Mark’s testimony concludes with Part V today. To read Parts I-IV, click on My Testimony.
NOT only did the Lord want me to unequivocally know the value of one soul, but also how much I was going to need to trust in Him. For my ministry was about to be called in a direction I did not anticipate, though He had already “forwarned” me years before that music is a doorway to evangelize… to the Now Word.
THE DESERT TESTING
Lea was a successful professional graphic designer, and I, a television reporter. But now we had to learn to live on Divine Providence. With our seventh child on the way, it would be quite a test!
In July of 2005, we launched a concert tour across the United States that started in central Canada, wound through southern California, crossed over to Florida, and then back home again. But even before our first concert began, we ran into trouble.
If you’ve ever driven “The Grapevine” in California, then you’ll know why there are truck stops at the top and bottom of the mountain: to service the engines that overheat and the brakes that burn out. We were the former. Our motorhome’s engine kept overheating, so we pulled into a diesel shop—not once—but at least 3-4 more times. Each time, after only barely making it to the next town, we had to stop at yet another repair shop. I estimated that we had spent roughly $6000 trying to solve the problem.
By the time we set out across the blazing desert into Texas, I was grumbling once again—like the Israelites of old. “Lord, I’m on your side! Are you not on mine?” But by the time we reached Louisiana, I realized my sin… my lack of trust.
Before the concert that night, I went to confession with Fr. Kyle Dave, a young, dynamic priest. For my penance, he opened a small baggie full of Scripture quotes, and told me to take one. This is what I pulled out:
God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. (2 For 9:8)
I shook my head and laughed. And then, with a sly grin on his face, Fr. Kyle said: “This place is going to be packed tonight.” I laughed again. “Don’t worry about that, Father. If we get fifty people, that’ll be a good crowd.”
“Oh. There’ll be more than that,” he said flashing his beautiful smile. “You’ll see.”
PROVIDENCE IN THE STORM
The concert was at 7pm, but my sound check started around 5 O’clock. By 5:30, there were people standing in the lobby. So I poked my head in and said, “Hi folks. You know the concert is at seven tonight?”
“Oh yes, Mr. Mark,” said one lady in that classic southern drawl. “We’re here to get a good seat.” I couldn’t help laughing.
“Don’t worry,” I smiled, “You’ll have plenty of places to sit.” The images of nearly empty churches that I was so used to playing to by now, flickered through my mind.
Twenty minutes later, the lobby was so full, I had to wrap up my sound check. Weaving my way through the crowd, I headed toward the end of the parking lot where our “tour bus” was parked. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Two police cars were parked in the intersection of the street with their lights on as Sheriffs directed traffic into the parking lot. “Oh my gosh,” I said to my wife, as we peered through the tiny kitchen window. “They must think Garth Brooks is coming!”
That night, the Holy Spirit descended upon the 500 plus audience. At one point in the concert, a “word” came to me that I preached to the standing-room-only crowd.
There is a great tsunami about to sweep over the world. It is going to pass through the Church and carry many people away. Brothers and sisters, you need to be prepared. You need to build your life, not on the shifting sands of moral relativism, but on the rock of Christ’s Word.
Two weeks later, a 35 foot wall of water passed through the church taking the altar, books, pews—everything—except a statue of St. Thérèse de Lisieux that stood alone where the altar used to be. All the windows were blown out by the storm surge except the stained glass window of the Eucharist. “Hurricane Katrina,” Fr. Kyle would later say, “was a microcosm of what is coming upon the world.” It was as though the Lord was saying that, unless we have the childlike faith of Thérèse centered only on Jesus, we will not survive the Great Storm that is coming like a hurricane upon the earth.
…you are entering into the decisive times, times for which I have been preparing you for many years. How many will be swept away by the terrible hurricane which has already hurled itself upon humanity. This is the time of the great trial; this is my time, O children consecrated to my Immaculate Heart. —Our Lady to Fr. Stefano Gobbi, Feb. 2nd, 1994; with Imprimatur Bishop Donald Montrose
You know, my little one, the elect will have to fight against the Prince of Darkness. It will be a terrible storm. Rather, it will be a hurricane which will want to destroy the faith and confidence of even the elect. In this terrible turmoil currently brewing up, you will see the brightness of my Flame of Love illuminating Heaven and earth by the effusion of its effect of grace I am passing on to souls in this dark night. —Our Lady to Elizabeth Kindelmann, The Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary: The Spiritual Diary (Kindle Locations 2994-2997); Imprimatur by Cardinal Péter Erdö
Two nights later, we had a concert in Pensacola, Florida. After the venue had emptied out, a little lady walked up to me and said, “Here you go. I sold my house and want to help you out.” I thanked her, stuffed her cheque into my pocket without looking at it, and finished loading our sound gear.
