1) Visions and apparitions, sometimes interior locution, are all found in the Bible, and our faith tells us that these exist and are the work of the Holy Spirit. See for instance Peter’s speech at Pentecost, in which he cites the prophet Joel. (Acts 2,17 et seq)
These phenomena are of great importance in the Church’s evangelisation: St Peter has visions which guide him to explain the Gospel to the pagans (Acts 10,3 et seq); St Paul too has visions which guide him towards the work of evangelisation (Acts 16,9 et seq).
The Vatican Council, in Lumen Gentium no 12, sets extraordinary charismata in relation to the action of the Church: “And these charismata, be they extraordinary or more simple and more usual, since they are suitable and useful to the requirements of the Church, must be accepted with gratitude and joy. However, extraordinary gifts must not be sought expetenda: that is, requested imprudently and with insistence, nor should anyone presume to hope that apostolic works will bear fruit; judgement of their authenticity and orderly use belongs to the ecclesiastical authorities, whose task above all is not to extinguish the Spirit, but to examine everything and retain what is good (see Thessalonians 5,12; 19-21)”. The first Epistle to the Corinthians (14,1) states: “Desire spiritual gifts”, but in the light of the passage from Lumen Gentium quoted above.
2) Visions, apparitions, and interior locution – as is noted in the context of mysticism – are not directly part of the supernatural organism of Christian life, which consists in sanctifying grace, inspired virtues, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and present grace.
Holiness, even in the highest degree, may come to a person who has never had extraordinary gifts, since “charity … is the bond of perfectness” (Colossians 3,14).
These extraordinary gifts must be accepted with gratitude and joy, that is to say, in a spirit of love for God and our fellow-men. It must be kept in mind at all times that it is the Spirit which distributes its gifts (see 1 Corinthians 12,11) "to every man severally, as he will"
St Teresa of Avila warns us that we should not desire visions and interior locution properly relative to mystical elevations; the same advice is given by St John of the Cross (see Ascent of Mount Carmel II,11).
For the person receiving them, these gifts are a trial, since they require a strong spirit of oblation, great humility, and persistent obedience to the Church, to a true spiritual director; otherwise one is prey to the deceits of the Devil.
The value of private revelations
The term “private revelation” defines visions/revelations tending to encourage greater adherence to "public and definitive revelation" and a greater sense of belonging to the Church. CCC n° 67 states that “down the centuries there have been revelations defined as ‘private’, some of which have received recognition by the Church … their role is not to ‘complete’ the Definitive Revelation of Christ, but to keep alive this revelation at a particular time in history”.
The document presenting the Message of Fatima, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 2000, states that
The authoritativeness of private revelations is essentially different from the only public revelation, which requires our faith, since through it – by means of human speech and through the mediation of the living community of the Church - God Himself speaks to us.
"Private revelation" is an aid when the light of the Gospel is dimmed, and is credible because it refers to the only public revelation. The criterion for the truth and value of a private revelation is therefore its orientation to Christ. When it is distant from Him, when it becomes independent or tries to pass itself off as another or better plan for salvation, it certainly does not come form the Holy Spirit, which guides us through the Gospel. This does not mean that a private revelation may not show a new emphasis, showing us new forms of compassion or extending and reinforcing those already known, but in all this, there must be sustenance for faith, hope and charity, which are, for all of us, the permanent way to salvation.
The first judgement of a private revelation is given by the receiver, who however, is advised to be prudent and to turn to a spiritual advisor.
Then, when the private revelation has become a public fact and a recognised incident in the life of the faithful, the bishop should take an interest in it, first of all privately, by setting up a theological commission to examine the case.
Often the church authorities take time to express a judgement, and in this case it is left to the people concerned, who must act with “sensus fidei”, which they possess when they live within the Church and are obedient to the Church. This is the beginning of a severe trial: the subject in question remains obedient and the Church investigates his or her obedience. The person does not have the comfort of the Church’s judgement when made the object of distrust and disapproval: think of St Pio of Pietrelcina. Therefore the judgement rests entirely on the subject, who must turn for support to Holy Scripture, to the Church’s writings, to theology, and to their own sincerity. They must be ready to leave all behind and to keep silent; but cannot enter into conflict with their personal capacity for being ever sincere to themselves, they cannot enter into conflict with their own abilities denuded of everything which might lead to accepting deception: this would lead to mental decline. It is a path to purification; a dark night of the soul, according to St John of the Cross.
Consider the distrust and reserve shown to St Bernadette by her priest, or St Teresa of Avila whose writings were at first held to be diabolical by the theologians to whom they were submitted. Consider the action of the Jesuit Father Crivelli, charged to examine St Veronica Giuliani in her convent in Città di Castello. And the methods used in the past included isolating the subject under examination: a form of imprisonment.
The Church – but rarely – leaves the matter to time and to the judgement of the faithful, when there is no question of heresy or behaviour contrary to moral (for example, the apparition of the virgin Mary to the Protestant Bruno Cornacchiola at Tre Fontane, 12 April 1947).
But more usually the Church intervenes expressing approval or disapproval. Approval by the Church requires only reasonable assent by human faith, on the basis that the Church has carried out proper investigation over a reasonable period of time.
Cardinal Prospero Lambertini, later Pope Benedict XIV,in “De servorum Dei beatificatione et canonizatione” says: “Revelationibus, etsi approbatis, non debere, nec posse a nobis adhiberi assensum fideu catholicae, sed tantum fidei humanae, iuxta regula prudentia, quas praedictae revelaziones sunt probabiles et pie credibiles”.(III, chapter 53, n.15, Aldima, Prato 1840)
“Sequitur posse aliquem, salva et integra fide catholica, assensum revelationibus praedictis non praestare, et ab eis recedere dummodo id fiat cum debita modestia, non sine ratione, et citra contemptum” ( Ivi, III, ch. 53 n 15).
Pio X presents the same view:
“Eiusmodi apparitiones seu revelationes neque approbatas neque dammatas ab Apostolica Sede fuisse, sed tantum permissas tamquam pie credendas fide solum humana, iuxta traditionem quam ferunt…” (AAS, 40 1907, 649).
