In Defense of Certain Private Revelations
I invite you to read the information gathered here which we believe shows the authenticity of certain private revelations and refutes any wrong doing on their part. In cases of private revelation, Pope Benedict, when Cardinal and prefect for the CDF, tells us that until the Church has made a definitive and canonical judgment, the faithful are free to accept Private Revelation with prudent discernment. In our research we have yet to find that such definitive judgments have been authoritatively made in two of these Private Revelations, and in the third, an unjust judgment which public facts show; and which the Church says that in such cases it is the obligation of those more informed to publish. This is covered more thoroughly later.
Preface: Obedience and Law
We obey men only to obey God who is represented by men in authentic and legitimate authority. And we obey them out of love for God whose providence has placed them as lawful authority, so obedience is owed only to God and only through legitimate superiors who give us a legitimate command. What they tell us to do must be lawful in God’s eyes. They can not tell us to sin; we never have to obey an order to disobey God and/or the Church. This should be obvious since obedience is meant for us to comply with God’s commands and is guidance not to rebel and disobey, yet it is prevalent that this kind of disobedience takes place. A priest can not tell a congregation to stand at the consecration at mass since that opposes church teaching. It is expressly written in The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, a Vatican 11 document, that “therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.” Therefore, obedience in this case is to kneel since the Church says to kneel, even if we are told to stand by the priest saying the mass.
In the New Testament there are those who followed laws and rules but without love of God; this is legalism and they were called the Pharisees. St. Paul was one of them before his conversion and he said that he was perfect in obeying the law, and yet he persecuted Jesus by persecuting the Christians. Jesus said they violated the very heart of the law, which is love of God and neighbor, and mercy. So it is important to understand the intention of God in making a particular law to understand properly the law itself and how to obey it. Jesus healed on the Sabbath, allowed His apostles to pick the heads of grain off of wheat on a Sabbath and said that these were not a violation of the Sabbath law of no work on a Sabbath. In order to be truly just in applying law we have to know the purpose for which it was made, this way we do not violate its heart while obeying its letter, for true obedience is to obey first the heart of it and then the letter of it if possible in the particular circumstance as long as we don’t violate a higher law by doing so. Charity and mercy are the highest precepts and that is why Jesus’ actions do not violate the law and St. Paul’s did, when on the surface and by the letter of the law only, it looks like the opposite is true.
Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Therefore law was made for man’s good, to protect him, to guide him, for his sake. Law was never meant to be a means for one man to control another, or for men to assert their superiority over one another, or so that one in authority could have a way to prevent whatever did not fit his own agenda, or to be able to assert his own opinion as law. All these uses of law are actually abuses of law and governance and authority. And when Jesus said, ”these are the greatest commandments, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself”, He was saying that we should understand all law with the right understanding in love; that no law is in itself to be understood outside of the precepts of love. St. Paul said, “But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection.” So it is Love that perfects us not obedience to the law itself only. Obedience without love is slavery and leads to Pharisaism as Jesus told the Pharisees that they obeyed the law exteriorly but violated the very heart of the law, that they were like whitened sepulchers, outside all clean but inside full of dead men’s bones and all corruption. All of this means that authentic law from God’s perspective, comes from love, is about men’s good, is measured and judged by love, enslaves no one but frees them to be who God made them to be and do what He would have them do for their own good. And therefore, we can actually obey the letter of the law and still be disobeying God’s law by not obeying the heart of it, the purpose and intent for which the law (or church rule) was made to begin with.
These things must be fully understood in order to even attempt to begin to judge whether another person has or hasn’t obeyed the Church. Let us apply this to the present situations of certain private revelations that have come under scrutiny for allegedly being false and/or disobedient to the Church.
Not only have we benefited personally from the graces of these particular Private Revelations and so it is just that we would support them, and in charity we would want others to benefit as well, but there is something much more pertinent than that. If in fact, it is God Himself or the Blessed Virgin Herself, speaking to us through these manifestations; then it is imperative that we listen, and it is right that They and Their mouthpieces, the chosen vessels, be defended if and when they are persecuted.
“Fear not therefore: better are you than many sparrows. Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven. But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. (Mt 10: 31-34)
And I say to you, whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God. But he that shall deny me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but to him that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven. (Luke 12:8-11)
To call something that is from God, demonic, is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. To say that His words have no value or have the value of the words of a delusional person or are merely human meditations is at the least disrespectful and demeaning, even sacrilegious as it calls something which is sacred and holy because of who it is from, worthless. It seems to me that the discernment of private revelations is then a very serious thing, something that deserves the utmost reverence in investigating, because if it is of God we do a great disservice to the faithful in not recognizing it as authentic and not promoting it with the love we have for God Himself and His Church. We also discredit the Church itself by persecuting those that are authentic. When those in proper authority do anything to cast a bad light on an authentic private revelation, it has the appearance of the Church Herself persecuting itself in Her members, and that like the pharisees of old, simply do not want anyone else but themselves to have influence over the faithful.
