Friday 21st June 2024

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Public Revelation Vs. Private Revelation

November 28, 2013 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

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  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 150 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

Catechism

Today . . .

Doctors urge U.S. medical groups to ‘immediately stop’ transgender treatments on children

Top medical groups and physicians have signed a “Doctors Protecting Children” declaration that expresses “serious concerns” about the treatment of minors who are uncomfortable with their biological sex, one advocate told EWTN News this week.  Jill Simons, the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, told “EWTN News Nightly” anchor Tracy Sabol on Thursday that the medical group has been “sounding the alarm” after the recently leaked files from the World Professional Association of Transgender Health in which…Continue Reading

Pedophile advocacy group praises Germany’s new law softening punishment for child pornography

(LifeSiteNews) — In 2010, Jan Flesichhauer and Wiebke Hollersen penned a chilling essay for Der Spiegel titled “How the Left Took Things Too Far.” “One of the goals of the German 1968 movement was the sexual liberation of children,” they wrote. “For some, this meant overcoming all sexual inhibitions, creating a climate in which even pedophilia was considered progressive.”   That climate involved discussions about whether sex with children might be healthy for the children and musings that this could…Continue Reading

Here’s Harrison Butker’s Full Speech Celebrating Pro-Life Christian Values

Some sports stars make headlines for drug abuse or acts of violence, but one football player is taking heat for publicly promoting Christian values. On Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker delivered the commencement at the Catholic Benedictine College, encouraging young graduates to stand firm in their faith and live out authentic Christian virtues. Now, the National Football League (NFL) is playing defense and condemning Butker’s speech as offensive. The NFL’s senior vice president and top diversity, equity,…Continue Reading

DeSantis declares Florida ‘will not comply’ with Biden rule forcing ‘gender identity’ on schools

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — Florida “will not comply” with the Biden administration’s recently finalized rule forcing widespread recognition and accommodation of LGBT “identities” on the American education system, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis declared. In February, President Joe Biden’s U.S. Department of Education submitted to the U.S. Office of Management & Budget its finalized Title IX rule. Late last month, the administration published the rule, which expands the federal

U.S. birth and fertility rates drop to record lows, according to CDC report

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 26, 2024 / 16:45 pm Provisional data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week showed that the fertility rate in the United States hit a record low and the total number of births in the country was the lowest it’s been in decades.  According to the report, slightly fewer than 3.6 million babies were born in 2023, or 54.4 births per 1,000 women aged 15 through…Continue Reading

The King of Kings

Cindy Paslawski We are at the end of the Church year. We began with Advent a year ago, commemorating the time awaiting the coming of the Christ and we are ending these weeks later with a vision of the future, a vision of Christ the King of the Universe on His throne before us all.…Continue Reading

7,000 Pro-Lifers March In London

By STEVEN ERTELT LONDON (LifeNews) — Over the weekend, some seven thousand pro-life people in the UK participated in the March for Life in London to protest abortion.They marched to Parliament Square on Saturday, September 2 under the banner of “Freedom to Live” and had to deal with a handful of radical abortion activists.During the…Continue Reading

An Appeal For Prayer For The Armenian People

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke on August 29, 2023, issued this prayer for the Armenian people, noting their unceasing love for Christ, even in the face of persecution.) + + On the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, having a few days ago celebrated the…Continue Reading

Robert Hickson, Founding Member Of Christendom College, Dies At 80

By MAIKE HICKSON FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — Robert David Hickson, Jr., of Front Royal, Va., died at his home on September 2, 2023, at 21:29 p.m. after several months of suffering and after having received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He was surrounded by friends and family.Robert is survived by me —…Continue Reading

The Real Hero Of “Sound of Freedom”… Says The Film Has Strengthened The Fight Against Child Trafficking

By ANA PAULA MORALES (CNA) —Tim Ballard, a former U.S. Homeland Security agent who risked his life to fight child trafficking, discussed the impact of the movie Sound of Freedom, which is based on his work, in an August 29 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. “I’ve spent more than 20 years helping…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This lesson on medical-moral issues is taken from the book Catholicism & Ethics. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. The email and postal addresses are given at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Ethics (Pages 53-59)…Continue Reading

Color Politics An Impediment To Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The USCCB is rightly concerned about racism, as they should be about any sin. In the 2018 statement Open Wide Our Hearts, they affirm the dignity of every human person: “But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and…Continue Reading

Trademarks Of The True Messiah

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on September 2, and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + In Sunday’s Gospel the Lord firmly sets before us the need for the cross, not as an end in itself, but as the way to glory. Let’s consider the Gospel in three stages.First: The Pattern That…Continue Reading

A Beacon Of Light… The Holy Cross And Jesus’ Unconditional Love

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON Each year on September 14 the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. The Feast Day of the Triumph of the Holy Cross commemorates the day St. Helen found the True Cross. It is fitting then, that today we should focus on the final moments of Jesus’ life on the…Continue Reading

Our Ways Must Become More Like God’s Ways

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9Phil. 1:20c-24, 27aMatt. 20:1-16a In the first reading today, God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially when we look at what the Lord…Continue Reading

The Devil And The Democrats

By FR. DENIS WILDE, OSA States such as Minnesota, California, Maryland, and others, in all cases with Democrat-controlled legislatures, are on a fast track to not only allow unborn babies to be murdered on demand as a woman’s “constitutional right” but also to allow infanticide.Our nation has gotten so used to the moral evil of killing in the womb that…Continue Reading

Crushed But Unbroken . . . The Martyrdom Of St. Margaret Clitherow

By RAY CAVANAUGH The late-1500s were a tough time for Catholics in England, where the Reformation was in full gear. A 1581 law prohibited Catholic religious ceremonies. And a 1584 Act of Parliament mandated that all Catholic priests leave the country or else face execution. Some chose to remain, however, so they could continue serving the faithful.Also taking huge risks…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)