The Storm of Our Desires

Peace Be Still, by Arnold Friberg

 

FROM time to time, I receive letters like these:

Please pray for me. I am so weak and my sins of the flesh, especially alcohol, strangle me. 

You could simply replace alcohol with “pornography”, “lust”, “anger” or a number of other things. The fact is that many Christians today feel swamped by the desires of the flesh, and helpless to change.

So the story of Christ’s calming the wind and sea in today’s Gospel is most appropriate (see today’s liturgical readings here). St. Mark tells us:

A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm.

The winds are like our inordinate appetites that whip up the waves of our flesh and threaten to sink us into serious sin. But Jesus, after calming the storm, rebukes the disciples in this way:

Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?

There are two things of importance to note here. The first is that Jesus asks them why they do not “yet” have faith. Now, they could have responded: “But Jesus, we did get into the boat with you, even though we saw storm clouds on the horizon. We are following you, even when many are not. And we did wake you.” But perhaps Our Lord would reply:

My child, you have remained in the boat, but with your eyes fixed on the winds of your appetites rather than Me. You indeed desire the consolation of My presence, but you so quickly forget My commandments. And you do wake Me, but long after temptations have crushed you instead of before. When you learn to rest beside me in the bow of your life, only then will your faith be authentic, and your love genuine. 

That’s a strong rebuke and a hard word to hear! But it’s pretty much how Jesus answered me when I complained to Him that, even though I pray every day, say the Rosary, go to Mass, weekly Confession, and whatever else… that I still fall time and again into the same sins. The truth is that I have been blind, or rather, blinded by the appetites of the flesh. Thinking I was following Christ in the bow, I have really been living in the stern of my own will.

St. John of the Cross teaches that the appetites of our flesh can blind reason, darken the intellect, and weaken the memory. Indeed, the disciples, though they had just witnessed Jesus casting out demons, raising paralytics, and curing a host of diseases, had just as quickly forgotten His power and lost their senses as soon as they became transfixed on the winds and waves. So too, John of the Cross teaches that we must renounce those appetites that so command our love and devotion.

As the tilling of soil is necessary for its fruitfulness—untilled soil produces only weeds—mortification of the appetites is necessary for one’s spiritual fruitfulness. I venture to say that without this mortification, all that is done for the sake of advancement in perfection and in knowledge of God and of oneself is no more profitable than seed sown on uncultivated ground.The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book One, Chapter , n. 4; The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, p. 123; translated by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Redriguez

Just as the disciples were blind to the omnipotent Lord in their midst, so it is with those Christians who, despite the exercise of many devotions or even extraordinary penances, do not diligently strive to deny their appetites.

For this is a characteristic of those who are blinded by their appetites; when they are in the midst of the truth and of what is suitable for them, they no more see it than if they were in the dark. —St. John of the Cross, Ibid.  n. 7

In other words, we must go to the bow of the ship, so to speak, and…

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt 11:29-30)

The yoke is Christ’s gospel, summed up in the words to repent and to love God and neighbour. To repent is to reject the love of every attachment or creature; to love God is to seek Him and His glory in everything; and to love neighbour is to serve them as Christ loved and served us. It is at once a yoke because our nature finds it difficult; but it is also “light” because it is easy for grace to achieve it in us.”Charity, or the love of God”, says Venerable Louis of Granada, “renders the law sweet and delightful. [1] The point is this: if you feel that you cannot master the temptations of the flesh, then do not be surprised to hear Christ say to you also, “Do you not yet have faith?” For didn’t Our Lord die precisely to not only take away your sins, but to conquer their power over you?

We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. (Romans 6:6)

Now, what is saving from sin, if not obtaining the pardon of past faults and the grace to avoid others in the future? What was the end of Our Saviour’s coming, if not to help you in the work of your salvation? Did He not die on the cross to destroy sin? Did He not rise from the dead to enable you to rise to a life of grace? Why did He shed His Blood, if not to heal the wounds of your soul? Why did He institute the sacraments, if not to strengthen you against sin? Did not His coming render the way to Heaven smooth and straight…? Why did He send the Holy Spirit, if not to change you from flesh into spirit? Why did He send Him under the form of fire but to enlighten you, to inflame you, and to transform you into Himself, that thus your soul might be fitted for His own divine kingdom?… Do you fear that the promise will not be fulfilled, or that with the assistance of God’s grace you will not be able to keep His law? Your doubts are blasphemous; for, in the first instance, you question the truth of God’s words, and in the second, you respect Him as unable to fulfill what He promises, since you think Him capable of offering you succor insufficient for your needs. —Venerable Louis of Granada, The Sinner’s Guide, (Tan Books and Publishers) pp. 218-220

Oh, what a blessed reminder!

So two things are necessary. One, is to renounce those appetites that readily want to swell into a wave of sin. The second, is to have faith in God and His grace and power to do what He has promised in you. And God will do it when you obey Him, when you take up The Cross of Loving others instead of your own flesh. And how quickly God can do this when you earnestly undertake to allow no other gods before Him. St. Paul summarizes all of the above in this way:

For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another. I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. (Gal 5:13-16)

Do you feel this is impossible? St. Cyprian once doubted this was possible himself, seeing how attached he was to the desires of his flesh.

