Mark Mallett

 

WHEN THE STARS FALL

 

POPE FRANCIS and bishops from around the world have gathered this week to face what is arguably the gravest trial in the history of the Catholic Church. It is not just a sexual abuse crisis of those entrusted with Christ’s flock; it is a crisis of faith. For men entrusted with the Gospel ought not only preach it, but above all live it. When they—or we—don’t, then we fall from grace like stars from the firmament.

St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI both felt that we are presently living the twelfth chapter of Revelation like no other generation, and I submit, in a startling way…

 

THE TIDE OF IMPURITY

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon… the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. (Rev 12:1-5)

At World Youth Day in 1993, John Paul II stated:

This marvelous world – so loved by the Father that he sent his only Son for its salvation (Cf. Io 3,17) is the theater of a never-ending battle being waged for our dignity and identity as free, spiritual beings. This struggle parallels the apocalyptic combat described in [Rev 12]. Death battles against Life: a “culture of death” seeks to impose itself on our desire to live, and live to the full—POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, Cherry Creek State Park Homily, Denver, Colorado, 1993; vatican.va

Sexual immorality and the “culture of death” are bedmates, for it is fornication, licentiousness and adultery that ultimately lead to the use of birth control, abortion, and sexaul abberations. This flood of impurity, exploitation, and death, increasingly being imposed as the only acceptable standard in our culture,[1] is what the dragon unleashes primarily to sweep away the “woman,” whom Pope Benedict affirms is not only a symbol of Mary, but of the Church.[2]

The serpent, however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with the current… (Revelation 12:15)

St. Paul speaks of God lifting a restrainer of sorts after men, who should know better (clergy?), follow their flesh instead of their Lord…

…although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks… Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies… Males did shameful things with males. (Rom 1:21, 24, 27; see also 2 Thess 2:7)

I think that the [torrent of water] is easily interpreted: these are the currents that dominate all and wish to make faith in the Church disappear, the Church that seems no longer to have a place in the face of the force of these currents that impose themselves as the only rationality, as the only way to live. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Meditation at Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, October 11th, 2010; vatican.va

These forces are not only external; sadly, they come from within the Church herself: wolves in sheep’s clothing whom Christ and St. Paul warned would appear.[3] Hence…

…today we see it in truly terrifying form: the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from external enemies, but is born of sin within the Church. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, interview on flight to Lisbon, Portugal; LifeSiteNews, May 12th, 2010

There is one other mysterious sentence in that passage regarding the dragon’s activity that may, in fact, indicate who this persecution comes from:

Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. (Rev 12:4)

What, or who are these stars?

 

DREAMS AND VISIONS

I don’t govern my ministry by dreams but by Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Yet, God does speak from time to time in dreams and visions, and according to St. Peter, these will ramp up in the “last days.” [4]

In the beginning of this writing apostolate, I had many powerful dreams that would only later make sense as I studied the Church’s teachings on eschatology. One dream, in particular, would always begin with the stars in the sky beginning to circle and spin about. Suddenly they would fall. In one dream, the stars turned into balls of fire. There was a great earthquake. As I began to bolt for cover, I vividly remember running past a church whose foundations had crumbled, its stained-glass windows now tilted toward the earth (my son had a similar dream just a few weeks ago). And this from a letter I received around that time:

Just before waking up this morning I heard a voice. This was not like the voice I heard years back saying “It has begun.” Instead, this voice was softer, not as commanding, but seemed loving and knowledgeable and quiet in tone. I would say more of a female’s voice than a male’s. What I heard was one sentence… these words were powerful (since this morning I have been trying to push them out of my mind and cannot):

“The stars will fall.”

Even writing this now I can hear the words still echo in my mind and the funny thing, it felt like sooner than later, whatever sooner really is.

My sense is that this dream has both a spiritual and literal meaning. But here, let’s deal with the spiritual aspect.

 

THE FALLEN STARS

In addressing the growing apostasy in the Church, St. Paul VI referred to that same chapter in Revelation:

The tail of the devil is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic world. The darkness of Satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church. —Address on the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions, October 13, 1977; quoted in Corriere della Sera, pg. 7, October 14, 1977

Here, Paul VI is comparing the sweeping of the stars to the “disintegration of the Catholic world.” If so, who are the stars?

In the first chapter of Revelation, Jesus dictates seven letters to St. John. The letters are addressed to the “seven stars” who appear in Jesus’ hand at the beginning of the vision:

This is the secret meaning of the seven stars you saw in my right hand, and of the seven gold lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Rev 1:20)

The “angels” or “stars” here most likely means the pastors of the Church. As The Navarre Bible commentary notes:

The angels of the seven churches may stand for the bishops in charge of them, or else the guardian angels who watch over them… Whichever is the case, the best thing is to see the angels of the churches, to whom the letters are addressed, as meaning those who rule and protect each church in Christ’s name.The Book of Revelation, “The Navarre Bible”, p. 36

The New American Bible footnote agrees:

Some have seen in the “angel” of each of the seven churches its pastor or a personification of the spirit of the congregation. —New American Bible, footnote for Rev. 1:20

Here is the central point: St. John’s vision reveals that a portion of these “stars” will fall away or be cast out in an apparent “apostasy.” This will take place before the appearance of the one whom Tradition calls the Antichrist, the “man of lawlessness” or “son of perdition.”

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition. (2 Thess 2:1-3)

Pope Francis describes this rebellion (apostasy) as a descent into the flesh, into worldliness:

…worldliness is the root of evil and it can lead us to abandon our traditions and negotiate our loyalty to God who is always faithful. This… is called apostasy, which… is a form of “adultery” which takes place when we negotiate the essence of our being: loyalty to the Lord. —POPE FRANCIS from a homily, Vatican Radio, November 18th, 2013

St. Gregory the Great affirms this teaching:

Heaven is the Church which in the night of this present life, the while it possesses in itself the countless virtues of the saints, shines like the radiant heavenly stars; but the dragon’s tail sweeps the stars down to the earth… The stars which fall from heaven are those who have lost hope in heavenly things and covet, under the devil’s guidance, the sphere of earthly glory. Moralia, 32, 13

This, too, can happen among the hierarchy when they cave into clericalism or “a careerism which thirsts for recognition, applause, rewards and status.” [5] But it is most scandalous when it involves, not only the sins of the flesh, but pastors employing sophistries to excuse them.[6] In that regard, the words of Pope Paul VI take on a powerful relevance as we begin to see the prophecy of Akita unfold before our eyes:

The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…. churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord… As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful.  —Message given through an apparition to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa of Akita, Japan, October 13th, 1973

St. John is given further visions of falling celestial objects that are called “trumpets”. First, there falls from the sky “hail and fire mixed with blood” then a “burning mountain” and then a “star burning like a torch.” Are these “trumpets” symbolic of a third of priests, bishops, and cardinals? The dragon—who works through a conglomeration of powers, both hidden and organized[7]—sweeps away a third of the stars—that is, perhaps, a third of the Church hierarchy into apostasy, along with those who follow them.

 

REAL TIME?

As clerical scandal after scandal continues to come into view, we are watching in real-time as “stars” fall to the “earth”—some of them, very large stars, like former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. But in reality, the falling began a long time ago. It is only now that we are seeing these stars enter the atmosphere of truth and justice. 

For it is time for the judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, how will it end for those who fail to obey the gospel of God? (1 Pet 4:17)

Again, it’s not just the sexual scandals in the Church. It is now the emergence of an Anti-Mercy by some bishop’s conferences that twists the Scriptures to render personal conscience autonomous over the Church’s constant teaching on marriage and sexuality. As Cardinal Müller warned:

it is not right that so many bishops are interpreting Amoris Laetitia according to their way of understanding the Pope’s teaching. This does not keep to the line of Catholic doctrine… These are sophistries: the Word of God is very clear and the Church does not accept the secularization of marriage. —Cardinal Müller, Catholic Herald, Feb. 1st, 2017; Catholic World Report, Feb. 1st, 2017

And just recently in his “Manifesto of Faith,” he warned:

To keep silent about these and the other truths of the Faith and to teach people accordingly is the greatest deception against which the Catechism vigorously warns. It represents the last trial of the Church and leads man to a religious delusion, “the price of their apostasy” (CCC 675); it is thefraud of Antichrist. “He will deceive those who are lost by all means of injustice; for they have closed themselves to the love of the truth by which they should be saved” (2 Thess 2:10). —National Catholic RegisterFeb. 8th, 2019

The silver lining in all of this? According to St. John, two-thirds of the stars do not fall. May we pray and fast all the more then, not only for our faithful shepherds that they “may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world”[8]but for the conversion of those fallen stars—and the healing of those wounded by their rebellion.