Approval by a Pope is obviously especially significant, but nevertheless the assent required for any particular apparition is always one of human faith, naturally bearing n mind that divine faith tells us that revelations exist, since the Holy Scripture speaks of them. This apples to Lourdes and Fatima.
Writings on private revelations must be submitted to the ecclesiastical authorities
In many writings by pseudo-mystics we can read: “The Decree by the Congregation for the Faith (AAS n 58/16, 29 December 1966)revoking canons 1399 and 2318 was approved by Pope Paul VI on 14 October 1966. Therefore it is no longer forbidden to divulge without the imprimatur writings concerning new apparitions, revelations, visions, prophesies and miracles”.
The date of the document is different: (AAS v. 58 / 15 June 1966 / n. 6). In a press release by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Holy See bulletin n° 447 dated 29/11/1996 is written: "The interpretation made by some writers concerning a Decision approved by Paul VI on 12 October 1966 (“plenario conventu”) and promulgated on 15 November of the same year, in virtue of which writings and messages deriving from presumed revelations may be freely circulated in the Church, is entirely invalid. The Decision mentioned above referred in reality to the abolition of the Index of forbidden books, and stated that, despite the removal of the relative censorship, there nevertheless remained a moral obligation not to read or distribute those writings which endanger faith or morals. Concerning the distribution of texts of presumed private revelations, the decree in force (1983) can.823 is still valid.”
Canon 823 §1: “In order to safeguard the integrity of the truth of faith and of morals, the pastors of the Church have the duty and the right to be vigilant that no damage is done to the belief and morals of the faithful through writings or the use of instruments of social communication; it is equally necessary that any writings touching on faith or morals are first subjected to scrutiny and that writings damaging to faith or morals be censured”.
This is the entire text of the notification by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,15 June 1996 (AAS v. 58 / 15 June 1966 / n. 6):
Sacra Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, notificatio
Post Litteras Apostolicas, a verbis incipientis “Integrae servandae” Motu Proprio datas die VII mensis decembris anno 1965, non paucae pervenerunt ad S. Sedem percontationes de Indicis librorum prohibitorum conditione, quo Ecclesia ad integritatem fidei et morum, iuxta divinum mandatum, tuendam huncusque usa est.
Ut memoratis petitionibus respondeatur, haec S. Congregatio pro Docrina Fidei, facto verbo cum Beatissimo Patre, nuntiat Indicem suum vigorem moralem servare, quatenus Christifidelium conscientiam docet, ut ab illis scriptis, ipso iure naturali exigente, caveant, quae fidem ac bonos mores in discrimen adducere possint; eundem tamen non amplius vim legis ecclesiasticae habere cum adiectis censuris.
Quam ob rem Ecclesia fidelium maturae conscientiae confidit, praesertim auctorum et editorum catholicorum atque eorum qui iuvenibus instituendis operam navant. Firmissimam autem spem collocat in vigili sollicitudine et singulorum Ordinariorum et Conferentiarum Episcopalium, quorum ius et officium est libros noxios tum inspiciendi tum praeveniendi atque, si res tulerit, reprehendendi et improbandi.
S. Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, ad mentem Litterarum Apostolicarum “Integrae servandae” ac Concilii Vaticani II decretorum, communicare sataget, si opus est, cum orbis catholici Ordinariis ut eorum sedulitatem adiuvet, in diiudicandis operibus editis, in sana contra insidiosam promovenda cultura, collatis etiam viribus com Institutis et studiorum Universitatibus.
Si autem doctrinae et opiniones quovis modo evulgatae prodierint, quae fidei ac morum principiis adversentur, et eorum auctores ad errores corrigendos humaniter invitati id facere noluerint, S. Sedes iure et officio suo utetur ad talia scripta etiam publice reprobanda, ut animarum bono ea qua par est firmitate consulat.
Apte denique providebitur, ut Ecclesiae iudicium de editis operibus in Christifidelium notitiam perveniat.
Datum Romae, ex Aedibus S. Officii, d. XIV iunii, a. MCMLXVI.
A. Card. Ottaviani, Pro-praefectus S: C: pro Doctrina Fidei
+ P. Parente, a Secretis
“Following the Apostolic Letter beginning with the words “Integrae servandae”, promulgated with Motu Proprio on 7 December 1965, the Holy See received numerous queries concerning the Index of Forbidden Books, which the Church had hitherto used to safeguard the integrity of faith and morals according to divine will. In order to reply to these petition, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, after consultation with the Most Holy Father, confirms that the Index retains its moral strength to instruct the consciences of the faithful so that they may turn aside from those writings which may endanger faith and correct morals; however, the Index no longer constitutes ecclesiastical law with the censure entailed. The Church, therefore, trusts in the mature conscience of the faithful, especially of Catholic authors and publishers and all those who are concerned in the education of the young. The Church also relies on the vigilance and attention of individual Ordinaries and Episcopal Conferences, whose right and duty it is to examine and foresee harmful titles and, if circumstances require, to censure and disapprove them. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in accordance with the spirit of the Apostolic Letter “Integrae servandae” and the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, undertakes to remain in contact, if necessary, with all Catholic Ordinaries the world over to support their diligence in judging published writings to promote a healthy culture against an insidious one, in collaboration with Institutes and Universities. And if the authors of doctrines and opinions, however distributed, which go against faith and moral principles refuse, although courteously requested, to correct their errors, the Holy See, on the grounds of its right and duty to condemn such writings even publicly, shall deliberate with the firmness necessary for the good of the souls in its care. And lastly, steps shall be taken to ensure that the judgement of the Church concerning these works is brought to the notice of the faithful”.
The right and duty of the Church, then, is to foresee, through examining writings to be published (or other forms of publication, such as video-cassettes, CDs, films) the distribution of texts endangering the spiritual growth of the faithful, and to intervene in the case of non-observance of the guidelines by Catholic writers and publishers. The Church also has the duty and the right to condemn firmly and publicly such errors, whether committed by Catholics or non-Catholics.
On 15 November the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith emanated this Decree (AAS v. 58 / 15 November 1966 / n. 16):
“Post editam “Notificationem” diei 14 iunii c. a. circa “Indicem” librorum prohibitorum, quaesitum fuit ab hac S. Congregazione pro Doctrina Fidei an in suo vigore permaneant can. 1399, quo quidam libri ipso iure prohibentur, et can. 2318, quo quaedam poenae ferentur in violatores legum de censura et prohibitione librorum.
Dubiis in plenario conventu fer. IV diei Octobris 1966 propositis, E.mi Patres rebus Fidei tutandis praepositi respondendum decreverunt:
1) Negavive ad utrumque, quoad vim legis ecclesiasticae; iterum tamen inculcato valore legis moralis, quae omnino prohibet fidem ac bonos mores in discrimen adducere;
2) eos vero, qui forte innodati fuerint censuris de quibus in can. 2318, ab iisdem absolutos habendos esse ipso facto abrogationis eiusdem canonis.
Et in Audientia E.mo Cardinali Pro-Praefecto S. Congregationis pro Doctrina Fidei die 14 eiusdem mensis et anni concessa, praefatum decretum S. Pontifex Paulus Papa VI benigne adprobare dignatus est et publici iuris fieri mandavit.
Datum Romae, ex aedibus S. Congregationis pro Doctrina Fidei, die 15 novembris 1966.
A. Card. Ottaviani, Pro-Praefectus
+ P. Parente, Secretarius
After the “Notification” of 14 June concerning the Index of forbidden books, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was asked whether canon 1399 was still in force, in which certain books “ipso iure” were prohibited, and canon 2318 which set out certain punishments for those who violated the laws concerning the censorship and prohibition of certain books.
These doubts were set out in the plenary meeting on Wednesday 12 October 1966, and the Most Eminent Fathers charged with safeguarding the faith decreed the following reply:
1) Negatively to both as concerns the power of ecclesiastical law; confirming nonetheless the value of the moral law which forbids endangering faith and good morals;
2) those who may have met with censorship in accordance with can. 2318, must be freed from such, on the repeal of the canon.
And in the audience granted to the Most Eminent Cardinal Pro-Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the 14th day of the same month and year, His Holiness Pope Paul VI Papa benignly approved the above-mentioned decree and decided that it be made public.
The Decree of Urban VIII states that it is the Church alone which must decide whether an occurrence is supernatural or not.
The imprimatur which may have been granted to private revelations is not binding with regard to the supernatural quality of occurrences; it merely states that there are no heresies contained therein and nothing contrary to good morals. A pronunciation concerning the supernatural quality of occurrences is required.
The imprimatur – if there is no explicit declaration concerning the supernatural quality of the facts – is granted in the sense that the revelations presented are no more than meditations by the subject concerned.
4) The theological value of “private” revelations
“Private” not because addressed to one person only; in any case, they remain “private” only for a very short time; but “private” as opposed to “public”, which determines faith; it is public because proclaimed to all people, not simply because means of communication exist, but because it is the Christian message.
Today apparitions have a huge resonance because of the speed with which news travels (press, radio, Tv), and the rapid organisation of pilgrimages, while the public judgement of the ecclesiastical authorities is slow: an examining committee to look into the phenomenon in depth, then the pronunciation; and by the time the pronunciation is made the phenomenon has already reached huge proportions and this must be kept in mind if one wishes to be ecumenical, etc.”
This is a serious problem.
Examples of how human elements may be present:
Private revelations, being subject to human error on the part of the persons concerned or by their secretaries, may contain mistakes. Benedict XIV (op. cit) states that if a revelation is inexact in certain details, this does not mean that the rest is untrue.
In the case of false revelations, the state of error is systematic, but this does not signify that there may not be some truths included with the errors.
St Joan of Arc asked her voices if she would burn, and was told to put herself in the hands of the Lord God by whom she would be freed with great victory. This interior locution did not mean that she would escape martyrdom, as she understood, but that she would be victorious in her martyrdom.
Sister Mary de Agreda (1602-1665) saw the seven Ptolemaic heavens open for the Incarnation. Anyone who started from that particular revelation would have remained anchored to a mistaken astronomical system.
And then, we have to be certain that subsequent editing has not altered the original tenor. This happened to Anna Katharina Emmerick (1774-1824) whose books were evidently heavily dependent on the author who wrote down her visions.
Their theological value is in the impulse they give to theological considerations, since they underline truths which at certain times may seem to be obscure.
They are useful because theologians find a clearer understanding of the Holy Scriptures, which are the basis for action in thought.
They are useful because they become part of popular belief, which is “the first and most important form of enculturation of faith, which however has to be guided and directed by the indications given in the liturgy, but which enriches faith beginning in the heart.” (Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the message of Fatima).
5) There are two distinct kinds of vision: exterior or corporeal, and imaginary
Exterior or corporeal visions are those in which a vision is impressed on the retina: that is, a figure appears before the subject’s eye. These can be sent by God, but an angel can also cause them, as is expressly declared in Holy Scripture, concerning the Archangel Raphael (see Tobit 12,19); St Thomas tells us that it is done by organizing aerial matter (see Summa, I q.51, aa 2), but to us it is entirely mysterious. The devil, being also an angel, can also cause visions.
Imaginary visions may come about either by action on the images acquired by the subject or through new images. The second method is impossible for the devil, who can act only through images already acquired. The process is perfectly possible if we compare it with the hallucinations of a sick person.
These can give us a great overview of things (see the dreams of Joseph or Nebuchadnezzar, etc). they may be produced in sleep or in a state of ecstasy, or even with no ecstasy. The devil cannot transmit new images, therefore the Church’s questioning for judgement undertakes, among other things, to see if the description of the vision contains elements already known to the subject. For example, in a vision of the Virgin Mary it is necessary to check whether the description of the Madonna coincides with the image the subject sees in his or her parish church or in some other church know to him/her. If this is the case, it is advisable to be suspicious. The devil may be responsible; and of course it is possible that the subject is hallucinating. Some years ago, after the showing of a film about St Bernadette, many people began to say that they had seen the Madonna.
