Saturday, October 24, 2015

Something serious to consider in these times of extraordinary mystical claims and prophetic utterances.

St. Annibale with S. Maria Bambina

Thoughts from Saint Annibale Maria Di Francia.

The Church is always skeptical about private revelation. The “Positio super virutibus” for the beatification of Saint Hannibal had to answer why the servant of God was drawn to private revelations and pious souls. He himself acknowledged such inclination, specifying however that he does not allow himself to be subdued:
I love the private revelations of holy persons, but I never accept everything.” (The Father’s Soul pg. 88)
His successor, Fr. Francesco Vitale, writes: “Always well balanced in faith, he discriminated among true and false revelations, and demanded faith, not private revelations as a foundation for action. Not to take a false step toward mistakes or danger, he likes inner virtues best, especially obedience.(Vitale, Life of Fr. Hannibal Di Francia pg. 280)
In a letter to Mrs. Zuccaro, Fr. Hannibal writes:
“The revelation is the one Jesus Christ entrusted to the Church through the Apostles, which contains the destiny of human being. No new comer can change it at all.”People should not accept private revelations supinely.
In 1925 in a letter to Bishop Liviero of Citta’ di Castello, he criticized the publication of St. Veronica’s entire diary:
“Being taught by the teachings of several mystics, I have always deemed that the teachings and locutions of even holy persons, especially women may contain deceptions. Poulain attributes errors even to saints the Church venerates on the altars. How many contradictions we see between Saint Brigid, D’Agreda, Emmerich, etc. We cannot consider the revelations and the Locutions as words of Scripture. Some of them must be omitted, and others explained in a right, prudent meaning.”

Fr. Hannibal elaborates these ideas in a letter to Fr. Peter Bergamaschi, who had published all the writings of a renowned Benedictine Mystic, St. M. Cecilia of Montefiascone (1694-1766). The Father criticizes such a criterion:

“Conforming to prudence and sacred accuracy, people cannot deal with private revelations as if they were canonical books or decrees of the Holy See. Even the most enlightened persons, especially women, may be greatly mistaken in the visions, revelations, locutions, and inspiration. More than once the divine operation is restrained by human nature. For instance who could ratify in full all the visions of Emmerich and St. Brigid, which show evident discrepancies? I love very much the private revelations of holy persons, but never I accept them in full!
Were I to publish revelations, I would eliminate or revise what is inconsistent with a sound criterion, or reliable tradition, or opinions of sacred, learned writers. I think of behaving prudently…
My dear father, to consider any expression of the private revelations as dogma or propositions near of faith is always imprudent! The mistakes could amount to thousands. Poulain substantiates this fact with examples of saints we venerate on the altars. It is not surprising because the visions or the news undergoes some modifications while passing through human channels… Aptitudes and dispositions may not be the same: a psychological, moral spiritual, physical event can modify them, hindering the spiritual enlightenment from shining perfectly in the soul. Thus the person is unaware of circumstances, details or propositions, and is mistaken involuntarily. In fact, everything is received through and according to the subject.
This is proved by experience, by the mystical theologians, such as St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa, Castrotevere, Poulain, etc. By prudence and reason we cannot accept all the words of revelations as they were propositions near to the faith; still less when they are contrary to the authoritative opinion of renowned writers and to the simple, beneficial devotion of the saints. - Source

Visionaries are not oracles or soothsayers... remember that.  Although storms and earthquakes are predicted for October.  What?

"Well, I saw something. Can't you hear it?"

Ed. note: Augustin Poulain, S.J.  Revelations and Visions, an often cited classic well-known to scholars of the spiritual life, was written by Augustin Poulain, S.J. a century ago to set forth in a very clear way the guidelines the Church uses to discern the truth and reject the false when it comes to visions and private revelations. Making extensive use of Scripture, the writings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, his work is concrete, practical, down-to-earth and witty. The case histories he presents read as if they took place only yesterday. - Source

If spiritual directors are not familiar with the writings of Fr. Poulain, they ought to be.

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