I have a friend that shares these sort of things with me. I know she must be very holy for them to happen to her. I have always thought one must be very holy to have these visions and certain feelings. I pray the hours and other things. She tells me no amount of reading my prayers is going to help me get in touch with my spirituality. I sort of was taken a back. And wonder is she right. She says also you don’t have to be holy for these things to happen.
Your friend sounds like a kind of mixed bag. She could be correct in certain context, but the indelicate manner she seems to communicate does not seem befitting a genuine seer who has been touched by God’s presence in such an intimate way. While holiness is not a prerequisite of visions, it is generally a result of such encounters. If you do not see this kind of transformation in your friend, I would be wary. Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima, Bernadette at Lourdes, and Melanie and Maxamine at La Salette were not holy before their visions, but genuinely strived to be after. I suspect, however, that if your friend publicized her views as rendered here, the bishop would not be amused. Or the Vatican.
Elizabeth, I don’t think any other person, other than your confessor or spiritual director can tell you whether or not reading your prayers will deepen your relationship with God or not. Your own relationship with God is unique to you. Any way you communicate with God and any way God chooses to touch you is between you and God.
Unless the Church has deliberated and spoken on anyone’s visions, no one else is obliged to accept them. Holiness isn’t a magical, mysterous thing, it is wholesome.
You don’t need to be fazed by it. If God does choose to lead your friend by visions, it is possibly a private thing, but regardless, please don’t allow another’s spiritual life or experiences to discourage you.
Perhaps things are simpler than you think. The bible teaches us:
“By the mouths of children, you have made sure of praise.” [Psalm 8:2] “You have trained children and babies to offer perfect praise.” [Matthew 21:16]* Jesus adds: “See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.”* [Matthew 18:10]
Jesus said**, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Then He put His arms around them, laid His hands on them and gave them His blessing*.”* [Mark 10:14-16]
“The disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So He called a little child to him and set him in front of them. Then He said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” [Matthew 18:1-4]
“Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless You, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased You to do.” [Matthew 11:25-26]“Shoulder your yoke and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” [Matthew 11:29-30]** “Lord, let Your love rest on us as our hope has rested in You.”** [Psalm 33:22]
Come to God as the person whom you are, in simplicity and trust. God created this person, who you are, out of love.
One of the great inspirations of the last few generations, St Therese of Lisieux, who did in her early twenties, has much to teach you and me about holiness.
And yes, we are called to be holy.
“You are God’s beloved called to be saints.” [Romans 1:7] Therefore our God:* “Open to me the gates of holiness, I will enter and give thanks. This is the Lord’s own gate where the just may enter. I will thank You, for You have answered and You are my Saviour.”* [Psalm 118:19-21*]* “It is God’s will that you grow in holiness.”* [1Thessalonians 4:3]
Jesus, in Your desire for our personal and communal holiness in living the gospel, You taught us,* “Your light must shine in the sight of others, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.”* [Matthew 5:16] You desire us not to obscure Your light in us. Therefore, to allow Your light to shine out from one’s life does not represent a display of pride. The light of Your love most clearly manifests in humble hearts that joyfully acknowledge that all goodness—all loving kindness—comes from You.* “If anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord.” *[Jeremiah 9:22]
We may feel doubtful and discouraged regarding our call to be saints, knowing how far from the reality we seem to others and to ourselves, yet most of us have little experience of how God perceives us. Therefore Jesus, give us trust to respond fully to the Spirit that shines through us before others. You encourage us to allow this radiant presence of the Spirit, saying,* “If anyone declares himself for me in the presence of individuals, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven.”* [Matthew 10:32]
In accepting Your call to wholeness, we choose to love You above all and other persons as ourselves. This call requires us to take up our personal cross and follow You in love, prayer, and service of others. Therefore, it is not arrogant to seek sanctity, for to be truly holy means to be genuinely human. What is truly human is our creation in God’s image. Sin and indifference injures the fullness of our humanity.
