The widespread reluctance on the part of many Catholic thinkers
to enter into a profound examination of the apocalyptic elements of contemporary life is,
I believe, part of the very problem which they seek to avoid.
If apocalyptic thinking is left largely to those who have been subjectivized
or who have fallen prey to the vertigo of cosmic terror,
then the Christian community, indeed the whole human community,
is radically impoverished.
And that can be measured in terms of lost human souls.
–Author, Michael D. O’Brien, Are We Living In Apocalyptic Times?
I TURNED off my computer and every device that could possibly stalk my peace. I spent much of the last week floating on a lake, my ears submerged under the water, staring up into the infinite with only a few passing clouds glancing back with their morphing faces. There, in those pristine Canadian waters, I listened to the Silence. I tried not to think about anything except the present moment and what God was carving in the heavens, His little love messages to us in Creation. And I loved Him back.
It was nothing profound… but a crucial break from my ministry that tripled in readership overnight after the closure of churches this past winter. The Lockdown of civilization came “like a thief in the night,” and millions of people have awoken to sense something profoundly wrong unfolding right now… and are looking for answers. There has been a literal landslide in emails, messages, phone calls, texts, etc. and, for the first time, I can no longer keep up. I remember years ago, the late Stan Rutherford, a Catholic mystic from Florida, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Someday, people are going to come streaming to you and you won’t be able to keep up.” Well, I’m doing what I can and deeply apologize to anyone whose messages I have not responded to.
OFFENDING CATHOLIC SENSIBILITIES
When I returned from my retreat, I learned of another landslide—one that does not surprise me, though, it continues to baffle. It is those who, despite the clear “signs of the times”, despite the unequivocal words of the popes, and despite the messages of Our Lord and Lady that form a clear “prophetic consensus” from the around the world… are still looking for rocks to stone the prophets. Don’t get me wrong—discernment of prophecy is critical (1 Thess 5:20-21). But the sudden emergence of articles in the Catholic sphere eager to pronounce condemnations on those who do not fit their bill of what a seer should be… or against those who would dare utter the words “end times”… or those who would speak of future events that don’t bode well for a comfortable retirement plan… is actually disheartening. At a time when churches are being restricted or closed, when some are being attacked and burned, when persecution against Christians in the Western hemisphere is so close to bursting upon us… Catholics are nitpicking?? Suddenly, the words of Jesus bear remarkable resemblance to our times:
In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. (Matt 24:38-39)
In other words, some people remain in complete denial. They are seeking comfort instead of conversion. They continually find excuses to suggest that things are not nearly as bad as they actually are. They only see the glass as half full when it’s practically empty. Some are, in fact, even mocking the Noah’s of our time.
In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions. It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. (Jude 1:18)
Fifteen years ago, I finally said “yes” to St. John Paul II’s call to us youth at World Youth Day:
Dear young people, it is up to you to be the watchmen of the morning who announce the coming of the sun who is the Risen Christ! —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Message of the Holy Father to the Youth of the World, XVII World Youth Day, n. 3; (cf. Is 21:11-12)
Oh, how lovely—Jesus is coming. But do Catholics seriously believe that He is coming without everything else that would precede it as outlined in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, 2 Thess 2, etc.? And when we say “He is coming”, we are referring to a process called the “end times” that culminates in the fulfillment of the words of the “Our Father” before the end of the world—when His Kingdom will come and His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven—as a fulfillment of Scripture and final preparation of the Church.