There is a great deal of opposition to these private revelations of which God is not the cause. There are excessive fears presently as well of the supernatural dimension of our Catholic religion, i.e. contemplation, talking to God personally and perceiving His voice in our hearts etc., and having devotion to certain private revelations or messages. In other words fear of mysticism. There is so much fear of being led astray, by voices or visions, that there is very little openness to the mystical life, which is part of the mystical union with God that has been lived by all the saints that have gone before us. Why not adhere to the words of St. John, test every spirit and keep what is good? Being so afraid of them that we are never open enough to test them seems such an extreme way of dealing with them, or rather not dealing with them, as it were.
“Be not afraid”, the Holy Spirit is there to be our guide and the Church in her infallible Dogmas to safeguard us from error. We must test the fruits of everything and take what is good and discard what is not fruitful to us. Perhaps because relating with God on a more supernatural level takes effort on our part, and discernment, and growth in trust, as one may have to make mistakes in the process of learning, it is not so popular or desirable. But we need to be able to relate with God in intimacy and some people find it a great assistance to do so through a particular Private Revelation.
But if God warns us, for example, in an apocalyptic type of message in order to urge us to return to Him and it upsets a lot of people, this is often judged that it is causing division in the Church, and therefore not from God. But did not Jesus Himself do this, as well as all the prophets, and many saints; and were not most of them put to death for it? He, in fact prophesied His Crucifixion with precise detail and spoke of the “final” events of salvation history although it was not understood or accepted.
It is difficult today, because so many people are abused, to not hear an admonishment as a condemnation. He did not come to condemn but to save and scripture says, He chastises those whom He loves, and a wise man spurns not reproof. Therefore, His admonishments are that of a loving Father who warns us because He loves us, not that of a wrathful punisher. And do not all these so called apocalyptic messages warn of punishment only if people do not repent of their sins? So, we have nothing to fear, only to trust in His Mercy. He is slow to anger but rich in forgiveness and always a defender of the innocent!
When mystic Maria Esperanza was asked if there were false prophets today and what should we do? She gave a profound gesture; she simply put her finger over her lips in silence. http://www.spiritdaily.org/mailbagmisc.htmhttp://www.spiritdaily.org/mailbagmisc.htm. She was teaching us that yes, gravely, there are, but as for them, we should be silent, for it is not our place to judge, in case we are wrong, and also, it is better just to leave evil to itself and not engage in it. So we must look at Doctrine and judge Doctrinal errors, but the rest we can leave to God Himself to render.
What are my rights as a Catholic?
Most people don’t know they have rights as a Catholic. Since God is Just and Merciful and having given us a free will, He gives us law(s) not to restrain or constrain us but to keep us from harming ourselves as sin harms our souls. Perhaps when you are accused you feel that you are guilty until proven innocent. Perhaps when you are seeking to know if something you are considering doing is right or wrong, you try to find out where it says that it is allowed; where is the law that allows it? It’s a good thing our country wasn’t founded on those principles, and neither was our Church! Since freedom is necessary to accept truth, free will opens our hearts to the flow of grace and charity and understanding truth. It allows us to choose freely what is right and good and therefore becomes charity. If we choose God out of force and coercion we will remain slaves and are then unable to arrive at the loving relationship He created us for of child to Father God or Mother Mary etc. As we were made for Love, so we are then formed more perfectly into the image of God who is Love. In this exchange of love freely given we grow in the union between creature and Creator, child and Father, no longer slaves but co-heirs with Christ. Therefore, freedom is fundamental to choice, and choice fundamental to an act being good or bad. If it is forced it has no merit or demerit. This is why we do have rights as the faithful, to ensure we have the ability to make choices for our own good and not be coerced into not being able to pursue what we know to be good for our souls, by experiencing its fruitfulness, which is the only criteria Jesus Himself gave us in the gospels for discerning what is of God.
Here are some of the rights of the Christian Faithful stated in Canon Law taken from the Vatican website
The (*) are added text for clarification. We must keep these rights in mind when attempting to discern a purported seer so that we do not cross the line and violate their rights
THE OBLIGATIONS AND RIGHTS OF ALL THE CHRISTIAN FAITHFUL (Cann. 208 - 223)
Can. 208 From their rebirth in Christ, there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality regarding dignity and action by which they all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ according to each one’s own condition and function.