Do you see… these stars?… These stars are the souls of faithful Christians… —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 424

Where are we now in an eschatological sense? It is arguable that we are in the midst of the rebellion and that in fact a strong delusion has come upon many, many people. It is this delusion and rebellion that foreshadows what will happen next: “and the man of lawlessness will be revealed.” —Msgr. Charles Pope, “Are These the Outer Bands of a Coming Judgment?”, November 11th, 2014; blog

 

 

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Mark Mallett

 

ENOUGH GOOD SOULS

 

FATALISM—an indifference fostered by the belief that future events are inevitable—is not a Christian disposition. Yes, Our Lord spoke of events in the future that would precede the end of the world. But if you read the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation, you’ll see that the timing of these events is conditional: they hinge on our response or lack thereof:

Therefore, repent. Otherwise, I will come to you quickly and wage war against them with the sword of my mouth. “Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev 3:16-17)

St. Faustina is God’s messenger of mercy for our times. So often, it was her and others’ intercession that stayed the hand of justice.

I saw a resplendence beyond compare and, in front of this brilliance, a white cloud in the shape of a scale. Then Jesus approached and put the sword on one side of the scale, and it fell heavily towards the ground until it was about to touch it. Just then, the sisters finished renewing their vows. Then I saw Angels who took something from each of the sisters and placed it in a golden vessel somewhat in the shape of a thurible. When they had collected it from all the sisters and placed the vessel on the other side of the scale, it immediately outweighed and raised up the side on which the sword had been laid…Then I heard a voice coming from the brilliance: Put the sword back in its place; the sacrifice is greater. —Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 394

You have heard the words of St. Paul:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church… (Colossians 1:24)

In the footnotes of the New American Bible, it says:

What is lacking: although variously interpreted, this phrase does not imply that Christ’s atoning death on the cross was defective. It may refer to the apocalyptic concept of a quota of “messianic woes” to be endured before the end comes; cf. Mk 13:8, 19–20, 24 and Mt 23:29–32. New American Bible Revised Edition

Those “messianic woes”, also recorded in the “seals” of chapter six of Revelation, are for the most part man-made. They are the fruit of our sin, not God’s wrath. It is we who fill up the cup of justice, not God’s anger. It is we who tip the scales, not God’s finger.

…the Sovereign Lord patiently waits until [nations] reach the full measure of their sins before punishing them… he never withdraws his mercy from us. Although he disciplines us with misfortunes, he does not abandon his own people.  (2 Maccabees 6:14,16)

Thus, can we not tip the scales the other way? Yes. Absolutely, yes. But what cost does our delay procure, and for how long can we delay?

Hear the word of the LORD, O people of Israel, for the LORD has a grievance against the inhabitants of the land: there is no fidelity, no mercy, no knowledge of God in the land. False swearing, lying, murder, stealing and adultery! In their lawlessness, bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and everything that dwells in it languishes: the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and even the fish of the sea perish. (Hos 4:1-3)

 

IT DEPENDS ON US

In the highly regarded apparitions to Sr. Mildred Mary Ephrem Neuzil, Our Lady of America (whose devotion was officially approved) stated:

What happens to the world depends upon those who are living in it. There must be much more good than evil prevailing in order to prevent the holocaust that is so near approaching. Yet I tell you, My daughter, that even should such a destruction happen because there were not enough souls who took My Warnings seriously, there will remain a remnant untouched by the chaos who, having been faithful in following Me and spreading My Warnings, will gradually inhabit the earth again with their dedicated and holy lives. These souls will renew the earth in the Power and Light of the Holy Spirit, and these faithful children of Mine will be under My Protection, and that of the Holy Angels, and they will partake of the Life of the Divine Trinity in a most remarkable Way. Let My dear children know this, precious daughter, so that they will have no excuse if they fail to heed My Warnings. —winter of 1984, mysticsofthechurch.com

This is clearly a conditional prophecy, one that echoes Pope Benedict’s own thoughts on the “triumph of the Immaculate Heart.” In 2010, he made a passing reference to 2017, which was the hundredth year of the Fatima apparitions.

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. —POPE BENEDICT XIV, Esplanade of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima, May 13th, 2010;vatican.va

He clarified in a later interview that he was not suggesting that the Triumph would be accomplished in 2017, rather, that the “triumph” will draw closer.

This is equivalent in meaning to our praying for the coming of God’s Kingdom… The point was rather that the power of evil is restrained again and again, that again and again the power of God himself is shown in the Mother’s power and keeps it alive. The Church is always called upon to do what God asked of Abraham, which is to see to it that there are enough righteous men to repress evil and destruction. I understood my words as a prayer that the energies of the good might regain their vigor. So you could say the triumph of God, the triumph of Mary, are quiet, they are real nonetheless.Light of the World, p. 166, A Conversation With Peter Seewald (Ignatius Press)

It depends upon “enough righteous men to repress evil,” which evokes what St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. The height of lawlessness embodied in the Antichrist, the “son of perdition,” is presently being restrained, Paul wrote:

And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed… (2 Thess 3:6-7)

While still a Cardinal, Benedict wrote:

Abraham, the father of faith, is by his faith the rock that holds back chaos, the onrushing primordial flood of destruction, and thus sustains creation. Simon, the first to confess Jesus as the Christ… now becomes by virtue of his Abrahamic faith, which is renewed in Christ, the rock that stands against the impure tide of unbelief and its destruction of man. —POPE BENEDICT XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger), Called to Communion, Understanding the Church Today, Adrian Walker, Tr., p. 55-56

According to the Catechism, the Pope “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” [1] When our unity with one another, with the Vicar of Christ, and above all with the Lord fails… then evil will have its hour. When we fail to live the Gospel, then darkness overcomes the light. And when we are cowards, bowing before the gods of political correctness, then evil steals the day.

In our time, more than ever, before the greatest asset of the evilly disposed is the cowardice and weakness of good men, and all the vigor of Satan’s reign is due to the easygoing weakness of Catholics. O, if I might ask the divine redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit, ‘What are these wounds in your hands?’ the answer would not be doubtful. ‘With these I was wounded in the house of those who loved me. I was wounded by my friends who did nothing to defend me and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of my adversaries.’ This reproach can be leveled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries. —Publication of the Decree of the Heroic Virtues of St. Joan of Arc, etc., December 13th, 1908; vatican.va

 

THIS TIME OF MERCY

Recall again the vision of the three children of Fatima where they saw an angel about to “touch” the earth with a flaming sword. But when Our Lady appeared, the angel withdrew his sword and cried out to the earth, “Penance, penance, penance!” With that, the world entered into a “time of grace” or “time of mercy,” which we are presently in:

I saw the Lord Jesus, like a king in great majesty, looking down upon our earth with great severity; but because of His Mother’s intercession He prolonged the time of His mercy… the Lord answered me, “I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of [sinners]. But woe to them if they do not recognize this time of My visitation.” —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 126I, 1160; d. 1937

But for how long?

The angel with the flaming sword on the left of the Mother of God recalls similar images in the Book of Revelation. This represents the threat of judgment which looms over the world. Today the prospect that the world might be reduced to ashes by a sea of fire no longer seems pure fantasy: man himself, with his inventions, has forged the flaming sword. —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (BENEDICT XVI), The Message of Fatima, from the Vatican’s website

It depends upon us:

I also withhold My punishments only because of you. You restrain Me, and I cannot vindicate the claims of My justice. You bind My hands with your love. Divine Mercy in My Soul, Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary, n. 1193

Indeed, Our Lady’s response to the angel’s threefold cry of “Penance” is to “Pray, pray, pray!”

 

THE COMING STORM

Several years ago, I received two seemingly prophetic “words” from the Lord. The first (which a Canadian bishop encouraged me to share with others) was when I heard in my heart the words “I have lifted the restrainer” (read Removing the Restrainer). Then, a few years later while watching an approaching storm on the horizon, I sensed the Lord say: “A Great Storm is coming like a hurricane.”  So I was shocked several years later to read that Jesus and Our Lady said these very words in the approved apparitions to Elizabeth Kindelmann:

[Mary]: Earth is experiencing the calm before the storm, like a volcano about to explode. Earth is now in this terrible situation. The crater of hatred is boiling. I, the beautiful Ray of Dawn, will blind Satan… It will be a terrible storm, a hurricane that will want to destroy faith. In that dark night, heaven and earth will be illuminated by the Flame of Love that I offer to souls. Just as Herod persecuted my Son, so the cowards, the cautious and the lazy extinguish my Flame of Love…[Jesus]: The great storm is coming and it will carry away indifferent souls who are consumed by laziness. The great danger will erupt when I take away my hand of protection. Warn everyone, especially the priests, so they are shaken out of their indifference… Do not love comfort. Do not be cowards. Do not wait. Confront the storm to save souls. Give yourselves to the work. If you do nothing, you abandon the earth to Satan and to sin. Open your eyes and see all the dangers that claim victims and threaten your own souls. —The Flame of Love, p. 62, 77, 34; Kindle Edition;Imprimatur by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, PA

What I am saying, dear reader, is that the future of the world passes through you and I. The Lord never gave a timeline other than to repeatedly say to me and many other souls that “time is short.” It depends upon the generosity and sacrifice of enough good souls. As my friend, the late Anthony Mullen would say, “We just gotta do what Our Lady is asking us to do” (see The Right Spiritual Steps). This is the mystery of the human person, created in the Divine Image, and endowed with a free will. We are not mere animals. We are immortal beings who can either participate in the perfection of creation, or its destruction.

