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 had 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 desired 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 desire and 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 desire 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 to fix the problem 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 fate 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 perfected 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.”

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 he 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 had to suffer alone what none of us could possibly bear to go through. To those nearest to His 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.

Recovering virginity

This is the experience of a friend of mine. He told me this once and I thought it was so touching I put it here in my own words. I kept the first person in an attempt to keep it as fresh as when I heard it for the first time.


was once invited to speak about love to a group of teenagers. From the start I assured them that I could learn more about love from their experiences than from my own. I prayed that my words to them would be useful in some way. After all, I am only a writer, and they did not seem too interested in my writing.

They centered in on my marital status: married. In spite of their youth, somehow they intuitively detected a love story that started thirty-five years ago and has only gotten better since the time we were engaged and promised before God and men to be forever devoted to one another.

Those adolescents were, of course, consumers of television, alcohol and more. They engaged in the ongoing festival of “safe sex” techniques that our educational system has been pushing for decades now. They also had first-hand knowledge of the horrors of unwanted pregnancy terminations, to use the politically correct euphemism for abortion.

At first I thought they were not going to understand. When I speak about love my words are full of realities very different from the entertainment industry’s depiction of love and sex. I speak about fidelity, patience, optimism, determination. I decided to put before them the challenge of eternal love. That reality not even death can defeat because it lasts forever: a man and a woman absolutely united in a kind of happiness that doesn’t fade.

I was surprised by the sudden, expectant silence. Their attention reminded me of that line of Yeats, “We sat grown quiet at the name of love.” Regardless of how much the forces of evil pervert this tired old world, the idea of love as the mysterious, central universal force is always there in everyone’s mind. My young audience discovered that this love worth experiencing comes with conditions.

The first condition is patience. One has to have patience to get to know the soul of the other, preparing for the moment when commitment is total and definitive. The second condition requires the renunciation of one’s privacy. One has to learn to be like Adam and Eve in the beginning…the whole inventory of the soul open to the other’s inspection and possession. One has to strive to exist for the benefit of the other without using, without manipulating a single thing, always giving.

Even when physical virginity may be lost, chasteness can rebuild it during that patient wait. To be fully prepared for the moment of declaration, “Yes, I do,” requires pondering the whole weight of our final commitment, “I love you forever; I will never look back.”

This reminds me of something I saw on TV when I was a teenager. Many years ago, when Italy was about to legalize divorce, there was no minor row going on in Parliament between the advocates of divorce and those who opposed it. At that time someone was interviewing a young Italian singer on one of those inconsequential television shows. The interviewer asked, “So what do you think of divorce? Should it be legalized? What do you think?” The artist was expected to repeat the line of the media in favor of divorce but no one ever told him what he was supposed to say. He looked at the interviewer and said, “Yes. They are going to legalize it, I think… but laws can’t make a wrong right. Divorce is only for those men who do not have the spine to love a woman forever.”

There was a silence. The interviewer, a lady, was shocked out of her shallowness for a few seconds and had to blurt out something to go into a commercial break. Even the idea of true love can turn a man into a sort of giant.

I asked my audience, “Do you think it’s impossible to recover virginity?” I was risking being called a fool, a nut. The long, sustained applause in response took me totally by surprise. I knew then that many of them had seen the light of love and were resolved to find it.


Originally published 4 July of 2010 in The New James Magazine.

Ziklag

In 2 Samuel 30 good king David is living in exile. He returns from campaigning for a Philistine prince who forbids David to fight with the Philistine forces against Saul and the Israelites. On returning to Ziklag David finds the city burned. All people and possessions are gone. His men — battle weary and tired to the bone after a long spring season of fighting everyone in the region — start murmuring against him. David asks God what to do. He is instructed to pursue the robbers. One more time the tired crew has to mount and run hoping to rest after the last battle of the season.

In the meanwhile Saul is busy getting killed at Gilboa along with all his able bodied sons and princes of Israel.

David finds a half dead man on his way. He is the Egyptian slave of an Amalekite warlord. Although the man is half dead by the side of the road, David is likely to surmise his origin from his tattoos, pierced ears, etc. David waits three days (a sign of the Resurrection) and cares for the fallen man. When the former slave comes back to life he starts talking and soon he gives David the clues he needs to find the thieves. David pursues and beats the criminals, recovering all the kidnapped women and children, all his possessions, and the robber’s loot which is considerable.

