A 9-11 story

From a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written following 9-11:

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic.

All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain.

As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.”

No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, Newfoundland.

He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.

While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.

We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, Newfoundland, to have it checked out.

We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.

There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the US.

After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.”

Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.

The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane.

In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were US commercial jets.

Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC.

People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada . Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.

Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm.

We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.

We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning.

Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.

Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing.

And they were true to their word.

Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.

After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel.

We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander!

We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the US airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.

We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.

Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days.

What we found out was incredible…..

Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers.

Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.”

Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged.

Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.

Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.

Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day.

During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips.

Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests.

Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.

Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.

In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.

Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.

It was absolutely incredible.

When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time.

Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.

Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.

And then a very unusual thing happened.

One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days.

He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers.

He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.

“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte.

He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.

As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.

“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them.

It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”

“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.

*This is one of those stories that need to be shared. Please do so…*

The Marian dimension of the Storm


Mark Mallett

There are many sincere and genuine “prophets” in the Protestant churches today. But not surprisingly, there are holes and gaps in some of their “prophetic words” at this hour, precisely because there are holes and gaps in their theological premises. Such a statement is not intended to be inflammatory or triumphalistic, as though “we Catholics” have the corner on God, so to speak. No, the fact is, many Protestant (Evangelical) Christians today have a greater love and devotion to God’s Word than many Catholics, and have cultivated a great zeal, prayer life, faith, and openness to the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit. And thus, Cardinal Ratzinger makes an important qualification of contemporary Protestantism:

Heresy, for Scripture and the early Church, includes the idea of a personal decision against the unity of the Church, and heresy’s characteristic is pertinacia, the obstinacy of him who persists in his own private way. This, however, cannot be regarded as an appropriate description of the spiritual situation of the Protestant Christian. In the course of a now centuries-old history, Protestantism has made an important contribution to the realization of Christian faith, fulfilling a positive function in the development of the Christian message and, above all, often giving rise to a sincere and profound faith in the individual non-Catholic Christian, whose separation from the Catholic affirmation has nothing to do with the pertinacia characteristic of heresy… The conclusion is inescapable, then: Protestantism today is something different from heresy in the traditional sense, a phenomenon whose true theological place has not yet been determined. —Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood, pp. 87-88

Perhaps it would serve the body of Christ better to do away with the self-imposed categories of “Protestant prophecy” vs “Catholic prophecy.” For an authentic prophetic word from the Holy Spirit is neither “Catholic” nor “Protestant”, but simply a word to all God’s children. That said, we cannot as easily do away with the real theological divisions that persist that at times do great harm to both private and Public Revelation, either casting God’s Word into a false interpretation or leaving it greatly impoverished. A few examples come to mind, such as those “prophecies” that depict the Catholic Church as the whore of Babylon, the Pope as a “false prophet,” and Mary as a pagan goddess. These are no little distortions, which in fact, have led many souls to even abandon their Catholic faith for a more subjective (and thus precarious) religious experience.

Furthermore, these distortions have, in many instances, left out the most important aspects of the Great Storm that is upon us: that is, the triumph that is coming. Indeed, some of the most authentic voices in the Evangelical realm almost entirely focus on the coming “judgment” of America and the world. But there is so much more, so much more! But you won’t hear about it in Evangelical circles precisely because the triumph that is coming revolves around the “woman clothed in the sun”, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Head and Body

From the beginning, in Genesis, we read how Satan will do battle with this “woman.” And the serpent will be defeated through her “offspring.”

I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel. (Genesis 3:15)

It is impossible to separate the mother from the offspring—the child’s victory is also its mother’s. This is realized for Mary at the foot of the Cross when her Son, whom she carried into the world through her fiat, defeats the powers of darkness:

…despoiling the principalities and the powers, he made a public spectacle of them, leading them away in triumph by it. (Colossians 2:15)

And yet, Jesus made it eminently clear that His followers, His body, would likewise share in the despoiling of principalities and powers:

Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. (Luke 10:19)

How can we not see this as the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 in which the Woman’s offspring is prophesied to “strike at [Satan’s] head”? Yet, one may ask how it is possible that Christians today are this woman’s “offspring” also? But are we not Christ’s “brother” or “sister”? If so, do we not, then, have a common mother? If He is the “head” and we are His “body”, did Mary give birth only to a head or to a whole body? Let Jesus Himself answer the question:

