Monday, 8 February 2016

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the Centenary of Fatima

On the centenary of the apparitions of the Angel of Peace to the shepherd children of Fatima, it should be worth contemplating the famous private revelation given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, requesting the king to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on 17th June, 1689. The requested consecration wasn't carried out, and as a consequence on 17th June 1789, exactly 100 years later, the Third Estate proclaimed itself as the National Assembly, which stripped the king of his legislative powers during the French Revolution.
Sr. Lucia received a number of private revelations which referenced this apparition, indicating that the consecration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was similarly comprised of a 100 year period. This has led many Catholics to conclude that the upcoming centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in 2017 is of crucial importance to the Secret of Fatima itself.
A comparison between both requests for consecration was made during an apparition to Sr. Lucia at Rianjo in 1931:
They did not wish to heed My request! Like the King of France, they will repent and do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread its errors throughout the world, provoking wars, and persecutions against the Church; the Holy Father will have much to suffer.

This apparition was also referred to in the appendix of Sr. Lucia's autobiography:

Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, they will follow him into misfortune. It is never too late to have recourse to Jesus and Mary.’ (Sr. Lucia, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, p199)

Although the apparition of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque is well known, its exact content is very often overlooked. So I thought it would be worth posting it here. St. Margaret Mary revealed the contents of this private revelation to her Mother Superior, Madam Saumaise, which was recounted in a book written in 1874, The Life of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque by Emile Bougaud, the Bishop of Laval:
The second letter, though in a different sense, is much more important. It was written on coming out of ecstasy, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart itself, Friday after the octave of the Blessed Sacrament, June 17, 1689. The Spirit of God had rested on the holy Sister, and displayed to her in prophetic light His designs of mercy on France.

There is to the devotion of the Sacred Heart a private and a social side. Margaret Mary begins with the first.

 "In fine, my dear Mother," she writes, "are we not all consumed in the burning heat of His pure love? It will reign, this amiable Heart, in spite of Satan, his imps and his agents. This word transports me with joy. But to be able to express to you the great graces and benedictions it will attract upon all that shall have procured it the most honor and glory is what I cannot do in the way that He has given me to understand it.

 "He has made me see the devotion to His Sacred Heart as a beautiful tree, destined from all eternity to spring up and take root in the midst of our Institute, and to extend its branches into the houses that compose it, so that each may gather from it fruits most pleasing to her liking and taste. But He desires that the daughters of the Visitation should distribute abundantly to all that will eat of it the fruits of this sacred tree. By this means He desires to restore life to many; and, by withdrawing them from the way of perdition, and de­stroying the empire of Satan in their heart, to establish in them that of His love."

Behold the first design, the supernatural, the special side of devotion to the Sacred Heart, that which re­gards souls at all times and in all places. Margaret Mary continues: "But He does not wish to stop here. He has still greater designs, which can be executed only by His almighty power."

Which are those designs that the Saint calls the greatest, and for which she invokes the All-powerful?

"He desires, then, it seems to me, to enter with pomp and magnificence into the palaces of kings and princes, therein to be honored as much as He has been despised, humiliated, and outraged in His Passion. May He receive as much pleasure therein at seeing the great ones of the world abasing and humbling themselves before Him as He once felt bitterness at behold­ing Himself annihilated at their feet!"

 The tone of these words convinces one that Margaret Mary, when uttering them, was in a sort of ecstasy. What follows leaves no room for doubt on the subject. "Here are," she continues, "the words that I heard on this point: 'make known to the eldest son of my heart,' speaking of our king, ' that as his temporal birth was obtained through devotion to the merits OF MY HOLY CHILDHOOD, IN THE SAME MANNER he WILL OBTAIN HIS BIRTH OF GRACE AND ETERNAL GLORY BY THE CONSECRATION THAT HE WILL MAKE OF HIMSELF TO my adorable heart, which wishes to triumph over his heart, and by his mediation over those of the great ones of the world. it wishes to reign in his palace, TO BE PAINTED ON HIS STANDARDS AND ENGRAVEN ON HIS ARMS, IN ORDER TO RENDER HIM VICTORIOUS OVER ALL HIS ENEMIES."...

In letter sent to Madam Saumaise in August 1689, St. Margaret Mary wrote an account of another apparition which took place after this:

"The Eternal Father, wishing to repair the bitter­ness and agony that the Adorable Heart of His Divine Son endured in the palaces of earthly princes, amidst the humiliations and outrages of His Passion, wishes to establish His empire in the heart of our great monarch, of whom He desires to make use in the execution of His design, which is to have an edifice erected in which shall be a picture of His divine Heart, to receive the conse­cration and homage of the king and all the court.

 " Moreover, this divine Heart wishes to make itself the defender of the sacred person of the king, his protector against all his enemies. Therefore has it chosen him as its faithful friend, to have the Mass authorized by the Holy Apostolic See, and to obtain all the other privileges that ought to accompany devotion to this divine Heart.

