NOVEMBER 28, 2012
Vassula Ryden – dealing with a “Living Saint” that ain’t
By Constance Cumbey, May 25, 2006
My dear friend, Liz Collins, left this world in late spring, 2005. While she was living, she was one of my strongest supporters on New Age Movement issues. Liz and Bob Collins were devout Catholics and Liz was deeply concerned about New Age infiltration of the Roman Catholic Church. I probably could have written several more books in the time that Liz took me places to put out individual fires at local Catholic institutions. I was always afraid that I would end up being arrested as I accompanied Liz who would ask a seemingly naïve question of the New Age presenter and be put down as unschooled in theology. Of course, I would always get up thereafter and give them a sophisticated piece of my mind before we both left. I would feel bad about the approach, had not so many approached me in later years and thanked me for being there and saying what I did. “You said exactly what I needed to hear,” said one woman who had been an enthusiastic devotee of the Matthew Fox/Thomas Stanks line before coming to see it for what it was — a soul trap. Liz was a former Pan American Airlines hostess, was fluent in both English and German, and had a degree in home economics. She flew Pan American’s international skies in the 50’s before she and Bob married and raised their six beautiful children.
Liz expressed frequent concerns to me about an alleged new “saint”, an alleged Greek Orthodox, Vassula Ryden, a “former Sheraton Hotel model, former tennis champion of Bangladesh and fluent in four languages”, one of which was Arabic. She claimed Jesus was frequently giving her direct messages.
Now I have to tell you that practicing law in the metropolitan Detroit area, there is no second language more useful than Arabic. The little I know, I speak VERY WELL and I can read and write a smattering of it. If I were to have a full-immersion experience, I’m sure I could be fully functional in it in very little time. It was a Jewish attorney who gave me the key to unlocking it. Elliot Perlman said to me, “the key to learning Arabic is its alphabet. Unlike English, it is pronounced exactly as written. There are only 28 letters in that alphabet and it is strictly phonetic.” I had a client, from Egypt, who knew no English. At that time (1990), I knew no Arabic. We both knew one extremely helpful French phrase, “qu’est-ce que c’est?” (“What is that?”) Through that he introduced me to Arabic and I introduced him to English equivalents. The handy-dandy language tapes helped with a good share of the rest, as well as my various Arabic clients who were thrilled to help me discover their language which to my delight was arranged in logical clusters. I practiced it every chance I got, which was often given Detroit’s large Arabic population.
Now, about the time that I was practicing this and trying it out on my English speaking friends, including Liz and Bob Collins, Liz approached me with news that Orchard Lake Seminary was bringing Vassula Ryden to town. Liz and friend Tom McGlynn were concerned that there might be New Age aspects to her work. I was busy practicing law and didn’t want to take the time to look. Liz and Tom prepared a flyer based on their own studies and placed flyers on cars at Orchard Lake Seminary the night Vassula was speaking, also, as I recall sometime in the earlier 1990’s.
Liz called me with the disturbing news that she had almost been arrested, but the organizers of Vassula’s talk had invited Liz to their Lathrup Village home to personally meet Vassula.
Liz Collins and Tom McGlynn naturally wanted me to be part of that expedition. I wasn’t so sure. For one thing, it was to happen on a Saturday – my day off – the day I tried to forget I had ever been an attorney and just take care of things at home – the day that has saved my sanity for the past 17 years. I finally, however, reluctantly agreed to go.
The day was a very cold and wet rainy April one. I met Liz and Tom at a now closed restaurant called Vassili’s.
We had pre-meeting talks and took one car from there to the Vassula Ryden gathering. I was not happy about my day off being disturbed for anything short of the Second Coming itself. I griped openly, “Vassula Ryden says she can speak Arabic. I’ve got a good notion to speak to her in Arabic. If she doesn’t understand me, you don’t have to worry about the authenticity of her spirituality – she’s a garden variety fraud!”
We walked into the lovely and spacious Lathrup Village home. The “Saint” was wearing slacks and had straight long light brown hair. She professionally shook hands with all who entered in a reception line type setting. Liz shook her hand and waited for me. Tom McGlynn then shook her hand and waited for me. It was my turn. I used the Arabic phrase for “I’m very pleased to meet you.” Immediately, Vassula Ryden said, “What language is that?” I did an aside to Tom and Liz and said, “She doesn’t know what language I’m speaking.” I used increasingly common phrases in any Arabic dialect (trust me, we have them all in this metropolitan Detroit region). Finally, I said one of the most common of all which transliterates something like “Sabbah al’hier” (good morning). Vassula said to me, “you’re driving me crazy – what language is that?”
I said, “You don’t know.” “No,” she replied. “Arabic,” I said.
A clearly taken by surprise Vassula Ryden said, “My friend over there speaks Arabic. She can tell me if you’re speaking Arabic or not.” I said to her, “Well, I thought from all your advance publicity that you’d be able to tell me that for yourself.” She repeated, “My friend speaks Arabic, she can tell me if you’re speaking Arabic or not.”
I dutifully went to her friend who was standing very near by and undoubtedly heard our conversation. As I recall her name may have been called “Mrs. Mansour”. I greeted her and then introduced myself in Arabic, told her where I was from, what my occupation was and where I was currently living. She turned to Vassula and said, “Yes, she is speaking Arabic.”