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)

Saint John Paul II notes the significance of the title “Woman” with which Jesus addresses Mary—it is a deliberate echo of the “woman” of Genesis—she who was called Eve…

…because she was the mother of all the living. (Genesis 3:20)

The words uttered by Jesus from the Cross signify that the motherhood of her who bore Christ finds a “new” continuation in the Church and through the Church, symbolized and represented by John. In this way, she who as the one “full of grace” was brought into the mystery of Christ in order to be his Mother and thus the Holy Mother of God, through the Church remains in that mystery as “the woman” spoken of by the Book of Genesis (3:15) at the beginning and by the Apocalypse (12:1) at the end of the history of salvation. — Saint John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, §24

Indeed, in the passage of Revelation 12 describing the “woman clothed in the sun”, we read:

She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth… Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. (Revelation 12:2, 4-5)

Who is this child? Jesus, of course. But then Jesus has this to say:

To the victor, who keeps to my ways until the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod… (Revelation 2:26-27)

The “child” whom this Woman bears, then, is both Christ the head and His body.

A woman still in labor

How does Mary “give birth” to us? It goes without saying that her motherhood to us is spiritual in nature. Even Martin Luther perceived this:

Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees… If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother. —Martin Luther, Christmas Sermon, 1529.

The Church was conceived, so to speak, beneath the Cross. There, a profound symbolism takes place that mirrors the marital act of consummation. For Mary, by perfect obedience, “opens” her heart completely to the will of God. And Jesus, by his perfect obedience, “opens” His heart for the salvation of humanity, which is the will of the Father. Blood and water gushes forth as though “inseminating” the Heart of Mary. The Two Hearts are one, and in this profound union in the Divine Will, the Church is conceived: “Woman, behold your son.” It is then, at Pentecost—after the labor of waiting and prayer—that the Church is born in the presence of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit:

And so, in the redemptive economy of grace, brought about through the action of the Holy Spirit, there is a unique correspondence between the moment of the Incarnation of the Word and the moment of the birth of the Church. The person who links these two moments is Mary: Mary at Nazareth and Mary in the Upper Room at Jerusalem. In both cases her discreet yet essential presence indicates the path of “birth from the Holy Spirit.” Thus she who is present in the mystery of Christ as Mother becomes—by the will of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit—present in the mystery of the Church. In the Church too she continues to be a maternal presence, as is shown by the words spoken from the Cross: “Woman, behold your son!”; “Behold, your mother.” —Saint John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, §24

Really, Pentecost is a continuation of the Annunciation when Mary was first overshadowed by the Holy Spirit in order to conceive and give birth to a Son. Likewise, what began at Pentecost continues today as more souls are “born again” of Spirit and water—the waters of Baptism that flowed from the Heart of Christ through the Heart of Mary “full of grace” so that she would continue to participate in the birth of the People of God. The genesis of the Incarnation continues as the means by which the Body of Christ is born:

That is the way Jesus is always conceived. That is the way He is reproduced in souls. He is always the fruit of heaven and earth. Two artisans must concur in the work that is at once God’s masterpiece and humanity’s supreme product: the Holy Spirit and the most holy Virgin Mary… for they are the only ones who can reproduce Christ. —Archbishop Luis M. Martinez, The Sanctifier, p. 6

The implications of this profound presence of Mary—by God’s design and free will—places this Woman alongside her Son at the center of salvation history. That is to say, that God not only willed to enter into time and history through a woman, but intends to complete Redemption in the same manner.

On this universal level, if victory comes it will be brought by Mary. Christ will conquer through her because He wants the Church’s victories now and in the future to be linked to her… —Saint John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p. 221

Thus is exposed the “gap” in Protestant prophecy, and that is that this Woman has a role in giving birth to the entire People of God in order to further the reign of God on earth, the reign of the Divine Will “on earth as it is in heaven” before the end of human history. [1] cfThe Coming New and Divine Holiness  And this is essentially what was described in Genesis 3:15: that the Woman’s offspring will crush the serpent’s head—Satan, the “incarnation” of disobedience. This is precisely what St. John foresaw in the last age of the world:

Then I saw an angel come down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a heavy chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan, and tied it up for a thousand years and threw it into the abyss, which he locked over it and sealed, so that it could no longer lead the nations astray until the thousand years are completed. After this, it is to be released for a short time. Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:1-4)

Thus, the key to understanding the “end times” lies precisely in understanding the role of Mary, who is a prototype and mirror of the Church.

