How common is interior locution?


#1

When people say that God gives them an answer to prayers, or that their prayer is “two-way communication” does that mean that interior locution is a normal expected part of prayer?

An interior locution is a mystical concept used by various religions, including the Roman Catholic Church. In an interior locution a person reportedly receives a set of ideas, thoughts, or visions from an outside spiritual source. Interior locutions are most often reported during prayers. An interior locution is a form of revelation, but is distinct from an apparition or religious vision because no supernatural entity is reported as present during the interior locution.

How common is it to have God put strong images or ideas or answers or words in your consciousness like that?


#2

I would think, though it may and has happened, that locution is rare. I believe it to be possible, but I think the most common re-action to prayer is the ability to think. prayer in many ways is a means to quiet our mind and focus. once focused, we may understand things better or think of something not thought of before. We may reaveal our own answers with God’s help, or in the most important of matters, allow God to grant us visions or answers not thought of before.


#3

Neil,

You don’t give a middle option, which is probably the more correct answer. Interestingly enough, this was today’s gospel, where Jesus said, “When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

Many times in difficult matters, the Spirit puts in the mind of the pray-er what to speak. This will probably not be not an audible voice, or even successive interior words, as if in dictation, but rather a firm impression upon the person’s mind. It would be accompanied with a strong sense of certainty and peace that this is what to speak, but the person is usually able to choose their own words to translate the thought they received.

That’s not to say that God doesn’t sometimes speak successive words, but it is a more rare occurrance than the communication of the Spirit’s thought.

Some might experience this as the gift of discernment of spirits, for that is also a way of knowing interiorly what is present in the hidden motive of another. As one progresses in ever-closer union with God, this gift become very predominant and they are customarily right in their discernment. We find this example in St. Peter who discerned the wrong motive in Ananias and Saphira and spoke out against it. Acts 5:3

This is a very unusual question, and I hope we are able to help you understand it better.


#4

Thank you both. I tend to take words too literally a lot of the time, and I find that spiritual writings are rarely written in a scientific, analytical way. Spriritual people seem to be more poetic and use metaphor, and I have no idea sometimes if I really get what they’re talking about. Hence the unusual question. :slight_smile:

Yes I find that often I come away from prayer with a better understanding of what should be done. I guess from reading this that it counts as “God answered the prayer”? Or a “two-way communication”?

Also sometime I wonder if an “answer” was just my own imagination, which of course could be wrong. Or on rare occasions when I feel like God put a whole sentence directly into my stream of thought, is that just my imagination or is it interior locution? Same with powerful images in my stream of thought on a few very rare occasions. I guess if they lead to good things, I’ll just assume they were messages from God.


#5

I think the normal workings of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially wisdom, understanding, knowledge and counsel are operative in all those who have been confirmed, and are conducting their lives in according with Catholic moral teaching, frequent Mass and the sacraments, read scripture frequently, and have a healthy prayer life. For such persons, it is normal to receive the answer to problems and questions during prayer, to receive a word of knowledge when reading or hearing scripture, to be given the necessary words to pray with others, to teach and exhort, to comfort and console and so forth.

That is why a quite ordinary Catholic can be a superb catechist, can be a wise counsellor to the young or troubled, can be great at intercessory prayer, seem always to know the right thing to say in any situation, are creative in finding solutions to problems, have good interpersonal relationships–in short, have the gifts needed for ministry, both in the family and in the Church.

What is far rarer, IMO, is to receive locutions that are intended, not for one’s own instruction, edification, strengthening, but intended for a wider audience. Such claims should be, and are, rigorously examined under spiritual direction before being published or shared in any way.

Fr. Groeschel’s A Still Small Voice is an excellent short guide to this topic.


#6

Neil,

That’s a very human response to wonder if the “stream of thought” was from God or from one’s imagination. It takes a lot of “testing the water” to learn which of these are truly from God. One such test is to examine very closely the actual time of receiving God’s inspiration, locution, thought. It is common to doubt afterwards, and I have done so many times until I actually go back to the moment of reception.

In the beginning of one’s spiritual life, these are accompanied usually with deep consolation and a sense of certainty. If the person has been in a spiritual desert with respect to prayer and suddenly receives one of these communications that causes great rejoicing and shedding of quiet abundant tears, it is often God’s Spirit. Even then, it is good to ask for “confirmation” so that one may not make a mistake.

In October, I received a special gift of knowledge that was received in exactly this manner during mass, when I wasn’t even thinking about this. Afterwards at home, I received a confirmation that was very “coincidental” timing as I found the words unexpectedly in the evening prayer of the Office. I can appreciate Thomas’s predicament, for in spite of both of these, I still go back into, “maybe I was mistaken.”

