Procession of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal (Reuters)
The long-prepared and ongoing process of dissolution of the Christian concept of morality was, as I have tried to show, marked by an unprecedented radicalism in the 1960s… In various seminaries, homosexual cliques were established…
—EMERITUS POPE BENEDICT, essay on the current crisis of faith in the Church, Apr 10, 2019; Catholic News Agency
…the darkest clouds gather over the Catholic Church. As though out of a deep abyss, countless incomprehensible cases of sexual abuse from the past come to light—acts committed by priests and religious. The clouds cast their shadows even on the Chair of Peter. Now no one is talking anymore about the moral authority for the world that is usually granted a Pope. How great is this crisis? Is it really, as we occasionally read, one of the greatest in the history of the Church?
—Peter Seewald’s question to Pope Benedict XVI, from Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times (Ignatius Press), p. 23
ONE of the greatest signs of the times in this hour is the rapid crumbling of the credibility—and thus the laity’s confidence—in the holy priesthood. The sexual scandals that have emerged in recent decades perhaps constitute part of what the Catechism calls “a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.” While still pope, Benedict XVI compared the scandals to “the crater of a volcano, out of which suddenly a tremendous cloud of filth came, darkening and soiling everything, so that above all the priesthood suddenly seemed to be a place of shame and every priest was under the suspicion of being one like that too.” To see the priesthood so defiled, he said, is something all of us are just starting to cope with as anger, shock, sadness and suspicion begin to overshadow the clergy.
As a result the faith as such becomes unbelievable, and the Church can no longer present herself credibly as the herald of the Lord. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times (Ignatius Press), p. 25
This defilement of the priesthood has no doubt been a clear goal of that “red dragon” in Revelation Chapter 12 who sets himself against the “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”  This “woman”, said Benedict,
…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, Castel Gandolfo, Italy, AUG. 23, 2006; Zenit
The dragon is successful insofar as he is able to sweep “away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth.”  Those stars, notes The Navarre Bible commentary, may refer to “those who rule and protect each church in Christ’s name.”  Yes, those charged with feeding, guiding, and protecting the flock have become the very wolves who have ravaged her. Are we not living the prophetic words of St. Paul at this hour?
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. (Acts 20:29)
NOT ALL WOLVES
And yet, it would be a colossal injustice to paint the entire priesthood with a broad brushstroke. In his recent newsletter, Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi points to the John Jay Report produced by several experts and commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to examine the sexual abuse of minors by clergy.
This report reveals that from 1950-2002 less than 4% of the USA clergy were “accused” of sexual abuse. However, of this less-than 4% of the accused, less than 0.1% of total clergy, after detailed and exhaustive investigations, were found to be guilty… These scandals increased in the 1960’s, peaked in the 1970’s and declined progressively from the1980’s onward. —Newsletter, May 20th, 2019
That even one priest is accused of such a crime is a tragedy. But it is also grievous and intellectually dishonest to slander the rest of the priesthood with such a serious charge. Ten years ago, I wrote about The Ecclesial Assault that, today, we see growing in near mob-like proportions. Several faithful priests have recounted to me how they’ve been verbally assaulted while walking through an airport and even spat upon. I am reminded of a holy priest in America to whom St. Thérèse de Lisieux appeared twice, repeating the same message. He gave me permission to recount her warning here:
Just as my country [France], which was the eldest daughter of the Church, killed her priests and faithful, so will the persecution of the Church take place in your own country. In a short time, the clergy will go into exile and will be unable to enter the churches openly. They will minister to the faithful in clandestine places. The faithful will be deprived of the “kiss of Jesus” [Holy Communion]. The laity will bring Jesus to them in the absence of the priests.
