The Spirit of Control

 

WHILE praying before the Blessed Sacrament in 2007, I had a sudden and strong impression of an angel in the mid-heavens hovering above the world and shouting,

“Control! Control!”

As man tries to banish Christ’s presence from the world, wherever they succeed, chaos takes His place. And with chaos, comes fear. And with fear, comes the opportunity to control. But the spirit of Control is not only in the world at large, it is operating in the Church as well…

 

FREEDOM… NOT CONTROL

What is the opposite of control? Freedom. 

…the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor 3:17)

Wherever there is a desire to control there is most often a spirit that is not of Christ. It may simply be a human response of fear; other times, it is a diabolical spirit intent on suppressing and crushing. Whatever it is, it runs contrary to the nature of God, contrary to what a Christian should be as we are made in the image of God

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

Wherever I see an obsessive need to control, to shut down dialogue, to label and marginalize others, to mock and disparage, there is an immediate red flag. In The ReframersI noted that one of the key harbingers of The Growing Mob today is, rather than engage in a discussion of facts, they often resort to simply labelling and stigmatizing those with whom they disagree. They call them “haters” or “deniers”, “homophobes” or “bigots”, “anti-vaxxers” or “Islamophobes”, etc. It is a smokescreen, a reframing of the dialogue so as to, in fact, shut down dialogue. It is an attack on freedom of speech, and more and more, freedom of religionIt is remarkable to see how Our Lady of Fatima’s words, spoken over a century ago, are unfolding precisely as she said they would: the “errors of Russia” are spreading throughout the world, ie. practical atheism and materialism—and the spirit of control behind them. 

Based on his work in prisons, Dr. Theodore Dalrymple (aka. Anthony Daniels) concluded that “political correctness” is simply “Communist propaganda writ small”:

In my study of Communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of Communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to. —interview, August 31st, 2005; FrontPageMagazine.com

Sometimes, out of the blue, I have this sense of oppression all around us. And then I realize it this spirit of Control that seeks to eradicate my rights as a parent, my rights as a Christian, my rights as a child of God to live freely and enjoy His creation. You can feel it “in the air.” This is what happens when a society abandons Christ or rejects Him altogether: the spiritual vacuum is filled with the spirit of antichrist. This is a historical fact, witnessed in the previous century wherever dictatorships took hold, such as in Communist Russia, China, or Nazi Germany. Today, it is evident in North Korea, China, Venezuela, and the Middle East where Christianity is being razed to the ground. 

And it’s begun now in North America, Europe and Australia where Christianity is being rejected and atheistic and Marxists ideologies are not only taking hold but being forced onto the populace as the only permissible way of thinking. In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being eliminated (See When Communism Returns). 

It is not the beautiful globalization of unity of all Nations, each one with their own customs, instead it is the globalization of hegemonic uniformity, it is the single thought. And this sole thought is the fruit of worldliness. —POPE FRANCIS, Homily, November 18th, 2013; Zenit

What can turn it around? According to Our Lady in her apparitions throughout the world, our response in prayerfasting, consecration and witnessing to the Gospel can, at least to a certain degree, mitigate what is now upon us. But here’s the problem: the Church in many places no longer has the capacity to listen and discern the prophetic voice of Our Lady, and thus, engage in Heaven’s plan.  

 

CONTROL AND FEAR… IN THE CHURCH

As a lay evangelist, I have witnessed first hand how bishops have often crushed grassroots movements. Why? Because you cannot control the Holy Spirit. He is both the Spark that starts a grassfire and the Wind that fans it into flame. But some of our dear bishops want to contain that fire, build stones around it like a firepot. And in the process of controlling (rather than guiding) the flames, they extinguish it altogether. 

These people are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘It will come to pass in the last days,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out a portion of my Spirit upon all flesh.’ (Acts 2:15-17)

But can we lay people not do the same in our own way, especially when it comes to the unknown that we can’t measure, tame, or predict—such as the manifestation of the charisms of the Holy Spirit or the spread of so-called “private revelations”? Modern man has been seized by a rationalist mindset that has lost its childlike capacity to accept God on His terms (see Rationalism, and the Death of Mystery). It’s not comfortable to the Western mind when the neat and tidy box we want our Sunday Catholicism to remain in is torn open. Apparitions don’t fit well on our apologetics bookshelf. We are embarrassed by them. A couple of years ago, I wrote Why the World Remains in PainIt’s because resistance to the prophetic voice of God has effectively “quenched the Holy Spirit” [1]1 Thess 5:19 and thus given ample space to the voice of false prophets who, today, are spreading their anti-Gospel with great effectiveness and frequently coercion. 

