THERE are many young people who read The Now Word as well as families who’ve told me that they share these writings around the table. One mother wrote:
You have changed my family’s world because of the newsletters I read from you and pass on. I believe your gift is helping us live a “holier” life (I mean that in the way of praying more often, trusting Mary more, Jesus more, going to Confession in a more meaningful way, having a deeper desire to serve and live a saintly life…). To which I say “THANK YOU!”
Here’s a family who has understood the underlying prophetic “purpose” of this apostolate:
…prophecy in the biblical sense does not mean to predict the future but to explain the will of God for the present, and therefore show the right path to take for the future… this is the point: [private revelations] help us to understand the signs of the times and to respond to them rightly in faith. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), “Message of Fatima”, Theological Commentary, www.vatican.va
At the same time, many prophecies from saints and mystics alike do speak of the future—if only to call us back to God in the present moment, impelled as it were by the “signs of the times.”
The prophet is someone who tells the truth on the strength of his contact with God—the truth for today, which also, naturally, sheds light on the future. —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Christian Prophecy, The Post-Biblical Tradition, Niels Christian Hvidt, Foreword, p. vii
So, reading The Now Word is admittedly sobering from time to time as we appear closer to the fulfillment of many prophecies that speak of “chastisement”, “tribulation”, etc. As such, many young people are wondering what the future is bringing: Is there hope or just desolation? Is there a purpose or just pointlessness? Should they make plans or just hunker down? Should they go to college, get married, have children… or just wait out the Storm? Many are beginning to fight tremendous fear and disillusionment, if not depression.
And so, I want to speak from the heart to all my young readers, to my little brothers and sisters and even my own sons and daughters, some whom have now entered their twenties.
I can’t speak for you, but the approach of Spring, the trickling of melting snow, the warm touch of my wife, the laughter of a friend, the sparkle in my grandchildren’s eyes… they daily remind me of what a great gift life is, despite any suffering. That, and there is the joy of the realization that I am loved:
The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; they are renewed each morning — great is your faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Yes, never forget this: even when you fail, even when you sin, it can no more impede God’s love for you than a cloud can stop the sun from shining. Yes, it’s true that the clouds of our sin can make our souls overcast with sadness, and selfishness can plunge the heart into deep darkness. It is also true that sin, if serious enough, can completely negate the effects of God’s love (i.e. grace, power, peace, light, joy, etc.) the way a heavy rain cloud can steal away the warmth and light of the sun. Yet, just as that same cloud cannot snuff out the sun itself, so too, your sin can never extinguish God’s love for you. Sometimes this thought alone makes me want to cry for joy. Because now I can quit trying so darn hard to get God to love me (the way we try so hard to win another’s admiration) and just rest and trust in His love (and if you forget how much God loves you, just look at the Cross). Repentance or turning from sin, then, is not about making myself lovable to God but becoming who He created me to be so that I have the capacity to love Him, who already loves me.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)
In fact, St. Paul reveals that his happiness in this life wasn’t based in having things, fulfilling worldly pursuits and dreams, gaining wealth and notoriety, or even living in a country free of war or persecution. Rather, his joy came from knowing that he was loved and pursuing the One who is Love itself.
Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)
Therein lies true hope for your future: no matter what happens, you are loved. And when you accept that Divine Love, live by that Love, and seek above all else that Love, then everything else on earth—the best foods, adventures, and even holy relationships—pales in comparison. Total abandonment to God is the root of eternal happiness.
Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence… —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 301
That, too, is the testimony of countless saints and martyrs who’ve gone before you. Why? Because they weren’t fixated on what this world has to offer and were even willing to lose everything in order to possess God. Thus, some of the saints even longed to live in the days that you and I are now living because they knew it would involve heroic love. And now we’re getting down to it—and why you were born for these times:
Listening to Christ and worshipping Him leads us to make courageous choices, to take what are sometimes heroic decisions. Jesus is demanding, because He wishes our genuine happiness. The Church needs saints. All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, World Youth Day Message for 2005, Vatican City, Aug. 27th, 2004, Zenit.org
But is there even a future to look foward to?