I urged that it was impossible to uproot vices implanted in us by our corrupt nature and confirmed by habits of years…  —The Sinner’s Guide, (Tan Books and Publishers) pp. 228

St. Augustine felt much the same.

…when he began to think seriously of leaving the world, a thousand difficulties presented themselves to his mind. On one side appeared the past pleasures of his life, saying, “Will you part from us forever? Shall we no longer be your companions?” —Ibid. p. 229

On the other side, Augustine marvelled at those living in that true Christian freedom, thus crying out:

Was it not God who enabled them to do what they did? While you continue to rely upon yourself you must necessarily fall. Cast yourself without fear upon God; He will not abandon you.” —Ibid. p. 229

In the renunciation of that storm of desires that sought to sink them both, Cyprian and Augustine attained a new found freedom and joy that exposed the utter illusion and empty promises of their old passions. Their minds, now unblinded by their appetites, began to be filled no longer with darkness, but the light of Christ.

This too has become my story, and I am overjoyed to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord of every storm.

 

 

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Becoming an Ark of God

 

The Church, which comprises the elect,
is fittingly styled daybreak or dawn…
It will be fully day for her when she shines
with the perfect brilliance of interior light
.
—St. Gregory the Great, Pope; Liturgy of the Hours, Vol III, p. 308 (see also The Smoldering Candle and Wedding Preparations to understand the coming corporate mystical union, which will be preceded by a “dark night of the soul” for the Church.)

 

BEFORE Christmas, I asked the question: Is the Eastern Gate Opening? That is, are we beginning to see signs of the ultimate fulfillment of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart coming in to view? If so, what signs should we see? I would recommend reading that exciting writing if you have not yet.

Chief among the signs, of course, would be the first, almost imperceptible “rays of dawn” appearing, or rather, rays of purification coming over the world. And do we not see this? In the Church, the weeds are beginning to be separated from the wheat as the sins of the Body of Christ—from priest scandals to financial corruption to those who are embracing compromise—are coming to light. In the world, the same thing is happening to one degree or another as people begin to revolt against both political and personal scandals. It is the beginning of an “illumination of conscience” of mankind.

For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:17-19)

If we are speaking of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, then we have to understand Christ’s masterplan through Our Lady,[1] the Key to the Woman:

It is to her as Mother and Model that the Church must look in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission.  —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 37

Holy Mary… you became the image of the Church to come —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Spe Salvi, n.50

In Immaculate Mary, we see Christ’s masterplan of what the Church is to herself become: immaculate. 

…that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (cf. Eph 1:4-10; 5:27)

Our Lady has been described by the Church as the new “ark of the covenant”.

Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells.Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2676

If we are to become like her, then we too will become “little arks” of God. But that means that, like the Ark of old, nothing unclean must enter our souls.

We have been reading at Mass this month about the travels of the Ark with the Israelites. When it was captured by the Philistines, it was set up in their temple before the idol, Dagon. But each morning at dawn, they found the idol had mysteriously fallen to the ground and been smashed.[2] This, says St. John of the Cross, is an apt symbol of how God desires our pure love for Him, and Him alone.

God allows nothing else to dwell together with him…. The only appetite God permits and wants in his dwelling place is the desire for the perfect fulfillment of his law and the carrying of the cross of Christ. Scripture teaches that God ordered nothing else to be placed in the Ark where the manna was than the Law and the rod of Moses (signifying the cross). Those who have no other goal than the perfect observance of the Lord’s law and the carrying of the cross of Christ will be true arks, and they will bear within themselves the manna, which is God, when they possess perfectly, without anything else, this law and this rod.The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book One, Chapter 6, n. 8; The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, p. 123; Tranlated by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Redriguez

Of course, we are alarmed at these words because we realize how utterly imperfect we are (some more than others). But I hear again in my heart: “Do not be afraid.” What is impossible for men is not impossible for God. Indeed…

I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

What is necessary at this time is that we respond to God with true repentance. This means courageously confronting one’s inordinate appetites and desires and denying them. It means fostering a living and sincere sacramental life where the Eucharist and Confession become a regular part of one’s schedule, and where prayer becomes the bedrock of one’s day. In this way, we are giving God permission to change us… like Mary, giving Him our “fiat.” And according to John of the Cross, the transformation in us can happen “quickly.” But it doesn’t for most because we are so slow to respond, if at all.

The Plan of the Ages is for God to draw unto himself a holy people “as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come” (Matt 24:14). This is only going to be possible when you and I begin to make peace with the Lord by “coming out of Babylon”,[3] by pursuing the Divine rather than the created so as to make a suitable dwelling for the Lord.

