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Many are those who say that they have heard words from Heaven.

The Lord speaks to everyone. Mainly, He does so through our intuition.

When we think we hear the Lord more directly, how do we know it's Him?

One standard was set by the great Teresa of Avila, who said that if the "thought" costs us energy (and, we might add, if we were pushing for a voice to speak), we must be cautious. Divine locutions cannot be produced at will (as if to dial them up).

"I may listen for many days, and although I may desire to hear them, I shall be unable to do so," she wrote in a classic autobiography. "And then, at other times, when I have no desire to hear them, as I have said, I am compelled to."

Another standard: when authentic, what the Lord says is indelible and without a wasted word. His messages operate at more than one level (like Scripture).

And when the Lord speaks, said Saint Teresa, there's no choice but to listen.

He does not say much; He says it well. "For the Lord impresses His words upon the memory so that it is impossible to forget them, whereas the words that come from our own understanding are like the first movement of thought, which passes and is forgotten," said this great saint (and doctor of the Church). When a locution is like someone's thought or talking pattern, it is suspect, for when the Lord speaks, said this saint, there are pronounced spiritual effects as well as words. "If I am being spoken to, I am doing nothing but listening and it costs me no labor," she said.

With God, "not a syllable" of what is said is lost.

Divine words or "ravings of the mind"? In no known major case have sanctioned locutions attacked priests, bishops, or the Pope, adhering closely instead to the standard of obedience. Nor are there other personal attacks or meanderings. When a "locution" is from one's own mind, "the words it is inventing are fantastic and indistinct and have power to divert our attention from them, just as we have to stop speaking and become silent, whereas with true locutions no such diversion is possible. If I am being spoken to, I am doing nothing but listening and it costs me no labor," said Teresa.

"When a locution comes from the devil, it not only fails to leave behind good effects but leaves bad ones," added the saint. "Besides being left in a state of great aridity, the soul suffers a disquiet such as I have experienced on many occasions when the Lord has allowed me to be exposed to many kinds of sore temptation and spiritual trial. The pleasures and joys which the devil bestows are, in my opinion, of immense diversity. By means of these pleasures he might well deceive anyone who is not experiencing, or has not experienced, other pleasure given by God."

Words of prophecy, she emphasized, "in my opinion, cannot possibly be forgotten."

"The devil can play many tricks, and so there is nothing so certain as that we must always preserve our misgivings about this, and proceed cautiously."

[resources: Prayer of the Warrior 


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