 "It is by this divine Heart that God wishes to dispense the treasures of His graces of sanctification and salvation, by bestowing His benediction on the king's undertakings, according a happy success to his arms, and making him triumph over the malice of his enemies."

Monday, 14 December 2015

The Sign of the Son of Man

In the amount of time that has passed since my book Unveiling the Apocalypse was first published in 2011, there have been a number of significant events which bear direct relevance to the material it had originally covered.  In light of this, I have been prompted to expand the book considerably in a forthcoming second edition, which will be published early in the New Year. The whole book has been updated throughout, and I have included a new chapter comprised of over 20,000 words detailing the significance of several prophecies concerning a great cross of light appearing in the night sky over the Holy Land. In this new material, I show how the Early Church Fathers had expected that the Sign of the Son of Man mentioned by Christ in His eschatological discourse on Mount Olivet would unfold in the form of the supernatural appearance of the Cross of Golgotha over Jerusalem, in order to bring about the conversion of the Jews before the Second Coming of Christ. The Church Fathers believed that this event would be the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy of Zech 12:

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land shall mourn, each family by itself... (Zech 12:10-12)

The most famous of the prophecies concerning the appearance of a cross of light in the sky is perhaps that of St. Faustina:

Before I come as a just judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy. Before the day of justice arrives, there will be given to people a sign in the heavens of this sort: All light in the heavens will be extinguished, and there will be great darkness over the whole earth. Then the sign of the cross will be seen in the sky, and from the openings where the hands of feet of the Savior were nailed will come forth great lights which will light up the earth for a period of time. This will take place shortly before the last day.

The expectation that the cross would appear in the sky at the end time to herald the Second Advent of Christ stretches back a lot further than the beginning of the 20th century however. St. Thomas a Kempis refers to this prophetic expectation in his Imitation of Christ, written in the 15th century:

"This sign of the cross will be in the heavens when the Lord comes to judge. Then all the servants of the cross, who during life made themselves one with the Crucified, will draw near with great trust to Christ, the judge."
(St. Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ, Book 2 Chapter 12)

It was also mentioned in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas:

“The sign of the cross will appear at the judgment, to denote not a present but a past weakness: so as to show how justly those were condemned who scorned so great mercy, especially those who persecuted Christ unjustly. The scars which will appear in His body will not be due to weakness, but will indicate the exceeding power whereby Christ overcame His enemies by His Passion and infirmity. He will also show forth His most shameful death, not by bringing it sensibly before the eye, as though He suffered it there; but by the things which will appear then, namely the signs of His past Passion, He will recall men to the thought of His past death.”(St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Question 90, Article 2, Reply to objection 2)

The equation of the Sign of the Son of Man with the appearance of a cross of light in the night sky over Jerusalem in order to herald the end of days goes back all the way back to the infant Church, and can even be found in the Didache - one of the earliest Christian writings outside of the New Testament:

For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver as the Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but they that endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth; first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven; then the sign of the sound of the trumpet; and the third, the resurrection of the dead; yet not of all, but as it is said: The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him. Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.
(Did 16:6-17)

The Early Church Fathers taught that the Sign of the Son of Man would precede the Second Coming of Christ in the same way that an advance guard would bear the standard of the king before he marched into battle. One of the most detailed accounts of can be found in the writing of the Doctor of the Church St. Cyril of Jerusalem:

This [Cross] shall appear again with Jesus from heaven; for the trophy shall precede the king: that seeing Him whom they pierced Zechariah 12:10, and knowing by the Cross Him who was dishonoured, the Jews may repent and mourn; (but they shall mourn tribe by tribe, for they shall repent, when there shall be no more time for repentance) and that we may glory, exulting in the Cross, worshipping the Lord who was sent, and crucified for us, and worshipping also God His Father who sent Him, with the Holy Ghost: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Somewhat amazingly, St. Cyril had personally witnessed this phenomenon himself in the 4th century, in a circumstances which can only be said to have anticipated the future occurrence of this event.  

On the nones (or 7th) of May, about the third hour, (or nine in the morning,) a vast luminous body, in the form of a cross, appeared in the heavens, just over the holy Golgotha, reaching as far as the holy mount of Olivet, (that is, almost two English miles in length,) seen not by one or two persons, but clearly and evidently by the whole city. This was not, as may be thought, a momentary transient phenomenon: for it continued several hours together visible to our eyes, and brighter than the sun; the light of which would have eclipsed it, had not this been stronger. The whole city, struck with a reverential fear, tempered with joy, ran immediately to the church, young and old, Christians and heathens, citizens and strangers, all with one voice giving praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, the worker of miracles; finding by experience the truth of the Christian doctrine, to which the heavens bear witness." Letter of St. Cyril of Jerusalem to Constantius

In this new material, I will show how this is an integral component to interpreting the Secrets of Fatima, and that Scripture informs us that the appearance of the Sign of the Son of Man will immediately precede the occurrence of the eschatological earthquake in Jerusalem - which will serve as a warning to humanity of the impending Great Chastisement, culminating in the Final Passover of the Church during the persecution of the Antichrist. The Sign of the Son of Man is one and the same as the Great Sign seen in heaven described in Rev 12, and just as the Star of Bethlehem heralded the First Advent of Christ, the appearance of this great cross of light will usher in the Second Advent of Our Lord.