What has creature to do with Creator, sensory with spiritual, visible with invisible, temporal with eternal, heavenly food that is pure and spiritual with food that is entirely sensory, the nakedness of Christ with attachment to something?  —St. John of the Cross, Ibid. Book One, Chapter 6, n. 8

In a word, it is to reconcile with the Lord, to enter into a true peace and rest with Him. For love of the world is to set oneself in opposition to the Father. “To set the mind on the flesh is death,” wrote St. Paul, “but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.”[4]

The task of humble Pope John is to “prepare for the Lord a perfect people,” which is exactly like the task of the Baptist, who is his patron and from whom he takes his name. And it is not possible to imagine a higher and more precious perfection than that of the triumph of Christian peace, which is peace at heart, peace in the social order, in life, in well-being, in mutual respect, and in the brotherhood of nations. —POPE ST. JOHN XXIII, True Christian Peace, December 23rd, 1959; www.catholicculture.org

Our Lady has been allegedly appearing in Medjugorje for over 36 years now as the “Queen of the Peace.” Today, she imparts to us the key to the future, which will unlock her Triumph more and more until the darkness gives way to the dawn and a new Day. It is to empty oneself of the inordinate appetites for this world, and begin to seek first and only the Kingdom of God…

Dear children! May this time be for you a time of prayer, so that the Holy Spirit, through prayer, may descend upon you and give you conversion. Open your hearts and read the Sacred Scripture, that through the testimonies you also may be closer to God. Above everything, little children, seek God and the things of God and leave earthly ones to the earth, because Satan is attracting you to the dust and sin. You are called to holiness and created for Heaven; therefore, seek Heaven and the things of Heaven. Thank you for having responded to my call. —to Marija, January 25, 2018

In closing, let me repeat again the words of St. Peter:

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:17-19)

Do not be afraid! For you were born for these times.

 

RELATED READING

Medjugorje is becoming the center of attention even more these days as the Vatican has recently permitted “official” pilgrimages to the apparition site. As well, a report of the papal Commission studying Medjugorje was leaked to the press revealing not only that the first apparitions are deemed supernatural, but that there is a fairly positive outlook on the remaining. At the same time as the Vatican seemingly moves toward a positive position, some Catholic apologists are strangely attacking (with tired old arguments) what is arguably the greatest site for conversions since the Acts of the Apostles. The following writings expose the lies, distortions, and outright falsehoods that have plagued Medjugorje for years:

Why Did You Quote Medjugorje?

Medjugorje… What You May Not Know

Medjugorje, and the Smoking Guns

Pilgrimages now permitted: Mother Calls 

 


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Striking God’s Anointed One

https://www.markmallett.com/blog/2018/01/19/striking-gods-anointed-one/Saul attacking David, Guercino (1591-1666)

Regarding my article on The Anti-Mercy, someone felt that I was not critical enough of Pope Francis. “Confusion is not from God,” they wrote. No, confusion is not from God. But God can use confusion to sift and purify His Church. I think this is precisely what is happening at this hour. Francis’ pontificate is bringing into full light those clergymen and laymen who seemed as though waiting in the wings to promote a heterodox version of Catholic teaching (cf. When the Weeds Begin to Head). But it is also bringing to light those who have been bound up in legalism hiding behind a wall of orthodoxy. It is revealing those whose faith is genuinely in Christ, and those whose faith is in themselves; those who are humble and loyal, and those who aren’t. 

So how do we approach this “Pope of surprises”, who seems to startle nearly everyone these days? The following was published on January 22nd, 2016 and has been updated today… The answer, most certainly, is not with the irreverent and crude criticism that has become a staple of this generation. Here, David’s example is most relevant…

IN today’s Mass readings (liturgical texts here), King Saul was enraged with jealousy by all the admiration that was being given to David rather than to him. Despite all promises to the contrary, Saul began hunting David in order to kill him.

When he came to the sheepfolds along the way, he found a cave, which he entered to relieve himself. David and his men were occupying the inmost recesses of the cave. David’s servants said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘I will deliver your enemy into your grasp; do with him as you see fit.’”

So David “moved up and stealthily cut off an end of Saul’s mantle.” David didn’t kill, strike, or threaten the one intent on taking his life; he merely cut off a piece of his mantle. But then we read:

Afterward, however, David regretted that he had cut off  an end of Saul’s mantle. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, as to lay a hand on him, for he is the LORD’s anointed.” With these words David restrained his men and would not permit them to attack Saul.

David is filled with regret, not because he particularly admires Saul, but because he knows that Saul was anointed by the prophet Samuel, under God’s direction, to be king. And even though David was tempted to strike God’s anointed, he humbled himself before the Lord’ choice, before God’s anointed one.

When Saul looked back, David bowed to the ground in homage and [said]… “I had some thought of killing you, but I took pity on you instead. I decided, ‘I will not raise a hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed and a father to me.’

