AS a young man, I dreamed of being a singer/songwriter, of dedicating my life to music. But it seemed too unrealistic and impractical. And so I went into mechanical engineering—a profession that paid well, but was totally unsuitable to my gifts and disposition. After three years, I made a leap into the world of television news. But my soul grew restless until the Lord eventually called me into full-time ministry. There, I thought I would live out my days as a singer of ballads. But God had other plans.
One day, I sensed the Lord ask me to begin publishing on the internet the thoughts and words that I was writing in my journal. And so I did. Over a decade later, those “thoughts and words” are being read by tens of thousands around the world. I can truthfully say that this was not part of “my” plan. Nor was it part of “my” plan to speak about the subjects that I do, which can be summarized in one word: “Prepare!” But prepare for what?
A DAY OF RECKONING
As far back as the early nineties, when my ministry was first conceived as a Catholic “praise and worship” band, I sensed that something had gone amiss in our society and that we were headed toward a day of reckoning. Western civilization had become like the “prodigal son” having left its Christian roots, while quickly embracing every form of hedonism. Moreover, it went beyond “old-fashioned” rebellion; objective truths were being painted as wrong while objective evil was being embraced as a good. There was an innate “sense” in my heart that we were entering, somehow in someway, into the “end times.” And I knew that I was not alone.
I know that all times are perilous, and that in every time serious and anxious minds, alive to the honor of God and the needs of man, are apt to consider no times so perilous as their own…. still I think… ours has a darkness different in kind from any that has been before it. The special peril of the time before us is the spread of that plague of infidelity, that the Apostles and our Lord Himself have predicted as the worst calamity of the last times of the Church. And at least a shadow, a typical image of the last times is coming over the world. —Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890), sermon at opening of St. Bernard’s Seminary, October 2, 1873, The Infidelity of the Future
But of course, any mention of this openly was immediately met with derision (as if one were a leper) and charges of “doom and gloom” quickly found oneself cast into ecclesial outer darkness (where “Charismatics” and Marian priests gnashed their teeth)—unless, of course, it was a pope saying such things…
There is a great uneasiness at this time in the world and in the Church, and that which is in question is the faith. It so happens now that I repeat to myself the obscure phrase of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Luke: ‘When the Son of Man returns, will He still find faith on the earth?’…I sometimes read the Gospel passage of the end times and I attest that, at this time, some signs of this end are emerging. —POPE PAUL VI, The Secret Paul VI, Jean Guitton, p. 152-153, Reference (7), p. ix.
I can’t say that, even now, I am comfortable with it all. I just became a grandfather before Christmas, and I still have five boys that we are raising at home. Like everyone else, I struggle with the more serious warnings from Heaven that portend cataclysmic changes. Who doesn’t want to simply grow old in peace and quiet? But we live in a world where relatively few enjoy that. Where countless millions are starving this moment while I sip a cup of tea and type away. cf. Does He Hear the Cry of the Poor? Where civil wars are displacing families and international wars threaten civilization as we know it. cf. A Catholic Answer to the Refugee Crisis Where the unborn are mercilessly, violently, and painfully torn from their mothers wombs by the millions each year. cf. The Hard Truth – Part V Where pornography is spreading as one of the most serious plagues in human history destroying purity, innocence, marriages and families. cf. The Hunted And where the truth that has set persons, communities, and cultures free… is now in jeopardy of being silenced as the Church remains cowardly quiet. cf. Cowards!
THE STORM COMES
And so, it comes, the long foretold purification of the earth—and who can say that it would be unjust? When the Lord used the image of a “hurricane” to describe the Great Storm that was going to come upon the whole earth, I was shocked years later to read similar words in the approved writings of Elizabeth Kindelmann, among others.
The elect souls will have to fight 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 effects of grace I am passing on to souls in this dark night. —Message from the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth Kindelmann (1913-1985); approved by Cardinal Péter Erdö, primate of Hungary; from The Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart (Kindle)
The great storm is coming and it will carry away indifferent souls who are consumed by laziness. The great danger will erupt when I take away my hand of protection. Warn everyone, especially the priests, so they are shaken out of their indifference.—Jesus to Elizabeth, March 12th, 1964; The Flame of Love, p. 77; Imprimatur from Archbishop Charles Chaput
My Mother is Noah’s Ark. —Ibid. p. 109
But there has been a surprise of late for the Church, and it is this:
…it is time for the judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, how will it end for those who fail to obey the Gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)
The danger has always been that those “alive to the honour of God” would forget that honouring Him also meant “loving thy neighbour as thyself.” And a danger that the Church would fall asleep, like the disciples in Gethsemane, and forget that her mission is first and foremost not a matter of self-preservation, but of denudation—a complete emptying of oneself for the other.
Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. (Mar 8:34-35)
If John Paul II exhorted us to “be not afraid,” it was precisely so that we would not be afraid to bring Jesus into the midst of the classroom, office, and marketplace. He reassured us that Divine Mercy was not only ready to forgive, but to reach the unreachable—through us… through us! But during that pontificate, I saw a Church that was afraid of the power of the Holy Spirit, afraid of the prophetic, afraid of miracles, afraid of the laity, afraid of the mystical gifts of the Body of Christ.
