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 http://www.ewtnreligiouscatalogue.com/). 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