In a pastoral letter to all the bishops of the world, Pope Benedict XVI wrote:

In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses “to the end” (cf. Jn 13:1) —in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects. Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time. —Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to All the Bishops of the World, March 10, 2009; Catholic Online

There is a sobering warning at the very end of the Book of Revelation. Among those whose “lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulphur,” Jesus also includes “cowards.” [2]

Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38)

The hour is late. But not too late to make a difference, even if it saves just one more soul… If we are sitting on our hands waiting for God to do something, He replies to us: “You are the Body of Christ—it is My hands on which you are sitting!”

…others think that the curb on the man of lawlessness is the active presence of Christians in the world, who through word and example bring Christ’s teaching and grace to many. If Christians let their zeal grow cold… then the curb on evil will cease to apply and the rebellion will ensue. —The Navarre Bible commentary on 2 Thess 2:6-7, Thessalonians and Pastoral Epistles, p. 69-70

Why not ask him to send us new witnesses of his presence today, in whom he himself will come to us? And this prayer, while it is not directly focused on the end of the world, is nevertheless a real prayer for his coming; it contains the full breadth of the prayer that he himself taught us: “Your kingdom come!” Come, Lord Jesus! —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, p. 292, Ignatius Press

Do not delay or the time of grace will pass and with it the peace you seek… My little sister, the message is a dear one, there is no doubt. Make it known; do not hesitate… —St. Michael the Archangel to St. Mildred Mary, May 8, 1957, mysticsofthechurch.com

 

 

First published on May 17th, 2018. 

Mark Mallett

 

MOMMA’S BUSINESS

Mary of the Shroud, by Julian Lasbliez

 

EVERY morning with the sunrise, I sense the presence and love of God for this poor world. I relive the words of Lamentations:

The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; they are renewed each morning — great is your faithfulness! (3:22-23)

As the animals stir, the children rise, and the clatter of daily living fills our streets, shops, and places of work, there is the feeling that life will go on as it always has. And I am tempted to believe that maybe, just maybe the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written here are reserved for another generation.

But then Our Lady grabs me by the coattails and says, “We have work to do.” Yes, it’s too late for me to go back to the status quo. My life has been forever changed since that unforgettable day the Lord called me to this writing apostolate. The Temptation to be Normal has lost most of its pull, because I can see as plainly as the nose on my face that all the things I have been warning about are coming to pass now in real time.

 

THE FORERUNNERS

Ten years ago, a word came to me in prayer that we are in the time of The ForerunnersThat just as John the Baptist was a forerunner of Christ crying out, “Prepare the way of the Lord,” so too, there are going to be forerunners of Antichrist. John came announcing that “every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low.” So too, the forerunners of Antichrist will prepare his way announcing an anti-Gospel. These words were just barely coming into view when I first wrote them:

The Antichrist’s paths are being “made straight” by forerunners who are removing obstacles to his “culture of death.” They will speak words that sound reasonable, sound tolerant and good. But they will be more of a twist of truth as opposed to its opposite. The “valleys they fill and the mountains they make low” (cf. Luke 3:4) are the differences between man and woman, mankind and animal kind, between one religion or another: everything is to be made uniform. The winding roads of human suffering are to be straightened, made wide and easy by offering “solutions” to end all suffering. And the rough ways of dying to sin and self will be razed and paved over with a shiny and guiltless surface where sin does not exist and self-fulfillment is the ultimate destination. —cf. The ForerunnersFebruary 13th, 2009

It will be a “new age,” say these forerunners. Sixteen years ago, the Vatican released a document that also served as a forerunner to this hour. It spoke of a time coming when genders would be relativized, technology would merge flesh with computer chips, and Christianity would be edged out of a new world:

The New Age which is dawning will be peopled by perfect, androgynous beings who are totally in command of the cosmic laws of nature. In this scenario, Christianity has to be eliminated and give way to a global religion and a new world order.  —‚Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life, n. 4, Pontifical Councils for Culture and Inter-religious Dialogue

 

THE GREAT STORM

But our Mother was warning us for centuries, pleading for decades: a Great Storm would come upon humanity if we did not turn back to her Son, Jesus Christ and the Divine Will that is the basis for a culture of love. As she said over 100 years ago at Fatima:

If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peaceIf not, [Russia] will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated—Message of Fatima, www.vatican.va

This “Storm” would not be divine in origin, per se, but one of our own making.[1]

When they sow the wind, they shall reap the whirlwind. (Hos 8:7)

In 1982, one of the seers to whom Our Lady of Fatima gave this warning was the late Sr. Lucia. Seeing how Our Lady’s “requests” for penance, the Rosary, and consecration of Russia were not heeded, she penned a letter to St. John Paul II that stated so presciently:

Since we did not heed this appeal of the Message, we see that it has been fulfilled, Russia has invaded the world with her errors [eg. Marxism, Socialism, Communism, etc.]. And if we have not yet seen the complete fulfilment of the final part of this prophecy, we are going towards it little by little with great strides. If we do not reject the path of sin, hatred, revenge, injustice, violations of the rights of the human person, immorality and violence, etc. And let us not say that it is God who is punishing us in this way; on the contrary it is people themselves who are preparing their own punishment. In his kindness God warns us and calls us to the right path, while respecting the freedom he has given us; hence people are responsible.—Fatima seer, Sr. Lucia, Message of Fatima, www.vatican.va

Another prophet, revered by popes, was Blessed Anna Maria Taigi who confirmed mankind’s self-made chastisement in the making:[2]

God will send two punishments: one will be in the form of wars, revolutions, and other evils; it shall originate on earth. The other will be sent from Heaven. —Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, Catholic Prophecy, P. 76

 

MOMMA’S BUSINESS

So, what now? Do we just hunker down and hope to ride out this Storm?

Absolutely not. It is the moment to get about Momma’s Business more than ever. And what is her business? To pray, pray, pray; to draw near to her Son Jesus in the Eucharist (ie. to receive Him whenever you can); to go to Confession at least once a month, if not once a week; to read the Scriptures frequently; to remain in Communion with the Church and the Pope; to do penance, fast, and say the Rosary; and to make the Communion of reparation on the First Saturday of each month for five months.[3]

But it is more than that. It is to undertake these things with our own conversion in mind. So, to pray is not just a matter of heaping up words, but to pray from the heart. It means entering into a personal relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and surrendering every aspect of your life into the Trinity’s loving hands. It is to not only receive the Eucharist on your tongue, but with your whole mind and heart.

For life to be truly a praise pleasing to God, it is indeed necessary to change the heart. Christian conversion is oriented to this conversion, which is an encounter of life with the “God of the living” (Mt 22: 32). —POPE FRANCIS, Address to the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, February 14th, 2019; vatican.va

And to make room in your soul, you need to go to Confession frequently to repent of those things that compete for God’s “space” and receive the grace you need to conquer sin. And when it comes to fasting and penance, offer those sacrifices with a great zeal and passion for lost souls.

Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Last, become a messenger of God’s mercy. Mercy not only warns the sinner, but also overlooks the faults of others rather than preoccupying oneself with them. Mercy not only exhorts others to good works, but is a peacemaker amidst strife. Mercy seeks to unify, not tear down.

 

APOSTLES OF MERCY

Today, amidst so many clerical scandals and confusion, there is a dangerous temptation to turn on our shepherds with vitriol and wrath. Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was defrocked today because of the sexual abuse he committed against those in his care. One of my readers sent a letter off to a list of people, me included. He wrote:

The SOB should spend the rest of his miserable life in a hellish Turkish prison, and after he dies, spend many eternities in the sewers of hell!!!! 
I replied that, surely, he must know his Bible and faith better than that. He must know that God’s mercies are renewed every morning,[4] and since He came precisely to save sinners, McCarrick is perhaps candidate No. 1 for God’s mercy.
Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet… I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 699, 1146
His response? “It’s too frickin’ late for that!!!” And I say, this is why some unbelievers want absolutely nothing to do with Christianity. That kind of attitute ain’t Momma’s Business!
APOSTLES OF HOPE
It’s time for us to spend less time fretting over the state of the Church and the world and to get on with Our Lady’s business, which is to become an apostle of hope, love and mercy. She’s calling you personally, right now, because as the first reading indicates at Mass today, she is a key protagonist in the battle for souls:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed: she shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for her heel. (Gen 3:15, Douay-Rheims; see footnote)[5]

It doesn’t matter how awful and terrible things become in this world; each and every moment carries a seed of hope whereby God can make even evil work to the good. This is why fatalism is not the trait of one of Mary’s apostles. When she stood beneath the Cross of her Son, all seemed lost… and then suddenly the seed of hope sprout before her when blood and water gushed forth from the Heart of her Son. This is why, although she wants us to be aware of the “signs of the times” and even speak about them, she does not want us to obsess with depressing news and clerical shortcomings, much less our own.
…for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. (…1 John 5:4)

Anne, a lay apostle, allegedly received this word from Our Lord. I think it’s excellent—and exactly what has been on my heart for months:

Jesus:

There are many ways that renewal can come to my Church. There are as many ways to bring about renewal as there are Catholics who love me. Each of these ways is sown into each day. Yes, in each moment there are opportunities for renewal in my Church. How will you know if someone is working toward my goal of renewal? This is an important question. It is important because once you answer the question in your mind and heart, I expect you to work only toward renewal and not against renewal. Do you understand? Are you willing to be humbled by me if you are working against renewal? Only you can answer that question and it is an important question for your soul. 

Someone is working toward renewal in my Church if they are talking about me. Someone is working toward renewal in my Church if they recognise that the Pontiff, chosen by me, is listening to me. Someone is working toward renewal if he is leading others into a future of development, of greater holiness and also of openness to my mother and her role in the protection of the Church. Will Mary, our beloved mother, draw people away from unity in the Church? Disunity will never come from the Mother of the Church and the Queen of the Church. Our greatest saint, Mary, will always protect unity in the Church on Earth. Mary leads our people into harmony, peace and service. Mary leads our people into hope and excitement about the possibility of my Church drawing the world into health and strength. Mary will always lead to fidelity to the magisterium. Are you devoted to Mary, the mother of our Church? Then you will be working toward unity in the Church. You will be working to bring the mercy of God to each person created by God. You will be serving the leadership I have chosen, not self-appointed leadership which can only destroy peace in our Church on Earth. 

Know that the Church in Heaven is intact. Know that saints gone before you desire your success. Do you want to be successful in playing your part for me? Then you must desist from any effort to draw away from unity in the Church. The results for you will be serious if you engage in conversations or activities that weaken unity. I arrange for you to hear this so that you can be warned. If someone is attempting to deconstruct what Peter established, then that person is not my champion. You must look elsewhere for companionship. My hope for renewal lies partially in your commitment to me. Will you serve me? I am asking you personally and in my request is also an instruction. Remain faithful to my Church. Hold your position of fidelity. Focus intently on following the leadership offered by the Holy Father. —from Jesus Christ the Returning King, February 14th, 2019; Direction for Our Times

 

APOSTLES OF LOVE

The “leadership offered by the Holy Father” refers to the clear “program” that Pope Francis enunciated at the beginning of his pontificate, and which he has carried out in various ways, for better or worse, since then:

I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up. —POPE FRANCIS, interview with AmericaMagazine.com, September 30th, 2013

The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew… I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come. —Evangelii Gaudium, n. 1

Our Blessed Mother is a “mirror” of the Church.[6] Thus, it is no surprise that she is echoing the Holy Father as, she too, pleads for us to get about the Heavenly Father’s business:

Dear children, apostles of my love, it is up to you to spread the love of my Son to all those who have not come to know it; you, the little lights of the world, whom I am teaching with motherly love to shine clearly with full brilliance. Prayer will help you, because prayer saves you, prayer saves the world…  My children, be ready. This time is a turning point. That is why I am calling you anew to faith and hope. I am showing you the way by which you need to go, and those are the words of the Gospel. —Our Lady of Medjugorje to Mirjana, April 2, 2017; June 2nd, 2017

 

RELATED READING

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Seven Seals of Revolution

 

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Mark Mallett

 

THAT POPE FRANCIS! PART III

By
Mark Mallett

 

FR. GABRIEL was unvesting after Mass when a familiar voice interrupted the silence.

“Hey, Fr. Gabe!”

Kevin stood in the doorway of the Sacristy, his eyes beaming, a broad smile on his face. Fr. stood silent for a moment, studying him. It had only been a year, but Kevin’s boyish looks had grown into a mature visage.

“Kevin! What—were you here at Mass?”

“No, I thought it was at 9:00 am, the usual.”

“Ah, not today,” Fr. Gabriel said, as he hung his vestments in the closet. “I’ve got a meeting with the Bishop this morning, so I bumped it back an hour.”

“Oh… that’s too bad,” Kevin said.

“Why, what’s up?”

“I was hoping we could do breakfast. Well, I mean I wanted to go to Mass, too, but I was hoping we could have a little visit.”

Fr. Gabriel looked at his watch. “Hm… Well, I don’t think my meeting will go beyond an hour, at most. Why don’t we do lunch?”

“Yeah, that’s perfect. Same place?”

“Where else!” Fr. Gabriel loved the old diner, more for the comfort of its unchanged interior and artifacts from the 1950s than its unoriginal food. “See you at noon, Kevin. No, make it 12:30, just in case…”

—————————

Kevin glanced at his watch as he clung to a warm coffee mug. It was 12:40 and no sign of the priest.

“Kevin?”

He looked up, blinking twice.

“Bill?”

Kevin couldn’t believe how much he’d aged since he saw him last. Bill’s hair was more white than silver and his eyes slightly more sunken. Always polite, especially to his elders, Kevin stuck out his hand. Bill grabbed it and shook vigorously.

“Are you sitting alone, Kevin? What, did they kick you out of the seminary?”

Kevin let out a forced “Ha” as he tried to hide the disappointment on his face. He really wanted to have Fr. Gabriel all to himself. But the people-pleaser in Kevin, who could never say “no,” took over. “I’m just waiting for Fr. Gabriel. He should be here any minute. Have a seat.”

“Do you mind?”

“Not at all,” Kevin lied.

“Tom!” Bill called out to a gentleman chatting by the till. “Come meet our next priest!” Tom walked over and slid into the booth next to him. “Tom More,” he said, holding out his hand. Before Kevin could even say hello, Tom glanced down at the cross around the seminarian’s neck and chortled, “Protestant cross, eh?”

“Um, what?”

“Just thought a seminarian would wear a crucifix.”

“Well, I—”

“So what seminary do you attend?” Tom was clearly in control of the conversation.

“I’m at Neumann,” Kevin replied, a proud grin on his face. But it quickly disappeared as Tom continued.

“Ah, the bastion of everything modernist. Good luck, kid.”

Kevin blinked twice, forcing down a surge of anger. St. John Neumann Western Seminary had indeed been a hotbed of liberal theology, radical feminist ideology, and moral relativism. It had shipwrecked the faith of not a few. But that was twenty years ago.

“Well, Bishop Claude cleaned a lot of that up,” Kevin replied. “There’s some really good profs there—well, maybe one who is a bit off, but—”

“Yeah, well, I’ve got problems with Bishop Claude,” Tom said.

“He’s as weak as the rest of them,” Bill added. Kevin’s face twisted, shocked at Bill’s lack of reverence. He was about to defend the Bishop when Fr. Gabriel walked up to the table with a tight smile. “Hey guys,” he said, scanning the faces of all three. “Sorry, Kevin. The Bishop was also late. Am I interrupting?”

“No, no, sit down,” Bill said, as if he had gathered them all.

Fr. Gabriel knew who Tom More was—a former parishioner. But Tom had left for a “Traditional” parish down the road—St. Pius—and he eventually took with him Bill and Marg Tomey. Bill still came to St. Michael’s from time to time, but rarely to daily Mass. When Fr. Gabriel asked him one day where he’d disappeared to, Bill simply replied, “To the authentic Mass in Landou County.” Those were fighting words, of course. A heated argument ensued until Fr. said it would be best if they dropped the matter.

