THE WOMAN IN THE WILDERNESS
Posted on by Mark
May God grant each of you and your families a blessed Lent…
HOW is the Lord going to safeguard His people, the Barque of His Church, through the rough waters ahead? How — if the entire world is being forced into a godless global system of control — is the Church possibly going to survive?
The Woman Clothed in the Sun
It’s not me, it’s not Catholics, it’s not some medieval invention – but Sacred Scripture itself that frames the “final confrontation” with Antichrist in a Marian dimension. It begins with the prophecy in Genesis 3:15 that the offspring of the “woman” would crush the head of the serpent (realized in the Blessed Mother through her Son, Jesus Christ, and His followers). It ends with Revelation Chapter 12 and the “woman clothed in the sun” and her “offspring” (Rev 12:17) again in confrontation with the “dragon”. Clearly, Satan finds himself in a decisive battle involving the Blessed Virgin Mary and her children — Our Lady and the Church, with Christ as the firstborn.
Everyone knows that this woman signified the Virgin Mary, the stainless one who brought forth our Head. The Apostle continues: “And, being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered” (Apoc. xii., 2). John therefore saw the Most Holy Mother of God already in eternal happiness, yet travailing in a mysterious childbirth. What birth was it? Surely it was the birth of us who, still in exile, are yet to be generated to the perfect charity of God, and to eternal happiness. And the birth pains show the love and desire with which the Virgin from heaven above watches over us, and strives with unwea rying prayer to bring about the fulfillment of the number of the elect. —POPE PIUX X, Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, n. 24; vatican.va
And yet, we read that this “woman clothed in the sun” is taken into the “wilderness” where God cares for her for 1260 days, or three and a half years during the reign of the “beast.” Since Our Lady, herself, is already in Heaven, the identity of this Woman in the Apocalypse is obviously much broader:
At the center of the vision that Revelation presents is the extremely significant image of the Woman, who gives birth to a male Child, and the complementary vision of the Dragon, which has fallen from the heavens, but is still very powerful. This Woman represents Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, but she represents at the same time the whole Church, the People of God of all times, the Church that at all times, with great pain, again gives birth to Christ. And she is always threatened by the power of the Dragon. She seems defenseless, weak. But, while she is threatened, pursued by the Dragon, she is also protected by God’s consolation. And this Woman, at the end, is victorious. The Dragon does not conquer. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Castel Gandolfo, Italy, August 23, 2006; Zenit; cf. catholic.org
This is consonant with the early Church Fathers, such as Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170 – c. 235), who commented on St. John’s passage:
By the woman then clothed with the sun, he meant most manifestly the Church, endued with the Father’s word, whose brightness is above the sun. — “Christ and the Antichrist”, n. 61, newadvent.org
Other indications that the “woman” is a reference to the Church are, for example, that the woman is “in anguish” as she labors to give birth. According to both Scripture and Tradition, it is commonly held that the Blessed Virgin Mary was exempt from the curse of Eve: “in pain you shall bring forth children.”
And just as Our Lady is at once part of the Church and Mother of the Church, so too, the Woman — and the “male child” to whom she gives birth in Revelation 12:5 — can be seen as both Mother Church and her baptized offspring.
John, therefore, saw the Most Holy Mother of God already in eternal happiness, yet travailing in a mysterious childbirth. What birth was it? Surely it was the birth of us who, still in exile, are yet to be generated to the perfect charity of God, and to eternal happiness. And the birth pains show the love and desire with which the Virgin from heaven above watches over us, and strives with unwearying prayer to bring about the fulfillment of the number of the elect. —POPE PIUS X, Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, n. 24
One last observation. The “male child” is “destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod” (Rev 12:5). While certainly fulfilled in Christ, Jesus Himself promises that, to the one who is victorious, He will share His authority:
To the victor, who keeps to my ways until the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. (Rev 2:26-27)
Thus, clearly, the Woman in Revelation 12 figuratively represents both Our Lady and the Church.