Saint Therese of Lisieux encourages us in our attempts towards holiness in our vocation to love and serve. Of her own response to the call, she wrote, “This desire could certainly appear daring if one were to consider how weak and imperfect I was, and how after seven years in the religious life, I am still weak and imperfect. I always feel, however, the same bold confidence of becoming a great saint because I do not count on my own merits since I have none, but I trust in God who is Virtue and Holiness. God alone, content with my weak efforts, will raise me to Himself and make me a saint, clothing me in His infinite merits. I didn’t think then that one had to suffer very much to reach sanctity, but God was not long in showing me this was so and in sending me the trials I have already mentioned.” Therese remarked that such holiness may “not be evident to the eyes of mortals.”**
We draw hope from this saint of ‘the consecrated ordinary’, whom Pope John Paul 2 declared a Doctor of the Church on October 19, 1997. Many Sisters in her Carmelite community were unaware of the holiness of her ‘ordinary’ deeds of kindness, and doubted that anything worthwhile could appear in her obituary circular. I implore God for ‘everyday’ love and trust such as Therese maintained before temptations of doubt and suffering. Like her, in ordinariness made holy by union with Jesus our God who lived ‘the ordinary life’, we must become shining lights in an era when disbelief, humanism and self-absorption prevail.
[FONT=Verdana][size=2]We ask God to give us dynamic confidence that holiness is not reserved for a favoured few. As Saint Paul taught, “each soul is God’s favourite” and God desires fulfilment of each person’s call to love God above all and others as self. Every person has a unique vocation and purpose, intended to enrich each other person’s soul for all eternity. [/size][/FONT]
[size=2]copied from my journal][/size]
Your friend is right in indicating that you may need to do more than pray set prayers, you need to be you with God, but no one but you and God knows how much you put into your prayers, how much they mean between you and God, so please don’t give them up!
Please keep up the Hours, the prayer of the Church, of numerous saints throughout the ages, of innumerable holy priests and Religious. In faithfully praying with them you are untied in the Communion of Saints, and of the Mystical Body of Christ…and immersed in the holy word of God! Oh yes, you will find God there, whatever you feel at any time, know that you are in the holiest company is your praying of the hours!!!
As I said, and I think she means, we need to allow time to be ourselves with God, go to God with all we are good and bad, weak and strong, our whole human reality, honestly, humbly, trustingly, and sincerity.
In response to a novice who was discouraged by her faults, Therese said*, “You make me think of a little child that is learning to stand but does not know how to walk. In his desire to reach to top of the stairs to find his mother, he lifts his little foot to climb the first step. It is all in vain, and at each renewed effort he falls.” “Well, be like that little child. Always keep lifting your foot to climb the ladder of holiness, and do not imagine that you can mount even the first step. All God asks of you is good will. From the top of the ladder, He looks lovingly upon you, and soon, touched by your fruitful efforts, He will Himself come down, and taking you in His arms, will carry you to His Kingdom never again to leave Him. But should you cease to raise your foot, you will be left for long on the earth.” *
[FONT=Bookman Old Style]**To another, Therese **said, “You want to climb the mountain, whereas God wishes you to descend it. He is awaiting you in the valley of humility.” “It seems to me that humility is truth (honesty).” [/FONT]
Therese Martin has inspired generations of individuals to live the gospel way of spiritual childhood, including her family. In Celine Martin’s “Counsels and Reminiscences”, we note that while Therese died a saint at twenty-four, Celine strove against her imperfections until her holy death in her ninetieth year. Celine remained pupil of her young sister. When Therese, as her novice mistress, warned Celine what form her spiritual struggle would take, she might have been speaking any of us. **“You must never believe, when you don’t practice virtue, that it is due to some natural cause like illness, time, or grief. You must draw a great lesson in humility from it and take your place among the little souls, since you are able to practice virtue only in such a feeble manner.”
Therese added, “What is necessary for you now is not to practice heroic virtues but to acquire humility. For that, your victories must of necessity always be mixed with failures, so that you cannot take any pleasure in thinking about them.”**
Celine wrote of her struggle *“with the faults that constantly kept me in a state of humiliation, for, due to my impulsive temperament, I often had little outbursts with the sisters that afflicted me a great deal on account of my self-love. I thought my exterior was deceiving, that I was better than I appeared to be: from that, I developed a certain frustration at not being judged at my true worth. Then my little sister endeavoured, by her penetrating instruction embellished with symbolic stories adapted to my circumstances, to make me love the shame I was in.” “She made me find my joy in believing that I was a ‘very little soul’ whom God constantly had to support because it was nothing but weakness and imperfection.” *
also copied from my journal]
Elizabeth, I hope you find some inspiration in the words of this little yet great saint.
On the fiftieth anniversary of Therese’s death, the Pope sent Celine the following message regarding the little way of spiritual childhood*.* “Many think that it is a special way reserved to the innocent souls of young novices in order to guide them in their first steps, and that it is not suited to already mature individuals who need much prudence because of their great*** responsibilities. That is to forget that our Lord Himself recommended this way to all children of God, even to those who have, like the apostles He formed, the greatest of responsibilities, that of the care of souls."*
Elizabeth you’re dofferent from your friend, and your spiritual life is a special language between you and God. St Therese has this to say of the differences between people’s experiences and different relationships with God.
