Private Revelations: Refractions of Light by Kevin Symonds, reviewed by Mike Garde

Refractions of light pic
back of book

For the past several decades, there has been a notable rise in claims of apparitions, visions and messages from heaven. This growth has often led to confusion and sensationalism among the Catholic faithful. Refractions of Light: 201 Answers on Apparitions, Visions and the Catholic Church seeks to address this situation using an easy-to-read Q&A format designed for a broad audience. It does not shy away from controversial topics, reaching into the relevant Church documents, which it includes in its appendices, to address them. Kevin Symonds’ book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand how we come to know when heaven is reaching out to us.

Refractions of Light

Paperback: 140 pages
Publisher: Enroute; 1st edition (June 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1633370437
ISBN-13: 978-1633370432

As someone who has been studying the issue of Cultism and having written my thesis on the Magnificat Meal Movement I have tried to find the means from within Catholicism to evaluate movements that first claim to be Christian and then Catholic.

Generally, the science of Canon law seems to not be able to address cultist movements as they seem to be able operate in no man’s land. Perhaps it is not Canon law but the way it is used in Ireland that leaves the ordinary person feeling isolated as the Church’s mission does not seem to assist them. Canon Law seems to find ways to not address what seems common sense to ordinary folks. They seek support from the Church to get them to act on good authority so that they can regain the affection of their relatives who seem to be under the undue influence of a group who claim to have private revelation.

Here is an example how Canon law can be used to address movements that claim to be Catholic.

Kevin is a clear thinker and in this book manages to produce a question and answer format which gives the ordinary person the tools to look at groups that claim to be Catholic. It is clear that his book is written from a clear position of Catholic orthodoxy. The Q & A format is formal but helps the person to gradually work through the process of understanding the norms the Church uses to address these problems. Kevin assumes that Catholics will be accept the authority of the Church.
Generally Bishops are those charged with defining theologically what happens in their diocese. Here the position put forward with authority by Kevin Symonds will prove uncomfortable reading for them. Why? Because in practice very few of them would even dream of implementing what this book is suggesting. It takes the official teaching of the Church and outlines in baby steps how to enforce and apply it.
He is very forensic and legalistic but he points to a need for the Church to actually put governance in place and assist people who have been the victims of these groups which are in fact money making rackets.

One reviewer wrote this about the book, “The book steers clear of describing any particular instances of claimed apparitions or messages, in order to give more attention to the general principles that guide the faithful. A helpful and informative book.” No doubt it is improved by this position taken, but now that it is written the reader by definition has to use it as a primer and practical means to move from the general to the specific. There is no point having a dictionary if you do not look up words. In this regard I will be looking at the way the Catholic Church in Ireland is addressing the issue of the House of Prayer and that after nearly 25 years all that they are able to say about it is that they do not recognise it?

So it will be our hope to read this book and then put some questions to Kevin to see how families here in Ireland may be assisted. Our view is that up to 20,000 people may be affected in a negative way by their family member’s involvement in the House of Prayer. How? Loss of affection, total mental breakdown and the handing over of financial assets to the group for what appear to be altruistic reasons but generally for the enrichment of the leader. Depression and marriage failure as other children can’t cope with the parent involved. What they find most depressing is that when they appeal to the Catholic Church for assistance they are strung along for decades and are told there is nothing that can be done. The book will be the focus of a seminar to assist the victims and survivors of this scam. In Ireland there is a legacy issue around vulnerable children. Here we find that the next issue the Catholic Church will be facing is that of Elder Abuse.
Kevin S pic

Kevin Symonds
Kevin Symonds was born and raised in Massachusetts. He attended Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio where he obtained his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Theology with a background in the classical languages. He has been working with the Catholic Church’s theology of private revelation since 2002 and has published Internet and magazine articles. He currently lives in Texas.

Listen to the interview on Ave Maria Radio at about 23 mins.

Interview with Matt C. Abbott

2 Responses

  1. Congratulasion to Kevin Symonds for bringing out a much-needed book on such an interesting topic. It is interesting to note in his interview with Matt C Abbott that The Holy See will make a decision on the Medjugorje phenomenon relatively soon. Kevin goes on to make one of the most gutsy statements I have ever read about this controversial pilgrimage site, I quote: “I do not believe Our Lady has appeared, or does appear in Medjugorje. I believe the place to be one of Satan’s biggest deceits. I say these things as one who went there on pilgrimage and who believed the claims. Further study led me to question then finally to reject said claims”

    If indeed Satan is at work in Medjugorje and the Church makes a formal, definitive statement that the apparitions are not of supernatural origin, the fall out on a whole spectrum of fronts will be catastrophic and most especially to the personal faith of millions who have travelled there for decades. Satan will be dancing around like the mad hatter Smeagol in The Lord Of The Rings. His master plan of deception will come to fruition. Remember in St Paul’s second letter to The Corinthians, Paul makes specific reference in Chapter 11 verse 14 where, I quote: Satan himself goes disguised as an angel of light.

    Let us wait with interest on the Church’s definitive answer on this most interesting question.


  2. I am glad to hear that a Catholic scholar has written an easy-to-read book on the topic of supernatural claims. I agree that within the hierarchical church there is a need for active governance and help spiritual and material for members who may have found themselves financially depleted after coming under the influence of individuals claiming supernatural powers and insights.


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