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. (Rev 12:1-2)

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Year 2017 and Sign of the Woman Adorned with the Sun

The Remnant newspaper has recently published a fascinating article written by Patrick Archbold,  a well known and highly respected Catholic writer, concerning an upcoming series of astronomical events which bear an uncanny similarity to the imagery of Rev 12. This seems to be of great significance:

On September 23, 2017, we will see the constellation Virgo with the sun rise directly behind it (the woman clothed with the sun). These events transpire during the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of “the woman clothed in the sun,” Our Lady at Fatima in 1917. What does it mean? 

Read the full article here.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Pope Benedict XVI on the Chronology of Apocalyptic Events

The Church, the Bride of Christ and Mother of the Faithful in Baptism. Illustration to Scivias II.3, fol. 51r from the 20th-century facsimile of the Rupertsberg manuscript, c. 1165-1180

Just recently, it has occurred to me that there is a need to distinguish between two separate periods of apostasy at the end time which is foretold in both Scripture and in Church approved private revelations, if we are to better understand our current situation within the chronology of apocalyptic events. As EWTN expert Colin Donovan points out:

"Approved Catholic mystics (Venerables, Blessed and Saints, approved apparitions) throw considerable light on this order, by prophesying a minor apostasy and tribulation toward the end of the world, after which will occur the reunion of Christians. Only later will the entire world fall away from Christ (the great apostasy) and the personal Antichrist arise and the Tribulation of the End occur." (See here)

The Great Apostasy which takes place during the reign of the Antichrist cannot take place until the restoration of the Church has taken place during the ministry of the Two Witnesses. But there is another period found in both Scripture and private prophecy which concerns a separate falling away from the faith which takes place before the restoration of the Church during the proclamation of the Gospel to the ends of the earth - a "minor apostasy". This is the most spiritually dangerous period in human history outside the Great Apostasy itself. 
Throughout the course of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has frequently tipped his hand to show that he believes that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that we are living during this minor apostasy mentioned in prophecy, which takes place immediately before the restoration of the Church. Benedict XVI has previously suggested that the period of the restoration of the Church which takes place after the minor apostasy may be be connected in some way to the year 2017: 

"May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity". (Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Esplanade of the Shrine of Our Lady of F├ítima Thursday, 13 May 2010

Benedict XVI has shared some other of his insights concerning the present plight of the Church by linking the recent paedophile scandal and the current falling away from the faith to the prophecies of St. Hildegard of Bingen, wherein the sibyl of the Rhine saw a vision of the Church as a woman clothed in soiled garments representing the "filth" within the Church:

"Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Repeatedly during the season of Advent the Church’s liturgy prays in these or similar words. They are invocations that were probably formulated as the Roman Empire was in decline. The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats.
Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Today too, we have many reasons to associate ourselves with this Advent prayer of the Church. For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function. Consequently the forces mobilized for the defence of such structures seem doomed to failure.
Excita – the prayer recalls the cry addressed to the Lord who was sleeping in the disciples’ storm-tossed boat as it was close to sinking. When his powerful word had calmed the storm, he rebuked the disciples for their little faith (cf. Mt 8:26 et par.). He wanted to say: it was your faith that was sleeping. He will say the same thing to us. Our faith too is often asleep. Let us ask him, then, to wake us from the sleep of a faith grown tired, and to restore to that faith the power to move mountains – that is, to order justly the affairs of the world.
Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni: amid the great tribulations to which we have been exposed during the past year, this Advent prayer has frequently been in my mind and on my lips. We had begun the Year for Priests with great joy and, thank God, we were also able to conclude it with great gratitude, despite the fact that it unfolded so differently from the way we had expected. Among us priests and among the lay faithful, especially the young, there was a renewed awareness of what a great gift the Lord has entrusted to us in the priesthood of the Catholic Church. We realized afresh how beautiful it is that human beings are fully authorized to pronounce in God’s name the word of forgiveness, and are thus able to change the world, to change life; we realized how beautiful it is that human beings may utter the words of consecration, through which the Lord draws a part of the world into himself, and so transforms it at one point in its very substance; we realized how beautiful it is to be able, with the Lord’s strength, to be close to people in their joys and sufferings, in the important moments of their lives and in their dark times; how beautiful it is to have as one’s life task not this or that, but simply human life itself – helping people to open themselves to God and to live from God. We were all the more dismayed, then, when in this year of all years and to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.
In this context, a vision of Saint Hildegard of Bingen came to my mind, a vision which describes in a shocking way what we have lived through this past year. “In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1170, I had been lying on my sick-bed for a long time when, fully conscious in body and in mind, I had a vision of a woman of such beauty that the human mind is unable to comprehend. She stretched in height from earth to heaven. Her face shone with exceeding brightness and her gaze was fixed on heaven. She was dressed in a dazzling robe of white silk and draped in a cloak, adorned with stones of great price. On her feet she wore shoes of onyx. But her face was stained with dust, her robe was ripped down the right side, her cloak had lost its sheen of beauty and her shoes had been blackened. And she herself, in a voice loud with sorrow, was calling to the heights of heaven, saying, ‘Hear, heaven, how my face is sullied; mourn, earth, that my robe is torn; tremble, abyss, because my shoes are blackened!’
And she continued: ‘I lay hidden in the heart of the Father until the Son of Man, who was conceived and born in virginity, poured out his blood. With that same blood as his dowry, he made me his betrothed.
For my Bridegroom’s wounds remain fresh and open as long as the wounds of men’s sins continue to gape. And Christ’s wounds remain open because of the sins of priests. They tear my robe, since they are violators of the Law, the Gospel and their own priesthood; they darken my cloak by neglecting, in every way, the precepts which they are meant to uphold; my shoes too are blackened, since priests do not keep to the straight paths of justice, which are hard and rugged, or set good examples to those beneath them. Nevertheless, in some of them I find the splendour of truth.’
And I heard a voice from heaven which said: ‘This image represents the Church. For this reason, O you who see all this and who listen to the word of lament, proclaim it to the priests who are destined to offer guidance and instruction to God’s people and to whom, as to the apostles, it was said: go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk 16:15)” (Letter to Werner von Kirchheim and his Priestly Community: PL 197, 269ff.).
In the vision of Saint Hildegard, the face of the Church is stained with dust, and this is how we have seen it. Her garment is torn – by the sins of priests. The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year. We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again. This is also the moment to offer heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help victims and to restore their trust in the Church, their capacity to believe her message. In my meetings with victims of this sin, I have also always found people who, with great dedication, stand alongside those who suffer and have been damaged. This is also the occasion to thank the many good priests who act as channels of the Lord’s goodness in humility and fidelity and, amid the devastations, bear witness to the unforfeited beauty of the priesthood."…/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20101220_curia-auguri…

Now notice the similarities here between the words of the Holy Father and those of Sr. Lucia during her interview with Fr. Fuentes:

Sister Lucy also told me: "Father, the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin. And the devil knows what it is that offends God the most, and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls. Thus the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God, because in this way the devil will succeed in leaving the souls of the faithful abandoned by their leaders, thereby the more easily will he seize them."
"That which afflicts the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Heart of Jesus is the fall of religious and priestly souls. The devil knows that religious and priests who fall away from their beautiful vocation drag numerous souls to hell. The devil wishes to take possession of consecrated souls. He tries to corrupt them in order to lull to sleep the souls of laypeople and thereby lead them to final impenitence. He employs all tricks, even going so far as to suggest the delay of entrance into religious life. Resulting from this is the sterility of the interior life, and among the laypeople, coldness (lack of enthusiasm) regarding the subject of renouncing pleasures and the total dedication of themselves to God."

A connection between these words of Sr. Lucia and St. Hildegard's vision of "filth" within the Church clearly seems to have been on Pope Benedict's mind here, since he uses basically the same themes and symbolism during his visit to Fatima in 2010:

"As for the new things which we can find in this message today, there is also the fact that attacks on the Pope and the Church come not only from without, but the sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church, from the sin existing within the Church. This too is something that we have always known, but today we are seeing it in a really terrifying way: that the greatest persecution of the Church comes not from her enemies without, but arises from sin within the Church, and that the Church thus has a deep need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness on the one hand, but also the need for justice."

Cardinal Ratzinger again alluded to St. Hildegard's writings describing the current state of the Church as a woman whose garments are soiled in his famous Way of the Cross sermon in 2005, just before he ascended the papacy:

"Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of His Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words!
How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the Priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency!"
"Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on your Church... You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all."

