I’ll have you know that the other day I came up with that title while driving and I was so pleased with myself that I just laughed out loud for a time. I decided to write this followup mostly based on the awesome title.
After my first post on prophecy and Advent, my buddy Marcus called me out on something I failed to mention.
It’s important to me that Stump a Catholic be approachable and casual, so I’m purposefully trying to keep my posts short. This is quite a burden for me. Anyone who has been to one of my youth ministry events knows that I can ramble. Ten minute teachings can quickly become forty minute ordeals. The point is, I’m new to this whole “being concise” thing. When I wrote the first post, I thought about including a bit about private revelation and ultimately decided to remain focused on public revelation and prophecy simply understood. However, now that Marcus brought it up and I have a dope title, I can say a few things.
To the Catechism!
“The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.”
-Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph #66
When Jesus ascended into heaven, he left the world in the hands of his apostles, giving them everything they would need to carry out his mission. Imagine Jesus handing off the keys to a storage unit to Peter. “All right. I’m out of here. Everything you need is in there. Call me if you need anything!” Peter opens up the storage unit and it is full of books and all sorts of media containing all the truth Christ had to offer. He’s in charge of it, but he needs help unpacking all of it, so the apostles help, their friends help, the laity help, and over time we all discover things in there. This is the Deposit of Faith.
Christ has entrusted the entirety of divine revelation to Peter and his apostles, present to us now in the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Nothing can be added to it or taken away from it. However, Not everything that is revealed is understood immediately. To this day, the Church is unpacking that truth and applying it to new generations. The deposit of faith and its interpretation by the Magisterium of the Church constitutes public revelation. Public revelation is required for belief if you want to call yourself a Catholic. These things are essential to the Christian faith.
Still, Christ is not deaf to his people, clearly, and he speaks to individuals personally by a special grace through private revelation. Whenever a saint is allowed to appear to someone with a message, or when Christ himself does so (See: Saint Faustina), this is a private revelation. These are instances of The Lord giving a personal message to a specific individual for a specific purpose. These revelations are not always universally applicable and are not required for the belief of the faithful. Sometimes the Church is able to recognize the authenticity of such a revelation and promote its message. Still, this is not public revelation, but if the faithful choose to do so, they can incorporate it into their faith life alongside public revelation. The Catechism says this:
“Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history…”
Private revelation, therefore, cannot be considered prophecy in the Christian sense. It can still have merit in the Christian life though.
What do you think? What are your favorite private revelations in the Church? Leave them in the comments.