615. The grace of divine visions, revelations and raptures, (I do not speak here of the beatific visions), al though they are operations of the Holy Ghost, must be distinguished from justifying grace and from virtues, which sanctify and perfect the soul in their operations. As not all the just, nor all the saints, necessarily have visions or divine revelations, it is evident that sanctity and virtuousness can exist without these gifts. It is also evident, that revelations and visions are not dependent upon the sanctity and perfection of those, that are thus favored, but upon the divine will. God concedes them according to weight and measure for the ends which He wishes to attain in his Church (Wisdom 11, 21). God can without doubt grant great and the most exalted visions to those, who are less holy, and only inferior revelations to those, who are of exalted sanctity. The gift of prophecy and the other gifts freely given (gratis data) He can give to those even, who are not saints; some of the raptures moreover can arise from causes, which have nothing to do with moral virtues. Therefore if any comparison is made between the Prophets, their sanctity does not enter into calculation, for that can be estimated only by God ; but the divine light of prophecy and the mode of receiving it, must be made the basis of the comparison as to its being more or less exalted in its different aspects. Thus it happens, that charity and virtue, which make their possessors holy and perfect, de pend upon the will, while visions and revelations, and likewise some of the raptures, affect the understanding of the intellectual part of man, the perfection of which does not in itself sanctify the soul.
616. Nevertheless, though the gift of divine vision is distinct from holiness and separate from it, the divine will and providence very often joins them according to the end and object in the gratuitous gifts of special revelation; for sometimes God ordains them for the public benefit (I Cor. 12, 7) and for the common good of the Church, as the Apostle tells us. Thus the Prophets, inspired by the Holy Ghost and not filled with their own imaginations (II Pet. 1, 21), spoke and prophesied to us the mysteries of the Redemption and of the evangelical Law (I Pet. 1, 10). When the revelations and visions are of this kind, they are not necessarily joined with sanctity; for Balaam was a prophet and no saint. But generally it suited divine Providence, that the prophets should at the same time be saints, preferring not to de posit, at least not easily and frequently, the spirit of prophecy and of divine revelations in impure vessels. In some instances He, as the All powerful, did choose to act in this manner, yet (not to mention many other reasons) He did not ordinarily wish to derogate from the power of his divine truths and teachings by the bad life of the instrument.
617. At other times the divine revelations and visions do not pertain to things of so general an import and they do not concern so much the common good, but only the particular advantage of the one who receives them; just as the former are the effects of God s love toward his Church, so the latter, the special revelations, are the re suits of the special love of God toward the particular soul. He communicates them in order to instruct his chosen ones and in order to raise them to the highest grade of love and perfection. In this kind of revelations the spirit of wisdom transcends through successive generations of holy souls, making them successively prophets and friends of God. Just as the efficient cause of the revelations is the love of God shown to some particular souls, so also their final cause or object is the holiness, the purity and the charity of these very souls; God chooses this means of divine revelation and vision in order to gain this end.
618. I do not therefore say here, that revelations and visions are the indispensable and necessary means for the making of the saints and the perfect; many are such by other means, irrespective of these benefits. But, even supposing this truth, that the concession or denial of these particular gifts depends solely upon the divine will, it is nevertheless also a fact that on our part and on the part of God there may be certain reasons of propriety which induce God to communicate them more frequently to his servants. The first among several is, that the most proper and convenient means of rising to eternal things, entering into them, becoming spiritualized, and arriving at the perfect union of the soul with the highest Good, is the super natural light concerning the mysteries and secrets of the Most High, which comes from revelation and vision granted to it in solitude and in its excesses of mind. For this purpose the Lord himself invites the soul with many promises and caresses, as is oftentimes shown in holy Scripture and especially in the Canticles of Solomon.
619. The second of these reasons of propriety concerns the Lord : for love is impatient to communicate its favors and its mysteries to the beloved and to the friend. "I will not now call you servants, nor treat you as servants," our Lord, the Master of truth said to the Apostles, "for I have manifested to you the secrets of my Father," (John 15, 15). And Moses says of himself, that God spoke to him as a friend with a friend (Exodus 23, 11). The holy Ancestors, Patriarchs and Prophets, received from the Holy Ghost not only general revelations, but many other private and particular ones, and these were tokens of the love in which God held them, as is seen from the petition of Moses to allow him to see the face of God. (Exod. 23, 13). The same is shown by the names, which the Almighty applies to the chosen soul in calling it spouse, friend, dove, sister, perfect, beloved, beautiful, etc. (Cant. 4, 8, 9; 2, 10; 1, 14 et passim). All these titles, though betokening much of the force of divine love and its effects, yet fall far short of that which the supreme King operates in those whom He wishes thus to honor; or the Lord is mighty to do all that He desires ; and He alone knows how to desire as a Spouse, as a Friend, as a Father, as the highest and infinite Good, without limit or measure.
