Tuesday 31st May 2016

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Public Revelation Vs. Private Revelation

May 17, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

Our previous installment ended by citing a pair of remarkable verses from the Letter to the Hebrews, verses that concisely summarize God’s divine pedagogy, His master plan of divine Revelation: “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, Whom He appointed the heir of all things, through Whom also He created the world” (Heb. 1:1-2). As expounded last week, God’s Old Testament revelation, mediated to mankind through the patriarchs and prophets, was gradual and partial — it was revealed in stages and progressively supplemented throughout successive epochs and ages of salvation history. But its culmination in the person of the Incarnate Word was definitive and complete.
As taught by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect, and unsurpassable Word. In Him He has said everything” (CCC, n. 65).
Dei Verbum (DV), the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation promulgated after Vatican Council II, explains that “Jesus perfected Revelation by fulfilling it through His whole work of making Himself present and manifesting Himself: through His words and deeds, His signs and wonders, but especially through His death and glorious Resurrection from the dead and final sending of the Spirit of truth” (DV, n. 4). The Revelation made by Christ to the apostles, and the Holy Spirit whom He sent after, was final and definitive — nothing will ever be added to that revealed Deposit of Faith, nor will anything ever be changed. St. John of the Cross, in an excerpt from his spiritual masterpiece The Ascent of Mount Carmel, which is set before the Church in the Liturgy of the Hours during the second week of Advent, comments strikingly on the previously cited verses from the Letter to the Hebrews:
“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” (Book 2, chapter 22, nn. 3-5).
As Pope Benedict XVI states in his apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini (VD): “. . . with Jesus Christ [the Church] stands before the definitive word of God: He is “the first and the last (Rev. 1:17)” (n. 14).
The words of St. John of the Cross serve as a fitting segue into the main theme of this installment: public Revelation versus private revelation. What is public Revelation? In his Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John Hardon, SJ, defines public Revelation as “the supernatural manifestation of God’s wisdom and will for the human race, in order to lead humanity to its heavenly destiny. It is entrusted directly to the Church for preservation and interpretation and is contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.”
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” (DV, n. 4). Public Revelation ended with the death of the last apostle.
The Catechism, however, goes on to make a critical distinction: “. . . 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” (CCC, n. 66). The Church’s teaching office — her Magisterium — guided by the Holy Spirit, continues to “plumb the depths” and “uncover the riches” of divine Revelation as generations and centuries pass. This truth is manifestly made evident as the Church, from time to time, solemnly defines dogmas of the faith, truths that must be accepted by the faithful as part of divine Revelation and necessary for salvation.
One need only consider such Marian dogmas as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption to see how Church doctrine providentially develops over time. Although not solemnly defined until 1854 and 1950, respectively, these teachings of the universal Church are examples of truths of the faith that are implicitly contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition which, “under the successive influence of theological study, devotional impulse, and even theological disagreement, come to be explicitly understood, universally believed, and, in the end, solemnly defined by the Church” (Fr. George D. Smith, The Teaching of the Catholic Church, p. 35).
Readers interested in examining the history of doctrinal development surrounding these Marian dogmas are encouraged to consult two apostolic constitutions: Ineffabilis Deus on the Immaculate Conception and Munificentissimus Deus on the Assumption.

A Valuable Aid

We turn now to private revelation, examples of which abound in the history of the Church. Fr. Hardon defines private revelation as “supernatural manifestations made to a particular person since apostolic times. . . . When the Church approves certain private revelations . . . they are to be accepted on the Church’s judgment, but they are not part of divine faith.” All that is necessary to attain salvation has been revealed through public Revelation. As such, private revelations “do not belong…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” (CCC, n. 68).
Having made this distinction, it may also be said that private revelation is a wonderful gift to the Church and can lead souls closer to God. However, it’s important to understand their purpose in the spiritual life. They are given to the Church at times in history when the particular message contained in the private revelation is providentially needed. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “Private revelation is an aid to [the] faith, and it demonstrates its credibility precisely because it refers back to the one public Revelation. . . . A private revelation can introduce new emphases, give rise to new forms of piety, or deepen older ones . . . and can be a valuable aid for better understanding and living the Gospel at a certain time” (VD, n. 14).
Take, for example, the 1917 apparitions by the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children to encourage them and others to pray the rosary and to offer up their daily sufferings as a penance in reparation for the sins of mankind. Isn’t this precisely the Gospel message? The Magisterium of the Church carefully investigated the Fatima apparitions and deemed them worthy of belief.
Two other well-known examples of Church-approved private revelation that have led many souls closer to God are Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (revealed to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1673) and Devotion to Divine Mercy (revealed to St. Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s). They teach not an iota that is contrary to faith and morals, but rather highlight certain aspects of the public Revelation of God.