Maybe spelling this out for you will also convict me. :smiley: The other sign is that God removes our desire to pray for that situation, since it is already taken care of. The former urgency to be steadfast and ardent in prayer is now replaced with quiet peace, and there seems to be a block or check in one’s spirit not to continue in further prayer about that matter. If the person does so anyway, the prayer has none of the former urgency or sense of pleading, but is replaced by that quiet certainty of having been answered in that special locution.

I hope it helps you to know that I am doubtful, too, especially in an important matter. As always, if you are directed to DO something, that is to be taken to a spiritual director or priest before acting upon it.


#7

Thank you puzzleannie. I’ll check out that book from Fr. Groeschel. I’m glad you pointed out the distinction between interior locutions with messages for others vs messages for oneself! Now I see why they are considered in the realm of the miraculous, because of visionaries who recieve messages for the church in general, of course those have to be investigated.


#8

This is so amazingly helpful… yes it happened exactly like that to me, first a very strong answer to something I had been questioning, then a confirmation, followed by a sense that my questions had been answered and I didn’t need to wonder any more.

I’ll give an example :slight_smile: I had been unsure what to think about the eucharist for quite a few years. I mostly accepted transubstantiation, but at the same time it seemed rather meaningless - after all God is everywhere, so what difference does it make if he’s in the bread and wine? Also I had fear that if the doctrine was mistaken, then I was participating in idolatry. I spent quite a bit of time wondering about it and reading and thinking. Then at mass one day while thinking about what significance it had that Jesus was present in the bread when he is present everywhere, during the consecration while watching the elevated chalice I sort of daydreamed that I was looking at this chalice and zooming out from it (like using the satellite view on google maps and zooming out) so that the chalice was becoming further and further from my point of view, yet it remained the same size in my view. Then in my imagination I zoomed out so far that I could see the chalice held in place above the earth viewed from space, and had the strong sensation of space rotating around this point where the chalice was located… thinking back to it I can still feel the sensation/momentum of all the matter in the universe rotating around that spot of the chalice. It didn’t make much sense logically, but it left me with a very string idea that, yes, indeed, this sacrament really IS special and isn’t just another case of “Jesus is everywhere”.

Then it was confirmed later when reading St. Faustina’s biography, where she had a locution that showed her that “the eucharist is the physical center of the universe”. Reading that shocked me, it was the literal interpretation of what I imagined at mass that day. And I never again wondered about whether going to mass was idolatry, or was unclear of whether the eucharist was really that special.

Anyway, that whole experience just lasted a few moments, but left me with a memory I’ll never lose. I suppose someone could just call it daydreaming, which it sort of is, but it seems to fit the pattern you’re describing here. Thank you.


#9

YES!!!

This is what I meant by “confirmation.” You were not looking for it, but God arranged everything in absolutely perfect timing as only He can do. These are not idle coincidences, but He accomodated Himself to your life situation in order to bring you understanding. What a great example!

We read frequently that God is “light” and have read that people enter an illuminative phase of spirituality when God takes the reigns and begins to teach us. These are “light” experiences, for they open our minds to truth, and are so precious to the soul when God sends them.

I am in awe of the multitude of ways He is able to arrange this perfect timing so that we can truly “see.”

Carole

EDIT: You’ll never believe this, but in reading about St. Faustina in your post, I felt it might be good to share an example where I was strengthened by her Diary also. So I went to look for it in the index of my book, and came upon this article #834, which is another timely confirmation.

834 This evening, I felt in my soul , that a certain person had need of my prayer. Immediately, I began to pray. Suddenly, I realize interiorly and am aware of who the spirit is who is asking this of me; I pray until I feel at peace. There is great help for the dying in this chaplet. I often pray for an intention that I have learned of interiorly.
** I always pray until I experience in my soul that the prayer has had its effect**.


#10

Now for the example I was really looking for when I stumbled on the other one.

My grandson had served a tour in Iraq and his unit was not scheduled to go back. So to get around it, the military could not demand that his unit go back – what they did was transfer him to another unit for no other reason than this unit was combat ready and due to go. It was terribly unjust, and my grandson was in great mental turmoil, as were all of his family.

I began to pray with tremendous fervor while he was exploring all avenues to stop this unjust transfer. Last lent, I was reading the Diary of Faustina, and one night I came upon this article #1180 explaining that she was about to be transferred to another convent, but God did not want this.

Do not be afraid, My daughter; it is My will that you should remain here. Human plans will be thwarted, since they must conform to My Will.

Naturally, my spirit soared in trust and joy, and I believed God was speaking this to ME, too, even though they were Faustina’s words for her situation. And I can’t tell you how often I doubted that they would come true, for I “might be mistaken” and under the influence of wishful thinking.

Well, right up to the last minute, only a day before he was to ship to Iraq, the words came true. He was NOT sent to Iraq, and “human plans WERE thwarted.”

Hopefully, our sharing these examples will be helpful to others in some way.


#11

What a wonderful story, Joysong! Thank you for sharing.

God bless and Merry Christmas,
Dan


#12

That’s wonderful. Maybe your faith that this was a message for you helped make it happen!


#13

What actually is a locution according to Catholic Dictionary

LOCUTION.

A supernatural communication to the ear, imagination, or directly to the intellect. The locution is supernatural in the manner of communication, that is, beyond the ordinary laws of nature. Spurious locutions may come from the evil spirit and can be recognized by their lack of coherence or clarity, the disquiet they cause in the one who receives them, and the evil effects they produce in those who listen to them. (Etym. Latin locutio, a speaking, speech, discourse; from loqui, to speak.)

I take it by “interior (locution)” is meant voice or words heard but not heard with one’s actual physical ear?..i.e. inner ear?

To read much about “locutions” as a proper noun in mystical and spiritual theology, read this commentary on Chapter III of the Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila:

INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO CHAPTER III.

BY THE EDITOR

ccel.org/ccel/teresa/castle2.x.iii.html?highlight=locutions#highlight

I would only ever use the word in a personal sense speaking to my director. This is quite personal to me…it is so very easy to be deceived by self or Satan. So wary am I of both, I avoid the word personally as much as possible and always usually other than in speaking to my director. Deception is even possible by hearing the ‘argument’ of one only as to defintion or one side of an argument…theologians still argue out today defintions in mystical theology.
It can be an interesting type of discussion in a purely objective sense for sure!
My personal concept is that if The Lord needs to communicate something to me and I dont hear the first or second time…then He will simply speak louder and clearer and then I will check it all out with my director.
St. Francis de Sales has very wise words to say in this connection, and while the connection may not be immediately apparent…connection there is:
ccel.org/ccel/desales/love.ix.xiv.html

The mark of mysticism is a very high order of sanctity…extraordinary or unusual type of phenomena is not necessarily the mark of mysticism of all… it can be pure deception by self or Satan or it can be something sent by God for some reason to any person at all…and I would never assume any of those, nor a locution per se in the first place, unless I spoke with my director - not so much to discern if I was receiving locutions (no plus in knowing either way actually!) but rather to ensure the validity of my ‘locationally impressed’ matter.

If I should have some impression, urge, whatever and it brings Peace, spiritual profit in some way and is in accord with what The Church teaches and it is nothing out of the ordinary, then I have no real need to consult anyone and can know it is from God no matter how I arrived at such. If any of those are lacking I make no move until I consult my director and if The Lord needs me to respond immediately before I see my director in two weeks, then my director will suddenly appear before me:thumbsup:

If The Lord needs me to know I am receiving locutions and I just dont get the message and I need to get the message…The Lord will ensure that I do get the message!!!:shrug:

I have been puzzled by comments here on CAF such as “Jesus said to me” or things along that line…but have learnt to accept fully what the person says at face value…face value…and move on without disturbance in any way at any level personally.

How common are actual true locutions? (and there are a few kinds of locutions or categories of)…no way at all of knowing.

Barb:)

.


#14

I have to admit that when I read the OP I was thinking strictly in terms of that interior but audible voice. It is something I’ve experienced three times that I can recall, and always with some particular message that was needed at the time though it was not related to anything I was thinking about at that time.

I totally agree with Carole’s assessment though about those “coincidences” that God arranges that make it clear that He is trying to get something across, and I find those to be relatively common for me, though again hardly ever sought or in my mind as seeking an answer. Instead it will just be something that catches my attention, then catches it again from some other place and angle. Often this will go on 3, 4, even 5 different ways until I finally chuckle and look up and say “Ok, I got it already!”

I seldom seem to get direct answers to the things that I consider “important” and that are weighing on me, but I seem to get answers to questions I hadn’t thought to ask yet. Often those “unrelated” answers end up resolving what I was pondering, though it is often much later before I realize that.

Peace,


#15

[quote=puzzleannie]I think the normal workings of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially wisdom, understanding, knowledge and counsel are operative in all those who have been confirmed, and are conducting their lives in according with Catholic moral teaching, frequent Mass and the sacraments, read scripture frequently, and have a healthy prayer life. For such persons, it is normal to receive the answer to problems and questions during prayer, to receive a word of knowledge when reading or hearing scripture, to be given the necessary words to pray with others, to teach and exhort, to comfort and console and so forth.
[/quote]

I have to commend you for this post, annie. It is so true that the more docile we become to the Holy Spirit’s inspirations through our life of close union with Him, more will be given to us, and we may grow in our understanding of them. And these are normal spiritual development through the gifts He bestowed in our confirmation, something we often forget … and something people tend to think of as being extraordinary. Not so.


