Illumination of conscience?

Has anyone been through this? Tim

About a year ago, I attended one mass celebrated by our Bishop Gregory M. Aymond . He asked us to “ask God to help us see the way He sees us.”. For the entire homily, that is the only thing I remember vividly.

I keep that in mind and pray it almost daily. I don’t believe I know too well about the stage of my soul the way God sees it, but I do know a bit more about myself - and that bit was scaring me - it’s been a tremendous help to me.

I talked to Fr. John (a spiritual director) on Relevent Radio today about my experience before coming back to the Church. He said that is what happened to me. I thought it was some hellish demonic vision, but it was how the Lord saw me at the time. I’m in shock. I don’t know what he said after that. Something about Peter denying Christ three times and how my wife’s prayers may have saved me from eternal seperation from God. How God will find a way for me to work with people with the same problems I had. I’m pretty freaked out water, seriously. Tim

Being freaked out vs. Being happy after such event - the happiness should “weigh” more and it gives us hope for God’s love is so great!

Illumination is usually described as one of the three “ways” of the interior life: the purgative way, the illuminative way and the unitive way.

The illuminative way is usually marked by the transition in the life of the soul when the method of prayer shifts from vocal prayer and meditation to contemplation. In contemplation, God “infuses” light on our soul so that we see ourselves in ways we didn’t previously. This is the gift of self-knowledge.

I tend to think two types of self-knowledge occur in the illuminative way:

  1. We are “shown” by God sins, weaknesses and imperfections that we previously were completly unaware of.

  2. Sometimes vices masquerading in our minds as virtues are exposed for the sham they really are.

Hope this helps some . . .


I’m giving thanks, but to be like that for so long and not even knowing it. These things I thought were demons where my sins! How horrible each one is and where accounted for. And He still loved me. So many don’t know. Tim

I’ve thought about it some more and the reason it was so horrific was because 26 years had gone by without confession. After this happened, I went to confession for the first time as an adult. How close I came to going over the abyss. Two years have gone by and it is like it happened yesterday. My consolation is learning of God’s mercy through St. Faustina’s writings and the amount of love God has for us through the sense’s in my soul. I’m part terrified and part in awe. Tim

Tim, that bit info I mentioned above is indeed similar to what you just said. And yes, St. Faustina’s diary is awesome.

Dave, thanks for your explanation. I was not familiar with the three ways you talked about.
But your description above is so correct to my own experience! Although I am always true to myself and never deny my own shortcomings, I find the Holy Spirit convicts me for trifle and subtle things and sins. Such conviction definitely happened after my prayer life gears to contemplative.

A parent loves their child at every stage of life, even when they’re young and still learning a lot and making a lot of mistakes.

And like a parent takes account of the child’s stage of mental and emotional development when dealing with them, so God takes account of our level of knowledge and stage of spiritual development.

As Paul says ‘when I was a child, I thought as a child …’ - didn’t stop Jesus loving the children dearly.

The Illumination of Conscience was prophecised at Garabandal and also by Saint Faustina.

I used to believe in Garabandal, but found out that the Church has ruled that the apparitions are false. There were approved apparitions that spoke of the illumination though, I’m pretty sure.
I think that is something we really have to work on, and that we can pray for. A daily examination of conscience certainly helps. I once heard a priest say “We can humble ourselves now, or we can wait and be humbled by God at our judgment.” He said that the humble man will get to his judgment and say “Yes, that is true,” when he sees himself as he really is. He also said that one of the keys to the spiritual life is rooting out our defects, which obviously has to start with knowing what they are. He suggested praying to the Holy Spirit and your Guardian Angel to show you what your greatest defect is and working on that one first, and then you move onto the next when you’ve taken care of that one and so on.

Absolutely not so!

Thank-you very much for sharing, Tim. Your experience speaks powerfully to me of the glory of God’s Truth. We, living with sin around us all the time, can so easily lose sight of the horror of it, especially if we don’t stick close to Christ. Your life experience shows in stark terms the spiritual realities of what is taking place in the world and in individual lives. We all need that sight. What a grace it would be to see more clearly. Please pray for the sinners around you, that they too may know their sins and repent.

I am so glad God saved you!

I experienced a profound inner light, showing me the evil of my heresies and just how loathsome is any division from the Church. That light has never left me. I saw how I was living in darkness, in several ways, and I saw the Church’s extreme beauty. She is so beautiful, no one here on Earth can conceive of her glory. Only in Heaven will we really appreciate her as deeply as we should. But I caught a glimpse of part of what is and that beauty rips at my soul whenever I think of her. I still sin a lot, God help me, but I know that I could never touch a heresy again. The Church is too beautiful and too good for me to ever have anything to do with anything else. May God bring me into perfect unity with her perfection, which is the perfection of Jesus Christ, her Head, in Whom we are all one. Praise God; praise God.

I have. In fact, I’ve known now Archbishop Aymond since he was a student at Notre Dame Seminary. I believe even he has had this experience himself, and we are all gratified to watch him become a prayerful, respectful man and bishop. He is a very good homilist.

How do you know if you’ve had such an experience or not? how is it different from our regular examination of conscience?

In my own feeble attempt to answer that question, I would have to say that substantially there is no difference between the regular examination of conscience and an illumination of conscience. The process is the same, but with the illumination of conscience one experiences a new insight in understanding of the principals previously known in the discipline of the examination of conscience. That illumination, or revelation, transforms the will.
Where previously the examination of conscience might be limited to a set of preconceived notions of what God Will’s for me, now a moment of illumination diminishes my will in a new way, and aids in the surrender to the Will of God. It also has a fundamental impact on the course of actions a person would take. For example, a man has a desire to be a doctor. He is convinced that it is in God’s Will for him to become a doctor, so he dutifully goes to medical school and eventually becomes a doctor. But during the regular exercise of his examination of conscience, he experiences an illumination that being a doctor wasn’t all that God Willed for him, and in fact, it was only part of the journey. He has to fight a new struggle in the examination of conscience which finally results, through an illumination stemming from a deeper surrender to the Will of God, that he might be called to priesthood. He wants to be a doctor, but through an honest examination of conscience, he begins to understand that he has some selfish desires in wanting to be a doctor or possibly he was so set in his way of conducting his life, he deluded himself about what God’s has in store for him. Now, through an illuminative moment, he finally surrenders his will to God’s Will.
It changes more than that. Now he more clearly understands the Commandments, the Deposit of the Faith, the precepts of the Church, etc., and if makes him more compliant to the Truth.
I believe that is why we see what appears to us as sudden changes in a person’s life, they way they behave, their ability to forgive, and they way they treat others.

Thanks for the explanation! :slight_smile:

*Lief, this is so beautiful, thank you for sharing. I join you in your prayer. May God bring us all into that perfect unity quickly. *