 

HONOR THY FATHER AND MOTHER

The word “pope” is Italian for “papa”, or “father.” The Pope is essentially a father to the family of God. Jesus desired Peter to become the first “papa” of the Church when He gave him the “keys of the kingdom”, the power to “bind and loose”, and declared that he would be “rock” (see The Chair of Rock). In Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus was drawing directly from the imagery of Isaiah 22 when King David set Eliakim over his kingdom:

He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; what he opens, no one will shut, what he shuts, no one will open. I will fix him as a peg in a firm place, a seat of honor for his ancestral house. (Isaiah 22:21-23)

pfranc_FotorThis is all to say that Papa Francesco is, objectively and with certainty, God’s “anointed one.” Those who question the validity of his election are making a strange case. Not a single Cardinal, including the bold, courageous, and fully orthodox African contingent, has even suggested that the papal election was invalid. And neither has Pope Emeritus Benedict hinted that he was forced from the Chair of Peter, and in fact, scolded those who persist with such nonsense (see Barquing up the Wrong Tree):

There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry. The only condition for the validity of my resignation is the complete freedom of my decision. Speculations regarding its validity are simply absurd… [My] last and final job [is] to support [Pope Francis’] pontificate with prayer. —POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI, Vatican City, Feb. 26th, 2014; Zenit.org

So whether one likes Francis’ personality, style, mannerisms, direction, silence, boldness, weaknesses, strengths, hair style, lack of hair, accent, choices, commentary, disciplinary decisions, appointments, honorary award recipients and the like, does not matter: he is God’s anointed one. Whether he is a good pope, bad pope, scandalous leader, brave leader, wise man or a fool makes no difference—just as it made no difference to David, in the final analysis, that Saul was not upright. Francis has been validly elected as the 266th Pope, in succession to St. Peter, and is therefore God’s anointed one, the “rock” on which Jesus Christ continues to build His Church. The question then is not “What is the Pope doing?” but “What is Jesus doing?”[1]

And has it not been thus throughout the history of the Church that the Pope, the successor of Peter, has been at once Petra and Skandalon—both the rock of God and a stumbling block? —POPE BENEDICT XIV, from Das neue Volk Gottes, p. 80ff

As such, the office of Peter and the one who holds it, deserves the appropriate honor. But also our prayers and patience for the man who occupies that seat, because he is fully capable of sin and mistakes like the rest of us. We need to avoid a kind of papalotry that canonizes the Holy Father and raises every word and opinion of his to canonical status. The balance comes through a solid faith in Jesus.

It is a matter of respect. Your biological father may be an alcoholic. You don’t need to honor his behavior; but he is still your father, and therefore, his position deserves proper respect. [2] At Judgment, he will have to account for his actions—and you, for your words.

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matt 12:36)

Thus, it is grievous to read how some Catholics have not only torn a piece from the mantle of the Holy Father’s dignity, but have callously thrust their pointed tongues into his reputation. Here, I am not speaking of those who have validly questioned or gently criticized the Pope’s often colloquial approach to dogmatic questions, or the prudence of cheerleading for the “global warming” alarmists, or the ambiguity of Amoris Laetitia. Rather, I am speaking of those who insist that Francis is a Communist, a closet Modernist, a liberal impostor, a sneaky Freemason and a plotter of the ultimate ruin of Catholicism. Of those who derisively call him “Bergoglio” instead of his proper title. Of those who report almost solely on the controversial and sensational. Of those who endlessly speculate that the Pope is going to change doctrine when he has explicitly said he cannot; [3] or introduce pastoral practices that effectively undermine doctrine when he has explicitly chastised those who are caving into…

…[this] temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness, that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.” —POPE FRANCIS, Catholic News Agency, October 18th, 2014

Cardinal Müller (previously of the CDF) has vocally criticized bishops who have given Amoris Laetitia a heterodox interpretation. But he has also stated that the Argentinian bishops’ interpretation—which Pope Francis recently said is correct—is still within the realm of orthodoxy in more rare “concrete” circumstances. [4] That is to say that Francis has not changed Sacred Tradition (nor can he), even if the ambiguity stemming from his pontificate has created a storm of confusion, and even if this “pastoral directive” does not stand the test. Indeed, Müller’s recent comments are likewise under fire now too.

But why, some ask, is the Pope appointing “liberals” to the Curia? But then, why did Jesus appoint Judas? [5]

He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him… He appointed… Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. (Today’s Gospel)

Then again, why did Pope Francis appoint “conservatives” as well? Cardinal Müller arguably held the second most powerful position in the Church as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and has been replaced by Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, an appointee to various positions in the Vatican by burke-mass-crosier_Fotorboth John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Cardinal Erdo, who has a strong and public devotion to Mary, was appointed Relator General during the Synod of the Family. Cardinal Pell along with the orthodox Canadian, Cardinal Thomas Collins, were appointed overseers to clean up the corruption of the Vatican Bank. And Cardinal Burke has been re-appointed to the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest court.

But none of this has stopped the “hermeneutic of suspicion” that has emerged casting every papal action and word into a dubious light, or cherry-picking and reporting on only the more controversial actions of Francis while almost completely ignoring the often moving and sometimes blunt statements of Francis that truly bolster and defend the Catholic Faith. It has resulted in what theologian Peter Bannister describes as the “intensifying anti-Papal backlash and the unprecedented severity of its language.” [6] I would go so far as to say it is calumny in some cases, such as with one reader who asked me, “are you now convinced Bergoglio is an impostor, or do you need more time?” My response:

I will not raise a hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed and a father to me.

