Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

Does your faith group believe sacred visions are still happening in modern times? Can anyone have them and what should they make of them?

Visions are the supernatural perception of something or some person and naturally visible to the one having the vision. While people have reported visions of events occuring at great distances or visions of a symbolic nature, more common are reports of visions of the Lord, of Mary or other saints or angels. When the vision is perceptible to the eyes, it is called a corporeal vision or an apparition. If it is perceived by the imagination, understood as an interior faculty of sense, it is called an imaginative vision. This does not imply that it is an illusion but refers only to the faculty of perception, noting that it is not seen with bodily eyes. For example, appearances of angels in dreams in Sacred Scripture would fall under this category.

Although visions and apparitions are also part of public revelation in the divine disclosure of the deposit of faith which concluded with the witness of the apostles to Christ in the Church, visions are usually connected with private revelation that does not make any substantial addition to that deposit in Tradition. The messages attributed to the Blessed Mother at her various approved apparitions in one way or another call for prayer and penance which is at the very heart of her Sons Gospel. The Second Vatican Council document "Lumen Gentium" in nos. 66 and 67, calls us to a balanced attitude towards their place in our devotional life.

Hence, a reasonable caution today would seem to be quite consistent with our tradition, yet a total rejection of the possibility would seem to intrude on the fundamental notion of God revealing himself to people personally in history. Continued interest in Marian apparitions in Guadeloupe, Fatima, and Lourdes and reports from Medjugorje certainly confirm that this element of Catholic devotional life is still present.