I went into the living room where her faithful were gathered along with us three skeptics. A sweet old priest who was familiar with my work against the New Age Movement greeted me and said he had gotten his sister out of the New Age Movement, thanks in part to my books and thanks in part to the writings of Vassula Ryden. I said to him in the least abrupt way I could, “The New Age Movement can take many forms.” I then asked Vassula Ryden, “What United Nations agency employs your husband?” She said, “Are you interrogating me?” I said, “I guess you could say that.” She said, “Well, I’m not going to tell you.” I said, “Yes, and you speak fluent Arabic too.” She said, “I couldn’t understand your dialect.” I told her I was speaking the dialect she claimed to know, pure Egyptian Arabic.
I denounced her as a fraud and left. The story of the confrontation quickly made the local circuits. My friends claim I was mumbling as I left (not sure I remember), “I wonder why God let me learn Arabic so easily – I had so much trouble with college French.”
A few years later (1994) I had the privilege of meeting author E. Michael Jones. He had interestingly noted the problems with Vassula Ryden in his book on the Medjugorje claimed apparitions. He noted the obvious theological errors and said that Mrs. Mansour, who may well have been the same lady I earlier met in Lathrup Village, said that the errors may have existed because Arabic was Vassula Ryden’s primary language and “that perhaps in the transliteration . . .” I told E. Michael Jones what I had learned – from my observation, Vassula Ryden did not know as much as a word of Arabic.
Liz’ husband, Bob Collins, said, “You should have challenged her to a game of tennis, too” (referring to her claims that she was a former tennis champion for the nation of Bangladesh.)
I guess being a saint and selling lots of books to the faithful is good retirement work for aging Sheraton Hotel models. Frankly, I would invest my heavenly aspiration resources elsewhere than in Vassula Ryden books. I looked at her website this morning and saw that she claims the present pope is rethinking the position he took on her when he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was right the first time and I hope he stands firm!
Constance Cumbey is the author of the first major critical book about the New Age Movement, THE HIDDEN DANGERS OF THE RAINBOW: The New Age Movement and our Coming Age of Barbarism (1983); A PLANNED DECEPTION: The Staging of a New Age Messiah (1986).
Subject: Keep up your good work
I was so very happy to learn about your excellent work warning about the errors of the New Age Movement.
CONSTANCE E. CUMBEY
MORE POSTS FROM CONSTANCE CUMBEY ON HER BLOG:
[What do you think her motivation was? Anonymous]
The motivation as I see it was probably M-O-N-E-Y — for herself and for her sponsors, the Mansours. And, I forgot to mention, in that same conversation, I asked her if she had the opportunity to read the Bible and she told me that Jesus told her not to read it. I doubt very much that Jesus would say that, but the lead player on the other team would enthusiastically support that non-reading of Scripture! Constance Cumbey
Speaking of syncretism, New Age, and New World Religion, check out the interreligious section of Vassula Ryden’s website. Here are choice entries:
The Peace Gold Award 2003
Vassula receives the “Atisha Dipankar & Visuddhananda Peace Gold Award” on Feb. 26th, 2003 in Bangladesh.
Inter-Religious Speech by Vassula
Delivered at the Bouddha Kristi Prachar Sangha at Dharmarjika (Buddhist Monastery) on February 23, 2003.
Vassula in Bangladesh, 21-25 May 2002
An account of this 4-day trip where Vassula speaks to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.
Meeting in Benin, Africa with Voodoo Chiefs
Heads of various traditions, mainly voodoo, invited to hear Vassula speak at this meeting.
Meeting at a Buddhist Temple in Hiroshima
An account of this meeting on Aug. 4, 1999.
I suppose she will say she went to all these places to “evangelize” — but then again with her claims that Jesus told her not to read the Bible. Constance Cumbey
If indeed she had ANY APPARITION. She also falsely claimed to know Arabic. She may be a talented fiction writer who used Course in Miracles or something similar as a template. She claims to take nothing from her writings or travels. I’m sorry, I don’t believe it — how are her travels financed?
Some problems with Vassula from a Catholic perspective may be found at this site:
Quote from TLIG: “Come, pray, fast, read My Word, receive Me in Holy Communion, pray the Rosary, adore Me” (TLIG Aug. 24, 1989) Read My Word, means read Scriptures! So, Jesus NEVER told Vassula not to read the Bible, He told her TO Read Scripture Daily!!
“I tell you solemnly, that I desire prayers coming from the heart; I desire you to pray for all the bishops and priests, I desire you to listen to all the teachings of those who represent Me; I desire you to fast and do penitence; I desire you to receive My Holy Eucharist as often as you can; I desire you to go to Confession at least once a month; I desire you to read daily a part out of Scriptures, I desire you to repair for others by sacrificing, I desire them to pray the Rosary and if possible all three Mysteries” (TLIG Feb. 9, 1990)
You may want to get your facts straight before you slandering people! Anonymous
I had it from Vassula’s lips directly — there was no reading scripture daily from her mouth then — instead, after being confronted with the lies about her language ability, she added that supplementally. In my opinion, she is a garden variety fraud and an excellent actress, but poor at explaining her inconsistencies.
I reported truthfully on Vassula, and Tom McGlynn whose daughter is a nun with a well respected order in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is still alive and well to attest to what happened that day. Liz Collins died in 2005. Constance Cumbey
VASSULA RYDEN-PROBLEMS WITH ROME BUT WELCOME IN INDIA
VASSULA RYDEN-THE REASONS FOR THE CHURCH’S NEGATIVE REACTION
VASSULA RYDEN-FR MITCH PACWA
VASSULA RYDEN-MARK WATERINCKX
VASSULA RYDEN-A CRITIQUE-DIALOGUE CENTRE INTERNATIONAL
VASSULA RYDEN-FR FRANCOIS MARIE DERMINE
Categories: False Mystics