Time Out!

Sacred Heart of Jesus by Michael D. O’Brien


I HAVE been overwhelmed with a tremendous number of emails the past week from priests, deacons, layman, Catholics, and Protestants alike, and nearly all of them confirming the "prophetic" sense in "Trumpets of Warning!"

I did receive one tonight from a woman who is shaken and afraid. I want to respond to that letter here, and hope you will take a moment to read this. I hope it will keep perspectives in balance, and hearts in the right place…

Dear Mark, 

I think I have spent a great many years consoling myself and telling myself about this LOVE-ing, merciful and happy God, and joking about the “turn-or-burn” efforts of evangelicals … I don’t know enough about what the popes and saints have written, but whenever I consider these [prophetic] words, it only brings fear to my heart, and I think that God is not a God of fear…

Dear reader,

Be assured, God is not the God of fear. He is the God of love, mercy, and compassion.

You mentioned later in your letter that when your kids are ornery, won’t listen, and are a pain in the butt, you sometimes need to discipline them. Does this make you a mother of fear? It sounds to me like you’re a mother of love. Then, can we give God permission to love us too when we are out of line, and refuse to listen? In fact, St. Paul speaks firmly about God’s love-through-discipline:

The Lord disciplines him who he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives… If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but illegitimate children.  (Hebrew 12:8)

We are not orphans. God cares!

It reminds me of the story I heard from a priest I know who used to run a home for troubled teens. One day, a very wounded boy blurted out, "I just wish my dad would have spanked me once. At least I would have known that he cared about me!"

God does care. He does care that the future of our children, as you describe it, is unpleasant, even frightening. I worry everyday when my children go to the bus stop. I can’t help it. Love wounds the heart!

So too, God’s heart is wounded now, and for good reason—reasons I’ve written about in the "Trumpets of Warning!" letters. Who can argue that humanity seems hell bent on destroying itself, whether through inducing climate change, a nuclear holocaust, or general societal breakdown into organized crime? Why are people so offended when they hear a prophetic word of a loving God saying He may have to shake us a bit to bring us back to our senses? Why is this so incompatible with God?

It is not, as we know from Scripture itself. It’s just that this generation has been so busy watering down the true God, that we no longer know who He is. We have recreated Him in our own image:  He is no longer the God of love, He is now the God of "niceness," a God that tolerates everything we do, even if it kills us.

No. He is the God of love—and love always tells the truth. People do not realize that, really, since 1917 when the Virgin Mary appeared in Fatima, God has been warning humanity that its present course will lead to its own destruction by its own hand. That was 89 years ago! Does that sound like a God who is "quick to anger and slow to mercy"—or the other way around, as we read in Scripture?

The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard "delay," but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

What I think is unhealthy is to hear the "prophetic" messages being given, and suddenly panic. Who knows how long these things will take to unfold? I think we should be open to the possibility that the heartfelt repentance of one soul may be enough for God to tack another few years or more onto things. Those who set dates, I believe, really limit the Lord.

There is a sense of urgency to repent. But we would do well to heed that in any generation. Didn’t Paul say, "Today is the day of salvation"? We need to be ready always. Thus, messages of the future should serve to do one thing:  bring us back to the present moment, living in it in a spirit of trust, surrender, and hope.

Today, I went to morning Mass, and savored the joy of Jesus coming to dwell within me. Then I spent time in morning prayer, which concluded with my spiritual reading. No, it wasn’t a book by Hal Lindsay. Rather, I’ve been meditating for several months on the book, Sacrament of the Present Moment by Jean Pierre de Caussade. It is about living in the present, completely abandoned to the will of God, given to us in each moment. It is about being a little child of God.

Then I spent part of the afternoon dressed like a knight, chasing my two year old around the kitchen with a plastic sword. I visited a friend in a senior’s home with my sons, and then went to the park for a picnic with my family. It was a beautiful day, capped off by a gorgeous sunset.

Have I thought about these "prophetic" words I have written? Yes. And my thoughts are, "Lord, hasten the day when you return that I may see you face to face. And may I bring as many souls with me as possible."

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