That, we can call “history,” but what is really happening — if one looks from the perspective of Heaven — goes as follows: Heaven took David away from the sad task of having to fight his own wicked king and his best friend Jonathan. Then he was taken into a test of trust where he was left alone, with no warlord to protect him, no loyal force to rely on. Only God remains and he humbly asks what we ask so many times when we get there: “What’s going on?” God answers “Go and fight” but there is no strength left in the leader or his soldiers. Save for the grace of God goes David, he pursues and finds the last “test”: a man lying naked and sick by the side of the road. David has mercy on the fallen man. In doing so he shows God he has the mettle of kings, a merciful heart. It has been a long time since he was found by Samuel while keeping his father’s sheep. Years of fighting and persecution have prepared him for his final mission. Before the end of the week he finds himself king of Israel.

Canadian poet and writer, Robert Eady comments on our current situation with his usual precision:

“What we have now is a degeneracy so profound it makes one wish not to endure too many more years of life as a pensioned dandelion head. The “drug problem” is several times worse than even the old liquor sloshing of the 1800s. Droves of young people (our future) wallow in cocaine, ecstasy, high-powered marijuana, thump-screech-and-bump rock, internet pornography, and a kind of filthy puritanism whereby grave sins must be committed triumphantly. Being at a provincial park in July is like wandering the cell blocks of the old Kingston Penitentiary. (More lurid tattoos on the skins of one and all than the old swindlers, thieves and murderers of the 1950s could ever have imagined possible.)

The way out of all this, of course, is chastisements from God that will change the landscape so markedly that no one will much care, let alone know, what came before. The sins that cry to heaven for vengeance are just that. God, not man, will soon be bringing down the hammer on all the disciples of the Locke Mess Monster and the rest of the agents of the devil who brought us the modern liberal secular state.”

I am sure Mr Eady’s prophecy will come to pass. We find ourselves before the smoldering ruins of a global Ziklag, the kingdom we built in exile, living among enemies. But there is a better kingdom waiting for us at the end of the week. There is only one way to properly arrive at that place: rejected, humbled, battle-weary, tired, thirsty, hungry, out of breath, and on our last bit of strength but happy to see the face of Our Lord.

Then we will see the other side of History and finally understand its meaning.

In this darkness, a sign of hope

A few minutes ago I was looking out the window on a humid overcast morning in Buenos Aires. I got up early and it was still dark, the clouds did not let me see the sun rise over the wide river. Then I thought of the Lord’s words before the Sanhedrin: “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Mark 14:62.

At this point I am convinced that we are living in apocalyptic times. The world media continues to cover up the signs. No one seems to be touching certain themes: the disastrous state of the world economy, the millions of human beings aborted, the casual selling of human flesh over a plate of linguine and a glass of red wine, the ever growing menace of that mental disease called terrorism, etc. A deep darkness has covered the nations and yet the long list of present abominations is in a way announcing its end. The night is always at its darkest, coldest when morning is about to break.

The right side of God is perfect justice. Think of the scene at the Sanhedrin: Jesus is beat up, he has been awake all night, he is surrounded by hostile faces, people declare falsehood after falsehood against him. When he utters those words, clearly identifying himself as the Blessed Messiah, the court receives them as proof of blasphemy. That will be known forever as the darkest moment in the history of Israel. The tribunal condemns to death the very source of all life, after having more that enough proof of his divine origin. There is no justice at the left hand of darkness but in that moment of absolute despair, the sun of truth begins to rise. “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.” John 3:14. Jesus is talking about life at the time when his own death nears, concealed by darkness under the horizon the life-giving sun is relentlessly approaching. Who would have known?

Today the Church is facing a similar trial. Accusations and humiliations come from all sides, hostile forces surround her, the end seems to be near. I for one believe that the hour to shine is upon us. Jesus is about to come with true justice from the right hand of the throne of God. The sun may be setting upon the systems of global oppression but we know that morning will come; we know that no one can stop it. The same forces that “raised the Son of Man” on the Cross of Calvary now want to finish the job by silencing the Church. They may succeed temporarily. They may have their Friday victory but they cannot stop time. Evil could not stop Resurrection Sunday from coming.