Can. 209 §1. The Christian faithful, even in their own manner of acting, are always obliged to maintain communion with the Church.
§2. With great diligence they are to fulfill the duties which they owe to the universal Church and the particular church to which they belong according to the prescripts of the law.
Can. 210 All the Christian faithful must direct their efforts to lead a holy life and to promote the growth of the Church and its continual sanctification, according to their own condition.
Can. 211 All the Christian faithful have the duty and right to work so that the divine message of salvation more and more reaches all people in every age and in every land.
Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.
§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.
Can. 213 The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments.
Can. 214 The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life so long as it is consonant with the doctrine of the Church.
Can. 215 The Christian faithful are at liberty freely to found and direct associations for purposes of charity or piety or for the promotion of the Christian vocation in the world and to hold meetings for the common pursuit of these purposes.
Can. 216 Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition. Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.
Can. 217 Since they are called by baptism to lead a life in keeping with the teaching of the gospel, the Christian faithful have the right to a Christian education by which they are to be instructed properly to strive for the maturity of the human person and at the same time to know and live the mystery of salvation.
Can. 218 Those engaged in the sacred disciplines* have a just freedom of inquiry and of expressing their opinion prudently on those matters in which they possess expertise, while observing the submission due to the magisterium of the Church. (* i.e. those who possess a more intimate knowledge of scripture, church teaching, canon law, theology, mysticism and discernment principles, etc. like scholars/theologians etc.)
Can. 219 All the Christian faithful have the right to be free from any kind of coercion in choosing a state of life.
Can. 220 No one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which a person possesses nor to injure the right of any person to protect his or her own privacy.
Can. 221 §1. The Christian faithful can legitimately vindicate and defend the rights which they possess in the Church in the competent ecclesiastical forum according to the norm of law.
§2. If they are summoned to a trial by a competent authority*, the Christian faithful also have the right to be judged according to the prescripts of the law applied with equity. (*i.e. an investigation and they are bound to answer truthfully, if there rights are violated they have recourse to a canon lawyer who can help them defend their rights)
§3. The Christian faithful have the right not to be punished with canonical penalties except according to the norm of law.
Can. 222 §1. The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers.
§2. They are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources.
Can. 223 §1. In exercising their rights, the Christian faithful, both as individuals and gathered together in associations, must take into account the common good of the Church, the rights of others, and their own duties toward others.
§2. In view of the common good, ecclesiastical authority can direct the exercise of rights which are proper to the Christian faithful.
Private Revelation: Discernment vs. Infallibility
Private Revelation is a category that is not to be confused with public revelation, which is the Church’s teachings exercised by the ordinary and extraordinary Magisterium. In matters of Faith and Morals, the Pope can proclaim as Dogma, meaning one must believe it in order to be Catholic, a definition of a belief. Private Revelation is therefore a matter of discernment, which is not public revelation and is not a matter of faith and morals and therefore not a matter of infallible judgment. So when the Church studies a Private Revelation, it has certain Norms that it follows to judge the entire scope of the Private Revelation; the character of the seer, the doctrine of the messages, the authenticity of the ecstasy and more. At least, that’s the intention of the Church and these norms can be found here.
The norm for a definitive judgment on private revelation is to not give one until the phenomena has ceased unless it is obvious that there are gross distortions of catholic doctrine or practices or demonic activity. This is also something that is being more and more transgressed. And many assume a Private Revelation is condemned even if a Church statement is issued that has “no decision”, or “not supernatural” warnings or any negatively perceived language whatsoever… in other words, simply does not have full approval and support from the local bishop. It is not true however, that it needs to have approval to be able to be believed by the faithful or to be authentic. Many, even most of the now approved Private Revelations in church history, were at first negatively received by the church in her local priests and bishops, and only later after many trials and persecutions even by the clergy and hierarchy, found approval ultimately. And what should we say about that, that they were not authentic until they received approval, and only became so when they had received approval by some kind of magic? No. They were authentic the entire time and only believed not to be due to persecution and bad discernment, using the wrong criteria for judging the fruits. If a bishop who is seeking only the truth, follows the proper procedures without prejudice, and having the right kind of experts on the commission, who do the same, he should come to the right conclusion. So why does it happen so often that there are negative statements and judgments before ultimately finding a private revelation authentic? We can only deduce that there must be a lack of proficiency in understanding how to discern the Good spirit, the bad spirit, and the spirit of self, or a lack of a high degree of union on the part of those discerning, or a lack of following proper procedures or some combination thereof. In some cases there has even been bad will on the part of those investigating, like the cardinal who persecuted St. Padre Pio.
The best discerners have always been the saints, someone who is in mystical union with our Lord. After that, those with sufficient knowledge of mystical theology, someone well read in St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Thomas Aquinas, and those who understand what are good fruits as opposed to bad fruits according to the scriptures. Yet, we often hear that commissions have experts in behavioral sciences and theology or scripture only, but not in the field that is most pertinent to these cases. Why? In such an important matter it seems a priority to ask a reputable expert in mystical theology to come and examine the subject in order to ensure a just finding. It is a question of whether or not God is revealing something to His children. Since it the bishop who has the authority and mandate to investigate and make a judgment, then he is also culpable for it as well. “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
Saints writings have at times in our history been condemned and banned by the Church only to be exonerated later, (which proves it is a matter of discernment and not infallibility) and our most recently canonized saint, St. Mary MacKillop, was even excommunicated by her bishop wrongly because the persecution against her had gone to such an extreme that the false accusations against her were treated as common knowledge by not just the people but by the priests and bishops without giving her a chance to refute them. It has always been canon law to not condemn someone without a trial, and to give the person accused the ability to defend himself against the accusations before pronouncing judgment. Similar things are happening now in many cases of private revelation, where the alleged seer is cast in a negative light by those in authority in the church prior to any actual communication with the seer, by making public comments in the media that are negative without citing specific wrongdoing or errors in the messages. Then when some official statement is made words are used such as does have church approval, or can not be certain there is anything supernatural occurring, giving the distinct impression that there has been a final judgment when there hasn’t been one. When one is finally made it must be a canonical statement from the bishop.
Jesus said that persecution is a sign of blessedness, and that if you follow him faithfully you will be persecuted. No saint has ever become so without facing persecution. No authentic apparition, as well as the seers, has ever been free of persecution. So when we hear of negative statements about supernatural phenomenon, our immediate reaction, if our mind is conformed to Christ, is that there is probably something authentic to it. Whenever something is of God it bears good fruit. And if it bears good fruit it is pruned to bear even more good fruit. Persecution, which comes from the devil, is allowed and therefore used by God to do some of the pruning. The work of God and the workers working for God are pruned and perfected by this persecution. And the fact that it is persecuted makes it even more fruitful because it becomes redemptive suffering which unites the work and the workers more closely to God. And fruitfulness is born out of union with God and is more proliferative in suffering in union with God.
It often happens these days that official statements from a bishop’s office are being made without publishing ant explanations of their findings to the public. It will often be said that there is not sufficient proof of the supernatural even though there are ecstasies; or there are references to doctrinal problems without giving specific errors, or allusions to disobedience without factual evidence. This has been done in many cases, including the ones we will mention. They have not informed the faithful of the actual errors and harm of the said private revelation. This begs the question of why the lack of transparency of the investigation and the commission? Aren’t the days gone when the lay person has little or no knowledge of mystical theology and discernment and therefore the facts of evidence are of no use to him and blind trust of the office of the bishop is all that is available to him? In every authentic private revelation in these times it is always mentioned that these are the end times, the time of the great apostasy. We know, if we know even a little of what goes on in the church in these times, that we are in this time of the great apostasy. Are we to believe, even when our own Pontiff Pope Pius VI, said that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God”, that it has affected only the lay people? Of course it is in the priesthood and the episcopacy as well and prudence dictates that we as the faithful assist the rest of the faithful in not being led astray when the hierarchy does not fulfill their duty in the investigative process, criterial assessment, discernment evaluation and canonical judgment of a proposed supernatural occurrence. It is love of neighbor to defend the innocent, and to let the faithful know when a negative statement or judgment about a private revelation may be inaccurate due to a lack on the part of the investigative commission.
So what do we do until the Church has properly examined and officially makes her judgment?”
Perhaps this is best clarified by a statement during an interview with Cardinal Ratzinger, then the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), in 1998. The question was put to him in an interview whether Vassula Ryden and TLIG was Condemned by the Vatican and he replied, No…
………“From the strictly procedural point of view, no person may be condemned without a trial and without being given the opportunity to air their views first. …That is why we invited Catholic faithful to view it all with a prudent eye and to measure it by the yardstick of the constant faith of the Church.” …
Cardinal Ratzinger answered: “Yes, and during the clarification process the faithful must be prudent, maintaining a discerning attitude. There is no doubt that there is an evolution in the writings which does not yet seem to have concluded. We must remember that being able to set oneself up as the word and image of interior contact with God, even in the case of authentic mysticism, always depends on the possibilities of the human soul and its limitations. Unlimited trust should only be placed in the real Word of the Revelation that we encounter in the faith transmitted by the Church.”
