THE GREATEST GIFT THE WORLD WILL EVER KNOW
There is nothing more loving, beautiful, powerful, healing, and wise than receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.
Think about this:
God has given us Himself – body and blood, soul and Divinity – to become one with us in love.
Never let that do anything other than amaze you.
Friends, be confident in Christ’s mercy and love.

LEARNING FROM THE SAINTS
“If angels could be jealous of us, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.” (St. Maximilian Kolbe)

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Bring joy to our hearts, Lord. The joy that is you. Amen.
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The Art of Getting Over Yourself

And Why You’ll Be Happier When You Do

By Jon Leonetti
“…a timely dagger into a modern culture obsessed with self.”
– Mark Hart, Catholic speaker and author.
“Inspiring. Engaging. And fun. Well done!”
– Allen Hunt, Senior Adviser, Dynamic Catholic

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An Invincible Faith in Jesus

 

Dear brothers and sisters, the past two weeks here have been crazy. You read about the storm that hit us. An insurance agent called the damage here “catastrophic,” so we have a long recovery ahead. At the same time, I began inexplicably losing hearing in my left ear, I need a tooth pulled, and our family vehicle just had a major breakdown this past weekend costing thousands. Pretty crazy, eh? But through it all, this writing has been on my heart. The more we suffer, the more we need to surrender; the more we enter darkness, the more we must walk by faith; the more uncertain things become, the more we must turn to the Great Certainty: God the Father, who loves us unconditionally, and who allows suffering in order to purify and discipline us. That purification, in turn, empties us more and more so that we can be filled with Him that much more. 

This week, our third daughter is getting married, which then brings us into hay season. So if my writings are sparse over the next few weeks, that is why. Also, thank you so much to everyone who donated this past week to our family to help with all that’s happened here. It’s hard for me at times, as “the provider” in my home, to rely on Divine Providence (ie. to be a “beggar”), but at the same time, it has helped me see just how much we are in God’s loving hands. Bless you and thank you…. and together, in your trials and mine, let us cultivate an Invincible Faith in Jesus. 

First published May 31st, 2017.

 

HOLLYWOOD has been overrun with a glut of super hero movies. There is practically one in theatres, somewhere, almost constantly now. Perhaps it speaks of something deep within the psyche of this generation, an era in which true heroes are now few and far between; a reflection of a world longing for real greatness, if not, a real Savior…

 

CALL TO HEROIC FAITH

While your faith in Christ and to His teachings, right now, might seem to bother others; while they might dismiss you, for now, as a fundamentalist, a “right-winger”, or fanatic… the day is coming when your faith in God will be an anchor to possibly thousands around you. Hence, Our Lady continually calls you and me to prayer and conversion so that we will become the spiritual “super-heroes” the world so desperately needs. Don’t miss this call!

This is why the Father is permitting so many sufferings within the Church, our families and life situations: He is showing us that we must have an invincible faith in Jesus. He is going to strip the Church of everything so that we will have nothing but Him.[1] There is a Great Shaking coming, and when it does, the world will be searching for true superheroes: men and women who have real answers to hopeless crises. False prophets will be ready for them… but so will Our Lady, who is preparing an army of men and women to gather the prodigal sons and daughters of this generation before the Day of Justice. [2]

If the Lord has not lifted the heavy cross from your shoulders yet; if He has not delivered you from your helpless situation; if you find yourself struggling with the same faults and stumbling into the same sins… it is because you have not learned to fully surrender yet, to truly abandon yourself to Him.

 

LEARNING ABANDONMENT

Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo (d. 1970) is a relatively unknown prophet in our times. Of him, St. Pio once said “The whole of paradise is in your soul.” In fact, in a postcard to Bishop Huilica in 1965, Fr. Dolindo predicted that a new John will rise out of Poland with heroic steps to break the chains beyond the boundaries imposed by the communist tyranny.” That, of course, was fulfilled in Pope John Paul II.

But perhaps Fr. Dolindo’s greatest legacy was the Novena of Abandonment that he left the Church in which Jesus unfolds how to abandon to Him. If St. Faustina’s revelations guide us on how to trust in Divine Mercy, and Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta’s revelations instruct on how to live in the Divine Will, Fr. Dolindo’s revelations teach us how to abandon ourselves to Divine Providence.

Jesus begins by saying to him:

Why do you confuse yourselves by worrying? Leave the care of your affairs to Me and everything will be peaceful. I say to you in truth that every act of true, blind, complete surrender to Me produces the effect that you desire and resolves all difficult situations.

So, most of us read this, and then say, “Okay, please fix this situation for me so that…” But as soon as we begin to dictate to the Lord the outcome, we are not truly trusting Him to act in our best interests.

Surrender to Me does not mean to fret, to be upset, or to lose hope, nor does it mean offering to Me a worried prayer asking Me to follow you and change your worry into prayer. It is against this surrender, deeply against it, to worry, to be nervous and to desire to think about the consequences of anything. It is like the confusion that children feel when they ask their mother to see to their needs, and then try to take care of those needs for themselves so that their childlike efforts get in their mother’s way. Surrender means to placidly close the eyes of the soul, to turn away from thoughts of tribulation and to put yourself in My care, so that only I act, saying “You take care of it”.

Jesus then asks us to say a little prayer:

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!

How hard this is! The human mind, like metal to a magnet, is powerfully drawn to thinking, reasoning, and obsessing over our problems. But Jesus says, no, let Me take care of it.

In pain you pray for me to act, but that I act in the way you want. You do not turn to Me, instead, you want Me to adapt your ideas. You are not sick people who ask the doctor to cure you, but rather sick people who tell the doctor how to… If you say to me truly: “Thy will be done”, which is the same as saying: “You take care of it”, I will intervene with all my omnipotence, and I will resolve the most difficult situations.

And yet, we hear these words, and then reason that our particular situation is beyond supernatural repair. But Jesus calls us to “fold the wings of the intellect”, as Catherine Doherty would say, and let Him act in the situation. Tell me: if God created the heavens and earth out of nothing, can He not handle your particular trial, even as things appear to go from bad to worse?

You see evil growing instead of weakening? Do not worry. Close your eyes and say to Me with faith: “Thy will be done, You take care of it”…. I say to you that I will take care of it, and that there is no medicine more powerful than My loving intervention. By My love, I promise this to you.

But how hard it is to trust! To not grasp after the solution, to not try in my own humanity to resolve things myself, to not manipulate things to my own outcome. True abandonment means completely and utterly leaving the results to God, who promises to be faithful.

No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

But the “way” is not always our way.

And when I must lead you on a path different from the one you see, I will prepare you; I will carry you in My arms; I will let you find yourself, like children who have fallen asleep in their mother’s arms, on the other bank of the river. What troubles you and hurts you immensely are your reason, your thoughts and worry, and your desire at all costs to deal with what afflicts you.

And that is when we begin again to grasp, to lose patience, to feel that God is not doing what He should. We lose our peace… and Satan begins to win the battle.

You are sleepless; you want to judge everything, direct everything and see to everything and you surrender to human strength, or worse—to men themselves, trusting in their intervention—this is what hinders My words and My views. Oh, how much I wish from you this surrender, to help you; and how I suffer when I see you so agitated! Satan tries to do exactly this: to agitate you and to remove you from My protection and to throw you into the jaws of human initiative. So, trust only in Me, rest in Me, surrender to Me in everything.

And so, we must let go again, and cry out from our souls: O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! And He says…

I perform miracles in proportion to your full surrender to Me and to your not thinking of yourselves. I sow treasure troves of graces when you are in the deepest poverty. No person of reason, no thinker, has ever performed miracles, not even among the saints. He does divine works whosoever surrenders to God. So don’t think about it any more, because your mind is acute and for you it is very hard to see evil and to trust in Me and to not think of yourself. Do this for all your needs, do this all of you and you will see great continual silent miracles. I will take care of things, I promise this to you.