THE REALITY OF OUR TIMES
Several years ago, a distraught young man wrote me. He was reading about the coming purification of the world and was wondering why he should even bother to publish a new book that he was working on. I replied that there are a few reasons why he absolutely should. One, is that none of us knows God’s timeline. As St. Faustina and the popes have said, we are living in a “time of mercy.” But God’s Mercy is like an elastic band that stretches to the point of breaking… and then some little nun in a convent in the middle of nowhere gets on her face before the Blessed Sacrament and gains for the world another decade of reprieve. You see, that young man wrote me about 14 years ago. I hope he published that book.
Furthermore, what is coming upon the earth is not the end of the world but the end of this era. Now, I didn’t lie to that young man; I didn’t give him false hope and tell him that there’s nothing to be concerned about or that there wouldn’t be difficult times ahead. Rather, I told him that, like Jesus, the Body of Christ must now follow its Head through her own passion, death and resurrection. As it says in the Catechism:
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. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 677
Still, the thought of this bothered him. It may even make you sad and apprehensive: “Why can’t things just stay the way they are?”
Well, I want to ask you a question: do you really want this world to continue as it is? Do you really want a future where in order to get ahead, you have to go into debt? A future of barely getting by, even with a college degree? A world where robots will soon eliminate tens of millions of jobs? A society where fear, anger, and violence dominates our daily news? A culture where tearing others down on social media has become the norm? A world where the planet and our bodies are being poisoned by chemicals, pesticides and toxins resulting in new and horrific diseases? A place where you cannot feel safe walking in your own neighborhood? A world where we have madmen in control of nuclear missiles? A culture where sexually transmitted diseases and suicide are epidemic? A society where drug use is escalating and human trafficking spreading like a plague? A milieu where pornography is degrading and entrapping your friends and family if not yourself? A generation that says there are no moral absolutes, while reinventing “truth” and silencing those who disagree? A world where political leaders believe in nothing and say anything just to stay in power?
I think you get the point. St. Paul wrote that in Christ, “all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17 So, when we remove God from the public sphere, all things come apart. This is why humanity has come to the brink of self-destruction and why we have arrived at the end of an era, what is called the “end times.” But again, the “end times” aren’t equivalent to the “end of the world”…
RESTORING ALL THINGS IN CHRIST
God did not create mankind for this kind of a mess. He’s not just going to throw up His hands and say, “Ah, I tried. Oh well Satan, you win.” No, the Father created us to live in perfect harmony with Him and creation. And through Jesus, the Father intends to restore man to this dignity. This is only possible, of course, if we live according to the laws He established which govern the physical and spiritual universe, if we “live in” the Divine Will. Thus, one could say that Jesus died on the Cross, not only to save us, but to restore us to our rightful dignity, made as we are in the image of God. Jesus is a King, and He wants us to reign with Him. That is why He taught us to pray:
Thy Kingdom come and Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt 6:10)
God wants to restore in creation the original harmony He established “in the beginning”…
…a creation in which God and man, man and woman, humanity and nature are in harmony, in dialogue, in communion. This plan, upset by sin, was taken up in a more wondrous way by Christ, Who is carrying it out mysteriously but effectively in the present reality, in the expectation of bringing it to fulfillment… —POPE JOHN PAUL II, General Audience, February 14, 2001
Did you catch that? The pope said this will be fulfilled “in the present reality,” that is, within time, not eternity. That means that something beautiful is going to be born “on earth as it is in heaven” after the labor pains and tears of this present era are over. And what is coming is the reign of God’s will.
You see, Adam didn’t just do His Creator’s will, like a slave, but he possessed God’s will as his very own. Thus, Adam had at his disposal the light, power, and life of God’s creative power; everything Adam thought, spoke and did was imbued with the same power that created the universe. Adam thus “reigned” over creation as though a king because God’s will reigned in him. But after the fall into sin, Adam was still capable of doing God’s will, but the interior likeness and communion he had with the Holy Trinity was now shattered, and the harmony between man and creation broken. All could only be restored by grace. That restoration began with Jesus through His death and resurrection. And now, in these times, God wants to complete this work by restoring man to that “first” dignity of the Garden of Eden.
