Skip to comments.Apparitions True and False
Posted on 05/19/2005 7:22:44 AM PDT by murphE
As a prelude, I should state my own interest in Private Revelations. I have visited Paray-le-Monial (where Jesus showed His Sacred Heart to St Margaret Mary in the 17th century). I have visited Rue de Bac (where the Miraculous Medal was given to St Catherine Labouré in 1830). I have visited Lourdes, Knock, and Fatima; also the two Belgian towns where Our Lady appeared: Beauraing (1932-33) and Banneux (1933). I wear the Brown Scapular and the Miraculous Medal. I have conducted Holy Hours to celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy since 1993.
I think, from all this, you can see that I am not opposed to private revelations. But I am opposed to false revelations; I am opposed to dubious revelations; I am opposed to disapproved revelations; I am opposed to obsession with private revelations. I am opposed to all these things precisely because I do believe in genuine private revelations and their role in the life of the Church.
The abundance of alleged messages and revelations in the past forty years makes ever more necessary the traditional caution and discernment of spirits. Amid todays confusion and spiritual wasteland, many Catholics are seeking contact with the supernatural via new private revelations, regardless of whether or not they have been approved, or even whether or not they are in accordance with the Faith.
Private revelations occur
God may, and sometimes does, grant revelations to private individuals. Those who receive them, and are perfectly certain that they come from God, should believe them. But the Church never imposes on Catholics the obligation of believing anyones private revelations, even those of the great saints. The Church gives her approval to them only when she is satisfied after rigorous examination of their spiritual utility and of the evidence on which they depend.
The Catechism at #67 says: "Throughout the ages, there have been so-called private revelations, some of which have been recognised 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 Christs definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Christian faith cannot accept revelations that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfilment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such revelations." (See St Thomas, Summa II-II, q.174, art.6, ad 3).
Whom does the Catechism have in mind? Among others, Moslems and Mormons. Mohammed claimed that the Gospels misrepresent Christ, and Mormons believe there is a Third Testament.
Sources of revelations
There are three sources, ultimately, of revelations, visions, prodigies, and suchlike things: God, man, or the devil.
Under the heading of God, I include Gods holy creatures, such as Our Lady or another Saint or an angel.
Under man, I mean any human knowledge or skill or trickery or imagination or any human activity or machine or device causing anything to happen.
Under the devil, I include the devil himself or any one of the other demons.
The power of the devil
Very few people are aware of the devils full powers, and his ability to deceive. Many Catholics think that as soon as any prodigy occurs, it must be the work of God. But, as I said, messages and prodigies can issue from three sources ultimately: God, man, or the devil. It is the work of discernment to identify who is at work in a given case.
It is knowledge of diabolical trickery which makes the Church cautious here. My next part on the power of the demons is taken from Father Jordan Aumann, a Dominican priest, who taught for many years at the Angelicum University in Rome.
What the devils can and cannot do
The devils cannot do the following:
(1) Produce any kind of truly supernatural phenomenon;
(2) Create a substance, since only God can create;
(3) Bring a dead person back to life, although they could produce the illusion of doing so;
(4) Make truly prophetic predictions, since only God knows the future absolutely, and those to whom He chooses to reveal a portion of it. However, the devils intelligent conjecture about the future might appear to mere mortals a prophecy;
(5) Know the secrets of a persons mind and heart. However, their shrewd intelligence and observation may enable them to deduce many things about a person.
But the devils can do the following:
(1) Produce corporeal or imaginative visions;
(2) Falsify ecstasy;
(3) Instantaneously cure sicknesses that have been caused by diabolical influence;
(4) Produce the stigmata;
(5) Simulate miracles and the phenomena of levitation and bilocation;(6) Make people or objects seem to disappear by interfering with a persons sight or line of vision;
(7) Cause a person to hear sounds or voices;
(8) Cause a person to speak in tongues;
(9) Declare a fact which is hidden or distant.
Whatever nature or science can cause, the devils too are able to cause, according to what God may permit. See the Book of Exodus where the magicians and sorcerers of Pharaoh were able to accomplish some of the prodigies wrought by Moses and Aaron (Ex 7:11-12; 7:22; 8:7; 8:18-19; 9:11). Close to 200 A.D., Tertullian writes, "first of all, they [the demons] make you ill; then to get a miracle out of it, they prescribe remedies either completely novel, or contrary to those in use, and thereupon withdrawing hurtful influence, they are supposed to have wrought a cure." (Apology of the Christian religion, 22).
In the face of the fallen angels power to deceive, it is no wonder that the Church is always very slow to declare a miracle or message authentic.
