“Public revelation” and “private revelation” differ both in essence and degree. Public revelation refers to God’s revelation directly to mankind contained in the Bible. It knows no time or place borders and it climaxes with the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, the Word of God. Private revelation refers to all visions and revelations after the New Testament, such as the message of Fatima, recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, to nurture our spirituality in difficult periods of history.
Private revelations require human faith that God Himself communicates with human words through agents of the community of Faith. Dhanis, an eminent Flemish theologian, has stated that Vatican approval of a private revelation requires three elements: it is absolutely consistent with faith or morals, it is lawful for publication and the faithful may accept the revelation with prudence. The message can help in understanding and living the Gospel in a critical period, but the faithful are not obliged to follow the revelation.
The Apostle Paul says: “Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). The Church has received the charism of Prophecy, which must be scrutinized but not scorned. Prophecy explains the will of God for the present and the right path to take for the future, though prediction of the future is incidental to the will of God. The prophetic word is a warning or a consolation, and it can also be both such as the article Psalm 83 Fulfillment, which helps us to currently understand The Signs of the End and to respond faithfully to them.
Psychological theology entails three forms: exterior, interior and spiritual perceptions. Exterior perception is not normal external perception of the senses, objects are not spatially located, but for the visionaries the perception has the force of a physical presence. The vision of hell by the little shepherds of Fatima falls in this realm. Interior perception does not mean fantasy; rather the soul is touched by reality. The person is led beyond pure exteriority and touched by a deeper dimension of reality which becomes visible to him. Spiritual perception involves Holy Spirit’s guidance and is promised and available today to every believer of Christ. Spiritual perception is the ability to see God’s plan for our lives and for the life of Christ’s Church. Please refer to the article Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Both exterior and interior perceptions have limitations, including subjectivity, requiring valid verification. There is no pure object in exterior vision which is filtered by our senses, and interior perception is influenced by the capabilities of the visionary. Spiritual perception is also subjective and limited to our surrendering to the Holy Spirit.