…the Kingdom of God means Christ himself, whom we daily desire to come, and whose coming we wish to be manifested quickly to us. For as he is our resurrection, since in him we rise, so he can also be understood as the Kingdom of God, for in him we shall reign. —Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), n. 2816
That’s why we named our new website “Countdown to the Kingdom” instead of “Countdown to Doom and Gloom”: we are spiralling toward victory, not defeat. But the teaching of the Magisterium is clear:
Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers... The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. —CCC, n. 675, 677
This “glory” (ie. eternity) is preceded by the sanctification of the Church so that the Bride will become spotless and without blemish (Eph 5:27), so that she will be clothed in a white linen of purity (Rev 19:8). This purification must precede the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. Hence, the vast majority of the Book of Revelation is not about the end of the world but the end of this age, leading to a “new and divine holiness” as St. John Paul II put it.cf. The Coming New and Divine Holiness Thus, his predecessor Pope St. John XXIII convened a pastoral Second Vatican Council with this in mind: that an Era of Peace was coming, not the end of the world.
At times we have to listen, much to our regret, to the voices of people who, though burning with zeal, lack a sense of discretion and measure. In this modern age they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin … We feel that we must disagree with those prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand. In our times, divine Providence is leading us to a new order of human relations which, by human effort and even beyond all expectations, are directed to the fulfilment of God’s superior and inscrutable designs, in which everything, even human setbacks, leads to the greater good of the Church. —POPE ST. JOHN XXIII, Address for the Opening of the Second Vatican Council, October 11th, 1962
John Paul II summarized it this way:
After purification through trial and suffering, the dawn of a new era is about to break.—POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, General Audience, September 10, 2003
Yes, “trial and suffering” precede this coming “period of peace.” This is why the “virtue-signaling” of Catholics who say we must only talk about hope, designer masks, and “positive” things is getting a little silly; why those who want to sit on the fringes and hedge their bets regarding these times (only jumping in when it makes them look intuitive and smart) is just cowardice; and why attacking as “fundamentalists” those who say we are living in the “end times” is just sheer blindness. Seriously, what are they waiting for? Such souls seemingly want to rearrange the deck chairs on this Titanic instead of helping their brothers and sisters get into the Life Boat (ie. the “ark” of the Immaculate Heart) for the stormy ride ahead. But don’t take my word for it regarding the times we’re passing through:
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.
…he who resists the truth through malice and turns away from it, sins most grievously against the Holy Ghost. In our days this sin has become so frequent that those dark times seem to have come which were foretold by St. Paul, in which men, blinded by the just judgment of God, should take falsehood for truth, and should believe in “the prince of this world,” who is a liar and the father thereof, as a teacher of truth: “God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying (2 Thess. ii., 10). In the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error and the doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. iv., 1). —POPE LEO XIII, Divinum Illud Munus, n. 10
When all this is considered there is good reason to fear lest this great perversity may be as it were a foretaste, and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days; and that there may be already in the world the “Son of Perdition” of whom the Apostle speaks. —POPE ST. PIUS X, E Supremi, Encyclical On the Restoration of All Things in Christ, n. 3, 5; October 4th, 1903
For those who prattle on how all this apocalyptic talk is just reckless and negative delusion, consider what Jesus says at the beginning of the Book of Revelation—a scripture that is chock full of prophecies of global war, famine, economic collapse, earthquakes, plagues, deadly hail storms, destructive meteor showers, beasts, 666 and persecution:
Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near. (Rev 1:3)
Hm. Blessed are those who read “doom and gloom”? Well, it’s only doom and gloom to those who fail to see that “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” John 12:24 Jesus wants us to actually read and discuss these distressful texts so as to anticipate them and be prepared, and such preparedness is actually blessedness. But here, I am not speaking of “prepping” or survivalist techniques but a preparation of the heart: where a person becomes so detached from the world that they are not shaken by talk of chastisements, antichrists and trials because they recognize that nothing, absolutely nothing happens in this world that does not ultimately come by way of the hand of the Father. As it says in today’s Psalm:
Learn then that I, I alone, am God, and there is no god besides me. It is I who bring both death and life, I who inflict wounds and heal them.(Today’s Psalm)
The peace of such souls comes not by clinging to false comfort and illusory security or by “positive thinking” and sticking one’s head in the proverbial sand… but by dying to this world and its empty promises:
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 will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? (Today’s Gospel)
By today’s standards, Jesus would be considered a false prophet for such dreary talk. But you see, the false prophets were those who told the people what they wanted to hear; the true prophets were those who told them what they needed to hear—and they stoned them.