How Jesus? How do I stop thinking about it?

Close your eyes and let yourself be carried away on the flowing current of My grace; close your eyes and do not think of the present, turning your thoughts away from the future just as you would from temptation. Repose in Me, believing in my goodness, and I promise you by My love that if you say, “You take care of it,” I will take care of it all; I will console you, liberate you and guide you.

Yes, it is an act of the will. We have to resist, to fight it, and resist again and again. But we are not alone, nor without Divine help, which comes to us by way of prayer. 

Pray always in readiness to surrender, and you will receive from it great peace and great rewards, even when I confer on you the grace of immolation, of repentance and of love. Then what does suffering matter? It seems impossible to you? Close your eyes and say with all your soul, “Jesus, you take care of it”. Do not be afraid, I will take care of things and you will bless My name by humbling yourself. A thousand prayers cannot equal one single act of surrender, remember this well. There is no novena more effective than this.

To pray the nine day Novena, click here

 

AN INVINCIBLE FAITH

Learn, my brothers and sisters, the “art of abandonment,” demonstrated most especially in Our Lady. She reveals to us how to surrender to the Father’s Will, in every situation, even the impossible. [3]  Paradoxically, her abandonment to God, which annihilates her own self-will, does not lead to sadness or a loss of dignity, but to joy, peace, and a deeper awareness of her true self, made in God’s image.

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… (Luke 1:46-47)

Indeed, is her Magnificat not a praise of God’s mercy toward the humble—and how He humbles those who wish to be rulers of their own destinies, who out of arrogance of mind and pride in the heart, refuse to trust in Him?

His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. (Luke 1:50-53)

That is, He lifts up those with an invincible faith in Jesus. 

Oh, how pleasing to God is the soul that follows faithfully the inspirations of His grace!… Fear nothing. Be faithful to the end.Our Lady to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 635

 

Mother, I am yours now and forever.
Through you and with you
I always want to belong
completely to Jesus.

  

You are loved.

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Surpassing the Pharisees

 

WE hear these words from the Gospel several times a year, and yet, do we really let them sink in?

I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. (Today’s Gospel; readings here)

The outstanding feature of the Pharisees in Christ’s time was that they spoke the truth, but did not live it. “Therefore,” Jesus said…

…do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. (Matthew 23:3)

The warning of Jesus to you and me today is a stark one: if we are like the Pharisees, we will “not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” The question we must carefully ask ourselves is “Am I obedient to the Lord?” Jesus gives a bit of an examination of conscience in His following remarks where He points particularly to our love of neighbour. Do you hold grudges, bitterness, and unforgiveness toward others, or do you let your anger win the day? If so, Jesus warns, you “will be liable to judgment” and  to “fiery Gehenna.”

Moreover, what do we do in private when no one is watching? Are we still faithful to the Lord “who sees in secret”?[1] Do we put on a kind and warm face when in public, but at home, are cold and selfish with our family? Do we speak pleasantly to one group of people, but unleash foul language and humour with another? Do we put on appearances or make arguments for the “Catholic crowd,” and yet, do not live what we preach?

If so, then we must soberly admit that our righteousness really does not surpass that of the Pharisees. In fact, it may not even surpass the pagan philanthropist next door.

What the Father asks of us today is actually no different than what He asked of Jesus: “the obedience of faith.” [2]

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered… (Hebrews 5:8)

God sends trials, not to harm us, but to purify and shake us from the clasp of sin and its destructive powers.

My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of adversity. Cling to him, do not leave him, that you may prosper in your last days. Accept whatever happens to you; in periods of humiliation be patient. For in fire gold is tested, and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation. Trust in God, and he will help you; make your ways straight and hope in him. (Sirach 2:1-6)

If we have not been sincere of heart and steadfast; if we have been impetuous and rebellious; if we have not clung to Him or accepted our trials; if we have not been patient or humble; if we have not straightened our old ways and habits…. thanks be to God, we still can. Even if grey hair crowns your head, with God, we can always begin anew.

Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet… the greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to My mercy… 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… The flames of mercy are burning Me—clamoring to be spent; I want to keep pouring them out upon souls; souls just don’t want to believe in My goodness… A soul’s greatest wretchedness does not enkindle Me with wrath; but rather, My Heart is moved towards it with great mercy. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 699, 1182, 1146, 177, 1739

That is why Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation—that He may restore us even when we have gone terribly astray.

Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no [hope of] restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1448

But then, we must also leave the confessional with a sincere heart and steadfast resolution: that our righteousness will, at last, surpass the Pharisees.

 

RELATED READING

Can we Exhaust God’s Mercy?

Is it Too Late for Me?

The Storm of Fear

To Those in Mortal Sin

My Love, You Always Have

 

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The Last Effort

The Last Effort, by Tianna (Mallett) Williams

 

SOLEMNITY OF THE SACRED HEART

 

IMMEDIATELY after Isaiah’s beautiful vision of an era of peace and justice, which is preceded by a purification of the earth leaving only a remnant, he writes a brief prayer in praise and thanksgiving of God’s mercy—a prophetic prayer, as we will see:

You will say in that day… Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. You shall draw waters with joy out of the savior’s fountain… (Isaiah 12:1-2)

The Blessed Virgin’s Magnificat was an echo of this victory song—a song that will be echoed by the Church in that new era. But for now, I want to look at the powerful Christological connection of Isaiah’s words in our dramatic times, and how they are part of God’s “last effort” now toward mankind…

 

THE LAST EFFORT

At the very moment in history when Satan began to sow the philosophical lie of deism that sought to turn God into a cold, distant creator, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690 A.D.). He revealed to her His flaming Sacred Heart burning with love for His creation. More than that, He was revealing a counter-plan to the dragon’s lies that have been laying the foundation to create a heaven on earth—without God (ie. Marxism, Communism, etc.).

I understood that devotion to the Sacred Heart is a last effort of His Love towards Christians of these latter times, by proposing to them an object and means so calculated to persuade them to love Him.Margherita_Sacro_Cuore.jpg — St. Margaret Mary, Antichrist and the End Times, Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi, p. 65

This devotion was the last effort of His love that He would grant to men in these latter ages, in order to withdraw them from the empire of Satan which He desired to destroy, and thus to introduce them into the sweet liberty of the rule of His love, which He wished to restore in the hearts of all those who should embrace this devotion. —St. Margaret Mary, www.sacredheartdevotion.com

And so, at the height of that philosophical era, God began sending His Mother more frequently into the world to continually call her children back to His Sacred Heart. In the lesser known apparition at Pontmain, France, Mary said to the visionaries:

…My Son lets His heart be touched. —January 17th, 1871, www.sanctuaire-pontmain.com

Jesus wants His Heart to be touched—for the flames of His love and mercy to penetrate and melt the hearts of men grown cold in these last centuries through philosophies which have led him far away from the truth of his own dignity and his Creator.

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 hath 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

How? How would His “last effort” to convert mankind be achieved before a great purification of the earth?

In a powerful vision, St. Gertrude the Great (d. 1302) was allowed to rest her head near the wound in the Saviour’s breast. As she listened to His beating Heart, she asked St. John the beloved Apostle how it was that he, whose head had reposed on the breast of the Savior at the Last Supper, kept complete silence in his writings about the throbbing of the adorable Heart of his Master. She expressed regret to him that he had said nothing about it for our instruction. But the saint replied:

My mission was to write for the Church, still in its infancy, something about the uncreated Word of God the Father, something which of itself alone would give exercise to every human intellect to the end of time, something that no one would ever succeed in fully understanding. As for the language of these blessed beats of the Heart of Jesus, it is reserved for the last ages when the world, grown old and become cold in the love of God, will need to be warmed again by the revelation of these mysteries.Legatus divinae pietatis, IV, 305; “Revelationes Gertrudianae”, ed. Poitiers and Paris, 1877

THE LANGUAGE OF THESE BLESSED BEATS

The image of Jesus pointing to His Sacred Heart is one that has spread throughout the world. Statues, icons, and paintings of this consoling image adorn the walls of many cathedrals and churches, not to mention many of our homes. Thus, as the morning star heralds the dawn, this image was the herald of a coming language—a message timed by God towards these latter days to move the hearts of men. That language is the revelation of Divine Mercy through St. Faustina, calculated to become known in our times. The Sacred Heart, one could say, has passed through the prism of St. Faustina, and exploded into a language of light and love. The last effort of God is the message of Mercy, and more specifically, the Feast of Divine Mercy:

Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity. Secretary of My mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, n. 965

 

THE SAVIOR’S FOUNTAIN

Isaiah prophesied that, before the “day” of justice, there would be offered to mankind “the saviour’s fountain.” That is, the Heart of Jesus.

For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the cross; for you I let my Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain… From all My wounds, like from streams, mercy flows for souls, but the wound in My Heart is the fountain of unfathomable mercy. From this fountain spring all graces for souls. The flames of compassion burn Me. I desire greatly to pour them out upon souls. Speak to the whole world about My mercy. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, n.1485, 1190

And so, my brothers and sisters, you who have been waiting together in The Bastion of our Mother’s Immaculate Heart—do you hear the essence of your mission now?

Speak to the whole world about My mercy.

We are living in an hour of mercy. The chief shepherd of the Church has affirmed this truth in his ordinary magisterium.

Sr. Faustina Kowalska, contemplating the shining wounds of the Risen Christ, received a message of trust for humanity which John Paul II echoed and interpreted and which really is a central message precisely for our time: Mercy as God’s power, as a divine barrier against the evil of the world. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, General Audience, May 31st, 2006, www.vatican.va

In the final analysis, healing can only come from deep faith in God’s reconciling love. Strengthening this faith, nourishing it and causing it to shine forth is the Church’s principal task at this hour… —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, December 20th, 2010

And then again in 2014, as if punctuating the urgency of this hour, his successor announced a “Year of Mercy”:

…hear the voice of the Spirit speaking to the whole Church of our time, which is the time of mercy. I am sure of this. It is not only Lent; we are living in a time of mercy, and have been for 30 years or more, up to today. —POPE FRANCIS, Vatican City, March 6th, 2014, www.vatican.va

In fact, there is a striking indication from St. Faustina of when the time of mercy may, in fact, begin to expire: when the message of Divine Mercy is undermined…

There will come a time when this work, which God is demanding so very much, will be as though utterly undone. And then God will act with great power, which will give evidence of its authenticity. It will be a new splendor for the Church, although it has been dormant in it from long ago. That God is infinitely merciful, no one can deny. He desires everyone to know this before He comes again as Judge. He wants souls to come to know Him first as King of Mercy. —St. Faustina, Diary; Ibid. n. 378

Did this refer to when the diary of Faustina was in disfavor with Rome? I was traveling one day with Fr. Seraphim Michelenko, who helped to translate and edit Faustina’s writings. He shared with me how it was poor translations that nearly shelved the diary, and thanks to his intervention, the message of Divine Mercy was able to continue its dissemination.

But now I wonder if St. Faustina was not referring to this present moment when certain shepherds have begun to promote a kind of Anti-Mercy whereby sinners are “welcomed,” but not called to repentance? This, to me, is truly undoing the Authentic Mercy that is found in the Gospels, and further unfolded in Faustina’s diary.

 

YOU ARE PART OF IT

We are not mere bystanders; we are an intrinsic part of God’s “last effort.” Whether we live to see the Era of Peace is not our concern. Right now, nature is reeling under the sins of men. Scientists tell us that the magnetic poles of the earth are now shifting at an unprecedented rate and that, along with the shifting of the sun’s poles at the same time, this is actually creating a cooling effect upon the earth.[1] Is it possible that as the moral poles have begun to flip—that which is evil is now considered good, and good is often deemed evil or “intolerant”—that nature is simply reflecting man’s heart back to him?

…because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold… all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now…. (Matthew 24:12, Romans 8:22)

The earth is trembling, literally—a sign that the “fault-line” in the souls of men is reaching critical mass. Just as volcanoes are waking up all over the earth covering entire towns in ash, so too, the sins of men are covering humanity with an ash of despair. Just as the earth is splitting open and lava is spilling out, soon, the hearts of mankind will be rent open

Write: before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice… Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary of St. Faustina, n. 1146

The day is coming—we are living now in the last effort of God before the purification of our world and the Day of Justice arrives…

When the Church, in the days immediately succeeding her institution, was oppressed beneath the yoke of the Caesars, a young Emperor saw in the heavens a cross, which became at once the happy omen and cause of the glorious victory that soon followed. And now, today, behold another blessed and heavenly token is offered to our sight—the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, with a cross rising from it and shining forth with dazzling splendor amidst flames of love. Herein must all hopes be set, from hence must the salvation of men be sought and expected. —POPE LEO XIII, Annum Sacrum, Encyclical on Consecration to the Sacred Heart, n. 12

May it come about… [that] the Sacred Heart of Jesus and its sweet and sovereign kingdom be extended more widely to all in every part of the world: the kingdom “of truth and life; the kingdom of grace and holiness; the kingdom of justice, love and peace. —POPE PIUS XII, Haurietis Aquas, Encyclical on Devotion to the Sacred Heart, n. 126

 

https://player.vimeo.com/video/124013676

 

First published January 7th, 2010.

 

FURTHER READING:

I strongly recommend to all my readers, old and new, to read the following two items regarding this time of preparation:

To the Bastion! – Part I

To the Bastion! – Part II

The Heart of God

On the role of the Eucharist in times to come: Meeting Face to Face

Meeting Face to Face – Part II

Is God sending us Signs From the Sky? A look back at some thoughts from 2007.

The coming revelation of the Eucharist: The Sun of Justice

Opening Wide the Doors of Mercy

 

 

My daughter composed the image above at the same time I was preparing this meditation. She was unaware of what I was writing about. We called the artwork “The Last Effort”.  

 

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The Wrangling Over Words

 

WHILE couples, communities, and even nations become increasingly divided, perhaps there is one thing that we nearly all agree upon: civil discourse is rapidly disappearing.

From the President of the United States to the anonymous poster, cordial communication is disintegrating. Whether it is the way talk show guests and hosts cut each other off, or how Facebook, Youtube, or forum discussions frequently descend into personal attacks, or the road rage and other flares of public impatience we see… people appear ready to tear complete strangers apart. No, it is not the increase in earthquakes and volcanoes, the beating of war drums, the imminent economic collapse or the growing totalitarian climate of governments—but the love of many growing cold that perhaps stands as the chief “sign of the times” at this hour.

…because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12)

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 hath 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

But just because this is the social climate of our day does not, therefore, mean that you and I must inevitably follow suit. In fact, it is imperative that we become leaders and examples of good communication more than ever.

 

THE WRANGLING OF WORDS

In today’s first reading, St. Paul’s words bear a striking relevance to this hour:

…warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. (2 Tim 2:14)

With the advent of social media, a narcissistic inclination has seized this generation: all of a sudden, everyone has a soapbox. With Google on their left and a keyboard on their right, everyone is an expert, everyone has the “facts,” everyone knows everything. The problem, though, is not sufficient access to knowledge, but possession of wisdom, which instructs the heart and discerns and weighs knowledge. True wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and as such, is sorely lacking in our know-it-all generation. Without wisdom, without a willingness to be humble and to learn, then indeed, conversation will rapidly devolve into a wrangling of words as opposed to listening.