Intellectual visions come about in the intelligence, with no notable impression or image. They give the soul absolute certainty of their authenticity. In the Life of St Teresa, chapter 27 no. 5, is written: The Lord puts His impression on the soul so clearly as to leave no room for doubt …; the soul becomes so certain that doubt then has no strength”.
The devil most certainly cannot cause intellectual visions.
St Thomas states very clearly that only God can directly touch the powers of the soul: intellect and will. (Summa, I q.111, aa 1-2). So does St John of the Cross (The Ascent of Mount Carmel, book 2, ch. 26, 5-6; The Dark Night of the Soul, book 2 ch. 23, 8). A bad angel cannot directly touch the powers of the soul, even of a subject voluntarily dedicated to the devil. St John of the Cross does state however that such a subject is more open to the influence of the devil’s bad words and actions (see The Ascent of Mount Carmel, book 2, ch.31,2).
6) Interior locutions may be aural or Imaginary
Aural locutions may be perceived as a voice outside the subject, or as coming from the heart. Those in the heart may come from God, but also from the devil, who acts on the imagination but also on the psychological process of the subject’s concentration on self.
Intellectual locutions. These may be of three types: successive, formal, substantial.
Successive locutions come about with the progress of the subject’s thought, with the aid of the Holy Spirit; successive because not an instant, intuitive light.
Formal locutions come about without the subject’s being engaged in the process of reflection.
Substantial locutions are formal locutions with the added power of producing within the soul that which is spoken: “Be humble; be calm”.
7) Other phenomena
Discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 12,10) is the knowledge of the secrets of hearts communicated by God. Certain and infallible knowledge cannot be given by the devil. Probable or conjectural knowledge is possible for angels and therefore also for the devil – and for clever psychologists.
Hierognosis is the recognition of what is holy - blessed rosaries, the consecrated Host, sacred relics - without the need for investigation.
Ecstasy is a grace given by prayer and is therefore part of the process (the extraordinary way) of degrees of mystical prayer; it has a sanctifying value: it may be sweet or painful. It causes strange phenomena, causing abstraction from the senses. It can have three causes: God, the devil, or a psychological state, but here we are in the field of pathology. Lowering of body temperature, rigidity of the body (at times) and unawareness of external action on the subject (such as a burn, for example.).
Stigmata are the re production of the signs of the Passion of Christ: wounds on the hands and in the side, and on the shoulder. They are brought about by God and remain open without becoming infected. They may be invisible while still causing pain; visible stigmata bleed. They can also be the work of the devil, as is proved by a number of cases. If stigmata are self-induced with the use of sharp pointed instruments they will soon become infected. Judgement of their authenticity depends on the holiness of the subject and their obedience to the Church.
Tears of blood are a phenomenon by which the subject weeps blood instead of tears; it is caused by broken capillary veins in the conjunctiva. Teresa Neuman (1898-1962) showed this phenomenon.
Sweating blood is a phenomenon which echoes Christ’s sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is caused by broken capillary veins, and this phenomenon too can be caused by the devil.
Lengthy fasting (inanition) is a phenomenon by which the subject lives without taking any nourishment.
Agility is the phenomenon which caused St Philip the Deacon to be caught up by the Holy Spirit and removed to Azotus. Like levitation, it may be caused by the devil.
Bilocation is a phenomenon brought about in this way: an angel takes on the appearance of the subject and is seen somewhere, while the subject is aware of this. The angel, or (an alternative explanation) some figure produced by God says the things the subject wishes to communicate.
Levitation is a phenomenon which causes the subject to be elevated from the ground.
Ability to pass through a solid body. Christ came into the supper room through closed doors. St Veronica Giuliani entered her cell through the wall, so that one of her sisters who was looking for her saw her inexplicably inside her cell when a moment earlier she had been outside it. so too St Rita who entered her monastery through closed doors, and St Raymond of entered his convent in Barcelona through locked doors. This phenomenon cannot be produced by the devil.
The ancient Roman haruspexes often found that their victims had no heart or had two. This was brought about by “sleight of hand” inspired by the devil, who can distract the subject so that the trick is not noticed. There was no shortage of hearts for sacrifices.
Light and radiance are phenomena which can be produced by the devil.
Perfumes (single scents) can also be produced by the devil.
Glossolalia is speaking in other languages (speaking in tongues); see 1 Corinthians 14,4 et seq. This too may be the work of the devil, as can be clearly seen in the case of exorcisms, where a subject becomes able to speak in languages completely unknown to him or her.
8) Some observations on the scientific-naturalistic hypothesis concerning the phenomena observed in spiritualism, because the said hypothesis has a bearing on the interpretation of matters of the spirit
Spiritualism displays a whole series of errors. For while the existence of the dead is recognised, there is no appropriate concept of the spirit: spirit and matter are different in form but substantially one and the same, from one Energy. In ancient spiritualism it was accepted that the medium was possessed by the spirit summoned, but in modern spiritualism (ultraphany) one speaks of mental currents which carry with them thoughts and images.
Parapsychology, paranormal, preternatural occurrences. This last term is preferred by some, but to speak of the preternatural is to say that something is beyond the possibility of human nature and therefore not inherent in human nature itself.
The forces in play, although called by different names, are held to be biopsychic forces, mediumistic forces, psychic fluids, purely natural. Nothing is known about their exact nature; the phenomena in question are merely recorded, and although these are occasionally reproduced under observation in laboratories, other times it is noted that laboratory conditions impede the reproduction.
The general principle is that it is sufficient to demonstrate that these phenomena conform to the great general laws of nature. Undoubtedly this occult force, psychic fluid, will have an effect, just as do electricity and heat, but not against the general laws of cause and effect, action and reaction, constancy of the phenomenon, and the laws governing the fields where the action is in relation to the distance from a source of energy: a magnetic field.
The phenomena do not appear with any constancy, but it is said that this is dictated by psychic situations.
