Phil 4: 4-8

Saturday, August 29, 2015


We are in a serious battle for the souls of mankind.  Current and past private revelations show that, in spite of warnings and exhortations from Our Lady and Jesus Himself, we continue to ignore the directions we’ve been given for our salvation.  Much has been said recently about Charlie Johnston and his visits from an angel of the Lord.  Charlie, and other visionaries mentioned in Fr. Joseph Esper’s book, On the Brink, talk about the messages they’ve received, warning of a chastisement heading our way due to the obstinate refusal of the citizens of our country to live the Truth of the Gospel.  In The Flame of Love, a reporter chronicles the locutions of Elizabeth Kindelmann, a lay woman from Budapest who died in 1985, that show Our Lady’s intense concern for the salvation of souls on a worldwide basis.    

But you don’t need to take the word of these two Catholic Christians.  Just look to past, Church-approved apparitions such as Fatima and more recently, Akita and Kibeho for some warnings, exhortations and instructions from Our Lady regarding the consequences of mankind’s collective behaviors, and the need for penance and prayer, especially for the Rosary.

As many to most Catholics may know, at Fatima in 1917, Our Lady requested that we pray the Rosary daily for peace, and that we exercise a devotion to her Immaculate Heart, including a consecration to her, and a regimen known as the “five first Saturdays,” (Confession, Mass, Communion and Rosary with 15 minutes of meditation for five first Saturdays of the month). (1)

In Japan, in 1973, Our Lady of Akita gave a warning, similar to that of Fatima, of a specific worldwide chastisement which is ugly – consistent with Scripture, and much worse than the possibility of annihilation of several nations as prophesied at Fatima.  In fact, on October 13, 1973, on the anniversary of the final apparition at Fatima, Our Lady said, “As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead.

The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by my Son. Each day, recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and the priests. The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, and bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their Confreres. The Church and altars will be vandalized. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.

The demon will rage especially against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will no longer be pardon for them." (2)

Between 1981 and 1989, Our Lady visited multiple people in this Rwandan community.  The messages from Our Lady are similar to Fatima and to Akita – urgent appeals for the repentance and conversion of hearts, an assessment of the moral conduct of the world, the Blessed Mother’s deep sorrow for the disobedience of all of God’s children, and the necessity of prayer and conversion before the Final Judgment, which she expresses repeatedly is coming soon.  She also talks about how suffering saves, saying; “No one will reach heaven without suffering.”   As Diane McKelva states in her blog post on Kibeho at Catholic Stand, “Nothing has changed on this earth since the Kibeho visions ended in 1989." (3)

So what is one to make of all of this?  Continuing on with the theme from my last Sojourner’s post—that of taking stock of where we are now spiritually, identifying opportunities for improvement and beginning to make changes for the better – we might conclude that there is no time like now to get closer to God.  The late Fr. Benedict Groeschel in Everyday Encounters with God which he coauthored with Bert Ghezzi, tells us that, “…at the present moment, you are completely able to steer your now into eternity, no matter what you have done in the past.” (4)  The good news is that through His Divine Mercy, the Lord is the ultimate grantor of “the second chance.”  We’ve all got a chance right now, at this very moment, to take advantage of that and make the changes we need to make.  But don’t hesitate—Mt. 24:42-51 warns that we don’t know the time or place when our “now” won’t exist any longer.

And any change in what we do as Catholics ought to take into account the assistance our Blessed Mother stands ready and willing to offer us along the way.  In fact, a consecration to Jesus through our Blessed Mother is the fastest, most direct route to follow. (5)  Here we have many good examples to follow in the saints who went before us, including St. Alphonsus Ligouri, St. Louis de Monfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Francis de Sales, and Pope St. John Paul II, to name a few.  St. Padre Pio had a strong devotion to Our Lady and to the Eucharist, and writings about his holy life are replete with quotes about Our Lady and about the Rosary.  Besides the one you’ve probably heard (“The Rosary is the weapon for these times.”), he’s also quoted as saying, “Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.” (6)   

By now you probably are seeing why this post has the title that it does.  As St. Padre Pio said, “The Rosary is the weapon for these times.”  I believe that the Rosary is not only the weapon for our times but it is our heavy artillery for the spiritual battle we face individually and collectively.  Given all the warnings we’ve received over the last hundred years and continue to receive through various visionaries, a smart battle strategy would be to deploy the heavy artillery.  In the artillery we had a command that would come down to the guns, “Fire for effect.”  "Fire for Effect" is the command the forward observer gives the guns once one gun has been zeroed in on the target. All the guns then let loose, firing at the same coordinates, raining down destruction on the enemy.  Through the Rosary, we have the ability to bring destruction to our enemy the evil one.  The more weapons we employ and the more frequently we do so, the better. Our Lady, our Spiritual Forward Observer, continually encourages us to pray the Rosary daily—to “fire for effect” on the evil one.  This is a command that we dare not ignore.  

Most parishes have a group that gathers together before or after a particular Mass to pray the Rosary.  If we get up early or record it for later, EWTN has not only an early daily Mass, but also the Holy Land Rosary led by Fr. Mitch Pacwa (available on CDs and DVDs  We can catch the Rosary on the local Catholic radio station as well, and pray along in the car.  With or without the radio program of the Rosary, one can pray the Rosary on the way to and from work.  And we don’t have to pray all five decades of a Rosary in one sitting—we can pray as much as we have time for and come back to it and complete it later.  We can pray while we’re standing in line at the store or at the airport.  The opportunities to pray the Rosary are limited only by our imagination.  As our Spiritual Mother, Our Lady loves us and wants only what’s best for us.  When Our Blessed Mother suggests that we pray the Rosary more, we ought to listen and do what she says.

