Former Antipope and still heretic Joseph Ratzinger, has reported that "God told me to" resign the (anti-) papacy during a "mystical experience in prayer." I think all should review what the Church says about True and false supernatural private revelations. I reproduce here the Traditional teaching as set forth by one Fr. Peter Joseph.
There are three sources, ultimately, of revelations, visions, prodigies, and suchlike things: God, man, or the devil.
Under the heading of God, I include God’s holy creatures, such as Our Lady or another Saint or an angel.
Under man, I mean any human knowledge or skill or trickery or imagination or any human activity or machine or device causing anything to happen.
Under the devil, I include the devil himself or any one of the other demons.The power of the devilVery few people are aware of the devil’s full powers, and his ability to deceive. Many Catholics think that as soon as any prodigy occurs, it must be the work of God. But, as I said, messages and prodigies can issue from three sources ultimately: God, man, or the devil. It is the work of discernment to identify who is at work in a given case.
It is knowledge of diabolical trickery which makes the Church cautious here. My next part on the power of the demons is taken from Father Jordan Aumann, a Dominican priest, who taught for many years at the Angelicum University in Rome.What the devils can and cannot doThe devils cannot do the following:
(1) Produce any kind of truly supernatural phenomenon;
(2) Create a substance, since only God can create;
(3) Bring a dead person back to life, although they could produce the illusion of doing so;
(4) Make truly prophetic predictions, since only God knows the future absolutely, and those to whom He chooses to reveal a portion of it. However, the devil’s intelligent conjecture about the future might appear to mere mortals a prophecy;
(5) Know the secrets of a person’s mind and heart. However, their shrewd intelligence and observation may enable them to deduce many things about a person.
But the devils can do the following:
(1) Produce corporeal or imaginative visions;
(2) Falsify ecstasy;
(3) Instantaneously cure sicknesses that have been caused by diabolical influence;
(4) Produce the stigmata;(5) Simulate miracles and the phenomena of levitation and bilocation;(6) Make people or objects seem to disappear by interfering with a person’s sight or line of vision;
(7) Cause a person to hear sounds or voices;
(8) Cause a person to speak in tongues;
(9) Declare a fact which is hidden or distant.
(9) Declare a fact which is hidden or distant.
Whatever nature or science can cause, the devils too are able to cause, according to what God may permit. See the Book of Exodus where the magicians and sorcerers of Pharaoh were able to accomplish some of the prodigies wrought by Moses and Aaron (Ex 7:11-12; 7:22; 8:7; 8:18-19; 9:11). Close to 200 A.D., Tertullian writes, "first of all, they [the demons] make you ill; then to get a miracle out of it, they prescribe remedies either completely novel, or contrary to those in use, and thereupon withdrawing hurtful influence, they are supposed to have wrought a cure." (Apology of the Christian religion, 22).
In the face of the fallen angels’ power to deceive, it is no wonder that the Church is always very slow to declare a miracle or message authentic.
The devil has superhuman intelligence and is very clever, and to pretend that you can definitively judge in favour of something’s authenticity, without help, is presumptuous.
To know if something is false, it suffices to know that it says something contrary to the teaching of the Church. Hence, it is easier to pronounce against visionaries than in their favour. But the mere absence of doctrinal error is not enough. There have to be other positive indications.
The following quotations are from the final chapter of the rock-solid book Spiritual Theology (Sheed & Ward 1980) by Dominican Father Jordan Aumann.
Signs of the divine spirit
"The following characteristics are general signs of the divine spirit:
1. Truth. God is truth and cannot inspire anything but truth in a soul. If a person believed to be inspired by God, therefore, maintains opinions that are manifestly against revealed truth, the infallible teaching of the Church, or proven theology or philosophy or science, it must be concluded that the individual is deluded by the devil or is the victim of excessive imagination or faulty reasoning.
2. Gravity. God is never the cause of things that are useless, futile, frivolous, or impertinent. When his spirit moves a soul it is always for something serious and beneficial.