Fr. Gabriel knew the pastor at St. Pius, Fr. Albert Gainley. It was the only parish in the diocese where the Latin Rite was said every weekend. Fr. Albert, a spry priest in his early seventies, was a reverent and kind soul. His Latin was pristine and his mannerisms, though a bit shaky now, were calculated and dignified. Fr. Gabriel attended the Tridentine Rite there on one occasion several years ago and was surprised by how many young, large families attended. He sat there, soaking in the ancient rituals and rich prayers, deeply inhaling the whisps of Frankincense wafting above him. And candle smoke. He loved all that candle smoke.

Indeed, Fr. Gabriel loved and appreciated it all, even though he was born post-Vatican II. Moreover, he loved the devotion, modesty, and reverence the congregants had from the moment they entered the Nave. He watched with intrigue as one family entered, their hands clasped together in orans, the girls veiled, the boys wearing suits. They all turned toward the Tabernacle, and in perfect synchronization, genuflected, stood up, and proceeded to their pews like a well-choreographed troupe. “Nice to see young people,” he thought to himself. Being in a country parish, Fr. Gabriel’s congregation was older by default. There was nothing keeping the youth in the towns anymore as they flocked to the cities for jobs and education. But the two young adults who were still in his parish were very active in the choir and in youth events in the city.

He loved his quiet parish. He loved his Mass. It was simple, efficient, accessible to all. He knew intuitively why the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council felt the Mass needed updating with the vernacular and such. But as he admired the “drama” of the Latin Mass, he was saddened that the “reform” left his rite so—bald. In fact, so moved was he by Fr. Albert’s liturgy, that Fr. Gabriel went back into the Vatican II documents and rediscovered some of the elements of the Mass that the Fathers never intended to lose. He began to implement some Latin again into the Mass responses, including a bit of chant. He used incense whenever he could. He placed a large crucifix at the center of the altar and asked if he could have the beautiful vestments hanging in the rear sacristy at the neighbouring parish, St. Luke’s. “Take ’em,” said Fr. Joe, one of the old “liberal” guard on the way out. “There’s some statues in here too, if you want ’em. Was gonna throw those out.” Fr. Gabriel found the perfect spot for them at the rear corners of his own parish. And candles. He bought lots of candles.

But when he asked the Bishop if he could slip in a bit of ad orientem by facing the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer, the answer was a firm “no.”

But it wasn’t perfect at St. Pius either, as it isn’t in any parish. Fr. Gabriel was dismayed, as was Fr. Albert, at a small fringe element that attended the Latin Mass. They were the ones who not only reserved the most scorching criticisms for Pope Francis, but fomented conspiracy theory after theory on the validity of his papal election and the resignation of Benedict XVI. They also attached the labels “False Prophet”, “heretic”, and “pervert-protector” to Francis—and whatever else they could muster in their angry diatribes. And it was all posted promptly on social media. But more and more, a few of Fr. Gabriel’s own parishioners were beginning to follow the growing negative trend. Bill had a lot to do with that as he had frequently, after Mass, handed out printed copies of whatever dirt he could find on Francis—until Fr. Gabriel asked him to stop.

And that’s why Fr. Gabriel grimaced when he entered the diner and saw Bill and Tom sitting in the booth. Nobody noticed his reaction—except the waitress. She glanced over to the booth, and then turned to Fr. again with a chuckle. She knew Bill and his “tirades” very well. Fr. Gabriel scrunched his face, a bit embarrassed, as he winked at her. As he slid into his seat, he knew what was coming.

“Long time no see, Padre”, said Bill. “Good timing.”

“How’s that?” Fr. Gabriel asked. He already knew the answer.

“Well, Kevin’s here.”

Fr. stared blankly back at Bill, as did Kevin, awaiting an explanation.

“What else do we talk about when we’re together? Bergoglio!”

Fr. Gabriel smiled and nodded his head in resignation while Kevin failed to hide his displeasure.

“Don’t tell me you’re going to defend Pope Francis’ signature on that antichrist document with that Muslim Imam?” Bill taunted.

A proud smirk crossed Tom’s face. Kevin was a moment away from asking that, if they didn’t mind, he was planning on a private conversation with Fr. Gabriel. But before he could open his mouth, Fr. Gabriel took the bait.

“No, I’m not, Bill,” he replied.

“Ah, well then, you’re finally starting to see the light,” he said, with a hint of mockery.

“Oh, you mean that Pope Francis is the Antichrist?” Fr. Gabriel dryly replied.

“No, the False Prophet,” said Tom.

Kevin looked into his coffee mug and muttered something indiscernible.

“Well,” Fr. Gabriel calmly continued, “when I read that sentence in the Declaration—the one where it says…

The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom… Document on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”. —Abu Dhabi, February 4th, 2019; vatican.va

“…my first thought was, is the Pope speaking about God’s permissive will?”

“I knew you were going to say that!” Bill barked, a little too loud.

“But, Bill, hold on. The more I looked at it, the more I felt that that particular sentence gives the impression that God is actively willing a multiplicity of contradictory ideologies and opposing ‘truths’ in ‘His wisdom.’ I just think that Pope Francis has left too much unsaid, once again, and that, yes, this could cause scandal.”

“Could?” said Tom, throwing himself back against his seat. “It already has. Bergoglio is a heretic, and this is proof-positive. He’s destroying the Church and deceiving people en masse. What a pathetic excuse for a shepherd.”

Bill sat there, eagerly nodding, though avoiding eye contact with Fr. Gabriel.

“Oh, is he?” Fr. replied.

“Oh yes, he is—” Bill began, but Kevin cut him off.

“No, he’s not destroying the Church. I mean, yes, I agree with Fr. Gabe that he has been confusing at certain moments. But do you guys even read his daily homilies? He often says a lot of really good, orthodox, and profound things. One of my profs—”

“Oh, give it a break,” Bill blurted. “I could care less if he read the Catechism from the pulpit every day. He’s lying. He says one thing and then does another.”

Fr. cleared his throat. “You don’t care if he teaches the Catholic Faith every day? Is that what you said, Bill?”

“He says one thing…” Tom finished the sentence, “…and then he contradicts himself. So no, I don’t care either.”

On the one hand, Fr. Gabriel couldn’t disagree entirely. Pope Francis’ actions in China, his unfettered support of questionable climate science, some of the appointments he’d made of advisors and such who held openly questionable positions in opposition to Church teaching, and his silence, his unwillingness to clear the air… it was perplexing, if not frustrating. And this Declaration he signed… he believed that the Pope’s intentions were good and sincere, but on its face, it looked like religious indifferentism. At least, that’s how it was being interpreted by every Evangelical radio host and the majority of conservative Catholic media. As such, Fr. Gabriel sometimes felt like he was forced into being Francis’ apologist with those parishioners, friends, family, and even some brother priests who month after month produced a shortlist of papal “mishaps.”

“Okay, first thing,” Fr. Gabriel said, leaning into the center of the table. “And I really mean this, guys… where is your faith in Christ? I love what Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement, said:

Christians should bear in mind that it is Christ who guides the history of the Church. Therefore, it is not the Pope’s approach that destroys the Church. This is not possible: Christ does not allow the Church to be destroyed, not even by a Pope. If Christ guides the Church, the Pope of our day will take the necessary steps to move forward. If we are Christians, we should reason like this. —Vatican InsiderDec. 23rd, 2017

“Well, he may not destroy the Church, but he’s destroying souls!” Bill exclaimed.

“Well, Bill, I can also tell you, as a pastor and a confessor, that he’s also helped a lot of souls. But look, I’ve already said to you several times in the past that I agree: the way the Holy Father puts things at times could—and probably should—be said much clearer. But if you compare those statements—often twisted to mean something else by the media—to other things he’s said, it’s clear he doesn’t believe in, well, for example, religious indifferentism.”

“Prove that,” Tom challenged.

Fr. Gabriel flipped out his phone while Kevin excused himself to go to the washroom. “I want to hear what you have to say too, Fr. Gabe,” Kevin added.

“See?” said Bill, “even these seminarians know a wolf in sheep’s clothing when they see one.”

Kevin kept walking, but shot back, “Uh, not quite, Bill.” As he entered the restroom, words began to form on his lips. “What a bast—” but he held his tongue as the words of Jesus flashed through his mind:

…love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well… (Luke 6:27-29)

“Well,” Kevin whispered to the Lord, “he’s not my enemy. But gosh, does he have to be such a jerk? Aw, Lord, bless him, bless him, I bless him.”

Kevin returned to the table just as the priest found his reference.

“Actually,” Fr. Gabriel said, “Francis has said several things on interreligious dialogue. But this first from a few years ago:

…the Church “desires that all the peoples of the earth be able to meet Jesus, to experience His merciful love… [the Church] wishes to indicate respectfully, to every man and woman of this world, the Child that was born for the salvation of all. —Angelus, January 6th, 2016; Zenit.org

“That’s a pretty clear mission statement,” he continued. “And that’s precisely why Francis has been meeting with Buddhists, Muslims, and so forth.”

