The Woman Clothed with the Sun, by John Collier
ON THE FEAST OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
This writing is an important backdrop to what I want to write next on the “beast”. The last three popes (and Benedict XVI and John Paul II in particular) have indicated rather explicitly that we are living the Book of Revelation. But first, a letter I received from a beautiful young priest:
I rarely miss a Now Word post. I’ve found your writing to be very balanced, well researched, and pointing each reader toward something very important: faithfulness to Christ and His Church. Over the course of this past year I’ve been experiencing (I can’t really explain it) a sense that we are living in the end times (I know you’ve been writing about this for awhile but it’s really only been the last year and half that it’s been hitting me). There are too many signs that seem to indicate that something is about to happen. Lot’s to pray about that’s for sure! But a deep sense above all to trust and to draw close to the Lord and our Blessed Mother.
The following was first published November 24th, 2010…
REVELATION Chapters 12 & 13 are so rich in symbolism, so expansive in meaning, that one could write books examining several angles. But here, I want to speak about these chapters with regard to modern times and the view of the Holy Fathers that these particular Scriptures bear an importance and relevance to our day. (If you are not familiar with these two chapters, it would be worth a quick refreshing of their contents.)
As I pointed out in my book The Final Confrontation, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in the 16th century in the midst of a culture of death, the Aztec culture of human sacrifice. Her apparition resulted in the conversion of millions to the Catholic faith, essentially crushing beneath her heel the “state” driven slaughter of the innocents. That apparition was a microcosm and sign of what was coming to the world and is now culminating in our times: a state driven culture of death that has spread world-wide.
TWO SIGNS OF THE END TIMES
St. Juan Diego described Our Lady of Guadalupe’s apparition:
…her clothing was shining like the sun, as if it were sending out waves of light, and the stone, the crag on which she stood, seemed to be giving out rays. —St. Juan Diego, Nican Mopohua, Don Antonio Valeriano (c. 1520-1605 A.D,), n. 17-18
This, of course, parallels Rev 12:1, “the woman clothed with the sun.” And like 12:2, she was pregnant.
But a dragon also appears at the same time. St. John identifies this dragon as “the ancient serpent who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world…” (12:9). Here, St. John describes the nature of the battle between the woman and the dragon: it is a battle over truth, for Satan “deceived the whole world…”
CHAPTER 12: SUBTLE SATAN
It is critical to understand the difference between Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 of Revelation, for though they describe the same battle, they reveal a satanic progression.
Jesus described the nature of Satan, saying,
He was a murderer from the beginning… he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
Shortly after Our Lady of Guadalupe’s apparition, the dragon did appear, but in his usual form, as a “liar.” His deception came in the form of errant philosophy (see Chapter 7 of The Final Confrontation that explains how this deception began with the philosophy of deism which has progressed in our day into atheistic materialism. This has created an individualism in which the material world is the ultimate reality, thus spawning a culture of death that destroys any obstacle to personal happiness.) In his time, Pope Pius XI saw the dangers of a lukewarm faith, and warned that what was coming was not just upon this or that country, but the whole world:
The Catholic who does not live really and sincerely according to the Faith he professes will not long be master of himself in these days when the winds of strife and persecution blow so fiercely, but will be swept away defenseless in this new deluge which threatens the world. And thus, while he is preparing his own ruin, he is exposing to ridicule the very name of Christian. —POPE PIUS XI, Divini Redemptoris “On Atheistic Communism”, n. 43; March 19th, 1937
Chapter 12 of Revelation describes a spiritual confrontation, a battle for hearts that, prepared by two schisms in the first century and a half of the Church, germinated in the 16th century. It is a battle over the Truth as taught by the Church and as refuted by sophistries and errant reasoning.
This woman represents Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, but she represents at the same time the whole Church, the People of God of all times, the Church that at all times, with great pain, again gives birth to Christ. —POPE BENEDICT XVI in reference to Rev 12:1; Castel Gandolfo, Italy, AUG. 23, 2006; Zenit
John Paul II gives a context to Chapter 12 by unveiling how Satan’s plan has been the gradual development and acceptance of evil in the world:
There is no need to be afraid to call the first agent of evil by his name: the Evil One. The strategy which he used and continues to use is that of not revealing himself, so that the evil implanted by him from the beginning may receive its development from man himself, from systems and from relationships between individuals, from classes and nations—so as also to become ever more a “structural” sin, ever less identifiable as “personal” sin. In other words, so that man may feel in a certain sense “freed” from sin but at the same time be ever more deeply immersed in it. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter, Dilecti Amici, “To The Youth of the World”, n. 15
It is the ultimate trap: to become slaves without fully realizing it. In such a state of deception, souls will be willing to embrace, as an apparent good, a new master.
CHAPTER 13: THE RISING BEAST
Chapters 12 and 13 are divided by a decisive event, some kind of further breaking of Satan’s power through the assistance of St. Michael the Archangel whereby Satan is cast from “heaven” to the “earth”. It likely carries both a spiritual dimension (see Exorcism of the Dragon) and a physical dimension (see The Seven Year Trial – Part IV.)
It is not the end of his power, but a concentration of it. So the dynamics suddenly change. Satan no longer “hides” behind his sophistries and lies (for “he knows he has but a short time” [12:12]), but now reveals his face as Jesus described him: a “murderer.” The culture of death, so far veiled in the guise of “human rights” and “tolerance” will be taken into the hands of one whom St. John describes as a “beast” who will itself determine who has “human rights” and who it will “tolerate.”
With tragic consequences, a long historical process is reaching a turning-point. The process which once led to discovering the idea of “human rights”—rights inherent in every person and prior to any Constitution and State legislation—is today marked by a surprising contradiction. Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is publicly affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death… This is what is happening also at the level of politics and government: the original and inalienable right to life is questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people—even if it is the majority. This is the sinister result of a relativism which reigns unopposed: the “right” ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the stronger part. In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Evangelium Vitae, “The Gospel of Life”, n. 18, 20
It is the great battle between the “culture of life” and the “culture of death”:
This struggle parallels the apocalyptic combat described in [Rev 11:19-12:1-6, 10 on the battle between” the woman clothed with the sun” and the “dragon”]. Death battles against Life: a “culture of death” seeks to impose itself on our desire to live, and live to the full… Vast sectors of society are confused about what is right and what is wrong, and are at the mercy of those with the power to “create” opinion and impose it on others. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Cherry Creek State Park Homily, Denver, Colorado, 1993
Pope Benedict also evokes the twelfth chapter of Revelation as being fulfilled in our times.
The serpent… spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with the current… (Revelation 12:15)
This fight in which we find ourselves… [against] powers that destroy the world, are spoken of in chapter 12 of Revelation… It is said that the dragon directs a great stream of water against the fleeing woman, to sweep her away… I think that it is easy to interpret what the river stands for: it is these currents that dominate everyone, and want to eliminate the faith of the Church, which seems to have nowhere to stand before the power of these currents that impose themselves as the only way of thinking, the only way of life. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, first session of the special synod on the Middle East, October 10th, 2010
This struggle eventually gives way to a reign of the “beast” that will be one of global totalitarianism. St. John writes:
To it the dragon gave its own power and throne, along with great authority. (Rev 13:2)
Here is what the Holy Fathers are painstakingly pointing out: this throne has been gradually built up over time from the materials of heresy under the guise of “intellectual enlightenment” and reasoning without faith.
Unfortunately, the resistance to the Holy Spirit which St. Paul emphasizes in the interior and subjective dimension as tension, struggle and rebellion taking place in the human heart, finds in every period of history and especially in the modern era its external dimension, which takes concrete form as the content of culture and civilization, as a philosophical system, an ideology, a program for action and for the shaping of human behavior. It reaches its clearest expression in materialism, both in its theoretical form: as a system of thought, and in its practical form: as a method of interpreting and evaluating facts, and likewise as a program of corresponding conduct. The system which has developed most and carried to its extreme practical consequences this form of thought, ideology and praxis is dialectical and historical materialism, which is still recognized as the essential core of Marxism. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Dominum et Vivificantem, n. 56
This is precisely what Our Lady of Fatima warned would happen:
If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. —Our Lady of Fatima, Message of Fatima, www.vatican.va
The gradual acceptance of falsehood leads to an external system that concretizes this internal rebellion. While Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger pointed to how these external dimensions have indeed taken on the form of totalitarianism with the aim to control.
…our age has seen the birth of totalitarian systems and forms of tyranny which would not have been possible in the time before the technological leap forward… Today control can penetrate into the innermost life of individuals, and even the forms of dependence created by the early-warning systems can represent potential threats of oppression. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, n. 14
How many people today accept infringements upon their “rights” for the sake of security (such as submitting to harmful radiation or invasive “enhanced pat downs” at airports)? But St. John warns, it is a false security.
