False mystics, false teachers, and the delusional...
I've been thinking about how false mystics can be likened to false teachers. False teachers are usually not like mystics, though they may offer new interpretations of established doctrine. I came across something during spiritual reading today, inspired by the Gospel 'can a blind person guide a blind person.' I was led to a familiar passage from St. John of the Cross, wouldn't you know. It made sense for me, especially in consideration of some moral issues I've been reading about online, and the need for careful discernment or vigilance.
A thought from another Jesuit friend has been before my mind the past several days, which coincides somewhat with what St. John offers. "I have said that the lack of one sole virtue necessarily brings about the ruin of all the others. I add that one sole defect - one sole limitation regarding the object or some other circumstance - suffices to ruin a virtue completely. To lose the faith, it is not necessary to believe nothing: it is enough not to believe one sole article; it is even enough to doubt it." - St. Claude La Colombiere
So you see why it is important to source what you receive; to submit to Catholic teaching, to heed the proper authority. It is equally important to do so as regards private revelations and their so-called seers and prophets, as well as theologians, teachers and bloggers.
Anyway, this is the passage from St. John I consider important to mention again:
Even in our time God grants revelations ... to whom he wills. He will reveal to some the number of days they have to live, or the trials they will have to endure, or something that will befall a particular person or kingdom, etc. He will uncover and declare to the spirit truths concerning the mysteries of our faith - although this properly speaking would not be a revelation since they are already revealed; it would be instead a manifestation or declaration of the already revealed.
The devil can be a great meddler with this kind of revelation. Since the truths are imparted through words, figures, and likenesses, etc., he can make counterfeits more easily than when the revelations are purely spiritual. If, in these two categories we mentioned, some new truth about our faith is revealed, or something at variance with it, we must by no means give assent, even though we have evidence it was spoken by an angel from heaven.
Since there are no more articles to be revealed by the Church about the substance of our faith, a person must not merely reject new revelations about the faith, but he should out of caution repudiate other kinds of knowledge mingled with them. [...] To deceive and introduce lies, the devil first lures a person with truths and verisimilitudes that gives assurance that give assurance; and then he proceeds with his beguilement ... - The Ascent, Bk II, Ch. 27
Marie-Paule Giguere (Mother Paul-Marie)
While searching for a photo to illustrate the post I came across a so-called mystic who actually inspired the title of the post, Marie-Paule Giguere. I had completely forgotten about this story. Among the spurious revelations was Marie-Paule's support of President Bush's war against Iraq. "Mother Paul-Marie however reputedly received indications from "on high" that Sadaam Hussein did indeed have hidden weapons of mass destruction." Evidently that message was sent to the president, though there is no evidence it influenced his decision.
The followers of such mystics search for signs of authenticity, insisting they submit to the decisions of Church authorities - despite the fact the private revelations can be condemned, the seer and/or cult excommunicated, or told they cannot identify themselves as Catholic, and so on. They are duped - just as certainly as those in ministries not approved by the Church, such as New Ways Ministries. Even priests and religious will insist they are faithful to the Church, yet repeatedly cite this or that portion of the message, or an instance of an apparent supernatural nature, as being worthy of belief or consideration, while holding out hope the whole matter will be approved or validated. As John of the Cross points out: "Since there are no more articles to be revealed by the Church about the substance of our faith, a person must not merely reject new revelations about the faith, but he should out of caution repudiate other kinds of knowledge mingled with them."