The Middle Ground

Again, it is important to emphasize that it is not prudent to center one’s spiritual life on private revelation — the Church dutifully investigates private revelations and deems many worthy of belief if they are authentic, but she does not enjoy providential protection in such matters. Also, it would be unwise to desire or seek out visions or revelations. Two great doctors of the Church, the Carmelite mystics St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, caution strongly against such a practice.
In her spiritual classic Interior Castle, St. Teresa warns that “when you learn or hear that God grants these favors to souls you [must] never beseech Him or desire Him to lead you by this path” (Book VI, chapter 9, n. 14), for such a way is fraught with dangers.
It would also be unwise to err in the opposite direction. Several months ago, as recounted by a local pastor, a mission was preached at his parish by an excellent missionary priest. The mission leader spoke of the visions at Fatima and afterward, a parishioner objected: “Why is he talking about Fatima? That’s just private revelation, so we don’t have to believe in it, and he shouldn’t be talking about it from the pulpit.”
While the parishioner was correct in saying one does not have to believe in the Fatima apparitions to gain salvation, the individual didn’t seem to grasp that the essence of the Fatima message — prayer and penance — is precisely the Gospel message. How true was the pastor’s response: “It would be quite a mistake . . . to say that we cannot teach about Fatima from the pulpit or in catechism classes!”
As always, if one compares the extremes described in the two preceding paragraphs, the wise course of action and middle ground is always found in the teaching of the Church.

+    +    +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. With the full blessing of Raymond Cardinal Burke, Fier is doing research for writing a definitive biography of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Amoris Laetitia is ‘objectively unclear’ since even bishops have conflicting interpretations: Cardinal Caffarra

ROME, May 30, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The cardinal tasked by Saint Pope John Paul II 36 years ago with founding an institute to study marriage and the family has criticized Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation on the family for lacking…Continue Reading

34% of “Pro-Choice” Women Who See This Viral Video Turn Against Abortion

A new four-minute viral video is causing over a third — 34 percent — of “pro-choice” women surveyed to view abortion “less favorably.” And 28 percent of pro-choice women who watched the video stated there should be more restrictions on…Continue Reading

‘Biblically wrong’: Oklahoma lawmakers urge Obama’s impeachment over transgender bathrooms

Lawmakers in Oklahoma have introduced legislation calling for President Barack Obama to be impeached because of his administration’s support for transgender bathrooms. Another bill calls for a declaration of emergency in the state. In a measure called Senate Concurrent Resolution…Continue Reading

Oklahoma legislature passes bill making it a felony to perform abortions

Lawmakers in Oklahoma approved a bill Thursday that would make performing abortions a felony and revoke the medical licenses of most physicians who assist in such procedures. This sweeping measure, which opponents described as unconstitutional and unprecedented, now heads to…Continue Reading

Unanimous Win for Little Sisters of the Poor at Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the government cannot fine the Little Sisters of the Poor.  The Supreme Court vacated the lower court rulings against the Little Sisters, accepting the government’s admission that it could meet…Continue Reading

Conservatives outraged over Obama transgender directive to public schools

The Obama administration’s directive Friday that every public school provide transgender access — or face the loss of federal funds — drew swift and strong condemnation from conservatives, with one public official blasting it as presidential “blackmail.” The administration’s directive…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Leaders Decry Scandals, Urge Catholic Colleges to Reject Culture of Death

Concerned by recent high-profile events at Catholic colleges featuring pro-abortion leaders — including Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, Bill Clinton, Wendy Davis and Vice President Joe Biden — 31 Catholic and pro-life leaders joined a statement urging Catholic colleges to “stand firm…Continue Reading

ACLU launches campaign to strip Catholic hospitals of federal funds

NEW YORK, May 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic hospitals across the U.S. are “withholding emergency care” and denying “essential health services,” the ACLU is alleging in a new campaign. They also inflict harm on “transgender and gender-non-conforming patients” “when seeking…Continue Reading

Harvard Law Professor Says Pro-Life Christians Should be Treated Like Nazis

Every day, it seems, the United States is becoming a more hostile environment for people with pro-life and conservative positions. Abortion activists constantly challenge pro-life laws, stall abortion industry investigations, force religious objectors to pay for abortions and attack life-affirming…Continue Reading

Obama plans new push for transgender rights in schools

The divisive and politically combustible issue of bathroom access for transgender individuals is about to become further inflamed, as the Obama administration is expected in coming weeks to aggressively reinforce its position that transgender student rights are fully protected under…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Notre Dame is Wrong

Notre Dame’s Great Scandal: Honoring Vice President Biden By Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family: The University of Notre Dame has announced that they intend to confer the Laetare Medal, an honor given to Catholics “in…Continue Reading

DoJ to North Carolina: You Have Until Monday to Reverse Bathroom Bill

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory received a letter from the Department of Justice that gives him until Monday to reverse his state’s controversial bathroom bill, reports The Hill. The DoJ said the law is in violation of the federal Civil…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Commentary

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .      

Today . . .