Knowledge of the true Catholic doctrine regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary will always be a key to the exact understanding of the mystery of Christ and of the Church. —Bl. Pope Paul VI, Discourse of 21 November 1964: AAS 56 (1964) 1015

The Blessed Mother becomes for us not only a sign and real hope of what we are to become, but a mirror of what we already are:

At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church: “the Church indeed. . . by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, §507

Thus, the coming triumph of Mary is at once the triumph of the Church. [2] cf. The Triumph of Mary, Triumph of the Church Lose this key, and you lose the fullness of the prophetic message that God wants His children to hear today—both Protestants and Catholics.


Related reading

The Triumph — Part I, Part II, Part III

Why Mary?

The Key to the Woman

The Great Gift

The Masterwork

Protestants, Mary, and the Ark of Refuge

Welcome Mary

She Will Hold Your Hand

The Great Ark

The Ark and the Son

Abomination & Desolation Co.

There are no words more terrifying in the English language than “I am from the Government and I am here to help” said Ronald Reagan long ago in what now seems to be not only a different time but a different planet altogether.

Argentina is having its own “Katrina moment” after torrential rains that lasted for the best part of 10 days. The province of Buenos Aires was the most affected. Buenos Aires is a huge patch of land roughly the size of France, fertile to booth. About 100 years ago it was home to some of the richest people in the world back in the day when Argentina was in the exclusive company of the 10 largest economies in the planet. Then populist politicians came, their heads inflamed with the political ideas that were all the rage in Europe. It seems that no matter how much time passes, the European ideas continue to arrive on our shores like a plague comparable to those that wiped out the aboriginal population of America from the 1500’s onward.

Luján 2015-1938
Luján 2015-1938. Notice the Basilica bell towers in the background as they were being raised in 1938 and then later in 2015.

When the first constitutional republic was born in the US in 1789 someone asked Ben Franklin what kind of government was being devised to rule the young nation. Franklin’s answer was: “A Republic if you can keep it!” That may be an echo of another inspired phrase: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.” (Alexander Fraser Tytler.) The general state of the finances of the world seem to indicate that the bankers have found a way to raid the coffers of every nation. Take for example Detroit, a place where trade unions, city hall
bureaucrats, and shortsighted company executives have managed to turn the most prosperous city in the world (1945) into a gigantic dump owing billions to banks and investors.

Detroit, Michigan, USA.

The common element between the province of Buenos Aires and Detroit is the doctrine of progressive socialism. Just like Argentinians have lived 100 years without wondering why their ancestors managed to be so prosperous, their American counterparts are doing the same. Like the proverbial madman they continue to try the same “solutions” even as they see how the problem gets bigger every time they try.

All things remaining the same, we can predict that some sort of disaster is about to awake the world from this dangerous dream because should this madness continue “no flesh could be saved.” (Matthew 24:22)

Saul and Job

There is something in Catholic doctrine called “temerary talk” a sin many fall into when grieving heavy losses. Years ago when I lost everything and I contemplated some false friends and acquaintances taking advantage of my newly acquired penury, I wandered dangerously close to that particular sin. A good friend, and a priest helped me out through those sad days when I would see all dark. I thought often of Chesterton’s “nightmare” The man who was Thursday a dream-like work where the author appears to present God and the Anti-God as the same person, Sunday a dark Chief Anarchist who is also the Chief of Police.

Job understands that God cannot be unjust. Unlike me, he knows that from the beginning. One of the root principles of the Universe is the principle of non-contradiction. It makes no sense to accuse God of being unjust because that would be automatically invoking a higher source of justice, then God would be not God but that mysterious higher source. What separates us from falling into that error is the evidence of God’s creation with its beauty, complexity, and mysteriousness. Many an atheist scientist has been converted as their road to Damascus winds through the deep mechanisms of natural creation. Job is wiser than them. Job concludes there is a higher way of understanding his   situation, he humbly recognizes his limitations but when he is about to fall, when the pain is about to break his fragile human nature … God appears in the whirlwind and shows Job creation, and Job understands that He must wait. Job is a circumstantial being trapped in time. God is above all circumstances, He exists both before, during, and after Job’s suffering.

