July 21, 2017
(Rev 12:13-17) And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the man child. And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert, unto her place, where she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth, after the woman, water, as it were a river: that he might cause her to be carried away by the river. And the earth helped the woman: and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
EXCERPT VATICAN INSIDER: The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart: The Light from the East is Dawning
I mentioned in the introduction that Fatima must be considered alongside the other approved private revelations in order for us to deduce exactly what the Holy Spirit is saying (in an
extraordinary way) to the Church in this particular era. Without any doubt, the most important revelations apart from Fatima in the past century are the divine mercy revelations given to St. Faustina Kowalska. They have inspired millions to either return to their faith, or deepen their existing spiritual life. One thing perhaps still hidden somewhat, yet which cannot be denied, is the deep eschatological undercurrent that runs through these writings. On several occasions Jesus revealed the seriousness of the times: “You [St. Faustina] will prepare the world for my final coming”, “Speak to the world about my mercy; let all mankind recognize my unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times.” “Secretary of my mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of justice is near.” Perhaps the most famous prophecy though from St. Faustina’s Diary concerns these words: “I bear a special love for Poland…from her will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for my final coming.”
It is certain that St. John Paul took these warnings extremely seriously-as Pope Benedict said of him: “Indeed, it was a concern of John Paul II to make clear that we are looking ahead to the coming of Christ.” This truth is borne out by the countless references to the second coming of Jesus in the magisterium of the Polish pontiff. In fact as early as 1976, in the Lenten retreat he gave as Cardinal Wojtyla for Blessed Paul VI, he wondered if we were on the “last lap of history” awaiting the coming of the Man of Sin. He saw our era finally as the one throughout all of history that could give fullest expression to Satan’s temptation from Genesis chapter 3 that “you will become like God.” Returning to his promotion of Divine Mercy, he referred to Jesus’ startling prophecy about Poland when he consecrated the Basilica of Divine Mercy in Krakow in 2002: “May the binding promise of the Lord Jesus be fulfilled: from here there must go forth ‘the spark which will prepare the world for his final coming (cf. Diary, 1732).’”
Two other recent apparitions with Church approval also speak of the approaching second coming of the Lord: In Kibeho Rwanda, which has the same level of approval as Fatima, the Blessed Virgin told the main visionary Alphonsine Mumarake (now a nun) that she had come to prepare the world for the return of her Son, while in San Nicholas, Argentina Our Lady told the visionary, Gladys Herminia Quiroga de Motta , “the coming of the Lord is imminent” and “Daughter, the Prince of Evil pours out his venom today with all his might, because he sees that his sorry reign is ending. Little is left to him. His end is near”. Both these apparitions were in the 1980’s at a time when St. John Paul II was quietly promoting the devotion to divine mercy in anticipation of the official approval that would come with Sr. Faustina’s canonization.
There is no doubt that when we look at the magisterium of the past century, there is a prophetic element that is often overlooked. Pope Pius XII in his 1957 Easter Urbi et Orbi address stated:
“Come Lord Jesus, there are numerous signs thy return is not far off.” He saw the two world wars as fulfilling Jesus’ words in the Gospels that nation would fight against nation. St. John XXIII took his name after St. John the Baptist because he saw his pontificate as similar in preparing for the coming of Jesus. Even the Second Vatican Council can be seen in the light of the end times. The Decree of Missionary activity, Ad Gentes, states the “sacred synod’s” intention in part is to “prepare the way for his coming”, while Blessed Paul VI stated: “The Council sought to enlarge the horizons of the Church…and finally to hasten it on its pilgrim journey towards its eschatological goal—its final, open and glorious encounter with Christ, Our Lord.” The Pontiff also sensed the signs of the end emerging in a conversation with his friend Jean Guitton; although he was careful to note we cannot know when the end will come. St. John Paul II certainly understood the events of the 20th century as a decisive stage in salvation history: “We believe that if the convulsions of our century are the death pangs of an old world, they are also the birth pangs of your new birth. We perceive that the hour is approaching for the young mother of the new Advent.”
Those words were spoken at the first ever World Youth Day event in 1985; similar words were spoken in Edmunton, Canada in 1984: “May justice and peace embrace at the end of the second millennium, which prepares us for the coming of Christ in glory.” Pope Benedict continued the prophetic and urgent theme on several occasions; notably on two successive Christmas Midnight Mass homilies in 2010 and 2011. In the former he prayed: “Lord, make your promise come fully true. Break the rods of the oppressors. Burn the tramping boots. Let the time of the garments rolled in blood come to an end. Fulfil the prophecy that ‘of peace there will be no end’ (Is 9:7). We thank you for your goodness, but we also ask you to show forth your power. Establish the dominion of your truth and your love in the world – the “kingdom of righteousness, love and peace.”
So how do we approach this apocalyptic scenario? It seems that St. John Paul had the correct idea: to live the Christian life with an “advent spirit”, as the early Christians did. This is not to be caught up in endless speculation and worries about certain cataclysmic events that may or may not come; or to concern ourselves with date setting that nobody can know except the Eternal Father. Rather, it is to place at the centre of our spiritual lives the joyful hope and knowledge that Jesus will return with his saints, transforming the universe definitively. In this way, we can pray “Maranatha, come Lord Jesus” not with fear for the future, but with real anticipation that evil and death will be destroyed forever. Fatima invites us to offer our lives towards this goal when the world will be saved forever, when we will all stand under the miracle of the true Sun as he illuminates the earth at his glorious coming. Pope Francis tells us: “With Mary’s protection, may we be for our world sentinels of the dawn, contemplating the true face of Jesus the Saviour, resplendent at Easter.” That dawn is now slowly rising from the East.
MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)
[I Cor. 3:18-23; Matt. 13:36-43]
And shall cast them (those who offend and do iniquity) into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Thus will be carried out the division of good and evil, light and darkness. Now is the period of time in which they are mixed. It pleased the Lord to arrange that the freedom of creatures should grow and be strengthened in good through the struggle with evil; evil is tolerated within the vicinity of inward freedom, and in contact with a person externally. It does not determine anything, only tempts. One who feels a temptation must not fall, but enter into battle. He who conquers is freed from one temptation, and advances forward and upward to find new temptation there — and so on, until the end of his life.
Oh, when will we comprehend this meaning of the evil which tempts us, so we might arrange our lives according to this understanding! The strugglers are finally crowned, and pass on to the other life where there is neither sickness nor sorrows from the outside, and where they become inwardly pure like angels of God, free from the sting of tempting inclinations and thoughts. This is how the triumph of light and good is being prepared, and it will be revealed in all of its glory on the last day of the world.
Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- “On incorruptible purity and chastity”
5. He is chaste who has continually acquired perfect insensibility to difference in bodies.