Clearly, a great portion of humanity has lost not only its harmony but even its dialogue with the Creator. As such, the entire universe is now groaning under the weight of man’s sin, awaiting his restoration.cf. Rom 8:19
“All creation,” said St. Paul, “groans and labors up till now,” awaiting Christ’s redemptive efforts to restore the proper relationship between God and his creation. But Christ’s redemptive act did not of itself restore all things, it simply made the work of redemption possible, it began our redemption. Just as all men share in the disobedience of Adam, so all men must share in the obedience of Christ to the Father’s will. Redemption will be complete only when all men share his obedience… —Servant of God Fr. Walter Ciszek, He Leadeth Me (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), pp. 116-117
When will men share His obedience? When the words of the “Our Father” are brought to fulfillment. And guess what? You are the generation that is alive to realize this. You are the ones born for these times when God wants to re-establish His Kingdom in the human heart: the Kingdom of His Divine Will.
And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)
As Jesus said to Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta:
In Creation, My ideal was to form the Kingdom of My Will in My creature’s soul. My primary purpose was to make each man the image of the Divine Trinity by virtue of the fulfillment of My Will in him. But by man’s withdrawal from My Will, I lost My Kingdom in him, and for 6000 long years I have had to battle. —Jesus to Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta, from Luisa’s diaries, Vol. XIV, November 6th, 1922; Saints in the Divine Will by Fr. Sergio Pellegrini; p. 35
As we enter the “seventh millennium” since the creation of Adam and Eve…
…we hear today the groaning as no one has ever heard it before… Pope [John Paul II] does indeed cherish a great expectation that the millennium of divisions will be followed by a millennium of unifications. —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (BENEDICT XVI), Salt of the Earth (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997), translated by Adrian Walker
THE BATTLE OF OUR TIMES
Now, in your lifetime, that battle is coming to a head. As St. John Paul II said,
We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the Gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. —Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (JOHN PAUL II ), at the Eucharistic Congress, Philadelphia, PA for the bicentennial celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; some citations of this passage omit the words “Christ and the antichrist.” Deacon Keith Fournier, an attendee at the event, reports it as above; cf. Catholic Online; August 13, 1976
You’ve probably noticed that your generation tends to the extreme these days: skateboarding off of railings, jumping from building to building, skiing from virgin mountaintops, taking selfies from atop towers, etc. But how about living and dying for something totally epic? How about engaging in a battle whose outcome will affect the entire universe? Do you want to be on the sidelines of the mundane or on the frontlines of miracles? Because the Lord has already begun to pour out His Spirit upon those who are saying “Yes, Lord. Here I am.” He has already begun a renewal of the world in the hearts of a remnant. What a time to be alive! Because…
…towards the end of the world, and indeed soon, Almighty God and his holy Mother are to raise up great saints who will surpass in holiness most other saints as much as the cedars of Lebanon tower above little shrubs… These great souls filled with grace and zeal will be chosen to oppose the enemies of God who are raging on all sides. They will be exceptionally devoted to the Blessed Virgin. Illumined by her light, strengthened by her food, guided by her spirit, supported by her arm, sheltered under her protection, they will fight with one hand and build with the other. —True Devotion to The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Louis de Montfort, art. 47-48
Yes, you are being called to join Our Lady’s Little Rabble, to join The Counter-Revolution to restore truth, beauty and goodness. Don’t get me wrong: there is a lot that must be purified in this present era so that a new era can be born. It will require, in part, a Cosmic Surgery. That, and Jesus said, you cannot pour new wine into an old wine skin because the old skin will just burst.cf. Mark 2:22 Well, you are that new wineskin and the New Wine is a Second Pentecost that God is going to pour out upon the world after this winter of sorrows is through:
“As the third millennium of the Redemption draws near, God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity, and we can already see its first signs.” May Mary, the Morning Star, help us to say with ever new ardor our “yes” to the Father’s plan for salvation that all nations and tongues may see his glory. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Message for World Mission Sunday, n.9, October 24th, 1999; www.vatican.va
NO FALSE HOPE
Yes, your skills, your talents, your books, your art, your music, your creativity, your children and above all your holiness are what God is going to use to rebuild a civilization of love in which Christ will reign, at last, to the ends of the earth (see Jesus is Coming!). So, don’t lose hope! Pope John Paul II did not start World Youth Days to announce the end of the world but the beginning of another. In fact, he called you and I to become its very heralds.
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)
Many of you were just hitting your teen years when his successor, Benedict XVI, was elected. And he said the same thing, even suggesting that he was forming a “new Upper Room” to pray with the youth for this new Pentecost. His message, far from despair, was anticipating the coming of the Kingdom of God in a new way.
The power of the Holy Spirit does not only enlighten and console us. It also points us to the future, to the coming of God’s Kingdom… This power can create a new world: it can “renew the face of the earth” (cf. Ps 104:30)! Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faith’s rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God’s gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished – not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty. A new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships. Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of his love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily, World Youth Day, Sydney, Australia, July 20th, 2008; vatican.va
Sounds pretty beautiful, doesn’t it? And this is no false hope, no “fake news.” The Scriptures speak of this coming renewal and “period of peace,” as Our Lady of Fatima called it. See Psalm 72:7-9; 102:22-23; Isaiah 11:4-11; 21:11-12; 26:9; Jeremiah 31:1-6; Ezekiel 36:33-36; Hosea 14:5-8; Joel 4:18; Daniel 7:22; Amos 9:14-15; Micah 5:1-4; Zephaniah 3:11-13; Zechariah 13:8-9; Malachi 3:19-21; Matt 24:14; Acts 3:19-22; Heb 4:9-10; and Rev 20:6. The Early Church Fathers explained these Scriptures (see Dear Holy Father… He is Coming!) and, as I say, the popes have been proclaiming it (see The Popes… and the Dawning Era). Take some time to read these resources at some point because they speak of a future full of hope: an end to war; an end to many diseases and premature death; an end to the destruction of nature; and an end to the divisions which have torn at the human race for thousands of years. No, it won’t be Heaven, at least externally. For this coming of the Kingdom “on earth as it is in Heaven” is an interior reality God will accomplish in the souls of His People in order to prepare the Church as a Bride, to be “without spot or blemish” for the final return of Jesus at the very end of time.cf. Eph 5:27 and The Middle Coming Thus, what you were destined for in these days, dear sons and daughters, is to receive a “new and divine holiness” never before given to the Church. It is the “crown of sanctity” and the greatest gift that God has reserved for the last times… for you and your children:
Living in the Divine Will bequeaths to the soul on earth the same interior union with God’s Will as enjoyed by the saints in heaven. —Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, theologian, The Divine Will Prayer Book, p. 699
And that can’t help but have an impact on all of creation.
Still, you might fear the trials that are already coming upon the world (e.g. war, disease, famine, etc.) and fear competes with hope. But in truth, it is only a cause for fear for those who remain outside of God’s grace. But if you are honestly trying to follow Jesus, putting your faith and love in Him, He promises to safeguard you.
Because you have kept my message of endurance, I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come to the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming quickly. Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may take your crown. (Rev 3:10-11)
How will He keep you safe? One way is through Our Lady. For those who give themselves to Mary and take her as their mother, she becomes that safety that Jesus promises:
My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. —Our Lady of Fatima, Second apparition, June 13, 1917, The Revelation of the Two Hearts in Modern Times, www.ewtn.com
My Mother is Noah’s Ark.—Jesus to Elizabeth Kindelmann, The Flame of Love, p. 109. Imprimatur Archbishop Charles Chaput
That, and returning to our opening theme on love, St. John states:
Perfect love casts out all fear. (1 John 4:18)
Love, and fear nothing. Love, like the sun dispelling the mists of morning, dissolves fear. This does not mean that you and I won’t suffer. Is that the case even now? Of course not. Suffering won’t end completely until the consummation of all things at the end of time. And thus…
Do not fear what may happen tomorrow.
The same loving Father who cares for you today will
care for you tomorrow and everyday.
Either he will shield you from suffering
or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.
—St. Francis de Sales, 17th century bishop
The greater the darkness, the more complete our trust should be.
—St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 357
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|2.||↑||cf. Rom 8:19|
|3.||↑||cf. Mark 2:22|
|4.||↑||cf. Eph 5:27 and The Middle Coming|