…the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [ie. 3.5 years]. (Rev 12:14, RSV)
There has emerged in the past several decades the concept of coming “refuges” — places of supernatural protection for God’s people. In St. John’s Revelation, this would be equated to the “wilderness” or what Doctor of the Church, St. Francis de Sales, calls “deserts” or “solitudes.” Speaking of the apostasy (revolt) and its accompanying tribulations, he writes:
The revolt [revolution] and separation must come…the Sacrifice shall cease and…the Son of Man shall hardly find faith on earth… All these passages are understood of the affliction which Antichrist shall cause in the Church… But the Church… shall not fail, and shall be fed and preserved amidst the deserts and solitudes to which She shall retire, as the Scripture says, (Apoc. Ch. 12). —St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church, from The Catholic Controversy: A Defense of the Faith, Vol III (Burns and Oates, 1886), Ch X.5
Church Father Lactantius also referred to these apparent places of refuge as “solitudes” that would be provided during a period that sounds very much like global Communism:
As many as shall believe him and unite themselves to him, shall be marked by him as sheep; but they who shall refuse his mark will either flee to the mountains, or, being seized, will be slain with studied tortures… all things shall be confounded and mixed together against right, and against the laws of nature. Thus the earth shall be laid waste, as though by one common robbery.  When these things shall so happen, then the righteous and the followers of truth shall separate themselves from the wicked, and flee into solitudes. —Lactantius, The Divine Institutes, Book VII, Ch. 17
While the Woman of Revelation is indeed victorious in the end, it is also clear that the “beast” is permitted to suppress the Church to a large degree as an instrument of her own passion, death and, ultimately, resurrection.
It was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. (Revelation 13:7)
However, there are two things that limit the extent of the Antichrist’s persecution. First, as already stated, is that God will shelter a remnant “in the wilderness” from this satanic Storm. From a purely rational standpoint, the physical preservation of the Church is certain: “the powers of death shall not prevail against it,” said Jesus, “and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” 
The Church “is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 763
Were the Church to be eradicated, Christ’s promise would be empty and Satan would triumph. Therefore,
It is necessary that a small flock subsist, no matter how small it might be. —POPE PAUL VI, The Secret Paul VI, Jean Guitton, p. 152-153, Reference (7), p. ix.
Finally, Christ will preserve His Church by simply limiting the Antichrist’s power:
Even the demons are checked by good angels lest they harm as much as they would. In like manner, Antichrist will not do as much harm as he would wish. —St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part I, Q.113, Art. 4
Physical and Spiritual Refuge
The most crucial aspect of Divine Providence is not the physical but spiritual preservation of Christ’s Bride. I spoke at length about this in The Refuge for Our Times. As Our Lord himself said:
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. (Luke 17:33)
Thus, Christians are called to shine in the darkness, even at the cost of their lives — not extinguish the Light of Christ beneath the bushel-basket of self-preservation.  And yet, notes Peter Bannister MTh., MPhil., the spiritual and physical protection of the Church are not at odds with each other.
…there are ample Biblical precedents for pointing to a physical dimension to the concept of a refuge. It should naturally be stressed that physical preparation is, of course, of little or no value should it not be accompanied by an act of radical and ongoing trust in Divine Providence; but this by no means implies that heaven’s prophetic warnings cannot also insist on practical action in the material realm. It could be argued that to see this as somehow inherently “unspiritual” is to set up a false dichotomy between the spiritual and the material that in some respects is closer to Gnosticism than to the incarnate faith of Christian Tradition. Or else, to put it more mildly, to forget that we are human beings of flesh and blood rather than angels! — cf. Are There Physical Refuges?
In Catholic mystical tradition, the idea that the elect will be protected in a place of refuge during a time both of persecution and Divine chastisement can, for example, be seen in the visions of Blessed Elisabetta Canori Mora whose spiritual journal was recently published by the Vatican’s own publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
At that moment I saw four green trees appear, covered with very precious flowers and fruits. The mysterious trees were in the form of a cross; they were surrounded by a very resplendent light, which […] went to open all the doors of the monasteries of nuns and religious. Through an interior feeling I understood that the holy apostle [Peter] had established those four mysterious trees in order to give a place of refuge for the little flock of Jesus Christ, to free the good Christians from the terrible chastisement that will turn the whole world upside down. —Blessed Elisabetta Canori Mora (1774-1825)
“While the language here is evidently allegorical,” notes Bannister, “we can also point to mystics for whom in which this notion of Divine protection takes on a concrete geographical aspect.” Take Marie-Julie Jahenny (1850-1941) to whom it was revealed at the time that the whole region of Brittany would be protected.