It is also apparent here that the Holy Father links our current situation with Christ's calming of the storm, and that he views this event as "acted prophecy", since he later developed this strand of thought in his speech given in 2010 cited above. So for Benedict, the barque of St. Peter is currently enduring the storm before the great calm, which itself is alluded to in St. John Bosco's dream of the two pillars.
Now the upshot of all this is the fact that St. Hildegard very clearly foretold that the restoration of the Church would take place after the period of desolation associated with the minor apostasy, when the soiled garments of the woman would be washed clean in the blood of Christ:

"I saw that Trier at first was adorned among the faithful with the new fire that appeared to the disciples in tongues of fire, so that in its golden faith all its streets were spread with miracles. But now it is hedged in by unstable, squalid morals and with weariness as if it did not know God, and it has been polluted with many other evils. It has been worn out with weariness and no longer enjoys the joy and beauty of its original, honorable institutions. It has become heedless of its many sins. Therefore, fiery vengeance will come upon it from enemies, unless those sins are wiped out by penitence, as happened in the case of Jonah.
Now, the law is neglected by spiritual people, who disdain to teach and do good works. Both the teachers and the prelates are asleep: they have abandoned justice. Therefore, I heard this voice from heaven, saying: O daughter of Sion, your crown will fall from your head, your cloak of increasing riches will shrink, your numbers will be forcibly reduced, and you will be banished from one place to another. Many cities and monasteries will be wrenched away by powerful individuals, and princes will say, “Let us take away from them that iniquity which, through them, is overwhelming the whole world.” And I saw and heard that all these dangers and griefs will befall regions and monasteries because they have turned aside from obedience and other precepts of the law. And I saw that even amidst sins of this kind there are some who will cling to God and will sigh unto Him, just as in the time of Elijah...
Afterward, the justice and judgment of God will arise, and the people will know the discipline and fear of God. There will also be good and just individuals among the spiritual people, who, nevertheless, will remain few in numbers because of their humility, but who, like the hermits, will turn back to the first dawn. And they will do this out of fear for times past that, they will understand, had been pernicious to them....
Then, courageous men will arise and prophesy, and they will gather together all things old and new from the Scriptures and all that has been uttered through the Holy Spirit, and they will adorn their understanding of these things as if with a necklace set with precious jewels. Through their influence and that of other wise people, many of the laity will become virtuous and will live saintly lives.
(Epistolarium II, CCCM 91)
Yet in these days, the Emperors of the Roman office shall fall from the strength by which they once vigorously held the Roman Empire, and they shall become weak in their own glory, so that the imperial power entrusted to their hands for a time by divine judgment shall decrease and fail. For they shall be morally filthy and lukewarm and servile and repulsive, and useless in all things. Though they wish to be honored by the people, they shall not seek the people’s prosperity; and so none will be able to honor or revere them. Wherefore the kings and princes of many peoples, who were at one time subject to the Roman Empire, shall remove themselves from it and suffer no longer to be subject to it. And so the Roman imperial power shall be scattered in weakness. For each nation and every people shall establish then their own king to obey, saying that the spread of Roman imperial power had become more of a burden to them than an honor. But after the imperial scepter has been broken up in this way and is unable to be repaired, then also the mitre of the apostolic office [i.e. the papacy] shall be broken. For because neither princes nor any other men of either the spiritual or the secular order shall then find any good religion in the apostolic title, the dignity of that title shall diminish. They shall prefer other masters and archbishops under other titles and in other areas, so that after it has been diminished by the adjournment of its original dignity, the apostolic see shall in that time maintain only Rome and a few nearby places that still lie under its mitre. These things, moreover, shall come to pass in part because of invasions and warfare; and in part they shall be perfected by the common counsel and consensus of both the spiritual and the secular peoples. These shall declare that each prince ought to defend his kingdom and rule his people, and that each archbishop or other spiritual master ought to constrain those under his supervision to uprightness of discipline, lest they be afflicted thereafter by those evils they had suffered previously by the divine will...
In those days many also shall prophesy and many more shall be wise, so that the secrets of the prophets and the mysteries of the other scriptures in their fullness shall lie open to the wise. Their sons and daughters shall prophesy, just as was foretold many ages before…. They shall also prophesy in the same spirit by which the prophets of old announced the mysteries of God, and in the likeness of the apostles’ teaching, which excelled all human understanding.
(Liber Divinorum Operum III.10.25-26)

Behold, the feet of the aforementioned female image appeared to be white, giving out a brightness above that of the sun. I heard a voice from heaven saying to me: "Even though all things on earth are tending toward their end, so hardships and calamities is bowed down to its End, nevertheless, the Spouse of my Son, though much weakened in her children, will never be destroyed either by the heralds of the Son of Perdition or by the Destroyer himself, however much she will be attacked by them. At the End of time she will arise more powerful and more secure; she will appear more beautiful and shining so that she may go forth in this way more sweetly and more agreeably to the embraces of her Beloved. The vision which you saw signifies all this in mystic fashion."
(Scivias 3:11; Translated by B McGinn, Visions of the End, pp101-102)

The first vision of St. Hildegard referenced above concerning the woman's soiled garments contains many similarities with the cleansing of the soiled garments of the High Priest Joshua in Zech 3, who as well as being a prototype for one of the Two Witnesses, also prefigures the role of the Pope as Pontifex Maximus:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.
And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”
(Zech 3)

