Thursday 2nd October 2014

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

Comment on this Article:

Cardinal Burke Rebuts ‘Outrageous’ Claim That Cardinal Kasper Speaks For Pope

burk

Cardinal Raymond Burke strongly defended his criticism of the “Kasper proposal,” and said it was “outrageous” for Cardinal Walter Kasper to suggest that such criticism was actually aimed at Pope Francis, during a teleconference with reporters on September 30. “I…Continue Reading

There Are Dirty Political Games Behind The Iraq Conflict, Says Chaldean Patriarch Sako

Louis Raphael I warns: Our Church risks disappearing and not just because of the jihadists Gianni Valente Rome “There’s no future for us if the Lord does not help us.” There’s suffering and concern in Louis Raphaël I Sako’s words.…Continue Reading

On the Way to a Troubled Synod

synod

Cardinal Newman once remarked that anyone boarding the Barque of Peter shouldn’t look too closely at the engine room. Sometimes when there are storms brewing in the Vatican – as there are right now over the Synod on the Family…Continue Reading

Liberalism, Choice and Compulsion

Social liberals consider traditional moral restrictions cruel in their very essence. Each of us, they believe, should be as free as possible to pursue his happiness as he sees it, consistent with the equal ability of others to do the…Continue Reading

Vatican says bishop’s dismissal not the result of sex abuse

By Francis X. Rocca Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican denied Pope Francis had dismissed a controversial Paraguayan bishop because of his mishandling of sex abuse accusations, attributing the decision instead to other failings of governance and…Continue Reading

Padre Pio Was The Opposite Of A Fan-hugging, Autograph-signing Celebrity

Brusque to the point of being rude’, the Italian saint was only interested in one personality – the Son of God By FR ALEXANDER LUCIE-SMITH on Friday, 26 September 2014 There is a somewhat strange passage of scripture which by…Continue Reading

Music Director Hasn’t Resigned Despite Archbishop’s Request

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) – On Sept. 12, Jamie Manzi-Moore was asked by Archbishop John Nienstedt to resign from the church where he has served as music director for more than 17 years — but he hasn’t done it yet.…Continue Reading

“The Teachings Of The Church Must Be Upheld.”

Minnesota Archbishop Backs Removing Gay Liturgist Who Married Partner LifeSiteNews reported Thursday that Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis backed the removal of parish liturgist Jamie Moore after “marrying” his partner on September 20 in strict violation of the Catholic…Continue Reading

State Medical Board Lets Clinic Get Away With Killing Woman in Botched Abortion

The State Medical Board of Ohio has stunned pro-life supporters by dropping all complaints related to the death of abortion patient Lakisha Wilson. Those who filed complaints seeking an investigation into Wilson’s death at Preterm, a Cleveland abortion facility, have…Continue Reading

Former Crystal Cathedral Undergoing Catholic Makeover

(CNA/EWTN News) – “Through this innovative design process an insightful plan has emerged that will establish Christ Cathedral as a place for involvement in the sacraments, a place to hear the Word of God proclaimed and a place for personal…Continue Reading

True Mercy and the Indissolubility of Marriage

September 25, 2014 In his foreword to a new book, Cardinal George Pell argues that “one cannot maintain the indissolubility of marriage by allowing the ‘remarried’ to receive Holy Communion.” Cardinal George Pell The following appears as the foreword to…Continue Reading

Professor Douglas Kries on Cupich

Well, this is interesting.  Professor Douglas Kries at Gonzaga University in Spokane gives his assessment of Bishop Blase Cupich, the Spokane Bishop tapped to head the Chicago Archdiocese: Bishop White Seminary at Gonzaga, which was nothing short of an extraordinary…Continue Reading

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 subscribe 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