I have come to this land of Brittany because I find generous hearts there […] My refuge will also be for those of my children whom I love and who do not all live on its soil. It will be a refuge of peace in the midst of plagues, a very strong and powerful shelter that nothing will be able to destroy. The birds fleeing the storm will take refuge in Brittany. The land of Brittany is within my power. My Son told me: “My Mother, I give you complete power over Brittany.” This refuge belongs to me and also to my good mother St Anne. —Our Lady to Marie-Julie, March 25, 1878; (a prominent French pilgrimage site, St. Anne d’Auray, is found in Brittany)
Then there is American seer, Jennifer, who was encouraged to diffuse her messages by prominent figures within the Vatican after subsequent translation and presentation of her locutions to Pope John Paul II through the late Fr. Seraphim Michalenko (vice-postulator for the cause of St. Faustina’s beatification). Her messages speak of both the physical and spiritual aspects of “refuge”:
My child, Be prepared! Be prepared! Be prepared! Take heed to My words, for as the time begins to close in, the attacks that will be unleashed by Satan will be at unprecedented proportions. Diseases will come forth and culminate My people, and your homes will be a safe haven until My angels guide you to your place of refuge. The days of blackened cities is coming forth. You, My child, have been given a great mission… for the boxcars will come forth: Storm after storm; war will break out, and many will stand before Me. This world will be brought to its knees in the blink of an eye. Now go forth for I am Jesus, and be at peace, for all will be done according to My will. —February 23rd, 2007
My child, I ask My children, where is your refuge? Is your refuge in worldly pleasures or in My Most Sacred Heart? —January 1, 2011; see Jennifer – On Refuges
Echoing the revelations at Fatima, Our Lady spoke of the Great Storm or “Tempest”  through which both physical and spiritual protection will be necessary:
In these times, you all need to hasten to take shelter in the refuge of my Immaculate Heart, because grave threats of evil are hanging over you. These are first of all evils of a spiritual order, which can harm the supernatural life of your souls… There are evils of a physical order, such as infirmity, disasters, accidents, droughts, earthquakes, and incurable diseases which are spreading about… There are evils of a social order… To be protected from all these evils, I invite you to place yourselves under shelter in the safe refuge of my Immaculate Heart. —Our Lady to Fr. Stefano Gobbi, June 7th, 1986, n. 326 of the Blue Book with Imprimatur
This is affirmed in the messages to Luz de Maria Bonnila, who enjoys ecclesiastical approval:
Stay within the refuge of the Sacred Hearts of our King and Lord Jesus Christ and of our Queen and Mother. Afterwards you will be guided by my legions to the shelters prepared for your protection. Homes truly dedicated to the Sacred Hearts are already refuges. You will never be forsaken by the hand of God. —St. Michael the Archangel, February 22nd, 2021
Other messages that confirm this prophetic consensus:
Prepare safe refuges, prepare your houses like little churches and I will be there with you. A revolt is near, both inside and outside the Church. —Our Lady to Gisella Cardia, May 19, 2020
A change of life is necessary so that you might be directed by My angels to the physical refuges that are found throughout the Earth, where you will have to live in total fraternity. —Jesus to Luz de Maria Bonnila, September 15, 2022
Trust in Me and My will for you, for many places are being prepared all around this world for My faithful to take refuge in. My angels will surround this place with great protection, but it is important that they are blessed and consecrated to My Most Sacred Heart. —Jesus to Jennifer, June 15, 2004
The Two Arks
These are not normal times. They are, according to Our Lady and the consensus of the popes, the “end times”, though not the end of the world. Put another way, we are living “as in the days of Noah.” As such, God has essentially provided an “Ark” for His People that is multi-dimensional: the Woman-Mary and the Woman-Church. As Blessed Isaac of Stella said:
When either [Mary or the Church] is spoken of, the meaning can be understood of both, almost without qualification. —Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. I, pg. 252
As you just read, the Heart of Our Lady has been given to her spiritual children to mother, protect, and guide them to Jesus.
My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. —Our Lady of Fatima, June 13, 1917, The Revelation of the Two Hearts in Modern Times, www.ewtn.com
My Mother is Noah’s Ark… —Jesus to Elizabeth Kindelmann, The Flame of Love, p. 109; Imprimatur from Archbishop Charles Chaput
The Ark is also the Catholic Church, who despite the sins of her members, remains a supernatural vessel whereby the People of God are safeguarded in truth and grace until the end of time.