It seems that the reason the vision of Satan's 100 years of greater power foreseen by Pope Leo XIII was given to the Holy Father himself was in order to allude to this particular verse in the Bible, when Joshua the High Priest stands accused by Satan, much like the prophet Job. At the end of this time period, the Bride of Christ will be allowed to adorn herself with fine linen to prepare the marriage supper of the Lamb:

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
(Rev 19:7-8)

Even though it is only after this final restoration of the Church that the Antichrist will finally appear, there is quite clearly a separate period of a minor apostasy which takes place before this restoration. This order of events, which corresponds directly with our current situation, can also be found in the Church approved version of the prophecies of La Salette published in 2002:

After all these calamities have arrived, many will recognize the hand of God on them. They will convert, and do penance for their sins. A great king will go up on the throne, and will reign many years. Religion will re-flourish and spread all over the world, and there will be a great abundance. The world, glad to be lacking nothing, will fall again into disorder, will give up God, and will return to its criminal passions. 
(Melanie's Secret)

The Apocalypse similarly mentions a time period in which the Woman Adorned with the Sun is threatened to be carried away by a flood which issues forth from the mouth of the Dragon. This flood is then swallowed up during the New Pentecost, after which the Devil goes off to make war on the Woman's offspring by transferring his great power and authority to the Antichrist:

"The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea." And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.
(Rev 12:15-17, 13:1-2)

So it seems that this is where we currently stand right now - in the time period when Satan has been cast down to the earth, and is pursuing the Woman Adorned with the Sun in great fury. Even though we are on the brink of being washed away by the flood which issues from the mouth of the demon, we know that this inundation during the minor apostasy will eventually be swallowed up when the earth comes to the Woman's aid. It is only after the restoration of the Church during the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary that the Antichrist will finally appear, and bring about the events of the Great Apostasy. It is then that the peoples of the world will be forced to either pay homage to the Beast of the Apocalypse, or face the period of open persecution and martyrdom foreseen the Third Secret of Fatima, which takes place during the Final Passover of the Church:

The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world. 
(CCC 677)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Hiding the Truth? - The Mistranslation of Our Lady's Words in Sr. Lucia's New Biography

Christopher Ferrara, the author of a popular book on the two-text theory concerning the Third Secret of Fatima, The Secret Still Hidden, has recently flagged up a major criticism of the English translation of A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary, which specifically relates to a key portion of the text which confirms the existence of an interpretation of the Third Secret that was given to Sr. Lucia by the Virgin Mary.  The key sentence in question concerns the words of Our Lady, which appears in the official English translation as: “Be at peace and write what they order you, but do not give your opinion of its meaning.” I had noticed this difference myself at the time, with the implications behind it being that Sr. Lucia was forbidden by Our Lady to give any of her own opinions on the Third Secret. This is quite different from the original Portuguese version, which makes it quite clear that Sr. Lucia was actually given an interpretation of the Third Secret by the Blessed Mother herself, and that she was instructed not to write down this interpretation at the present time:

“….be at peace and write what they command you, not, however, what is given to you to understand of its significance.” 

See Ferrara's full critique of this faulty interpretation here.
This of course does not mean that Sr. Lucia was not told by Our Lady to write down this interpretation separately at some point in the future, which would go on to explain the existence of two texts related to the Third Secret in the first place. The World Apostolate of Fatima, who publishes the English version of A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary, has since admitted that this translation is indeed faulty, and plans to amend it in a second edition of this work (see here).
I plan to address this subject and other issues of relevance in a forthcoming second edition of my book Unveiling the Apocalypse, which should be published by either late September or October.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Amillennialism and the Chronology of Catholic Eschatology

According to Catholic tradition, there is a very clear order of events that are set to occur towards the end of the world. Quite recently, some Catholics have been heavily influenced by modern Protestant dispensationalism on the subject of the Millennium, mostly due to the popularity of the writings of Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi, Kelly Bowring and Mark Mallet. This rather peculiar end time chronology which has only surfaced in Catholic thought in the late 20th century basically follows the Protestant postmillennial template, and equates the "period of peace" promised by Our Lady of Fatima with a future binding of Satan for a thousand years. However the Catholic Church has accepted the amillennial interpretation of the Apocalypse ever since St. Augustine of Hippo expertly explained the true meaning of the Millennium described in Rev 20 in his monumental work The City of God, written in the fourth century. Since then, this view has been accepted by every doctor and saint of the Catholic Church, and the teachings of the Catechism on this subject simply does not leave room for any alternative to St. Augustine's approach to the Millennium. This recent uptake of postmillennialism by some in some Catholic circles, mostly due to popular Protestant Evangelical influences, is quite clearly at odds with the traditional teachings on the Millennium, and critically impairs our understanding of the order of events outlaid in the Apocalypse. According to the amillennial view outlaid by St. Augustine, the chronology of end time events can be summed up as follows:

The binding of Satan for the "thousand years" takes place during the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

At the end of the "thousand years" - which is most likely a reference to the concept of the Sabbath Millennium, Satan is once again unbound for a "little while".

