I am skipping the chapter in Garrigou-Lagrange on visions, as it is self-explanatory and easy to read. One finds it here.
I want to move on to the emphasis on the purification of the intellect and imagination, which follows the purification of the passions and emotions. I cannot say enough times that these gifts only come after great pain for most people and the complete death of self-will.
If one has not experienced the second conversion, in which the will dies and only God's Will is desire, the gifts will not be given. Only a clear pipe can carry clean water.
Here is a long passage on "words" from God. Many people think that any movement of the mind in religion is from God. Let us look at Garrigou-Lagrange. I am having trouble with fonts today, so bear with me--mostly a very poor Internet connection
Ch 55: Supernatural Words and Divine Touches
Supernatural words are manifestations of God's thought which are heard either by the exterior senses or by the interior senses or immediately by the intellect.
An auricular supernatural word is a vibration formed in the air by the ministry of angels. For example, St. Luke records (1) that Zachary heard the angel Gabriel speak to him. The same angel Gabriel said to Mary: "Hail, full of grace." (2) Like corporal visions, these locutions are subject to illusions; the same rules should be applied to them to discern those of divine origin.
Imaginary supernatural words are heard by the imagination, when the person is either awake or asleep. They sometimes seem to come from heaven; at other times from the depths of one's heart. They are perfectly distinct, although not heard with bodily ears.(3) They are not easily forgotten; those especially which contain a prophecy remain graven on the memory. (4) To recover the exact statement of the words heard, it is sometimes necessary that the person who has heard them should recollect himself and make mental prayer; in this way he can avert the slightest variation.
G-L presupposes that the person is already in the Illuminative, if not the Unitive State, as Mary Our Mother was. Obviously, one needs a spiritual director at this stage.
These supernatural words can be distinguished from those of our spirit by the fact that they are not heard at will, and that they are words and works at one and the same time. For example, when they reprove us for our faults, they suddenly change our interior dispositions and render us capable of undertaking everything for the service of God.(5) It is then easy to discern them.(6)
Correction is easily discerned. Some people have experienced a similar experience such as the particular judgement, wherein their sins were shown for the horror they are. However, the fruit, that is, repentance and change, validate the interior words heard.
When imaginary words come from the devil, they not only do not produce good effects, but, on the contrary, produce evil effects. The soul is disturbed, troubled, frightened, disgusted; and if it experiences any sensible pleasure, it is very different from divine peace.(7) These diabolical words resemble supernatural words of divine origin as glass beads resemble diamonds. It is often easy to perceive the difference immediately.
Without purification first, one is not capable of discerning the self from God, or the evil one from God.
Intellectual words are heard directly by the intellect without the intermediary of the senses or imagination, in the way the angels communicate their thoughts to one another at will. They suppose a divine light and the coordination of pre-existent acquired ideas, and at times of infused ideas.(8) As St. Teresa says: "It is a wordless language, which is the tongue of the fatherland." (9)
One does not ask for these graces. One does not ask for words of knowledge. And, if you know people who do this in ministries, please beware.
Theologians teach, with St. John of the Cross, that intellectual words may be either successive, formal, or substantia1.(10) We shall recapitulate their teaching here.
I repeat this...., if you are involved in groups which claim to be getting so-called words of knowledge without this discipline and complete orthodoxy, beware.
Successive intellectual words are produced only in the state of recollection; they come from our spirit which is enlightened by the Holy Ghost, and with such facility and new views that the understanding cannot imagine that they spring from its own depths.(11) These successive words are subject to illusion, for the spirit, which at the beginning followed only the truth, may deviate and even go seriously astray, inasmuch as the devil often insinuates himself into these successive words, especially when people are attached to them. He acts thus with even greater reason toward those who are bound to him by a tacit or formal act, with heretics who persist in their errors, and especially with heresiarchs.(12)
I am convinced that the great heretics, like Calvin and Luther were at advanced stages of holiness when spiritual pride took over. Satan was able to lead them astray from what could have originally been valid views to heresies.
Successive words come from God when they simultaneously produce in the soul an increase of charity and humility. But it is sometimes difficult clearly to discern supernatural love from a certain natural love, and true humility from pusillanimity. Therefore it is not easy to recognize the divine origin of successive words.(13) They should not be desired, for obscure faith is far superior to them.(14)
Desire simple faith, not these gifts. Also, if someone is charging for such knowledge, you can be sure these people are not from God.
Formal intellectual words are so called because the soul knows formally that they are uttered by another, without any contribution on its part. . . and it can hear them when not recollected, and even when far from thinking of what is said." (15) They are, therefore, quite different from those we have discussed, and are at times very precise; for example, Daniel says that an angel spoke to him.(16) The Lord sometimes leads souls in this way to great things, at the same time allowing a certain repugnance to the fulfillment of the divine order to subsist(17) If, on the contrary, God inspires humiliating things, He gives greater facility to accomplish them.(18)
These formal intellectual words are in themselves free from illusions, since the understanding cannot contribute anything to them, and the devil cannot act immediately on the intellect.(19)
Real humility....is the key.
Nevertheless his artifices may be taken for words of God, by confounding what immediately touches the intellect with what takes place in the imagination. "Consequently," says St. John of the Cross,(20) "what they say should not be immediately translated into action, nor should they be held in esteem no matter what their origin. It is indispensable to make them known to an experienced confessor or to a discreet and learned person. . . . If an experienced person is not to be found, the soul should keep whatever is substantial and sure in these words; disregard the rest; and speak of it to no one, lest a counselor be found who would do the soul more harm than good. The soul should not place itself at the mercy of anyone at all, for it is of prime importance whether one acts judiciously or is deceived in such matters."
How many false seers there are in the world right now--many. These people seek out directors who agree with them and sometimes those who are not in perfect orthodoxy. Many are deceived by priests who support false prophets.
Substantial intellectual words are formal locutions which effect immediately what they announce. We read in The Ascent of Mount Carmel:
Even among the saints, this efficacious word can be rare. God does all the work and the person receiving such words, in a sense, is the passive witness of the Almighty Word of God in the soul. Impatience is not a sign of this level of holiness, but a sin and imperfection of the passive purgation.
To be continued....
God's words are living flames in purified souls.(23)