Church Avoids Talk Of 'Final Coming' But Approved Polish Saint Who Prophesied It

Is there something in the air this Lent?

To start with, it's the first Lent that we will traverse with the late Pope on the other side. He is no longer with us -- at least not physically.

Rife are the accounts of his intercession. We have frequently reported on miracles associated with him; in coming days will his help be especially apparent? There are signs that he will not only be a saint, but a major one -- and Lent was especially important to him. (There is this prayer for his intercession.)

In many ways, John Paul was the Easter Pope. He gave us the lesson of suffering. He instituted the feast of Divine Mercy (which is the Sunday a week after Easter). And he died on the vigil of that feast last year -- such that the first Mass for him was a Divine Mercy vigil liturgy. Pray big for his intercession on that day!

There are no coincidences in this place we call earth and it brings up some interesting aspects not only of the Lenten season, but also about the Divine Mercy devotion.

Perhaps foremost at this particular juncture of history -- with so much swirling around us -- is the fact that while the official Church almost entirely avoids apocalyptic prophecies (often for good reason), there is the unavoidable fact that the seer attached to the fully-approved Divine Mercy devotion made several extremely bold predictions, quoting Jesus as saying, for example, that her job was to "prepare the world for My final coming." She believed her revelations were tied to an apocalypse.

That's about as far as prophecies go, and one that Lent always causes us to consider.

The seer was St. Faustina Kowalska of Cracow, of course, and the alleged revelation was in May of 1935. While the Church officially recognizes the Divine Mercy devotion; has instituted a major shrine focused on the devotion (near Cracow); and has canonized Sister Faustina (in fact, this was conducted by John Paul), it reserves judgment on her prophecies.

That's true of most saints and occurs because neither canonization nor the granting of a imprimatur signals Vatican acceptance of a message as supernatural. An imprimatur means only that the content does not contravene Church teaching. According to tradition, messages associated with most saints are not formally approved.

Many are the saints whose writings have been controversial -- and in fact St. Faustina's had been suppressed by the Church for two decades until that suppression was lifted by Pope John Paul II (when he was a cardinal in Cracow).

But when words come from an approved mystic they naturally carry more weight, and we come back again to John Paul. In her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Faustina also had quoted Christ as telling her that "the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming" would come from Poland.

Was that referring to the Divine Mercy revelations themselves -- there in Cracow, Poland, which are meant to prepare us -- or to the Polish Pope? Was he the spark?

Whatever the case, the diary contains dramatic terminology. A manifestation of Jesus, as prophesied by some mystics, is one thing; the "final coming" -- as stated by St. Faustina -- would be quite another.

That term leaves no doubt as to the prognostication. It means "end times." Here is where we must be especially cautious.

While some have quibbled over use of the term "second coming" (arguing that this could also be an intermediate manifestation), the "final" coming,  according to the Catechism, spells the end of time, at least as we know it. Could we really be in such a time? Or was St. Faustina speaking about such events as imminent over a stretch of centuries?

We know only that she did not mince words.

"All light in the heavens will be extinguished, and there will be great darkness over the whole earth,” St. Faustina claimed she was told. “Then the Sign of the Cross will be seen in the sky, and from the openings where the hands and the feet of the Savior were nailed will come forth great lights which will light up the earth for a period of time. This will take place shortly before the last day.”

Intriguingly, Sister Faustina saw an angel as "executor of Divine wrath" in a way that strikingly reminds one of the image of an angel in the third secret of Fatima (an angel that had been ready to set the world aflame). In fact, the similarity is startling.

“He was clothed in a dazzling robe, his face gloriously bright, a cloud beneath his feet,” said St. Faustina. “From the cloud, bolts of thunder and flashes of lightning were springing forth, and only then were they striking the earth. When I saw this sign of Divine Wrath which was about to strike the earth, and in particular a certain place, which for good reasons I cannot name, I began to implore the angel to hold off for a few moments, and the world would do penance. But my plea was a mere nothing in the face of the Divine Anger.

"Just then I saw the Most Holy Trinity. The greatness of Its Majesty pierced me deeply, and I did not dare to repeat my entreaties.

"I found myself pleading with God for the world with words heard interiorly. As I was praying in this manner, I saw the angel’s helplessness: he could not carry out the punishment which was rightly due for sins.”

Compare that to the third secret:

"After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand," wrote Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos of the famed secret, which was revealed (with a commentary by Cardinal Ratzinger, but under the direction of John Paul II) in June of 2000!

Sister Lucia, whose prophecy also has been directly linked to him, died shortly before the Pope.

The fact that Sister Faustina could have such a similar vision in the 1930s -- long before the third secret was made public, but years after the secret was given (to Lucia) -- is an item of no small fascination.

Like the secret, the flames of the angel were drowned out by prayer.

Flags of caution are always raised because the "final coming" has been expected (in certain quarters) since the first century. Is there something different now? And did John Paul II's life (and death), in association with both Divine Mercy and Fatima, help signal it? Or do we have a long way to go: is what we are facing a purification, the transition to a new era, but not any sort of end?

Fascinating it will be how a Church that openly frowns on end-times prophecies will handle her predictions.

Let's stay on the theme of purification.

“In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people,” said another of Faustina's messages. “Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so. My Hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy.”

The real question now: is that mercy running out?


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