AFTER Mass several weeks ago, I was meditating on the deep sense I’ve had the past few years that God is gathering souls to himself, one by one… one here, one there, whoever will hear His urgent plea to receive the gift of His Son’s life… as though we evangelists are fishing with hooks now, rather than nets.
Suddenly, the words popped into my mind:
The number of Gentiles is nearly filled.
This, of course, is based in Scripture:
…a hardening has come upon Israel in part, until the full number of the Gentiles comes in, and thus all Israel will be saved. (Rom 11:25-26)
That day when the "full number" is reached may soon be coming. God is gathering one soul here, one soul there… plucking the last few grapes at the end of the season. Hence, it could be a reason for the growing political and violent turmoil around Israel… a nation destined for harvest, destined to be ‘saved’, as God promised in His covenant.
THE MARKING OF SOULS
I repeat again that I sense an urgency for us to seriously repent and return to God. In the last week, this has intensified. It is a sense of separation occurring in the world, and again, tied to the notion that the willing souls are being set apart. I wish to restate a specific word impressed on my heart in Part I:
The Lord is sifting, the divisions are growing, and souls are being marked as to whom they serve.
Ezekiel 9 jumped off the page this week.
Pass through the city [through Jerusalem] and mark an X on the foreheads of those who grieve over all the abominations that are practiced within it. To the others I heard him say: Pass through the city after him and strike! Do not look on them with pity nor show any mercy! Old men, youths and maidens, women and children—wipe them out! But do not touch any marked with the X; begin in my sanctuary.
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. (Rev 7:3)
As I have traveled across North America the past three years, my heart has been burning with a sense that a "wave of deception" is passing over the earth. Those who seek refuge in God’s heart are "safe" and protected. Those who reject Christ’s teachings as revealed in His Church, and reject God’s law written on their hearts, are subject to the "spirit of the world."
Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess 2:11)
God desires that no one be lost, that all be saved. What has the Father not done in the past 2000 years to win over civilization? What patience He has shown during this past century as we have unleashed two world wars, the evil of abortion, and countless other abominations while at the same time mocking Christianity!
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 Pet 3:9)
And yet, we still have free will, the choice to deny God:
He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)
And so, it is the season of choosing: the harvest is here. Pope John Paul II was more precise:
We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. —Addressed to the American Bishops two years before he was elected pope; Reprinted November 9, 1978, issue of The Wall Street Journal.
Does one have to be a prophet to see this? Is it not clear that the dividing lines are being drawn within nations and cultures, between the culture of death and the culture of life? Almost thirty years ago, Pope Paul VI witnessed to the beginning of these times:
The tail of the devil is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic world. The darkness of Satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church. —Pope Paul VI, October 13, 1977
And another sign appeared in the heaven; behold a great red dragon…. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven; and cast them to the earth. (Rev 12:3)
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
A COMING CHASTISEMENT.
Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked man, You shall surely die; and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his wicked conduct so that he may live: that wicked man shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death. (Ezekiel 3:18)
I am receiving letters from priests, deacons, and lay people from around the world, and the word is the same: "Something is coming!"
We see it in nature, which I believe is reflecting the crises in the moral/spiritual realm. The Church has been hobbled by scandals and heresy; her voice is barely heard. The world is growing in lawlessness, from increased violent crime, to nation acting against nation outside international law. Science has broken down ethical barriers through genetic engineering, cloning, and a disregard for human life. The music industry has poisoned its art and lost its beauty. Entertainment has degenerated into the most base of themes and humor. Professional athletes and company CEO’s are paid disproportionate salaries. Oil producers and big banks reap enormous profits while milking the consumer. Wealthy nations consume beyond their needs as thousands die daily from starvation. A pandemic of pornography has entered nearly every home through computers. And men no longer know they’re men, and women, that they’re women.
Would you allow the world to continue down this path?
The earth is polluted because of its inhabitants, who have transgressed laws, violated statutes, broken the ancient covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants pay for their guilt; Therefore they who dwell on earth turn pale, and few men are left. (Isaiah 24:5)
Heaven, through God’s mercy, has been warning us: an event or series of events is coming which will bring to an end, or at least to light, what may be the most unprecedented evils of any generation in the history of mankind. It will be a difficult period which will bring life as we know it to a halt, perspective back to hearts, and simplicity to living.
Cleanse your heart of evil, O Jerusalem, that you may be saved…. Your conduct, your misdeeds, have done this to you; how bitter is this disaster of yours, how it reaches to your very heart! (Jer 4:14, 18)
My brothers and sisters—these things are not being revealed to us as threats from God, but rather as warnings that our sinfulness will destroy mankind unless there is an intervention from His hand. Because we will not repent, the intervention must have an impact, though this impact can be lessened through prayer. The timing is unknown to us, but the signs are all around us; I am compelled to shout "Today is the day of salvation!"
As Jesus warned, the foolish ones are those who delay filling their lamps with oil—with the tears of repentance—until it’s too late. And so—what mark do you bear on your forehead?
Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ. (Gal 1:10)
THE ANGEL WITH A FLAMING SWORD
We know that humanity was at a similar turning point like this before. In what is the most famous Church-approved apparition of our time, the seers of Fatima recounted what they witnessed:
…we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’. —The third part of the secret of Fatima, revealed at the Cova da Iria-Fatima, on 13 July 1917; as posted on the Vatican website.
Our Lady of Fatima intervened. It is due to her intercession that this judgment did not come at that time. Now our generation has seen a proliferation of apparitions of Mary, warning us once again of such a judgment because of the unspeakable sinfulness of our times.
The judgment announced by the Lord Jesus [in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 21] refers above all to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70. Yet the threat of judgment also concerns us, the Church in Europe, Europe and the West in general. With this Gospel, the Lord is also crying out to our ears the words that in the Book of Revelation he addresses to the Church of Ephesus: “If you do not repent I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place." Light can also be taken away from us and we do well to let this warning ring out with its full seriousness in our hearts, while crying to the Lord: “Help us to repent! Give all of us the grace of true renewal! Do not allow your light in our midst to blow out! Strengthen our faith, our hope and our love, so that we can bear good fruit!” —Pope Benedict XVI, Opening Homily, Synod of Bishops, October 2nd, 2005, Rome.
The question some may have is, "Are we living in a time of purification only, or are we also the generation which will witness the return of Jesus?" I cannot answer that. Only the Father knows the day and hour, but as already shown, modern popes have hinted as much at the possibility. In a conversation this week with a prominent Catholic evangelist in the United States, he said "All the pieces seem to be there. That’s all we really know." Isn’t that enough?
Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test. (Lk 22:46)
THE TIME OF MERCY
Where would your soul go for all of eternity if today was the day you died? St. Thomas Aquinas kept a skull on his desk to remind him of his own mortality, to keep the real goal before him. That is the purpose behind these "trumpets of warning", to prepare us to meet God, whenever that may be. God is marking souls: those who believe in Jesus, and live according to His commandments which He promised would bring "abundant life". It is not a threat, but an invitation… while there is still time.
I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of [sinners]…. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy… He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice. —Diary of St Faustina, 1160, 848, 1146
Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing… (Joel 2:12-14)