The devil has superhuman intelligence and is very clever, and to pretend that you can definitively judge in favour of somethings authenticity, without help, is presumptuous.
To know if something is false, it suffices to know that it says something contrary to the teaching of the Church. Hence, it is easier to pronounce against visionaries than in their favour. But the mere absence of doctrinal error is not enough. There have to be other positive indications.
The following quotations are from the final chapter of the rock-solid book Spiritual Theology (Sheed & Ward 1980) by Dominican Father Jordan Aumann.
Signs of the divine spirit
"The following characteristics are general signs of the divine spirit:
1. Truth. God is truth and cannot inspire anything but truth in a soul. If a person believed to be inspired by God, therefore, maintains opinions that are manifestly against revealed truth, the infallible teaching of the Church, or proven theology or philosophy or science, it must be concluded that the individual is deluded by the devil or is the victim of excessive imagination or faulty reasoning.
2. Gravity. God is never the cause of things that are useless, futile, frivolous, or impertinent. When his spirit moves a soul it is always for something serious and beneficial.
3. Enlightenment. Although one may not always understand the meaning of an inspiration from God, the effect of any divine movement or impulse is always enlightenment and certitude rather than darkness and confusion. This is true both for the effects on the individual who receives the inspiration and its effects on others.
4. Docility. Souls that are moved by the spirit of God accept cheerfully the advice and counsel of their directors or others who have authority over them. This spirit of obedience, docility, and submission is one of the clearest signs that a particular inspiration or movement is from God. This is especially true in the case of the educated, who have a greater tendency to be attached to their own opinions.
5. Discretion. The spirit of God makes the soul discreet, prudent, and thoughtful in all its actions. There is nothing of precipitation, lightness, exaggeration, or impetuosity; all is well balanced, edifying, serious, and full of calmness and peace.
6. Humility. The Holy Spirit always fills the soul with sentiments of humility and self-effacement. The loftier the communications from on high, the more profoundly the soul inclines to the abyss of its own nothingness. Mary said, I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say (Lk 1:38).
7. Peace. St. Paul speaks frequently of the peace that comes from God (Rom 15:33, Phil 4:9), and Jesus mentions peace as one of the manifestations of his spirit (Jn 14:27). This is a quality that always accompanies communications from God; the soul experiences a profound and stable serenity in the depths of its spirit." (pp. 402-3)
Fr Aumann mentions other signs also: Confidence in God, Flexibility of will, Purity of intention, Patience in suffering, Self-abnegation, Simplicity, Liberty of spirit.
Signs of the diabolical spirit
" [S]ince the devil may disguise himself as a good spirit and even cause what appears to be authentic mystical phenomena, it is helpful to mention briefly the various signs of the diabolical spirit.
1. Spirit of falsity. The devil is the father of lies, but he cleverly conceals his deceit by half-truths and pseudo-mystical phenomena.
2. Morbid curiosity. This is characteristic of those who eagerly seek out the esoteric aspects of mystical phenomena or have a fascination for the occult or preternatural.
3. Confusion, anxiety, and deep depression.
4. Obstinacy. One of the surest signs of a diabolical spirit.
5. Constant indiscretion and a restless spirit. Those who constantly go to extremes, as in penitential exercises or apostolic activity, or neglect their primary obligations to do some personally chosen work.
6. Spirit of pride and vanity. Very anxious to publicize their gifts of grace and mystical experiences.
7. False humility. This is the disguise for their pride and self-love.
8. Despair, lack of confidence, and discouragement. A chronic characteristic that alternates with presumption, vain security, and unfounded optimism." (p. 412)
Fr Aumann mentions other signs also: Impatience in suffering and stubborn resentment; Uncontrolled passions and strong inclination to sensuality, usually under the guise of mystical union; Hypocrisy, simulation, and duplicity; Excessive attachment to sensible consolations, particularly in their practice of prayer; Lack of deep devotion to Jesus and Mary; Scrupulous adherence to the letter of the law and fanatical zeal in promoting a cause.
Signs of the human spirit
"The human spirit is always inclined to its own satisfactions; it is a friend of pleasure and an enemy of suffering of any kind. It readily inclines to anything that is compatible with its own temperament, its personal tastes and caprices, or the satisfaction of self-love. It will not hear of humiliations, penance, renunciation, or mortification. If any director or confessor goes against its inclinations, he is immediately branded as inept and incompetent. It seeks success, honors, applause, and pastimes. It is always a great promoter of anything that will arouse admiration or notoriety. In a word, the human spirit neither understands nor cares for anything except its own egoism.