In his recent “Manifesto of Faith,” Cardinal Gerhard Müller wrote:

Today, many Christians are no longer even aware of the basic teachings of the Faith, so there is a growing danger of missing the path to eternal life. —February 8th, 2019, Catholic News Agency

Why? Because our shepherds have failed to teach the faith.

Enter: Medjugorje.

For nearly forty years, this small village has pumped out a consistent message to the world via the alleged apparitions of Our Lady there to return to Jesus, to pray from the heart, to return to frequent Confession, to come back to Mass, to adore the Eucharist, to fast for the world, to deepen interior conversion and to witness this life to the world. If we aren’t going to preach it from the pulpits, then Christ’s Mother will.

What are the fruits? Literally millions of conversions; over 610 documented vocations to the priesthood; over 400 medically verified healings; and thousands of new ministries and apostolates. And while the youth have left Western churches in a veritable mass exodus, over 2 million youth come to Medjugorje each year to worship Jesus in the Eucharist, to climb a mountain in penance, and to strengthen their faith for the journey ahead. 

The fruits are so convincing, apparently, that Pope Francis has just authorized official diocesan-led pilgrimages to the site, essentially declaring it a Marian shrine. And the Ruini Commission, established by Pope Benedict, has apparently ruled that the first seven apparitions there are indeed “supernatural” in origin.[2]cf. Medjugorje, What You May Not Know… And yet, I hear Catholics continue to beat the drum that this is a “diabolical” deception. And I ask myself, what are they thinking? Do they not have the tools to discern? What are they afraid of in at least acknowledging if not celebrating nearly four decades of conversions unlike anything the world has ever seen?  

Fear. Control. What are we afraid of? Because Jesus gave us a clear litmus test to discern:

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:18)

But I hear Catholics, even some apologists saying, “Satan can produce good fruit too!” If that is the case, then Jesus gave us a false teaching at best and laid a trap at worst. Scripture says that Satan can produce “signs and wonders that lie.” [3]2 Thess 2:11 But the fruits of the Holy Spirit? No. The worms will soon come out. Indeed, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith refutes the notion that the fruits are irrelevant when it comes to discerning presumed apparitions. It specifically refers to the importance that such a phenomenon… 

…bear fruits by which the Church herself might later discern the true nature of the facts… —”Norms Regarding the Manner of Proceeding in the Discernment of Presumed Apparitions or Revelations” n. 2, vatican.va

After 38 years now and counting, the fruits of Medjugorje are not only abundant, they are extraordinary. As Christianity collapses in the West, disappears in the East, and goes underground in Asia, I can’t help but be alarmed that the one hotspot on earth where vocations and conversions are literally exploding, is still being attacked by Catholics who, frankly, ought to know better.

These fruits are tangible, evident. And in our diocese and in many other places, I observe graces of conversion, graces of a life of supernatural faith, of vocations, of healings, of a rediscovering of the sacraments, of confession. These are all things which do not mislead. This is the reason why I can only say that it is these fruits which enable me, as bishop, to pass a moral judgment. And if as Jesus said, we must judge the tree by its fruits, I am obliged to say that the tree is good.” —Cardinal Schönborn, Vienna, Medjugorje Gebetsakion, #50; Stella Maris, #343, pp. 19, 20 

Now, while Pope Francis has permitted pilgrimages to Medjugorje, this is not to be “interpreted as an authentication of known events, which still require examination by the Church.” [4]“ad interim” director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti; May 12th, 2019, Vatican News In fact, Francis has stated that he is resistant to the idea of daily apparitions. 

I personally am more suspicious, I prefer the Madonna as Mother, our Mother, and not a woman who’s the head of an office, who every day sends a message at a certain hour. This is not the Mother of Jesus. And these presumed apparitions don’t have a lot of value… He clarified that this is his “personal opinion,” but added that the Madonna does not function by saying, “Come tomorrow at this time, and I will give a message to those people.”Catholic News Agency, May 13th, 2017

He says that the Madonna does not function by saying, “Come tomorrow at this time, and I will give a message.” However, that’s precisely what happened with the approved apparition in Fatima. The three Portuguese seers told the authorities that Our Lady was going to appear on October 13th “at high noon.” So tens of thousands gathered, including skeptics who no doubt said the very same thing as Francis—this is not how Our Lady functions. But as history records, Our Lady did appear along with St. Joseph and the Christ Child, and the “miracle of the sun,” as well as other miracles, took place.[5]see Debunking the Sun Miracle Skeptics

Indeed, Our Lady is appearing, sometimes on a daily basis, to other seers throughout the world at this time, several who have explicit approval of their bishop on some level.[6]cf. Medjugorje and the Smoking Guns “Approved” seers such as St. Faustina, Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta and many others also received hundreds, if not thousands of heavenly communications. So while it is the “personal” opinion of Pope Francis that this is not the function of a Mother to appear so frequently, apparently Heaven disagrees.

So she talks too much, this “Virgin of the Balkans”? That’s the sardonic opinion of some unabashed skeptics. Have they eyes but do not see, and ears but do not hear? Clearly the voice in the messages of Medjugorje is that of a motherly and strong woman who does not pamper her children, but teaches them, exhorts and pushes them to assume greater responsibility for the future of our planet:  ‘A large part of what will happen depends on your prayers’… We must allow God all the time he wills to take for the transfiguration of all time and space before the Holy Face of the One who is, was, and will come again. —Bishop Gilbert Aubry of St. Denis, Reunion Island; Forward to “Medjugorje: the 90’s—The Triumph of the Heart” by Sr. Emmanuel 

That’s the whole point of this writing: we cannot box God. If we try, grace will explode somewhere else. And herein lies the warning. If we in the West continue down this road of rejecting the Gospel, of worshiping at the altars of rationalism, of remaining complacent and indifferent to Heaven’s warnings… then grace will literally find another place to operate. 

…the threat of judgment also concerns us, the Church in Europe, Europe and the West in general. With this Gospel, the Lord is also crying out to our ears the words that in the Book of Revelation he addresses to the Church of Ephesus: “If you do not repent I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” 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, while crying to the Lord: “Help us to repent!…” —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Opening Homily, Synod of Bishops, October 2nd, 2005, Rome 

 

FAITH, NOT FEAR

There is no need for this irrational fear of Medjugorje or any so-called “private revelation,” whether it comes from an alleged seer or is spoken out loud at a public gathering. Why? We have the Church to help us discern what is and is not authentic.

We urge you to listen with simplicity of heart and sincerity of mind to the salutary warnings of the Mother of God… The Roman Pontiffs… If they are instituted the guardians and interpreters of divine Revelation, contained in Holy Scripture and Tradition, they also take it as their duty to recommend to the attention of the faithful—when, after responsible examination, they judge it for the common good—the supernatural lights which it has pleased God to dispense freely to certain privileged souls, not for proposing new doctrines, but to guide us in our conduct. —POPE SAINT JOHN XXIII, Papal Radio Message, February 18th, 1959; L’Osservatore Romano

If a certain message is contrary to Catholic teaching, ignore it. If it’s consistent, “retain what is good.” [7]1 Thess 5:21 If you are unsure, then set it aside. If you are inspired by a certain revelation, thank God for it. But then return to the breast of Mother-Church and draw from the graces available to us in the ordinary paths of salvation: the food of the sacraments, the life of prayer, and the life of charity so that others “may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” [8]Matt 5:16 In this way, “private revelation” finds its proper place within the Public Revelation of Jesus Christ given to us in the “deposit of faith.”

But let’s also not be naive. We know that bishops sometimes condemn what are authentic manifestations of the Spirit, such as the writings of St. Faustina or St. Pio himself. Fear… Control… But even then, we should still trust in Jesus. We should still obey those shepherds who are acting contrary to the Spirit of Freedom insofar as we remain in unity with them, even if we respectfully disagree. 

Even if the Pope were Satan incarnate, we ought not to raise up our heads against him… I know very well that many defend themselves by boasting: “They are so corrupt, and work all manner of evil!” But God has commanded that, even if the priests, the pastors, and Christ-on-earth were incarnate devils, we be obedient and subject to them, not for their sakes, but for the sake of God, and out of obedience to Him. —St. Catherine of Siena, SCS, p. 201-202, p. 222, (quoted in Apostolic Digest, by Michael Malone, Book 5: “The Book of Obedience”, Chapter 1: “There is No Salvation Without Personal Submission to the Pope”)

I think so much of what is happening today that is shaking the status quo—both in the world and in the Church—is a test: do we trust Jesus or do we let Satan win the day with fear? Do we trust in the mysterious ways God works, or are we trying to control the Divine narrative? Are we open to the Holy Spirit, His gifts, His graces, and His grassfires… or do we put them out as soon as they approach?

…whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it. (Mark 10:15)

 

RELATED READING

The historical facts on the Church’s discernment of Medjugorje: Medjugorje…What You May Not Know

Answering 24 objections to Medjugorje: Medjugorje and the Smoking Guns

Isn’t Medjugorje what the entire Church should look like? On Medjugorje

Can You Ignore Private Revelation?

Turn on the Headlights

When the Stones Cry Out

The Great Vacuum

 

 

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1. 1 Thess 5:19
2. cf. Medjugorje, What You May Not Know…
3. 2 Thess 2:11
4. “ad interim” director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti; May 12th, 2019, Vatican News
5. see Debunking the Sun Miracle Skeptics
6. cf. Medjugorje and the Smoking Guns
7. 1 Thess 5:21
8. Matt 5:16
Posted in HOME, SIGNS.