Dear young people, it is up to you to be the watchmen of the morning
who announce the coming of the sun
who is the Risen Christ!
—POPE JOHN PAUL II, Message of the Holy Father
to the Youth of the World,
XVII World Youth Day, n. 3; (cf. Is 21:11-12)
WHEN the sun sets, even though it is the beginning of nightfall, we enter into a vigil. It is the anticipation of a new dawn. Every Saturday evening, the Catholic Church celebrates a vigil Mass precisely in anticipation of the “day of the Lord”—Sunday—even though our communal prayer is made on the threshold of midnight and the deepest darkness.
I believe this is the period that we are living now—that vigil that “anticipates” if not hastens the Day of the Lord. And just as dawn announces the rising Sun, so too, there is a dawn before the Day of the Lord. That dawn is the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In fact, there are signs already that this dawn is approaching….
On November 14th, 2017, one of the seers of the famed apparitions at Medjugorje (which the Ruini Commission, appointed by Pope Benedict, approved in its first stages) made a comment that made some waves during her testimony in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna:
Due to poor communication where the English translator stumbles, the initial translation was that this year—2017—the Immaculate Heart would triumph. However, to many of us, this sounded incorrect for a number of obvious reasons. Indeed, it has since been confirmed that what Marija said is that she believes it “begins” this year. This would also corroborate with what Mirjana, one of the other six seers, wrote recently in her autobiography:
Our Lady told me many things that I cannot yet reveal. For now, I can only hint at what our future holds, but I do see indications that the events are already in motion. Things are slowly starting to develop. As Our Lady says, look at the signs of the times, and pray.—My Heart Will Triumph, p. 369; CatholicShop Publishing, 2016
For seers who have been extremely tight-lipped on giving any kind of indication on the timing of coming events (beyond that they will happen within their lifetimes), these are fairly significant comments. Nonetheless, they should be properly discerned along with the rest of the “signs of the times” and always set into the proper context: what God asks of us now is the same as always—to simply be faithful to Him in all things.
And then there is this blunt insight from Patriarch Kirill, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, who also sees crucial developments on the horizon:
…we are entering a critical period in the course of human civilization. This can already be seen with the naked eye. You have to be blind not to notice the approaching awe-inspiring moments in history that the apostle and evangelist John was talking about in the Book of Revelation. —Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow; November 20th, 2017; rt.com
What signs, exactly, do these souls see on the horizon?
THE “SIGNS OF THE TIMES”
I think we can understand better what is here and coming if I briefly recap what the early Church Fathers taught. And that is that the “Day of the Lord” is not a twenty-four hour day, but a symbol of a period of time in the future when Christ would reign in a decisive way in His Church. They saw this “Day” as represented by the “thousand years” spoken of in the Book of Revelation after the death of Antichrist and the chaining of Satan. 
The most authoritative view, and the one that appears to be most in harmony with Holy Scripture, is that, after the fall of the Antichrist, the Catholic Church will once again enter upon a period of prosperity and triumph. —Fr. Charles Arminjon (1824-1885), The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life, p. 56-57; Sophia Institute Press
What is pertinent to the present discussion is how they saw the Day of the Lord unfold…
…this day of ours, which is bounded by the rising and the setting of the sun, is a representation of that great day to which the circuit of a thousand years affixes its limits. —Lactantius, Fathers of the Church: The Divine Institutes, Book VII, Chapter 14, Catholic Encyclopedia; http://www.newadvent.org
As Church Father Lactantius notes, the end of one day and the beginning of the next is marked by the “setting of the sun.” That is why the Catholic Church anticipates Sunday, “the day of the Lord”, with the Saturday evening vigil Mass, or the day of Christ’s Resurrection with the Easter Vigil.
Given this analogy, can we not see the sun setting in our times as we begin the third millennium? Indeed, Pope Benedict XIV compared this present hour to the collapse of the Roman Empire:
The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, December 20th, 2010
It is as though we have entered the vigil hour. But clearly, some souls alive to the “signs of the times” see certain significant develops occurring in 2017.
In 2010, Pope Benedict delivered a homily on May 13th in Fatima where Our Lady promised in 1917 that “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” He too made a passing reference to 2017, which is the hundredth year after that promise was made:
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,
I said the “triumph” will draw closer. This is equivalent in meaning to our praying for the coming of God’s Kingdom. This statement was not intended—I may be too rationalistic for that—to express any expectation on my part that there is going to be a huge turnaround and that history will suddenly take a totally different course. 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
In other words, Pope Benedict was perfectly describing the approach of a new Day that begins in the darkness of vigil, increases with the appearance of the Morning Star, the first rays of Dawn, until at last, the Son rises.