"It is sometimes difficult in practice to judge whether given manifestations proceed from the devil or from a purely human and egoistic spirit, but it is always relatively easy to distinguish between these two and the spirit of God. It will be possible in most cases, therefore, to determine that a given spirit could not possibly be from God and that it must be combatted, even if one is not sure whether it is in fact from the devil or the human ego." (p. 413)
Some norms for discernment
"The following norms are offered as guides for the spiritual director in the discernment of spirits so far as they pertain to revelations and prophecies:
1. Any revelation contrary to dogma or morals must be rejected as false. God does not contradict himself,
2. Any revelation contrary to the common teaching of theologians or purporting to settle an argument among the schools of theology is gravely suspect.
3. If some detail or other in a revelation is false, it is not necessary to reject the entire revelation; the remainder may be authentic.
4. The fact that a prophecy is fulfilled is not of itself a conclusive proof that the revelation was from God; it could have been the mere unfolding of natural causes or the result of a superior natural knowledge on the part of the seer.
5. Revelations concerning merely curious or useless matters should be rejected as not divine. The same is to be said of those that are detailed, lengthy, and filled with a superfluity of proofs and reasons. Divine revelations are generally brief, clear, and precise.
6. The person who receives the revelation should be examined carefully, especially as to temperament and character. If the person is humble, well balanced, discreet, evidently advanced in virtue, and enjoys good mental and physical health, there is good reason to proceed further and to examine the revelation itself. But if the individual is exhausted with excessive mortifications, suffers nervous affliction, is subject to periods of great exhaustion or great depression, or is eager to divulge the revelation, there is cause for serious doubt." (p. 430)
Is the information useful for the salvation of souls? If it is merely to satisfy curiosity it is unlikely to be of divine origin. Some seeming seers act like mediums, give information on births, marriages, legal processes, diseases, political events, etc. God does not run an Inquiry Office. Some are very clever at observing, or very intuitive, and can work with little things. At séances, furniture is often pushed about, or a spirit moves a persons hand to write messages, etc. God has never done these things in any approved revelation.
Curiosity sticks out in people who claim to tell you what was the ultimate fate of Princess Diana, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, etc. Wed all love to know whos in Heaven and who isnt! A lady I heard of claims to know where every deceased person is: funnily enough everyones either in Purgatory or Heaven! I suppose it would do harm to business and popularity to tell people that certain relatives are in Hell! Actually, anyone who pronounces on famous people is immediately to be disbelieved.
Also suspect are revelations that merely give truisms and platitudes.
Why does the devil do it?
Catholics ought be very cautious in giving credence to visions and messages before they have received approbation from the Church. The devil has raised up many false mystics in recent years. People ask: "Why would the devil be behind a revelation which encourages people to pray and fast and do penance? That would be Satan divided against himself."
Fair question. Why would he do it?
Answer: For a number of reasons: to distract people from the genuine private revelations; to lead them into exercises not blessed as such by God; to bring private revelations into complete disrepute; to cause disenchantment and even a crisis of faith when a seer is later plainly seen to be false; and, worst of all, subtly to lead some people out of the Church altogether. The devil is willing to lose a lot, if he can gain in the long run.
The devil rejoices when Catholics reject the tried and true means of spiritual growth to chase after the extraordinary and the unapproved. The Church is extremely careful before approving a private revelation, for she knows how "even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor 11:14). She must avoid both credulity and unfounded scepticism. "Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything," directs St Paul (1 Thess 5:19-21). And St John warns, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God" (1 Jn 4:1). Some spirits are quite easy to discern; others very difficult. Priests in particular must be examples of prudence and obedience in this area.
Examples of visionaries judged to be false
Some individuals have been pronounced against by name, e.g., Vassula Ryden, and the Little Pebble, William Kamm. Vassula has been condemned twice by the Holy Office (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), on the grounds that her revelations do not come from God, and because they contain errors against the Faith. You hear people say: "But her writings are so spiritual and so beautiful!" I agree; possibly 99% of Vassulas messages are in conformity with the Catholic Faithbut that is just how the devil operates to deceive pious Catholics. It is the 1% that does harm. A poison apple is mostly good applebut will harm you nevertheless. The devil knows he cannot mislead devout Catholics with outright heresy, but he can appeal to their piety and then subtly plant errors within.
In any case, there has been no approved revelation in the history of the Church where God took someones hand and gave messages by writing with their pen. But you do find handwriting messages given at séancesand séances are condemned by the Church as a practice of the occult against the law of God.