The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.” According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 845
The Church is thy hope, the Church is thy salvation, the Church is thy refuge. —St. John Chrysostom, Hom. de capto Euthropio, n. 6.; cf. E Supremi, n. 9, vatican.va
Hence, as I noted recently, the chief antidote to the Antichrist is to:
Stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours. (2 Thess 2:13, 15; cf. Antidotes to Antichrist)
That is, remain in the Barque of Peter, holding fast to Sacred Tradition and the deposit of faith — no matter how wild the Storm becomes.
Last, consecrate yourself to Our Lady and her Immaculate heart. For…
Clearly from earliest times, the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title of Mother of God, under whose protection the faithful took refuge in all their dangers and necessities (sub tuum praesidium: “Under your protection”). —Lumen Gentium, n. 66, Vatican II
The word consecrate means to “set apart” or “make sacred.” In other words, to consecrate yourself to Mother Mary is to be set apart from the world and let her mother you in the way she mothered Jesus. Even Martin Luther had that part right:
Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees… If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother. —Christmas Sermon, 1529
We consecrate ourselves to her in imitation of St. John:
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)
You can “take her into your home” as did St John simply by praying:
My Lady, I invite you to come into my home,
to live in my heart alongside your Son, Jesus my Lord.
As you raised Him, raise me to be a faithful child of God.
I consecrate myself to you in order to be
set apart to live in the Divine Will.
I give my full “yes” and fiat to God.
All I am, and all I’m not,
all my goods, both spiritual and physical,
I place in your loving hands, dear Mother —
just as the Heavenly Father placed Jesus into yours.
I am totally yours now so that I may be totally Jesus’s. Amen. 
Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes
this unique mediation of Christ, but rather
shows its power.
—Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 970
Brothers and sisters, whether you or I live beyond tonight, whether we die from natural causes tomorrow, whether we are martyred next year, or whether we will be preserved for the “Era of Peace”, we do not know. What is certain is that, for those who are faithful to Christ, He will preserve them from eternal death. As the great Psalm of “refuge” promises:
Because he clings to Me I will deliver him;
because he knows My name I will set him on high.
He will call upon me and I will answer;
I will be with him in distress;
I will deliver him and give him honor. (Psalm 91)
So, fix your eyes on Heaven; fix your eyes on Jesus and leave the temporal concerns to Him. He will provide our “daily bread” in whatever form is for our greatest good. And so…
…if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. (Rom 14:8)
You are loved.
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|↑1||Some versions and authoritative documents read: “she will crush” its head. But as St. John Paul II points out, “…this version [in the Latin] does not agree with the Hebrew text, in which it is not the woman but her offspring, her descendant, who will bruise the serpent’s head. This text then does not attribute the victory over Satan to Mary but to her Son. Nevertheless, since the biblical concept establishes a profound solidarity between the parent and the offspring, the depiction of the Immaculata crushing the serpent, not by her own power but through the grace of her Son, is consistent with the original meaning of the passage.” (“Mary’s Emnity toward Satan was Absolute”; General Audience, May 29th, 1996; ewtn.com)|
|↑2||cf. Col 1:15|
|↑3||“Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she was delivered of a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things?” (Isaiah 66:22)|
|↑4||“From Eve we are born children of wrath; from Mary we have received Jesus Christ, and through Him are regenerated children of grace. To Eve it was said: In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children. Mary was exempt from this law, for preserving her virginal integrity inviolate she brought forth Jesus the Son of God without experiencing, as we have already said, any sense of pain.” (Council of Trent, Article III)|
|↑6||cf. Isaiah’s Prophecy of Global Communism|
|↑7||cf. The Resurrection of the Church|
|↑8||cf. Matt 16:18, RSV; Douay-Rheims: “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”|
|↑10||cf. The Hour to Shine|
|↑11||cf. The Refuge for Our Times|
|↑12||cf. On Refuges – Part II|
|↑13||cf. Blue Book n. 154|
|↑15||cf. Why Aren’t the Popes Shouting?|
|↑16||cf. Matt 24:34|
|↑17||for an extended prayer of consecration by St. Louis de Montfort, see The Blessed Helpers; see consecration.org for more resources|
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