POPE FRANCIS and bishops from around the world have gathered this week to face what is arguably the gravest trial in the history of the Catholic Church. It is not just a sexual abuse crisis of those entrusted with Christ’s flock; it is a crisis of faith. For men entrusted with the Gospel ought not only preach it, but above all live it. When they—or we—don’t, then we fall from grace like stars from the firmament.
St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and St. Paul VI all felt that we are presently living the twelfth chapter of Revelation like no other generation, and I submit, in a startling way…
THE TIDE OF IMPURITY
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon… the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. (Rev 12:1-5)
At World Youth Day in 1993, John Paul II stated:
This marvelous world – so loved by the Father that he sent his only Son for its salvation (Cf. Io 3,17) – is the theater of a never-ending battle being waged for our dignity and identity as free, spiritual beings. This struggle parallels the apocalyptic combat described in [Rev 12]. Death battles against Life: a “culture of death” seeks to impose itself on our desire to live, and live to the full. —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, Cherry Creek State Park Homily, Denver, Colorado, 1993; vatican.va
Sexual immorality and the “culture of death” are bedmates, for it is fornication, licentiousness and adultery that ultimately lead to the use of birth control, abortion, and sexual aberrations. This flood of impurity, exploitation and death, increasingly being imposed as the only acceptable standard in our culture,cf. Not My Canada, Mr. Trudeau is what the dragon unleashes primarily to sweep away the “woman,” whom Pope Benedict affirms is not only a symbol of Mary, but of the Church.“This Woman represents Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, but she represents at the same time the whole Church, the People of God of all times, the Church that at all times, with great pain, again gives birth to Christ.” —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Castel Gandolfo, Italy, AUG. 23, 2006; Zenit
The serpent, however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with the current… (Revelation 12:15)
St. Paul speaks of God lifting a restrainer of sorts after men, who should know better (clergy?), follow their flesh instead of their Lord…
…although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks… Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies… Males did shameful things with males. (Rom 1:21, 24, 27; see also 2 Thess 2:7)Note: It’s interesting that today’s first Mass reading focuses on God’s true meaning of the “rainbow”…
I think that the [torrent of water] is easily interpreted: these are the currents that dominate all and wish to make faith in the Church disappear, the Church that seems no longer to have a place in the face of the force of these currents that impose themselves as the only rationality, as the only way to live. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Meditation at Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, October 11th, 2010; vatican.va
These forces are not only external; sadly, they come from within the Church herself: wolves in sheep’s clothing whom Christ and St. Paul warned would appear.Matt 7:15; Acts 20:29 Hence…
…today we see it in truly terrifying form: the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from external enemies, but is born of sin within the Church. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, interview on flight to Lisbon, Portugal; LifeSiteNews, May 12th, 2010
There is one other mysterious sentence in that passage regarding the dragon’s activity that may, in fact, indicate who this persecution comes from:
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. (Rev 12:4)
What, or who are these stars?
DREAMS AND VISIONS
I don’t govern my ministry by dreams but by Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Yet, God does speak from time to time in dreams and visions, and according to St. Peter, these will ramp up in the “last days.” cf. Acts 2:17
In the beginning of this writing apostolate, I had many powerful dreams that would only later make sense as I studied the Church’s teachings on eschatology. One dream, in particular, would always begin with the stars in the sky beginning to circle and spin about. Suddenly they would fall. In one dream, the stars turned into balls of fire. There was a great earthquake. As I began to bolt for cover, I vividly remember running past a church whose foundations had crumbled, its stained-glass windows now tilted toward the earth (my son had a similar dream just a few weeks ago). And this from a letter I received around that time:
Just before waking up this morning I heard a voice. This was not like the voice I heard years back saying “It has begun.” Instead, this voice was softer, not as commanding, but seemed loving and knowledgeable and quiet in tone. I would say more of a female’s voice than a male’s. What I heard was one sentence… these words were powerful (since this morning I have been trying to push them out of my mind and cannot):
“The stars will fall.”
Even writing this now I can hear the words still echo in my mind and the funny thing, it felt like sooner than later, whatever sooner really is.
My sense is that this dream has both a spiritual and literal meaning. But here, let’s deal with the spiritual aspect.
THE FALLEN STARS
In addressing the growing apostasy in the Church, St. Paul VI referred to that same chapter in Revelation:
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. —Address on the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions, October 13, 1977; quoted in Corriere della Sera, pg. 7, October 14, 1977
Here, Paul VI is comparing the sweeping of the stars to the “disintegration of the Catholic world.” If so, who are the stars?