“Well,” Tom objected, “where did he talk about Jesus with that Imam? When did he call him to repentance, huh?” If Tom had a holster, he would have put his smoking gun in it.

“Tom, just think for a moment,” Fr. Gabriel replied, irritation in his voice. Just then the waitress arrived to take their orders. When she left, Fr. continued.

“Think for a moment. Can you imagine if Pope Francis had stood at the mic and said, ‘I call all Muslims to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is God! Repent or perish in everlasting flames!’ There would have been riots all over the world. Christian villages would have been burned to the ground, their women raped, and their men and children beheaded. There is a gift of the Holy Spirit called ‘Prudence’.”

“Fine, so what’s the point of this ‘fraternal friendship’?” Bill interjected. “Where in the Gospel does Christ call us to be buddies with pagans? I thought the good Word said:

Do not be yoked with those who are different, with unbelievers. For what partnership do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? …what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? (2 Cor 6:14-15)

“Oh, okay,” said Fr. Gabriel sarcastically. “So, explain why Jesus sat and dined with pagans, prostitutes, and unbelievers?” Tom and Bill stared blankly. So he answered his own question. “The only way to evangelize someone is to build some kind of relationship with them. St. Paul engaged the Greeks for days on end, often quoting the truth of their poets and philosophers. This ‘interreligious dialogue’ opened the door to the Gospel.” Glancing down at his phone, he continued. “Okay, so here’s that other quote. This is from Evangelii Gaudium that the Pope penned:

Interreligious dialogue is a necessary condition for peace in the world, and so it is a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities. This dialogue is in first place a conversation about human existence or simply, as the bishops of India have put it, a matter of “being open to them, sharing their joys and sorrows”. In this way we learn to accept others and their different ways of living, thinking and speaking… What is not helpful is a diplomatic openness which says “yes” to everything in order to avoid problems, for this would be a way of deceiving others and denying them the good which we have been given to share generously with others. Evangelization and interreligious dialogue, far from being opposed, mutually support and nourish one another. —Evangelii Gaudium, n. 251, vatican.va

Tom suddenly slammed his fist on the table. “I don’t care what this Bergoglio has said. This man’s dangerous. He’s joined the New World Order. He’s creating a One World Religion. He’s Judas, by God, and if you listen to him, you’re gonna end up in the same pit of fire as him.”

The tension was broken by the waitress approaching with a pot of coffee, a stunned look on her face. “Um, didn’t your momma tell you not to talk to priests that way?” she said as she flipped over Tom’s cup. He ignored her. 

Fr. Gabriel changed tactic. At this point, he felt obliged to correct the men in front of him, whether they listened or not. He put his phone away and looked Bill and Tom in the eyes for a few seconds each.

“Okay, let’s not quote Pope Francis any longer. Heard of Pope Boniface?” Tom nodded. “This is what he said.” Fr. Gabriel knew it by heart (as he had ample times to “practice” with others over the past year):

…We declare, state and define that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of all human beings that they submit to the Roman Pontiff. —Unun Sanctum, 1302

“I’m not submitting to no anti-pope if that’s what you’re telling me,” Tom snorted.

“Um, sorry, Tom,” Kevin said, bracing himself. “An ‘anti-pope,’ by definition, is someone who has taken the throne of Peter either by force or through an invalid election.”

Fr. Gabriel jumped in, knowing the conspiracy theories Tom and Bill followed—from the “St. Gallen Mafia,” to Benedict being imprisoned in the Vatican, to the Emeritus Pope not really resigning.

“That’s right, Kevin, and before we debate what we’ve already discussed, Bill, I’ll just repeat that not a single cardinal, including Raymond Burke or any other ‘conservative’ cleric, has even so much as hinted that the election of Francis is invalid. And even if it was, it would take another pope and a canonical process to overturn it—not a Facebook post declaring it so.” He cast a glance at Tom; it was intended as a rebuke. Fr. Gabriel rarely read Facebook, but heard from other parishioners that Tom held nothing back in his vitriolic comments there toward the Pope.

“So,” Fr. said, folding his hands, “You gentlemen have a problem. Christ said to His disciples:

Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me. (Luke 10:16)

“If you refuse to listen to the Vicar of Christ and actively undermine his authority, you are in material schism.”

“Us? We’re the villains? How dare you.” Tom glared at Fr. Gabriel.

Kevin jumped back in. “Okay, Fr. Gabe, so let me be the devil’s advocate. You just agreed earlier that the Declaration the Pope signed is confusing. I agree. So, how are we supposed to listen to him when he seems to contradict the voice of Christ?”

“Exactly!” said Bill, pounding his own fist on the table.

Fr. Gabriel placed his hands against the edge of the table and pushed himself back. He quickly uttered a silent prayer: “Lord, give me Wisdom—Wisdom and Understanding.” It wasn’t that Fr. had no answer—he did—but he was beginning to grasp the very depths of how powerful the Enemy was sowing confusion, how powerful the demons of fear, division, and doubt were growing. Diabolic disorientation. That’s what Sr. Lucia of Fatima called it. He glanced out the window and prayed again, “Help me, Mother. Crush the serpent beneath your heel.”

As he turned toward the two men across from him, triumphalism written all over their faces, he felt an intense and unexpected love well up within him. He felt the pity that Jesus once experienced…

At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

Surprised by his own emotions, Fr. Gabriel found himself fighting back tears as he began to answer Kevin, whose own face betrayed confusion.

“When Jesus declared Peter to be the ‘rock’ of the Church, he wasn’t declaring that this fisherman would henceforth be infallible in every word and deed. In fact, two chapters later, Jesus scolded him, saying, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ The ‘rock’ had suddenly become a stumbling stone, even for Jesus! But did that mean that everything Peter said from then on was untrustworthy? Of course not. In fact, when the crowds were walking away after Christ’s Bread of Life discourse, Peter declared:

Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God. (John 6:69)

“Those words have been repeated and prayed and echoed from the world’s pulpits for 2000 years. Peter was speaking in the Good Shepherd’s voice.”

A playfulness entered his voice. “But then what happened? Peter denied Christ three times! Surely, from that moment on, Peter was unworthy to ever speak another word on behalf of Christ, right? No?”

“On the contrary, Jesus met him on the shores of Tiberias and invited Peter three times to ‘feed my sheep.’ And Peter did. After the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, this Peter, the very one who publically denied Christ, then publically declared:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

“At that moment, Peter was speaking in the Good Shepherd’s voice. So, all’s good, right? It’s post-Pentecost now, so Peter, guided by the Spirit of truth, will never make a mistake again, right? On the contrary, the poor man began to compromise the Faith, this time pastorally. Paul had to correct him face to face in Antioch. He warned Peter that he was…

…not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel. (Gal 2:9)

“What an undressing!” Kevin blurted, laughing out loud.

“Exactly,” said Fr. Gabriel. “That’s because Peter wasn’t speaking or acting on behalf of the Good Shepherd at that moment. But far from denouncing Peter’s authority, calling him names, and dragging his reputation through the mud in the Jerusalem Post, Paul acknowledged and respected Peter’s authority—and told him to live up to it.”

Kevin nodded while Tom stared cooly at the priest. Bill drew circles with his finger in a bit of sugar that had spilled on the table.

“Now, here’s the thing,” Fr. Gabriel continued, his voice intensifying. “Peter went on to pen letters to the churches, beautiful letters that today comprise infallible Sacred Scripture. Yes, the very same man who continued to stumble was also continually used by Christ—despite. That is all to say that Christ can and does speak through His Vicars, even after they have erred. It is our role, as the entire Body of Christ, to take St. Paul’s example of both respect and also filial correction when necessary. It is our duty to heed the voice of Christ in him, and all our bishops, whenever we hear Our Lord speaking through them.”

“And how, dear Padre, will we know its Christ’s voice and not the deceiver’s?” Tom questioned.

“When the Pope speaks in the voice of Sacred Tradition. The Papacy is not one pope, Tom. I think it was Benedict who said….

The pope isn’t an absolute sovereign, whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary, the ministry of the pope is the guarantor of the obedience toward Christ and His word. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily of May 8, 2005; San Diego Union-Tribune

The waitress returned with their steaming meals. They sat in silence for a moment. Fr. Gabriel picked up his knife and began cutting his meat, while Bill stared sheepishly into his coffee cup. Tom slowly gathered his thoughts and then replied:

“So, you’re telling me I’ve gotta listen to Bergoglio? Well, I don’t have to heed this man. I’ve got a Catechism, and it tells me—”

Yes, yes, you do.” Fr. interrupted. “But I’m not telling you. The patron of your parish is telling you:

They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth.  —POPE PIUS XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (On the Mystical Body of Christ), June 29, 1943; n. 41; vatican.va

“Oh, so I must obey the Pope when he tells me that every religion is the same? That’s ridiculous,” Tom spat.