Satan can once again prevent the spread of the Gospel during this "little while", by gathering the armies of the world together for battle, and because of this increase of lawlessness, the love of many grows cold (Matt 24:12).

At the end of the "little while", Satan is finally thrown out of the heavenly court and cast down to the earth by the Archangel Michael - a struggle which is marked by the appearance of the "signs in heaven".

Once he is cast down to the earth, the Devil then redoubles his efforts against the Church, and threatens to carry it away with a flood that issues from his mouth.

The earth then comes to the aid of the Woman/Church, and the flood is swallowed up during the New Springtime of the Church, brought about by the Two Witnesses. Millions are brought into the faith. A short period of peace ensues.

The Dragon then transfers his great power and authority to his servant the Antichrist, who puts the Two Witnesses to death. The fall of the end time empire referred to as "Babylon" is brought about by a "huge mountain, burning with fire" being thrown into the sea, and a subsequent global financial collapses allows the Antichrist to seize global dominion.

The final Passover of the Church takes place, which was foreseen in the Third Secret of Fatima, and many Christians are either martyred or apostatize as a result.

The Battle of Armageddon then breaks out after an attempted invasion of Israel, leading to the total collapse of human civilization.

The dissolution of the universe occurs at the Last Judgment, and the establishment of the new heaven and earth brings God's plan for creation to it ultimate conclusion.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

The End Times Revelation of the Ark of the Covenant

Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple.                                    (Rev 11:19)

The above passage of the Apocalypse is the last mention of the Ark of the Covenant in the Bible, and is closely associated with the Woman Adorned with the Sun in the following chapter. Catholics and Orthodox alike traditionally hold that the Ark of the Covenant prefigures the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Theotokos (which means "God-bearer" in Greek); and similarly accept that the purpose of the juxtaposition between the vision of the Ark at the end of Rev 11 with the appearance of the Woman Adorned with the Sun at the start of Rev 12 is to intentionally draw a comparison between these archetypes. The Ark of the Covenant, which housed the presence of God in the form of the Divine Shekhinah Glory, directly prefigures the Woman who would bear the Eternal Logos within her own body. Indeed the Virgin Mary has been equated with the Ark of the New Covenant since the earliest days of Christianity. Writing in the third century, for example, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (c.213-c.270), makes this analogy fully explicit:

“The ark is verily the holy Virgin, gilded within and without, who received the treasure of universal sanctification. Arise, O Lord, from the Father’s bosom, to raise up again the ruined race of our first parent” 

 St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (Orat. in Deip. Annunciat. Int. Opp. S. Greg. Thaumaturg

The fact that the exposition of the Ark of the Covenant at the end of the cycle concerning the Two Witnesses is immediately followed by the "Great Sign" seen in heaven at the opening of Rev 12 - a vision of the Theotokos, suggests that these two elements are inextricably linked. At the same time, the vision of the Ark of the Covenant in the Apocalypse also appears to be closely related to the widespread belief in ancient Judaism that the Ark would be discovered towards the end of the world, before the final coming of the Messiah.

We can find an example of this expectation in the recently discovered Hebrew pseudepigraphical text Treatise of the Vessels (the dating of which is uncertain, see here for more info), which claims that a portion of the treasures of King Solomon's Temple, including the Ark of the Covenant, were hidden by a number of Levites and prophets before the sack of the Temple by the Babylonian forces of King Nebuchadnezzar. The Treatise of the Vessels states that the Ark was hidden away in an unspecified location, and would "not be revealed until the day of the coming of the Messiah son of David" (See Davila, J. Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures Vol 1, Eerdmans, 2013).

Most importantly for Catholics however, is the fact that the rediscovery of the Lost Ark towards the end time is prophesied in the deuterocanonical Second Book of Maccabees - which was infallibly defined by the Catholic Church as a divinely inspired work during the Council of Trent in the 16th century, and is thus considered to be part of Divine Revelation:

These same records also tell us that Jeremiah, acting under divine guidance, commanded the Tent of the Lord's Presence and the Covenant Box to follow him to the mountain where Moses had looked down on the land which God had promised our people. When Jeremiah got to the mountain, he found a huge cave and there he hid the Tent of the Lord's Presence, the Covenant Box, and the altar of incense. Then he sealed up the entrance.
Some of Jeremiah's friends tried to follow him and mark the way, but they could not find the cave. When Jeremiah learned what they had done, he reprimanded them, saying:
No one must know about this place until God gathers his people together again and shows them mercy. At that time he will reveal where these things are hidden, and the dazzling light of his presence will be seen in the cloud, as it was in the time of Moses and on the occasion when Solomon prayed that the Temple might be dedicated in holy splendor.
We are also told how the wise King Solomon offered a sacrifice of dedication at the completion of the Temple, and that when he prayed, fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifices, just as it had done earlier when Moses prayed. 
(2Macc 2:4-12)

We should take note here that the Catholic Encyclopedia asserts that since the above text from 2 Maccabees is quoting from a source outside of the Bible, it cannot be regarded to have Divine inspiration:

According to many commentators, the letter from which the above-cited lines are supposed to have been copied cannot be regarded as possessing Divine authority; for, as a rule, a citation remains in the Bible what it was outside of the inspired writing...