620. The truth loses nothing of its force by its not being intelligible to carnal wisdom : nor by the deceptions of carnal prudence, through which some souls have been led into false visions and revelations forged by the devil in the garb of light. This deception has been more frequent in women on account of their ignorance and their passions; however, it fell also upon many men, who sought to appear virtuous and wise. In all of them it has arisen from an evil root. I do not speak of those who with diabolical hypocrisy have feigned false and apparent revelations, visions and raptures; but I speak of those who have been deceived by lying visions through the agency of the devil, although such things do not happen without sin in consenting thereto. Of the former it can be said, that they deceive, and of the latter, at least in the beginning, that they are deceived; for the ancient serpent, knowing them to be little mortified in their passions and little practiced in the interior perception of the divine things, implants into them with astute subtlety a proud presumption, that they are much favored by God. The devil robs them of their humble fear and inspires them with vain curiosity to know high things by revelation, to be favored with visions, and to be distinguished in such things above other men. Thereby they open the gates for the entrance of satan, he fills them with deceitful and false illusions, far distant from divine truth, yet having the appearance of truth in order to conceal his poison and deceive the soul.
621. The way to avoid such dangerous deceit is to live in humble fear and not to aspire to high things (Rom. 11, 20) ; not to judge of our advance in the tribunal of our inclinations and not to trust to our own prudence; to leave judgment to God, his ministers, and well informed confessors, who will search into the intention of our acts. Then it will soon become known, whether the soul desires these favors as a means of virtue and perfection or in order to obtain honor among men. The most secure path will always be not to desire them, and always to fear the danger which at all times is great and more so in the first beginnings. For the sensible sweetness of devotion, even when it comes from the Lord and when it is not an imposture of the devil, is not given because the soul is already capable of the solid food of his greater favors and secrets ; but it is given as the food of the little ones, in order to draw them away with greater earnestness from the faults and induce them to greater self-denial in sensible things; not at all in order to make them imagine that they are advanced in virtue. Even raptures, which spring from admiration, suppose ignorance rather than special love. As soon as our love becomes ecstatic, fervent, yearning, quickened, full of activity and inaccessible, impatient of any other presence except that of its Beloved, and if besides all this, it has a full command over all the affections of the heart ; then the soul begins to be rightly disposed to receive the light of mysterious revelations and of divine visions ; and so much the better will it be disposed toward receiving them, the more it esteems itself unworthy of the reception of even much smaller favors. Wise men will not be surprised that women have been so much favored in these gifts ; for besides being more fervent in their love, God also favors them for being the weakest among creatures and so much the more appropriate witnesses of his power. Women also are more wanting in the acquired science of theology than learned men, except when the Most High infuses that science in order to illumine their weak and uninformed judgment.
622. Having established these principles, we must acknowledge that in most holy Mary, even if there were no other special reasons, the revelations and visions of the Most High were more exalted, more wonderful, more frequent, and more divine than those of all the rest of saints. These favors, just like all the gifts, must be measured by her dignity, her holiness, purity, and also by the love, which her Son and the blessed Trinity cherished towards Her, who was the Mother of the Son, the Daughter of the Father, and the Spouse of the Holy Ghost. In proportion to the greatness of these prerogatives were also the influxes of the Divinity : Christ and his Mother being infinitely more beloved than all the rest of the angels and men. The divine visions enjoyed by our sovereign Queen can be divided into five grades or kinds, and I will describe each one of them, as far as has been revealed to me.
Most Holy Mary's clear vision of the Divinity.
623. The highest and most excellent of all her visions were those of the beatific vision of the divine Essence, for in her state of pilgrimage She many times enjoyed the unveiled vision of the Divinity. I shall mention all these visions in the course of this history according to the time and occasion in which She enjoyed this supreme privilege of a creature. Some doctors are in doubt, whether the other saints have reached this state of seeing the God head clearly and intuitively while yet in mortal flesh ; but whatever may be their uncertainty about such visions in regard to other saints, no such doubt can be entertained in regard to the Queen of heaven, and it would be an injury to Her, if we were to measure her favors with the common measure of the saints. Many more favors and graces than were even possible in them actually were consummated in the Mother of grace, and it is at least possible that beatific vision can take place in men yet in their pilgrim age, whatever may be the mode in which this happens. The first requisite of a soul, which is to see God face to face, is a degree of sanctifying grace most exalted and far above the ordinary. Now the degree of sanctifying grace, which Mary reached from the first moment of her existence, was superabundant and of such perfection, that it exceeded that of the highest seraphim. In addition to sanctifying grace, there must be great purity of all the faculties, without a shadow of guilt or the least inclination to sin. Just as a vessel, which has contained any impure liquid and which is to be filled with another pure substance, must be cleansed, washed and purified until not a taste or odor of the former remains so as not to infect the new substance : so all traces of sin (and much more of actual sin) contaminate and infect the soul. And because all these effects make the soul unfit for divine bounty, it must be prepared before it can be united with God by the intuitive vision and beautifying love. It must be cleansed and purified, so that not a vestige of the odor, or the taste of sin remains, nor any traces of vicious habits or inclinations consequent thereon. This applies not only to the effects and stains of mortal, but also of venial sin, all of which cause in the soul a special turpitude, like to that, which, according to our way of understanding such things, ensues, when a foul breath covers and obscures the clearness of crystal : all its brightness and purity must first be restored to the soul before it can see God face to face.
624. Moreover, besides this purity which is as it were the negative cleansing of the nature of him who is to en joy the vision of God, it is necessary to cauterize the infection of original sin, so that it is entirely extinct and neutralized, as if it had never existed in the creature. Thus all trace or inward cause inclining it to any sin or imperfection must first be done away with, and the entire free will must, as it were, be made incapable of every thing, which in any way is opposed to highest sanctity and goodness. Hence, on account of what I shall mention afterward, it will be easily understood, how difficult it is for the soul to attain the necessary condition for the clear vision of God in mortal flesh ; and that it can be conceded to the creatures only with great circumspection, for most important reasons, and after great preparation. According to my understanding there are two kind of incongruities and divergencies of the sinful creature in regard to the divine nature. The first consists in this, that God is invisible, infinite, a pure and simple act, while man is a corporeal, earthly, corruptible and coarse substance. The other incongruity is caused by sin, which is immensely distant from the divine goodness, and this entails a greater divergence and alienation than the first. But both of them must be done away with before such extremes can be united, and before the creatures can rest in this supreme manner in the Deity and before it can assimilate itself with God so as to see and enjoy Him as He is (I John 3, 2).
625. All the requisites of immaculate purity and transparency, excluding all sin and imperfection, were possessed by the Queen of heaven in a much higher degree than even by the angels ; for She was touched neither by original nor by actual sin, nor by any of their consequences. In this regard divine grace acted more power fully in Her, than was merited by the impeccable nature of the angels, and in Mary there was no disproportion nor any obstacle of sin, which could retard the vision of God. On the other hand, besides being immaculate, the grace given to Her in the first instance exceeded that of the angels and saints, and Her merits were in proportion to that grace. By her first act She merited more than all the others, even by their most perfect and consummate acts, which they have performed in order to reach beatific vision. Therefore, if it is just, that in the other saints the reward of glory merited by them be deferred until the end of their mortal life: it does not seem against justice, that this law was not followed so strictly in regard to most holy Mary and that the most high Ruler should and really did proceed differently with Her during Her mortal existence. The most blessed Trinity would not suffer such a long delay in regard to Her, and manifested Itself to Her many times : since She merited it above all the angels, seraphim and saints, who, having less grace and merits, are enjoying the supreme beatitude. Moreover, there was another reason why the Divinity should manifest Itself clearly to Her: namely, since She was elected to be the Mother of God, it was appropriate, that She should know by fruition and experience the treasure of the infinite Deity and see Him face to face as her God, whom having enjoyed, She was to clothe in mortal flesh and bear about in her virginal womb, and whom She was afterwards to treat as her Son and as her God.
