The terms of discernment of false and genuine revelations
Saint John provides us with the following hint: „Beloved, do not trust every spirit but examine the spirits whether or not they are of God for there have appeared many false prophets in the world.” (1 J 4,1). It is thus necessary to discern under whose influence a man is who speaks or writes books, especially when he gives us some messages. Also Saint Paul calls upon us to discern the spirits acting in man and through man when he states in clear terms that man can speak under an inspiration of the Holy Ghost or an evil spirit. And he teaches in these words: „Thus I assure you that no one can utter, while under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, „May Jesus be accursed!” No one can utter as well, without the assistance of the Holy Spirit, „Jesus is the Lord.” (1 Cor 12, 3).
The Apostle also mentions the gift of the discernment of the spirits (cf. 1 Cor 1, 10) through which the Holy Spirit helps us to recognise in whose hands a man becomes tool and whom he surrenders himself to who allegedly tells us some messages from God. One needs to pray fervently for the gift of discernment in order not to become drowned in the flood of various true and untrue revelations given to us either under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit or under an influence of the Tempter, who is the lying spirit.
One may not interfere with the Holy Spirit in coming to our help, which He desires to do for us, in discerning the spiritual influences to which a visionary succumbs. One is interfering with the Spirit of the Truth when he is using his own, not always the right, terms to discern whether some revelations are true or false. Now, suppose that someone has assumed that a true revelation must necessarily be a short one. Then, when he comes across a revelation that lasts for a longer period of time, he will declare, completely unfoundedly, that such a revelation is false. That is exactly why it is so important to learn a few fundamental rules of revelation discernment as provided below. These terms can help us to direct ourselves towards the Only Truth in the confusion and darkness that favour an appearance of false visionaries.
1. It is necessary to call upon the Holy Spirit and ask Him repeatedly to grant us the gift of discernment. For it is Him who grants us the gifts of wisdom and reason – so necessary to have in the times of all manner of apostasies, rebellion and disorder.
2. One should read and analyse the messages themselves presented to us as the genuine revelations. One should not evaluate the truthfulness of the revelations solely based upon the very assessment of the revelation sites, of the behaviour of the people arriving at those places, of the actual or possible appearance of supernatural signs, and so on.
3. Above all, it is necessary to examine the contents of the messages themselves because they always provide some teaching.
– The teaching concerning the truths of the Faith must be at any rate and length in agreement with the contents of the Holy Scripture, the teaching of the Church, in particular with the teaching of the Popes. One should keep in mind that, if God speaks out through a person, then He may neither err Himself nor lead us into error as well.
– Very often, the messages give us various advice on how to live our daily lives. It is always necessary to consider if the moral principles found in them concern the issues that are essential to live a Christian life and if they are in agreement with the spirit of the Gospel. One needs, for instance, to ask himself a question if these principles of action remind us of the most fundamental commandments of love of God and neighbour; if they urge us to live in accordance with God’s Will; if they make us fulfil the God’s Commandments; if they teach us to follow the authentic inspirations of the Holy Spirit; if they remind us of the need to receive the Sacraments frequently, especially the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance; if they call upon us to prayerfully reflect on the Divine Word in the Holy Bible; if they stimulate us to dedicate our lives to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary; if they remind us of the necessary communion with the Pope…
– One needs to check out whether or not the advice, as contained in the messages, focuses our attention too much on marginal and purely extrinsic issues, whether or not they teach us to swallow up the camel and sift out a gnat, against doing which Jesus forewarned us (cf. Mt 23,24). Something like this happens to be the case with false revelations.
4. One needs analyse thoroughly any prophesies found in the revelations. One should examine whether or not what has been said has occurred. However, one may never forget that the fulfilment of a prophesy in itself is not the sufficient evidence in favour of its authenticity. Even if some prophesy has been fulfilled, the revelation still remains false if it preaches falsehood and, thereby, leads others into error.
5. One needs to consider what kind of God’s image is shown to us by the revelation under scrutiny: whether or not it deviates from what was revealed to us? Jesus Christ is always one and the same (cf. Heb. 13,8). No one, thus, may preach any other Jesus, any other God, than the One who revealed Himself to us. And the revealed and true God is full of love, mercy and, yes, justice as well.