I have seen one pious magazine defending Vassula by saying that Cardinal Ratzinger never signed the statement against her printed in LOsservatore Romano. A man I know sent them the official statement from Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official Vatican gazette, which has the Cardinals signature at the bottom, along with the Bishop Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Unfortunately, the editor of the magazine had neither the humility nor the honesty to print a correction in the next issue.
Another example: the alleged apparitions in Garabandal in northern Spain, in which four young girls alleged that the Virgin Mary appeared to them from 1961-1965. The response of successive bishops of the diocese of Santander has been uniformly negative, and the present Bishop Vilaplaua has concurred with this verdict. Despite this, there are a number of active associations supporting Garabandal. A simple case of disobedience to lawful authority.
This is only one of a countless number. Theres Montichiari in Italy (1947), Necedah in the United States (1949), Palmar de Troya in Spain (1968), Bayside in the U.S. (1970), Dozule in France (1972), and hundreds of others - to say nothing of all the alleged visionaries and locutionists past and present, such as the Irish lady, Christina Gallagher, and many another poor deluded souls. Mrs Gallaghers messages, in part, read like a frantic worried woman lamenting the state of the world. There are plenty of frantic worried people, lamenting the state of the world, who are good Catholics - but the Blessed Virgin from Heaven does not talk like them, in such a human, earthly, fretful fashion. To attribute such talk to Our Lady is an insult.
"Have visions; will travel" - such publicity seekers are not to be believed. Genuine visionaries fly from publicity. They do not go around with photographers and camera crews. They submit to investigation by Church authorities; but they do not have publicity agents.
The authority to judge and the duty to obey
No private individual has the authority to judge definitively and officially which private revelations are true and which are not.
The authority to rule on the genuineness of a private revelation rests first with the local Bishop.
The apparitions of Lourdes, Knock, Fatima, Beauraing, Banneux - to name only a few - were approved by the local Bishops. The Popes of the time never issued any judgement on them. The current canonical practice is that the local Bishop must appoint a committee to investigate and rule on any private revelation (if he thinks it worthy of investigation), but the Holy See may intervene if necessary or if the Bishops ask it to. Alternatively, he may ask the Episcopal Conference of his country to assist in the investigation and judgement.
It is forbidden, as well as sinful, to propagate private revelations which have received a negative judgement from the local Bishop, the conference of Bishops, or the Vaticans Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Some people say, "Im going to follow it until the Pope says its false." This is a useless guide for action in this matter - very rarely does the Pope make a pronouncement for or against a revelation.
As for statements attributed to the Pope (e.g., "I heard that the Pope told Mrs Smith after Mass in his private chapel that he believes in Garabandal and Bayside;" "The Pope told Jack that he could go ahead and print that condemned book") - no one is entitled to act on such gossip. The Church is governed by publicly promulgated statements - not by hearsay and personal communications.
The Popes may choose to show their approval of certain revelations, after the decision of a local Bishop or conference of Bishops, by speaking of them, or by placing a new feast in the liturgical calendar, or by visiting the places intrinsically connected with them (e.g., Guadalupe, Paray-le-Monial, Rue de Bac, Lourdes, Knock, Fatima, Beauraing, Banneux).
Even should the local Bishop mistakenly disapprove of a genuine revelation, obedience to the Church remains paramount. It is a sin to propagate a private revelation disobediently, but it can never be a sin not to propagate one. This applies both to claimed seers and to followers. In fact, if an alleged visionary disobeys a legitimate order from the Bishop, and claims Gods backing for the action, this is a sure sign that the message is not from God. Even if a genuine private revelation has been given, not even God Himself would want or command a seer to spread it against a lawful decree of a Bishop to desist. In fact, there are occasions in the life of St Teresa of Jesus of Avila (died 1582) and St Margaret Mary (died 1690) and Sr Josefa Menendez (died 1923) where Our Lord gave them a directive, but then their superior forbade it. What did they do? They obeyed their human superior on earth. What did Our Lord then tell them? -You were right to obey my representative.
On one occasion, the Sacred Heart of Jesus told St Margaret Mary to do something, but her Superior did not approve. When He came again, she asked Him about this, and He replied: " not only do I desire that you should do what your Superior commands, but also that you should do nothing of all that I order without their consent. I love obedience, and without it no one can please me" [Autobiography of St Margaret Mary].
Spiritual writers have an axiom: A Superior may or may not be inspired by God in his command, but you are always inspired in obeying. (Of course, were not talking about where a Superior commands a sin; and, as I said above, it is not a sin to drop a private revelation).
