Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pax Sinica Article (2010年10月25日): Rules for the discernment of private revelations 分辨真偽的私人啟示

Two weeks ago we looked at Divine Tradition. Public revelation comes to us in Scripture and Tradition. Throughout the history of the Church there have been private revelations. These are supernatural manifestations of hidden truths God makes to private individuals for their own spiritual benefit or that of others. Faith in public revelation is necessary for salvation, whereas private revelations are helpful for salvation.

In recent years there have been numerous reports of alleged apparitions. We need to be very cautious about them, because Satan often uses the "sugar from hell" (i.e. false apparitions) to choke and destroy the "salt of heaven" (i.e. true apparitions). To discern whether an alleged revelation is of divine origin or not, its object, subjects, effects, and signs must be studied.

Object

God does not contradict Himself. A true private revelation must conform to public revelation, the teachings of the Church, and other approved private revelations. Even if the contents of a revelation are 99 per cent in conformity with the Church's teaching and only 1 per cent falsehood, then according to St. Teresa of Avila this revelation must be rejected absolutely!

Private revelations are generally brief, clear, and precise. Every word given at private revelation is for the sanctification of souls. Our Lady did not enter into pointless conversation. Revelations concerning merely curious or useless matters should be rejected as false.

Alleged revelations that contain lies or false prophecies must be rejected. Regarding the manner of speech, Our Lady would never speak in a fretful fashion like a frantic worried woman. True revelations respect free will and do not impose extreme forms of prayer and penance.

Subjects and effects

Studying the effects of an alleged revelation on its seer helps to discern its genuineness. All alleged revelations result in an increase of prayer and devotion. Hence we should not look at the quantity but the quality. True mystics do not just pray more but practise virtues to a heroic degree.

A person cannot remain worldly after seeing Christ or Our Lady. Almost all the unmarried girls who had truly seen Our Lady chose the state of virginity for the rest of their lives. If a seer is making profit from an alleged apparition or if the seer is vain in clothing and appearance, that seer is suspect. Genuine visionaries fly from publicity, while false seers like to travel and seek popularity.

An important criterion in discernment is obedience. A genuine mystic always obey authority. Ordinarily the Holy See does not pronounce judgement on alleged apparitions. It is the authority of the local bishop to do so. So far there has been no private revelation that has received a final condemnation by the local bishop (rather than just initial distrust) and later found to be true. A seer who does not obey the local bishop cannot be genuine.

Signs

Miracles are signs that support the genuineness of a revelation. God does not multiply miracles to satisfy curiosity. Demons cannot perform miracles, but they can do things that look like miracles. A demon can cause apparitions, locutions, visions, voices, levitation, ecstasies, stigmata, halos, odours, things to be moved, signs in the sky, prolonged fast, tongues, secrets revealed, tears, and brass to change to gold.

Only God can create matter out of nothing, provide cures that require instantaneous growth of destroyed tissue, or multiply bread and fishes. An example of a true miracle is a blind child who was born with no pupils and was able to see after the prayer of Padre Pio, now a saint.

I warmly recommend a book by Father Benedict Groeschel, A Still, Small Voice: A Practical Guide on Reported Revelations.

兩週前,我們談及「聖傳」。「公開啟示」是在聖經和聖傳;而在聖教會歷史中,也記載了不少「私人啟示」,屬於天主私下向個別的人,啟示了一些隱藏著的真理,賦予這個人或一總人靈性上的裨益。「公開啟示」為靈魂的得救是必需的,而「私人啟示」,則是為了幫助我們得救靈魂。

近年出現了很多「顯現」的聲明,我們對此要十分小心!撒旦會利用「地獄之糖」(即虛假顯現)去窒息和摧毀「天堂之鹽」(即真實顯現)。要分辨當中啟示的真偽,不能不仔細研究其內容、神視者、成效與徵兆。

內容

天主絕不自我矛盾。「私人啟示」必需與既有的「公開啟示」、教會訓導和已確認真實的私人啟示,相輔相承;即使當中只有極小比例與聖教教義互有差異或相沖,都當作「虛假」處理 —— 誠如聖女大德蘭所教導: 要絕對棄絕這些所謂的啟示!

真實的「私人啟示」,一般是簡潔清淅。每一個字都是為聖化人靈。聖母絕不會作無謂的閒談。如果一個所謂「私人啟示」的內容只是滿足好奇心和空洞無益的,那啟示必定是虛假的。

一個有謊話或假預言的所謂「私人啟示」必定是虛假的。顯現的聖母,言談絕不會像一個焦急煩躁的女人。此等虛論和誤導的所謂「私人啟示」,均要盡被擯棄。

真實的「私人啟示」尊重人的自由意志,不會強加極端苛嚴的祈禱和補贖方式。

成效

要辨別每件「私人啟示」個案的真偽,可細察神視者得啟示後的成效。不論真實或虛假的啟示都會令人多行祈禱敬禮,因此要分辨真偽,我們必需觀察成效的「質」而不單只看「量」。神視者得到真的啟示後,不但更熱心祈禱和敬禮,而且修德行到英雄式的地步。

親睹過基督或聖母的神視者,不會再留戀世俗的錦衣華美,更不會藉啟示圖謀世利錢財。在教會公認的「私人啟示」中,幾乎所有見過聖母顯現的童貞女,都效法聖母,終身守貞。真正的神視者,通常都很「低調」;相反,假的神視者喜歡四處週遊,自覓風光。

另一個辨證的方法,就是「服從教會」。教廷普遍不會對「顯現」作出判决,這是當地主教的權利和責任。到目前為止,從來沒有一個地方主教對否定「顯現」的判决被教廷所推反。不願意服從地方主教的人,不會是真正的神視者。

徵兆

「聖蹟」是印證真實啟示的徵兆。天主的聖蹟不是用來滿足好奇心,而魔鬼只能以酷似奇蹟的事情娛眾 —— 牠可製造顯現、聲音、神魂超拔、假聖印、假光環、假天象、語重義謬的說話、詭秘莫測的訊息、奇幻擬真的物質轉化等。

只有天主才有從虛無中創造的能力,就如病患組織的霍然消失、增餅的奇蹟等等。看看聖庇奧神父St. Padre Pio藉天主能力行的聖蹟吧:聖人熱切祈禱後,一個天生沒有眼球的小孩,竟然張開眼睛,能夠清楚看到周圍!

我誠意推介本篤.葛詩傲神父Fr. Benedict Grosechel的一本書:A Still, Small Voice: A Practical Guide on Reported Revelations。