HOW TO HONOR GOD’S ANOINTED ONE

Every time the media spins another controversial (and often misleading) headline about Pope Francis (including, sad to say, Catholic media), I get a mailbag full of letters asking if I saw it, what do I think, what should we do, etc.

This writing apostolate has now spanned three pontificates. Regardless of who is sitting in the Chair of Peter, I have consistently repeated what has been the long-standing Tradition and teaching of the Catholic Church, the edict of the Scriptures, [7] and the wisdom of the Saints: that we are to remain in communion with our bishops and the Holy Father, the rock on which the Church is built—for He is God’s anointed one. Yes, I can hear St. Ambrose shouting: “Where Peter is, there is the Church!” And that includes all those infamous, corrupt, and worldly popes. Who can argue with Ambrose when, 2000 years later, the Church and the deposit of faith remain fully intact, even if they have been assaulted at different times by the “smoke of satan”? It seems the personal foibles of the popes does not overwhelm Jesus or His ability to build His Church.

So it does not matter whether I think Francis or Benedict or John Paul II are good or bad popes. What matters is that I listen for the Voice of the Good Shepherd in theirs, for Jesus said to the Apostles, and thus their successors:

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

First, the proper approach to the papacy is one of meekness and humility, of listening, reflection, and self-examination. It is to take the ContemplativePrayer005-large_FotorApostolic Exhortations and Letters that the popes write, and listen for Christ’s directives in them. So many people write me saying, “But Francis is confusing people!” But who exactly is confused? 98% of the confusion out there is really bad and skewed journalism by people who are reporters, not theologians. So many are confused because they read headlines, not homilies; extracts, not exhortations. What is necessary is to sit at the feet of the Lord, take a deep breath, close one’s mouth, and listen. And that takes a little time, effort, reading, and above all, prayer. For in prayer, you will find a precious and rare commodity these days: wisdom. For Wisdom will teach you how to respond and react in this treacherous times, most especially when the shepherds aren’t shepherding very well.

This is not to say that there is not genuine confusion and even heretical interpretations at this hour. Oh yes! It seems as though a false church is rising! There now exists opposing and contrary interpretations of Amoris Laetitia between some bishops’ conferences, which is astonishing if not sorrowful. This simply can’t be. The hallmark of Catholicism is its universality and unity. Nonetheless, in previous centuries, there were also times when vast portions of the Church fell into heresy and division over certain doctrines. Even in our times, Pope Paul VI was almost alone when it came to his authoritative and beautiful document on contraception, Humanae Vitae. 

Second, since when did assuming the worst of someone become acceptable? Here, the lack of immersion in the spirituality of the Saints is beginning to show in this generation. That spirituality, lived so vividly in France, Spain, Italy and elsewhere that moved the Saints to bear the faults of others with patience, to overlook their weaknesses, and instead, use those occasions to reflect on their own poverty. A spirituality that, upon seeing another stumbling, these holy souls would offer sacrifices and prayers for their fallen brothers, if not a gentle correction. A spirituality that trusted and surrendered completely to Jesus even when the hierarchy was in disarray. A spirituality that, in a word, lived, assimilated, and shone with the Gospel. It was St. Teresa of Avila who said, “Let nothing trouble you.” For Christ did not say, “Peter, build my Church,” but rather, “Peter, you are rock, and on this rock I will build my Church.” It is Christ building, so let nothing trouble you (see Jesus, the Wise Builder).

Third, what if the Pope undertakes certain actions, even “pastoral” actions, that are scandalous? It wouldn’t be the first time. No, the first time was when Peter denied Christ. The second time was when Peter behaved one way with the Jews, and another with the Gentiles. And so Paul, “when [he] saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel,” corrected him. [8] Now, if Pope Francis were to adopt a pastoral practice that in effect undermines doctrine—and several theologians feel that he has—it does not give us a license to suddenly blast the Holy Father with crude language. Rather, it would be another painful “Peter & Paul” moment for the Body of Christ. For Pope Francis is first and foremost your brother in Christ and mine. His welfare and salvation are not only important too, but Jesus taught us to make the welfare of others even more important than our own.

If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. (John 13:14)

Fourth, if you are afraid that “following Pope Francis” could lead you into the Great Deception, you are already deceived to a certain degree. For one, if the Pope is the “false prophet” of the Book of Revelation as some allege, then Christ has contradicted himself: Peter is not rock, andPope Francis touches a Virgin Mary statue during a ceremony to mark the end of May at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican May 31, 2013.       REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION) the gates of hell have prevailed against the faithful. It is also of no little significance that nearly every authentic, approved, or credible apparition of Our Blessed Mother in the past century has called the faithful to pray for and remain in communion with the Holy Father. The approved apparition of Fatima, for instance, included a vision where the Pope is martyred for the faith—not destroying it. Would Our Lady lead us into a trap?