(Souvay, C. (1907). Ark of the Covenant. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. See here for the original article). 

However this is one of the few instances in which the material contained in an article in the Catholic Encyclopedia is simply outdated and mistaken (having been composed in the early 20th century), as this is quite clearly at odds with subsequent papal teachings on the extent of Divine inspiration in the content of Public Revelation. As Pope Pius XII states in his 1950 papal encyclical Humani Generis

"If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents."

Pius XII Humani Generis 38)

As Pope Leo XIII further confirms in his 1893 papal encyclical Providentissimus Deus:

"But it is absolutely wrong and forbidden, either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred... For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church, solemnly defined in the Councils of Florence and of Trent, and finally confirmed and more expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican... It follows that those who maintain that an error is possible in any genuine passage of the sacred writings, either pervert the Catholic notion of inspiration, or make God the author of such error."

(Pope Leo XIII Providentissimus Deus, 20-21)

In citing the above material concerning the whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant, the author of 2 Maccabees clearly intended that his audience should accept this account as genuine, and was working under Divine inspiration in doing so. So according to Church teaching, Catholics are therefore compelled to accept not only that the Ark of the Covenant was hidden by the Prophet Jeremiah on the mountain where Moses saw the Promised Land, but also that it will one day be miraculously revealed towards the end of time by the descent of the Divine Presence in dazzling light, like the theophany at Sinai, after the eschatological ingathering of the Jews to the land of Israel. All other options, such as that the Ark was hidden beneath the Temple Mount, carried off to Axum in Ethiopia, was captured by the Babylonians, or destroyed, should therefore be discounted, since Scripture itself tells us its exact location.

According to Deut 34 the mountain from where Moses looked down to see the Promised Land is Mount Nebo, located in modern day Jordan: 

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And the LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day.
(Deut 34:1-6)

Mount Nebo in Jordan, which 2Macc tells us is the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant

The prophecy that God's chosen people would be granted mercy at the time of the revelation of the Lost Ark, after the eschatological ingathering mentioned in 2Macc 2:4-12, can only be equated with the end time conversion of the Jews - which the Catechism states must take place before the Second Coming of Christ: 

The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old." St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?" The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles", will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".

(CCC 674)

It would thus appear that the eschatological discovery of the Ark of the Covenant prophesied in 2Macc 2:4-12 is the primary catalyst for the future conversion of the Jews - an event which the Apocalypse links to the appearance of the Great Sign seen in Heaven during the birth pangs of the coming of the Messiah:

Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. 

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.
(Rev 11:19, 12:1-2)

Could the appearance of the Great Sign in Heaven be one and the same as 2 Maccabees' prophecy of God's presence descending upon Mount Nebo in dazzling light, at a time when great mercy would be shown to the Jews? It seems quite plausible that it would require an event on the magnitude of  the discovery of the most revered religious object in Judaism to effect a mass Jewish conversion to the Catholic Church. But the revelation of the Ark would only truly be able to win Jewish converts if its discovery was specifically related to Catholicism itself, such as being involved with a major Marian apparition, the fulfillment of a Catholic prophecy, or that it led to some radical new understanding of Scripture proving the truth of the Catholic faith. 

Reading 2Macc 2:4-12 side-by-side as a theological diptych with the above section of the Apocalypse, we are certainly left with the distinct impression that the rediscovery of the Ark of the Covenant brought about by the appearance of the Divine presence in the Shekhinah Glory would be accompanied by the Great Sign in Heaven - which is described in the Apocalypse as a vision of the Woman Adorned with the Sun. By combining both texts, we appear to have a prophecy of a future Marian apparition in the vicinity of Mount Nebo that leads to the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant, which has been lost to history for the past 2,600 years. And it would also seem that this Marian apparition coincides with the appearance of the Divine Shekhinah Glory to reveal the Ark of the Covenant. Could it be that the Theotokos herself will appear with the manifestation of her Spouse the Holy Spirit in the Shekhinah Glory, and reveal not only the location of the Ark of the Covenant, but also leading to the the understanding that the Blessed Virgin is in fact its physical embodiment - thus securing the future conversion of the Jews promised in the writings of the New Testament?
A detailed discussion of the role of the Ark of the Covenant in prophetic events can be found in chapter 10 of Desmond Birch's excellent work Trial, Tribulation & Triumph, which is widely considered to be the best book dealing with the subject of Catholic prophecy.