“Of course, not,” said Fr. Gabriel. “As I said—and it’s in the Catechism—the Pope doesn’t speak infallibly all the time—and that Declaration was not an infallible document. Sure, I wish things weren’t so confusing. I don’t deny that it’s doing some harm. At the same time, Christ is permitting it. And as you’ve said, you’ve got a Catechism. No Catholic should be ‘confused’, because our Faith is there in black and white.”

Turning to Bill, he continued. “I’ve told you, if Jesus didn’t think that He could bring good out of this, He could call Francis home today or appear to him in an apparition tomorrow and change everything. But He doesn’t. So… Jesus, I trust in you.”

He turned to his dish and took a few bites while Bill hailed the waitress for more coffee. Tom, visibly agitated, unfolded a napkin and placed it on his lap. Kevin began to eat as if they never fed him at the seminary.

“Men,” Fr. sighed, “we have to trust the Holy Spirit to help us through this present trial. Jesus is still building His Church—even when we hand him mud instead of bricks. But even if we had a perfect saint on the Throne of Peter, there is nothing that’s going to stop the Storm that’s passing over the world. Judgment began its course long before Pope Francis.” He looked out the window again. “We need to fast and pray like never before, not only for the Pope, but for the purification of the Church.”

Suddenly, he chuckled. “In some ways, I’m glad that Francis is making this mess.”

Kevin gagged. “Why, Fr. Gabe?”

“Because it’s taking the popes down from an unhealthy pedestal. We’ve had such theologically pristine popes this past century that we’ve begun looking to them to practically tell us what we can have for breakfast. That’s not healthy. The Church has forgotten that a pope can and does make mistakes, even to the point where his brothers and sisters need to correct him. More than that, I see Catholics sitting on their hands, waiting for the Pope to lead the charge as if he is responsible for evangelizing their neighbours. In the meantime, Our Lady is looking at each of us and saying, ‘What are you waiting for? Be my apostles of love!’ By the way, the sausages are great.”

“I can agree with that,” Bill said, ready to give up the debate—for now.

Tom took a breath to continue arguing, but Fr. Gabriel abruptly changed the subject. “So, Kevin, tell me, how it’s going over there at St. John’s?”

“Awesome,” he said. “I’m pretty sure this is my calling.”

 

RELATED READING

That Pope Francis! Part I

That Pope Francis! Part II

 

To whom did He leave the keys of this Blood?
To the glorious Apostle Peter, and to all his successors
who are or shall be till the Day of Judgment,
all of them having the same authority which Peter had,
which is not diminished by any defect of their own.
—St. Catherine of Siena, from the Book of Dialogues

 

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Reflection

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Mark 7:1-13

 

Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. [For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles (and beds).] So, the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”‘ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”

 

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for your Gospel and for all the truth it teaches me. Thank you for warning me of attitudes and dispositions that could become temptations for me. I love you for your goodness and mercy, and I entrust myself into your loving hands.

 

Petition: Lord, help me to serve you sincerely, in truth and in love.

 

  1. “This people honors me only with lip service, while their hearts are far from me.” Jesus calls his disciples to authenticity. Too often so-called disciples give the impression of following him, while at the same time accepting sensual loves and lusts in their heart. Although the Pharisees display the outward trappings of holiness, the way they treat Jesus and others betrays their true character. Jesus would call them “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 15:27): clean and bright on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones within. Self-righteousness would be their downfall. Such dispositions may lend the proud man certain short-term security, but it will always be illusory since it is not rooted in the truth. Is there any way in which I also pay tribute to God with my lips but say something else in my heart, or behave contrariwise in my actions?

 

  1. “The worship they offer me is worthless.” True worship begins with humility, when the soul recognizes that it possesses no good in and of itself, but that all of its goodness comes from God. The Pharisees offered no real worship to God since, in effect, they worshipped only themselves by relying more on their talents and goodness than on the goodness that comes from God. It is not insignificant that when Jesus describes a Pharisee’s prayer in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, he says “The Pharisee prayed this prayer to himself” (Luke 18:11). How can I make sure that my prayer is truly devoted, meaning that I am addressing Our Lord with the words of my heart?

 

  1. “You make God’s word null and void.” The Pharisees used the talents and gifts God had given them not for God’s glory, but for their own personal gain, whether that gain consisted of praise and admiration or personal comfort and ease. True worship of God, truly placing God above all else, involves using the things God created as means to reaching him. As number 226 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “It means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him:

My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.

My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.

My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.”

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for my life and all the good things you have given me. Help me to realize that you have created everything and that all I have is from you. May I use all I have to serve others and as a means to come closer to you, the source of all good.

 

Resolution: I will examine my conscience to see if I am using any of my gifts and talents to glorify or serve only myself. If so, I’ll strive to put these same gifts at the service of God.

Mark Mallett

 

ONLY JESUS WALKS ON WATER

Be Not Afraid, Liz Lemon Swindle

 

…has it not been thus throughout the history of the Church that the Pope,
the successor of Peter, has been at once
Petra and Skandalon
both the rock of God and a stumbling block?

—POPE BENEDICT XIV, from Das neue Volk Gottes, p. 80ff

 

IN Last Call: Prophets Arise!, I said that the role of all of us at this hour is simply to speak the truth in love, in season or out, without attachment to the results. That is a call to boldness, a new boldness… 

Something has changed. We have turned a corner. It is so subtle and yet so real. There is a new momentum in the powers of darkness, a new boldness and aggression. And yet, quietly, in the hearts of His children, God is also doing something new. We need to listen very carefully now to that gentle voice of His. He is preparing us for a new season, or perhaps better stated, preparing us for the hurricane winds of this Storm that are beginning to howl. He is calling you, right now, out of the world, out of Babylon. It’s going to collapse. He doesn’t want you in it. He wants you as part of his Army. He wants you, above all, to be saved because many souls are being lost as we speak. Many souls, including those in the pews of our Church, are being deceived.  Do not take your salvation for granted. These are glorious times, but they are also the most dangerous times..

 

THE TIMES ARE HERE

I have been trying to prepare readers for over a decade now for the Storm we are now passing through. In 2007 in Sorrow of SorrowsI wrote then, under the pontificate of Benedict XVI:

The Lord has been giving me interior glimpses of the confusion and bitter division which will ensue. I can only say that it will be a time of great sorrows. Sorrow of Sorrows

Six years later, I published a strong warning that rang in my heart for several weeks immediately after Benedict XVI resigned six years ago to this day:

You are now entering into dangerous and confusing times. —cf. The Storm of Confusion

What are these “great sorrows” if not the present “confusion and bitter division” we are experiencing under the current pontificate? It would be hard to believe that Our Lady of Akita was referring to another time other than the present:

The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. —October 13th, 1973

A “diabolical disorientation” would come, said Sr. Lucia of Fatima. It’s here, in spades. But Our Lady also said that these trials would serve a purpose:

In order to free men from bondage to these heresies, those whom the merciful love of my Most Holy Son has designated to effect the restoration will need great strength of will, constancy, valor and confidence in God. To test this faith and confidence of the just, there will be occasions when all will seem to be lost and paralyzed. This, then, will be the happy beginning of the complete restoration. —Our Lady of Good Success to Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres, on the Feast of the Purification, 1634; cf. catholictradition. org

“That’s fine,” I hear some of you saying. “The problem is that you are contributing to the confusion by defending Pope Francis.” Let me be as direct as I can be, then.

 

A MATTER OF JUSTICE

I received a few letters last week that were similar in nature to this particular one:

I have been following your writings for several years now and always found them compelling, in the best sense of that word, meaning they always drew me into a deeper meditation of Christ and His Church… However, I have become somewhat uncomfortable when reading your latest posts concerning the state of the Church today, particularly as it involves the hierarchy, and most especially Pope Francis… My discomfort lies with your defense of the Pope to the point that you give the impression that he is not to be held fully accountable for certain actions he has taken. Just one example would be the appointing of clerics with questionable pasts to positions of importance within the Curia… It seems to me that in your effort to head off schism within the Church, a noble goal, you have begun to justify certain realities that need to be squarely addressed.