As we drove to sleep overnight in a Wal-Mart parking lot, I remembered our exchange, dug into my pocket, and handed the cheque to my wife. She unfolded it and let out a gasp.
“Mark. It’s a cheque for $6000!”
THE PROPHETIC MOUNTAIN
Fr. Kyle lost pretty much everything but the collar around his neck. With nowhere to go, we invited him to stay with us in Canada. “Yes, go”, his bishop said. A couple of weeks later, Fr. Kyle and I were traveling through the Canadian prairies where he would tell his story, I would sing, and we would beg for donations to help rebuild his parish. The generosity was astounding.
And then Fr. Kyle and I journeyed to the foot of the Canadian Rockies. Our plan was to go site-seeing. But the Lord had something else in mind. We got as far as The Way of Holiness retreat centre. Over the course of the next few days, the Lord began to reveal through the Mass readings, Liturgy of the Hours, and “words” of knowledge… the “big picture” of this Great Storm. What the Lord revealed on that mountain would later form the foundation, The Petals, for the over 1300 writings that are now on this website.
BE NOT AFRAID
I knew at that point that God was asking something of me beyond the ordinary, for His prophetic words were now burning in my heart. Months earlier, the Lord had already urged me to begin putting on the Internet the thoughts that came to me in prayer. But after my experience with Fr. Kyle, which left both of us breathless at times, I was terrified. Prophecy is like walking blind-folded over jagged rocks on the edge of a cliff. How many well-meaning souls have toppled over having stumbled on the stones of pride and presumption! I was so afraid to lead a single soul into any kind of falsehood. I could hardly trust a word I wrote.
“But I simply can’t read everything,” said my spiritual director, Fr. Robert “Bob” Johnson of Madonna House.“Well,” I replied, “how about assigning Michael D. O’Brien to direct my writings?” Michael was and is, in my opinion, one of the most reliable prophets in the Catholic Church today. Through his paintings and fictional works like Fr. Elijah and Eclipse of the Sun, Michael foretold the rise of totalitarianism and the moral collapse that we are now seeing unfold daily before our eyes. His lectures and essays have been published in major Catholic publications and his wisdom has been sought around the world. But in person, Michael is an extraordinarily humble man who asks your opinion before he’ll ever offer his own.
In the months and roughly five years that followed, Michael mentored me, not so much in my writing, but more so in navigating the treacherous terrain of my own wounded heart. He gently guided me over the jagged rocks of private revelation, avoiding the pitfalls of “divinized fortune telling” or pointless speculation, and reminded me time and again to stay close to the Church Fathers, popes, and teachings of the Catechism. These—not necessarily the “lights” which would begin coming to me in prayer—would become my true teachers. Humility, prayer and the sacraments would become my food. And Our Lady would be my companion.
CALLED TO THE WALL
The faithful, who by Baptism are incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God, are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, 897
Despite the assurances in spiritual direction, the worldwide messages of Our Lady, or even the clear words of the popes regarding our times, was I really called to exercise the “prophetic” office of Christ? Was the Father really calling me to this, or was I deceived?
One day I was playing the piano singing the Sanctus or “Holy, Holy, Holy” that I had written for the Liturgy.
All of a sudden, an intense desire to be before the Blessed Sacrament welled up in heart. Within a second, I leapt up, grabbed my prayer book and car keys, and was out the door.
As I knelt before the Tabernacle, a strong stirring from deep within spilled over into words… into a cry:
Lord, here I am. Send me! But Jesus, don’t just cast my nets a little way. Rather, cast them to the ends of the earth! O Lord, let me reach souls for you. Here I am, Lord, send me!