And so, in Benedict XVI, the Lord immediately began to warn that a lukewarm Church was a dying Church.
The threat of judgment also concerns us, the Church in Europe, Europe and the West in general… the Lord is also crying out to our ears… “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.
The “faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel,” he warned the world’s bishops. cf. Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to All the Bishops of the World, March 10, 2009; Catholic Online The sleepiness of the Apostles in Gethsemane, he cautioned, is now ours.
It’s our very sleepiness to the presence of God that renders us insensitive to evil: we don’t hear God because we don’t want to be disturbed, and so we remain indifferent to evil… ‘the sleepiness’ is ours, of those of us who do not want to see the full force of evil and do not want to enter into his Passion. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Catholic News Agency, Vatican City, Apr 20, 2011, General Audience
…it is time for the judgment to begin with the household of God…
From the very beginning, the Argentinian made it clear that he was there to make a “mess.”
What do I hope for from World Youth Day? I hope for a mess … that the Church takes to the streets. That we defend ourselves from comfort, that we defend ourselves from clericalism. —Catholic News Agency, July 25th, 2013
His austere approach to the papacy, as well as frequent blunt and unsparing criticisms of the clergy began to hit their mark. He wanted a “poorer” Church with priests who smelled more “like the sheep” than the rectory. No surprise, then, that Francis is a great admirer of Blessed Paul VI, who said:
This century thirsts for authenticity… The world expects from us simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, obedience, humility, detachment and self-sacrifice. —POPE PAUL VI, Evangelization in the Modern World, 22, 76
One priest sold his sports car and donated the proceeds to charity. Another I spoke with decided to keep his cellphone instead of upgrading. My former bishop sold the large diocesan residence and rented an apartment. In a word, the Pope was urging each of us to confront our worldliness and to do something about it: repent.
…worldliness is the root of evil and it can lead us to abandon our traditions and negotiate our loyalty to God who is always faithful. This… is called apostasy, which… is a form of “adultery” which takes place when we negotiate the essence of our being: loyalty to the Lord. —POPE FRANCIS from a homily, Vatican Radio, November 18th, 2013
For Francis, comfort, laziness, and clericalism are present dangers within the Church that are depriving the world of the light of Christ, as much as a lack of oxygen deprives a flame from burning more strongly.
Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history. —POPE FRANCIS, Closing Mass of the 28th World Youth Day, Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro; Zenit.org, July 28th, 2013
“No more double lives. Convert now…”, said the headlines on Zenit for February 23rd, 2017, summarizing Pope Francis’ morning homily. “Don’t scandalize the little ones,” he said, repeating the Gospel where Jesus warned that it would be better to be thrown into the sea than to lead the vulnerable into sin.
But what is scandal? It is a double life, a double life. A totally double life: ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this association and that one; but my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my workers a just wage, I exploit people, I am dirty in my business, I launder money…’ A double life. And so many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others. —POPE FRANCIS, Homily, February 23rd, 2017; Zenit.org
“But what about the abortionists, those promoting immorality and an anti-life agenda? Why not speak to them?” This is the question many have asked over and over again since Francis ascended the throne of Peter. But if we are living in the “end times”, as several Popes have suggested (including Francis), cf. Why Aren’t the Popes Shouting? then know that the harshest words of Jesus in the Apocalypse were reserved for the Church.
The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation, says this: “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. (Rev 3:14-19)
…it is time for the judgment to begin with the household of God…
And that includes the whole house of God, top to bottom.
PETRA OR SKANDALON?
Many feel Francis has also made a “mess” of the Church’s salutary role as the bulwark against the tide of political correctness, relativism and the “culture of death.” They point to his controversial interviews where it’s not so much what is said, but what is left unsaid—leaving the blanks to be filled in by the progressive media and other ideologues. They question his support of the oft politically driven “global warming” narrative, even as “warming” data continues to be exposed as fraudulent. cf. Climate Change and the Great Delusion And they point to the clamor over the ambiguities of Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, which has led some bishops and cardinals to “interpret” it in direct opposition to one another, and in some cases, contrary to Sacred Tradition. Yes, many of the faithful have been left scratching their heads, wondering what on earth is going on—including the man in charge of overseeing the pragmatic application of the Church’s doctrine.
…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. —Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Catholic Herald, Feb. 1st, 2017
The task of priests and bishops, he added, “is not that of creating confusion, but of bringing clarity.” Catholic World Report, Feb. 1st, 2017 When you have the bishops of Malta teaching something different than the bishops of Alberta, for instance, cf. On the Divorced and Remarried this is a serious crack in the walls in which the smoke of Satan can enter.