626. Even with all the aforesaid purity and sinlessness and with the addition of sanctifying grace, the soul is not yet worthy or capable of the beatific vision, since still other dispositions and divine operations are required. With these the Queen of heaven was furnished whenever She enjoyed this vision and hence they are much more necessary to any other soul, that is to be thus favored in mortal flesh. After the soul has reached the state of purity and sanctification above described, the Lord adds a finishing touch as of a most spiritual fire, which refines and chases it as fire does the gold, or as Isaias was purified by the seraphim (Isaias 6,7). It has two effects in the soul: first it spiritualizes and separates in it (according to our mode of understanding) the dross and earthliness connected with its present existence and its union with the bodily matter. Secondly it fills the soul with a new light, which scatters, I do not know what obscurity and darkness, just as the light of the morning scatters the darkness of night. This light takes possession, leaves the soul clarified and replenished with new splendors of a divine fire, producing still other effects in the soul. For if it is guilty or has been guilty of any sins, the soul deplores these sins with incomparable sorrow and contrition, with a sorrow, that cannot be equaled by any other human sorrow, for all are very little in comparison with it. At the same time it feels another effect of this light : it purges the understanding of all the images impressed upon it by the sensible and visible things of earth. For all impressions and images, acquired by the senses distort the intellectual vision and serve only as a hindrance to the clear vision of the supreme spiritual essence of God. There fore it is necessary to clear and evacuate from the facul ties all these earthly idols and images. Not only is this necessary, in order that the soul may see God clearly and intuitively, but equally so, in order to see Him abstractively.
627. In the soul of our most pure Queen, there was no fault to deplore, no after-effects of the sensible operations, no dependence upon the body, and therefore these illuminations and purifications immediately wrought the other effects, beginning to elevate her nature to a condition not so far removed from the ultimate supreme End. In addition to this they caused in this most pure soul new sentiments and movements of humility and knowledge of the nothingness of the creature in comparison with the Creator and his blessings. Thus her inflamed heart was in cited to many other heroic acts of virtue. Like effects are produced in a corresponding degree in other souls, who are to be prepared for the visions of the Deity.
628. Our curtailed insight might well hold that the foregoing preparations are sufficient for being admitted to the beatific vision ; but they are not : still another quality is wanting, a divine emanation or light, the light of glory. This new cleansing, though it is similar in nature to those already spoken of, is altogether different from them in its effects. For it raises the soul to a very high and serene state, where, in greatest tranquillity, it enjoys the sweetest peace, which is not felt in connection with the first mentioned purifications, For in those the pain and bitterness of sin is still felt, if the soul was guilty of any, and if not, then there remains still the earthly weight of our lower nature. These effects are not compatible with the close approach and assimilation to the supreme blessedness. It seems to me that the first purifications serve to mortify, and that, which I am now referring to, serves to revivify and heal nature. God proceeds in these things like the painter, who first delineates the image, then ap plies the ground colors, and at last puts on the finishing touches, so that the picture comes to light well defined.
629. Over and above all these purifications, preparations and their admirable effects, God adds still a last one, which is the light of glory by which the soul raises itself to attain and enjoy the beatific vision of God. In this light the Godhead manifests Itself, for without this light God cannot be seen by any creature. Since the natural powers of the creature cannot attain to this light and these preparations, therefore it is impossible to see God by the natural faculties alone, for all this far exceeds the forces of nature.
630. With all this beauty and adornment the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, the Daughter of the Father, and the Mother of the Son, was furnished for Her entrance into the chamber of the Divinity in order to enjoy from time to time the beatific vision and intuitive fruition. And as these favors were given to Her according to the measure of her dignity and grace, therefore it is impossible to en compass the godlike proportions of her enlightenment by the reasoning powers, or the thoughts of a creature, and much less of an ignorant woman. Still less can the joys of her soul be estimated or calculated, when it was thus exalted above all that is most supreme in the highest seraphim and saints. If in regard to all the just, even the lowest of those who enjoy God, it is infallibly true, that neither eye has seen, nor ears heard, nor mind conceived, what God has prepared for his elect (I Cor. 2,9), what must be the enjoyment of the greater saints? And if the same Apostle who says this confesses that he cannot repeat, what he had heard (II Cor. 12, 4), what shall we, in our narrow limitation of powers, be able to say of the Saint of the saints, the Mother of Him, who is the glory of the saints? Next to the Soul of her most holy Son, who was man and true God, She was the one, who knew and saw the greatest mysteries and sacraments in those in finite and hidden immensities of the Divinity. To Her more than to all the blessed in their entirety were thrown open the infinite treasures, the expanding vastnesses of that inaccessible Being, unlimited by any beginning or end. She, as the City of God, was inundated by the ecstatic torrents of the supreme Being, overwhelming Her with the impetuous waves of wisdom and grace, spiritualizing and impregnating Her with the spirit of the Divinity.