THE DARKNESS OF VIGIL
Benedict uses the word “restrained”, which evokes the same term used once by St. Paul in 2 Thessalonians when the Apostle refers to a time of apostasy or lawlessness that would precede the Antichrist, the “lawless one”, who is presently “restrained” by something unspecified:
And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene. (2 Thess 2:6-7)
The essential point is that the tides of evil advance when there are not “enough righteous men” (and women) to push them back. As Pope Pius X said:
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 has been the consistent message of Our Lady in all her apparitions around the world since Fatima: the need for conversion and the active participation of the Church in the salvation of souls through penance, reparation, and our witness. That is, her Triumph will not happen without the body of Christ. This much is suggested in Genesis 3:15 when God addresses the serpent in the Eden:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel. (NAB)
One of the most serious “signs of the times,” as highlighted by Patriarch Kirill and nearly every pope of the last century or more,  is the increase of wickedness and chilling of charity as immorality, division, and war spread throughout the world.
And thus, even against our will, the thought rises in the mind that now those days draw near of which Our Lord prophesied: “And because iniquity has abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). —POPE PIUS XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor, Encyclical on Reparation to the Sacred Heart, n. 17
And so then, in this hour of vigil when the flame of faith is dimming and the light of truth is being snuffed out in the world, Benedict asks:
Why not ask [Jesus] 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
THE MORNING STAR
One of the titles of Jesus in Scripture is “morning star”. But Christ also applies it to those who are faithful to Him:
I myself have received power from my Father; and I will give him the morning star. (Rev 2:27-28)
It may refer to the perfect communion with the Lord enjoyed by those who persevere to the end: the symbolism of the power given to the victors… sharing in the resurrection and glory of Christ. —The Navarre Bible, Revelation; footnote, p. 50
Who is more in perfect communion with the Lord than Our Lady, she who is “the image of the Church to come”?  Indeed, she is:
Mary, the shining star that announces the Sun. —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, Meeting with Young People at Air Base of Cuatro Vientos, Madrid, Spain; May 3rd, 2003; www.vatican.va
As such, her apparitions herald the proximity of the Day of the Lord, more specifically, Dawn. As St. Louis de Montfort taught:
The Holy Spirit speaking through the Fathers of the Church, also calls our Lady the Eastern Gate, through which the High Priest, Jesus Christ, enters and goes out into the world. Through this gate he entered the world the first time and through this same gate he will come the second time.—St. Louis de Montfort, Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, n. 262
Here also is a key to understanding Our Lady’s apparitions and her role at this hour. If she is an image of the Church, then the Church is likewise to become an image of her.
When either is spoken of, the meaning can be understood of both, almost without qualification. —Blessed Isaac of Stella, Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. I, pg. 252
It is precisely when “righteous men and women” conform themselves to Mary in her “fiat”, that the “morning star” will begin to rise in them as a sign that the Dawn is approaching and the breaking of Satan’s power.
The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. He will fill them with his gifts, especially wisdom, by which they will produce wonders of grace… —St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, n.217, Montfort Publications
Then the legion of little souls, victims of merciful Love, will become as numerous ‘as the stars of heaven and the sands of the seashore’. It will be terrible to Satan; it will help the Blessed Virgin to crush his proud head completely. —St. Thérése of Lisieux, The Legion of Mary Handbook, p. 256-257
This is why Our Lady is appearing daily now in places throughout the world. Because it is our response, and our response alone, that will determine the longevity and intensity of the hard labor pains that are beginning to besiege the world.
You will be the dawning of a new day, if you are the bearers of the Life, which is Christ! —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Young People of Apostolic Nunciature, Lima Peru, May 15th, 1988; www.vatican.va
In the approved revelations to Elizabeth Kindelmann, Our Lady speaks of the coming of the “Flame of Love” of her Immaculate Heart which “is Jesus Christ himself.”  It is an interior coming of Jesus in the hearts of His faithful through the Eastern Gate, who is the Blessed Mother:
The soft light of my Flame of Love will light up spreading fire over the entire surface of the earth, humiliating Satan rendering him powerless, completely disabled. Do not contribute to prolong the pains of childbirth. —Our Lady to Elizabeth Kindelmann; The Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, “Spiritual Diary”, p. 177; Imprimatur Archbishop Péter Erdö, Primate of Hungary
We possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:19)
…turning our eyes to the future, we confidently await the dawn of a new Day… As the third millennium of the Redemption draws near, God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity and we can already see its first signs. May Mary, the Morning Star, help us to say with ever new ardor our “yes” to the Father’s plan for salvation that all nations and tongues may see his glory. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Message for World Mission Sunday, n.9, October 24th, 1999; www.vatican.va
IS THE EASTERN GATE OPENING?
If the Triumph is “beginning”, then what are its signs? The answer, at this moment, is not so much the visible signs of “light”—as though we see the first rays of dawn—but the arrival of the vigil which precedes it.
My children, it is a time of vigilance. In this vigil I am calling you to prayer, love and trust. As my Son will be looking in your hearts, my motherly heart desires for Him to see unconditional trust and love in them. The united love of my apostles will live, will conquer, and will expose evil. —Our Lady allegedly to Mirjana, November 2nd, 2016
Remarkably, we are now seeing evil exposed in a most unexpected way as scandals, both within the Church and in the secular realm, are coming to light. It’s almost as if the anticipation of Dawn is already manifesting.
