This article will deal not with natural but with supernatural visions, that is, visions due to the direct intervention of a power superior to man. Bernadette at Lourdes ; it implies a minimum of miraculous intervention if the vision is prolonged or if it is common to several persons.
With most mystics we shall consider these terms as synonymous. According to the authorities the first is the usual manner; it corresponds to the invincible belief of the seer, e.g.
It is imaginative if, for example, the image persists after one has closed one's eyes, or if there are no traces of the external effects which ought to have been produced, such as when a ball of fire appears above a person's head without injuring it. 6) and of Benedict XIV (De servorum Dei beatif., 1. Intellectual visions Intellectual visions perceive the object without a sensible image.
The time most conducive to these visions is a state of ecstasy, when the exercise of the external senses is suspended. Intellectual visions in the natural order may apparently be admitted.
Such efforts most frequently result in the cessation or the abridgement of the vision.
Imaginative apparitions are ordinarily of short duration, either because the human organism is unable to endure for a long time the violence done to it, or imaginative visions soon give place to intellectual visions.
But the presence of an external figure may be understood in two ways.The vision is sometimes distinct, sometimes indistinct. Teresa, "being at prayer, I saw, or rather (for I saw nothing, either with the eyes of the body or with those of the soul ) I felt my Savior near me and I saw that it was he who spoke to me" (Life, 27).The former attests the presence of the object without defining any element. At a certain degree of height or depth, the vision becomes indescribable, inexpressible in human language. Paul, rapt to the third heaven, was instructed in mysteries which it is not in the power of the soul to relate ( 2 Corinthians 12:4 ).The avowal of the powerlessness of human speech does not prevent them from saying, as did St.Ignatius , for example, that what they have seen of the Trinity would be sufficient to establish their faith, even though the Gospels were to disappear. I am Christ about to descend upon earth but I wished first to show myself to you." St. "Martin," continued the apparition, "why dost thou hesitate to believe when thou seest?the essence of the soul, certain existence of the state of grace in the subject of another, the intimate nature of God and the Trinity ; when it is prolonged for a considerable time ( St.Teresa says that it may last for more than a year).The second is realized in the corporeal apparition of the unresurrected dead or of pure spirits.Imaginative vision Imaginative vision is the sensible representation of an object by the act of imagination alone, without the aid of the visual organ.In natural imaginative vision the imagination is stirred to action solely by a natural agent, the will of the subject, an internal or an external force, but in supernatural imaginative vision an agent superior to man acts directly either on the imagination itself or on certain forces calculated to stir the imagination.The sign that these images come from God lies, apart from their particular vividness, in the lights and graces of sincere sanctity which accompany them, and in the fact that the subject is powerless to define or fix the elements of the vision.