Saul of Tarsus received a different treatment, perhaps because from the start he was not as humble as Job. He hurries off from Jerusalem to Damascus carrying “letters and chains” with authority to persecute Christians. Saul is not an ordinary man, he is educated under Gamaliel the great Jewish teacher of that age; Saul is also formed in the refined Greek culture of the day, well read in philosophy and the arts of his time. And he is probably proud of his intellectual prowess. Then Christ appears to him on the road as Saul travels away from Jerusalem. In his own account of the experience he tells king Agrippa:

“I was traveling to Damascus with the authorization and commission of the chief priests. At midday, along the way, O king, I saw a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my traveling companions. We all fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goad.[1] And I said, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting … ’”

God also comes to Saul “in a whirlwind,” in power, to leave no doubt that He is the Lord. And then He stings the core of the man’s intellectual core with that phrase: “It is hard for you to kick against the goad!” The phrase is in Hebrew but it is exquisitely translated from Euripides’ Bacantes (§794) thus putting together the two cultural realms where the soul of the future apostle was formed. By invoking that scene of Euripides’ work, Jesus seems to compare Saul to a senseless ass. A big fall from being on the “authorization and commission of the chief priests.” In time Saul will become Paul and he will write (in chains) letters not to persecute the Christian Church but to edify her. Chains and letters remain but his pilgrimage has made an about-face and now he travels towards the heavenly Jerusalem, leaving the wisdom of Damascus behind.

Both men, Saul and Job, had to learn the divine ways by entering into a conversation with God that expands beyond their own view of existence. Experience is a brutal teacher but she is also the best teacher there is. Job learned to look forward to the blessings apart from his temporary circumstances by humbly acknowledging God’s wisdom. Saul learned to seek a New Jerusalem and gladly accepted to bear chains, and dedicate his powerful intellect to the service of the cause he used to persecute.

God cannot contradict Himself, He can be almost unbearable to our human weakness but He is not unjust. All the pain we endure, justly or unjustly, will eventually work for our own good. The ways of the Lord are mysterious indeed.


[1] “It is hard for you to kick against the goad.” This expression is often found in Greek literature and in this context signifies the uselessness and foolishness of opposing the Divine Will.

A vision attributed to George Washington

We owe the earliest reports of a vision[1] allegedly received by George Washington in Christmas Eve of 1777 to Wesley Bradshaw. He reports receiving the detailed account of that vision on the 4th of July of 1859 from Anthony Sherman, then a 99-year-old veteran of the Independence War. As far as I have been able to research, at least one man named Anthony Sherman enlisted with the Continental Army. In his pension application he declares to have served in Saratoga under Benedict Arnold towards the end of 1777, joining the main forces in 1778 in time for the Battle of Monmouth. This slight difference may be the result of a failing memory or a convenient rearrangement of the service record to obtain a better pension. For the purposes of this analysis we could only affirm honestly that there was one Anthony Sherman alive at the time of the conflict. The rest of the information is blurry at best.

What else do we know about this man, Anthony Sherman? Bradshaw declares in his introduction that he was 99 years old by the 4th of July of 1859. That is an unusual old age for the mid 19th century, more so for someone who endured the rigors of war at the end of the previous century. In any case the Anthony Sherman of our story must have been only 17 years old at the time when the alleged vision was received. That it is not enough to disqualify the story. The Revolutionary Forces accepted very young recruits throughout the duration of the conflict. The man could have been even a low rank officer if he was proficient in the use of weaponry and could read and write. All things considered I have reason to believe that the Anthony Sherman mentioned here is a fictional character. The name may have been selected merely by chance for an equally fictional story. It is more likely that Bradshaw wrote sort of a patriotic moral fable, an uplifting piece intended to give hope to his readers in the dark days of the American Civil War.