After purification through trial and suffering, the dawn of a new era is about to break.—POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, General Audience, September 10, 2003
Moreover, Jesus referred to the events that would precede and accompany the Day of the Lord as “labor pains” that will precede a new birth, a “resurrection” or “triumph” of the Church. St. John refers to these pains as the breaking of the “seals” in Revelation. It is the culmination of wars, division, famine, economic collapse, plagues, and earthquakes from place to place. It is also the rise of false prophets who, above all, promote an anti-gospel—a solution to the world’s problems at the price of apostasy from Christ and His Church. Do we not see this in the misleading promises of science, the false peace of political correctness, and social-engineering by those “anonymous powers”, those “Masters of conscience” who are forcing mankind into a singular way of thinking?
It is not the beautiful globalization of unity of all Nations, each one with their own customs, instead it is the globalization of hegemonic uniformity, it is the single thought. And this sole thought is the fruit of worldliness. —POPE FRANCIS, Homily, November 18th, 2013; Zenit
How many people in our times now believe that the triumph of good over evil in the world will be achieved through social revolution or social evolution? How many have succumbed to the belief that man will save himself when sufficient knowledge and energy are applied to the human condition? I would suggest that this intrinsic perversity now dominates the entire Western world. —Michael D. O’Brien, author, artist, and lecturer; talk at St. Patrick’s basilica in Ottawa, Canada, September 20th, 2005; studiobrien.com
It is this individualism that Pope Benedict sees as the most “terrifying sign of the times”:
…there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a “better than” and a “worse than”. Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, December 20th, 2010
If the final stages of the Triumph are “beginning” this year, then we can expect that evil will continue to be exposed as the consciences of this generation are (literally?) shaken; an increase in natural disasters and wars and rumour of wars; further fomentation of a massive collapse in the economy; and more importantly, expect to see Our Lady to continue quietly triumphing in hearts. For the dawn never comes all at once. It is ‘quiet… but real nonetheless.’
When will it happen, this fiery deluge of pure love with which you are to set the whole world ablaze and which is to come, so gently yet so forcefully, that all nations…. will be caught up in its flames and be converted? …When you breathe your Spirit into them, they are restored and the face of the earth is renewed. Send this all-consuming Spirit upon the earth to create priests who burn with this same fire and whose ministry will renew the face of the earth and reform your Church. —From God Alone: The Collected Writings of St. Louis Marie de Montfort; April 2014, Magnificat, p. 331
THE FAITHFUL SONS
The priesthood has been at the heart of many of Our Lady’s prophetic revelations in the coming defeat of Satan. Another sign of her approaching Triumph must certainly be the army of young priests emerging today who are faithful sons to Christ and His Church. If Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, which is one of her titles in the Church—then her Triumph and the triumph of the Church have been prefigured in the Old Testament in a victory that comes at dawn.
When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord, your God, which the levitical priests will carry, you must break camp and follow it, that you may know the way to take, for you have not gone over this road before… Joshua had the priests take up the ark of the Lord. The seven priests bearing the ram’s horns marched in front of the ark of the Lord… on the seventh day, beginning at daybreak, they marched around the city seven times in the same manner… As the horns blew, the people began to shout… the wall collapsed, and the people stormed the city in a frontal attack and took it. (Joshua 3:3-4; 5:13-6:21)
We are given reason to believe that, towards the end of time and perhaps sooner than we expect, God will raise up people filled with the Holy Spirit and imbued with the spirit of Mary. Through them Mary, Queen most powerful, will work great wonders in the world, destroying sin and setting up the kingdom of Jesus her Son upon the RUINS of the corrupt kingdom which is this great earthly Babylon. (Rev.18:20) —St. Louis de Montfort, Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin,n. 58-59
Last, a sign that the Triumph is nearing is the fact that St. John Paul II asked the youth in 2002 to herald it:
I did not hesitate to ask them to make a radical choice of faith and life and present them with a stupendous task: to become “morning watchmen” at the dawn of the new millennium… watchmen who proclaim to the world a new dawn of hope, brotherhood and peace. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Novo Millennio Inuente, n.9; Address to the Guanelli Youth Movement, April 20th, 2002, www.vatican.va
But even this night in the world shows clear signs of a dawn that will come, of a new day receiving the kiss of a new and more resplendent sun… A new resurrection of Jesus is necessary: a true resurrection, which admits no more lordship of death… In individuals, Christ must destroy the night of mortal sin with the dawn of grace regained. —POPE PIUX XII, Urbi et Orbi address,March 2nd, 1957; vatican.va
The Church, which comprises the elect, is fittingly styled daybreak or dawn… It will be fully day for her when she shines with the perfect brilliance of interior light. —St. Gregory the Great, Pope; Liturgy of the Hours, Vol III, p. 308 (see also The Smoldering Candle and Wedding Preparations to understand the coming corporate mystical union, which will be preceded by a “dark night of the soul” for the Church.)
…through the tender mercy of our God…
the day shall dawn upon us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.