Saint Therese rightly asserted that individual souls are different, with small simple souls scattered amongst great souls contributing towards making a glorious and colourful garden*.*
*“I wondered for a long time why God has preferences, why all souls do not receive an equal amount of graces. I was surprised when I saw Him shower extraordinary favours on saints who had offended Him. For instance Saint Paul and Saint Augustine…I was puzzled at seeing how our Lord was pleased to caress certain ones from the cradle to the grave…helping them with such favours that they were unable to soil the immaculate beauty of their baptismal robe. I wondered why poor savages died in such numbers without ever having heard the name of God pronounced. Jesus deigned to teach me this mystery. *
[FONT=Bookman Old Style][FONT=Verdana]He set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers He created are beautiful, how the splendour of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. …If all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers. And, so it is with the world of souls, Jesus’ garden. He willed to create great souls comparable to lilies and roses, but He has created smaller ones and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God’s glances when He looks down at His feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be.” (Story of a Soul)[/FONT]
Actually, Elizabeth, another of St Therese’s sisters has had her cause introduced…I suppose in a sense one could have caused her 'the black sheep of the family" because she was the one who struggled most, who made most mistakes.
…A year later Leonie wrote to Therese, “You, my darling, are ready to go to meet God. You will surely be well received.”* In a spirit typical of Therese, Leonie continued, *“But I will face Him empty-handed; yet I have the temerity not to be afraid. Do you understand that?”**Then sweetly inquiring about Therese’s health Leonie humbly continued, “And tell me about God, and about everything that can make me grow in virtue; these are the only things that truly make me happy… If you only knew how much help that I need… I beg of you to ask God very specially to deliver me from my scruples; I am always turning in on myself, and this does me terrible damage, and hinders my attempts at perfection. You may be sure I’m showing you my wounds as clearly as I can.”
Therese wrote back,*** “If it were necessary to do great things we should be deserving of pity, but we are happy beyond measure, because Jesus lets Himself be captured by the smallest action… With you dear Leonie, little sacrifices are never lacking. Is not your life made up of them? I rejoice to see you in the presence of such wealth, especially when I remember that you know how to make profit thereby, not only for yourself but also for poor sinners. It is so sweet to help Jesus to save souls which He has ransomed at the price of His Precious Blood, and which only await our help to keep them from the abyss.*
*“It seems to me that if our sacrifices take Jesus captive, our joys make Him prisoner too. All that is needful to attain this end is that, instead of giving ourselves over to selfish happiness, we offer to (Him) the little joys He scatters in our path to charm our hearts and draw them towards Him. You ask for news of my health. Well my cough has quite disappeared. Does that please you? It will not prevent God from taking me to Himself whensoever He wishes. And I need not prepare for that journey, since my whole endeavour is to remain as a little child. Jesus Himself must pay all my expenses, as well as the price of my admission to Heaven.” *
The letters of both sisters revealed a humble and trusting spirit. In her final letter to Leonie in July 1897, Therese emphasised the importance of accepting God’s will in both trials and joys, rejoicing in both as gifts of God’s love. Therese’s final illness had lingered longer than expected, but she wrote**, “This does not distress me; I would not want my own will to bring me to Heaven one moment sooner…our only happiness on earth is to concentrate on always finding the lot which Jesus gives us delightful… If you want to be a saint… keep only one end in view, give pleasure to Jesus and bind yourself more closely to Him.” “You asked me to pray to the Sacred Heart for you, when I am in Heaven; I won’t forget to give Him your messages and to ask Him to send you all you need in order to become a great saint.”**
And Elizabeth, St Therese said before she died that her mission for souls would only really begin after her death, that God would use her to draw innumerable little souls to Him, and those words she said to her sister Leonie, I won’t forget to give Him your messages and to ask Him to send you all you need in order to become a saint.”
I ask St Therese to do exactly that for you.
She is right, God gives his graces to those that “need” them the most, it has nothing to do with their worthiness.
When you press forward with spiritual growth, do so in God’s time, please, trust me on this one, be very happy he’s easing you forward, moving forward dramatically requires a ton of hardship, at least in my life’s experiences, in the process.
That is not true. God can give visions, and so can Satan, and sometimes they can come from our own delusions or from mental instability. People should not boast of their visions to others either. Visions cannot be trusted, for even when God gives them, we are very flawed and often misunderstand what He means. We should be careful not to consider a person’s visions to be a sign of holiness. For they aren’t.
