"Vox Domini" Website
(Voice of the Lord)
Professor of Dogmatical Theology
Silesian Seminary Katowice
INTRODUCTION TO THE POLISH EDITION: Does God speak today?
In presenting to the Polish reader Vassula Ryden's book 'True Life In God', which contains a record of her mystical experiences, first I would like to draw attention to several characteristic and repetitive accusations and attitudes towards private revelations in general and especially this particular revelation.
Does God speak today?
Many people reject not only Vassula's messages, but also all other private revelations. They are of the opinion that God has already said everything in the past and is now silent, because He has established the Church in order to explain the Sacred Scriptures. It is true that Jesus Christ established His Church in order to bring the revealed truth to all generations. However, God is not dead; He is a living God and is able to speak.
"Why is it that you want your God silent and dead? I am Alive" (4.05.88). In the Psalm 135:16-17 it says that God is not like the pagan gods who have "mouths but do not speak, they have eyes but do not see; They have ears but they hear not, neither is there any breath in their mouths". Jesus Christ, the God who promised to be with us until the end of the world, differs completely from the gods mentioned in the Psalm. Also we want to be able to easily put God into our own framework, even putting forward such astonishing accusaions as, for example, that the revelation is going on for too long. Why should a long revelation be false and a short one be true?
The acceptance of private revelations is an irrationality
The opponents of private revelations, of prophesies, of mysticism and so forth (but even the faithful), bring forward accusations that these are irrational. However, it is possible to differentiate irrationality in the contexts of disbelief and belief. To an unbeliever, the acceptance of the Sacred Scriptues, of the miracles performed by Jesus and of private revelations seems to be a manifestation of something irrational and difficult for the mind to penetrate. It is different, however, if it seen from the point of view of a believer. The rejection of the possibility of private revelations and of miracles by a believer can be judged as a specific type of 'irrationality' and lack of logic in the context of faith. Because if one belives in the omnipotence of God, then why exclude the possibility of His continual intervention in our history through various miracles and private revelations, even something as astonishing as 'moving someone's hand' as in the case of Vassula Ryden. It may seem 'irrational' that a believer asserts that a private revelation is false or of satanic origin even before having read the contents.
On what basis can one pronounce such judgements, which are unfortunately very frequent, when one has not become acquainted beforehand with the contents of a private revelation?
The Sacred Scriptures are enough for me
A large group of people with a negative attitude to any kind of mystic manifestation, prophecy or private revelation say: "The Sacred Scriptures are enough for me". It is true that one cannot place any private revelation above the Revelation given to us in the Sacred Scriptures. However, notwithstanding the unquestionable fulness of the Revelation given to us, one does also read theological books and commentaries on the Bible. One listens to homilies, lectures and conferences. No one denies the fact that they are necessary because they help us to better understand the Sacred Scriptures - the Divine Revelation which has been passed on to us. Why then should the word of the living God, given directly to the mystics, not have any meaning for us? Surely private revelations can also help us better understand the Sacred Scripture, to remind us of it and to make it topical for our lives. Of course these revelations do not add anything new to the contents of the Sacred Scripture; however, they do help to draw out the substance contained therein.
The Church has not confirmed it
There are many who reject private revelations, saying that the Church has as yet not confirmed them. The lack of confirmation of a private revelation by the Church does not mean that it is not genuine and that it will only become genuine at the moment of its confirmation. Usually the process of investigation of the authenticity of the various mystical revelations takes a long time. The lack of confirmation may be simply because either the Church has not started the investigation of a given private revelation, or has as yet not finished the task. The fact that some revelations are continuing for a long time and have not been decisively rejected by the Church, for example because their doctrine is manifestly contradictory to the teaching of the Church, shows that they come from a certain source which may be supernatural.
God cannot speak though everybody
Some people think that in the past God actually did give the grace of mystical experience to the great and holy monks but no longer gives it today, nor can He use lay persons, especially ones who in their past have been distant from the Church. Facts from the history of the Church negate such a view. Revelations recognised by the Church, such as ones in Lourdes or Fatima, testify that they can be received by lay people - even children.