Abstractive visions of the Divinity enjoyed by Most Holy Mary
631. The second kind of divine visions enjoyed by the Queen of heaven was the abstractive, which is very different and much inferior to the intuitive; it was more frequent in Her, though not daily or continual. This kind of knowledge or vision is communicated by the Most High without unveiling Himself directly to the created mind, but through a certain veil or species, by means of which He becomes manifest. Because of this intervening medium between the faculty and its object, this kind of vision is very much inferior to the clear and intuitive vision. It does not involve the real presence, though it presupposes it intellectually in an inferior way. Although the creature knows that it is nigh to the Divinity and discovers the attributes, perfections and mysteries, which as in a mirror of the will, God wishes to show and manifest, yet it does not feel and is not aware of his presence so as to enjoy Him with complete satiety.
632. Nevertheless this is a great, rare and, next to the clear vision, a more excellent favor than any other. Al though it does not require the light of glory, but only the light appropriate to the species themselves, and not even the ultimate disposition and purification proper to the light of glory; yet all the other preparations antecedent to the intuitive vision, must go before it ; for by them the soul enters into the antechambers of the house of the eternal God and Lord (Psalm 45, 5). The effects of this kind of vision are admirable, for besides the exalted state which it presupposes in the soul and which raises it above itself (Thren. 3, 28), it inebriates the soul (Psalm 35, 9) with an ineffable and an inexplicable delight and sweetness, inflaming it with divine love, transforming it and causing a forgetfulness of and an aversion toward all earthliness and toward itself, so that already the soul does not any more live in itself, but in Christ and Christ in it (Gal. 2, 20). Besides all this there remains after this vision in the soul a light, which, if not lost by negligence and carelessness, or by some sin, will always accompany it to the highest pinnacle of perfection, teaching it the most secure paths to eternity and resembling the perpetual fire of the sanctuary (Lev. 6, 12) or the beacon light of the citadel of God (Apoc. 22, 5).
633. These and other effects were caused in our sovereign Queen by abstractive vision and to such an eminent degree, that I cannot give an explanation of my concept in words. But some idea will be obtained, if we consider the condition of that most pure soul, in which there was not the least hindrance, either of lukewarmness, nor of the least defect, no indolence or forgetfulness, no negligence or ignorance, nor the least inattention ; but in which on the contrary was the fullness of grace and of ardent love, unfailing diligence, perpetual and unceasing praise of the Creator, the utmost solicitude and readiness to give Him glory, and a preparation which allowed the powerful hand of God to operate without opposition or hindrance whatever. She was favored with this kind of blessed vision in the first moment of her Conception, as I have already related before (Supra, No. 228, 236, 311, 382, 388; infra, 731, 739; Part II 6-101; Part II 537), and will relate afterwards many times in the course of her most holy life.
Intellectual visions and revelations of the Most Holy Mary
634. The third kind of divine visions and revelations enjoyed by the most holy Mary were the intellectual ones. Although abstractive visions or the visions of the Divinity may be called intellectual visions, yet for two reasons I have mentioned them especially and placed them in a higher order. First, because the object of the abstractive visions is altogether supreme among intellectual things, whereas the range of these more ordinary intellectual visions ex tends to many various objects, since they include the material and the spiritual things, and the entire field of intellectual truths and mysteries. The second reason is, be cause the abstractive visions of the divine Essence are brought about by the most exalted and supernaturally in fused species or images of the being of God ; whereas the common revelations and the intellectual visions take place in diverse ways ; sometimes the intellectual images of the objects revealed are all infused; at other times not necessarily all the subject-matter of the revelations is infused; because then the same species or images, which the imagination or fantasy already possesses are sufficient for the revelation. For the understanding, endowed with a new light and a supernatural power, can apprehend the mysteries of God from imaginary images, as happened with Joseph in Egypt (Gen. 40, 41), and with Daniel in Babylon (Dan. 1, 24). This kind of revelation was given to David; and next to the knowledge of the Essence of the Deity, it is the most noble and secure. For neither the demons nor the angels can infuse this supernatural light into the understanding, since they can only cause images and phantasies in the imagination.