The true signs of holiness are loving God and loving one’s neighbor :). Jesus said, “This is how all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” True disciples of God are known by their love. The more their humility, their generosity, their patience, their mercy and kindness, and all their other virtues, the more they are one with God. Genuine love is the sign of holiness. Not supernatural signs . . . supernatural signs can come from a variety of different sources and are easily misunderstood.
St. John of the Cross counsels us to do our best to try to forget our mystical experiences when we have them, because that way we will be less tempted to pride.
No, she isn’t right about that. Praying to God a lot certainly can bring you into a much closer relationship with Him.
If I were you, I would seek out a real Catholic spiritual director. I’d ask my priest to help me find one. Spiritual directors tend to be far more trustworthy in matters of the faith than personal acquaintances, for they are often more knowledgeable in Catholicism and mature in their spiritual lives.
That is true. She was right about that, for the devil and the imagination can cause false visions. And even people that see true visions are still great sinners fighting against their wickedness.
St. Faustina says that God gives powerful mystical experiences to the humble souls, as these can take the experiences without becoming prideful. Visions aren’t something to focus on, though. MANY of the saints NEVER had visions in their lives!
It’s really not worth focusing on visions or paying much attention to them at all. He only gives them to increase our love, so we should love while receiving them, if we receive them, and then move on and love Him in every other part of our lives as well. Just focus on loving God and loving your neighbor. Though less flashy and dramatic, that is true holiness.
Sorry to be so blunt but do you believe your friend has visions simply because she tells you so.
Most people who say they have visions do not in fact have visions. If there appears to be some merit in this a humble person would then submit themselves to the Church which is the sole authority to say if visions are true or not.
Because a person claims to have visions does not mean it is so.
Hi Elizabeth, I don’t think that’s true. Having visions is not indicative of holiness… loving God and humility is, though. Many Saints did not have visions. Many others did. It doesn’t matter. God gives these graces to whoever He wants… there are many VERY holy people who never get them. What we should strive for is not spiritual experiences, but to love God completely, and this is what makes people holy, this is what makes them Saints I’m not saying your friend isn’t spiritually advanced, perhaps she is…but they can also be a temptation to pride, etc. So we must always be very humble. And it’s perfectly possible to be spiritually advanced, even contemplative, without having visions and such.
My friend and I often pray. We both have an inclination to have things revealed to us in prayer, including images (of protection, of healing, etc). In fact, we once independently saw a wall of protection around me (and not only that a nun who also prays deeply told me she saw it).
ANYWAY…I think you’re friend’s right in a way. If you’re reading and thinking you can have epifionies…but it’s still NOT a relationship. God is working through thought but you aren’t benefiting the most you can be. Though and relationship each have their place.
She may notice your lack of relationship or she just may be plain “off” or spiritually different than you. There’s a world of possiblity.
I want to thank everyone of you for your post’s. You have been most helpful. And I appreciate you very much.
As the others have said, having visions is no indication of holiness. Look at the evil Saul, a great persecutor of the Church shortly after Jesus’ death, who had his vision and was converted and become St. Paul.
When it comes to these visions and locutions, doubt. doubt. doubt. One way or another, the fruits of these will become known but it takes observation and time either way. Sure, there are true ones, but the false ones abound greatly, especially in our time where such information (or delusions as the case may be) can be shared at the touch of a keyboard.
She tells me no amount of reading my prayers is going to help me get in touch with my spirituality
While this could technically be true i hope she did not really put this as bluntly as you put it here. This statement should properly be elaborated upon. Such as, the words themselves mean nothing. Prayer comes from the heart. The words can help get us there, though.
what things? if she is having visions and hearing voices there are only a few possibilities. 1) she is mentally unbalanced and these are symptoms of her disability; 2) and the most likely, she is mistaking the products of her own imagination for something else, either out of ignorance or deliberately for motives of her own; 3) she is receiving some supernatural influence that is demonic in origin, or 4) she is receiving some supernatural influence from heaven, the least likely. In any case the faithful Catholic will immediately take these events or experiences to her confessor or trusted Catholic spiritual director for discernment, and disregard them unless and until, with his advice, they discern a supernatural divine basis for these things.
If she is not willing to do this that is proof positive these are not experiences with divine origin. If she is engaging in some discipline or practice or technique with the object of inducing such experiences, she is violating every tenet of orthodox Christian spirituality, and that again is proof positive any experience real or imagined is not of divine origin.
the best guide to this topic–OP states it very well in thread title-- is the Still Small Voice by Fr. Benedict Groeschel