3. Enlightenment. Although one may not always understand the meaning of an inspiration from God, the effect of any divine movement or impulse is always enlightenment and certitude rather than darkness and confusion. This is true both for the effects on the individual who receives the inspiration and its effects on others.
4. Docility. Souls that are moved by the spirit of God accept cheerfully the advice and counsel of their directors or others who have authority over them. This spirit of obedience, docility, and submission is one of the clearest signs that a particular inspiration or movement is from God. This is especially true in the case of the educated, who have a greater tendency to be attached to their own opinions.
5. Discretion. The spirit of God makes the soul discreet, prudent, and thoughtful in all its actions. There is nothing of precipitation, lightness, exaggeration, or impetuosity; all is well balanced, edifying, serious, and full of calmness and peace.
6. Humility. The Holy Spirit always fills the soul with sentiments of humility and self-effacement. The loftier the communications from on high, the more profoundly the soul inclines to the abyss of its own nothingness. Mary said, ‘I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say’ (Lk 1:38).
7. Peace. St. Paul speaks frequently of the peace that comes from God (Rom 15:33, Phil 4:9), and Jesus mentions peace as one of the manifestations of his spirit (Jn 14:27). This is a quality that always accompanies communications from God; the soul experiences a profound and stable serenity in the depths of its spirit." (pp. 402-3)
Fr Aumann mentions other signs also: Confidence in God, Flexibility of will, Purity of intention, Patience in suffering, Self-abnegation, Simplicity, Liberty of spirit.
Signs of the diabolical spirit
"…[S]ince the devil may disguise himself as a good spirit and even cause what appears to be authentic mystical phenomena, it is helpful to mention briefly the various signs of the diabolical spirit.
1. Spirit of falsity. The devil is the father of lies, but he cleverly conceals his deceit by half-truths and pseudo-mystical phenomena.
2. Morbid curiosity. This is characteristic of those who eagerly seek out the esoteric aspects of mystical phenomena or have a fascination for the occult or preternatural.
3. Confusion, anxiety, and deep depression.
4. Obstinacy. One of the surest signs of a diabolical spirit.
5. Constant indiscretion and a restless spirit. Those who constantly go to extremes, as in penitential exercises or apostolic activity, or neglect their primary obligations to do some personally chosen work.
6. Spirit of pride and vanity. Very anxious to publicize their gifts of grace and mystical experiences.7. False humility. This is the disguise for their pride and self-love.
8. Despair, lack of confidence, and discouragement. A chronic characteristic that alternates with presumption, vain security, and unfounded optimism." (p. 412)
Fr Aumann mentions other signs also: Impatience in suffering and stubborn resentment; Uncontrolled passions and strong inclination to sensuality, usually under the guise of mystical union; Hypocrisy, simulation, and duplicity; Excessive attachment to sensible consolations, particularly in their practice of prayer; Lack of deep devotion to Jesus and Mary; Scrupulous adherence to the letter of the law and fanatical zeal in promoting a cause.
Signs of the human spirit
"The human spirit is always inclined to its own satisfactions; it is a friend of pleasure and an enemy of suffering of any kind. It readily inclines to anything that is compatible with its own temperament, its personal tastes and caprices, or the satisfaction of self-love. It will not hear of humiliations, penance, renunciation, or mortification. If any director or confessor goes against its inclinations, he is immediately branded as inept and incompetent. It seeks success, honors, applause, and pastimes. It is always a great promoter of anything that will arouse admiration or notoriety. In a word, the human spirit neither understands nor cares for anything except its own egoism.
"It is sometimes difficult in practice to judge whether given manifestations proceed from the devil or from a purely human and egoistic spirit, but it is always relatively easy to distinguish between these two and the spirit of God. It will be possible in most cases, therefore, to determine that a given spirit could not possibly be from God and that it must be combatted, even if one is not sure whether it is in fact from the devil or the human ego." (p. 413)
Some norms for discernment
"The following norms are offered as guides for the spiritual director in the discernment of spirits so far as they pertain to revelations and prophecies:
1. Any revelation contrary to dogma or morals must be rejected as false. God does not contradict himself,
2. Any revelation contrary to the common teaching of theologians or purporting to settle an argument among the schools of theology is gravely suspect.
3. If some detail or other in a revelation is false, it is not necessary to reject the entire revelation; the remainder may be authentic.
4. The fact that a prophecy is fulfilled is not of itself a conclusive proof that the revelation was from God; it could have been the mere unfolding of natural causes or the result of a superior natural knowledge on the part of the seer.
5. Revelations concerning merely curious or useless matters should be rejected as not divine. The same is to be said of those that are detailed, lengthy, and filled with a superfluity of proofs and reasons. Divine revelations are generally brief, clear, and precise.
6. The person who receives the revelation should be examined carefully, especially as to temperament and character. If the person is humble, well balanced, discreet, evidently advanced in virtue, and enjoys good mental and physical health, there is good reason to proceed further and to examine the revelation itself. But if the individual is exhausted with excessive mortifications, suffers nervous affliction, is subject to periods of great exhaustion or great depression, or is eager to divulge the revelation, there is cause for serious doubt." (p. 430)
Is the information useful for the salvation of souls? If it is merely to satisfy curiosity it is unlikely to be of divine origin. Some seeming seers act like mediums, give information on births, marriages, legal processes, diseases, political events, etc. God does not run an Inquiry Office. Some are very clever at observing, or very intuitive, and can work with little things. At séances, furniture is often pushed about, or a spirit moves a person’s hand to write messages, etc. God has never done these things in any approved revelation.
Curiosity sticks out in people who claim to tell you what was the ultimate fate of Princess Diana, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, etc. We’d all love to know who’s in Heaven and who isn’t! A lady I heard of claims to know where every deceased person is: funnily enough everyone’s either in Purgatory or Heaven! I suppose it would do harm to business and popularity to tell people that certain relatives are in Hell! Actually, anyone who pronounces on famous people is immediately to be disbelieved.
Also suspect are revelations that merely give truisms and platitudes.
Why does the devil do it?
Catholics ought be very cautious in giving credence to visions and messages before they have received approbation from the Church. The devil has raised up many false mystics in recent years. People ask: "Why would the devil be behind a revelation which encourages people to pray and fast and do penance? That would be Satan divided against himself."
Fair question. Why would he do it?
Answer: For a number of reasons: to distract people from the genuine private revelations; to lead them into exercises not blessed as such by God; to bring private revelations into complete disrepute; to cause disenchantment and even a crisis of faith when a seer is later plainly seen to be false; and, worst of all, subtly to lead some people out of the Church altogether. The devil is willing to lose a lot, if he can gain in the long run.
The devil rejoices when Catholics reject the tried and true means of spiritual growth to chase after the extraordinary and the unapproved. The Church is extremely careful before approving a private revelation, for she knows how "even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor 11:14). She must avoid both credulity and unfounded scepticism. "Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything," directs St Paul (1 Thess 5:19-21). And St John warns, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God" (1 Jn 4:1). Some spirits are quite easy to discern; others very difficult. Priests in particular must be examples of prudence and obedience in this area."
We can now see why God has not spoken to Herr Ratzinger. According to the news reports, " Benedict also praised the “charisma” of his successor, Pope Francis, saying that his actions as the leader of the Catholic Church show that his election was “God’s will.”
God would never want anyone to stay in the heretical Vatican II sect which is false, since God is Truth. Nor would He want praise lavished upon the evil Antipope Francis. If Ratzinger experienced anything, it could not be of Divine origin. Only Satan would want the damnation of millions of souls through the heretical teachings of Vatican II, exemplified by Francis. If Ratzinger claimed God told him to remember his Anti-Modernist Oath, formally abjure his errors, and embrace the True Catholic Faith once more---then we all have reason to rejoice and believe it.