635. This form of revelation was common among the holy Prophets of the old and the new Testaments; for the light of perfect prophecy which they possessed, terminated in the understanding of some hidden mystery; and without this intelligence, or intellectual light, they would not have been perfect prophets, nor would they have spoken prophetically. Therefore, they that do or say something prophetical, as for instance Caiphas and the soldiers refusing to divide the garment of Christ our Lord (John 11, 49; 19, 24), although they are urged to these things by divine impulse, are not prophets in the perfect sense; for they do not speak prophetically, that is with divine intelligence and light. It is even true that the holy Prophets, who are prophets in the real sense, and who call themselves seers on account of the interior light by which they see secret things, can perform some prophetic actions without knowing all the mysteries included therein, or even without knowing any of the mysteries ; but in such cases they are not to be called prophets in the same sense, as when they prophesy with a supernatural understanding of things. This kind of revelation is of many different grades, which cannot here be explained ; and although the Lord can communicate it irrespective of charity, of grace and virtue; yet ordinarily it is accompanied by them, as in the Prophets, Apostles and the just, and this happens both when He manifests his secrets to them as friends, and also when the intellectual visions or revelations are given for the advantage and greater advancement of those who receive them, as I have said above (No. 616) . There fore these revelations demand a very excellent predisposition in those souls who are to be raised to them, and ordinarily God does not communicate them, except when the soul is in the state of quiet and peace, withdrawn from the earthly things and well ordered in its faculties for the workings of the divine light.
636. In the Queen of heaven these intelligences or rev elations were vastly different from those which are proper to the Saints and Prophets; for her Highness enjoyed them continually, both in habit and in act, whenever She was not enjoying other more exalted visions of the Divinity. Moreover the clearness and the extent of this intellectual light and all its effects were incomparably greater in most holy Mary. For of the truths, mysteries and sacraments of the Most High, She knew more than all the holy Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and more even than all the angels combined; and She understood more profoundly and clearly, more unerringly and securely all that She did know. By means of this intelligence She penetrated to the very being of God and to his attributes as manifested in the very smallest of his works and creatures. Not one of them existed in which She did not perceive the participation of the greatness of the Creator and his divine foresight and providence. Most holy Mary alone could in the fullest sense say of Herself that the Lord had manifested to Her the uncertain and occult things of his wisdom (Psalm 50, 8) as recorded by the Prophet. It is impossible to describe the effects of this intelligence in the sovereign Lady; this whole history must serve in a manner to declare them. In other souls they are of wonderful advantage and efficacy, for they illumine in the highest manner the understanding, inflame the will with incredible ardor, they undeceive, disentangle, elevate and spiritualize the creature, and at the same time they seem to lighten and subtilize even the gross and emburdened earthly body in holy emulation with the soul. The Queen of heaven enjoyed in these visions also an other privilege, of which, however, I will speak in the following chapter.
Imaginary vision of the Most Holy Mary, the Queen of Heaven.
637. In the fourth place must be mentioned the imaginary visions, which are produced by sensible visions, raised or set in motion in the imagination or fantasy. They represent the object in a material or sensitive manner, in the same way as are represented those things we see, hear, touch or taste. By means of this kind of vision the Most High manifested to the Prophets of the old Testament great mysteries and sacraments. Such happened especially with Ezechiel, Daniel and Jeremias, and under the influence of similar visions the evangelist saint John wrote the Apocalypse. Since these visions partake so much of the sensible and corporal element, they are much inferior to the ones spoken of under the preceding heading. On this same account the demon can reproduce them in appearance by exciting phantasms of the imagination; he does not, however, reproduce them in reality, being the father of lies. Therefore it is necessary to be ware of these kind of visions and to examine them in the light of the teachings of the saints; for if the demon perceives any cupidity toward them in the soul during prayer or devotions, and if God permits, he can easily work deception. Even some saints, though dreading the dangers of such visions, were nevertheless entangled in them by satan in his assumed light, as is related in their lives for our instruction and warning.