For example, there was a man who was very vocal on Facebook last year. He is a huge fan of Pope Francis and his message of “mercy”. And then, all of a sudden, he entered into a civil union with another man. So, if the message of mercy is being understood, rather, as a message of “moral relativism,” then it is our duty in the Church to announce the Good News far more clearly. And the teachings of Jesus are Good News, because “the truth will set you free.” As Blessed Paul VI said:
There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, are not proclaimed. —POPE PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 22; vatican.va
SCHISM OR SYNERGISM?
Unfortunately, some have taken things further, insinuating that the Pope is in kahutz with the Antichrist, whom Vladimir Soloviev once famously described as a “pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist.” in his novel Tale of the Antichrist; cf. LifeSiteNews They point to Francis’ accommodation of Islam and denial of “Muslim terrorism”; cf. jihadwatch.org to that eery animal “slide-
show” that was beamed onto St. Peter’s facade, and his support of the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and its “sustainable development” goals, which include the promotion of abortion, contraception, and “gender equality”; cf. voiceofthefamily.com and finally, to his praise of the reformer, Martin Luther, and the seeming push toward inter-Communion with non-Catholics. cf. ncregister.com As one theologian put it, many of these things, too, seem like “worldliness.” cf. Dr. Jeff Mirus, catholicculture.org
And yet, in the midst of it all, the Pope has remained mostly silent among his critics—as if the “mess” is precisely the point. But then, suddenly, the clouds of confusion part with shafts of light like this:
I profess myself Christian and the transcendence to which I open myself and look at has a name: Jesus. I am convinced that His Gospel is a force of true personal and social renewal. Speaking thus, I do not propose to you illusions or philosophical or ideological theories, nor do I wish to engage in proselytism… Do not be afraid to open yourselves to the horizons of the spirit, and if you receive the gift of faith – because faith is a gift – do not be afraid to open yourselves to the encounter with Christ and to deepen your relationship with Him. —POPE FRANCIS, message to Italian university students at Rome’s ‘Roma Tre’ University; Zenit.org, Feb. 17th, 2017
Still, this does not mean that Pope Francis may not have to confront the real confusion taking place within the Church, and that is being publicly voiced, for example, in the dubia presented recently by four cardinals. cf. catholicism.org; “Cardinal Burke: Formal correction of Amoris Laetitia could happen in New Year”; see catholicherald.co.uk There may come a “Peter and Paul” moment cf. Gal 2:11-14 in our times too. For that post-Pentecost Peter, said Pope Benedict…
…is that same Peter who, for fear of the Jews, belied his Christian freedom (Galatians 2 11–14); he is at once a rock and a stumbling-block. 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
Truth and love are inseparable. Where only one or the other ceases to exist, there the Flame of faith begins to die out as well. Pastoral practice must be rooted in truth, or as Francis himself said, it is a 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.” —Synodal remarks, Catholic News Agency, October 18th, 2014
LOOKING IN THE MIRROR
It would seem that the judgment of the household of God has begun. Just as Jesus shocked the Pharisees and scribes for not coming down on their side, so too, many Catholics who have been doing “the right things” may also feel as if the Pope has ignored or chastised them. But remember the words of Jesus:
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. (Luke 5:31-32)
While praying earnestly for the Pope and all clergy, this is the hour to reflect most of all on our own hearts, and whether we are truly faithful to Jesus. Do I ever speak His name in public? Do I defend the truth or remain silent so as to “keep the peace”? Do I speak of His love and promises, His mercy and goodness? Do I serve those around me in a spirit of joy and peace? Am I close to Jesus in daily prayer and the Sacraments? Am I obedient in the little and hidden things?
Or, am I… lukewarm?
At the end of the day, whether one likes the pontificate of Pope Francis or not, what we are seeing at this hour is the clear emergence of the weeds among the wheat, of those who are obedient to the Gospel and those who aren’t. And perhaps this is the intention of Christ all along. After all, it is Jesus—not the Pope—who is building His Church. cf. Jesus, the Wise Builder
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. (Luke 12:51)
This division is necessary in order for the just purification of the world to take place… and that’s where I’ll pick up next time.
From over the years: Words and Warnings
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|↑1||cf. Does He Hear the Cry of the Poor?|
|↑2||cf. A Catholic Answer to the Refugee Crisis|
|↑3||cf. The Hard Truth – Part V|
|↑4||cf. The Hunted|
|↑6||cf. Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to All the Bishops of the World, March 10, 2009; Catholic Online|
|↑7||cf. The Five Corrections|
|↑8||cf. Why Aren’t the Popes Shouting?|
|↑9||cf. Climate Change and the Great Delusion|
|↑10||Catholic World Report, Feb. 1st, 2017|
|↑11||cf. On the Divorced and Remarried|
|↑12||in his novel Tale of the Antichrist; cf. LifeSiteNews|
|↑16||cf. Dr. Jeff Mirus, catholicculture.org|
|↑17||cf. catholicism.org; “Cardinal Burke: Formal correction of Amoris Laetitia could happen in New Year”; see catholicherald.co.uk|
|↑18||cf. Gal 2:11-14|
|↑19||cf. Jesus, the Wise Builder|