Summer Landscape by George Inness, 1894
I have longed to give you the Gospel, and more than that, to give you my very life; you have become very dear to me. My little children, I am like a mother giving birth to you, until Christ is formed in you. (1 Thess 2:8; Gal 4:19)
IT has been nearly a year since my wife and I picked up our eight children and moved to a small parcel of land on the Canadian prairies in the middle of nowhere. It is probably the last place I would have chosen.. a wide open ocean of farm fields, few trees, and plenty of wind. But all other doors closed and this was the one that opened.
As I prayed this morning, pondering the rapid, almost overwhelming change in direction for our family, words came back to me that I had forgotten that I had read shortly before we felt called to move… Ezekiel, Chapter 12.
In 2009, we had been living in a small town, having moved there only two years before. We were not in the mood to uproot our family yet again. But both my wife and I felt an irrevocable call to the countryside. At that time, I came upon a passage in Scripture that jumped off the page, but only now, I dare say, is making sense.
Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house; they have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house. (Ezekiel 12:2)
Indeed, when Jesus called me to this apostolate through a powerful experience before the Blessed Sacrament, I had also read from the book of Isaiah:
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!" And he replied: Go and say to this people: Listen carefully, but you shall not understand! Look intently, but you shall know nothing! (Isaiah 6:8-9)
The timing of this apostolate is during rebellion in the House of God: apostasy.
The tail of the devil is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic world. The darkness of Satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church. —POPE PAUL VI, Address on the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions, October 13, 1977
The Lord went on to say to the prophet Ezekiel:
Now, son of man, during the day while they are looking on, prepare your baggage as though for exile, and again while they are looking on, migrate from where you live to another place; perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house. You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime while they are looking on… for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel. (Ezekiel 12:3-6)
Were it not for the grace and anointing in my soul right now, I would not dare to write this; but I feel I need to…
Both my wife’s and my family live in another Canadian province. We are hours away from the ones we love and cherish. We are in the middle of nowhere, far from friends, shopping centers, and by far most painfully, daily Mass. I have often puzzled over this because daily Mass was and is the soul of my apostolate, the source and summit of every grace. I asked my spiritual director why God would have brought us out here, exiled from the supports that we have always had. He replied without losing a breath, "God is preparing you for when these supports will no longer be available."And so, I seek Him where He is, there, hidden in my poor soul… and through my Helper, the Holy Spirit, I find Him whom I long for.
And so, presented with the duties before us, my wife and I have spent the last year turning one building into a barn, another into a chicken coop; we bought a milk cow, some hens and broilers, and planted a massive garden. We have fenced our pastures, bought an old sickle mower, rake, and baler, and will shortly make some hay. We filled our small granaries with oats and wheat and cleaned our water well. It’s as though God is moving us toward self-sustenance, dependent as little as possible upon "the system," which has become increasingly difficult in the Western world to simply survive in. It’s as though He is preparing us for the times which lay directly ahead—the most painful trials the world has ever seen. We are doing this in "daylight," not in secret. We are preparing spiritually and yes, physically, for the days at hand. Humbly, I ask, is the Lord writing a message to you, this time without word, but in the actions He has impelled us to take?
The prophet Ezekiel goes on to write:
Thus the word of the LORD came to me: son of man, what is this proverb that you have in the land of Israel: "The days drag on, and no vision ever comes to anything"? Say to them therefore: Thus says the Lord GOD: I will put an end to this proverb; they shall never quote it again in Israel. Rather, say to them: The days are at hand, and also the fulfillment of every vision. Whatever I speak is final, and it shall be done without further delay. In your days, rebellious house, whatever I speak I will bring about, says the Lord GOD… Son of man, listen to the house of Israel saying, "The vision he sees is a long way off; he prophesies of the distant future!" Say to them therefore: Thus says the Lord GOD: None of my words shall be delayed any longer; whatever I speak is final, and it shall be done, says the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 12:21-28)
While I maintain that we simply cannot know for certain the timing of God’s plan, I would not be truthful if I did not tell you that I feel within my bones that we are moments away from global-changing events, if not a divine intervention that will set the course for the end of this age.
Of course, many are those who will say, "We have heard this before! You’re yet another voice, who well-intentioned or not, creates more fear-mongering, unhealthy obsession with the end times, and a diversion from that which really matters." My answer is pretty straightforward:
The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard "delay," but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief… (2 Pet 3:9-10)
It’s not any of my business when the Lord will bring about the final trial that the Catechism teaches, the Era of Peace anticipated by the Church Fathers and modern Popes, or the
arrival of that antagonist whom Tradition calls the "antichrist." But it is all our business to watch and pray that the labor pains which accompany them—and that will in many cases instantly claim millions of lives—do not take us by surprise "like a thief" in the night.
When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain—and so it does… You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time? (Luke 12:54, 56)
My friends, I feel as St. Boniface once did, whose memorial we commemorate today. Looking toward the circumstances of his future, which in time was likely to be martyrdom (and it was), he said,
I am terrified when I think of all this. Fear and trembling came upon me and the darkness of my sins almost covered me. I would gladly give up the task of guiding the Church which I have accepted if I could find such an action warranted by the example of the fathers or by holy Scripture. —Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. III, p. 1456
Yes, I would gladly give up speaking about the things which are coming if I could find in the example of the saints and prophets of old that "such an action was warranted." But I cannot. Instead, I find that the correct response time and again is that of faith: "Let it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). And so,
Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. Instead let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ’s flock. Let us preach the whole of God’s plan to the powerful and to the humble, to rich and to poor, to men of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season… —St. Boniface, Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. III, p. 1457
And so, as I journey between the pasture and the apostolate, I will continue, by God’s grace, to speak the words which well up in my heart. We are into the haying season now, so please forgive me if I write or broadcast a little less frequently. But then, if this place God has brought my family to is in His will, then these times of silence are also part of His plan. I count upon your prayers more than anything, and am moved by the generous outpouring of your letters and donations which have literally kept the wolf from the door. You are so dear to me, whoever you are who frequent this "spiritual pasture."
Love Jesus with all your heart, and all else will be fine.
Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, April 24, 2005, St. Peter’s Square, Homily