No, if you are worried about being deceived, then recall St. Paul’s antidote to the apostasy, to the Antichrist, and the “deceiving power” that God will send upon those “who have not accepted the love of truth”: [9]

…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 2:15)

Most of you own a Catechism. If not, get one. There is no confusion there. Hold the Bible in your right hand and the Catechism in your left, and get on with living these truths. Do you feel the Pope or bishops are confusing your family and friends? Then be the voice of clarity. After all, Pope Francis explicitly encouraged us to read and know the Catechism, so use it. I know what I need to do, despite any flaws, shortcomings, and failures of the Pope. He has not said a single word that prevents me from living the truth to the fullest, proclaiming the truth to the fullest, and becoming a saint to the fullest (and taking as many souls with me as I can). All the theorizing, suspicions, assumptions, guessing, predictions, conspiracies and forecasting are a waste of time—an utterly cunning, deceptive and successful distraction that is keeping otherwise well-meaning Christians from actually living the Gospel and being light to the world.

When I met Pope Benedict several years ago, I shook his hand, looked him in the eye and said, “I am an evangelist from Canada, and I am happy to serve you.” [10] I was happy to serve him because I knew, without a doubt, that the office of Peter is there to serve the Church, who is to serve Christ—and that Peter was God’s anointed one.

Have mercy on me, O God; have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. In the shadow of your wings I take refuge, till harm pass by. (Today’s Psalm)

“…no one can excuse himself, saying: ‘ I do not rebel against the holy Church, but only against the sins of evil pastors.’ Such a man, lifting his mind against his leader and blinded by self-love, does not see the truth, though indeed he really sees it well enough, but pretends not to, in order to deaden the sting of conscience. For he sees that, in truth, he is persecuting the Blood, and not Its servants. The insult is done to Me, just as the reverence was My due.” To whom did He leave the keys of this Blood? To the glorious Apostle Peter, and to all his successors who are or shall be till the Day of Judgment, all of them having the same authority which Peter had, which is not diminished by any defect of their own. —St. Catherine of Siena, from the Book of Dialogues

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

The Anti-Mercy

 

A woman asked today if I’ve written anything to clarify the confusion over the Pope’s post-Synodal document, Amoris Laetitia. She said,

I love the Church and always plan to be a Catholic. Yet, I am confused about Pope Francis’ last Exhortation. I know the true teachings on marriage. Sadly I am a divorced Catholic. My husband started another family while still married to me. It still hurts very much. As the Church can’t change its teachings, why hasn’t this been made clear or professed?

She is correct: the teachings on marriage are clear and immutable. The present confusion is really a sad reflection of the Church’s sinfulness within her individual members. This woman’s pain is for her a double-edged sword. For she is cut to the heart by her husband’s infidelity and then, at the same time, cut by those bishops who are now suggesting that her husband might be able to receive the Sacraments, even while in a state of objective adultery. 

The following was published on March 4th, 2017 regarding a novel re-interpretation of marriage and the sacraments by some bishop’s conferences, and the emerging “anti-mercy” in our times…

 

THE hour of the “great battle” which Our Lady and popes alike have been warning about for many generations—a coming Great Storm that was on the horizon and steadily approaching—is now here. It is a battle over truth. For if the truth sets us free, then falsehood enslaves—which is the “end game” of that “beast” in Revelation. But why is it now “here”?

Because all the turmoil, immorality, and distress in the world—from wars and genocides to greed and the Great Poisoning… have only been “signs” of a general collapse of faith in the truth of God’s Word. But when that collapse begins to occur within the Church herself, then we know that “the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, of the Gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the anti-christ” [1] is imminent. For St. Paul was clear that, before “the day of the Lord” that ushers in a triumph of Christ in His Church and an Era of Peace, [2] the Church herself must suffer a great “apostasy”, a terrible falling away of the faithful from truth. Then, when the seemingly inexhaustible patience of the Lord has delayed as long as possible the purification of the world, He will permit a “strong delusion”…

…for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved. Therefore, God is sending them a strong delusion so that they may believe the lie, that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned. (2 Thess 2:10-12)

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

This “strong delusion” is taking many forms that, in their essence, appear as “right”, “just”, and “merciful,” but are in fact diabolical because they deny the inherent dignity and truth about the human person: [3]

• The inherent truth that we are all sinners and that, in order to receive eternal life, we must repent from sin and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

• The inherent dignity of our body, soul, and spirit which are made in the image of God, and therefore, must govern every ethical principle and activity in politics, economics, medicine, education and science.

When he was still a cardinal, Pope Benedict warned of this…

…dissolution of the image of man, with extremely grave consequences. —May, 14, 2005, Rome; Cardinal Ratzinger, in a speech on European identity.

…and then continued to sound the trumpet after his election:

The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general. If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other “lights” that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress, but also dangers that put us and the world at risk. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Easter Vigil Homily, April 7th, 2012

This strong delusion, a Spiritual Tsunami that is sweeping through the world and now the Church, can rightly be called a “false” or “anti-mercy”, not because compassion is misplaced, but the solutions. And thus, abortion is “merciful” to the unprepared parent; euthanasia is “merciful” for the sick and suffering; gender ideology is “merciful” to those confused in their sexuality; sterilization is “merciful” to those in impoverished nations; and population reduction is “merciful” to an ailing and “overcrowded” planet. And to these we now add the pinnacle, the crown jewel of this strong delusion, and it is the idea that it is “merciful” to “welcome” the sinner without calling them to conversion.