638. The one in whom these imaginary visions and revelations were without any danger and entirely secure and divine, was most holy Mary, whose interior light could not be obscured or invaded by the astuteness of the serpent. Our Queen was favored with many such visions, for of this kind were those which manifested to Her many of the actions of her most holy Son while absent, as we shall see in the sequence of her life (Part II, Chap. 23, 24, 25, Book V). She also perceived in imaginary visions many creatures and mysteries, whenever the Most High so dispensed it according to his will and providence. And since this and many benefits received by the sovereign Princess of heaven were ordained for most high ends, not only for the advancement of her own sanctity, purity and merits, but also for the advantage of the Church, of which this great Mother of grace was to be a Teacher and a Cooperatrix in Redemption, the effects of these visions and her understanding of them were admirable and they were invariably accompanied by incomparable proofs of the glory of God, and of new and increasing gifts and graces in the soul of most holy Mary. Of the effects of these visions in other creatures I will speak immediately below ; for of these and the next kind of visions, the same can be said as far as their effects in other souls are concerned.
Corporeal visions of Divine Origin enjoyed by Most Holy Mary
639. The fifth and lowest order of visions and revelations are those which are perceived by the corporeal and exterior senses, and that is the reason why they are called corporeal, although they can be brought about in two different ways. The one kind are truly and properly called corporeal visions, when in a visible and quantitative body some supernatural being appears to the sight or touch, be it God, a saint, or the demon, or a soul and the like ; such body being formed for that very purpose by the ministry and power of good or of bad angels from the ether or from the phantasms, which, though it is no true or natural body of the thing represented by it, yet is truly a quantitative body constructed from the ether in external dimensions. The other kind of corporeal visions are such in an improper sense, rather an illusion of the sense of sight ; for they are only an image of the object, its coloring, etc., which an angel can make visible by an alteration of the intervening air. The one that sees it thinks that he looks upon a real body actually present, though there is no such body, but only an empty image, by which the senses are imperceptibly fascinated. This kind of illusory visions of the senses is not proper to the good angels nor to divine revelation, although they are possible to God and the angels ; such might have been the voice which Samuel heard. But they are a favorite ruse of the demon, on account of their deceptiveness, especially in regard to the sight. Therefore, and because the Queen never had this kind of visions, I will speak only of the truly corporeal visions, such as She really enjoyed.
640. In the holy Scriptures are many instances of corporeal visions granted to the saints and Patriarchs. Adam saw God represented in the form of an angel (Gen. 3, 8) ;
Abraham saw three angels (Gen. 17, 1) ; Moses saw a bush, (Exod. 3, 2) and many times the Lord himself. Likewise others, who were sinners, have had corporeal or imaginary visions: as for instance Cain (Gen. 4, 9), Baltassar (Dan. 5, 5), who saw the hand on the wall: then imaginary images, as for instance Pharao (Gen. 41, 2) in the vision of the cows; Nabuchodonozor, that of the tree and the statue (Dan. 4, 12, 2, 1) and other recorded in the holy Scriptures. These instances prove that in order to see corporeal and imaginary visions sanctity is not required in the subject. But it is true nevertheless, that they who obtain such an imaginary or corporeal vision, without receiving there from any light or intelligence, cannot be called Prophets ; nor can they be said to receive a true revelation, but only those who receive the necessary understanding of the vision, as Daniel says (Dan. 10, 1). Thus Joseph and Daniel were Prophets, not however Pharao, Baltassar, Nabuchodonosor. Moreover those are the more important revelation and visions, which are accompanied by a higher intelligence, although, to judge from outward appearances, others may be called higher, namely, those which represent God or the Mother of God, and the saints ac cording to their station.
641. It is certain that in order to receive corporeal visions it is necessary that the senses should be prepared. The imaginary ones are often sent by God in sleep, as for instance in the vision of Joseph, the husband of most holy Mary (Matth. 1, 20), of the Magi Kings (2, 12) of Pharao (Gen. 41, 2), etc. Others can be perceived while the senses are in their full natural activity, this not being repugnant. But the ordinary and co-natural manner of receiving the corporeal as well as the intellectual visions, is during some rapture or ecstasy of the external senses ; for in such a state the interior faculties are more collected and prepared for the perception of high and divine things. Yet the exterior senses are apt to be a hindrance less to the intellectual visions than to the imaginary ones, the latter having1 more affinity for exterior things than the acts of the intellect. Therefore it often happens, when ever the intellectual revelations are not infused species, or when the affections do not suspend the action of the senses, that most high intelligences of great and super natural mysteries are conferred without the cessation of the activity of the senses.