After what seemed a good half hour of prayer, tears and pleading, I came back down to earth and decided to pray the Office for the day. I opened up my prayer book to the morning hymn. It began…
Holy, Holy, Holy…
Then I read the First Reading for the day:
Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two they veiled their feet, and with two they hovered aloft. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!” they cried one to the other. (Isaiah 6:2-3)
My heart began to burn as I continued to read how the angels touched the lips of Isaiah with a burning ember…
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am”, I said; “send me!”…. (Isaiah 6:8)
It was like my conversation with the Lord was now unfolding in print. The Second Reading was from St. John Chrysostom, words which that moment seemed as though they were written for me:
You are the salt of the earth. It is not for your own sake, he says, but for the world’s sake that the word is entrusted to you. I am not sending you into two cities only or ten or twenty, not to a single nation, as I sent the prophets of old, but across land and sea, to the whole world. And that world is in a miserable state… he requires of these men those virtues which are especially useful and even necessary if they are to bear the burdens of many… they are to be teachers not simply for Palestines but for the whole world. Do not be surprised, then, he says, that I address you apart from the others and involve you in such a dangerous enterprise… the greater the undertakings put into your hands, the more zealous you must be. When they curse you and persecute you and accuse you over every evil, they may be afraid to come forward. Therefore he says: “Unless you are prepared for that sort of thing, it is in vain that I have chosen you. Curses shall necessarily be your lot but they shall not harm you and simply be a testimony to your constancy. If through fear, however, you fail to show the forcefulness your mission demands, your lot will be much worse.” —St. John Chrysostom, Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. IV, p. 120-122
I finished my prayers and drove home a bit stunned. Grasping for some kind of confirmation, I grabbed my Bible which opened directly to this passage:
I will stand at my guard post, and station myself upon the rampart, and keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what answer he will give to my complaint. (Habb 2:1)
This in fact is what Pope John Paul II asked of us youth when we gathered with him at World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada, in 2002:
In the heart of the night we can feel frightened and insecure, and we impatiently await the coming of the light of dawn. Dear young people, it is up to you to be the watchmen of the morning (cf. Is 21:11-12) who announce the coming of the sun who is the Risen Christ! —Message of the Holy Father to the Youth of the World, XVII World Youth Day, n. 3
The young have shown themselves to be for Rome and for the Church a special gift of the Spirit of God… I did not hesitate to ask them to make a radical choice of faith and life and present them with a stupendous task: to become “morning watchmen” at the dawn of the new millennium. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Novo Millennio Inuente, n.9
“Well Lord,” I said, “If you are calling me to be a ‘watchman’ in these times, then I pray for a confirmation in the Catechism too.” Why not? I was on a roll. I found my 904 page volume and randomly cracked it open. My eyes fell immediately to this passage:
In their “one to one” encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission. Their prayer is not flight from this unfaithful world, but rather attentiveness to The Word of God. At times their prayer is an argument or a complaint, but it is always an intercession that awaits and prepares for the intervention of the Savior of God, the Lord of history. —Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 2584, under heading: “Elijah and the prophets and conversion of heart”
Yes, this was everything that my spiritual director was saying: intimate prayer was to be the heart of my apostolate. As Our Lady said to St. Catherine Labouré:
You will see certain things; give an account of what you see and hear. You will be inspired in your prayers; give an account of what I tell you and of what you will understand in your prayers. —St. Catherine Labouré, Autograph, February 7th, 1856, Dirvin, Saint Catherine Labouré, Archives of the Daughters of Charity, Paris, France; p.84
A couple of years later, the Lord nudged my wife and I and our eight children to move to the barren countryside of the Saskatchewan prairies where we still reside. Here, on this “desert” farm, far from the noise of the city, commerce, and even community, the Lord continues to call me into the solitude of His Word, especially the Mass readings, to listen to His voice… to the “now word.” There are thousands of people all over the world now reading this, from America to Ireland, Australia to the Philippines, India to France, and Spain to England. God has cast the nets far and wide.
For the time is short. The harvest is plenty. And the Great Storm can no longer be held back.
And you are loved.
Thank you for your support this week. We have raised enough funds to pay our employee’s salary. The rest… we continue to trust in God’s providence. Bless you for your love, prayers and generosity.
I am touched by the beauty of your words and the beauty of your family. Keep saying Yes! You minister to me and others with a depth and truth that keeps me running to your blog. —K.C.
Thank you for all you do. Your voice is one of the few I trust, as you are balanced, sober, and faithful to the Church, especially to Jesus Christ. —M.K.
Your writings have been a remarkable blessing! I check your site daily, eagerly looking for your next writing. —B.M.
You have no idea how much I have learned and been touched by your ministry. —B.S.
…there are times I glean from your writings and share them with hundreds of students 15 to 17 years of age. You are touching their hearts as well for God. —M.T.
Will you help me reach souls?
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