Satan may really promote good things for a while, provided that he gains in the long run. The revelations of Necedah, Wisconsin, seemed to have good fruits, yet were false. Rosaries were said to change to gold. Similarly for Bayside. But disobedience showed them false. St Margaret Mary was told by Our Lord: "Listen, My daughter, and do not lightly believe and trust every spirit, for Satan is angry and will try to deceive you. So do nothing without the approval of those who guide you. Being thus under the authority of obedience, his efforts against you will be in vain, for he has no power over the obedient" [Autobiography].
After error itself, the mark of a false mystic is wilfulness and disobedience. I love this quote from Saint Faustina Kowalska: "Satan can even clothe himself in a cloak of humility, but he does not know how to wear the cloak of obedience." (Diary, par. 939). Genuine mystics, like Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), are models of obedience. They never pretend to set up Christ against His Church.
Everyone is free to have an opinion, but all have to submit to the judgement of the Church with practical obedience. What I mean is: you are still free to disagree (the Bishop is not infallible in this matter), but you owe him practical obedience, that is, you may not act against the decree; you may not propagate a revelation that the Bishop has judged negatively, or continue to say publicly that you regard it as genuine. Remember, a Church commission may give a negative verdict for reasons which it cannot state publicly, e.g., it may have found out things against the character of the seer, but will not say so publicly, even though this would justify the decision and help people to accept it.
If a so-called message is judged not authentic for doctrinal reasons, then you are not free to defend such messages, because then you will be defending error. Vassula Ryden is an example of this: the judgement against her was for false doctrine in her writings. How and why pious Catholics defended her after the negative judgement by the Holy Sees Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is beyond me. Her whole case is black-and-white. Apart from unorthodoxy, her alleged messages, which are meant to be handwritten by Our Lord Himself, contain mistakes in English spelling and grammar!
Can you say publicly that an approved revelation is not genuine? Yes, if you want to. The Church never orders you to accept any private revelation. But any such disagreement should be voiced respectfully.
Caution never does harm
The simple fact is that most claimed revelations are false. It is extremely foolish, therefore, to devote oneself to propagating a disapproved or dubious message, which might actually come from the Father of Lies. If one day you see its falsity for yourself, you will regret it enormously, and be unable to undo the harm done to others. On the other hand, there are more than enough approved messages to spread, if you want to spread them. It is better to keep to what is countenanced by the Church, than to go it alone and risk being a dupe of the devil.
Fr Peter Joseph of Wagga Wagga, Australia, has a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, is the editor of the revised version of Archbishop Sheehans "Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine" (Saint Austin Press 2001) and is currently the Chancellor of the Maronite Diocese of Australia Copied from http://www.christianorder.com
Good post -- bttt
Dateline NBC (if I recall right -- a show with Stone Philips) aired a documentary on apparitions of the Blessed Virgin yesterday. The bulk of it was on Medjugorie, but a cheese sandwich apparition was noted as well. Fatima prophecies were mixed in. There was no mentioning of the Vatican's lack of approval of most of them, although the rigorous investigation process was commented on, and the members of the tribunal were interviewed, creating an impression that at least the Medjugorie has been approved, and possibly the cheesier ones too. It was a mess. Stone Philips maintained a reverential attitude throughout. A Harvard (or someplace similar) theologian concluded that the greatest mystery of all is that people believe in mysteries.
I think I'd rather have the pagan TV straight up.
I would love to invite the Calvinist "horde" (their own term of self-deprecating humor) to discuss this thread, because I think it's a brilliant description of what we Catholics believe about private revelation. (We are defamed so many times by silliness like the Madonna of the Cheese Sandwhich.) But I wanted to ask your permission, first, since it is your thread and I do not wish to see it "hi-jacked."
Fatima has been approved. Medjugorje has not been approved, yet many say it is the most peaceful site to visit.
My permission? How sweet. G'head. I just posted it because I thought it was a good explanation. I figured that those who are, well, how shall I say, less than friendly to the Church would show up on their own anyway.
Having received the consent of the person who posted this (MurphE), I would welcome some discussion from non-Catholics about the sensibility of this excellent explanation of Catholic belief regarding universal revelation and private revelations. The article is a tad long, but the doctrinal issues are covered early on,the latter material is just specifics.
I know you have excellent ping lists (of Calvinists and Anglicans, respectively). Would you kindly ping them, if you agree that they make for good discussion?
I think it's the "swarm" not horde. FWIW
I am a member of the Calvinist Swarm, and these are my views after reading the article:
I am opposed to all these things precisely because I do believe in genuine private revelations and their role in the life of the Church.
What role do "revelations" serve in the life of the church? It wasn't clear to me from reading the article what benefit they serve. I see a lot of negatives, in that these "sightings," bring superstition and disbelief and take the focus away from true worship.
To know if something is false, it suffices to know that it says something contrary to the teaching of the Church....
For a Calvinist, it suffices to know that is says something contrary to the teaching of Scripture, as stated ...God does not contradict himself
No private individual has the authority to judge definitively and officially which private revelations are true and which are not. The authority to rule on the genuineness of a private revelation rests first with the local Bishop.
Of course, I disagree with this because as already stated, God does not contradict himself, so Scripture will suffice as the judge.
Can you say publicly that an approved revelation is not genuine? Yes, if you want to. The Church never orders you to accept any private revelation. But any such disagreement should be voiced respectfully.
With all due respect, I see no benefit for the church in "approved" or "unapproved" revelations.
Hey you pretty much summed up the article!
Horde? I guess it's a step up from heretic... ;-)
Sorry. It is only a failure of my memory. :^)
Thanks for your input.
>>>> To know if something is false, it suffices to know that it says something contrary to the teaching of the Church.... <<<<
>>For a Calvinist, it suffices to know that is says something contrary to the teaching of Scripture, as stated ...God does not contradict himself <<
Yes, but the Catholic Church accepts as definitive no revelation apart from scripture. So the two statements mean essentially the same thing. Except that the Catholic Church's articulation of it defends against causes of false interpretations, such as removal from context. Even Calvinists warn to look to the community of believers for aid in understanding difficult passages.
The difference is that Calvinists exclude from the "church of all believers" those who have accepted what they see as Roman heresies, whereas the Catholics exclude from "sensuum fidelis" ("sense of the failthful") those who have broken communion with Rome. (Both exclude people on other basis, of course, such as persistance in grave sin.)
...and if I just misstated the Calvinist position, please correct me. But I have heard references to "orthodox Christians," "Church of all believers," etc. from Calvinists and very Calvnist-sounding people, such as The Answer Guy, etc.
Gamecock, thank you for the invitation to use the ping list.
I wanted to invite Protestants to discuss this explanation of private vs. public revelation. Inasmuch as it discusses how "public revelation" is complete with scriptures and (with logic) is the basis of Catholic doctrine, it is also Catholic understanding akin to Sola Fide.
I would have to say that the Church Universal is composed of ALL who have their faith in Christ Jesus, and are counting upon him alone as their Savior. That would include Catholics who make that claim. (Even Presbyterians :>)
Thank you dangus for your invitation to the swarm. I believe I would agree with the author above statement except for this minor editorial change above. I think revelations in the Church or church leads to envy, strife, bitterness, etc. It is generally divisive and it calls attention away from God's glory.
While not precisely the same I am reminded of the time Paul healed someone and all the people believed that Zeus had come calling. Miracles, even from God, can have the wrong effect.
That being said I personally believe in private "revelations" from God. But it is best if they remain private.
(8) Cause a person to speak in tongues;
I realize there are some charismatic groups out there, that "speak in tongue."
A dear friend of mine is involved with a ministry (called "New Beginnings"), that is headed up by two ladies (twins) in their 80's. These women travel over (from what I know of) the western US (southern California, AZ, Colorado). They meet once a month when they come to town. My friend, and her husband, don't belong to a particular "church" or denomination, or attend a regular "church." This ministry is the only regular thing they are involved with. I couldn't tell you what particular branch of Protestantism they follow.
Anyhow, they claim that one of these women is "a seer." She will "proselytize" for hours, when they have their "meetings." Frequently when one of the women are doing this, she will speak "in tongue."
I have been invited on more than one occasion to these meetings, but each time, I have politely declined.
Can anyone, who is familiar with "speaking in tongue" enlighten me on what's going on?
I found the following interesting:
Why does the devil do it?
People ask: "Why would the devil be behind a revelation which encourages people to pray and fast and do penance? That would be Satan divided against himself." Fair question. Why would he do it?
Answer: For a number of reasons: to distract people from the genuine private revelations; to lead them into exercises not blessed as such by God; to bring private revelations into complete disrepute; to cause disenchantment and even a crisis of faith when a seer is later plainly seen to be false; and, worst of all, subtly to lead some people out of the Church altogether.
As what happened to my friend when she got involved with this group.
...Your Lutheran pastor is exacly right.
That feeling in your gut that has you all concerned, that is your Sensus Catholicus kicking in. Run. Stay away from this stuff. Pray for your friend.
You should meet Fr. Amorth
Yeah, I thought so.It's reading loud and clear.
Even though she is very prayerful, I pray myself someday she will see the errors in this "ministry," and come back home.
Harley expresses a similar thought.