Not that disagreement is a bad thing at all; that’s how we challenge paralyzed thinking and broaden our horizons. But so often, dialogue today is descending into ad hominem attacks whereby “genuine discussion of the topic at hand is avoided by instead attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.” [1] When this takes place in the public sphere between Christians, it is damaging to those who are listening. For:

This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)

It’s as if this generation no longer believes that patience, courtesy, and humility are important in dialogue. Rather, that the real “virtue” is the assertion of oneself and one’s truth, no matter how it appears and no matter the cost to the relationship or the dignity of the other.

How opposite this to the example Christ gave us! When He was misunderstood, He simply walked away. When He was falsely accused, He remained silent. And when He was persecuted, He let His gentle response and forgiveness do the talking. And when He did engage His enemies, He let His “yes” be “yes” and His “no” be “no.” [2] If they persisted in their stubborness or arrogance, He did not try to convince them, even though the stakes were high—their eternal salvation! Such was the respect Jesus had for the free will of His creation.

Here again, St. Paul has some relevant advice for us regarding those who want to fight:

Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes. From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds… But you, man of God, avoid all this. (cf. 1 Tim 6:3-11)

 

WHAT CAN I DO?

We need to learn how to listen again to the other. As Servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty once said, “We can listen another’s soul into existence.” When conversing in person, do you look the other in the eye? Do you stop what you are doing and focus solely on them? Do you let them finish their sentences? Or do you fiddle with your smartphone, change the subject, turn the conversation back to yourself, look around the room, or judge them?

Indeed, one of the most damaging things that continually happens in social media today is that the other person is judged. But I heard this wise little tidbit the other day:

Years ago, I once entered a forum debate with a woman on the subject of modesty in country music. She was very sharp and bitter, attacking and mocking. Instead of responding in kind, I calmly replied to her acidic diatribe with love in truth. She then contacted me a few days later, thanked me for being kind, apologized, and then explained that she had an abortion and was acting out in anger. That began a stunning opportunity to share the Gospel with her (see The Scandal of Mercy).

When you are engaged in person or on the internet with another, don’t just hear what they are saying but listen. You can even repeat what they just said and then ask if you are understanding them correctly. In this way, you are not just listening but loving them—and that allows God’s presence to enter the conversation. This is what Pope Francis means by “accompanying” others:

We need to practice the art of listening, which is more than simply hearing. Listening, in communication, is an openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which genuine spiritual encounter cannot occur. Listening helps us to find the right gesture and word which shows that we are more than simply bystanders. Only through such respectful and compassionate listening can we enter on the paths of true growth and awaken a yearning for the Christian ideal: the desire to respond fully to God’s love and to bring to fruition what he has sown in our lives…. Reaching a level of maturity where individuals can make truly free and responsible decisions calls for much time and patience. As Blessed Peter Faber used to say: “Time is God’s messenger”.Evangelii Gaudium, n. 171

But then, if someone is not willing to engage the truth, or merely wants to score debate points, then walk away—like Jesus did. As Christians, we must never force the truth down people’s throats. That’s what the popes mean when they say we should not “proselytize.” If someone is not interested in tasting, much less chewing the Word of God, then walk away. Don’t cast your pearls before swine, as the saying goes.

Although it sounds obvious, spiritual accompaniment must lead others ever closer to God, in whom we attain true freedom. Some people think they are free if they can avoid God; they fail to see that they remain existentially orphaned, helpless, homeless. They cease being pilgrims and become drifters, flitting around themselves and never getting anywhere. To accompany them would be counterproductive if it became a sort of therapy supporting their self-absorption and ceased to be a pilgrimage with Christ to the Father. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 170

Their conversion is God’s problem, not yours. Your concern is to not lose your peace and fall for the trap of being dragged into a slugfest. Trust me—I’ve been there before, and rarely have I ever convinced somebody of the truth in that way. Rather, it is not what I say, but how I say it, or how I ultimately respond, that has moved the heart of another.

Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

I may be “unfriended” on Facebook. I might be scorned by my friends and family. I might be ridiculed and mocked by co-workers. But whenever I respond in love, I am planting a Divine seed in their midst. It may not sprout for years or even decades. But they will remember someday that you were patient and kind, generous and forgiving. And that seed may suddenly germinate, changing the course of their life.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6)

But it must be a seed of love because God is love.

Love is patient, love is kind… is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (I Cor 13:4-5)

 

MY MINISTRY TO YOU

After reflection, prayer, and discussion with my spiritual director, I have decided at this time to withdraw somewhat from my interactions online. While I have been able to encourage and help some people on Facebook or elsewhere, I also find that it can be a caustic environment, as it frequently engages me with some folks who have a “morbid disposition for arguments.” This can erode my peace and distract me from my main mission, which is to preach the Gospel—not convince others of it. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. For my part, God has placed me in the solitude of a spiritual and physical desert for this time in my life, and it is necessary to remain there—not to avoid anyone—but to better serve them with the Word of God, as opposed to my own.

And so, while I will continue to post my writings here and on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to reach as many souls as I can, I will not be engaging in comments or messages there. If you need to contact me, you can do so here.

I am a feisty person. I have a natural fighter instinct in me whenever I see injustice. This can be good, but it has to be tempered by charity. If I have, in my personal communications with you or on public forums, been in any way impatient, haughty, or uncharitable, I ask your forgiveness. I am a work in progress; everything I’ve written above I am trying to live better myself.

Let’s become a sign of contradiction in this world. We will be so when we become the face, the eyes, the lips, the tongue, and the ears of Christ…

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

—The Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

 

Therefore, you, apostles of my love, you who know how to love and forgive, you who do not judge, you whom I encourage, you be an example to all those who are not going on the way of light and love or who have diverted from it. By your life show them the truth.  Show them love because love overcomes all difficulties, and all of my children thirst for love. Your unity in love is a gift to my Son and me. But, my children, remember that to love also means to desire the good for your neighbor and to desire conversion of your neighbor’s soul. As I am looking at you gathered around me, my heart is sad, because I see so little brotherly love, merciful love… —Our Lady of Medjugorje allegedly to Mirjana, June 2, 2018

The Coming Age of Love

 

First published on October 4th, 2010. 

 

Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age… —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily, World Youth Day, Sydney, Australia, July 20th, 2008

I wish to speak more about this ‘new age’ or era that is coming. But I want to pause for a moment and give thanks to God, our rock, and our refuge. For in His mercy, knowing the frailty of human nature, He has given us a tangible rock to stand on, His Church. The promised Spirit continues to lead and reveal the deeper truths of that deposit of faith that He entrusted to the Apostles, and which continues to be transmitted today through their successors. We are not abandoned! We are not left to find the truth on our own. The Lord speaks, and He speaks clearly through His Church, even when she is scarred and wounded.

Indeed, the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants, the prophets. The lion roars——who will not be afraid! The Lord God speaks——who will not prophesy! (Amos 3:8)

 

THE AGE OF FAITH

As I meditated on this coming new era that the Church Fathers speak of, the words of St. Paul came to mind:

So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love  (1 Cor 13:13).

After the fall of Adam and Eve, there began an Age of Faith. This might seem strange to say at first since the proclamation that we are “saved by grace through faith” (Eph 2:8) would not come until the mission of the Messiah. But from the time of the fall up until Christ’s first coming, the Father kept inviting His people into a covenant relationship of faith through obedience, as was spoken by the prophet Habbakuk:

…the just man, because of his faith, shall live. (Habb 2:4)

At the same time, He was demonstrating the futility of human works, such as animal sacrifice and other aspects of the Hebraic law. What really mattered to God was their faith—the basis of restoring relationship with Him.

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen… But without faith it is impossible to please him… By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen, with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household. Through this he condemned the world and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith. (Heb 11:1, 6-7)

St. Paul goes on, in the entire eleventh chapter of Hebrews, to explain how the righteousness of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, David, etc. was accredited to them because of their faith.

Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised. God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect. (Heb 11:39-40)

The Age of Faith, then, was an anticipation or seed of the next age, the Age of Hope.

