, but I also wouldn’t want to lead parishioners into thinking the writings were inspired by Jesus. Some might then treat them as a sacred work like the Bible. Even if the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith found them to be inspired, they still would not be on the same level as the Bible. While “inspired” is used in both cases, the Church only calls Catholics to believe in Sacred Scripture, not all the many inspired writings that have been released over the years. Catholics can reinforce their faith by reading these inspired writings, but they don’t have to believe them as truth.

Instead of treating the writings as words straight from Jesus, I thought of them as good advice from a fellow devout Catholic. They are what Jesus could say to us people living in this modern world if He was here in the flesh. Readers should treat them as fiction. There’s nothing wrong with that. I recently read The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. It’s fiction, but I also think it had many good things in it. Anyone who reads these books should not be making drastic life changes based on Anne’s writings.  It’s far too early to be doing that. Wait for the Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith to issue a report. They generally don’t release their findings to the public, but they will if there is a sizable interest from the Church faithful.

As for Direction For Our Times itself, the writings are mostly written in the form of diary entries. Every few days, Jesus spoke to Anne, and she wrote it down. Some entries were messages from Mary. Most of these writings were compiled in volumes. There were ten volumes released in total. In addition to the volumes, several short books were released based on other words Anne received on specific topics like raising children. My thoughts here are only for the ten volumes. I would like to do a more thorough analysis of each volume, but that is far in the future if I have the time and the interest.

I liked many of the messages in these books. Anne (or Jesus) gave me a different insight into various things. For example, I knew that suffering in humans could do great good in the world. God, of course, doesn’t want us to suffer, but he allows it because he knows that good can come from it. In this book, however, Anne would pray for someone she wanted to be helped and later endure suffering. When she asked Jesus why she suffered, He said it was to help the person she had prayed for. When I offer my suffering, I assume Jesus uses it for whoever needs it. Maybe it is for the people I pray for, but I am not able to talk to Jesus. I don’t know if my suffering is helping those I pray for or other strangers that need help.

This is where verification from the Church would be nice. What Anne (or Jesus) says is plausible, but I can’t believe it yet. I believe it is a possibility, but there could be many other possibilities. It could be that suffering only helps those in purgatory, not anyone that still lives on earth. The Church doesn’t say one way or another, so we can generally form our own beliefs here.

Despite the lack of assurance, I still found the writings to be interesting. I really would like to do a more deeper analysis some day. I do worry about those people that will fall for anything they read. I fear people will read these books and maybe start claiming they are also hearing Jesus speak to them clearly in English. Some of them might just confuse themselves, but others might try to take advantage of others like demanding lots of money to ask Jesus questions. Hopefully, we will know the truth soon.

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