Wesley Bradshaw was the pen name of Charles Wesley Alexander (1836-1927) the publisher of The Soldier’ s Casket a periodical for Union veterans of the Civil War. He authored a number of fictional “vision style” articles featuring diverse historical figures.

Given the context and the genre cultivated by the author, those who read Washington’s Vision in 1861 were likely to understand the fictional character of the story and its moral intention. Bradshaw wrote similar articles featuring Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, and others including General McClellan’ s Dream, in which the Union Army General awakens to a vision of George Washington who then reveals to him the plans of a secret Confederate attack on Washington D.C. Those are by no means his most fantastic stories; there were others, which could gain him a place in contemporary fantastic realism. Obviously Bradshaw was a fiction writer with a fertile imagination and a mystical vein.

The first time I read this “vision” I did not have any background or information about it. “If this is a true document then it should be a national treasure,” I thought. Knowing that it was not I quickly dismissed it as an ingenious fantasy. At the time I was also learning about the visions of Fatima, and then I noticed there were many common elements between Bradshaw’s historical fantasy and the visions reported by the three little shepherds of Fatima.

Now, the visions of Fatima are by no means a figment of someone’s imagination. Any doubts were dispelled by October 13, 1917 by the Miracle of the Sun, seen by more than 70,000 witnesses, many of them unbelievers that converted that day. The account of the prophecies of Fatima is out of the scope of this article. I will only attempt to point at some details of Bradshaw’s invention that are similar to the imagery and language of the visions presented to the world in Fatima more than 50 years later.

The similarities are just a few but very suggestive.

The Vision of George Washington by Jon McNaughton (detail)

First the person in the vision is “a singularly beautiful female” not a prophet of old, neither Jesus, nor a ghost of some sort but a woman. Knowing the devotion Washington had for Our Blessed Mother it is a remarkable choice for the story.

Another detail “a light as of a thousand suns shone down from above me,” could be an apt description of a nuclear attack stopped just in time by the angelical forces. Obviously this came from Bradshaw’s imagination but the image is still remarkably similar to a neutron bomb attack, something the author could not possibly describe in 1860.

Then we have the “azure standard” which is not a fit description of the Stars and Stripes. What is that “azure” (sky blue) flag? Some have seen there the United Nations flag but remember Our Blessed Mother has appeared frequently dressed in that color. I wonder if there is some sort of “Marian code” there hinting at Mary’s age of peace.

I could add a number of other details but I only selected three that could not have been lifted from the Bible or copied from some other prophetic book. The “vision” has a familiar atmosphere and ends up describing a world united against America, something that certainly could not be foreseen in the mid 19th century but that is so real, so possible today.

I would not use this “vision” for guidance but I am quite intrigued by its structure and some of its similarities with the visions of Fatima presented to the world half a century after.


[1]  The vision of George Washington by Wesley Bradshaw

The father of our country, George Washington, was a man of prayer. Many of us have read of how he went to the thicket many times to pray during the winter his army was at Valley Forge. However, little publicity has been given to the vision and prophecy he received at that time.
The account of this vision was given in 1859 by an old soldier. He gave it to a writer, Wesley Bradshaw, who published it. In the vision God revealed to George Washington that three great perils would come upon the republic. He was given to know that America was going through the first peril at that time. The old soldier who told the story of the vision said the nation would soon see the account verified by the second peril descending upon the land.
We give the account here as printed in the U.S. war veterans paper The National Tribune, in December 1880. The National Tribune became, “The Stars and Stripes”, and this article was later reprinted in that publication.

This afternoon, as I was sitting at this table engaged in preparing a dispatch, something seemed to disturb me. Looking up, I beheld standing opposite me a singularly beautiful female. So astonished was I, for I had given strict orders not to be disturbed, that it was some moments before I found language to inquire the cause of her presence. A second, a third and even a fourth time did I repeat my question, but received no answer from my mysterious visitor except a slight raising of her eyes.

By this time I felt strange sensations spreading through me. I would have risen but the riveted gaze of the being before me rendered volition impossible. I assayed once more to address her, but my tongue had become useless, as though it had become paralyzed.

A new influence, mysterious, potent, irresistible, took possession of me. All I could do was to gaze steadily, vacantly at my unknown visitor. Gradually the surrounding atmosphere seemed as if it had become filled with sensations, and luminous. Everything about me seemed to rarefy, the mysterious visitor herself becoming more airy and yet more distinct to my sight than before. I now began to feel as one dying, or rather to experience the sensations which I have sometimes imagined accompany dissolution. I did not think, I did not reason, I did not move; all were alike impossible. I was only conscious of gazing fixedly, vacantly at my companion.

Presently I heard a voice saying, “Son of the Republic, look and learn,” while at the same time my visitor extended her arm eastwardly, I now beheld a heavy white vapor at some distance rising fold upon fold. This gradually dissipated, and I looked upon a stranger scene. Before me lay spread out in one vast plain all the countries of the world — Europe, Asia, Africa and America. I saw rolling and tossing between Europe and America the billows of the Atlantic, and between Asia and America lay the Pacific.

“Son of the Republic,” said the same mysterious voice as before, “look and learn.” At that moment I beheld a dark, shadowy being, like an angel, standing or rather floating in mid-air, between Europe and America. Dipping water out of the ocean in the hollow of each hand, he sprinkled some upon America with his right hand, while with his left hand he cast some on Europe. Immediately a cloud raised from these countries, and joined in mid-ocean. For a while it remained stationary, and then moved slowly westward, until it enveloped America in its murky folds. Sharp flashes of lightning gleamed through it at intervals, and I heard the smothered groans and cries of the American people.

A second time the angel dipped water from the ocean, and sprinkled it out as before. The dark cloud was then drawn back to the ocean, in whose heaving billows in sank from view. A third time I heard the mysterious voice saying, “Son of the Republic, look and learn,” I cast my eyes upon America and beheld villages and towns and cities springing up one after another until the whole land from the Atlantic to the Pacific was dotted with them.

Again, I heard the mysterious voice say, “Son of the Republic, the end of the century cometh, look and learn.” At this the dark shadowy angel turned his face southward, and from Africa I saw an ill omened specter approach our land. It flitted slowly over every town and city of the latter. The inhabitants presently set themselves in battle array against each other. As I continued looking I saw a bright angel, on whose brow rested a crown of light, on which was traced the word “Union,” bearing the American flag which he placed between the divided nation, and said, “Remember ye are brethren.” Instantly, the inhabitants, casting from them their weapons became friends once more, and united around the National Standard.

“And again I heard the mysterious voice saying “Son of the Republic, look and learn.” At this the dark, shadowy angel placed a trumpet to his mouth, and blew three distinct blasts; and taking water from the ocean, he sprinkled it upon Europe, Asia and Africa. Then my eyes beheld a fearful scene: From each of these countries arose thick, black clouds that were soon joined into one. Throughout this mass there gleamed a dark red light by which I saw hordes of armed men, who, moving with the cloud, marched by land and sailed by sea to America. Our country was enveloped in this volume of cloud, and I saw these vast armies devastate the whole county and burn the villages, towns and cities that I beheld springing up. As my ears listened to the thundering of the cannon, clashing of sword, and the shouts and cries of millions in mortal combat, I heard again the mysterious voice saying, “Son of the Republic, look and learn” When the voice had ceased, the dark shadowy angel placed his trumpet once more to his mouth, and blew a long and fearful blast. “Instantly a light as of a thousand suns shone down from above me, and pierced and broke into fragments the dark cloud which enveloped America. At the same moment the angel upon whose head still shone the word Union, and who bore our national flag in one hand and a sword in the other, descended from the heavens attended by legions of white spirits. These immediately joined the inhabitants of America, who I perceived were will nigh overcome, but who immediately taking courage again, closed up their broken ranks and renewed the battle.

Again, amid the fearful noise of the conflict, I heard the mysterious voice saying, “Son of the Republic, look and learn.” As the voice ceased, the shadowy angel for the last time dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it upon America. Instantly the dark cloud rolled back, together with the armies it had brought, leaving the inhabitants of the land victorious!

Then once more I beheld the villages, towns and cities springing up where I had seen them before, while the bright angel, planting the azure standard he had brought in the midst of them, cried with a loud voice: “While the stars remain, and the heavens send down dew upon the earth, so long shall the Union last.” And taking from his brow the crown on which blazoned the word “Union,” he placed it upon the Standard while the people, kneeling down, said, “Amen.”

