“The devil often purveys objects to the senses, affording to the sense of sight images of saints and most beautiful lights … He does all of this so that by enticing persons through these sensory objects he may induce them into many evils.”
– St John of the Cross
I have read a number of messages recently on social media where the poster is sharing information from alleged locutions, visions and revelations – in all of these cases, the supposed events have not been approved by the Church, and in some of the cases, they have been condemned by the Church. Why, then, would a Catholic, share or promote such things?
The danger with apparently heavenly revelations is that they appeal directly to our human senses – and our human senses are very easily fooled, which can result in us being led astray in one way or another.
Saint John of the Cross writes –
“The devil often purveys objects to the senses, affording to the sense of sight images of saints and most beautiful lights . . . And to the sense of smell, fragrant odors; and he puts sweetness in one’s mouth, and delight in the sense of touch. He does all of this so that by enticing persons through these sensory objects he may induce them into many evils.” (‘Ascent Of Mount Carnel’, 133)
How often do we do something on the basis of emotion, only to regret it later on!
Those who promote such things are, in most cases, free of malice or evil intent – but they may be subject to deceipt regardless of that. It may be that they have read a particular ‘message’ and are moved by it’s content, which seems good on the face of things; however, a broader reading of other ‘messages’ from the same source may reveal that this is not the case.
Such was the case in one post I read a few days ago – someone posted a ‘message’ which in itself seemed innocuous; others from the same source, unfortunately, claimed the Blessed Virgin had warned the alleged ‘seer’ that the Holy Father was in opposition to the Faith and would shortly install the Antichrist. Now, surely, any Catholic with even a little sense of discernment would go and check what the Church has said about such a ‘seer’ before promoting them further? Surely it would occur to them that perhaps what seems to be heavenly may in fact be the product of a deceived or deluded mind, or the end result of spiritual blindness and pride?
To be abundantly clear on this one point – in any authentic heavenly revelation, the Blessed Virgin will never ever set the faithful in opposition to the Church of Her Son nor to His shepherd, the Holy Father. You have the guarantee of Christ Himself on this – in matters of faith and morals the Church, led by the Holy Spirit, cannot err. Trust the Church. Trust the Holy Father.
In another case at the moment, many are promoting messages from an alleged ‘seer’ who has now been condemned by more than one Bishop. These Bishops have noted that a number of the general claims made by this person are simply not, in fact, true; also, that the content of the ‘messages’ is not in accord with authentic Catholic thought and teaching. And yet despite this, the promotion goes on. Those most closely involved in the promotion wrote all sorts of reasons why the judgement of these Bishops should be ignored – and yet, for any Catholic in good standing, it should be enough that a Bishop, the authority who is competent to judge, has spoken negatively. In this case, nothing more is needed. And those who seek to seduce the faithful into ignoring those judgements are wolves in sheeps clothing who will surely lead others astray.
For those tempted to promote alleged visionaries which have not received the approval of the Church, be critical and use your discernment and prudence in the first instance – check what (if anything) the local Bishop has said in their regard, and check not just one message, but all of them before promoting them. And if condemned already – do not promote them any further. You place not only yourself in spiritual danger, but also those who will later read what you have promoted or forwarded. And if you are not sure either way – then do nothing further.
Anything that is authentically from God will succeed, no matter what.
It may be worth noting here that even at the hallowed Grotto of Lourdes, the Deceiver was busy trying to fool the faithful and by means of this, to destroy the credibility of the authentic appearances of the Mother of God which had been taking place there. I have written about this previously –
‘From the start of time, God had warned Satan that there would forever be enmity between him and the Woman. Lourdes was to be no exception to this rule.
The Satanic manifestation had begun during the fourth Apparition, when Bernadette had heard the cacophony of dark voices rising from the waters of the river, until silenced by the glance from the Virgin.
Now, toward, the end of the Visions, he would once more commence his assault. A young lady of Lourdes named Honorine, had been at the Grotto one day when she heard voices coming from within the empty Grotto – she said these voices produced a strange effect on her senses. This was repeated the next day, when Honorine again heard sounds – this time, savage howls and sounds like wild beasts in combat. The girl was terrified, and did not return to Massabieille for a number of weeks. The People of Lourdes said she was simply hysterical.
At the same time, a young man from Lourdes was passing the Grotto one day on his way to work before dawn. He crossed himself as he passed the rock, in honour of She who had been present there. Instantly, strange globes of light surrounded him and he felt unable to move. Terrified, he made the Sign of the Cross once more – as he did so, each of the globes of light exploded loudly around him and he was able to leave the place. As this was occurring, he could hear from within the Grotto, maniacal laughter and blasphemies.
Jean Baptiste Estrade witnessed some of the assaults of the father of lies. A lady from the Rue des Bagneres in Lourdes, named Josephine, was experiencing apparitions in the niche – this lasted for two days. Estrade watched what was happening, but said that while Bernadette was in ecstasy, he felt “transported” – with Josephine, he merely felt “surprised”.
And whereas Bernadette during her ecstasy was “transfigured”, Josephine was simply beautiful. The girl in question related to Estrade that she had indeed seen strange figures within the niche, but that she had felt suspicious of them since they appeared to her to be evil in nature, not Heavenly.
One day a young boy named Alex returned to his home in Lourdes screaming and shouting, but so paralysed with fear that he could not tell his poor mother what was the matter. After several days, he calmed down sufficiently to relate the cause of his terror –
“When I left the house I went to walk with some other children by the side of Massabieille. When I reached the Grotto I prayed for a moment. Then, while waiting for my companions, I went up to the rock. Turning toward the hollow of the rock, I saw coming towards me a beautiful lady. This lady concealed her hands and the lower part of her body in an ashen coloured cloud, like a storm cloud. She fixed on me here great black eyes and seemed to wish to seize me. I thought at once that it was the devil and I fled”.
Many other similar events occurred around this time.’
This should be a clear warning to every one of us – not everything that seems to come from Heaven, actually does so.
In some cases, our spiritual pride produces what we would like to be true; for other cases, the mind is being deluded or deceived in one way or another; and in certain cases, it is the Deceiver hard at work for reasons known only to him.
All of us need to listen very carefully to the Church and to the voice of her shepherds, the Bishops – they alone can judge authoritatively, and our viewpoint in this area never supercedes theirs.
The obedience of any alleged seer is one of the first indicators of the true source of any seemingly heavenly manifestation – we should immediately shun any who are not entirely obedient.
And for ourselves as observers, placing ourselves outwith the authority and judgement of the Church and her Bishops is generally a very clear sign that such an event is not Heavenly, and that our response is taking us along the wrong path.
The Church has very careful and comprehensive ways of judging the authenticity of any supposed heavenly revelation, which she has used consistently over the centuries and which are both tried and tested. It would be very surprising – and quite revealing – if any Catholic should seriously imagine that their personal judgement in such a matter is better than that of the Church.
May God grant all of us the grace and the light to remain obedient and docile to the voice of the Church, and to submit ourselves always and entirely to her, that we might never be led astray by ourselves, by others or by the Tempter.