Beware that you are not led astray (Lk. 21:8). ⧾
The sacred liturgy again today directs our attention to the eschaton, the teaching about the end time when Our Lord will bring to fulfillment the kingdom which He has established. This too is a dogma of the faith that we affirm in the recitation of the Creed: He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His Kingdom will have no end. But Our Lord cautions us: ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them’ (Lk. 21:8). Our Lord further instructs us: And then if any one says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; I have told you all things beforehand (Mk. 13:21-23). In their simple brevity, Our Lord’s words tell us all we need to know.
Sacred Scripture however, also warns us about another danger: the dismissive pride of scoffers We read in the Second Epistle of St Peter, First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’ (2 Pet. 3:3-4). It is undeniable that the Church is facing and experiencing a great crisis and more than anything, we must cling to Christ, keep our conscience clear (Cf. 1Tim 1:19) and seek refuge in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, whose prophetic words at Fatima are most worthy of belief, for they speak both of divine punishment and of conversion of hearts. In our Judeo-Christian tradition we understand prophets not as fortune tellers who predict the future but as messengers sent by God to call His people to conversion, integrity of life and submission to the law and holy will of God. The prophets always call us back to a right relationship with God and by consequence with one another.
Perhaps more than anything what is needed of us is that we endeavour to be informed Catholics who know and love their faith and who will guard themselves against insidious errors. Indifference to what is happening in the Church makes us unprepared to deal with the destructive effects of the great apostasy or worse, from falling away ourselves. If you doubt whether the great apostasy has taken place, ask yourselves two simple questions: In your extended family, as a practising Catholic, are you the exception or the norm? The second question is perhaps a little tougher: How many of your family members think that you’re wasting your time going to Mass? These are sobering questions; and it is important that we endeavour to keep the traditional faith for the waves of rebellion that continue to lash against the Church are powerless against the solid foundation of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the authentic Magisterium or teaching office of the Church.
Last month, on Sunday, the 13th of October, the anniversary of Our Lady’s last apparition at Fatima in Portugal, we reflected on Our Lady’s prophetic messages. The prophecies of Fatima are now being fulfilled. For this reason we must all the more pray and work for the restoration of the Church and for the establishment of the social kingship of Christ Our Saviour. This is what it means to pray for the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
On our bulletin board you will see disturbing photographs taken in Chile last week. They illustrate the profanation of a church and its sacred artifacts: statues, paintings, images, pews even – being taken out of the church and desecrated and burned. Our news media give such events little or no coverage; and such acts of sacrilege are becoming a common occurrence in more than a few countries. A picture is worth a thousand words. The enemies of the Church seek her destruction and the Church has also been weakened and infiltrated from within; and as a result a great evil has been unleashed in the world. Whenever the moderating influence of Christianity recedes, cultures revert to incivility and violence.
Listen to theses prophetic words of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich a nineteenth century mystic, whose visions shed light on our times: And now the vision became more extended. I saw in all places Catholics oppressed, annoyed, restricted, and deprived of liberty, churches were closed, and great misery prevailed everywhere with war and bloodshed. I saw rude, ignorant people offering violent resistance, but this state of things lasted not long. Again I saw in vision St. Peter’s undermined according to a plan devised by the secret sect while, at the same time, it was damaged by storms; but it was delivered at the moment of greatest distress. Again I saw the Blessed Virgin extending her mantle over it.
Our Lady’s mantle is a metaphor for Our Lady’s protection. Do not dismiss this or, worse still, do not scoff at this. More than ever we need to heed Our Lady’s reassuring promise: My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. The seers at Fatima were given to see Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart surrounded by thorns, outraged by the sins of humanity and seeking reparation for them. Years later, in 1925 our Lady appeared to Sr. Lucia, by then a religious, and said, Look, my daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce Me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least, try to console me. During this same apparition Our Lord Himself said, Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.
In response to Our Lady’s request for prayers of reparation, on Thursday, the Feast of Our Lady’s Presentation, we will have a Day of Prayer and Reparation to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. Come and pray not only for the grace of perseverance and fidelity to the faith but also for the restoration of the Church as the light of the world. The supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls; not sustainable development! This Day of Prayer will also help us to prepare for the great Feast of Christ the King which we will celebrate next Sunday, as we mark the end of the liturgical year. The mysteries of Salvation that we celebrate and observe year in and year out give meaning and purpose to our lives. We can bravely and constructively deal with the diabolical disorientation of our times by taking to hear the words of the Prophet Jeremiah: This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls (Jer. 6:16). The way is Christ, Our Lord Himself, true God and true Man. We conform our lives to His life and in turn, He gives us a purposeful life. We seek refuge in the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady for in her Heart we are both sheltered and instructed. The Heart of Mary is the also the school of Mary; and so, as we worship the Most Holy Trinity in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we make our own this simple yet profound prayer of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich: ‘O God, let us serve the work of salvation following the example of the faith and the love of Mary’. ⧾