In today’s Gospel (liturgical texts here), Jesus is questioned as to why he eats with “tax collectors and sinners.” He answers:

Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.

If it is not clear in this text that Jesus “welcomes” sinners into His presence precisely in order to bring them to repentance, then this text is:

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them he addressed this parable. “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” (Luke 15:4-7)

The rejoicing in Heaven is not because Jesus welcomed sinners, but because one sinner repented; because one sinner said, “Today, I will no longer do what I did yesterday.”

Do I find pleasure in the death of the wicked…? Do I not rejoice when they turn from their evil way and live? (Ez 18:23)

What we heard in that parable, we then see unfold in the conversion of Zacchaeus. Jesus welcomed this tax collector into his presence, but it was not until he turned from his sin, and only then, that Jesus declares that he is saved:

“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house… (Luk 19:8-9)

But now we see emerging a novel version of these Gospel truths:

If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with ‘humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it’, a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. —Bishops of Malta, Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia; ms.maltadiocese.org

…to which the “watchdog” of orthodoxy in the Catholic Church, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said:

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

This apparent elevation of “conscience” as supreme in the moral order is creating, in fact, a new order divorced from objective truth, with the ultimate criterion of one’s salvation a feeling of being “at peace with God.” St. John Paul II made clear however, that “Conscience is not an independent and exclusive capacity to decide what is good and what is evil.” [4]

Such understanding never means compromising and falsifying the standard of good and evil in order to adapt it to particular circumstances. It is quite human for the sinner to acknowledge his weakness and to ask mercy for his failings; what is unacceptable is the attitude of one who makes his own weakness the criterion of the truth about the good, so that he can feel self-justified, without even the need to have recourse to God and his mercy. An attitude of this sort corrupts the morality of society as a whole, since it encourages doubt about the objectivity of the moral law in general and a rejection of the absoluteness of moral prohibitions regarding specific human acts, and it ends up by confusing all judgments about values.Veritatis Splendor, n. 104; vatican.va

In this scenario, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is essentially rendered moot. Then the names in the Book of Life are compromised no longer of those who remained faithful to God’s commandments to the end, or of those who chose to be martyred rather than sin against the Most High, but of those who were faithful according to their own ideal. This notion, however, is an anti-mercy that not only neglects the necessity of conversion for salvation, but hides or disfigures the Good News that every repentant soul is made a “new creation” in Christ: “the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” [5]

It would be a very serious error to conclude… that the Church’s teaching is essentially only an “ideal” which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man, according to a “balancing of the goods in question”. But what are the “concrete possibilities of man” ? And of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ? This is what is at stake: the reality of Christ’s redemption. Christ has redeemed us! This means that he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection of Christ’s redemptive act, but to man’s will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act. God’s command is of course proportioned to man’s capabilities; but to the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Veritatis Splendor, n. 103; vatican.va

This is the incredible message of authentic Divine Mercy! That even the greatest sinner can obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit by recourse to the fount of Mercy, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Peace with God is not a subjective assumption, but is only objectively true when, through the confession of one’s sins, one makes peace with God through Christ Jesus who made “peace by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20).

Thus, Jesus did not tell the adulteress, “Go now, and continue to commit adultery if you are at peace with yourself and God.” Rather, “go and sin no more.” [6]

And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. (Rom 13:9-14)

And if she did, if she made “no provision for the desires of the flesh,” then all of Heaven rejoiced over her.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you. (Today’s Psalm)

But if she did not, tragically assuming that when Jesus said “Neither do I condemn you” that He meant that He did not condemn her actions, then over this woman—and all those who would lead her and such like-minded astray… all of Heaven weeps.

 

RELATED READING

Read the followup to this writing: The Authentic Mercy

The Spiritual Tsunami

The Great Refuge and Safe Harbour

To Those in Mortal Sin…

The Hour of Lawlessness

Antichrist in Our Times

Compromise: The Great Apostasy

The Great Antidote

The Black Ship Sails – Part I and Part II

The False Unity – Part I and Part II

Deluge of False Prophets – Part I and Part II

More on False Prophets

 

  
Bless you and thank you for
your almsgiving to this ministry.

A Time to Weep Posted

A Flaming Sword: Nuclear-capable missile fired over California in November, 2015
Caters News Agency, (Abe Blair)

 

1917:

…at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’—Sr. Lucia of Fatima, July 13th, 1917

1937:

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

1965:

Although the world of today has a very vivid awareness of its unity and of how one man depends on another in needful solidarity, it is most grievously torn into opposing camps by conflicting forces. For political, social, economic, racial and ideological disputes still continue bitterly, and with them the peril of a war which would reduce everything to ashes. —Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes; vatican.va

2000:

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

2002:

Today I willingly entrust to the power of this prayer [the Rosary]… the cause of peace in the world and the cause of the family. —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 39;

2003:

There will be no peace on earth while the oppression of peoples, injustices, and economic imbalances, which still exist, endure. —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, Ash Wednesday Mass, 2003

2005:

…the threat of judgment also concerns us, the Church in Europe, Europe and the West in general… Light can also be taken away from us and we do well to let this warning ring out with its full seriousness in our hearts… —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Opening Homily, Synod of Bishops,October 2nd, 2005, Rome.