642. In the Queen of heaven this happened many times and even frequently. For, though She was enraptured during many of the beatific visions, (which in ordinary mortals is always required), and also during her intellectual and imaginary visions ; yet, even while She was in the full use of her senses, She received higher revelations and intelligences than all the saints and Prophets in their greatest ecstasies. Nor in any wise did her exterior senses disturb her imaginary visions. For the great heart of Mary, so full of wisdom, was not embarrassed by the sentiments of admiration and love, which are wont to take away the sensible activities of the other saints and Prophets. This was true of her corporeal visions, as is evident from the Annunciation of the message by the archangel Gabriel (Luc. 1, 18), and although the Evangelists give no other instance in the course of her most holy life, prudent and Catholic judgment cannot doubt that they did happen at other times, for the Queen of the heavens and of the angels was to be served by her vassals, as we shall relate later on (No. 758) when we describe the continuous service of her angelic guard, and of other angels appearing in corporeal and visible form. It happened also in another way, as we shall see in the following chapter.
643. Other souls must be very circumspect and careful in regard to these corporeal visions, since they are subject to dangerous deceptions and illusions coming from the ancient serpent Those who never seek them avoid a great part of this danger. If the soul is free from such de sire and from other disorderly affections, and if then any corporeal or imaginary visions should happen, it must be very cautious before performing and executing that, which is enjoined by those visions : for it is a very bad sign and savoring of the devil s influence, if, without any deliberation or counsel, it immediately believes and obeys ; since the good angels, who are our teachers in matters of obedience, truth, prudence and holiness, do not urge such a course of action. There are also other indications and signs, generally accompanying the causes and the effects of such visions, which will securely guide souls as to their truthfulness or their falsity. But I will not enter into these matters, in order not to be led away from my purpose; and besides, I submit myself in these things to the doctors and teachers of the spiritual life.
Instruction of the Queen of Heaven.
644. My daughter, in the enlightenment, which thou hast received in this chapter, thou hast a certain rule of action in regard to the visions and revelations of the Lord, and it inculcates two precautions. The one consists in thy subjecting these relations to the examination and the judgment of thy confessors and superiors, asking the Most High with a lively faith, that He give them light to understand his divine will and truth to instruct thee fully therein. The other consists in questioning thy own heart and observing the effects of these revelations and visions, prudently trying to assure thyself against any error. For the divine influence, which accompanies them, will urge and draw thee on, inflaming thy heart to chaste love and reverence of God to acknowledgment of thy littleness, to abhorrence of the earthly vanities, to desire of being despised by creatures, to joyful suffering, to love of the cross and an earnest and generous acceptation of it; it will move thee to seek the last place, to love those that perse cute thee, to fear and abhor sin, even the slightest, to aspire to the purest, the most perfect and refined in virtue, to deny thyself thy own inclinations, and to unite thyself to the highest and truest good. When He thus teaches thee the most holy and perfect things of the Christian law and excites thee to imitate Him and me, then thou wilt have infallible signs of divine truth revealed to thee by the Most High in these visions.
645. And in order that thou, dearest, mayest execute this doctrine, which thou hast received through the kindness of the Most High, do not ever forget it, and do not lose sight of the blessing of having been instructed by Him in these things with so much loving caresses; renounce all human esteem and consolation, all the delight and pleasure of the world. All that thy earthly inclinations demand, refuse to thyself, although it may be small and licit in itself ; turn thy back on all sensible things, seeking only to love and to suffer. This is the science and divine philosophy taught thee by the visits of the Most High and in it thou wilt feel the force of the divine fire, which should never through thy fault and thy negligence, be allowed to become extinguished in thy bosom. Be alert, dilate thy heart, gird thyself with fortitude in order to be commissioned with great undertakings and be able to accomplish them. Be constant in thy faith regarding these admonitions, believing in them, esteeming them and writing them in thy soul with an humble and loving affection of thy heart, as being sent in faithful solicitude by thy Spouse and transmitted to thee by me, thy Teacher and Mistress.