Pope Benedict XIV, in his treatise De Beatificazione, lists levitation among the phenomena which may be produced naturally. The reasoning is that at the end of an episode of levitation, the subject is exhausted, which proves that there has been an outpouring of energy and that the subject is the source. But the levitation of saints is a different matter, as the subject is not exhausted after the experience. There is imaginative talk of vorticose multiplanes emitted by the subject and agents working against the air, which make something like invisible extra limbs. The subject does not merely emit energy, but builds something like scaffolding. And here we are going against general laws and presupposing the existence of forces which once emitted obey an intention of the mind. To define correctly, we should say that the subject, in a state of concentration, radiates energy around himself/herself, in all directions; but having stated this we should then consider that the energy is concentrated in one direction only in order to produce a reaction. But no organ is able to give this direction. If one places a high-voltage light bulb upside-down on the ground, it does not take off like a rocket. Photon rays are possible only in space.
Let us consider telepathy
Telepathy is a form of communication between people some distance apart; there is no limit to that distance. Unusual noises are heard: creaks, tapping noises on furniture, brief messages, exhortations, even visual perceptions.
Telepathy is commonly understood to mean thought transmission. Thought is a spiritual matter involving the brain. It must be recognised that the brain not only receives elements from the senses but also acts on the images connected to thought in transmission waves, which have the ability to call up the same images in another brain, and the receiving brain interprets them in the same way as the transmitting brain. But it is waves which are transmitted, not images, and therefore an organ able to interpret the waves is needed, and an organ capable of re-working the incoming waves and deciphering them. Each brain must have three brains in order to be able to block out the waves arriving and leaving and still function correctly – otherwise it would exist in a state of permanent abstraction from the real world. The scope of the transmitter is in relation to its power and therefore to its ability to modulate power as well as waves. This affirmation is unacceptable because anthropologically mistaken. Further, there is no scientific evidence for telepathy, which is based purely on a description of phenomena.
A look at recorded events (psychometry)
This is a theory that the environment surrounding the subject is like a record on which the subject’s emission is recorded. Another subject coming into contact with that environment and with objects therein, if in possession of certain powers, becomes aware of the data recorded. How wonderful for police forensic departments if this were true! It must be admitted that a certain impression of waves must be preserved and it should be possible to record without recording,; simple absorption of waves. But the absorption needs to be orderly, and therefore transmitted in an orderly way. Matter has to be ordered, and to stay ordered, in the same way as the message: that is, an image, and then another image, and so on, to tell a story. And also, the objects in question would need to be in a state of perfect preservation; the slightest alteration would spoil everything. Anyone who knows anything at all about CDs, magnetic tapes, recording machines or microprocessors knows that in the real world a state of perfect preservation is impossible.
And what about ectoplasm?
There is no constancy in phenomena. Not only is substance emitted (materialisations), but it is shapeless substance with faces, limbs: the existence of a material we know not what, which shapes itself variously. Where do these forms come from? How are they caused? And what biological place does photographable ectoplasm have, when it goes back to where it came from? It has no place!
These are the appearance of bodily elements which are called materialised. (Sai Baba). The thought at the basis of this position is that matter is energy and that an intellect, in a state of concentration, can convert energy into material. The basic physical error here is that of confusing material with mass, which is a property of material, as Einstein and other physicists have always held.
Mass, according to Einstein’s well-known formula (E=mc2) is equivalent to energy, but energy without matter is not possible; even radiation is matter..
The anthropological error, which must be added to the physical error, is that no intellect can bring forth a bodily reality from a radiation. Materialisations are therefore clever conjuring tricks used by gurus, possibly played by that immensely astute illusionist, the devil.
Experiments with cold fusion
This is a serious reality. But the two American who announced that they had carried out a cold fusion experiment using a piece of platinum, by means of compression forces and an electric current were informed by laboratories around the world that their experiment had not been replicated..
ENEA carried out experiments with cold fusion, using a tube with variable inner pressure, with metal (platinum) shavings inside it, to be subjected to varying pressure followed by the action of an electric current. The phenomenon was repeated two or three times, but casually – that is, without being able to deduce a law of constancy. Experiments are still being carried out, and all the laws of physics are being compromised. What emerges is something obscure, protean, defying rational examination and laws based on repetition of a phenomenon in constant conditions. Reality becomes unintelligible, contradictory, mysterious, so that we are no longer in the realm of scientific truth but in the toils of obscure alienating deception.
So-called spirit photographs were often made during séances. A photograph was taken and developed, and there appeared the image of the dead.
Similarly, video recordings were made, showing images not present in the field of the recording.
Voices and music were also recorded, voices and messages which did not come from any source present.
This occurs when the medium writes automatically, without voluntarily moving hand or arm. This does not come from God, because the subject is not free but in the power of a harmful action. I remember the case of a young woman who became schizophrenic after automatic writing experiments, because she was unable to deal intellectually and psychologically with such an experience.
9) General criteria for examining a case
Historic criterion: be certain that the facts really happened. In the case of, for example, weeping, make sure there is no trickery involved.
Psychological criterion: examine the subject/s, to ascertain they are psychologically normal. Look at temperament (calm or passionate). Check power of intellect, culture, experiences, sincerity; and above all, that the subject’s behaviour is virtuous: humility and obedience are called for. Verify in this way the subject’s credibility.
Theological criterion: see if the mover is God, or the devil, or simply imagination. This entails examining the spiritual environment of the faithful, and rigorous investigation of any miracles strictly linked to the apparition (see the miracle of the sun at Fatima, a miracle witnessed by all the throng of people present, including sceptics and atheists.)
Mode of approach: neither sceptical, nor gullible
Be prepared to believe that extraordinary gifts really do exist (Acts 11,23-24): ”When Barnabas came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, for he was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith, and he exhorted them all to cleave unto the Lord”, while at the same time keeping a distance, seeing and understanding, for Scripture warns us against false prophets.
(Matthew 7,21): “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have we not cast out devils and done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Methods of investigation:
Speak with the persons concerned and listen to the description of the phenomena.
Examine the spiritual climate around the presumed source of private revelations. Observe the virtue of the subject/s. See St Philip Neri, the woman in Rome with the Eucharist in her home.
Ask for written or oral reports on occurrences; this will show up any contradictions there may be. Or there may be doctrinal errors, incompatible with a revelation coming form God. Request that all experiences be recorded and given to the examiner; there must be no secret source, since this would decree the unreliability of the subject. This is fundamental, since non-acceptance may then be justified referring to the written record.
St Veronica Giuliani was charged by her bishop to record, on paper given to her a little at a time, the experiences she was undergoing.
The weeping Madonna of Civitavecchia. First the bishop distanced himself form this, doubting the historical veracity, but then he himself witnessed the phenomenon. He then had the red substance examined to see if it was human blood. His request stopped there, but the two laboratories involved went further, establishing that it was human blood, from a male subject. At this juncture, there is evidence enough to express a theological judgement and close the matter, but instead the investigation continued, leaving open the possibility that the Madonna had wept the blood of Christ. The irregular trajectory of the tears also had to be examined – it seemed they had been displaced by a strong wind. And people fantasised about the shape they made: some people thought they saw the shape of Italy.
What is missing here is the necessary consideration that the entire phenomenon may be the work of the devil.
And there is no credence in recent newspaper stories that the Pope secretly visits Civitavecchia and carries out secret devotions there.
The case of A. G. in Bologna. Daily conversations with St Pio of Pietrelcina and many other saints. Daily recital of thirty rosaries. An attitude of great devotion. Some healing.
The case is resolved with a series of conversations, in which the subject claims to have some writings, to be published after his death. The bishop duly asks to see these writings; some material is presented, but it is not what was expected. Examination of these documents reveals a number of errors and also a sort of diary referring to other writings not presented.
A young woman enters a confessional in San Giovanni Rotondo and claims to see St Pio of Pietrelcina. She claims that he appears holding a book in which are listed the blessings he gives. I tell her no such book exists, and she is surprised. She tells me that at times he appears whimpering, wishing for her company. She once saw him kneel and kiss the feet of a little girl. She tells me St Pio tells her she must not ask for money. I ask for her phone number and call her, asking her to write everything down in a notebook and give it to me. A few days later, that phone is cut off.
During a mission to the people of Pompeii a woman tells me that the soul of her late husband is always with her. Sometimes she feels him caress her lovingly, sometimes she hears gentle words spoken in her husband’s voice; other times she seems to feel his presence in bed with her. I reply according to theology: the souls of the dead are in heaven, or in hell, or in purgatory. A soul is not an angel, which can move about. A soul is a spiritual entity made to inhabit the body; separated from the body it has no angelic properties. In order to come on to the earth it must be brought here by God or by an angel. Therefore, people who feel the presence and the voices of their dead must be enlightened. The woman was disbelieving when I suggested it might be a trick of the devil, and I told her that when she felt this presence she should take refuge in prayer. She went one better and said affectionately to the perceived soul of her husband: “Let’s say an ‘“Our Father”. The response was a dark, sneering “Bah!!” She then agreed that I was right.
To assess if the source is God, an angel, the devil, or the subject
Check for propositions contrary to morals and faith
For instance, revelations of spiritualism are full of negations of the Catholic truth.
Check if there are indecent words or detailed descriptions of sexual vices. Obscene depictions of the vices of the clergy, as an excuse to encourage prayer for them.
Tragic descriptions of punishments. The word of God with none of His mercies. Catastrophic events which are an offence against Christian hope and the vision of a God who takes into account the weaknesses of his creatures and does not torment them, creating a n exaggerated fear of catastrophe.
Requests for impossible deeds, which would evoke despair. (In the Life of St Catherine of Bologna we can read that the devil would appear to her as a crucifix, ordering her to carry out impossible tasks, to lead her into despair.)
But the reverse is also true: the messages may suggest quietism and sensationalism.
These are propositions which do not go directly against truth, but they leave room for error. Like a time bomb, when admitted they take over from an inner life of humility, obedience and common sense. They become stones on the path, impeding serene, useful progress. Messages which come from God or from an angel communicate unequivocally (The Word of God is a two-edged sword dividing even the joints and the marrow: Hebrews 4,12) the substance they wish to convey. If the words require “systematic adjustment”, that is an interpretation in order to arrive at unambiguous orthodoxy, then mediation is necessary, not for understanding but to eliminate any ambiguity from the message. The assimilation of the word is made more difficult by this operation, which results in a reduction of will, since the intellect is constantly engaged elsewhere.
Example: Father Gatti of Rome and the “clairvoyant” Marisa
The text: “Mother of the Eucharist”. This title should be refused at once. Mary is the Mother of Christ. The Eucharist as a sacrament retains the appearance of bread through divine action. Cardinal Ruini recently condemned the title and issued a warning to the priest concerned.
Course of action: systematic presentation of two equal concepts in the same proposition. Where one concept is expressed with an image or a figure, and the other - which is exactly the same concept - in spiritual language (see 1 Corinthians 2,13). Or there may be two related concepts coupled by the conjunction ‘and’ in the same proposition, one expressed with a physical image and one in spiritual language. This is violence against language- .
From page 1 to page 3
“Say the morning prayers, pray slowly, slowly, without haste, and above all, pray with your heart”
This is unnecessary repetition. The first part of the proposition describes prayer in physical terms in its need to be an inner feeling.
“During the day, recite slowly a part of the rosary, pause at every mystery and meditate on it”.
More unnecessary repetition: slowly – pause – meditate.
“Prayer in a group will distract you less than prayers said alone. Prayers said with your loved ones, relatives, friends, or members of a community, are more powerful and more agreeable to God”
Prayer in a group distracts neither more nor less.
More powerful and more agreeable is a repetition.
“I repeat, pray slowly and with your heart, give the first place in your thoughts to God”.
Slowly and with your heart is an unnecessary repetition.
“Go in the peace of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost”
This expression does not denote essential unity, the text is constructed so as to perturb. Note that it does not say: of God the Father, of God the Son, of God the Holy Ghost, nor does it say: of God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Page 85: “I will share with you a maternal secret which will certainly be welcome to you: Jesus and I have read together all the messages I have given you; they contain all you need in order to reach a state of holiness”.
The Virgin Mary does not need to ask her Son to check what she says.
Page 85: “Holiness is possible for everyone, everyone can become closely united with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost”.
Page 77: “I am the Mother of the Eucharist and little by little you will all come to know me by this name. I am the Mother of the Eucharist, the Mother of Jesus, who today and for evermore, for those who seek him, is present among you in the tabernacles of your churches”.
Page 77: “I am the Mother of the Eucharist, but not everyone will accept this name which ends the story. Envy and jealousy will arise and cause suffering, but men cannot prevent God from fulfilling his plans: when you call on me - “Mother of the Eucharist pray for us” – I will grant you what you ask for, if it is consistent with the Divine will; already spiritual and physical graces have been obtained through this invocation. Now I kneel before my Son and humbly ask Him to bless these small statuettes, and I too bless them. Those who pray before them with sincere hearts, those who pray for their brothers, or for those who cause them suffering, I will grant special graces. My dear children, this is the image of the Mother of the Eucharist; take it into your homes, if you wish, and make it known to others. I wish to be invoked and loved as “the Mother of the Eucharist”.
Example: Book: “Jesus and Mary to the men of today”
This book, unfortunately, has even succeeded in securing an Imprimatur. The message claims that Mary and Jesus descend from heaven as the result of an action which takes possession of a person (pseudo mystic) who then acts like an automaton guided by Mary or by Jesus; the person in question is literally “exploited”. Here we are not in the presence of an apparition, but of an exact equivalent of “automatic writing”.
Course of action: an error and then in the following proposition the correction for the error.
Here follow some passages:
Vol. II Page 37: “In how many places have I come down and showed myself! They are called places of apparition. All this to give signs of love. All my works are works of love (…) it is very easy for me to come down to earth to take and to give. My children, here is no vision. It cannot be understood. A great event, an extraordinary gift (…) this is the gift of face-to-face contact. Each one of you can receive in this way advice, words spoken for you personally, and with my intervention you will be able to reach the highest level of perfection”.
Page 80 (Jesus): “They love me, but without works. Oh, how greatly they love me, but they do not serve me! They love me in a Crucifix, because a Crucifix needs nothing. Daughter, it is not enough to please God the Father, and to love me only in a Crucifix, which is found on an altar”.
Page 86: “Daughter of my Immaculate Heart, you have taken the trouble to come and honour me in this house, in this statue, yet you have had so many other statues closer to you than this which you could have visited with less trouble … but you have understood that here there is something which makes you happier. This meeting is very different from the meetings with other statues. You have that which you find spiritually in other statues, but which visibly you can find only here”.
Page 100: “My children, I am in my rightful place. I have never taken a wrong step. The Son (pointing to the crucifix), his mother pointing to the statue of the Madonna), the Church (pointing to the priest). This is my rightful place”.
Page 29 (Jesus): “Daughter, I want to receive, I want to give. I am kind, I am powerful, I am great, so great that I have the power to become small, so small that I can enter into the Host. Men are small. Whether you believe or disbelieve, I am alive, I am real, I am whole, in the consecrated Host”.
Example: Luigi Gaspari, “Book of Love”
Report to the GRIS conference, 18/19 April 2009 at San Giovanni Rotondo
(This brief history is taken from the Book of Love). Luigi Gaspari was born in San Felice sul Panaro on 9 April 1926 and died in Cesenatico on 15 March 1995. Reading attentively the account of the meetings Luigi Gaspari had with Padre Pio it can be seen that there are two parts: the meetings which took place at San Giovanni Rotondo and those at Decima a Chianciano with the apparition of Padre Pio.
Luigi Gaspari had his first real meeting with Padre Pio as a boy, on 15 March 1940. At first, Padre Pio turned him away, but then accepted him as a spiritual son. Shortly after, on 5 May 1940, Olimpia Pia Cristallini, who had given hospitality to the boy in San Giovanni, wrote to him saying that Padre Pio was displeased with his lack of enthusiasm for his studies and of fervour in taking communion.
Luigi Gaspari lost this letter but found it once more in the attic, in September 1954, and this inspired him to return to San Giovanni Rotondo. He was welcomed by Padre Pio with paternal benevolence.
From this time onwards, Luigi Gaspari made frequent journeys to San Giovanni.
On 6 June 1956 he met Padre Pio in the vestry. Padre Pio told him to go home at once. He did so, and found his mother dying.
After his mother’s death Luigi Gaspari returned to San Giovanni.
At Christmas 1967 he once more made his confession to Padre Pio. Luigi Gaspari notes, without living the context of the words, that Padre Pio said to him: “We are going to have to work very hard in 1968. there is no time to waste”. The obvious interpretation is that these words indicated a typical new year’s resolution, but Luigi Gaspari did not interpret them thus.
At the beginning of April Luigi Gaspari began to hear a voice, which he believed was inspired by Padre Pio, probably because Padre Pio, in a vision, caused him to hear a voice which in the writings which came from it was held to be the voice of Christ.
By the end of April a manuscript had been prepared, and a copy was sent to Padre Pio. Luigi Gaspari however showed no sign of approval from San Giovanni Rotondo, and without mentioning a visit he made there he states that Padre Pio defined the notebook “Testament to the promise of grace”. Padre Pio exhorted him to publish it as soon as possible and to send it to the Holy Father, the Church hierarchy, and the whole world. “The Pope will understand it all”, he added. As there was no visit to San Giovanni Rotondo we must conclude that Padre Pio appeared to him in a vision. It should also be noted that before publishing it, the book should have been submitted to a Bishop (the Bishop of the place where publication took place) for the imprimatur.
On May 25 the feast day of the Sacred Heart was to take place in St. Louis, USA, and Padre Pio (here again there was no journey made to San Giovanni Rotondo) asked to have the Book of Love; but nothing happened. Padre Pio, according to Gaspari, “was very grieved”. Notice the contradiction: on the one hand there is reference to the ecclesiastical authorities, while on the other hand the authorities are set aside without waiting for their judgement.