2007:

…the danger of an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons causes well-founded apprehension in every responsible person. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, December 11th, 2007; USA Today

2013:

Weapons and violence do not lead to peace, war leads to more war. —POPE FRANCIS, September 1, 2013; france24.com

2014:

War is madness… even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a Third War, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction… Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep. —POPE FRANCIS, September 13th, 2015; BBC.com

2015-2016:

Pope Francis declares a “Jubilee of Mercy.”

Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy.
—Jesus to St. Faustina; Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 300

2016: Year of Mercy

…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… —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1146

2017:

The winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline. —POPE FRANCIS, Urbi et Orbi, December 25th, 2017; Yahoo.com

…no war is just. The only just thing is peace. —POPE FRANCIS, from Politique et Société, an interview with Dominique Wolton; cf. catholicherald.com

2018:

I think we are at the very limit. I am really afraid of this. One accident is enough to precipitate things. —POPE FRANCIS, aboard flight to Chile and Peru, Reuters, January 15th, 2018; yahoo.com

––––––––––––––

My dearly children beloved, my heart is torn by grief and my tears bathe the earth. Children, again blood and pain will tear my poor heart; the rumbling of wars that were distant are now at the gates. Everything that I had been announcing for a long time will come to pass; now the time has come. Children, pray and do not fall into the temptation of thinking that God has forgotten you; each one of you is precious in His eyes. Children, each of you has been paid for dearly, my son Jesus died for each one of you and loves you immensely, but unfortunately man, more and more, wants to take His place. Dearly beloved children (Mother was crying as she was speaking), you will experience momentous times, you will live in lament and pain; pray, children, make your life a continuous prayer. My children, the weapon for facing these moments of darkness and pain and for ensuring that all of this is mitigated, is prayer, and staying before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: it is there that you will draw the greatest strength! —Our Lady of Zaro allegedly to Angela; Ischia, Italy; April 8th, 2017 (translation by Peter Bannister)

A Flaming Sword: Nuclear-capable missile fired over California in November, 2015
Caters News Agency, (Abe Blair)

 

1917:

…at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’—Sr. Lucia of Fatima, July 13th, 1917

1937:

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

1965:

Although the world of today has a very vivid awareness of its unity and of how one man depends on another in needful solidarity, it is most grievously torn into opposing camps by conflicting forces. For political, social, economic, racial and ideological disputes still continue bitterly, and with them the peril of a war which would reduce everything to ashes. —Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes; vatican.va

2000:

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

2002:

Today I willingly entrust to the power of this prayer [the Rosary]… the cause of peace in the world and the cause of the family. —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 39;

2003:

There will be no peace on earth while the oppression of peoples, injustices, and economic imbalances, which still exist, endure. —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, Ash Wednesday Mass, 2003

2005:

…the threat of judgment also concerns us, the Church in Europe, Europe and the West in general… Light can also be taken away from us and we do well to let this warning ring out with its full seriousness in our hearts… —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Opening Homily, Synod of Bishops,October 2nd, 2005, Rome.

2007:

…the danger of an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons causes well-founded apprehension in every responsible person. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, December 11th, 2007; USA Today

2013:

Weapons and violence do not lead to peace, war leads to more war. —POPE FRANCIS, September 1, 2013; france24.com

2014:

War is madness… even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a Third War, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction… Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep. —POPE FRANCIS, September 13th, 2015; BBC.com

2015-2016:

Pope Francis declares a “Jubilee of Mercy.”

Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy.
—Jesus to St. Faustina; Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 300

2016: Year of Mercy

…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… —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1146

2017:

The winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline. —POPE FRANCIS, Urbi et Orbi, December 25th, 2017; Yahoo.com

…no war is just. The only just thing is peace. —POPE FRANCIS, from Politique et Société, an interview with Dominique Wolton; cf. catholicherald.com

2018:

I think we are at the very limit. I am really afraid of this. One accident is enough to precipitate things. —POPE FRANCIS, aboard flight to Chile and Peru, Reuters, January 15th, 2018; yahoo.com

––––––––––––––

My dearly children beloved, my heart is torn by grief and my tears bathe the earth. Children, again blood and pain will tear my poor heart; the rumbling of wars that were distant are now at the gates. Everything that I had been announcing for a long time will come to pass; now the time has come. Children, pray and do not fall into the temptation of thinking that God has forgotten you; each one of you is precious in His eyes. Children, each of you has been paid for dearly, my son Jesus died for each one of you and loves you immensely, but unfortunately man, more and more, wants to take His place. Dearly beloved children (Mother was crying as she was speaking), you will experience momentous times, you will live in lament and pain; pray, children, make your life a continuous prayer. My children, the weapon for facing these moments of darkness and pain and for ensuring that all of this is mitigated, is prayer, and staying before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: it is there that you will draw the greatest strength! —Our Lady of Zaro allegedly to Angela; Ischia, Italy; April 8th, 2017 (translation by Peter Bannister)