Catholic Dictionary




The certain prediction of future events that cannot be known by natural means. However, the biblical meaning of the Hebrew hozeh (prophecy) is more general, namely "vision" or "revelation interpreted." Those who were called upon to prophesy did, indeed, on occasion also foretell future events, but these predictions fulfilled were divine confirmations of an authentic vision rather than the vision itself. Prophecies as predictions are consequently part of God's supernatural providence. God, in whose sight all things future are ever present, is able to communicate to his creatures the knowledge that he has. He alone finally has this power, because certain foreknowledge of the contingent future is possessed only by God. Prophecies are the words of his prescience, just as miracles are the work of his omnipotence. Hence a religion supported by prophecies must be divine. (Etym. Greek prophētēs, one who speaks for a god, interpreter, expounder, prophet; literally, one who speaks of another.)