Private Revelation:  There's a Weirdness in God's Mercy

Monday, February 24, 2014 1:01 AM Comments (8)

Complicating things further is the fact that sometimes the recipient of a very sketchy-looking private revelation—in the strange providence of the God who writes straight with crooked lines—receives real grace. An example of this can be seen in the recent story of a Baptist woman named Diana Duyser who believed (I am not making this up) that a grilled cheese sandwich she bit into in 1994 was a sign from God, because she saw the face of the Blessed Virgin in it:

The strange story began some 10 years ago, when Duyser prepared the sandwich for breakfast. She placed a slice of Land O’ Lakes yellow American cheese between two slices of Publix white bread and cooked it on a non-stick pan. She...READ MORE

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Various Problems Arising from Fake and False Private Revelation

Friday, February 21, 2014 1:01 AM Comments (14)

Numerous questions and problems arise from the fact of private revelation. The first and most obvious one is that a great many alleged private revelations are fake or false. Note the distinction between “fake” and “false.” A fake private revelation is a deliberate deception. An average Evangelical (and, for that matter, an average Catholic) is typically ready to assume that a claimed private revelation is fake, and there is good reason for that. The world abounds with charlatans claiming miraculous powers and looking for fame, money, sex, or power. They are found in all religious traditions. The rule of thumb regarding fake revelation is: There’s a sucker born every minute. Don’t be one...READ MORE

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Some Things to Notice about Private Revelation

Monday, February 17, 2014 1:01 AM Comments (13)

A couple of things are worth noting about the incidents of private revelation we discussed last time in this space. The first is the curious smallness of these epiphanies. No parted seas. No big explosions. They’re both intensely personal experiences. Not for nothing does Scripture refer to revelation as a “still small voice” (1 Kgs. 19:12). The recipient of the private revelation will often be the only person aware of what has happened. But for that person the whole cosmos has changed. Vistas have suddenly opened before him and he has the chance to follow God into a new world transformed by the living presence.

Or not. For, of course, our free will isn’t taken away by a private...READ MORE

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Two Examples of Private Revelation

Friday, February 14, 2014 1:01 AM Comments (22)

Let me give two illustrations of what I mean by "private revelation", one obscure and one famous (and neither having anything to do with Mary, by the way). The first concerns a woman I worked with about twenty years ago. “Betty” was a lapsed Catholic who was diagnosed with diabetes and had to be hospitalized in Seattle. They got her blood sugar under control and kept her in for a day or so to make sure all was well. She was at that stage of recovery where she was well enough to be bored, but not quite well enough to be released. As she was laying around in her hospital bed one Sunday morning, she heard what she took to be a radio in the next room. She focused on the sound and realized she...READ MORE

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Private Revelation: Public and Private Revelation

Monday, February 10, 2014 1:01 AM Comments (16)

There are two kinds of revelation. The first, called “public” or “universal” revelation, is the deposit of faith entrusted to the apostles by Christ and handed down to the Church in the form of Sacred Scripture and Tradition. This kind of revelation ended with the death of the apostles, is protected by the charism of infallibility so the Church will not lose track of it, and must be believed by all the faithful. As the Church herself makes abundantly clear, “No new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 66). 

However, in addition to this there is what the Church calls “private revelation.”...READ MORE

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Private Revelation: The Harvard Law of Divine Behavior

Friday, February 07, 2014 1:01 AM Comments (57)

The Catholic Church, faced with the same evidence confronting Alexis Carrel, Emile Zola, and the owners of the “Blessed Quietness” website, takes a different approach to claims of the supernatural that continually pop up across the world. A wry quip originally applied to laboratory animals by scientists at Harvard can be adapted to the basic Catholic principle governing the possibility of miracles in our own time:

Under carefully controlled experimental conditions, God will behave however he likes.

If God wills it, he can send the Blessed Virgin Mary to appear to children at Fatima or Lourdes; heal a dying person right in front of Alexis Carrel’s or Emile Zola’s eyes; cause a...READ MORE

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Private Revelation: Evangelical Reactions to Marian Apparitions

Monday, February 03, 2014 1:01 AM Comments (44)

Evangelicals tend to reject Marian apparitions in one of four ways:

They are chalked up to (a) mental instability, (b) stupidity, (c) human deception, and/or (d) demonic deception. Admittedly, there is a lot of grist for such views. Scarcely a month goes by without somebody reporting that the Virgin Mary has shown up in a carpet stain in Bugtussle, Oklahoma. And the world certainly has its share of people with a screw loose who are certain the Virgin is taking time out of her busy schedule to command them to be louder and more flamboyant kooks.

But, of course, the argument that “some people who claim to see the Blessed Virgin are crooks, fools, or nuts, therefore everybody else who...READ MORE

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Private Revelation: Disagreements Among Christians About Modern Miracles

Monday, January 27, 2014 1:01 AM Comments (14)

Even though belief in powers beyond this world is common to Christians and other supernaturalists, there are still huge divisions between Christianity and all other religious traditions. Moreover, there are divisions within Christianity concerning the reality and nature of supernatural occurrences today, particularly when they involve the Blessed Virgin. It’s to these differences among Christians that we now turn.

All orthodox Christians believe in the miraculous, for they believe that the Something beyond nature intervened in nature by taking on human flesh and being born at Bethlehem. However, not all Christians believe the miraculous occurs today. One school of thought among some...READ MORE

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.