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope At Santa Marta: The Angels Defend Us

pope532

(Vatican Radio) The angels battle Satan for the destiny of mankind and win.  They defend and custody  the greatest mystery of the Church, God-made-Man.  Even though in Satan often presents “humanistic explanations” for his attacks on mankind.  This was the focus of Pope Francis homily at Mass Monday morning at Casa Santa Marta, marking the Feast of the Holy Archangels…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Synod Prayer To Holy Family

pope531

      _________________(Vatican Radio) Sunday, 28 September is to be set aside as a Day of Prayer for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to take place from 5 to 219 October to treat the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization. The Holy See on Saturday released a prayer guide,…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Says… Media Are Hijacking Synod On The Family

By ANN SCHNEIBLE VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) — The upcoming Synod on the Family has undergone an attempted hijacking by some media sources, which are fueling expectations that impossible changes will be made to Church doctrine, said the head of the Church’s highest court. “I don’t think you have to be brilliant to see that…Continue Reading

Mistakes Of The Past Are Back

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if the American invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction? What if whatever weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein once had were sold to him in the 1980s by American arms dealers with the express permission of the U.S. government? What if he no longer…Continue Reading

Is Burger King An Economic Patriot?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.” Jefferson’s brutal verdict comes to mind in the fierce debate over inversions, those decisions by U.S. companies to buy foreign firms to move their headquarters abroad…Continue Reading

How The Eastern Orthodox Misunderstand Catholic Marian Doctrine

By JAMES LIKOUDIS It is not only Protestants who seriously misunderstand the Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church. Surprisingly, various Eastern Orthodox who have traditionally manifested a deep and devout veneration of the Theotokos (Mother of God) are seen to deviate from their own ancient traditions. Thus one finds astonishing the views of Archbishop John…Continue Reading

Where Do We Begin?

By DONALD DeMARCO It often happens that the statement of a perceptive writer becomes more true many years after he originally framed it. Such is the case with George Orwell. The author of 1984, which he penned in 1948, stated: “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Reparation For Black Mass . . . “The Chaotic Forces Of Evil Are Very Real”

By MOST REV. PAUL COAKLEY (Editor’s Note: The black mass took place as scheduled Sunday, September 21 in Oklahoma City’s Civic Center. Various news outlets reported that hundreds protested against the black mass while only dozens attended it. Below we reprint Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley’s September 18 statement, followed by his homily at the holy hour held shortly before…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . God Does Not Come Through The Computer

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Virtual reality can never serve as “parish replacement therapy” for “Catholics on leave.” Many believers remain alienated as a result of personal choices from the life of the Church. Some of them have been known to post about their frustrations on Facebook, writing such things as, “Continue to wait for answers…” God, however, does not…Continue Reading

Priestly Celibacy: Unnatural? Or…Supernatural? The Biblical Foundations Of Celibacy: Summing Up

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 MThe Catholic priesthood is God’s holy calling (2 Tim. 1:5-9) to some men to follow Jesus’ footsteps more closely (St. Augustine). The priest is called to be an angel of the Lord, always keeping His Law in his mouth (Mal. 2:7). A truly celibate priest is one who is a real man, who…Continue Reading

Catechism Of the Catholic Church: Prologue

By Don Fier “Father, . . . this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). This Scripture verse, the opening words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), succinctly and beautifully expresses its very purpose. The CCC’s first paragraph goes on to expand on…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. What do you know about the Concordant Literal Version of the Bible? — G.P., Florida. A. It is published by the Concordant Publishing Concern in Almont, Mich., which describes itself as “a nondenominational, nonprofit association founded in 1909 for the purpose of disseminating the facts and truths of the ancient manuscripts of the Scriptures.” The company’s website says that…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Therese of Lisieux, The Little Flower

By CAROLE BRESLIN As you drive into Lisieux, France, from Caen on highway D613, you can see clearly the Basilica of Lisieux — it dominates the landscape rising high above the hills and other buildings. A little to the north is the cathedral where Therese received her sacraments and where her family dedicated an altar. A little farther north is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Saints Cosmas And Damian

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the last book of the Old Testament, 2 Maccabees, we read of the mother who stood by her seven sons, encouraging them to hold true to the law of their fathers and not give in to the attempts of Antiochus IV Epiphanes to get them to abandon their faith by eating the flesh of a swine…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading