Locutions: God is Still Speaking

One time, well over a decade ago, after receiving Communion at St. James Cathedral in Seattle, while waiting in line to receive the Precious Blood, I head a loud (not screaming, but very prominent) whisper-y voice say: 

Hell is proximity without intimacy. 

It wasn’t clear where the voice came from; it seemed to come from all around me.  However, it definitely came from WITHOUT, not within me.  And when I say it was ‘whisper-y’, I don’t mean it was quiet, but just that the speaker was indistinct.  

It wasn’t clear who spoke: whether Jesus, God, the BVM, an angel, etc.  I couldn’t tell if the voice came from a woman or a man.  It was simply a voice. 

Does this experience of officially make me a loon, in need of commitment?

Well, not so fast! 

St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle

The Spanish mystic St. Teresa of Avila wrote at great length about mystical experiences, including both intellectual and interior locutions. Although she wrote her classic, Interior Castle, over four hundred years ago, I can confirm the text is very much living and breathing.

That is to say, God hasn’t changed the way He communicates with us. The experiences she describes still happen today. 

A Summary of My Locutions 

I’ve had several locutions over the years.  I’ll recount these briefly, then explain, using St. Teresa’s criteria, why I believe they came from God. 

Probably the strongest is the one I just described.  It’s by far the most mysterious, and its meaning came to be interpreted in so many ways.  It put to rest a conundrum I’d been very much perplexed about regarding contraception.  But I'll flesh that out another day. 

On another occasion, in the same Cathedral, after I’d just spent the afternoon visiting with parishioners, including a trip to one woman’s apartment (she was into urine therapy, and so had bottles of urine spread throughout her apartment), I returned to the Cathedral and in the Marian chapel on its North side, heard the BVM tell me: 

These are my children.

This locution wasn’t nearly so clear as the former.  I would describe it as external, however.  It felt like it came from the statue.  And I knew the BVM said it to me. 

On another occasion, I’d just attended Mass with the express purpose of attending a social event afterwards.  Sometime later that evening, or perhaps the next day (I can’t remember), while sitting at the table in my apartment, I felt my consciousness pulled into another place, and I felt/heard Jesus tell me:

I don’t want you to go to Mass to see other people. I want you to go to see me. 

This locution I’d describe more as internal.  It felt very close, somehow within me.  And it was clear that Jesus was speaking.  Like I said, I felt pulled into this state.  If I pointed to a part of the body, I’d probably say that the locution took place inside my head.

And a final locution: once I was on a train and had just arrived in Schenectady, New York.  It was morning, and while in that state right between sleep and wake, I heard Jesus say, from deep within me: 

Are you willing to give up your ego?

I felt like this locution almost came from a guttural place.  And it sounded very much like the serious, somber voice of Jesus: the kind of voice you’d hear coming from the Shroud of Turin. 

(Given what transpired over the next decade, I think the question was rhetorical, as I lost all justification for having an ego by the end of it.)   

R They 4 Real? 

So, was God really speaking to me in these locutions?  Or was I simply concocting messages?  Or worse yet, was the devil disguising himself as an angel of light? 

According to St. Teresa, a soul will “just know” when it is God speaking to her.  In her own words: 

You will ask how if nothing is seen one knows that it is Christ, or a saint, or His most glorious Mother.  This, this soul will not know how to explain, nor can it understand how knows, but it does know with the greatest certitude. 1 

That’s how I felt about all of these locutions.  At the moment they transpired, and to this day over fifteen years later, I feel certain these locutions came from the persons I related above.  I never had any doubt in the matter. 

As for confirming that they in fact came from God and not the devil in disguise, St. Teresa says: 

I hold that it would be impossible for a vision caused by the devil to…benefit the soul so remarkably, clothing it with so much interior peace. 1  

This observation from St. Teresa, too, confirms that the locutions originated from God.  They felt totally natural when they occurred, and all made me grow closer to God.  They helped establish the realness of Jesus for me. 

Finally, in Book of her Life, Avila says:

A locution bears the credential of being from God if it is in conformity with Sacred Scripture. 2

This point, too, helps confirm the validity of two of my locutions. Jesus saying He wants me going to Church exclusively for Him is corroborated in the Gospel of Luke when Jesus says: “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and Him alone shall you serve.” (Luke 4: 8)

And the BVM telling me the parishioners were her children corroborates the scripture passage “woman, behold thy son,” (John 19:26), where Jesus, from the Cross, bestows on Mary the vocation of universal motherhood. 

SOC Ramble

I wonder a bit about locutions.  The ones I’ve related all took place over a period of about four years, in my 20s.  Although God’s spoken to me a lot since then, I don’t recall that I’ve received any message so clearly.  It was during a phase, of sorts. 

St. Teresa says they take place to help us along our path: perhaps they helped affirm to me that JESUS is REAL!!!  Not a figment or myth as so many would have me believe. 

However, St. Teresa doesn’t see that they indicate much more than that. That is to say, they’re not indicative of some high degree of holiness. She says virtue is more indicative of that. 

A prioress should not think that since a Sister has experiences like these she is better than others. The Lord leads each one as He sees is necessary. The path is a preparation for becoming a good servant of God….sometimes God leads the weakest along this path. There is nothing in it to approve or condemn. 1 

Now when God speaks to me, or the BVM, or the Little Flower, etc. it generally happens VERY quietly and subtly, either through dreams or in prayer.  Or it’s through secondary causes: i.e. other people.  

For example, last December 12th my father led me out to a winter rose bush that he'd just purchased.  Somehow it felt like the BVM touching me, as the story of Juan Diego involves him finding roses in winter.  

But that is to say that the way God speaks to me now leaves far more room for doubt—often leaves me wondering: “did He just say that?” 

Whereas with the locutions there wasn’t any doubt what was said. 

Also I noticed that they took place during times in which I experienced a lot of solitude: I heard “hell is proximity without intimacy” during the six months after graduating from college when I was largely alone. The others I heard in somewhat similar states. 

So maybe a period of solitude, when you’re SHIFTING from one state to another, are windows for locutions, or for clear unmistakeable messages from God, to occur.

Which brings up a tangential question: can we foster an environment in which we'll hear God speaking to us (e.g. one of solitude or transition)?  Or is it all in the hand of the speaker? 

What About You?

What about you?  Where are some times in your life when you’ve heard God speak to you, clearly, without any space for doubt?  

How would you describe your life at that time?  How did you know it was Him? 

1 Volume 2: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD & Otilio Rodriguex, OCD, 1976. Pgs 408-10. 

Volume 1: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD & Otilio Rodriguex, OCD, 1976. Pg 166.


0 reactions:

Post a Comment