 

THE AGE OF HOPE

The “something better” that awaited them was the spiritual rebirth of humanity, the coming of God’s kingdom within the heart of man.

To fulfill the Father’s will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church “is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 763

But it would come at a price since the law of sin had already been set in motion:

For the wages of sin is death… for creation was made subject to futility… in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption (Rom 6:23; 8:20-21).

God, in the supreme act of love, paid the wages Himself. But Jesus consumed death upon the Cross! What appeared to conquer Him was itself swallowed up in the mouth of the tomb. He did what Moses and Abraham and David could not do: He rose from the dead, thus conquering death by death through His spotless Sacrifice. Upon His Resurrection, Jesus redirected death’s deadly currents from the gates of Hell toward the gates of Heaven. The new hope was this: that what man had permitted by his free will—death—had now become a new path to God through the Passion of Our Lord.

The ominous darkness of that hour signaled the end of the “first act” of creation, convulsed by sin. It seemed like the victory of death, the triumph of evil. Instead, while the tomb lay in cold silence, the plan of salvation was reaching its fulfilment, and the “new creation” was about to begin. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Urbi et Orbi Message, Easter Sunday, April 15th, 2001

Even though we are now a “new creation” in Christ, it is as though this new creation has been conceived rather than fully formed and born forth. New life is now possible through the Cross, but it remains for mankind to receive this gift by faith and thus conceive this new life. The “womb” is the baptismal font; the “seed” is His Word; and our fiat, our yes in faith, is the “egg” waiting to be fertilized. The New Life that comes forth within us is Christ Himself:

Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? (2 Cor 13:5)

And thus we rightly say with St. Paul: “For in hope we were saved” (Rom 8:24). We say “hope” because, even though we have been redeemed, we are not yet perfected. We cannot say with certainty that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). This new life is contained in “earthen vessels” of human weakness. We still struggle against the “old man” that tugs and pulls us back toward the chasm of death and resists becoming a new creation.

…you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth. (Eph 4:22-24)

And so, baptism is only the beginning. The journey in the womb must now continue along the very path that Christ revealed: the Way of the Cross. Jesus put it so profoundly:

…unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. (John 12:24)

To become who I truly am in Christ, I must leave behind who I am not. It is a journey in the darkness of the womb, so it is a journey of faith and struggle… but hope.

…always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body… For while we are in this tent we groan and are weighed down, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Cor 4:10, 2 Cor 5:4)

We are groaning to be born! Mother Church is groaning to give birth to saints!

My children, for whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you! (Gal 4:19)

Since we are being renewed in the very image of God, who is love, one could say that all of creation awaits the full revelation of Love:

For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God… We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now… (Rom 8:19-22)

Thus, the Age of Hope is also an age of anticipation of the next an Age of Love.

 

THE AGE OF LOVE

God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:4-7)

…in the ages to come…“, says St. Paul. The early Church began to perceive the patience of God as the return of Jesus seemed delayed (cf. 2 Pt 3:9) and fellow believers began to pass away. St. Peter, chief shepherd of the Christian Church, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, spoke a word that continues to feed the sheep to this very day:

…do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. (2 Pet 3:8)

Indeed, the “second act” of creation is not the final either. It was John Paul II who wrote that we are now “crossing the threshold of hope.” To where? To an Age of Love…

…the greatest of these is love… (1 Cor 13:13)

As individuals in the Church, we are being conceived, dying to self, and raised to new life throughout the centuries. But the Church as a whole is in labor. And she must follow Christ from the long winter of recent centuries to a “new springtime.”

Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers… The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.CCC, 675, 677

But as St. Paul reminds us, we are being “transformed from glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18), like a baby growing from stage to stage in its mother’s womb. Thus, we read in the Book of Revelation that “the woman clothed with sun,” whom Pope Benedict says is a symbol of both Mary and Mother Church…

…wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. (Rev 12:2)

This “male child” that would come forth was”destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.” But then St. John writes,

Her child was caught up to God and his throne. (12:5)

Of course, this is a reference to Christ’s ascension. But remember, Jesus has a body, a mystical Body to be born! The child to be born in the Age of Love, then, is the “whole Christ,” a “mature” Christ, so to speak:

…until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ. (Eph 4:13)

In the Age of Love, the Church will at last reach “maturity.” The will of God will be the rule of life (ie. “the iron rod”) since Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love” (Jn 15:10).

This devotion [to the Sacred Heart} was the last effort of His love that He would grant to men in these latter ages, in order to withdraw them from the empire of Satan, which He desired to destroy, and thus to introduce them into the sweet liberty of the rule of His love, which He wished to restore in the hearts of all those who should embrace this devotion.—St. Margaret Mary,www.sacredheartdevotion.com

The tendrils of the Vine and Branches will reach to every coastland (cf. Isaiah 42:4)…

The Catholic Church, which is the kingdom of Christ on earth, [is] destined to be spread among all men and all nations… —POPE PIUS XI, Quas Primas, Encyclical, n. 12, Dec. 11th, 1925

…and the long foretold prophecies concerning the Jews will also come to fruition since they too will form part of the “whole Christ”:

The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles”, will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all”.Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 674

In the boundaries of time, the greatest of these ages is Love. But it too is an age of anticipation when we will at last rest in the arms of Eternal Love… in the Eternal Age of Love.

Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, he who in his great mercy gave us new birth; a birth unto hope which draws its life from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; a birth to an imperishable inheritance, incapable of fading or defilement, which is kept in heaven for you who are guarded with God’s power through faith; a birth to a salvation which stands ready to be revealed in the last days. (1 Pet 1:3-5)

The time has come to exalt the Holy Spirit in the world… I desire that this last epoch be consecrated in a very special way to this Holy Spirit…It is His turn, it is His epoch, it is the triumph of love in My Church, in the whole universe—Jesus to Venerable María Concepción Cabrera de Armida; Fr. Marie-Michel Philipon, Conchita: A Mother’s Spiritual Diary, p. 195-196

The hour has come when the message of Divine Mercy is able to fill hearts with hope and to become the spark of a new civilization: the civilization of love. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Homily, Krakow, Poland, August 18th, 2002; www.vatican.va

Ah, my daughter, the creature always races more into evil. How many machinations of ruin they are preparing! They will go so far as to exhaust themselves in evil. But while they occupy themselves in going their way, I will occupy Myself with the completion and fulfillment of My Fiat Voluntas Tua  (“Thy will be done”) so that My Will reign on earth—but in an all-new manner. Ah yes, I want to confound man in Love! Therefore, be attentive. I want you with Me to prepare this Era of Celestial and Divine Love… —Jesus to Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta, Manuscripts, Feb 8th, 1921; excerpt from The Splendor of Creation, Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, p.80

…every day in the prayer of the Our Father we ask the Lord: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10)…. we recognize that “heaven” is where the will of God is done, and that “earth” becomes “heaven”—i.e., the place of the presence of love, of goodness, of truth and of divine beauty—only if on earth the will of God is done. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, General Audience, February 1st, 2012, Vatican City

God loves all men and women on earth and gives them the hope of a new era, an era of peace. His love, fully revealed in the Incarnate Son, is the foundation of universal peace.  —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Message of Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2000

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… In families, the night of indifference and coolness must give way to the sun of love. In factories, in cities, in nations, in lands of misunderstanding and hatred the night must grow bright as the day, nox sicut dies illuminabitur, and strife will cease and there will be peace. —POPE PIUX XII, Urbi et Orbi address,March 2nd, 1957; vatican.va

May there dawn for everyone the time of peace and freedom, the time of truth, of justice and of hope. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Radio message, Vatican City, 1981

 
FURTHER READING:

  • To understand the “big picture” with numerous references to the Popes, Church Fathers, teachings of the Church, and approved apparitions, see Mark’s book: The Final Confrontation.

