Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Roman Catholic Interpretation of Private Revelation

Here's Mark Shea's personal interpretation of privte revelation:
Regarding private revelation, the good news is that the Church binds you to none of it. You can use that as a shield against the pressure and expectation some Catholics (not all or even most, thank God) try to put on you to sign off on their particular fave rave private revelation. The great thing about the Church is that it’s full of all kinds and is, well, catholic. If some private revelation does not help you, feel free to drop it. Don’t own the pressure friends may put on you, but also don’t feel like you have to fight back. Practice a certain detachment, nodding your head politely as you might if you were a tourist in a foreign country when one of the locals regales you with the legend of a local saint.
That’s not, by the way, to say that all claims of private revelation are fictional, mythic, or otherwise untrue. For example, I think that a dispassionate look at the evidence for, say, the apparations at Fatima reveals a very solid factual case to be made that Mary did, in fact, appear there. I contrarily think a dispassionate look at the evidence (or rather lack of evidence, not to mention counter-evidence) against the claim of Medugorje make it highly unlikely Our Lady appeared there. But even with well-established cases like Fatima or Lourdes, the Church *still* doesn’t bind our conscience. If it helps your devotion to Christ, then great. If not, or if it gives you trouble, just stick with the public revelation and it will be fine.


As a general rule, if the Church approves a private revelation, that’s good reason to suppose there’s something in it, but even then you have to remember that you are not looking at the same thing as doctrinal development or public revelation. So, for instance, St. Catherine of Siena gives us spiritually fruitful insights in her Dialogues with God the Father—but she also delivers herself of the opinion that God the Father personally told her that Mary was not immaculately conceived. Sorry, Kate, but that was just your Dominican team spirit siding with St. Thomas, who was as wrong as you were. That doesn’t mean Catherine’s mysticism is worthless. It means that Catherine was human and private revelation requires discernment subject to the Church.

1 comment:

PeaceByJesus said...

(Came across this page searching on Cath. PR) Yes, private revelations can be claimed by RCS but personal interpretation of Scripture if not in submission to Rome is not. In debate on another forum, I now have a RC asserting she personally heard "from the Father, Son and The Holy Spirit, Verbally, in their personal speaking voices," and with the other personally telling her that one is Wolf in Sheeps clothing if they are "mean" (as in reproving Rome, or an RC defending her), while other RCs attack the very concept of claiming personally esoteric surety as to what a Bible verse refers to.

And despite St. Catherine of Siena reporting d that God the Father personally told her that Mary was not immaculately conceived, CA (Private Revelation) asserts that "all the private revelations that had been received over the previous fifteen hundred years had confirmed rather than attacked the Catholic faith."

And the tradition-centric Orthodox Church of America, despite or because their own unScriptural Mariolatry, also opposes the Immaculate Conception of Mary: