Sign-seeking is a bad idea

Previously I’ve done blog posts drawing from St John of the Cross, in which he warns that a preoccupation with signs and visions is a sin against faith. The Catechism confirms that this is something that is foolish at best and a sin at worst, because Jesus Christ is God’s last word to us.

God has said everything in his Word

65 “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.” Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one. St. John of the Cross, among others, commented strikingly on Hebrews 1:1-2:

In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word – and he has no more to say… because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behaviour but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.

There will be no further Revelation

66 “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.

[CCC §§65-66, quoting Ascent of Mount Carmel II, xxii, 3-5]

It’s sad, for example, to see Catholics chasing after alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin in pancakes, fence posts, or whatever other nonsense. This is not to say that apparitions such as those at Lourdes or Fatima or Akita or wherever are invalid. Rather, it’s to say that we ought not to be expecting them, nor hoping after them, nor searching for them. We are to be content with Christ, and with the revelation that God has given and that is preserved in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

As an aside, it’s probably also worth noting what the Catechism says at the end of §66. It’s one thing to say that revelation is complete; it’s another thing entirely to say that we understand it fully. Doctrine has developed, and there is every reason to expect that it will continue to develop – that the Church’s comprehension of it will continue to deepen and grow.

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Posted in Ascent of Mt Carmel, Catechism, Development of Doctrine

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