 

 

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Challenging the Church

 

IF you are looking for someone to tell you that everything’s going to be okay, that the world is simply going to go on as it is, that the Church is not in a serious crisis, and that humanity is not facing a day of reckoning—or that Our Lady is simply going to appear out of the blue and rescue us all so that we won’t have to suffer, or that Christians will be “raptured” from the earth… then you have come to the wrong place.

 

AUTHENTIC HOPE

Oh yes, I have a word of hope to give, incredible hope: both the popes and Our Lady have proclaimed that there is a “new dawn” coming.

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)

But dawn is preceded by night, birth preceded by pangs, springtime preceded by winter.

True Christians are not blind optimists who have once and for all put the Cross behind them. Nor are they pessimists who see nothing but suffering ahead. Rather, they are realists who know that three things always remain: faith, hope, and love—even when Storm clouds gather.

But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit. On razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history. Values always tend to reappear under new guises, and human beings have arisen time after time from situations that seemed doomed. Such is the power of the resurrection, and all who evangelize are instruments of that power. —POPE FRANCIS,Evangelii Gaudium, n. 276

Yes, some things I write can be a bit “scary.” Because the consequences of turning against God are themselves scary and no trifle. They can not only shatter our personal lives but entire nations and generations to come.

 

SOAPBOX… OR SENTINEL?

Some think this website is a mere soapbox for personal rantings. If you only knew how often I have wanted to run from this apostolate. In fact, the Lord knew such would be the case—that like Jonah of old, I would prefer to be thrown overboard into the depths of the sea than face a hostile crowd (ah, The Temptation to be Normal.) And thus at the beginning of this writing ministry twelve years ago, He gave me a few Scriptures to challenge my self-love and “commit” me to His work. They came from the thirty-third chapter of Ezekiel, who was himself a “watchman” for the Lord.

You, son of man — I have appointed you as a sentinel for the house of Israel; when you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them for me. When I say to the wicked, “You wicked, you must die,” and you do not speak up to warn the wicked about their ways, they shall die in their sins, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. If, however, you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, but they do not, then they shall die in their sins, but you shall save your life. (Ezekiel 33:7-9)

I remember that day clearly. There was a strange peace in that word, but it was also firm and convicting. Either I was to be a coward, or to be faithful. And then I read the end of that chapter, which made me chuckle:

My people come to you, gathering as a crowd and sitting in front of you to hear your words, but they will not act on them… For them you are only a singer of love songs, with a pleasant voice and a clever touch. They listen to your words, but they do not obey them. But when it comes — and it is surely coming! — they shall know that there was a prophet among them. (Ezekiel 33:31-33)

Well, I claim to neither have a pleasant voice nor to be a prophet. But I got the point: God is going to pull out all the stops; He’s going to send not only prophetic voice after voice, seer after seer, mystic after mystic, but also His very Mother to warn and call humanity back to Himself. But have we listened?

Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 848

 

AWAKE OR ASLEEP?

As the Pope also said, we are no doubt “living in a time of mercy.”[1] How close, then, is that “day of justice”? Is it near when “Catholic” countries like Ireland vote en masse in favour of infanticide? When in once “Christian” countries like Canada the government demands that churches must sign an agreement that they favour abortion and gender ideology?[2] When in America, new polls show that 72 percent of that country are in favor of assisted-suicide? When nearly the entire Christian popluation in the Middle East is being tortured or driven out? When in Asian countries like China and North Korea, Christianity is being driven underground? When the Church herself begins to teach an “anti-mercy,” and bishops set themselves against bishops, cardinal against cardinal? In a word, when the world embraces death as the catch-all solution?

I don’t know. God doesn’t share His itinerary with me. But perhaps the ecclesiastically approved events at Akita, Japan have something to say:

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 Church will be full of those who accept compromises… The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them…. 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 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. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests. —Message given through an apparition to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa of Akita, Japan, October 13th, 1973; on April 22, 1984, after eight years of investigations, Rev. John Shojiro Ito, Bishop of Niigata, Japan, recognized “the supernatural character” of the events; ewtn.com

(Ah, there’s Our Lady calling for us to pray for the Pope again—not to whip him with our tongues.) Now, those are pretty strong words from the Blessed Mother. I’m not going to ignore them—and to be honest, that really ticks some people off.

It’s our very sleepiness to the presence of God that renders us insensitive to evil: we don’t hear God because we don’t want to be disturbed, and so we remain indifferent to evil… those of us who do not want to see the full force of evil and do not want to enter into his Passion. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Catholic News Agency, Vatican City, Apr 20, 2011, General Audience

 

SIGN OF CONTRADICTION

Another part of this ministry has been learning the art of becoming nearly everyone’s punching bag. You see, I don’t fit into most people’s mould. I love to laugh and joke around—not the serious, glum guy some expect. I also love the ancient liturgies with their chants, bells, candles, incense, high altars and drama… but I play guitar at Novus Ordo liturgies where I find Jesus Present just as much (because He’s there). I adhere to and defend every single Catholic teaching as much as any “traditionalist”… but I also defend Pope Francis because his evangelical vision of the Church as a “field hospital” is right on (and he should be listened to as the Vicar of Christ). I love to sing and write ballads… but I listen to chant and Russian choral music to edify my soul. I love to pray in silence and lie prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament… but I also lift my hands in charismatic gatherings, raising my voice in praise. I pray the Office or a form of it… but I also speak to God in the gift of tongues that Scripture and the Catechism promote.[3]

This is not to say, of course, that I am a holy man. I am a broken sinner. But I see that God has continually called me to the center of the Catholic Faith and to embrace all of Mother Church’s teachings, as she calls all of us. That is, to be loyal to the Magisterium, to be contemplative in prayer, charismatic in action, Marian in devotion, Traditional in morality, and ever anew in spirituality. Everything I have just stated is explicitly taught and embraced by the Catholic Church. If my life is meant to challenge other Catholics to quit acting like Protestant Reformers, picking and choosing and discarding whatever they like, then so be it. I will be their punching bag, if that is what’s needed, until they exhaust themselves with fighting the Holy Spirit.

Many years ago, a nun sent one of my writings to her nephew who then wrote back and told her to never send that “crap” to him again. A year later, he re-entered the Church. When she asked why, he said, “That writing started it all.”

Several weeks ago, I met a young father who said that when he was a teenager, he came across my writings. “It woke me up,” he said. And since then, he has been a faithful reader, but more importantly, a faithful Christian.

 

WATCHING AND PRAYING…

All of this is to say that I am going to continue writing and speaking until the Lord says “Enough!” While the Lord’s patience continually surprises (and even shocks) me, I am seeing many of the things I’ve written about seemingly on the verge of being fulfilled. [4] It seems to me that we have inched toward the end of a cliff and are now mere moments from the plunge. But a plunge to death? More like a plunge through the birth canal…

With that, I leave you with words from God’s chosen messengers that are realistic, yet sobering, but also contain hope:

So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

There is a great uneasiness at this time in the world and in the Church, and that which is in question is the faith. It so happens now that I repeat to myself the obscure phrase of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Luke: ‘When the Son of Man returns, will He still find faith on the earth?’…I sometimes read the Gospel passage of the end times and I attest that, at this time, some signs of this end are emerging. Are we close to the end? This we will never know. We must always hold ourselves in readiness, but everything could last a very long time yet.  —POPE PAUL VI, The Secret Paul VI, Jean Guitton, p. 152-153, Reference (7), p. ix.

Now we have arrived at approximately the third two thousand years, and there will be a third renewal. This is the reason for the general confusion, which is nothing other than the preparation for the third renewal. If in the second renewal I manifested what my humanity did and suffered, and very little of what My divinity was accomplishing, now, in this third renewal, after the earth will be

purged and a great part of the current generation destroyed… I will accomplish this renewal by manifesting what My divinity did within My humanity. —Jesus to Servant of God Luisa Picarretta, Diary XII, January 29th, 1919; from The Gift of Living in the Divine Will, Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, footnote n. 406, with ecclesiatical approval

I have pointed out to you the signs of the cruel winter through which the Church is now passing… The Spouse of my Jesus appears again covered with wounds and obscured by my Adversary, who appears to be celebrating his complete victory. He is certain that he has won the victory in the Church, by the confusion which has subverted many of her truths, by the lack of discipline which has caused disorder to spread, by the division which has attacked her internal unity… But see how in this most cruel winter of hers, the buds of a renewed life are already appearing. They tell you that the hour of your liberation is near. For the Church, a new spring of the triumph of my Immaculate Heart is about to burst forth. She will still be the very same Church, but renewed and enlightened, made humbler and stronger, poorer and more evangelical through her purification, so that in her the glorious reign of my Son Jesus may shine forth for all. —Our Lady to Fr. Stefano Gobbi, n. 172 To the Priests Our Lady’s Beleoved Son’s, n. 172; Imprimatur given by Bishop Donald W. Montrose of Stockton, Feb. 2, 1998

Now more than ever it is crucial that you be “watchers of the dawn”, the lookouts who announce the light of dawn and the new springtime of the Gospel of which the buds can already be seen. —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, 18th World Youth Day, April 13th, 2003; vatican.va

 

A ballad I wrote for my wife, Léa… 

https://player.vimeo.com/video/147629960?color=ffffff

 

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The Storm of Confusion

 

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continues by your support.
Bless you, and thank you. 

 

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The Catholic Fail

 

FOR twelve years the Lord has asked me to sit upon the “rampart” as one of John Paul II’s “watchmen” and speak about what I see coming—not according to my own ideas, pre-conceptions, or thoughts, but according to the authentic Public and private revelation through which God continually speaks to his People. But taking my eyes off the horizon the past few days and looking instead to our own House, the Catholic Church, I find myself bowing my head in shame.

 

THE IRISH HARBINGER

What happened in Ireland over the weekend was perhaps one of the most significant “signs of the times” I have seen in a long while. As you probably know, an overwhelming majority just voted in favour of legalizing abortion.

Ireland is a country that is (was) overwhelmingly “Catholic.” She was steeped in paganism until St. Patrick led her into the arms of a new Mother, the Church. She would mend the country’s wounds, reinvigorate her peoples, reorder her laws, transform her landscapes, and make her stand as a lighthouse guiding lost souls into the safe harbours of salvation. While Catholicism wained in much of the rest of Europe after the French Revolution, Ireland’s faith remained strong.

Which is why this vote is a dreadful harbinger. Despite the scientific facts that underscore the humanity of an unborn child; despite the philosophical arguments that affirm its personhood; despite the evidence of the pain caused to the baby during an abortion; despite the photographs, medical miracles, and basic common sense of what and who exactly is growing in the womb of a mother… Ireland voted to bring genocide to their shores. This is 2018; the Irish don’t live in a vacuum. A “Catholic” nation averted their eyes from the brutal procedure that abortion is, and absolved their conscience by dismissing the truth with paper-thin arguments of a woman’s “right.”  The idea that they believe the unborn is just “fetal tissue” or a “blob of cells” is too generous. No, Catholic Ireland has declared, like American feminist Camille Paglia, that a woman has the right to kill another person when her own interests are at stake:

I have always frankly admitted that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. Liberals for the most part have shrunk from facing the ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue. The state in my view has no authority whatever to intervene in the biological processes of any woman’s body, which nature has implanted there before birth and hence before that woman’s entrance into society and citizenship. —Camille Paglia, Salon, Sept. 10th, 2008

Welcome to the rest of the “progressive” West where we have not only adopted Hitler’s eugenics rationale but have gone a step further—we actually celebrate our collective suicide.

The suicide of the human race will be understood by those who will see the earth populated by the elderly and depopulated of children: burnt as a desert. —St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Mind you, we saw a microcosm of this suicidal tendency when, in 2007, Mexico City voted to legalize abortion there. The significance of that cannot be overstated either, because that is where the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe hangs—a miracle that literally brought an end to the Aztec “culture of death” where hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children were sacrificed to the serpent-god Quetzalcoatl. For that “Catholic” city to once again embrace human sacrifice thus making blood offerings to that ancient serpent Satan once again (now in sterilized rooms instead of on temple mounts) is a staggering reversal.

Of course, Ireland’s recent vote follows on the heels of their Marriage Referendum in 2015 where a radical redefinition of marriage was embraced. That was warning enough that the serpent-god has returned to Ireland…

 

THE SCANDALS

“In one way,” noted an Irish professor of moral theology…

…the awful result [two thirds voting for abortion] is just what one might expect, given the modern secularised and relativistic world we live in, the dire record of the Catholic Church in Ireland and elsewhere regarding the child sex abuse scandals, the weakness of the Church’s practice of teaching on moral issues and morality over the past few decades… —private letter

One cannot underestimate what the sexual scandals in the priesthood have done around the globe to undermine the mission of Jesus Christ.

As a result, the faith as such becomes unbelievable, and the Church can no longer present herself credibly as the herald of the Lord. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Light of the World, The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times: A Conversation With Peter Seewald, p. 23-25

Both Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have insisted that the Church does not engage in proselytism but grows by “attraction.”[1] If that is the case, then the shrinking numbers of the Catholic Church in the West indicate a death by “repulsion.” What exactly is the Church in Europe and North America offering to the world? How do we appear any different than any other charitable organization? What sets us apart?

Professor of theology, Fr. Julián Carrón, stated:

Christianity is called to show its truth on the terrain of reality. If those who come into contact with it do not experience the newness that it promises, they will certainly be disappointed.Disarming Beauty: Essay on the Faith, Truth, and Freedom (University of Notre Dame Press); cited in Magnificat, May 2018, pp. 427-428

The world has been deeply disappointed. What is missing from Catholicism in many places is not the absence of nice buildings, sufficient coffers, or even half-decent liturgies. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit. The difference between the pre and post-Pentecost early Church was not knowledge but power, an invisible light that pierced people’s hearts and souls. It was an interior light that flowed from within the Apostles because they had emptied themselves in order to be filled with God. As we read in today’s Gospel, Peter stated: “We have given up everything and followed you.”

The problem is not that we in the Church don’t run a good organization and even do worthy social work, but that we are still of the world. We have not emptied ourselves. We have not renounced our flesh or the world’s dazzling offerings, and as such, have become sterile and impotent.

…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

What good is it to have the perfect website or the most eloquent homily if our words and being transmit nothing more than our own artistic flair or cleverness?

Techniques of evangelization are good, but even the most advanced ones could not replace the gentle action of the Spirit. The most perfect preparation of the evangelizer has no effect without the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, the most convincing dialect has no power over the heart of man. —BLESSED POPE PAUL VI, Hearts Aflame: The Holy Spirit at the Heart of Christian Life Today by Alan Schreck

The Church is not only failing to preach through Spirit-filled lives and words, but she has failed on the local level to also teach her children. I am half a century old now, and I have never heard a single homily on contraception, much less many of the other moral truths that are under siege today. While some priests and bishops have been very courageous in carrying out their duty, my experience is all too common.

My people perish for want of knowledge! (Hosea 4:6)

This colossal failure is the result of a programme of Modernism, which brought a culture of relativism to seminaries and society alike, thus transforming many in the Church into cowards who bow at the altar of the god of political correctness.