Darkness and trials precede a great era for the triumphant Church: “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” Daniel 12:3. After the ordeal we will have a whole world to rebuild. Light and justice are coming. The sun also rises.

The forgotten people

Pope Francis receives presents all the time, mostly from visiting politicians. At times I have wondered what does the Vatican do with all that junk, some valuable, some ordinary. I guess all heads of state have that problem. Among the many gifts that arrived to the Vatican there was a wooden cross made by Franco Tuccio, a craftsman from Lampedusa, Sicily. The cross was made from wood taken from the many wrecked vessels abandoned on the beaches of the island after trying to reach the coasts of Southern Europe. When an earthquake shook the town of L’Aquila killing 300, Franco could not avoid hearing the constant flow of information about the minutest details of that terrible day and its aftermath. That made him think on the reasons why the media did not similarly cover the drama of the African boat people drowning week after week in the Mediterranean, many of them women and children. “Why don’t they talk about that?” thought Franco. So he decided to send Pope Francis a cross made with the wood of the wreckage.

Little did Franco imagine that his present was going to actually reach Pope Francis, and that the Pope was going to decide to visit Lampedusa in his first visit to a place outside Rome. Italy lamented the loss of life in L’Aquila and those victims clearly deserved our mourning. What was not so clear for Franco was this “A people” media coverage compared to the “B people” coverage. Today he continues to make crosses off the wreckage wood to remember the forgotten boat people.

Eventually the Pope called politicians and other influential people to act and do something to prevent the deaths of so many desperate human beings escaping from war, abject poverty, persecution, and famine. In Franco’s words “the words of the Pope went in the politicians’ one ear and off the other.” The wave of African immigrants continues unabated and also the wrecks and the drowning at sea.

Some may think the Pope’s gesture is a facile marketing move but I don’t think so. There is only so much the Church can do to help the poor —and let me state here that no one does more than the Church for the poor and downtrodden of this world— Catholic Charities and other organizations keep pouring hundreds of millions per year into relief efforts of all kinds but the harvest of poor people is plentiful and the workers are few.

Let us remember that God looks at every soul with the same eyes:

Those of low estate are but a breath,
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
[1]

Looking this week to the scandal surrounding the multi-million-euro business of FIFA [2] it dawned on me that typically left-leaning and self-righteous Europeans dedicate much more money to sporting endeavors and entertainment than to humanitarian causes. On one coast of the Mediterranean the anti-Christian jet-set rattles the jewelry applauding at Cannes, while on the other coast entire poor families drown. In his little workshop Franco keeps on making tiny wooden crosses.


[1] Psalm 62:9-12.

[2] Fédération Internationale de Football Association

The Hour of Lawlessness

Mark Mallett

few days ago, an American wrote me in the wake of their Supreme Court’s decision to invent the right to same-sex “marriage”:

“I have been weeping on and off a good part of this day… as I attempt to go to sleep I am wondering if you could help me understand just where we are in the timeline of events to come….”

There are several thoughts on this that have come to me in the silence of this past week. And they are, in part, an answer to this question…

The Vision

“Write down the vision; make it plain upon tablets, so that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is a witness for the appointed time…” (Habakkuk 2:2-3)

There are two things that guide and inform this writing apostolate that are worth highlighting again. The first is that interior light the Lord gave me to understand that the Church and the world are entering a Great Storm (like a hurricane). The second and most important dimension, however, has been to filter absolutely everything through the teaching authority and memory of the Church, preserved in Sacred Tradition, in order to faithfully respond to Saint John Paul II’s directive:

The young have shown themselves to be for Rome and for the Church a special gift of the Spirit of God… I did not hesitate to ask them to make a radical choice of faith and life and present them with a stupendous task: to become “morning watchmen” at the dawn of the new millennium.[1]

In this regard, I have found that the metaphor of a “Storm” fits perfectly with the early Church Fathers’ vision of the “day of the Lord” and what would transpire before, during, and after the Storm.