In June 1968 the book was published for the first time, edited by Michele Famiglietti of Rome. Luigi Gaspari said that he had asked Padre Pio to “remove a few words” and to print the text anonymously. Padre Pio opposed both requests. Here too there is no mention of a visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, a matter of no small importance since it would have given the seal of credibility to the book.
In August 1968 a new edition was published in Rovigo, edited by Primo Capponcelli of Decima di San Giovanni in Persiceto, near Bologna. It was said that Padre Pio had requested that the book be published in May 1968, but here too there is no mention of a visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, which suggests that all took place in a vision. Already, a group of followers was forming around the figure of Luigi Gaspari.
Primo Capponcelli went confidently to San Giovanni Rotondo and began to distribute the book, but distribution was suspended and he was forbidden to speak of it. The suppression of the book was carried out by people close to Padre Pio.
Meanwhile, Luigi Gaspari was at Chianciano Terme Spa and on 20 September at 6p.m. Padre Pio “appeared” to him at the Sant'Elena spa (that it was an apparition is stated explicitly.) Padre Pio told him that he would have to bring forward the date of his departure for Heaven in order to save “what could be saved”, and complained that he was no longer listened to, even by many of his most faithful followers. He said that the words of the “Testament Promise of Grace” had not been believed, and what could have been saved in June could no longer be saved. The “Testament Promise of Grace” could however benefit individuals.
At about 5p.m. on 22 September Luigi Gaspari had a dram which he defined “prophetic”. In his dream Padre Pio appeared, surrounded by a host of angels. Padre Pio embraced him and exhorted him to be strong and not to mourn his death. Padre Pio promised to place at Gaspari’s disposal “my host of angels”, who would obey Luigi Gaspari in all things. Padre Pio would help him staying close to him and guiding him in all he would say and do.
In the night Luigi Gaspari claimed to hear “in my heart” the voice of Padre Pio asking him, Gaspari, to read the book aloud to him; and he read it, again and again, until dawn broke. At about seven o’clock that morning a telephone call from Rome informed him that Padre Pio was dead.
On 17 October 1968 Luigi Gaspari attempted to send his notebook to Pope Paul VI through Monsignor V. D'Andrea. Ten days later Monsignor D’Andrea told him that Paul VI had said: “This is high mysticism. How beautiful, this meeting between Father and son. There is not one word which needs to be removed.” No written evidence from Pope Paul VI was presented. It is altogether impossible that Pope Paul VI should have gone against the canonical procedures requiring approval by the Bishop of the town where it was published (Rovigo), and that he should have expressed an opinion without sending the little book to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The little book has been translated into French, German, Spanish, English, Polish, Russian, Portuguese, Greek, Croatian, Romanian, Arabic, Braille, Flemish, Chinese, Albanian, Hungarian, Armenian and Dutch.
What emerges from this excursus is that Luigi Gaspari made no more visits to San Giovanni Rotondo from late 1967 to early 1968 but communicated only with the apparition of Padre Pio, but it must be said that none of this has anything to do with Padre Pio.
An examination of the text
It can immediately be seen that the form of language used is a tangle of different things, making it necessary to extract single ideas; but it is sufficient to take into consideration just a few points - since the book is full of errors - to reach a verdict of divergence from Roman Catholic doctrine.
“Your heart is never entirely mine. Often you give me a piece of it, but you always save a part for your desires, for searching for other things which are not mine (...) I often hide in that little corner that you save for me. I keep watch. What do I see? I see you hungry, tired, disappointed and discontented (...) I watch you and wait for a sign, an invitation to come out of my hiding place, the place where you have put me. I am present when you call me, but even more present when you love me”.
The language is a continuing mixture, in the same passage, of the mystical and the down-to-earth.
“There would be no life without my warmth. My warmth compensates for the ice in your arid hearts. The heart of each one of you should preserve a spark of creation. When your heart is arid, that spark of creation disappears, because it is the love in your hearts that keeps all thing alive. And what do I do? I warm you with my warmth. I compensate with my heart the aridity of yours. I keep you and I keep life with the warmth of my Heart (...). I am the reserve of energy which intervenes to prevent a disaster caused by the waste you make of yours, of the one I gave you”.
Here is a confused mix of the concept of divine omnipotence and the concept of physical energy, and confusion between mystical warmth and physical warmth.
“I defend your rights over those you have loved and who try to escape from you”.
Union in Christian charity presupposes liberty, but this union is changed into a right of possession over other followers, a right to be defended.
“I return to the memory of those who did not befriend me. Now that I have his friendship, I feel certain within myself that I shall have all the friends I desire. All the friends I desire, to share with him (...). it is he who guides my every step and he will not want those he chose for himself to distance themselves, using the excuse that they wish to distance themselves from me. All those he called shall return. Now there will be a roll-call, and woe to those who do not answer”.
Friendship should be a meeting of two free persons in Christian love; but here it is seen as coercion of one free person towards another.
“I will not allow anyone to judge what you do. The moment has arrived to speak clearly and with authority. It is necessary that I give you authority”.
The subject is locked into a defensive circle. No-one may give express any judgement whatsoever. The judgement of the Church is obscured.
“My energy has formed the flesh which served to give a face to your spirit”.
It is stated that divine omnipotence does not express itself through the power of the Word, but by means of the emanation of energy.
“Your spirit existed before it put on your flesh”.
Here is professed the pre-existence of the spirit before the formation of the body.
“your being is my spirit infused into the first man; it is that same spirit which in giving life to Adam, by diverse means has come down to you. It is the means used which have contaminated the spirit which was mine”.
Here is professed the existence of a universal soul common to all men (Averroes) passed on by means of generation (traducianism).
am present in atheists, I am there waiting for you, awaiting your prayer for
union. This is the prayer which will allow you to discover my constant presence,
there where my existence is denied. I hide myself in such men.”
What is written here is intended to help discern extraordinary phenomena (visions, apparitions, interior locutions, etc.), for today there are ever greater numbers of clairvoyants and it is impossible for the Church to deal with the situation using canonical procedures; and there are very many cases not known even to the clergy.
Written 20/06/2007, updated 21/04/2009