#16

[quote=ncjohn] Often those “unrelated” answers end up resolving what I was pondering, though it is often much later before I realize that.
[/quote]

I was struck by the close similarity to your words and Neil’s OP.

[quote=Neil_Anthony]When people say that God gives them an answer to prayers, or that their prayer is “two-way communication” does that mean that interior locution is a normal expected part of prayer?
[/quote]

We have no doubt experienced a lag in time, when God has to arrange the circumstances in such a way that He is able to answer what we ask in prayer. As you said, John, it is often much later before we connect … "Ah, yes, this is what I asked the Lord way back when."
I remember when I labored very much for a long time over why Jesus destroyed the fig tree, especially since “it was not the time for fruit.” It wasn’t until I grew my own fruit trees a few years later and saw the many tiny nodes that should be on the tree in the spring as a sign of “future fruit” that I suddenly remembered this was my answer to prayer. All the fig tree had was leaves — no nodes. Lazy tree! :rolleyes:

Let’s remember to give the Lord time, and trust that He will bring back to our minds whatever we prayed about, even though there may be nothing of insight in the actual moment of prayer.


#17

I remember when I labored very much for a long time over why Jesus destroyed the fig tree, especially since “it was not the time for fruit.” It wasn’t until I grew my own fruit trees a few years later and saw the many tiny nodes that should be on the tree in the spring as a sign of “future fruit” that I suddenly remembered this was my answer to prayer. All the fig tree had was leaves — no nodes. Lazy tree! :rolleyes:

Just as an aside that always makes me laugh in connection with the poor withered fig tree, Carole. I was having a conversation with a Carmelite nun one day about the fig tree and all of a sudden she piped up “I reckon Jesus was having a lousy day and just in a bad mood and picked on the poor fig tree”… I laughed all the way home about that. I could picture Jesus hungry one day and sights in the distance a fig tree, anticipating at last something to eat…but then on arriving hopefully at the fig tree, there is no fruit to eat…

drbo.org/cgi-bin/d?b=drb&bk=47&ch=21&l=19&f=s#x
*

18

And in the morning, returning into the city, he was hungry. 19 And seeing a certain fig tree by the way side, he came to it, and found nothing on it but leaves only, and he saith to it: May no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And immediately the fig tree withered away. 20 And the disciples seeing it wondered, saying: How is it presently withered away? *

…it is a strange incident if you read the whole chapter. The fig tree obviously is not yet in fruiting season - but Jesus is hungry. Not to make more of it than it is or less of it than it is - just to glance at the incident and wonder as it were…with a smile.

Just another point that has occured to me and I have never been able to find anyone or anywhere that can answer it for me. Can anyone is this thread help? In the Divine Office a psalm reads “and he shall drink from the stream by the wayside, and therefore he shall lift up his head” … no one seems to know how to interpret that psalm. I know there is an answer, just have never been able to come across it. The fig tree, incidentally, is “by the wayside” …and eating in hunger is mentioned in the fig anecdote…and thirst and drinking in the psalm. In the psalm the thirst is slaked giving life…but in the fig anecdote, hunger is frustrated, bringing death. A stream is a natural place to seek water if very thirsty. A fruit tree is a natural place to seek food if very hungry.

Barb:)


#18

Goodness - I am a happy chappy just now, just on the offside chance, I googled “psalm - stream by the wayside” and up came a whole heap of references!!! I had tried to google re this sentence previously and found nothing. Obviously I had not been using the words that Google recognized. No time to read all the sites as yet…apologies to for being, I have just realized, way off topic:o …Barb:)


#19

[quote=BarbaraTherese] In the Divine Office a psalm reads “and he shall drink from the stream by the wayside, and therefore he shall lift up his head” … no one seems to know how to interpret that psalm. I know there is an answer, just have never been able to come across it.
The fig tree, incidentally, is “by the wayside”
[/quote]

:hmmm:
I’m not sure either, Barb, but when I read this about the fig tree being by the wayside, and knowing it did NOT even come close to bearing any kind of fruit, it reminded me of the contrast in Ezekiel 47:12:

Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine."

The footnote from USCCB’s NAB: The wonderful and superabundant stream flowing from the temple, restoring to fertility traditionally arid ground, is symbolic of the return of the conditions of primeval paradise; cf Genesis 2:10-14. Water signifies great blessings, just as dryness signifies a curse;

Something to ponder, for sure.


#20

Great thread! I am still pretty early in my spiritual journey, having chosen to get my spiritual act together exactly this time last year. Here are three simple things I’ve learned this year:

  1. God speaks to us all the time if we pay attention. I wrote about this in one of my first blog entries: Can you hear Me now?

  2. When the Holy Spirit speaks, He often says the same thing to, and through different people.

  3. When you start listening to God, He starts giving you stuff to do.


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