A reader has a question about terrifying fears from private revelations

A reader has a question about terrifying fears from private revelations February 8, 2013

I suspect there are a lot more in her boat, so with her permission I posted my reply to her. If you find yourself grappling with paralyzing fears about various private revelations, give it a look see.

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  • In my own experience, God has complete respect for our freedom – and therefor our dignity. I felt that I was at liberty to go further into the vision, or withdraw at any time.

    What I felt was that what I was experiencing was so astonishingly good that it couldn’t possibly be something I deserved, so that the safest thing would be to withdraw from it. I think that was perfectly OK, and no hard feelings.

    Mark is correct here – God has nothing to do with dread and terror. He is all good, all the time. “Good” is a word we humans use, but it is completely inadequate to convey God’s goodness.

  • Rosemarie


    What exactly is terrifying about the Divine Mercy apparitions? I admit I haven’t read St. Faustina’s entire Diary, just a few prayers and other snippets relating to devotions like the Chaplet and Feast of Mercy. The only vaguely scary thing I remember is Jesus saying that He would display His mercy before His justice, which is comforting at the same time.

  • IB Bill

    Thanks for this question and answer. I go through phases where I am terrified by the saints’ visions of hell. For example, I find Fatima to be extremely disturbing, because it:
    1. Indicates hell as a fiery furnace one is thrown into (as opposed to a state of being freely chosen);
    2. Indicates that lots and lots of people go there (as opposed to many saved), and
    3. Involves the Virgin Mary terrorizing children with the vision of Hell.
    Thing is, I believe Fatima.

    But I like your answer of keeping the focus on a loving God.

    • Subsistent

      In his commentary in Pope John Paul II’s document dated May 13, 200o on the message of Fatima, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger indicated that the images which the Fatima seers saw of hell, etc., were by no means photographic representations, but were only symbolic, influenced in part by the seers’ own mental images. Just a clarification for readers who may not have read this Vatican document with the future Pope Benedict’s commentary (available on the Vatican’s website at http://www.vatican.va).
      To navigate the Vatican’s website from the link I gave, click on the preferred language, then choose Roman Curia, then Congregations, then Doctrine of the Faith, then Doctrinal Documents. Next, scroll down backward in time to 2000, then to Documents regarding “The Message of Fatima”, June 26, 2000. Bingo! Cardinal Ratzinger’s commentary begins about halfway down that web page.

      • Subsistent

        It may be well to note that Cdl. Ratzinger there indicated that some images reported, although not at all mere fantasies, were perhaps “images which Lucia may have seen in devotional books.”

        • IB Bill

          Thank you. I’ll check out the docs and I appreciate your help.

    • JimB

      IB Bill,
      One of us is suffering from “pseudoknowledge” regarding whether the Fatima visions show people being thrown into hell. My recollection is that they saw people falling into the pit ‘like snowflakes” which doesn’t necessarily imply they were thrown. I don’t think the vision implies that just because there were “lots and lots” falling “many” won’t be saved. To Subsistent’s point, the vision may or may not be a literal representation, and there’s no time frame attached to it – for that matter, just a small percentage of the people who die each day would look like “lots and lots” given the sheer numbers. I think we can rely on Mother Church’s teaching that our Lord came for the “many”.

      And as to whether Mary was “terrorizing” the poor children – I find your view a little troubling. Part of raising kids (not that I’ve been perfect at it by any means) is to make sure that kids understand reality – taking a child to a funeral may be terrifying, but it can also impart a valuable lesson as well. Given all the Mary did and said at Fatima over those months, it’s unlikely she left the children in doubt of her motherly care, which would far offset any terror they experienced over the vision. Again, I don’t recall all of Sister Lucia’s writing on the subject, but it seems unlikely that “terror” was her lasting impression. And I think that’s the point Mark comes back to in his article, there’s a difference between servile fear and “fear of the Lord”, and I have to believe Mary was aiming for the latter.

      • IB Bill

        Thank you, JimB, for your thoughts and perspective. Pax.