In the first chapter of Revelation, Jesus dictates seven letters to St. John. The letters are addressed to the “seven stars” who appear in Jesus’ hand at the beginning of the vision:
This is the secret meaning of the seven stars you saw in my right hand, and of the seven gold lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Rev 1:20)
The “angels” or “stars” here most likely means the pastors of the Church. As The Navarre Bible commentary notes:
The angels of the seven churches may stand for the bishops in charge of them, or else the guardian angels who watch over them… Whichever is the case, the best thing is to see the angels of the churches, to whom the letters are addressed, as meaning those who rule and protect each church in Christ’s name. —The Book of Revelation, “The Navarre Bible”, p. 36
The New American Bible footnote agrees:
Some have seen in the “angel” of each of the seven churches its pastor or a personification of the spirit of the congregation. —New American Bible, footnote for Rev. 1:20
Here is the central point: St. John’s vision reveals that a portion of these “stars” will fall away or be cast out in an apparent “apostasy.” This will take place before the appearance of the one whom Tradition calls the Antichrist, the “man of lawlessness” or “son of perdition.”
Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition. (2 Thess 2:1-3)
Pope Francis describes this rebellion (apostasy) as a descent into the flesh, into worldliness:
…worldliness is the root of evil and it can lead us to abandon our traditions and negotiate our loyalty to God who is always faithful. This… is called apostasy, which… is a form of “adultery” which takes place when we negotiate the essence of our being: loyalty to the Lord. —POPE FRANCIS from a homily, Vatican Radio, November 18th, 2013
St. Gregory the Great affirms this teaching:
Heaven is the Church which in the night of this present life, the while it possesses in itself the countless virtues of the saints, shines like the radiant heavenly stars; but the dragon’s tail sweeps the stars down to the earth… The stars which fall from heaven are those who have lost hope in heavenly things and covet, under the devil’s guidance, the sphere of earthly glory. —Moralia, 32, 13
This, too, can happen among the hierarchy when they cave into clericalism or “a careerism which thirsts for recognition, applause, rewards and status.” Evangelii Gaudium, n. 277 But it is most scandalous when it involves, not only the sins of the flesh, but pastors employing sophistries to excuse them.cf. The Anti-Mercy In that regard, the words of Pope Paul VI take on a powerful relevance as we begin to see the prophecy of Akita unfold before our eyes:
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 and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord… As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. —Message given through an apparition to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa of Akita, Japan, October 13th, 1973
St. John is given further visions of falling celestial objects heralded by “trumpets.” First, there falls from the sky “hail and fire mixed with blood” then a “burning mountain” and then a “star burning like a torch.” Are these “trumpets” symbolic of a third of priests, bishops, and cardinals? The dragon—who works through a conglomeration of powers, both hidden and organizedie. “secret societies”; cf. Mystery Babylon—sweeps away a third of the stars—that is, perhaps, a third of the Church hierarchy into apostasy, along with those who follow them.
As clerical scandal after scandal continues to come into view, we are watching in real-time as “stars” fall to the “earth”—some of them, very large stars, like former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Fr. Marcial Maciel, etc.. But in reality, the falling began a long time ago. It is only now that we are seeing these stars enter the atmosphere of truth and justice.
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 Pet 4:17)
Again, it’s not just the sexual scandals in the Church. It is now the emergence of an Anti-Mercy by some bishop’s conferences that twists the Scriptures to render personal conscience autonomous over the Church’s constant teaching on marriage and sexuality. As Cardinal Müller lamented:
…it is not right that so many bishops are interpreting Amoris Laetitia according to their way of understanding the Pope’s teaching. This does not keep to the line of Catholic doctrine… These are sophistries: the Word of God is very clear and the Church does not accept the secularization of marriage. —Cardinal Müller, Catholic Herald, Feb. 1st, 2017; Catholic World Report, Feb. 1st, 2017
And just recently in his “Manifesto of Faith,” he warned:
To keep silent about these and the other truths of the Faith and to teach people accordingly is the greatest deception against which the Catechism vigorously warns. It represents the last trial of the Church and leads man to a religious delusion, “the price of their apostasy” (CCC 675); it is the fraud of Antichrist. “He will deceive those who are lost by all means of injustice; for they have closed themselves to the love of the truth by which they should be saved” (2 Thess 2:10). —National Catholic Register, Feb. 8th, 2019
The silver lining in all of this? According to St. John, two-thirds of the stars do not fall. May we pray and fast all the more then, not only for our faithful shepherds that they “may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world”…Phil 2:15 but also for the conversion of those fallen stars—and the healing of those wounded by their rebellion.
Do you see… these stars?… These stars are the souls of faithful Christians… —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 424
Where are we now in an eschatological sense? It is arguable that we are in the midst of the rebellion and that in fact a strong delusion has come upon many, many people. It is this delusion and rebellion that foreshadows what will happen next: “and the man of lawlessness will be revealed.” —Msgr. Charles Pope, “Are These the Outer Bands of a Coming Judgment?”, November 11th, 2014; blog
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|↑1||cf. Not My Canada, Mr. Trudeau|
|↑2||“This Woman represents Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, but she represents at the same time the whole Church, the People of God of all times, the Church that at all times, with great pain, again gives birth to Christ.” —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Castel Gandolfo, Italy, AUG. 23, 2006; Zenit|
|↑3||Matt 7:15; Acts 20:29|
|↑4||cf. Acts 2:17|
|↑5||Evangelii Gaudium, n. 277|
|↑6||cf. The Anti-Mercy|
|↑7||ie. “secret societies”; cf. Mystery Babylon|