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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Garrigou-Lagrange on Visions

My bold highlights


Divine revelations sometimes take the form of visions and at other
times of words.

Supernatural visions are either sensible, imaginary,
or intellectual.

Sensible or corporal visions of our Savior, the Blessed Virgin, or the saints, are sometimes granted to beginners to detach them from worldly things. If the vision is common to a great number of persons, it is a sign that the apparition is exterior, without any certainty thereby that it is of divine origin.(32) If it is individual, the dispositions of the witness who declares that he has had it must be attentively examined and great prudence must be exercised.

The director will be able to recognize whether these apparitions are graces of God, by their conformity to the teaching of the Church and by the fruits which they leave in the soul. The soul itself should be very faithful in reaping the fruits of sanctity which God proposes by granting it these favors.

Those who are favored with apparitions of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints should render to the persons represented the honors due them, even though the apparition should be the result of an illusion of the imagination or of the devil, for as St. Teresa says: "Although a painter may be a wicked man, honor should none the less be paid to a portrait of Christ done by him." (33) These apparitions must never be desired or asked of God.

Imaginary visions are produced in the imagination by God or by the angels when a person is either awake or asleep. According to the Gospel, St. Joseph was on several occasions supernaturally instructed in a dream. Although the divine origin of a dream may be difficult to discern, ordinarily when the soul seeks God sincerely, He makes Himself felt either by a feeling of profound peace, or by events that confirm the vision; thus in a dream a sinner may be warned of the urgent necessity of conversion.

Imaginary visions are subject to the illusions of the imagination and of the devil.(34) We have three signs, however, by which to discern whether they are of divine origin: (I) when they cannot be produced or dismissed at will, but come suddenly and last but a short time; (2) when they leave the soul in great peace; (3) when they produce fruits of virtue, a great humility and perseverance in good.(35)
A divine imaginary vision, granted while a person is awake, is almost always accompanied by at least partial ecstasy (for example, the momentary loss of sight) so that the soul may distinguish the interior apparition from external impressions; (36) there is ecstasy also because a soul enraptured and united to God loses contact with external things.(37) No perfect imaginary vision occurs without an intellectual vision, which makes the soul see and penetrate its meaning: (38) for example, the former may concern the sacred humanity of Christ; the second, His divinity.(39)

Imaginary visions should not be desired or asked of God any more than sensible visions; they are in no way necessary to holiness.(40) The perfect spirit of faith and infused contemplation are of superior order and prepare the soul more immediately for divine union.(41)

An intellectual vision is the certain manifestation of an object to the intellect without any actual dependence on sensible images. It is brought about either by acquired ideas supernaturally coordinated or modified, or by infused ideas, which are sometimes of angelic order.(42) It requires, besides, an infused light, that of the gift of wisdom or of prophecy. It may refer to God, spirits, or material things, like the purely spiritual knowledge of the angels. The intellectual vision is at times obscure and indistinct, that is, it manifests with certitude the presence of the object without any detail as to its intimate nature. Thus St. Teresa often felt our Lord Jesus Christ near her for several days.(43) At other times the intellectual vision is clear and distinct; it is then more rapid and is a sort of intuition of divine truths or of created things in God.(44) It cannot be translated into human language.(45)
Intellectual visions, especially those caused by infused ideas, are free from the illusions of the imagination and of the devil; but at times what is only an over-excitement of the imagination or a suggestion of the devil (46) may be taken for an intellectual vision. The divine origin of these favors may be recognized from the effects they produce: deep peace, holy joy, profound humility, unshakable attachment to virtue.(47)

St. John of the Cross says: "By the very fact that this knowledge is communicated suddenly, independently of the will, it is useless for the soul to desire it . . . ; it ought simply to allow God to act when and how He wills. . . . These favors are not given to a soul which is attached to any good; they are the effect of a special love which God bears toward the soul which strives for Him in detachment and disinterested love." (48)

The loftiest intellectual visions, since they are inferior to the beatific vision, cannot attain the divine essence sicuti est, but only "by a certain manner of representation" due to infused ideas, as St. Teresa says.(49) In the opinion of a number of authors, (50) the intellectual visions that often accompany the transforming union are the equivalent of a special revelation that gives the soul the certitude of being in the state of grace and of predestination. St. John of the Cross even says, as we have seen: "In my opinion, the soul can never be placed in possession of this state [the transforming union] without at the same time being confirmed in grace." (51)