The scene instantly began to fade and dissolve, and I at last saw nothing but the rising, curling vapor I at first beheld. This also disappearing, I found myself once more gazing upon the mysterious visitor, who, in the same voice I had heard before, said, “Son of the Republic, what you have seen is thus interpreted: Three great perils will come upon the Republic. The most fearful is the third, but in this greatest conflict the whole world united shall not prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his land and the Union.” With these words the vision vanished, and I started from my seat and felt that I had seen a vision wherein had been shown to me the birth, progress, and destiny of the United States.

The Next Right Step

I have been visiting Charlie Johnston’s blog The Next Right Step for some time now. A few people have tried to discourage me from reading it. Some out there have a fear of things prophetic and they imagine that prophets belong to the past; therefore any prophet in our day has to be at least a misguided individual. Others think that perhaps a Pope, Bishop, or a man of the cloth may be more likely to be real prophets but that view excludes ordinary Christians. Well, in my opinion neither is the Catholic way to think. I say that with total confidence even though I am not a theologian. I confidently rest on a declaration made the very first day our Catholic Church existed. Here is from the mouth of our very first Pope quoting the prophet Joel:

And in the last days it shall be, God declares,

that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

and your young men shall see visions,

and your old men shall dream dreams;

yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days

I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

And I will show wonders in the heaven above

and signs on the earth beneath,

blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;

the sun shall be turned into darkness

and the moon into blood,

before the day of the Lord comes,

the great and manifest day.

And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

(See Acts 2:14-36 and Revelation 19:10)

Notice that the gift of prophecy is mentioned along spectacular and unusual natural events. Many a Pharisee may have mocked Peter the illiterate fisherman addressing the crowds on religious matters. In the same manner there are many today who write long and erudite articles on everything under the sun, and yet they shy from even asking the question: “What in the world is going on?” They leave such thoughts to simpletons like me while they continue to ink profusely about the profound and the arcane mysteries of world and faith.

One of the best things I have learned this year at Charlie’s blog: “Acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you.” Meditate on those words because there is much more there than meets the eye. Remember that the complex and crucial prophecies of Fatima were not given to the great theologians of that era but to three little shepherds in an isolated corner of a continent desolated by war and disease. Those three children were barely able to read and write but God trusted to them the deepest secrets and counsel of the age. Think about that. There were many reverend fathers, and many venerable wise men living in the world in 1917 but the Virgin Mary did not visit them.

So it looks like we have reached the end of the road. The high and wise rulers of the world from the Neolithic kings to the latest and greatest leaders of this globalized madness, have delivered a dozy that no one wants to touch with a ten-foot pole. After all the grandeur of their political promises we have this mess we are living in. Olympus gave birth to a mouse that is ready to go out with an economic whimper or a nuclear bang. What is one supposed to do? Is there an Apocalypse for dummies manual? I doubt it. But we have apostolic counsel of the finest kind from St. Paul:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me; you were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:4-13

“The Lord is at hand” (acknowledge God) then do “whatever is true, honorable, etc…” (take the next right step) and “rejoice” that is let your joy be a sign to others (be a sign of hope.)

Many are looking at the future with anxiety. There are obvious reasons to be anxious. Most government officials are stumped; the challenges the countries of the world face are mounting; and even Mother Nature seems to be taking a cue from the words of St Peter quoted above. It is time for prophets to be a sign of hope like Charlie Johnston is. We have to go through this like a first time mother about to bear a son. She knows that is going to be a painful, dangerous struggle but she also knows the joy that awaits her on the other side. (John 16: 21) Let us live these dreadful times like sons and daughters of the Most High. Let us be a sign of hope announcing the glorious world to come.

Clothed with the Sun

In my previous article Stabat MaterI touched on the subject of the role of Mary in our salvation. I find this to be one of the strongest arguments in favor of a future definition of the dogma of Marian co-redemption. Allow me to revisit that argument in detail.

Jesus is the quintessential solar myth but He is different from the mythical Siegfried, Horus, or Apollo because Jesus is a true myth a God that entered history and walked among the men He created.

