VERBUM DOMINI
On The Word of God in the
Life and Mission of the Church

  Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Benedict XVI. September 30, 2010
 

 


to The Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Persons, and The Lay Faithful

 

 

 

On Private Revelation
 

 

 


   The eschatological dimension of the word of God

   Dei Verbi eschatologica ratio

14. In all of this, the Church gives voice to her awareness that with Jesus Christ she stands before the definitive word of God: he is “the first and the last” (Rev 1:17). He has given creation and history their definitive meaning; and hence we are called to live in time and in God’s creation within this eschatological rhythm of the word; “thus the Christian dispensation, since it is the new and definitive covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Tim 6:14 and Tit 2:13)”.[41 Vat.II, Dogm.Const.Div.Rev. Dei Verbum, 4.] Indeed, as the Fathers noted during the Synod, the “uniqueness of Christianity is manifested in the event which is Jesus Christ, the culmination of revelation, the fulfilment of God’s promises and the mediator of the encounter between man and God. He who ‘has made God known’ (Jn 1:18) is the one, definitive word given to mankind”.[42 Propositio 4.] Saint John of the Cross expresses this truth magnificently:

14. His rebus conscientiam patefacit Ecclesia cum Christo Iesu se coram definitivo Dei Verbo esse; ipse est « Primus et Novissimus » (Apc 1,17). Ipse definitivum creationi et historiae sensum praebuit; hac de re ad tempus vivendum vocamur necnon ad Dei creationem habitandam intra hunc Verbi eschatologicum numerum; « oeconomia ergo christiana, utpote foedus novum et definitivum numquam praeteribit, et nulla iam nova Revelatio publica exspectanda est ante gloriosam manifestationem Domini nostri Iesu Christi (cfr 1 Tim 6,14 et Tit 2,13) ».41 Etenim, ut Synodi tempore memoraverunt Patres, « christianae religionis peculiare quiddam se manifestum exhibet in Iesu Christo, qui simul est eventus, revelationis culmen, promissionum Dei impletio, mediator hominis cum Deo in congressum venientis. Ille, qui nobis Deum enarravit (cfr Io 1,18), Verbum est unicum et definitivum hominibus traditum ».42 Sanctus Ioannes a Cruce mirabiliter hanc veritatem ostendit:

“Since he has given us his Son, his only word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything at once in this sole word – and he has no more to say… because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has spoken all at once by giving us this All who is his Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behaviour but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely on Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty”.[43 St.John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, II, 22.]

« Dando quippe nobis, sicut dedit, Filium suum, qui est unicum solumque ipsius Verbum, omnia nobis simul unaque vice hoc suo unico Verbo locutus est et revelavit, neque illi quidquam dicendum manet ... Id enim quod antea per partes loquebatur prophetis, iam nobis totum in ipso dixit, ipsum nobis totum dando, id est, Filium suum. Quamobrem ille qui nunc vellet aliquid a Deo sciscitari, vel visionem aliquam aut revelationem ab eo postulare, non modo stultitiam faceret, iniuriam Deo inferret, non defigendo omnino suos oculos in Christum, vel aliam rem aut novitatem extra illum requirendo ».43

Consequently the Synod pointed to the need to “help the faithful to distinguish the word of God from private revelations”[44 Propositio 47.] whose role “is not to ‘complete’ Christ’s definitive revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history”.[45 Cat.of the Cath.Ch., 67.] The value of private revelations is essentially different from that of the one public revelation: the latter demands faith; in it God himself speaks to us through human words and the mediation of the living community of the Church.

Quapropter Synodus suasit « ut fidelibus auxilia suppeditentur idonea, quibus Verbum Dei a privatis revelationibus probe discernant »,44 quarum munus ... non est « complere » definitivam Christi Revelationem, « sed adiutorium praebere ut ipsa, in quadam historiae periodo, plenius deducatur in vitam ».45 Revelationum privatarum vis omnino secus est ac publica revelatio: haec nostram fidem requirit; in ea enim per verba humana atque communitatis Ecclesiae viventis ope nobis loquitur ipse Deus.

The criterion for judging the truth of a private revelation is its orientation to Christ himself. If it leads us away from him, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, who guides us more deeply into the Gospel, and not away from it. Private revelation is an aid to this faith, and it demonstrates its credibility precisely because it refers back to the one public revelation. Ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation essentially means that its message contains nothing contrary to faith and morals; it is licit to make it public and the faithful are authorized to give to it their prudent adhesion. Iudicium verumtamen veritatis cuiusdam privatae revelationis est eius ad Christum ipsum directio. Cum ea ab ipso dissidet, tunc certe a Spiritu Sancto haud manat, qui intra et non extra Evangelium nos dirigit. Privata revelatio hanc fidem adiuvat atque credibilis conspicitur, eo quod ad unam publicam revelationem remittit. Quocirca ecclesiastica privatae revelationis comprobatio essentialiter demonstrat eiusdem nuntium nihil continere quod a fide probisque moribus dissideat; licet eundem evulgare, atque fideles sinuntur eidem prudenter adhaerere.
A private revelation can introduce new emphases, give rise to new forms of piety, or deepen older ones. It can have a certain prophetic character (cf. 1 Th 5:19-21) and can be a valuable aid for better understanding and living the Gospel at a certain time; consequently it should not be treated lightly. It is a help which is proffered, but its use is not obligatory. In any event, it must be a matter of nourishing faith, hope and love, which are for everyone the permanent path of salvation.[46 Cf. CDF, The Message of Fatima (26 June 2000): Enchiridion Vaticanum 19, Nos. 974-1021.] Privata revelatio quaedam nova extollere, novas pietatis formas excitare antiquasve altius comprobare potest. Quandam ipsa propheticam naturam prae se ferre potest (cfr 1 Thess 5,19-21) atque validum auxilium ad intellegendum servandumque melius Evangelium hodiernis temporibus afferre potest; ideo non est neglegendum. Oblatum est subsidium quoddam, quod autem adhiberi necessario non debet. Quidquid est agitur de fidei, spei caritatisque pabulo, quae omnibus sunt ad salutem permanens via.46

 

 


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