Next time – more on Catholic devotion to the Rosary.    

4 – Everyday Encounters with God: What Our Experiences Teach Us – Groeschel and Ghezzi
5 – True Devotion to Mary – De Montfort

Monday, August 17, 2015

Pray, Hope and Don't Worry - But We May Want to Consider Making Some Changes

More and more articles are being published by a variety of reputable sources regarding the current state of the national and global economies, and some key indicators show there could be trouble ahead—(think about China’s problems, U.S. corporate stock buybacks, overall economic growth rates, etc.)  As well, it doesn’t take a cultural anthropologist or sociology pundit to point out some clearly observable cultural and societal trends here in the U.S.A. that should be troubling to all Christians—(think about abortion, recent court decisions, religious liberty, and the like.) 

We're also starting to hear about the spiritual downside (and upside) of all of these secular trends and forces.  A nation like ours, blessed as it has been, is virtually thumbing its nose at our Creator with the decisions our society has made, or at least condones, if only implicitly and passively.  We’re being reminded that we, as a nation, are not storing up wealth in heaven with what we have been doing, and some religious commentators are even suggesting that we’re ripe for a comeuppance.  That’s the bad news. 

The good news is that, in their opinion, potential spiritually salutary benefits may be had in any widespread, disruptive changes that could occur.  The nature of what these changes might involve seems to be somewhat ambiguous at best, depending upon whom you read or listen to.  So, you might be asking, “What possible good could come out of some kind of widespread, disruptive change?” What we’re being told is that it would allow each of us to do a real serious examen (see note below)—an in-depth look at the way we’ve been living--and truly confess, repent, and change our ways for the better.  In our consulting practice, my business partner and I tell our clients that all feedback is good—it’s just that some of it is harder to read and hear than the rest of it.  Each of us probably could benefit from an in-depth look at where we’re at and where we’re headed in a spiritual sense, deciding what part of that feedback we dislike the most and then doing something about it. But why wait till something outside our control happens?  Why not do the examen now and start making those changes we've known we need to make all along?

The other day at Mass, our Associate Pastor, Fr. Ricardo Rosales, asked us in his homily to reflect on whether we are living each day as if it were our last day.  This is some awesome food for thought—are we living today as much as possible in our efforts to follow Jesus, showing his merciful love to everyone else with whom we interact, even those characters we don’t much care for?  Is what we’re doing directed at bringing others to the Lord?  When they see us do they see more of Jesus, or more of us, in the way we behave and talk with them?  That’s really the question before us now—are we working actively to try to stay in a state of grace, or do we simply reason that we’ll get to the confessional at some point when we’re not so busy, and make up for everything then?

But will we have time to make it to the confessional before we're called away?  A meeting I was scheduled to run this week has been postponed due to the untimely death of a young man who was to be a key participant. He died unexpectedly while participating in an outdoor sporting event this last weekend. All of us have one or more examples of something like this, but we don't think that it would happen to us or to someone we know.  So, again, why not start making the changes we need to make now, and quit putting them off?   

On the one hand, we may have some work to do, with God's grace, to better prepare ourselves to meet Him someday, whenever that day may come. On the other hand, we need not be paralyzed with anxiety about it. And it doesn’t take real or imagined disasters to cause one anxiety and worry.  No matter what sorts of challenges we run into—and we each have or will have our share of problems unique to us, regardless of general economic conditions or other major trends and forces—are we turning our problems over to God?  That is, are we praying for the grace we need to make changes that will get us closer to Christ, trusting in Jesus’ Divine Mercy and His love for us?  Or are we worrying and anxious? Consider the following Scripture passages:

Psalm 37:3-8
Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will dwell in the land, and be nourished in safety. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your vindication as the light, and your right as the noonday. Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over him who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Do not fret; it tends only to evil.

Mt 6:25–34
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  ¶ Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? ¶ And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; ¶ yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. ¶ But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. ¶ But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

Whether we are concerned about some big picture, future scenarios or just the routine challenges of life in what’s considered to be our “normal,” everyday existence, do we have a personal, one-on-one relationship with Jesus that involves taking time to talk with Him daily?  Do we have a routine prayer life?  The Lord wants our souls—do we want to give them to Him?

Fr. Joseph Esper suggests a couple dozen specific actions we each can take to get our souls in shape for any eventuality in this life, and to prepare for the next life, including for example:
  • Get into and stay in a state of grace through frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • Attend Mass as often as possible, beyond just Sunday attendance
  • Pray the Rosary daily
  • Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet regularly
  • Read the Bible daily
  • And more…
The closer we can get to Our Lord, and the more we can rely on Him, the better able we will be to weather any storm that may toss our individual barques around.  We can’t know what the Lord has in store for us—but if he were to call us today, would we be ready for Him?  We should do something about it, but we should not stress about it--listen to what St. Pio tells us:

"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Anxiety doesn't help at all. Our Merciful Lord will listen to your prayer."

Indeed, we can pray ("unceasingly" as Scripture prompts us), and we can pray for God's grace to help us work earnestly on changing those behaviors that keep us from getting closer to Him.  We can commit our way to the Lord and He will act.  (Ps. 37)  And there's no time like now.

Feel free to pass this link on to others. - God bless

"Examen" - A formal examination of conscience, made usually daily