They worshiped the dragon because it gave its authority to the beast; they also worshiped the beast and said, “Who can compare with the beast or who can fight against it?” The beast was given a mouth uttering proud boasts and blasphemies, and it was given authority to act for forty-two months. (Rev 13:4-5)
When people are saying, “Peace and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thess 5:3)
And thus we see today how chaos in the economy, in political stability, and international security could very well be paving the way for a new order to arise. If people are hungry and terrorized by civil and international chaos, they will certainly turn to the state to help them. That, of course, is natural and expected. The problem today is that the state no longer recognizes God or His laws as immutable. Moral relativism is rapidly changing the face of politics, the legislature, and consequently, our perception of reality. There is no longer a place for God in the modern world, and that has grave consequences for the future even if short term “solutions” would appear reasonable.
Someone asked me recently if the RFID chip, which can now be inserted underneath the skin, is the “mark of the beast” described in Chapter 13:16-17 of Revelation as a means of controlling commerce. Perhaps Cardinal Ratzinger’s question in his Instruction, which was approved by John Paul II in 1986, is more relevant than ever:
Whoever possesses technology has power over the earth and men. As a result of this, hitherto unknown forms of inequality have arisen between those who possess knowledge and those who are simple users of technology. The new technological power is linked to economic power and leads to a concentration of it… How can the power of technology be prevented from becoming a power of oppression over human groups or entire peoples? —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, n. 12
THE STUMBLING BLOCK
It is interesting to note that in Chapter 12, the dragon pursues the woman but cannot destroy her. She is given “the two wings of the great eagle,” a symbol of Divine Providence and God’s protection. The confrontation in Chapter 12 is between truth and falsehood. And Jesus promised that the truth will prevail:
…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. (Matt 16:18)
Again, the dragon spews a torrent, a deluge of “water”—materialistic philosophies, pagan ideologies, and the occult—to sweep the woman away. But once more, she is helped (12:16). The Church cannot be destroyed, and thus, is an obstacle, a stumbling block to a new world order that seeks to “shape human behavior” and “control” by “penetrating into the innermost life of individuals.” Thus, the Church is to be…
…fought with the most suitable means and methods according to circumstances of time and place, in order to eliminate it from society and from man’s very heart. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Dominum et Vivificantem, n. 56
Satan seeks to destroy her because…
…the Church, in the socio-political context, is “the sign and the safeguard of the transcendental dimension of the human person. —Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, n. 76
However, in Chapter 13, we read that the beast does conquer the holy ones:
It was also allowed to wage war against the holy ones and conquer them, and it was granted authority over every tribe, people, tongue, and nation. (Rev 13:7)
This would appear, at first glance, to be a contradiction to Revelation 12 and the protection granted the woman. However, what Jesus promised is that His Church, His Bride and Mystical Body, would corporately prevail until the end of time. But as individual members, we may be persecuted, even unto death.
Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. (Matt 24:9)
Even entire congregations or dioceses will disappear in the persecution of the beast:
…the seven lampstands are the seven churches…
Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
(Rev 1:20; 2:5)
What Christ promises is that His Church will exist at all times somewhere in the world, even if its external form is oppressed.
TIMES OF PREPARATION
And thus, as the signs of the times rapidly unfold before us, given all that the Holy Fathers continue to say about our days, we do well to be aware of what is happening. I have written about a Moral Tsunami, one that has prepared the way for a culture of death. But there is coming a Spiritual Tsunami, and this one may very well prepare the way for the culture of death to become incarnate in a beast.
Our preparation, then, is not one of building bunkers and storing years of food, but of becoming like that Woman of Revelation, that Woman of Guadalupe who, through her faith, humility, and obedience, cast down strongholds and crushed the head of the serpent. Today, her image remains miraculously intact on St. Juan Diego’s tilma several hundred years after it should have decayed. It is a prophetic sign to us that we are…
…facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. —Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (JOHN PAUL II ), at the Eucharistic Congress, Philadelphia, PA; August 13, 1976
Our preparation then is to imitate her by becoming spiritual children, detached from this world and ready to give, if necessary, our very lives for the Truth. And like Mary, we too will be crowned in Heaven with everlasting glory and joy…
A series of writings on the coming Spiritual Tsuanmi: