I have heard from fellow believers all over the world that this past year in their lives has been an unbelievable trial. It is no coincidence. In fact, I think very little happening today is without enormous significance, especially in the Church.
I have focused recently on what took place in the Vatican Gardens in early October with a ceremony that many cardinals and bishops have lamented as being, or at least appearing to be, pagan. I think it would be wrong to see this as a single isolated event but rather the culmination of a Church that has moved little by little from her center. A Church that, one could say, has generally become desensitized to sin and casual in her mandate, if not aloof to her responsibilities to one another and the world.
…as the Church’s one and only indivisible magisterium, the pope and the bishops in union with him carry the gravest responsibility that no ambiguous sign or unclear teaching comes from them, confusing the faithful or lulling them into a false sense of security. —Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; First Things, April 20th, 2018
We laymen are no less culpable. I stand convicted. When we consider the heroism of the early Church, the martyrdoms of the first centuries, the generous sacrifices of the saints… has not the Church of our day become generally lukewarm? We seem to have lost our zeal for the name of Jesus, the focus of our mission and the courage to carry it out! Almost the entire Church is infected with a trepidation whereby we are more concerned with offending others than offending God. We keep silent so as to keep our friends; we avoid standing up for what is right in order to “keep the peace”; we withhold the truth that would set others free because our faith is a “private thing.” No, our faith is personal but it is not private. Jesus commanded us to be “salt and light” to the nations, to never hide the light of the Gospel beneath a bushel basket. Perhaps we have arrived at this moment because we have come to embrace, either consciously or subconsciously, the falsehood that what’s most important is that we simply be kind to others. But Pope Paul VI shattered that notion:
…the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run if it is not explained, justified… and made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus. The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. 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 ST. PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 22; vatican.va
I believe, in fact, that St. John Henry Newman’s prophetic words about what will happen to the Church prior to the coming of Antichrist have become a concrete reality in our times:
Satan may adopt the more alarming weapons of deceit—he may hide himself—he may attempt to seduce us in little things, and so to move the Church, not all at once, but by little and little from her true position. —St. John Henry Newman, Sermon IV: The Persecution of Antichrist; see Newman’s Prophecy
What happens next, according to the Apostle John’s vision in Revelation, is that God begins the purification of His Church, and then the world:
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… Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. (Rev 3:16-19)
Divine Mercy, like an elastic band, has stretched and stretched for this generation because God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4 But there will come a point when Divine Justice must also act—otherwise, God will not be God. But when?
IDOLATRY TRIGGERS JUSTICE
After the Five Corrections of Jesus in the first Chapters of the Book of Revelation, the vision of St. John moves to the necessary chastisement of an unresponsive Church and world. Think of it as a Great Storm, the first part of a hurricane before one reaches its eye. The Storm, according to John, comes with the breaking of “seven seals” that bring what appears to be a world war (second seal), economic collapse (third seal), the fallout of this chaos in the form of famine, plague and more violence (fourth seal), a minor persecution of the Church in the form of martyrdoms (fifth seal), and at last a kind of world-wide warning (sixth seal) that is like a judgment-in-miniature, an “illumination of conscience” that draws the entire world into the eye of the Storm, the “seventh seal”:
…there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (Rev 8:1)
It is a pause in the Storm to allow the nations a chance to repent:
Then I saw another angel ascend from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” (Revelation 7:2)
But what causes the Lamb of God to take up the scroll in the first place that begins the definitive breaking open of these seals?
In a vision of the prophet Ezekiel, there is nearly a carbon copy of the events of Revelation chapters 1-8 that, I believe, answers that question. Ezekiel’s vision also begins with God lamenting the state of His people as the prophet peers into the Temple.
The spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in divine vision to Jerusalem to the entrance of the inner gate facing north where the statue of jealousy that provokes jealousy stood… Son of man, do you see what they are doing? Do you see the great abominations that the house of Israel is practicing here, so that I must depart from my sanctuary? You shall see even greater abominations! (Ezekiel 8:3)
In other words, it is idolatry that provokes Our Jealous God causing Him to “depart from the sanctuary” (see Removing the Restrainer). As the vision continues, Ezekiel witnesses what is taking place in secret. He sees three groups of people engaged in various forms of idolatry:
I went in and looked… all the idols of the house of Israel, pictured around the wall. Before them stood seventy of the elders of the house of Israel… Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord. There women sat and wept for Tammuz. (v. 14)
Tammuz, brothers and sisters, is the Mesopotamian god of fertility (the statues in the Vatican Gardens were also referred to as symbols of fertility).
Then he brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord… twenty-five men with their backs to the Lord’s temple… were bowing eastward to the sun. He said: Do you see, son of man? Are the abominable things the house of Judah has done here so slight that they should also fill the land with violence, provoking me again and again? Now they are putting the branch to my nose! (Ezekiel 8:16-17)
In other words, the Israelites were combining pagan beliefs with their own as they bowed down before false “images” and “idols” as well as creation itself. They were, in a word, engaging in syncretism.
The syncretism evident in the ritual celebrated around an immense floor covering, directed by an Amazonian woman and in front of several ambiguous and unidentified images in the Vatican gardens this past October 4, should be avoided… the reason for the criticism is precisely because of the primitive nature and pagan appearance of the ceremony and the absence of openly Catholic symbols, gestures and prayers during the various gestures, dances and prostrations of that surprising ritual. —Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, archbishop emeritus of Caracas, Venezuela; October 21, 2019; lifesitenews.com
Participants sang and held hands while dancing in a circle around the images, in a dance resembling the “pago a la tierra,” a traditional offering to Mother Earth common among indigenous peoples in some parts of South America. —The Catholic World Report, October 4th, 2019
After weeks of silence we are told by the Pope that this was not idolatry and there was no idolatrous intention. But then why did people, including priests, prostrate before it? Why was the statue carried in procession into churches like St. Peter’s Basilica and placed before altars at Santa Maria in Traspontina? And if it isn’t an idol of Pachamama (an earth/mother goddess from the Andes), why did the Pope call the image “Pachamama?” What am I to think? —Msgr. Charles Pope, October 28th, 2019; National Catholic Register
As one reader surmised, “Just as Jesus was betrayed in a garden 2000 years ago, so He has been again.” It appeared that way, at least (cf. Defending Jesus Christ). But let’s not reduce it to that event by any means. The past half century has seen modernism, apostasy, pederasty, and even “blood money” going in and out of the Church linked to abortion and contraception. Not to mention the New Age and eco-feminist spirituality that has been promoted in Catholic retreat houses and convents, moral relativism in our seminaries, and the removal of the sacred from our churches and architecture.
It is a spirit of compromise that, in Scripture, provokes God’s “jealous” anger.
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…. churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises… —Our Lady to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa of Akita, Japan, October 13th, 1973
It is this syncretism that triggers the purification of the Temple in Ezekiel—but sparing those who do not participate. Just as the first six seals of Revelation begin the purification of the Church, so too, God sends six messengers to the Temple.
Then he cried aloud for me to hear: Come, you scourges of the city! And there were six men coming from the direction of the upper gate which faces north, each with a weapon of destruction in his hand. (Ezekiel 9:1)
Now, the “six seals” in Revelation begin the purification of the Church, but not so much by the hand of God. They constitute a warning to the world as man begins to reap what he has sown, as opposed to God directly sending punishment to the unrepentant (that will come in the last half of the Storm). Think of the Prodigal Son who blows his inheritance, thus bringing upon himself destitution. This eventually leads to an “illumination of conscience” and, fortunately, repentance. Yes, the first half of this Storm, this great hurricane, is self-inflicted.
When they sow the wind, they will reap the whirlwind… (Hosea 8:7)
Like the Prodigal Son, it serves to “shake” the Church and the world and, hopefully, to bring us to repentance too. The arrival of the “six men” is a warning to those in the Temple of God’s impending chastisement (which will cleanse the earth of the wicked). It is a last chance to pass through the “Door of Mercy” before they must pass through the “Door of Justice.”
Write: before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice… —Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary of St. Faustina, n. 1146
Pass through the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and mark an X on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the abominations practiced within it. To the others he said in my hearing: Pass through the city after him and strike! Do not let your eyes spare; do not take pity. Old and young, male and female, women and children—wipe them out! But do not touch anyone marked with the X. Begin at my sanctuary. (Ezekiel 9:4-6)
How can one not recall the Third Secret of Fatima at this point?
Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious [were] going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God. —Sr. Lucia, July 13th, 1917; vatican.va
Just like Ezekiel’s vision of three groups in the temple, there is a purification of three groups in the Fatima vision: Clergy, religious, and the laity.
For 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)
In closing, I want to turn again to the present trials that so many of us are experiencing and reflect on them in light of the “first seal.” There is a bigger picture unfolding that we ought to ponder.
I looked, and there was a white horse, and its rider had a bow. He was given a crown, and he rode forth victorious to further his victories. (6:1-2)
Pope Pius XII saw the rider of this horse as representing “Jesus Christ.”
He is Jesus Christ. The inspired evangelist [St. John] not only saw the devastation brought about by sin, war, hunger and death; he also saw, in the first place, the victory of Christ. —Address, November 15, 1946; footnote of The Navarre Bible, “Revelation”, p.70
St. Victorinus said,
The first seal being opened, [St. John] says that he saw a white horse, and a crowned horseman having a bow… He sent the Holy Spirit, whose words the preachers sent forth as arrows reaching to the human heart, that they might overcome unbelief. —Commentary on the Apocalypse, Ch. 6:1-2
Could the present trials many of us are experiencing in our personal lives and families also be those Divine arrows that are piercing and painful and yet, exposing to us the deep, hidden and “secret” areas within our hearts where we have not repented and are still holding onto idols? In this Marian era, are not many of us who are consecrated to Our Lady’s heart seemingly participating in that mysterious prophecy of Simeon?
…you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. (Luke 2:35)
To me, the first seal is like the first light of dawn that heralds and foreshadows the rising sun (the sixth seal). God is gently purifying and shaking us now before what will be for many a very painful illumination and shaking when this Warning comes… (see Fatima, and the Great Shaking).
A NEW WARNING?
A noteworthy event may have happened in October, two days after that strange ritual in the Vatican Gardens. According to an unverified report, Sr. Agnes Sasagawa of Akita, who received that message above, allegedly received another on the 6th (I spoke with a friend who knows a priest close to the circle of Sr. Agnes, and he confirms this is what he has also heard, though he too is awaiting more direct confirmation). The same angel who spoke to her in the 1970’s allegedly appeared again with a simple message for “everyone”:
Put on ashes and pray for a repentant rosary every day. —source EWTN affiliate WQPH Radio; wqphradio.org; the translation here seems awkward and might possibly be translated, “pray a rosary for repentance every day” or “pray a penanace rosary every day”.
An accompanying note from the “messenger” referred to Jonah’s prophecy (3:1-10), which was also the Mass reading on October 8th, 2019 (that day, the Gospel was about Martha putting other things before God!). In that chapter, Jonah is instructed to cover himself in ashes and warn Nineveh: “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Is this a warning for the Church that we have, at last, put the branch to God’s nose?
As Christians, we are not helpless. Through prayer and fasting, we can cast out the demonic from our lives and even suspend the laws of nature. I think it’s time that we took the call to pray the Rosary seriously, which was one of the remedies specifically given at Fatima to avert “the annihilation of nations.” Whether this recent message from Akita is authentic or not, it’s the right one for this hour. But it’s not the first prophetic voice to exhort us to take hold of this weapon to fight against the increasing darkness of our times…
The Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary… the most difficult problems. At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation. —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 40
The “eye of the storm”: The Great Day of Light
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|1 Timothy 2:4