As for the moral perfection of the recipients of the Divine teachings, do not the Gospels tell us of various weaknesses of the Apostles who were chosen by Jesus; about their vanity, their desire for importance, and of their ambitions and imperfections? Did Jesus give up on His Apostles because at the time of His suffering they all ran away in a cowardly fashion, with the exception of St John? Did not St Peter remain the rock of the Church, although he denied Jesus? Was it not upon the weak and frightened disciples that the Holy Spirit descended on the day of the Penetecost? How many inspired books of the New Testament were written by a persecutor of Christ's Church - St Paul? A converted St Augustine - an exceptional instrument in God's hands - had an enormous influence on the formation of Western Christian thinking. Likewise, in our more contemporary times, we have people who truly discovered God only after a certain stage in their lives, and at the same time became His instruments. We can mention here as an example Charles de Foucauld, a converted soldier and a man of the world, who founded numerous monastic communities. The assertion that God can manifest Himself through and use only spotless people has therefore no basis in historical fact.
Jesus was never scornful of weak people but sanctified and perfected them. Anyone who has carefully read Vassula's writings in chronological order will notice God's pedagogy towards her; His patient influence in order to give her a chance to grow to a fuller perfection.
Excessive intimacy of the message
Many people are shocked by the magnitude of love shown by Christ to Vassula. The revelation however, teaches us that God is a boundless Love. Jesus told Maria Valtorta that compared with God's real love, our idea of His infinite love is like a small pebble put next to a huge mounain range that separates continents and reaches up to the clouds. With such love, God loves not only Vassula, but also, as He reminded her many times, each one of us. Jesus could say to each one of us what He said to her:"My child, you need Me! Your weakness attracts Me, Who is infinite Strength. Your weakness infatuates Me" (TLIG 15.10.88).
Some people who read Vassula's writings are shocked by Jesus' language, which shows His enormous love for her. Although Jesus always speaks of purely spiritual love, He often uses the vocabulary drawn from married life which describes the deep mutual love of the married couple. Where does this difficuly of accepting this way of God's expression of love for man come from? Because it is ifficult for us to understand the infinite love that God has for us as we do not see it directly. To give us at least a faint idea of His Love, God reveals it to us by comparing it with the various ways of loving which we know here on earth. In the Sacred Scriptures themselves, Divine love is shown in exactly this way: in one case it is similar to a father's love (Lk 15:11-32), or to a mother's love for her child (Is 49:15; 66:13); in another case, as a love between friends (Jn 15:15) and in another case as a love of the betrothed or married (Ho 1-3; Jr 2:2; 31:3-; Ez 16:1-43; 59-63; Is 54:4-8; 61:10; 62:4-5; Sg 8:6-; Ps 45; Eph 5:23-27; Ap 20:9; 21:2-9).
I would strongly advise anyone to read the given extracts in the Sacred Scriptures before starting to read Vassula's writngs, or at a time when God's language seems startlingly 'too intimate'. Maybe it would be useful to remind ourselves once again of what Jesus told Vassula many times: that just as He loves her, so He loves all people.
Are Vassula's messages of Satanic origin?
One comes across people who ascertain that the revelations given through Vassla originate from Satan, who first of all wants to destroy the author herself and then the readers of her books. Is this credible: that Satan would inspire Vassula with words of warning against himself, and that he would teach her how we can defend ourselves against him by adoring God, consecrating ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and by praying to St Michael the Archangel? Would Satan inspire words pleading for conversion and for a return to God? Would he encourage us through Vassula towards prayer, and even dictate to Vassula various forms of prayerful reparation and of adoration of God? Furthermore, the messages written through Vassula have brought many people to God and to conversion. Bearing this in mind, the question arises: would the work of Satan bring about such results?
Regarding those who see the work of Satan in Vassula's messages, we are reminded of the accusation directed at Jesus by His enemies: that it is by the power of Beelzebub that He casts out evil spirits from the possessed. They closed themselves to the truth spoken by their opponents; they stubbornly refused to convert, in spite of the obvious signs of Divine action.Jesus called this blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:31-).