A WORD ON FR. MICHEL
Many of the stones being thrown right now are toward an alleged seer from Quebec, Canada, Fr. Michel Rodrigue. He is one of several alleged seers featured on Countdown to the Kingdom and who has become a lightning rod of sorts. It may be because tens of thousands of people are not only watching his videos there or reading his words, but actually responding to them. We have received countless letters of powerful conversions and awakenings happening through the messages of Fr. Michel—some of which are dramatic and are going “viral.”
For my part, I have only seen a fraction of the videos on Countdown of Fr. Michel (I simply haven’t had time to review all the material; my collaborators, however, have gone through his talks). Of what I have heard, it is consistent not only with the Scriptures but the “prophetic consensus” of seers around the world. Of those questions raised in a “theological evaluation” by Dr. Mark Miravalle, my colleague Prof. Daniel O’Connor answered clearly and logically.see “A Response to Dr. Mark Miravalle’s Article on Fr. Michel Rodrigue” Nonetheless, I continue to “watch and pray” and discern not only Fr. Michel but all the seers on Countdown. We do not “endorse” any visionaries; we are merely giving a platform for credible and orthodox prophetic words in accordance with St. Paul’s admonition to “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.” 1 Corinthians 14:29
That said, there has been some genuine confusion surrounding Fr. Michel. Our collaborator, Christine Watkins, who interviewed Fr. Michel for her book, had written that Fr. Michel “tells everything” to his bishop who had “approved” his messages. On the contrary, the bishop wrote a letter stating to Fr. Michel that he does not support the idea of “the Warning, the chastisements, the third World War, the Era of Peace, any construction of refuges, et cetera.” and gave indications that he had not, in fact, seen “everything”. It’s unclear how or why this miscommunication occurred. What can be deduced from this is that the bishop does not support his messages, but also that no official investigation or study of the messages has occurred. The bishop is entitled to his opinion, but as of this writing, has not issued a formal and binding declaration regarding the alleged revelations of Fr. Michel. For that reason, the messages remain on Countdown to the Kingdom for continuing discernment.cf. see “Statement on Fr. Michel Rodrigue”
Second, many people are balking at some prophecies circulating from Fr. Michel that this Fall will see an uptick in serious events. They claim that such prophecies must be false because Jesus said: “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.”Acts 1:7 But Our Lord was speaking to the Apostles 2000 years ago, not necessarily every generation (and He was obviously right). Moreover, Fr. Michel would not be the first seer in the history of the Church to speak of impending events. The approved messages of Fatima were very specific about coming events being near, not to mention the exact date of the “miracle of the sun.” Finally, Fr. Michel in this regard is actually consistent with other seers around the world who are pointing to major events very soon.
The prophet is someone who tells the truth on the strength of his contact with God—the truth for today, which also, naturally, sheds light on the future. —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Christian Prophecy, The Post-Biblical Tradition, Niels Christian Hvidt, Foreword, p. vii
Just a cursory glance of the daily headlines suggests these seers are probably more right than not.
As for my ministry, I will continue to walk with the Church on these things. Should Fr. Michel or any other seer be formally “condemned”, I will adhere to that. Truly, it would be no skin off my teeth because this ministry is not built on private revelation but the Public Revelation of Jesus Christ in the Word of God, preserved in the deposit of faith, and passed on through Sacred Tradition. That’s the rock on which I stand, and hope to keep my readers on as well, for it’s the only rock that Christ himself put in place.
So that said, shouldn’t we continue to listen to that very Word with attentive humility?:
Do not despise the words of prophets,
but test everything;
hold fast to what is good…
(1 Thessalonians 5:20-21)
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