Private Revelation

God has said everything in his Word

§ 65 “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.” Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one. St. John of the Cross, among others, commented strikingly on Hebrews 1:1-2:

In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word – and he has no more to say … because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.

There will be no further Revelation

§ 66 “The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

§ 67 Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized 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 Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

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”.

Catholic Answers on Private Revelation

Mark Shea on Private Revelation

Fr. Peter Joseph: “Private Revelations: Keep to What is Countenanced by the Church”

EWTN’s Colin Donovan on Private Revelation

Marty on Private Revelation

Two private revelations led me into the Catholic Church. I believe firmly, from my own experience, that private revelation can be authentic. At the same time, Rabbi Paul tells us that, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” 2 Cor 11:14. Some private revelations, e.g., Fátima, are intended for the world. After my baptism I didn’t submit mine to my bishop because they were intended for me alone. Instead I relied on, “You will know them by their fruits” Mt 7:16.

Today the vast majority of reported private revelations are not supernatural in origin. Satan’s tactic is to overwhelm the few authentic private revelations in a torrent of deceptive ones. As always, Rabbi Yeshua is ahead of us. He has given each diocesan bishop a charism, a channel of grace, to discern whether any particular apparition is supernatural in origin. When we experience a private revelation we believe might be intended for the world, we start by keeping it quiet. We can certainly mention it to a few friends, but we allow no effort to publicize it. Then we approach our parish priest, tell him what we have experienced, and ask him to help us submit it to our local diocesan bishop for his discernment. Then we wait. If we continue to experience private revelations we take good notes without embellishing or altering anything we see or hear.

If the bishop discerns that an apparition is supernatural in origin he will write a letter for public distribution so testifying. We ask for his guidance in making the apparition public, and stay strictly within his guidelines. If he discerns that it is not supernatural in origin we cheerfully accept his conclusion and mention it no more.

There is a special case when the pope himself experiences a private revelation, as Pope Leo XIII did in 1884. The pope is the Bishop of Rome, head of all the world’s bishops. When the pope reports a private revelation, it is already “approved by a bishop,” that is, the pope himself, and is therefore instantly accepted by the Church.

Occasionally a visionary will sense that the Blessed Virgin is telling him, “Never mind what the bishop says, I want it publicized!” That is instant proof that the apparitions are not authentic. The Blessed Virgin always wants us to conform to our bishop’s authority. She is Queen of Heaven, and Queen of the Church.

St. Bernadette Soubirous received a series of visions at the Grotto of Massabielle, on the outskirts of the small village of Lourdes, in France. The lady in her vision told her to ask her parish priest to build a temple there and let processions come. The priest rebuked little Bernadette, who didn’t even know the name of the woman she called only “the Lady.” A month later Bernadette returned to the grotto. The Lady was there, and Bernadette asked for her name. Three times she asked, and finally the Lady said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Pope Pius IX had proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception only four years earlier. It was still unknown outside the clergy. When this simple 14 year old girl told her parish priest that the Lady had said, “I am the Immaculate Conception,” he knew that only the Blessed Virgin Mary could have told her. He and the bishop agreed that this was an authentic apparition. Today Lourdes stands as a testament to the truth of Rabbi Yeshua’s revelation.