Is she a false prophet?
One comes across the view that Vassula is one of the many false prophets whose arising was foretold by Jesus and against whom He warned us. True and false prophets certainly existed in the past, and are still appearing today. We can distinguish between them in that the former speak in the name of God and transmit His word, but the latter do not pass on Divine teaching, but only their own or Satan's. In other words, false prophets are not directed by God but only by their egoistical desires, by the world or by Satan whom they serve.
The substance of the proclaimed teaching indicates its source, whether from God, the person, or from Satan. St Paul gives us clear instructions on how to discern under whose influence a particular person is acting. He teaches us: "That is why I am telling you of this. Just as no one can be speaking through God's Spirit if he calls Jesus accursed, so it is only thorugh the Holy Spirit that anyone can say 'Jesus is the Lord'" (1Cor 12:3).
Anyone who has carefully read the writings of Vasssula Ryden has no doubt that on countless occasions she reminds us of the truth that 'Jesus is Lord' and that we must continually convert to this one Lord, to love Him above everything, to act in union with Him and to unite his mystical body - the Church. False prophets do not draw us to Christ; rather they lead us away from Him (Acts 13:6-11; ZP 2:1-3).
The warning against false prophets is still relevant because all the time there are sects appearing, in the name of some religious syncretism, which draw us away from the authentic Revelation passd on to us. In the Church itself there appear people who attack the Divinity of Christ, the devotion to Mary, and the primacy and infallibility of the Pope. They attack the necessity of receiving the Sacraments, and attack steadfastness to moral principles. Therefore we have to be alert to the danger of false prophets. On the other hand, there is the danger of excessive caution in suspecting them everywhere. This can lead to destruction of an authentic charism which comes from God. The excessive suspicion and caution to charisms which spring from the acion of the Holy Spirit was likened by Fr Rene Laurentin to that of the overuse of chemicals against insects. They kill not only the dangerous insects but also the living plants which should be nurtured and protected. (See 1)
In conclusion, may I be allowed to say what I find most astonishing about Vassula Ryden's messages. The first thing is the theological correctness. Due to certain duties of my office I have often had to correct theses and papers written by students studying dogmatic theology. Over many years I have seen how difficult it is for them, even after many years of study and reading theological books, to correctly express the truths of the faith; how easy it was for them to write inaccurately or even erroneously. Vassula's book is written in a language decidedly different from the language of professional theologians; nevertheless she presents the mysteries of faith, which are so difficult to express, in a simple, correct and surprisingly accurate way.
The other striking thing emerging in this volume is the stages of spiritual progress. The author could not have realised this, but she gives us plenty of evidence and at the same time describes the stages of progress with unusual accuracy worthy of an experienced spiritual director.
When I was translating some pieces of Vassula's messages one other thing struck me: namely the difference between her words directed to Christ, and the statements of God Himself. From the literary point of view the style of both the first and the second is similar - staightforward. The most outstanding difference was with regard to the clarity of expression throughout. Vassula's formulation was often unclear, ambiguous and difficult to understand and translate. Jesus' teachings on the whole did not present such difficulties. They were presented as startlingly logical with continuity of thought, referral back to former statements, introduction of new theological problems and going more deeply into previously touched upon subjects.
Vassula's writings astonish even some theologians. The source of many misunderstandings in some people may be the lack of understanding of the language of the mystics, who try to present a difficult spiritual vision in our human language which requires imagery. It may be helpful to look into the writings of St Augustine, St Teresa of Avila, St Ignatious Loyola, St Francis de Sales, Charles de Foucauld, Adrienne von Speyr, Gabriella Bossis (2) and other Christian mystics (3) and champions of spiritual life, in order to open our hearts to God, who comes to ask each person for a little love. This kind of reading matter will also give us an opportunity to compare the mystics of old with contemporary ones.
Fr Michal Kaszowski
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