…there’s no easy way to say it. The Church in the United States has done a poor job of forming the faith and conscience of Catholics for more than 40 years. And now we’re harvesting the results—in the public square, in our families and in the confusion of our personal lives. —Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Rendering Unto Caesar: The Catholic Political Vocation, February 23rd, 2009, Toronto, Canada

And not just shepherds. We, the sheep, have not followed our Lord either, who has made Himself clear in a myriad of other ways and opportunities where the shepherds have fallen short. If the world does not believe in Christ, it is primarily because they have not seen Christ in the laity. We—not the clergy—are the “salt and light” that the Lord has scattered into the marketplace. If the salt has gone bad or the light cannot be perceived, it is because we have been tainted by the world and darkened by sin. The one who truly seeks the Lord will find Him, and in that personal relationship, they will radiate the Divine Life and freedom that brings.

What every single man, woman, and child longs for is true freedom, not only from authoritarian regimes, but most especially from the power of sin that dominates, disturbs, and steals away interior peace. Thus, said Pope Francis this morning, it is necessary that we become holy, that is, saints:

The call to holiness, which is the normal call, is our call to live as a Christian, namely living as a Christian is the same as saying ‘living as a saint’. Many times we think of holiness as something extraordinary, like having visions or lofty prayers … or some think that being holy means having a face like that in a cameo … no. Being holy is something else. It is to proceed along this path that the Lord tells us about holiness… do not adopt the worldly patterns, – do not adopt those patterns of behavior, that worldly way of thinking, that way of thinking and judging that the world offers you because this deprives you of freedom. —Homily, May 29th, 2018; Zenit.org

 

CATHOLIC WARS

But who is listening to the Pope these days? No, even clear and true words, such as those above, are tossed in the garbage today by many “conservative” Catholics because the Pope has been confusing at other times. They then take to social media and state that “Pope Francis is destroying the Church”… all, while the world looks on wondering why on earth they would want to join an institution that uses the most intolerant rhetoric toward one another, let alone their leadership. Here, the words of Christ seem to have escaped many these days:

This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)

In the over twenty-five years I have been in ministry, sad to say, it is the most “traditional” Catholics who have proven to be the most hard-hearted, vicious, and uncharitable folks I have had the disappointment of dialoguing with.

A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 94

Something has gone terribly wrong in general with communication today. Our capacity to have polite disagreements has rapidly disintegrated within just a few short years. People use the internet today like a battering ram to force their views. When this happens between Christians, it is a cause for scandal.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord… but if I do not have love, I gain nothing. (Hebrews 12:14, 1 Cor 13:3)

Oh, how often I have found that it’s not what I say but how I say it that has made all the difference!

 

PAPAL PERPLEXITIES

The ambiguity that has trailed Francis’ entire pontificate has itself created scandal. One cannot take back those headlines that have declared the Pope as stating that “There is No Hell” or that “God made you gay.”  I have received letters from converts to Catholicism who are wondering now if they have made a grave mistake. Others are considering leaving the Church for the Orthodox or Evangelical persuasions. Some priests have expressed to me that they are being put in compromising situations where members of their flock, who are living in adultery, are asking to receive Holy Communion because “the Pope said we could.” And now we have the grievous situation where bishop’s colleges are making declarations totally in contradiction to other bishop’s conferences.

If we were making any inroads toward unity with Evangelical Christians, many of those paths have been plowed over and sown with the seeds of distrust.

I have defended Pope Francis the past five years for the reason that he is the Vicar of Christ—whether you like or not. He has taught, and continues to teach many true things, despite the clear confusion that is growing daily.

We must help the Pope. We must stand with him just as we would stand with our own father. —Cardinal Sarah, May 16th, 2016, Letters from the Journal of Robert Moynihan

We help the Pope—and avoid causing scandal to unbelievers—when we strive to understand what the Pope really said or meant; when we give him the benefit of the doubt; and when we do disagree with ambiguous off-the cuff statments or non-magisterial comments, it is done in a manner that is respectful and in the proper forum.

 

THE “CATHOLIC” POLITICIAN

Last, we Catholics have failed the world when our own politicians like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a host of other political careerists who grace our Sunday Masses declare themselves protectors of human rights, all the while trampling upon them—especially the genuine rights of the most vulnerable. If freedom of religion is being utterly shipwrecked in our times, it is thanks in large part to Catholic politicians and voting blocs who have elected spineless men and women who are more in love with power and politically correct agendas than Jesus Christ.

No wonder images of Our Lady (whom Benedict XVI called “a mirror of the Church”) are reportedly weeping all over the world. It is time for us to face the truth: the Catholic Church is but a shadow of the influence she once had; a mystical sway that transformed empires, shaped laws, and art, music, and architecture. But now, her compromise with the world has created a Great Vacuum that is rapidly being filled with the spirit of antichrist and a New Communism that seeks to supplant the providence of the Heavenly Father.

With the intellectual currents of the Enlightenment, the subsequent anti-religion rebellion of the French Revolution, and the profound intellectual rejection of the Christian worldview symbolized by Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, forces were unleashed in Western culture that eventually led to not only a repudiation of the church-state relationships that had evolved over many centuries but a repudiation of religion itself as a legitimate shaper of culture… The collapse of Christian culture, as weak and ambiguous as it was in some ways, has profoundly affected the beliefs and actions of baptized Catholics. —The Post-Christendom Sacramental Crisis: The Wisdom of Thomas Aquinas, Dr. Ralph Martin, pg. 57-58

Pope Benedict XVI noted this, comparing our times to the collapse of the Roman Empire. He did not mince words when he warned of the consequences of faith dying out like a flickering flame:

To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, December 20th, 2010

 

RE-EVANGELIZATION

Someone might reasonably ask then, “Why do you remain in the Catholic Church?”

Well, I’ve already faced-down that temptation many years ago (cf. Stay, and Be Light). The reason I didn’t leave then is the same I would never leave today: Christianity is not a religion, it is a pathway to authentic freedom (and union with God); Catholicism is what defines the borders of that path; religion, then, is simply walking within them.

People who say they are spiritual but don’t want religion aren’t being honest. Because when they go to their favorite prayer spot or prayer meeting; when they hang their favorite picture of Jesus or light a candle to pray; when they decorate a Christmas Tree or say “Alleluia” every Easter morning… that is religion. Religion is simply the organization and formulation of a spirituality according to a set of core beliefs. “Catholicism” began when Christ appointed Twelve men to teach everything He commanded and to “make disciples of all the nations.” That is, there was to be an order to it all.

But this order is also expressed through sinful human beings, of whom I am one. Because after all that I have said above—some of it written in tears—I look at myself and shed yet more… 

Note that a man whom the Lords sends forth as a preacher is called a watchman. A watchman always stands on a height so that he can see from afar what is coming. Anyone appointed to be a watchman for the people must stand on a height for all his life to help them by his foresight. How hard it is for me to say this, for by these very words I denounce myself. I cannot preach with any competence, and yet insofar as I do succeed, still I myself do not live my life according to my own preaching. I do not deny my responsibility; I recognize that I am slothful and negligent, but perhaps the acknowledgment of my fault will win me pardon from my just judge. —St. Gregory the Great, homily, Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. IV, p. 1365-66

I am not ashamed to be a Catholic. Rather, that we are not Catholic enough.

It seems to me that a great “reset” of the Church will be necessary for which she must be purified and simplified once again. Suddenly, the words of Peter take on renewed meaning as we not only see the world becoming pagan again, but the Church herself in disarray, like “…a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side”:[2]

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 Peter 4:17)

The Church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes… She will lose many of her social privileges… The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain… But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already with Gobel, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death. —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Faith and Future, Ignatius Press, 2009

 

I wrote this song several years ago while I was in Ireland.
Now I understand why it was inspired there…

https://player.vimeo.com/video/139564636?color=ffffff

 

RELATED READING

The Judgment Begins with the Household

Political Correctness and the Great Apostasy

The Death of Logic — Part I & Part II

Weep, O Children of Men!

 

The Now Word is a full-time ministry that
continues by your support.
Bless you, and thank you. 

 

To journey with Mark in The Now Word,
click on the banner below to subscribe.
Your email will not be shared with anyone.