The big picture

What exactly is the “Storm”? Taking into consideration the Scriptures, the vision of the Church Fathers, the approved apparitions of the Blessed Mother, the prophecies of saints such as Faustina [2] and Emmerich, the unequivocal warnings from the papacy, the teachings of the Catechism, and the “signs of the times”, the Storm essentially ushers in the day of the Lord. According to the early Church Fathers, this is not the end of the world, but a specific period prior to, and leading to the end of time and the return of Jesus in glory. [3] That time, the Fathers taught, is found in the vision of St. John who wrote that after the reign of Antichrist (the beast), there would be a period of peace, symbolized by a “thousand years”, a “millennium”, when the Church would reign with Christ throughout the world (see Revelation 20:1-4). [4]

“…this day of ours, which is bounded by the rising and the setting of the sun, is a representation of that great day to which the circuit of a thousand years affixes its limits.” [5]

And again,

“Behold, the Day of the Lord shall be a thousand years.” [6]

A “thousand years”, however, is not to be understood literally, but figuratively as referring to an extended period in time [7] when Christ would reign spiritually through His Church throughout all the nations “and then the end will come.” [8]

The reason I point all this out is because, according to both St. John and the Church Fathers, the appearance of the “lawless one” or “beast” occurs before the triumph of the Church — those “times of the kingdom” or what the Fathers often referred to as a “sabbath rest” for the Church:

“But when The Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from Heaven in the clouds… sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day… These are to take place in the times of the kingdom, that is, upon the seventh day… the true Sabbath of the righteous.” [9] —

That is, things are going to get worse before they get better. As one of St. Thérèse de Lisieux’s favorite authors wrote,

“The most authoritative view, and the one that appears to be most in harmony with Holy Scripture, is that, after the fall of the Antichrist, the Catholic Church will once again enter upon a period of prosperity and triumph.” [10]

In this regard, I want to relay what is one of the most significant harbingers of the Antichrist that appears to be unfolding at this hour…

The hour of lawlessness

I want to recount for new readers an indelible experience I had in 2005 that a Canadian bishop urged me to write about. I was driving alone in British Columbia, Canada, making my way to my next concert, enjoying the scenery, drifting in thought, when suddenly I heard within my heart the words:

“I have lifted the restrainer.”

I felt something in my spirit that is hard to explain. It was as if a shock wave traversed the earth — as if something in the spiritual realm had been released. [11]

That night in my motel room, I asked the Lord if what I heard was in the Scriptures, since the word “restrainer” was unfamiliar to me. I grabbed my Bible, and it opened straight to 2 Thessalonians 2:3. I began to read:

“…[do not be] shaken out of your minds suddenly, or… alarmed either by a “spirit,” or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed…”

That is, St. Paul warned that the “day of the Lord” would be preceded by a rebellion and the revelation of Antichrist — in a word, lawlessness.

“…before the Lord’s arrival there will be apostasy, and one well described as the “man of lawlessness”, “the son of perdition” must be revealed, who tradition would come to call the Antichrist. [12]

But there is something “restraining” the appearance of this Antichrist. With my jaw wide open that night, I went on to read:

“And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed…”

When we think of lawlessness, we tend to envision gangs roaming the streets, the absence of police, crime everywhere, etc. But, as we have seen in the past, the most insidious and dangerous forms of lawlessness come on the wave of revolutions. The French Revolution was fueled by the throngs wanting to overthrow the Church and monarchy; Communism was birthed as the people stormed Moscow in the October Revolution; Nazism was democratically employed through the popular vote; and today, working parallel to democratically elected governments, in unison with lobbyists, is the practical force behind the present Global Revolution: judicial activism, whereby the courts simply invent laws as an “interpretation” of constitutions or charters of rights. This is all to say that there has been a progression where lawlessness appears more and more to take on the face of liberty when, in fact, it is undermining it. [13]

“…when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.” [14]

Thus, adds Pope Francis, “lack of respect for the law is becoming more common.” [15] However, as previous popes have warned, this has been the goal all along of those working against the present order. [16]

At this period, however, the partisans of evil seems to be combining together… No longer making any secret of their purposes, they are now boldly rising up against God Himself …that which is their ultimate purpose forces itself into view — namely, the utter overthrow of that whole religious and political order of the world which the Christian teaching has produced, and the substitution of a new state of things in accordance with their ideas, of which the foundations and laws shall be drawn from mere naturalism. — Pope Leo XIII,Humanum Genus, Encyclical on Freemasonry, n.10, April 20th, 1884

The Beast devours liberty

Brothers and sisters, I say this by way also to warn you of those well-meaning Catholics who insist that we cannot possibly be nearing the time of Antichrist. And the reason for their insistence is this: they have limited themselves to scholastic theology and a biblical exegesis that does not take into account the full scope of patristic writings, mystical theology, and the entire body of Catholic teaching. And so, Magisterial statements such as the following are conveniently ignored:

“Who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its inmost being, is dragging it to destruction? You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is — apostasy from God… 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.” [17]

Nonetheless, a cursory examination of our times reveals present at this hour every hallmark that would precede and accompany the “lawless one.”