In other words, we must be prudent, measuring the words with the teaching of the church, and if we are not fluent in this knowledge of the church we owe it to ourselves to become so if we want to make any judgment on it, and not simply rely on what others say about it. And we are free to believe in a private revelation unless the proper examination and its results show just cause for a negative judgment. Because unless this has happened it is mere persecution to give a negative judgment when the facts of the case show no doctrinal errors, an authentic ecstasy, and sound moral character of the seer along with good fruits.
So, what if these Norms are not followed properly by the proper authorities?
Well, that’s a question that we are waiting to have answered definitively and we hope to be able to provide authoritative answers sometime in the near future. Yet, there are some reasonable deductions we can make from what we do know. Canon Law states:
Can. 212 §3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.
Can. 218 Those engaged in the sacred disciplines have a just freedom of inquiry and of expressing their opinion prudently on those matters in which they possess expertise, while observing the submission due to the magisterium of the Church.
Can. 220 No one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which a person possesses nor to injure the right of any person to protect his or her own privacy.
According to canon 212, if someone has knowledge that a Bishop’s commission’s actions did not follow properly the norms set down by the church they have the right to make it known to the faithful for the good of the church, so long as it does not impugn church teaching, is not irreverent toward those in authority and it upholds the dignity of persons. Fr Rene Laurentin, a renowned Marian theologian and expert in Marian apparitions says, “...that even if the Bishop is negative, if there is sufficient evidence we have a right to investigate and publish. …he pointed out that most apparitions are initially refused any sign of Episcopal recognition.” full text here
And canon 218, states that those who are well versed can justly inquire and can express themselves as long as it is prudent and submits to the teaching authority of the church.
Canon 220 assures the faithful that not even a bishop or priest can make use of that office to put a member of the faithful in a bad light by making negative public statements and/or condemnations without due process of church law. In other words no public statement of accusations, or maligning his character, or casting public doubt as to their intentions or authenticity without first seeking answers from them personally and then following the proper procedures of an official investigation.
Taking all these into consideration, it is not licet for the bishop to make public statements that cast a negative light on the alleged seer. When a statement is made it should be a testimony of facts accrued through an investigation by competent experts, especially in the field of mystical theology. A determination is to be made as to whether there is an authentic ecstasy, whether the alleged seer is of sound mind and moral character. And the messages should be examined for sound doctrinal content. The judgment should be explained to the faithful as to its meaning since the terminology is specific to canon law and easily misunderstood if attempted to translate into a modern understanding of English. If the alleged seer has a sound mind and is of good character, has an authentic ecstasy, and the content of the messages is found to be free of error, it should be judged authentic. If the alleged seer is found to be not authentic, then the evidence should be made public so as to not leave any doubts. If there are doctrinal errors the faithful should be told what they are, specifically. If the ecstasy was not found to be authentic, the faithful should be told why it is not found to be authentic. If the seer was found to be lacking of sound mind the faithful should be told and it should be explained to them, or of moral character, the same. If the protection of the faithful and of the church is at stake, the faithful should be told what is wrong, factually, so the faithful can understand and truly be protected from false visions and doctrinal errors and from being misled. Since these are the reasons that justify a negative judgment, and protection of the faithful is the legitimate reason for making a public declaration to begin with, why not fully protect them by giving a detailed account of the evidence that justifies the judgment? In one case it was specifically stated that a detailed account of the problematic doctrines would not be given. Why? If the people are to be protected, surely it is most helpful to tell the faithful what doctrines are wrong in messages and not simply state that there are some. All that tells us is to not trust the seer, but it does not tell us what doctrines are not to be trusted and that is only partial information if the intent is to fully protect the faithful.
It is our intent here has been to investigate and publish the truth and not to malign those who are in places of authority in the Catholic Church. We discourage this kind of behavior and encourage forgiveness and an attitude of not judging intentions to anyone who has benefitted from them and may feel hurt by the negative statements and judgments on these private revelations, including those in positions of authority. We do however; intend to point out what is wrong or inconsistencies or misinformation or what is simply untrue.
So, with all that in mind, we want to make available why we still have these particular Links on our Website in the midst of the controversy surrounding them.