Assuming we all agree that some private revelations (let us include miraculous healing and apparitions in this term) are true and others are false, as explained in the article, I find your position strange. A revelation, true or false, cannot stay private in the ordinary sense of the word: it is sensational, shrines are erected etc. A revelation is called "private" as opposed to the revealed truths proclaimed by the Church without reservation as part of its teaching, or, as a Protestant would insist, revealed as scripture.
Moreover, if a private revelation is true, it ought to be communicated as a voice of God, ought it not? Since when is the church in the business of suppressing truth? It is not an issue of "benefit to the church", it is an issue of truth. I don't see how the process of objective discernment by some authority can be avoided.
For example -- intentionally avoiding Catholic coloration of the phenomenon -- let us suppose a prayer chain is formed and prayers are offered for the healing of a parishioner, which indeed occurs without a medical explanation. How do you propose such miracle is to remain private and why should it?
No one really knows. My personal opinion is that the original gift died out by the 2nd century and what we are seeing, I should say hearing, now is counterfeit. There are many who will disagree, and it's useless to discuss it.
One of the many reasons I converted to catholicism was to protect myself from any more of that. Little did I know that the church had been infiltrated by it.
This is the book that clinched it for me:
"In a massive study of glossolalia from a linguistic perspective by Professor William J. Samarin of the University of Toronto's Department of Linguistics published after more than a decade of careful research, he rejected the view that glossolalia is xenoglossia, i.e. some foreign language that could be understood by another person who knew that language. Samarin concluded that glossolalia is a "pseudo-language." He defined glossolalia as "unintelligible babbling speech that exhibits superficial phonological similarity to language, without having consistent syntagmatic structure and that is not systematically derived from or related to known language." (William J. Samarin, "Variation and Variables in Religious Glossolalia," Language in Society, ed. Dell Haymes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972 pgs. 121-130)
Surprisingly, a book by a Seventh Day Adventist reporter helped me with it, too. I still have it somewhere, forgot to return it to the library because I couldn't find it, so paid the library for it, unintentional. I was amazed our public library would have such books in the stacks.
Now I see Amazon has books of the same title by different authors. Just glancing at some of the links, they appear to be new age.
I'd advise people to stay away from it, no matter what denomination they are in. One of the evils of it is that people use it to manipulate you and gain psychological advantage over you, wear you down, and try to control you.
I still bear the scars from those years. Sometimes I think I could use Dr. Amorth's services, but I'll have to find another means of deliverance.
Thank you for sharing your kind response.
You are right about the "manipulation" part. A (then Lutheran) co-worker broke up with his girlfriend of 2 years, because she began to "look down" on him, because he wouldn't be open to speaking in tongue, when apparently she did.
That was the red flag for him to high-tail it out of that relationship, thankfully.
The book looks interesting. I'll look it up.
If you haven't already, read some of Dr. A's books, and see what he might suggest for you. Or a trusted priest you can see. Don't suffer any longer than you already have.
God bless, and Keep you.
It's an odd thing, but most of the people I was involved with are now dead, and sometimes I wonder if that has something to do with my present state.
The only thing I can think of to do is pray for their souls, and I suppose, forgive them for leading me down a perverted path.
To date, the spiritual advice I've sought in the church has been in vain. A lot of the priests are promoting it or, if not involved in it themselves, are favorably disposed towards it. The best I got was from a nun/psychologist who said, "Just because the church allows it doesn't necessarily mean it's a good thing." Wise words, but no means of relief.
I just decided to live with it as best I can and warned my family and anybody else who will give me the time of day concerning it not to get involved in it.
As my mother used to say, "You got yourself into it, you'll have to get yourself out of it." I will, with God's help.
No, this is not what Paul states. I would suggest reviewing 1 Cor 14 but here is an excerpt:
1Co 14:27-30 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent.
Paul is very specific on the gifts. It must be accepted and edify the church. If not than one is to keep silent.
I personally think it leads to division having witness this several times first hand. And God is not the author of division. That is why I believe revelations are for edification of your own personal self. Thank God and go on your way.
"Praying in tongues" is biblical. Paul describes praying in tongues at length in 1 Corinthians 12-14. It is a form of praying ecstatically and passionately, freeing the soul to pray in the "tongues of angels" without the hindrance of the mind working to encode it into human language.
Paul warns that it should not be done regularly within a prayer service (a Catholic would interpret that to refer to a mass), unless it coincides with another having the separate, prophetic gift of interpreting tongues, which is a much higher gift than praying in tongues. Otherwise, the prayer meeting descends into a cacophany. Logically, this is not an absolute, for one must pray in tongues to discover if another is receiving the gift of interpreting tongues!
