Shepherds of Christ
Rita Ring, Clearwater, Florida
Rita Ring, the wife of a successful businessman, led a comfortable middle class life, had four children, and taught mathematics at the University of Cincinnati. Promoters take care to add that her family included many nuns and priests.
In 1991, after experiencing personal problems, Rita asked repeatedly in front of the tabernacle what she should be doing. After eighteen months, Rita heard the words, “Feed My Lambs.” She soon found out that “feeding” meant getting letters from Jesus out to his people, which he would dictate during the night as fast as she could transcribe them onto paper. Rita soon received word to get the messages published and sought help from a priest, Father Leroy Smith, at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Ohio.
According to Shepherds of Christ website, all messages were originally discerned for theological errors by Father Edward J. Carter, S.J., Professor of Theology at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, who was the spiritual director for Shepherds of Christ Ministries until his death in December 2000. Father Carter wrote his own book of messages, entitled Tell My People: Messages from Jesus and Mary.
According to Father Carter, Jesus requested that a new prayer movement be started under the direction of Shepherds of Christ Ministries that would be coordinated by Rita Ring, so his evaluation was not impartial. Jesus also requested the distribution of numerous books, cassettes and video tapes, and personally sent out a request that donations be given to Rita Ring and Father Carter. Since Father Carter’s death, the websites states that a Catholic priest discerns all messages for moral and theological errors, without mentioning any names.
Rita Ring’s messages have been compiled into God’s Blue Book. Volume one is called “Teachings to Lift You Up,” which features a hot air balloon on the cover. It claims to be a “cookbook for an intimate relationship with Jesus.” The second volume, “The Fire of His Love,” depicts a bleeding heart burning in a bonfire of flames. A message from Jesus on the back cover explains that this “Blue Book” is a “recipe book” for union, which involves a willingness to let him possess your soul. The third volume, “Love God, Love One Another,” although its cover portrays a traditional painting of the Sacred Heart, continues the cookbook theme with a prayer that states, “I am Yours to possess, I am Yours to use…. Help me to spoon out all that is me and be an empty vessel ready to be filled by You.” The prayer implores that Jesus “operate” one’s very being. The prayer seems to have been composed in response to Jesus’ request, given on November 15, 1993, that all should “Pray to be used. Pray to be possessed by Me. It is I, then, Who act from you…. The remedy is to let me possess your soul.”
As a sign to America that we must listen to Rita Ring’s messages, a glistening image of Mary appeared on the Clearwater Image Building. The image materialized on the glass windows of the former bank building on December 17, 1996, the same day Rita’s book, Rosaries from the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, was to arrive in Cincinnati from the publisher. The image appeared in the same rainbow colors the Virgin had requested for the cover of the book. Jesus decried the fact that there was no local or national media coverage to draw people to this image, which did not last long. On March 2, 2004, it was reported in The Saint Petersburg Times that this “sacred Virgin,” under which one couple sat nearly every day for eight years, had been “beheaded” when the three windows that once held her face and veil were broken.
God’s Blue Book is filled with wordy, repetitive, and extremely odd language. There are no references to the Catholic Church or the sacraments, only constant admonitions to trust the entity and spread the messages. For example, on June 17, 1993, Jesus told Rita: “I am puttering you about. You go as a little doll that is wound up. Does this little doll get anxious? Does it get tired? It just stops when the power is off. It isn’t mad. It doesn’t worry about food and who will wind it up. Nobody else matters. He just goes and does his thing when he is wound up. Otherwise he is motionless and sits and waits. Sit and wait on the Lord and I will grant your heart’s request. You are powered by Me.” The following month, responding to the negativity expressed by others, Jesus told Rita, “Snap out of it…. They do not matter, My child. I am running the show. I could stop this whole world at this moment if I so desired. I am licking your wounds with My divine healing.”
Equally bizarre is the message of September 16, 1993: “My child, I am here in all this muck. Yes, you are tried and I spit you out. You know Who has the power…. People think they have power. Oh, they believe they are in charge. There is no power except through Me. If I choose to forget you, you cease to be. Cling to this power. Cling to Me as you follow the celebrity or the king or the Pope…. You must stay fixed to Me like glue, child…. You think you have control of your life. You silly, silly children—what control?… You mess things up and them come to pray. What is in your heads?… You have to break the code. It is here. I make it known to you…. Come to Me, beloved little ones, and I will set your toes on the right road…. And I will be there telling you all you need to know.”
According to the Shepherds of Christ website, Mary requested that the daily message be given to the world. It is read nightly at the prayer service from her Image Building in Clearwater and is published at 11:00 p.m. Eastern time. Mary also requested that these messages and lessons become a part of one’s daily life. Followers are instructed to read and discuss them at dinner, while riding in the car, and at gatherings with family and friends. They are to tell all their friends about this “great gift from God the Father.”
One of the victims of Rita Ring’s group described her experiences in a series of emails posted on Unity Publishing’s website, intended to save others from the destruction she experienced. This woman calls Rita Ring and her followers a “satanic cult” based on the goddess Sophia, all “cleverly clothed in the language of the Church.” She wrote a letter to Father Carter in which she claims she was deprived of her income and benefits from her employment because she was led to believe that the messages supposedly given to Father Carter and Rita Ring were God’s will for her. She calls it a form of mind control by masters of deceit. According to her testimony, when Our Lady of the Spirit Center became part of the big Medjugorje industry, so much money came in that they were able to completely renovate the old seminary from which they were operating.
The victim describes appearances of Our Lady of Light at midnight, which she refers to as a cult to Lucifer, removing meditation from recitation of the rosary, heavy surveillance and the use of fear tactics and distorting Sacred Scripture. Many have fallen prey because of the signs and wonders, the element of magic which they mistake for miracles from God. She believes the fruits of Medjugorje, Garabandal and their offshoots have been evil, an effective form of deception intended to delude the world into worshipping Satan.
Followers had to say words every hour in a certain way in order to protect themselves from Satan, which she called “superstitious practices to ward off evil” rather than prayers. She talks about the spirit of pride and elitism that dominates such groups, and believes that Satan is trying to make it look like God is evil since he cannot destroy the work of God. He is “strutting before the Holy Eucharist to insult God,” recruiting many seers across the world to read his words of blasphemy in the presence of the Holy Eucharist. Many followers were also involved with Luisa Piccarreta’s Kingdom of the Divine Will, Medjugorje and Father Gobbi.
The former victim, now in therapy, describes mind control techniques used to place those in such cults above official Church authority. The laity were continually being elevated from associates, to shepherds, to apostles, and finally to saints. Under the guise of renewing the Church and leading the world to a more intimate relationship with Jesus, Rita’s apostles targeted priests, parishes, schools, and families. There was talk about the bank building being the permanent sign, but if so, she believes that it is a permanent sign of greed, “the true meaning of all this insane stuff.”
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