I. Lawlessness and apostasy

As already stated, lawlessness is breaking out everywhere, not only in the overturning of the natural moral law, but in what Pope Francis calls the growing “atmosphere of war”, [18] family and cultural divisions, and economic crises.

But the word St. Paul uses to describe the lawlessness is “apostasy”, which means specifically a rebellion toward, and mass rejection of the Catholic faith. The root of this rebellion is compromise with the spirit of the world.

“There has never been such a falling away from Christianity as there has been in the past century. We are certainly a “candidate” for the Great Apostasy.” [19]

“…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.” [20]

As noted above, more than one Pope has spoken of an apostasy unfolding in our midst.

“Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church.” [21]

II. Disappearance of liberty

Both the prophet Daniel and St. John describe “the beast” as an overpowering world dominion that is “granted authority over every tribe, people, tongue, and nation.”

Evidence of an encroaching world power that controls is becoming more evident, [22] not only in laws that are passed that restrict [23] liberties in order to “fight terrorism”, but in a global economy that is increasingly enslaving not only the poor, but the middle class through “usury”. [24] Furthermore, Pope Francis decries the “ideological colonization” that is forcing nations across the world to adopt an increasingly anti-human ideology.

It is not the beautiful globalization of unity of all Nations, each one with their own customs, instead it is the globalization of hegemonic uniformity, it is the single thought. And this sole thought is the fruit of worldliness. [25]

III. Unguided technology

Pope Francis has likewise elucidated the growing threat of technological power that threatens “not only our politics but also freedom and justice.” [26] A false idea prevails as though ‘every increase in power means “an increase of ‘progress’ itself.”’ [27] But this is not possible, he warns, unless there is a frank and open discussion on the ethics and limitations of technology. Like his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who frequently framed economic and technological trends as risking the enslavement of mankind, Francis has likewise taken a universal tone that, while noting the benefits and necessity of human creativity, warns of the increasing dominance of technology by a few:

…those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources to use them, [have] an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world. Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used. We need but think of the nuclear bombs dropped in the middle of the twentieth century, or the array of technology which Nazism, Communism and other totalitarian regimes have employed to kill millions of people, to say nothing of the increasingly deadly arsenal of weapons available for modern warfare. In whose hands does all this power lie, or will it eventually end up? It is extremely risky for a small part of humanity to have it. [28]

IV. The emergence of “the mark”

One would have to be somewhat naive not to recognize the very real and growing danger of commerce becoming more and more restricted to the digital domain. Quietly, subtly, humanity is being corralled like cattle into an economic system whereby there are fewer and fewer players and more central control. Small retailers have often been replaced by box stores; local growers displaced by multi-national food corporations; and local banks swallowed up by huge and often anonymous financial powers that have put profit before people, “anonymous financial interests which turn men into slaves, which are nolonger human things, but are an anonymous power which men serve,” said Pope Benedict XVI. [29]

Technologies that reduce buying and selling to digital recognition systems run the risk of eventually excluding those who do not “participate” in the broader social experiment. If, for example, a business owner is forced to close his business for not baking a cake for a same-sex wedding, how far away are we from courts simply ordering the “switch” to be turned off on the bank accounts of those who are deemed “terrorists” of the peace? Or perhaps, more subtly, after the collapse of the dollar and the rise of a new global economic system, could a technology be implemented that also demands adherence to the principles of a “global treaty”? Already, banks have begun to implement “fine print” that insists that their customers are “tolerant” and “inclusive”.