Satan’s hatred toward the priesthood is profound, and for several reasons. One, is that the ordained priest serves in persona Christi—“in the person of Christ”; it is at his hands and by his words that the Church is fed and sanctified in the Sacraments. Second, the priesthood and Our Lady are intrinsically bound together. She is an “image of the Church,” which would cease to exist without the priesthood. Thus, priests form the bone of the “heel” with which Our Lady shall crush Satan’s head.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel. (Gen 3:15, NAB)
Hence, the coming “triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” which will renew not only the Church but the world, is intrinsically tied to the sacramental priesthood. This is why a crisis of the clergy is upon us: it is to discourage and dishearten faithful priests; to tempt the laity to harden their hearts toward them; and if possible, cause many to leave the Catholic Church altogether which, sadly, is happening. Some Catholics are even beginning to renounce their baptisms—fulfilling an ancient prophecy of Church Father St. Hippolytus of Rome:
Of such kind, in the time of that hater of all good, will be the seal, the tenor of which will be this: I deny the Maker of heaven and earth, I deny the baptism, I deny my (former) service, and attach myself to you [the Son of Perdition], and I believe in you. —”Of the End of the World”, n. 29; newadvent.org
But faithful Catholics ought to not only renew their love for the priesthood, established by Christ Himself, but do their part to help prepare their shepherds for the times ahead through their filial love and prayers…
THE ARK AND HER PRIESTS
The Triumph of Our Lady and her priests is foreshadowed in the Old Testament in the imagery of the Israelites crossing the Jordan into the promised land. We read:
When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord, your God, which the levitical priests will carry, you must break camp and follow it, that you may know the way to take, for you have not gone over this road before… (Joshua 3:3-4)
The “ark of the covenant,” says the Catechism, is a prototype of the Blessed Mother.
Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God… with men.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2676
Now, see the relation between the deliverance of God’s people into the new times we are approaching (a road we have never gone over) through both the Ark and the priesthood:
Now choose twelve men, one from each of the tribes of Israel. When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the Lord, the Lord of the whole earth, touch the waters of the Jordan, it will cease to flow… When those bearing the ark came to the Jordan and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were immersed in the waters of the Jordan… the waters flowing from upstream halted… The priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the Jordan riverbed while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until the whole nation had completed the crossing of the Jordan. (Joshua 3:12-17)
Is this not an apt symbol for the consecration of God’s people through the sacramental priesthood and Marian devotion? Indeed, both Mary and the Church are God’s “ark” to give safe passage to His children in every storm.
The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.” According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood. —CCC, n. 845
The Church is thy hope, the Church is thy salvation, the Church is thy refuge. —St. John Chrysostom, Hom. de capto Euthropio, n. 6.; cf. E Supremi, n. 9, vatican.va
This is why I have been telling my readers for thirteen years now: Don’t jump ship! Don’t abandon the Barque of Peter, even if she is listing in high waves and her captains seem scattered! Even if all should seem lost, the Church is still God’s refuge, the “rock” on which we must each build our personal house (see today’s Gospel). That, and we ought to take not only the Church but Mary as our Mother.
My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. —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
Moreover, we are living in a “time of mercy,” according to Jesus’ revelations to St. Faustina. Therefore, now is the time to board the Ark. For a Great Storm has already begun to rain justice down upon the earth. The rising winds of confusion and division and the droplets of persecution have already begun to fall. In the end, Our Lady and her priests will bring down Babylon, “the symbol of the world’s great irreligious cities,” as we see paralleled in the Old Testament:
Joshua had the priests take up the ark of the Lord. The seven priests bearing the ram’s horns marched in front of the ark of the Lord… on the seventh day, beginning at daybreak, they marched around the city seven times in the same manner… As the horns blew, the people began to shout… the wall collapsed, and the people stormed the city in a frontal attack and took it. (Joshua 5:13-6:21)
We are given reason to believe that, towards the end of time and perhaps sooner than we expect, God will raise up people filled with the Holy Spirit and imbued with the spirit of Mary. Through them Mary, Queen most powerful, will work great wonders in the world, destroying sin and setting up the kingdom of Jesus her Son upon the RUINS of the corrupt kingdom which is this great earthly Babylon. (Rev.18:20) —St. Louis de Montfort, Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin,n. 58-59
THE PRIESTLY MARIAN TRIUMPH IN PROPHECY
The Lord is going to renew the earth by way of a “new Pentecost,” according to the popes and Our Lady’s apparitions. The Eucharist will take its rightful place in the whole of the earth as the “source and summit” of all life. As such, the sacramental priesthood will regain its dignified place among the People of God, both before and after the Great Storm.