">Ronald Reagan . . . Memorial Day Address

Planned Parenthood sponsors bill to make it illegal to record and post undercover footage

A bill making its way through the California State Assembly, sponsored by Planned Parenthood, seeks to make it a crime to publish conversations with certain health care providers, notably those associated with abortion facilities. California has already squashed the rights of pro-life pregnancy centers, demanding they offer abortion as an option to their clients, despite their pro-life mission. Now, Planned Parenthood and CA Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez think it’s a fine idea to prosecute someone from posting a “photo…Continue Reading

South Carolina governor signs ban on abortion for babies who feel pain

CHARLESTON, May 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – South Carolina has joined 13 other states that forbid abortions to be performed on unborn children capable of feeling pain. As expected, Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, signed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on Wednesday. The law restricts abortion to the first 19 weeks of pregnancy. “South Carolina took a courageous stand to protect women’s health and safety in limiting abortion at a point at which the risks…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Perseverance in prayer needed, but not “magic wand”

pope908

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday said “prayer is not a magic wand.” He was speaking during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. The Pope was discussing the Parable of the Unjust Judge – also known as the Parable of the Persistent Widow – from the Gospel of Luke. In the parable, the persistence of a widow forces the unjust judge to grant her request for justice, “so that she will not eventually…Continue Reading

Catholic College Presidents Hopeful for Resolution in HHS Mandate Challenge

The presidents of two Catholic colleges involved in the U.S.Supreme Court challenges to the HHS mandate applauded the Court’s recent decision to vacate all lower court rulings and expressed their hope that a positive resolution for religious freedom would soon be reached. “I am pleased that Supreme Court has offered us a way forward which doesn’t require us to participate in the provision of the services which

Excluded From Arizona House . . . Racial Healing Meet Has To Find Another Location, Loses Audience

By DEXTER DUGGAN MESA, Ariz. — The chairman of an Arizona Tea Party group introduced a representative of Black Lives Matter Arizona at a racial-healing conference here, saying, “Black lives matter, and of course we agree that all lives matter,” but blacks are unique in U.S. history as “a people who have endured chattel slavery.”…Continue Reading

Havana: The Potemkin Village Of The 21st Century

By ALBERTO MARTINEZ PIEDRA According to the media, it is often heard that many Americans are interested in traveling to Cuba because, as relations between the jewel of the Caribbean and the United States warm, they “want to see the island before it changes.” And they make this statement with a certain degree of optimism.…Continue Reading

Rocky Homilies

By DEACON JAMES H. TONER (Editor’s Note: Deacon James H. Toner, Ph.D., serves at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Greensboro, N.C.) + + + The Holy Father’s admonition in Amoris Laetitia that priests must understand that the moral law should not be thrown at people as if it were so many stones (n.…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… A Procession To The Ends Of The Earth

By JAMES MONTI Several weeks ago, after attending the Easter Vigil at a nearby seminary, and the emptied chapel had fallen silent, I began to hear the sound of the sacring bell being rung in the sacristy. Puzzled by this, I wondered whether the seminarians were perhaps trying to repair the bell. But then from…Continue Reading

Is Scarborough Shoal Worth A War?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN If China begins to reclaim and militarize Scarborough Shoal, says Philippines President Benigno S. Aquino III, America must fight. Should we back down, says Aquino, the United States will lose “its moral ascendancy, and also the confidence of one of its allies.” And what is Scarborough Shoal? A cluster of rocks…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Look To Our Father In Heaven

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Everyone has made a wrong decision at some point in his or her life, and everyone can speak about the suffering or pain caused by bad decisions. What, on the other hand, about the suffering or pain that is caused by doing the right thing? How often can we say that we suffered personally and…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church Miracles And The Saints

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’.” “Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse the lepers, cast out demons” (Matt. 10:7-8). It is evident that our Lord Jesus Christ gave to His disciples the power to perform miracles, and many of them did just that. Not…Continue Reading

The Church’s Liturgy — Who Celebrates?

By DON FIER There is an ancient Latin saying in the Church that eloquently expresses what her members believe of the efficacy of the sacraments and their relationship to faith: lex orandi, lex credendi (“the law of prayer is the law of faith”). Each of the seven sacraments, as we saw last week, can be classified in various categories. Yet…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. My husband and I are wondering when to say the “Amen” after the Lord’s prayer is prayed during Mass. I believe “Amen” should be said after we say “deliver us from evil.” — J.W., Georgia. A. Although it is correct to say “Amen” at the end of the Our Father while saying it outside of Mass, for example, while…Continue Reading

God’s Prophet

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Tenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 1 Kings 17:17-24 Gal. 1:11-14a, 15a, c, 16a, 17, 19 Luke 7:11-17 In the first reading today we hear about the death of the son of a widow with whom the Prophet Elijah stayed when he was passing through that region. The woman had been very good to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Augustine Of Canterbury

By CAROLE BRESLIN A Celtic cross erected in 1884 marks the spot in Ebbsfleet, Thanet, East Kent, where St. Augustine of Canterbury is said to have landed in 597. While some form of Christianity in England may be traced back to the times of the Roman occupation, it did not become a strong presence until the arrival of St. Augustine,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Crispin Of Viterbo

By CAROLE BRESLIN In March 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica of Our Lady of the Vine (Oak) located in Tuscany, Italy, to proclaim our Lady patroness of the Diocese of Viterbo. The tradition of visiting the image of Our Lady of the Oak began 600 years ago in 1417 when Mastro Baptist Magnano Iuzzante commissioned an image…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading