BACK in June of 2013, I wrote to you of changes that I have been discerning regarding my ministry, how it is presented, what is presented etc. in the writing called The Watchman’s Song. After several months now of reflection, I would like to share with you my observations from what is happening in our world, things I have discussed with my spiritual director, and where I feel I am being led now. I also want to invite your direct input with a quick survey below.
WHERE ARE WE AT IN THE WORLD?
In October of 2012, I shared with you some personal words regarding what time we are at in the world (see So Little Time Left). That was followed this past year with The Hour of The Sword, in which I was compelled to warn that we are drawing nearer to a time of discord and violence between nations. Anyone following the headlines today can see that the world is continuing upon a dangerous path of war as Iran, China, North Korea, Syria, Russia, the United States and other nations continue to ramp up war rhetoric and/or activity. These tensions have only been further heightened as the global economy, now on a respirator, is barely showing a pulse due to what Pope Francis calls the ‘corruption’, ‘idolatry’, and ‘tyranny’ of the global financial system. cf. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 55-56
If there is spiritual turmoil in individuals, it is paralleled by turmoil in nature. Signs and wonders continue to unfold at breathtaking speed as the cosmos, the earth, the oceans, the climate and creatures continue to “groan” with a common voice that “all is not well.”
But I firmly believe, brothers and sisters, that the time of warning is, for the most part, over. In one of the first readings at Mass this week, we hear of the “writing on the wall.” see The Writing on the Wall For decades, if not centuries now, the Lord has made the unprecedented intervention of sending the Blessed Mother in apparition after apparition to call her children back home. These warnings, however, have gone mostly unheeded as the world now races toward a new world order that has all the dimensions and likeness of the Beast of Daniel and Revelation. Everything I began to write about 8 years ago is coming to fulfillment at breakneck speed.
And yet, our timing is vastly different than God’s timing. I am reminded immediately of the parable of the ten virgins with only five of them having enough oil in their lamps. And yet, Jesus tells us that “they all slumbered and slept.” Matt 25:5 I believe we are in that period now where we know it’s almost midnight… but so many believers are falling asleep. What do I mean? That many are being drawn into the spirit of the world, slowly mesmerized by the glamour of evil that darkly shines at us from all directions. These were some of the first words of Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation:
The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation, November 24th, 2013; n. 2
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, General Audience, Vatican City, Apr 20, 2011, Catholic News Agency
It is precisely because of this that my ministry needs to take a fresh direction.
THE FIELD HOSPITAL
We are living in a consumerist, pornographic, and violent world. Our media and entertainment continually bombard us with those themes minute by minute, hour by hour. The harm this has done to families, the division it has created, the wounds it has generated in even some of Christ’s most faithful servants is not negligible. It is precisely why the message of Divine Mercy has been timed for this hour; why St. Faustina’s diary is spreading its beautiful message of mercy at this moment throughout the world (read The Great Refuge and Safe Harbour).
We continually hear in the media that Pope Francis has taken a markedly different tone from his predecessors—that he has departed from the doctrinal purity of past popes with a more “inclusive” philosophy. Benedict is painted as Scrooge, Francis as Santa Claus. But this is precisely because the world does not understand nor perceive the spiritual dimensions of the cultural war that has taken place. Pope Francis has no more departed from his predecessors than a taxi driver has departed from his destination by taking an alternative route.
Since the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, the Church has had to continually adjust to the fast-paced changes in society, exponentially accelerated by technology. It has demanded that the Church counter the false ideologies and false prophets of our times with a sound moral theology. But now, the casualties of the battle between the cultural of life and the culture of death are coming in by the helicopter load. The Church must take an alternate route:
I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up. —POPE FRANCIS, interview with AmericaMagazine.com, September 30th, 2013
Note that Pope Francis stresses this “field hospital” is for the “faithful… after battle.” We are not dealing with the flu bug here, but blown off limbs and gaping wounds! When we hear statistics such as over 64% of Christian men are viewing pornography, cf. Conquer Series, Jeremy & Tiana Wiles we know there are serious casualties rolling in from the battlefield of family and communities.
MY MINISTRY GOING FORWARD
Even before Pope Francis was elected, there was a deep sense in my soul that my ministry needed to focus more and more on bringing direction and help to souls on simply how to live day by day in today’s culture. That people need authentic hope above all. That the Christian Church is no longer joyful, and that we (and I) need to rediscover our true Source of joy.
I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation, November 24th, 2013; n. 1
For me personally, Pope Francis’ message has been an interior continuity with what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today and thus a wonderful confirmation of where this ministry needs to go.
This, of course, begs the question as to what about the warnings that I have given from time to time over the past eight years, and will anymore be forthcoming? As always, I strive to write what I sense the Lord wants, not what I want. Sometimes when the wounded enter a field hospital on the battleground, they ask, “What just happened?” They are bewildered, dazed, confused. We can expect these questions in the future more and more as economies collapse, violence breaks out, freedoms are taken away, and the Church is persecuted. So yes, there are going to be occassions I anticipate where what is happening in our world needs to be underlined at times to help explain where we are and where we are going.
The question I have really battled with this year is how the Lord wants me to continue this ministry. By far, the largest audience is online with these writings. The smallest audience, by far, is at live events and conferences. Live venues are simply shrinking and shrinking to the point where it is neither a good use of my time or resources to continue traveling when so few are coming out to these events. The second largest audience is with my webcasts at EmbracingHope.tv
One thing that I have been praying about for a number of years, actually, is providing readers with daily or at least frequent meditations on the Mass readings. Not a homily, just a layman’s prayerful reflections. I would try to keep these short and to the point as where my regular readings tend to provide more of a theological context.
Another thing I have been praying about is providing some sort of audiocast or podcast.
To be honest, I have struggled with whether or not to continue the webcasts. Are these useful to you? Do you have the time to watch them?
And last, of course, is my music, which is the foundation of my ministry. Are you aware of it? Is it ministering to you?
These are questions I am hoping you’ll take a moment to answer in a an anonymous survey below, to help me better determine what is feeding you with spiritual food, and what is not. What do you need? How can I serve you? What is administering to your wounds…?
The point of all this is to say that I feel it is time to set up a field hospital; to rip out a few walls, push back some furniture, and set up some triage units. Because the wounded are coming here. They are arriving at my door, and I see more than anything, they need the tender assurance of Jesus, the healing medicines of the Spirit, and the comforting arms of the Father.
On a personal note, I need this field hospital too. Like everyone else, I have had to deal this past year with financial stress, family divisions, spiritual oppression etc. Recently too, I have been having a hard time focusing, losing my balance, etc. and so am having to get this examined by doctors. These past few weeks, I have sat at my computer and found it very difficult to write anything… I don’t say this to invoke your sympathy, but to ask for your prayers and for you to know that I am walking with you in the trenches of trying to raise children in our pagan world, of combatting the attacks on our health, happiness, and peace.
In Jesus, we will be victorious! I love you all. Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers.