Apparitions, Visions, Revelations

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Mystical and Prophetic Visions

In regard to their purpose, theology divides visions into the mystical and the prophetic. The former exclusively refer to a particular person and his personal spiritual growth as was the case with so many mystics in the Church. Naturally, it does not exclude a particular aspect of the publicity, which such visions will obtain with the possible later public veneration of these mystics, should they be elevated to the degree of being blessed or being canonized. In that sense we could also take strictly private visions as a charism in the broader sense. In contrast to this, the prophetic visions have a public character right from the beginning. They are a gift or a charism to the individual or several individuals for the benefit of the whole church. It is required of the visionary to address his milieu and the entire Church with the message received. Gemma Galgani is taken as a typical example of the former type of vision and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque of the latter.

Observed from the point of view of the visionary's experiencing, the mystical vision is always more intense and more strongly influences changing of the visionary's personal life than is the case with the prophetic vision. That is understandable also because it is persons, who have ordinarily already achieved an enviable degree of holiness, that have mystical visions, while the bearers of prophetic visions are most frequently ordinary believers chosen entirely "by accident" and, in most cases, are children not yet fully mature for deeper mystical experiences. This is why such visions do not that strongly influence the person of the visionary, who changes personally much slower in regard to the maturity and the holiness of his personal life.

Since, in the first place, one is dealing with a charism for the sake of others, the visionary always needs somebody who is better acquainted than himself with the mysteries of the spiritual life, and who will direct him. Otherwise, there is a danger of discrepancy between the role entrusted to him and the holiness of his personal life. Due to the circumstance that these visionaries most frequently are children, their visions, (though of a physical-objective character, for which reason they are ordinarily called three dimensional), in relation to the experience of mystics (which are exclusively imaginative, that is internal mental states), nevertheless, remain more on the surface and never have a quick and rapid change of the visionary as a consequence. But the significance of this vision is in the slow change of the believers for whom the message is intended. Certainly, that effect could not be achieved if also the bearers of the message would not at the same time be changed for the better. And that they are incapable of, as we said, without the help of somebody else.


For God to live in your hearts, you must love.