But it is a warning to those "Pentecostalists" and "Charismatics" who treat public praying of tongues as if it were basic to Christianity. With such pretensious displays comes human will, and with human will, pride, and with pride, rebellion against God. People who pray in tongues easily may convince themselves of other charismatic gifts, such as prophecy and healing, and turn to their own supposed "private revelation" to base a rebellion against their church, and ultimately, universal revelation. If anyone should think that their ability to pray in tongues denotes special spiritual gifts, they should read Paul's debasement of the gift as the lowest of gifts, his discourse on the singulairity of the body (1 Cor 12), and the worthlessness of tongues without love of God (1 Cor 13)
That said, neither can it be said that prayer in tongues without interpretation is of the devil, as some who have reacted against Pentecostalist heretics have done. Paul says that he himself prays in tongues when he is alone, and that it is a benefit for the faith of the one who receives the goft of such prayer.
The article Apparitions True and False by Fr Peter Joseph in our October 2004 issue provoked a number of comments and questions, the majority very positive. We print here some queries and Fr Josephs answers.
Question:Fr Josephs article failed to deal with Medjugorje, or the revelations of Fr Gobbi.
Answer:My purpose was to give an exposé of the principles for judging all revelations; not to treat of any particular revelation in detail. The principles in my article make it clear that one cannot propagate the messages of Medjugorje. As to why, Bishop Perics talk in the same issue of Christian Order deals with that very fully.
On other occasions, I have told people (generally to no avail) to stop following it or promoting it. My reasons are basically:
1. The Bishop has said it is false.
2. No verified miracles.
3. Repetitive, banal messages, unworthy of the Mother of God. There are plenty of other reasons.
As to Fr Gobbi, I am not aware of any official judgement, positive or negative, but I think his messages are repetitive, prolix, and sometimes contradictory. The Antichrist did not appear in 1998, as prophesied; nor did the Second Coming occur, which the messages of the 1990s were predicting for the end of the decade.
I think people are really seeing apparitions, but the apparitions are not what they claim to be. That would only leave one other possible explanation, that they are demons.
Tell that to Job.
Did you even read the article?
On Fr. Gobbi:
It has been a few years, but IIRC, they are to be taken as his privite meditations. His position if that they come from Mary, but the Church has said they are only acceptable as his meditations.
Tell that to Job.
Not all phenomena outside of nature is supernatural. Supernatural phenomena is that of God, preternatural phenomena is outside of nature, but not of God, which is what devils can do.
The eyewitnesses of the healing are present to see the manifestation of God's power. Why would such a thing affect outsiders any differently than the docummented miracles of scripture? It begs the question of what God is saying TO THOSE PRESENT. The message to the church universal is the same as it has always been, that God Heals.
The dilemma is, the private revelation that the prayer chain and the healed parishioner received cannot stay private. It will be talked about because it appears to be a miracle. Now we have two possibilities:
I understand St. Paul's instruction as suggesting an objective investigation, and prohibiting unverified private revelations. It is not suggesting a suppression of a true private revelation, jus the opposite.
If we limit supernatural to walking on water and apparitions then "devils" can do that too. I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone of scriptural examples.
I did not have the same experience when reading about the visions in Medjugoria (Sp?) which to me rang truthful. We shall see.
Medjugorje is still under investigation, is it not?
Correct. It has not been approved. (My opinion only -- stubborn bishop.)
**I did not have the same experience when reading about the visions in Medjugoria (Sp?) which to me rang truthful.**
True apparitions always need to withstand the "Gospel" test. Do they proclaim anything contrary to the Gospels? If they do -- then they are not a true apparition and therefore will not be approved.
Interesting post, Murph, Thank You!
You are so correct. The devil can deceive us in many forms. One needs only to watch "The Passion of the Christ" to bring that message to one's heart.
Another way to look at it is to look at the different times Satan appears in the Bible:
serpent in the Garden of Eden,
temptation to build a golden calf to the people waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain,
to Christ in person after fasting for forty days,
again a serpent in the Garden of Gethsemane -- at least in the movie (Not sure if that is in a Gospel or not.)
The above is exactly how I viewed the writings of the woman in Bayside, regarding her "visions" at the time not knowing what the church's official investigation revealed. The last time I read them, now many years ago, I crumpled up the pamphlet and threw it in the trash.
My viewpoint after extensive reading about Medjugorje and the messages of the Blessed Virgin, was entirely the opposite. Medjugorje strikes me as genuine, and I believe in time will be approved by the church.