6. One needs to consider the climate of a given revelation and what kind of spirit reveals himself in a given message.
– Thus, if the message comes from God indeed, then the spirit of love, mercy and justice, of peace and hope will reveal itself in it.
– If the message are diabolical in origin, then one will notice a caricature of God and some twisted gospel in them. As a matter of fact, Satan apes the actions of God and His Messages in order to mislead us more effectively. However, he causes anxiety in us and begets a sense of apathy in us by, for example, demanding of us to perform some impossible, superhuman acts rather than change of heart and conversion. He can also insist that we do some external, meaningless, and superficial acts instead of growing in goodness and conversion..
– If a message is only human in origin, it will be marked with personal traits of the human author. The message will reveal his own preferences, favourite subjects, and also his own limitations of a human being. Thus, for instance, a message only human in origin can emphasise only one truth to the point of exaggeration, such as only the Divine Justice, God’s predilection for punishment, or something else like this. One could say that a false visionary creates his own god in his own likeness and presents him as such to the others.
7. An important feature of a genuine revelation is the fact that it transcends the visionary himself, which is to say that its contents cannot be explained by his knowledge nor by his human nor religious experience. When the message does not transcend the visionary, it is rather not a revelation but mere meditation, homily, a theological treatise. Of course, those works can also be good and beneficial if only they proclaim the truth.
It is noteworthy that messages coming from the Devil can also transcend the visionary’s abilities and, thereby, mislead and confuse us more effectively. But when they come from God Himself, they transcend the visionary’s powers in order to tell us some truth that will help us to convert and be saved.
8. It is essential, in discerning the origin of a message, to examine the fruits it bears. However, one needs to tell the difference between the fruits borne out of the same messages themselves and the fruits that can appear at an apparition site for other reasons than under the impact of the allegedly supernatural messages.
It is not only the messages themselves that have an impact upon pilgrims at an apparition site. The faith of the people coming to the site, the fervour of their prayers and the aura that they create can positively influence the pilgrims, even if the messages themselves are not divine in origin.
In the case of the true revelations, the messages deepen our faith by themselves and bring forth the desire in us to change our whole lives. This emerging desire is deep and sincere. The true messages make greater our love of God and neighbour. The true messages also evoke in us a burning desire to magnify our neighbours’ love of God. As they are, the false messages can give us an impetus to convert but purely superficially and do something that might give a man a mistaken conviction that he has converted indeed and has changed his or her life.
9. Pilgrims going to false apparition sites often speak of miraculous healing events, various extraordinary light spectacles, fervent prayer, conversions taking place, and the climate of faith. By so doing, they wish to justify the validity of those apparitions. What they do not pay attention to, however, is the contents of the false messages which they very often do not know at all.
As for the intensity of the prayer, the faith climate and conversions, these can be due to other causes than the alleged revelations. It is namely not only the messages of the visionary at work at the place of an apparition The pilgrims’ faith and the fervency of their prayers can help other people in their prayer, as well as stimulate them convert and deepen their lives. It can be so even when the revelation itself is not of God. One also cannot rule out even the possibility that the Good Lord will pour out His Grace onto the visitors at the sites of false apparitions at seeing their good will and zealousness.
10. The cases of healing by themselves are yet no proof of the authenticity of a given apparition. This is so because they can be due to such causes as parapsychological faculties of the visionaries or various psychosomatic conditions, especially with regard to some neurological diseases.
One also cannot rule out the action of merciful God who does heal when He sees the faith of His people. God helps man whenever and wherever He pleases. Thus, He can do it at the sites of false apparitions as well. The same can be said of the conversions. This is the way in which the Divine Mercy reveals itself.
11. In the same vein, the onsite extraordinary phenomena, such as the light spectacles, cannot in themselves provide a sufficient evidence for the authenticity of the alleged apparitions. The Holy Scripture itself warns us against miracles leading us into temptation which are not performed by God Himself but the evil spirit (cf. 2nd Thessalonians 2.9f).
For all mentioned above, if we desire to clearly tell a false apparition from a genuine one, we should above all ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us. Then we should analyse the messages themselves and the fruit they bear, especially their impact on the lives of the people get involved with them.
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