The name Jesus chose for Himself is very appropriate: the Hebrew meaning of Yeshua is “God is Salvation.” The purpose of His coming into the world was to reverse the effects of original sin. In Genesis we are told how Eve was seduced by the devil into desiring to be like God. The devil was originally an angel of light who was appointed to be very close to the throne of God. There he allowed envy to grow in his mind. He had everything an angel could possibly have but he wickedly coveted for himself the glory of God. Because the devil could not possibly realize such insane desire, he set himself to ruin God’s creation. Often the envious destroy those things they cannot selfishly retain for themselves. So that angel of light lost the original glorious position he had in God’s family. He could not reflect the glory of God any longer. He condemned himself to eternal darkness.

While the devil had some measure of freedom to move around, he paid a visit to Eve and cunningly manipulated the first woman into envying God’s sovereignty and wisdom. Eve was fooled into believing that by disobeying God she could become like God. The same wicked ambition entered mankind through her. In doing so she foolishly lost the glorious honor of being the mother of all the living, passing to all her offspring the gift of eternal life. Instead she gave birth to a dying race and to all the suffering, strife, and pain that plagued her sons and daughters every single day for thousands of years.

The instant this disaster occurred God began to work to correct the situation and save mankind from eternal death. In time God’s Son came to solve the problem. The offense committed against an infinitely good God can only be an infinitely good sacrifice. In His mercy, God sent His only Son because mankind could not possibly repair the damage done.

We find Mary at Calvary many centuries later. She is there at the foot of the Cross, desiring for herself the sufferings of her Son. Mary is there to reverse Eve’s error who envied what could only belong to God. On the Cross Jesus is offering His perfect, infinite sacrifice. In taking a human nature, Jesus humbled Himself even to an undeserved death, the worse kind of death: death on a Roman cross. There He suffered several hours deprived of all His glory until even light was denied to Him when a supernatural darkness covered the Earth shortly before His death. While on the Cross, our quintessential Sun-God, the Son of God, radiated His suffering to all around Him but only one person there reflected it perfectly and that was Mary of Nazareth, the perfect mother with a perfect heart just like Eve’s. One can easily imagine her prayer: “Lord of Israel, let me suffer the Cross in Jesus’ stead.” In the innermost part of her pure heart she must have remembered the day she heard the prophecy from Simeon at the Temple: “Behold, this child is set for the fall … and a sword will pierce through your own soul also …” In the midst of darkness the secret light of the pure undistilled suffering necessary for salvation was piercing Mary’s heart, the kind of suffering that only a perfect human being can take without dissolving into death.

Before someone thinks that this was some kind of mere symbolic representation meant to simply “fit” a prophetic type while lasting only a few hours, let me remind you that Mary was a perfect mother, prepared from the beginning of time to be the “mother of all the living” for all eternity.

Since the early times of the Church, Mary was compared to the morning star. We honor her with that title in many prayers and hymns. Observing the eastern sky before sunrise one may see Venus rising in the horizon before the sun appears. Venus surpasses Earth every 584 days in its orbit and that causes it to change from the “Evening Star,” visible after sunset, to the “Morning Star,” visible before sunrise. I find in that a sort of an astronomical allegory of Mary who appears in History to be the mother of Jesus and will come back one more time — as many saints and prophets have foretold — to prepare the world for the eternal reign of her Son. The Scriptures talk about this celestial character of Mary’s mission.

“And a great portent appeared in heaven, 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 she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. ” Revelation 12:1-2

St John the Evangelist sees Mary in her eternal role of Mother of the Church. Her obedience through the ordeal of Calvary has gained for her the very thing that the devil coveted! She is now clothed with the glory of her Son but even so her mission is to accompany mankind being a witness to all the sufferings of the Church just as she was a witness to all the sufferings of the Crucified.

So when some of us are called to suffer with Christ, we have first the assurance that Mary was there first. We can follow her example and give our imperfect heart to the Lord as an oblation. No one was ever nearer to Christ’s Heart than Mary of Nazareth and yet she was not spared to suffer alone what none of us could possibly bear to go through. To those nearest to His Sacred Heart, Jesus reserves the choicest splinters of the Cross.

When great trials come, remember Mary and rejoice in the nearness of Him who will turn all suffering into joy, all the darkness of tribulation into everlasting glory.