In the profound locutions given to a Benedictine Monk, which have the strong endorsement of Cardinal Raymond Burke, Jesus says:
I am about to sanctify My priests by a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them. They will be sanctified as were My Apostles on the morning of Pentecost. Their hearts will be set ablaze with the divine fire of charity and their zeal will know no bounds. They will assemble around My Immaculate Mother, who will instruct them and, by her all-powerful intercession, obtain for them all the charisms necessary to prepare the world—this sleeping world—for My return in glory… The renewal of My priests will be the beginning of the renewal of My Church, but it must begin as it did at Pentecost, with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the men whom I have chosen to be My other selves in the world, to make present My Sacrifice and to apply My Blood to the souls of poor sinners in need of forgiveness and healing… The attack on My priesthood that appears to be spreading and growing is, in fact, in its final stages. It is a satanic and diabolical onslaught against My Bride the Church, an attempt to destroy her by attacking the most wounded of her ministers in their carnal weaknesses; but I will undo the destruction they have wrought and I will cause My priests and My Spouse the Church to recover a glorious holiness that will confound My enemies and be the beginning of a new era of saints, of martyrs, and of prophets. This springtime of holiness in My priests and in My Church was obtained by the intercession of My sweet Mother’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. She intercedes ceaselessly for her priest sons, and her intercession has obtained a victory over the powers of darkness that will confound unbelievers and bring joy to all My saints. The day is coming, and it is not far off, when I will intervene to show My Face in a priesthood completely renewed and sanctified… I will intervene to triumph in my Eucharistic Heart… —In Sinu Jesus, March 2nd, 2010; November 12th, 2008; cited in The Crown of Sanctity: On the Revelations of Jesus to Luisa Piccarreta (pp. 432-433)
Indeed, in the writings of that great Marian saint, Louise de Montfort, he elaborates on this “new Pentecost” as it relates to the priesthood:
When will it happen, this fiery deluge of pure love with which you are to set the whole world ablaze and which is to come, so gently yet so forcefully, that all nations…. will be caught up in its flames and be converted? …When you breathe your Spirit into them, they are restored and the face of the earth is renewed. Send this all-consuming Spirit upon the earth to create priests who burn with this same fire and whose ministry will renew the face of the earth and reform your Church. —From God Alone: The Collected Writings of St. Louis Marie de Montfort; April 2014, Magnificat, p. 331
In our times, the approved revelations to Elizabeth Kindelmann appear to describe this “fiery deluge of pure love” as the “Flame of Love” of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Note how the Lord ordered Joshua to choose “twelve men” among the priests to carry the Ark. This is symbolic, of course, of the Twelve Apostles and the entire succession of the priesthood. In Kindelmann’s revelations, we see the “twelve” appear again:
I will apply your merits to the twelve priests who will put the Flame of Love into action. —The Flame of Love, p. 66, Imprimatur by Archbishop Charles Chaput
In the apparitions in Medjugorje, whose first seven have been unofficially approved as “supernatural” by the Ruini Commission, Our Lady continually calls the faithful not to judge, but to pray for their “shepherds.” Mirroring the imagery of the Israelites crossing over the Jordan past the Ark and the priests, seer, Mirjana Soldo, wrote in her moving autobiography:
I wish I could divulge more about what will happen in the future, but I can say one thing about how the priesthood relates to the secrets. We have this time that we are living in now, and we have the time of the triumph of Our Lady’s heart. Between these two times we have a bridge, and that bridge is our priests. Our Lady continually asks us to pray for our shepherds, as she calls them, because the bridge needs to be strong enough for all of us to cross it to the time of the triumph. In her message of October 2, 2010, she said, “Only alongside your shepherds will my heart triumph. —My Heart Will Triumph (p. 325)
Hence, the Lord is also firm in warning priests that they, above all, must not be lukewarm. Remarkably, the following revelation given on July 26th, 1971, is a direct echo of Pope Francis’ exhortation for priests to come out from behind their rectory walls and take on the “smell of the sheep.”
Get the inactive and fearful priests to leave their homes. They must not stand idle and deprive humanity of my Mother’s Flame of Love. They must speak out so I can pour out my pardon on the whole world. Go into battle. Satan tries to ruin the good. Christians cannot be satisfied with little efforts, here or there. Trust my Mother. The world of the future is being prepared. The smile of my Mother will light up the whole earth. —The Flame of Love, p. 101-102, Imprimatur by Archbishop Charles Chaput
American seer, Jennifer, has received dozens of audible messages from Jesus and Our Lady directed to priests whom they call their “chosen sons.” These messages, which the Vatican encouraged to be “spread… to the world any way you can,”  read like the flipside of Divine Mercy with a focus on the period to follow this “time of mercy”—the “day of justice.” As such, God continually warns the priests in these messages not to be “lazy.”
My Church will soon face a great shaking and the division amongst My chosen sons will be evident for the world will soon know My true chosen sons. This is the hour of mercy and justice, for you will hear the sounds of a woman harboring the pains of labor, and the bells of My Church will be silenced…. My chosen sons, My Mother has been coming and preparing you for the time that you are entering into as My Church prepares for great crucifixion. My sons, your vocation will be tested. Your obedience to the truth will be tested. Your love for Me will be tested for I am Jesus. Before this time I tell you that your flocks will come running. The floodgates of mercy will be overflowing as I seek to find you in the seat of the confessional. Listen to your mother for her time of visitation is limited and I tell you that she cares for each and everyone of you as she draws you closer to her son for I am Jesus. Prepare your flocks My sons and be a true shepherd from the pulpit. —Jesus to Jennifer, June 24th, 2005; March 29th, 2012; wordsfromjesus.com
This division within the Church hearkens the warning of Our Lady of Akita, particularly regarding “Marian” priests:
The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…. —Message given through an apparition to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa of Akita, Japan, October 13th, 1973
Last, who could omit the revelations to the late Fr. Stefano Gobbi who began the Marian Movement of Priests, which gathered thousands of clergy from around the world? An entire “blue book” of these messages, which bear the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, speaks of everything said above and are more relevant than they were the day they were written. The following messages echo the “spread of the effect of grace of the Flame of Love” that Our Lady asked Elizabeth and us to pray for in order to “blind Satan,” but also, the coming conflict between the good and false shepherds in the Church.
I myself am now choosing the priests of the Movement and forming them according to the plan of my Immaculate Heart. They will come from everywhere: from the diocesan clergy, from the religious orders and from the various institutes… And when the time comes, the Movement will then go out into the open to fight openly that cohort which the devil, ever my Adversary, is now forming for himself from among the priests. Certain decisive hours are drawing close… Your priestly prayer, offered with me and joined to your suffering, has incalculable power. Indeed, it has the capacity to bring about a far-reaching chain reaction of good, in which the good effects spread and multiply everywhere in souls… —To the Priests Our Lady’s Beloved Sons, n. 5, 186
RETURN TO JESUS
There is only one answer to the crisis in the Church, and it is not to start another church, said Emeritus Pope Benedict. Rather…
…what is required first and foremost is the renewal of the Faith in the Reality of Jesus Christ given to us in the Blessed Sacrament. —EMERITUS POPE BENEDICT, essay on current crisis of faith in the Church, Apr 10, 2019; Catholic News Agency
But how do we turn the tides of a generation of Catholics who scarcely go to church, much less believe in the Real Presence? How do we stop the flood of iniquity that the dragon has unleashed against the Woman in order to sweep her away? The answer is that we can’t, not alone. But with God’s help, who has sent us Our Lady, all things are possible. Heaven is waiting for each of us to give our personal fiat… especially that of the Chosen Sons. For through them, and with Our Lady, triumph will at last come when least expected…
I am preparing you for the new times that you may be firm in faith and persevering in prayer, so that the Holy Spirit may work through you and renew the face of the earth. I am praying with you for peace, which is the most precious gift, even though Satan wants war and hatred. You, little children, be my extended hands and proudly go with God. Thank you for having responded to my call. —allegedly Our Lady of Medjugorje to Marija, June 25, 2019
*Mother of the Eucharist by Tommy Canning.
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- CCC, n. 675
- Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times (Ignatius Press), p. 23-24
- Rev 12:1
- Rev 12:4
- The Book of Revelation, “The Navarre Bible”, p. 36; cf. When the Stars Fall
- POPE BENEDICT XVI, Spe Salvi, n.50
- cf. unbaptism.org
- POPE BENEDICT XVI, On the occasion of Christmas Greetings, December 20th, 2010; http://www.vatican.va/
- Evangelii Gaudium, n. 20, 24
- cf. Is Jesus Really Coming?