“The Apocalypse speaks about God’s antagonist, the beast. This animal does not have a name, but a number. In [the horror of the concentration camps], they cancel faces and history, transforming man into a number, reducing him to a cog in an enormous machine. Man is no more than a function. In our days, we should not forget that they prefigured the destiny of a world that runs the risk of adopting the same structure of the concentration camps, if the universal law of the machine is accepted. The machines that have been constructed impose the same law. According to this logic, man must be interpreted by a computer and this is only possible if translated into numbers. The beast is a number and transforms into numbers. God, however, has a name and calls by name. He is a person and looks for the person.” [30]

Strangers and sojourners

It is evident that Christians in Western society have become the new “outsiders”; in Eastern nations, we have become targets. As the number of martyrs in the past century exceeds all of the centuries before them combined, it is clear that we have entered into a new persecution of the Church that is becoming more aggressive by the hour. This too is another “sign of the times” that we are getting closer to the Eye of the Storm.

Yet, all of this I have been writing and warning about for a decade now, along with many other voices in the Church. The words of Jesus are echoing in my ears…

“I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.” (John 16:4)

This is all to say, brothers and sisters, that the winds are going to get more fierce, the changes more rapid, the Storm more violent. Again, the Seven Seals of Revolution form the beginning of this Storm, and we are watching them break open in real-time on the daily news.

But in all of this, God has a plan for His faithful people.

At the end of April, I shared with you a word on my heart: Come Away With Me. I sensed the Lord calling us, once again, out of Babylon, out of the world into the “desert.” What I didn’t share at the time was my deeper sense that Jesus is calling us much like he did the “desert Fathers” — those men who fled the temptations of the world into the solitude of the desert in order to safeguard their spiritual life. Their flight into the wilderness formed the basis of Western monasticism and a new way of combining work and prayer.

My sense is that the Lord is preparing physical places that Christians may be called to gather, either voluntarily or through displacement. I saw these places for Christian “exiles”, these “parallel communities”, in an interior vision which came to me several years ago while praying before the Blessed Sacrament (see The Coming Refuges and Solitudes). Yet, it would be wrong for us to think of these only as refuges for the future. Right now, Christians need to band together, to form bonds of unity to strengthen, support, and encourage one another. For persecution is not coming: it is already here.

Thus, I was fascinated to read an editorial that appeared in TIME magazine this past weekend. I was deeply moved for obvious reasons and quote it in part here:

“…orthodox Christians must understand that things are going to get much more difficult for us. We are going to have to learn how to live as exiles in our own country… we are going to have to change the way we practice our faith and teach it to our children, to build resilient communities.”

It is time for what I call the Benedict Option. In his 1982 book After Virtue, the eminent philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre likened the current age to the fall of ancient Rome. He pointed to Benedict of Nursia, a pious young Christian who left the chaos of Rome to go to the woods to pray, as an example for us. We who want to live by the traditional virtues, MacIntyre said, have to pioneer new ways of doing so in community. We await, he said “a new ? and doubtless very different ? St. Benedict.”

Throughout the early Middle Ages, Benedict’s communities formed monasteries, and kept the light of faith burning through the surrounding cultural darkness. Eventually, the Benedictine monks helped refound civilization. [31]

Indeed, Pope Benedict warned that “the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel” in his letter to all the bishops of the world. [32] But this hour of lawlessness also presents an opportunity: to be a keeper and guardian of the faith, preserving the truth and keeping it alive and burning in one’s own heart. Right now, the “era of peace” to come is being formed in the hearts of those who are giving their “fiat” to Jesus. God is preserving a people, often hidden from the world, through home-schooling, new vocations to the priesthood, and the religious and consecrated life in order to become the seedsof a new era, a new civilization of love.

We are drawing closer, faster, and nearer to the Eye of the Storm. [33] How long will these things take to unfold. Months? Years? Decades? What I will say, dear brothers and sisters, is that when you see events unfolding (even now) one upon the other as though the Church and the world are on the verge of being lost… just remember the words of Jesus:

“I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.” (John 16:4)

… and then, be still, be faithful, and await the hand of the Lord who is a refuge to all who remain in Him.


References

[1] John Paul II P.P. Novo Millennio Inuente, n.9

[2] cf. Faustina, and the Day of the Lord

[3] cf. How the Era was Lost; see also Dear Holy Father… He is Coming!

[4] cf. The Popes, and the Dawning Era.

[5] Lactantius, Fathers of the Church: The Divine Institutes, Book VII, Chapter 14, Catholic Encyclopedia; http://www.newadvent.org/

[6] Letter of Barnabas, The Fathers of the Church, Ch. 15

[7] cf. Millenarianism—What it is, and is Not

[8] cf. Matthew 24:14

[9] St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Church Father (140–202 A.D.); Adversus Haereses, Irenaeus of Lyons, V.33.3.4, The Fathers of the Church, CIMA Publishing Co.

[10] The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life, Fr. Charles Arminjon (1824-1885), p. 56-57; Sophia

[11] cf. Removing the Restrainer

[12] Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, “Whether at the end of time or during a tragic lack of peace: Come Lord Jesus!”, L’Osservatore Romano, Nov. 12th, 2008

[13] cf. Dream of the Lawless One

[14] Pope Francis, Laudato sí, n. 123; http://www.vatican.va

[15] cf. Laudato si’, n. 142; http://www.vatican.va

[16] cf. Mystery Babylon

[17] Pope St Pius X, E Supremi, Encyclical, On the Restoration of All Things in Christ, n. 3, 5; October 4th, 1903

[18] cf. Catholic Herald, June 6th, 2015

[19] Dr. Ralph Martin, a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization,What in the World is Going On? Television documenatary, CTV Edmonton, 1997

[20] Pope Francis, from a homily, Vatican Radio, November 18th, 2013

[21] Pope Paul VI, Address on the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions, October 13, 1977

[22] cf. Rev 13:7

[23] cf. Control! Control!

[24] cf. 2014 and the Rising Beast

[25] Pope Francis, Homily, November 18th, 2013; Zenit

[26] cf. Laudato si’, n. 53; http://www.vatican.va

[27] cf. Laudato si’, n. 105; http://www.vatican.va

[28] Laudato sí, n. 104; http://www.vatican.va/

[29] cf. Reflection after the reading of the office for the Third Hour, Vatican City, October 11, 2010

[30] Cardinal Ratzinger, (Pope Benedict XVI) Palermo, March 15th, 2000

[31] Time Magazine: Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country, Rod Dreher; June 26, 2015

[32] cf. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to All the Bishops of the World, March 12, 2009; Catholic Online

[33] cf. The Eye of the Storm

Previously published by The Now Word

Is this the time?

The spirit of the abomination is present at every age. In fact that is the biblical view of it according both to St Paul and St John. However there is a clue to know why the abomination is manifest in History and yet not able to engage in a full rebellion against the Church.

“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 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, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming. The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 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 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Compare the image with this other passage:

It was just before the PassoverFeast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father […] Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.“What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

Notice the correlation between both passages. There are many passages in the Bible that can be used but these two are quite clearly related, in my humble opinion. What do I see here is a sequence of events.

a. The revelation of the abomination occurs before the Passover of the Lord, that is before the day of liberation at the end of days.

b. The abomination is “standing where it ought not” like Judas among the disciples in the most intimate and sacred of all moments with Jesus.

c. The abomination — until that moment — operates under a divine restriction. In the Last Supper that restriction is lifted at the same time that the abomination is revealed to those closest to Jesus (John and Peter) by an act of kindness, the giving of bread, Jesus points at him. Instead of receiving Jesus’ kindness with repentance Judas continues to conceal his evil plans and rejects the Eucharist and even a mere piece of bread dipped in the juices of the sacrificed lamb. Judas then goes and does not partake of the real Eucharist. Before going to the “darkness outside” he is released of all the restraints by the word of Jesus: “what you are about to do …” he will do by divine permission. The restrainer has been lifted just like Mark Mallett said in The Hour of Lawlessness.

d. The night will progress until at three, Judas shows up and fulfills his treason with a kiss. Pay attention to that detail because when the Antichrist is about to destroy the Church, he will feign allegiance to Christ.

The great Passover is what follows. In this first 14 of Nisan, Jesus is sacrificed. They went up to the upper room on Nisan 13 but at sundown the next day began, the day when the Paschal Lamb is sacrificed. Jesus dies at the same hour when all the lambs were being killed at the Temple. That is our first Passover, the Passover of the Passion of the Lamb. The second Passover of the Church is the Passion of the Church itself. It seems to me that by persecution and the martyrdom of the “two witnesses” is how it will come about.

Why do we know that this is the time and not merely another bitter moment in History? Because of the profusion of concurrent signs: on Earth, in the Heavens, in the calendar, in the particular behavior of the world and the Church at large, plus many prophecies.