In the words of Cardinal Raymond Burke:

It is not a question of being ‘pro-’ Pope Francis or ‘contra-’ Pope Francis. It is a question of defending the Catholic faith, and that means defending the Office of Peter to which the Pope has succeeded. —Cardinal Raymond Burke, The Catholic World Report, January 22, 2018

It has been, and continues to be a matter of justice for me. Because ultimately, my defence has more to do with Christ’s Petrine promises than with Peter himself. Either Jesus is building His
Church
 or not—despite whomever the “rock” is. Some say they believe that… but speak and act in a contrary manner that is also harmful to the Church.

One is not required to defend everything the Pope has said for the reason that some of his statements or actions are political, that is, not matters pertaining to faith and morals, and are not ex cathedra (ie. infallible). And thus, he can be wrong.

Popes have made and make mistakes and this is no surprise. Infallibility is reserved ex cathedra[“from the seat” of Peter, that is, proclamations of dogma based on Sacred Tradition]. No popes in the history of the Church have ever made ex cathedra errors. —Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, Theologian, in a personal letter

Popes can create not only confusion, but scandal. In other words, only Jesus walks on water. Even popes falter when they take their eyes off of Him.

 

JUDGE WORDS, NOT MOTIVES

And yet, one must never judge the motives of another’s heart, even if their actions appear incongruent to their words. Pope Francis has said several things that have left me scratching my head, reaching for the original text and context, consulting with theologians and professors, reading different viewpoints, and doing whatever I can to understand what Francis is trying to say—before I write you. That is, I am giving him the “benefit of the doubt” because I always hope that people do the same for me. This is, after all, what the Catechism teaches us to do:

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2478 (St. Ignatius of Loyola,Spiritual Exercises, 22.)

I assume that Pope Francis has had the best of intentions on matters of China, Islam, Communion for the divorced and remarried, climate change, his appointments of questionable men, and other contentious issues. It does not mean that I understand or even agree with his decisions. In fact, I find several of them troubling. Catholics in the underground Church in China feel betrayed; Islam remains intrinsically hostile to “unbelievers” in some of its teachings and Sharia law; Communion cannot be received by anyone who is knowingly in a state of mortal sin; climate change science is undermined by statistical fraud and ideologically driven politicians pushing Communism; and yes, clerical appointments to the Curia of men who are manifestly heretical, pro-homosexual or with sketchy pasts, is mystifying to many. Since the installation of Francis to the Chair of Peter in March of 2013, the winds of confusion have gone from a stiff breeze to a strong gale.

One commentator puts it quite wryly:

Benedict XVI intimidated the media because his words were like brilliant crystal. His successor’s words, no different in essence from Benedict’s, are like a fog. The more comments he produces spontaneously, the more he risks making his faithful disciples seem like the men with shovels who follow the elephants at the circus. 

 

THE PAIL IS FULL

I confess, my pail has begun to overflow. For some actions at the Vatican are hard to defend, or at least, they cannot adequately be explained by the known facts. Such as the wording in a document that Pope Francis recently signed with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar. It states:

The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings…  This [Declaration] is what we hope and seek to achieve with the aim of finding a universal peace that all can enjoy in this life. Document on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”. —Abu Dhabi, February 4th, 2019;vatican.va

One could perhaps speak of God’s “permissive will” in this context… but on its face, the statement is blasphemous. It implies that God is actively willing a multiplicity of contradictory ideologies and opposing “truths” in “His wisdom.” But God’s wisdom and power is the Cross, said St. Paul.[1] There is only one religion that saves and one Gospel that achieves that:

Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins… (Sunday’s Second Reading)

Here is the express will of God in Christ’s own words:

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:16)

That is, one, holy, catholic (universal) and apostolic Church. “I must lead” them, Jesus says, meaning that “you must evangelize them” so they can follow. If there is to be universal peace it won’t be the result of political platitudes or “human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning,” [2] but repentance through the preaching of the Word of God. As Jesus said to St. Faustina:

…the efforts of Satan and of evil men are shattered and come to naught. In spite of Satan’s anger, the Divine Mercy will triumph over the whole world and will be worshiped by all souls… Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy. —Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n.1789, 300

There is no fault in encouraging and fostering love and peace between peoples, especially when Christianity is being razed to the ground in the Middle East (by Islamic persecutors, no less). “Blessed are the peacemakers.” However, interreligous dialogue must always be a preparation for the Gospel. But does this document suggest to Muslims, Protestants, Jews and the rest of the world a kind of religious indifferentism? That Christianity is just one of many paths to paradise? Jesus and Scripture are clear:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me… (John 14:6)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved… (Acts 4:12)

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36)

One professor of philosophy said to me recently: “Pope Francis seems to lack a certain ‘holy fear’ of scandal.” The signing of this document has scandalized many, and not just Catholics. Yes, Jesus also created scandal—but it was always in the promotion of truth.

…as the Church’s one and only indivisible magisterium, the pope and the bishops in union with him, carry the gravest responsibility that no ambiguous sign or unclear teaching comes from them, confusing the faithful or lulling them into a false sense of security. —Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; First ThingsApril 20th, 2018

The pope isn’t an absolute sovereign, whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary, the ministry of the pope is the guarantor of the obedience toward Christ and His word. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily of May 8, 2005; San Diego Union-Tribune

 

ILL ADVISORS?

So, is there more to this than meets the eye? On his return flight home, the Pope admitted to feeling uneasy about the Declaration and one sentence in particular—assumedly this one. However, Francis says he ran the text through his papal theologian, Father Wojciech Giertych, O.P., who “approved it.” However, Fr. Wojciech claims he never saw it. [3] This raises another question: who exactly is advising the Pope, and how well?

Massimo Franco is one of the leading “Vaticanists” and a correspondent for the Italian daily Corriere dela Sera. He suggests that the Pope’s desire to move out of the papal apartments into community living at Santa Marta has done more harm than good.

I must say, the Santa Marta system hasn’t worked, because an informal court, de facto, has been created and the Pope is realizing more and more that the people who have his ear don’t give him accurate information and sometimes, even not true information.

Franco adds:

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Guardian of the Faith, a German cardinal, fired some months ago by the Pope—some say in a very abrupt way—said in a recent interview that the Pope is surrounded by spies, who tend not to tell him the truth, but what the Pope wants to hear. —Inside the Vatican, March 2018, p. 15

As I was composing this article, Cardinal Müller released a “Manifesto of Faith” that succinctly reaffirms the reason d’être of the Catholic Church. It is the kind of clear teaching that not only dispels confusion, but is our duty.

 

THESE ARE NOT ORDINARY TIMES

I think it is obvious that these are not ordinary times. I believe they are, in fact, the signs of a coming and imminent judgment on mankind, beginning with the Church. “For it is time for the judgment to begin with the household of God,” wrote the first pope. [4] As sexual abuse, doctrinal confusion, sophistries and clerical silence become painfully obvious, it is no wonder why.

These things in truth are so sad that you might say that such events foreshadow and portend the “beginning of sorrows,” that is to say of those that shall be brought by the man of sin, “who is lifted up above all that is called God or is worshiped.”  (2 Thes 2:4)—POPE PIUS X, Miserentissimus Redemptor, Encyclical Letter on Reparation to the Sacred Heart, May 8th, 1928; http://www.vatican.va

Given everything that has occurred in the last century, most notably the increase in Marian apparitions (“the Woman clothed in the sun”), we may very well be living those prophetic words in the Catechism:

Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth willunveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist… Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 675

It is our silence that creates The Great Vacuum, which the Antichrist will fill:

To keep silent about these and the other truths of the Faith and to teach people accordingly is the greatest deception against which the Catechism vigorously warns. It represents the last trial of the Church and leads man to a religious delusion, “the price of their apostasy” (CCC 675); it is the fraud of Antichrist. —Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Catholic News Agency, February 8th, 2019

 

STAY ON THE BARQUE, EYES FIXED ON JESUS

In a letter to me last week, stalwart preacher and author, Fr. John Hampsch, now in his early nineties, wrote:

God’s battered ship is wildly listing now, as it often has in past centuries, but Jesus promises it will always “stay afloat”—“to the end of the age”(Matt. 28:20). Please, for love of God, don’t jump ship! You’ll regret it—most “lifeboats” have no oars!

I sincerly believe that Pope Francis is motivated by a desire to love everyone who crosses his path. It must be our desire too. And the most loving thing we can do is lead others into the truth that will set them free, which is the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. If there ever was a time to pray and fast for the Pope and the strengthening and purification of the Church, it is now. Be generous. Pour out your heart before the Lord and offer Him your sacrifices. As Lent nears, may it truly be a time of grace for you, and through your generosity, for the Church and the world.

Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman, blessed by the Most High!
Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era, we join your song of praise 
to celebrate the Lord’s mercy, to proclaim the coming of the kingdom
and the full liberation of humanity.
—POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II at Lourdes, 2004

 

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Jon Leonetti

 

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