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It's a new year and thoughts always turn to the future.

As mentioned the other day (1/6/14), weather events -- swerves, extremes -- continue to grind on, intensifying in a way that brings to mind prophetic expectations.

They do this so gradually, however, that most don't perceive them.

Prophecy is tricky business. Christ said to "test the spirits." The easy test is whether a person -- a supposed "prophet" -- professes that Jesus came in the flesh as the Son of God.

That's great at distinguishing matters in the normal course of life, secular versus spiritual, Godly versus worldly (as well as separating out New Agers and other poor folks who are immersed in the occult).

But we must also test the spirits within the body of believers -- among those who profess Jesus but may nonetheless be under the sway of deception.

Even those with phenomena we automatically assume are holy (stigmata, existing on only the Eucharist, Eucharistic miracles that involved blood, weeping statues) must be tested.

That means praying, fasting, and verbally casting away "spirits of deception" before accepting anything (or allowing any laying on of the hands).

Especially challenging: seers in South America.

They're quite numerous. All of the above phenomena, and others, have been noted there in recent years.

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador.

We have reported on cases in San Nicolas, Argentina (in the Pope's former region), Cuapa, Nicaragua (in Central America), and along the Amazon near Itaparinga, Brazil (which we hope to visit). Already we have visited sites in Venezuela and the Andes highlands.

In Brazil, appearances of Mary have been reported since February 7, 1991, in the Jacarei area of Sao Paulo, where the Blessed Mother supposedly introduced herself to a seer named Marcos Tadeu (13 at the time of the first appearance) as the "Queen and Messenger of Peace," making a "last call" to humanity. But we're told it has been rejected by the local authorities.

Are the reasons seen with a recent message?

"You can help us discern. An angel named "Mariel" also supposedly appears and in the last message (January 2, 2014) reportedly said, "My Dear Brothers, I, Mariel, bless you today and give you peace. Pray more, pray more as this new year is born that prayer be for you joy. Prayer is the life for you and it is even your life itself. Who prays is saved too, who does not pray is damned. Pray more, pray with your heart that truly God can pour out grace into your lives. Always pray more to renounce all sin because it separates you from God, makes you lose your salvation and Heaven and throws you in the eternal flames of hell. Hasten your conversion, the time left for humanity is short. This is ending from mankind's falling into the abyss of his sin, his rebellion against God and His Commandments and the refusal to turn to Him such that now it will not be long for the Great Chastisement. So: pray, repent, hasten your conversion, so that the awful moment when Divine Justice is revealed, you yourselves will be found innocent before the Lord and so that you may be protected by us, the saints and angels, of all punishments that will befall the sinners, especially those who have lived in sin, believing that they would never be caught by the Justice of God. I, Mariel, I am with you in every moment of your life. I bless you, I cover you with my wings and protect you from all evil. I do not want suffering in the future, so I tell you: turn all ye, that ye may be declared innocent by the time that the Lord Justice's is turned against this world that has rebelled against Him and has become a friend of Satan and sin. To all this time, you are blessed with love and especially you Mark, the most ardent and dear friend of the Holy Angels."

In South America is another "mystic" who is much easier to classify. This is the medium "John of God." He heals and channels spirits.

Stay clear away.

Since 1930, by one count, there have been three cases of no decisions on apparitions in Brazil, eleven negative ones, and two positive. There also have been approvals in Venezuela and Argentina. Since 1982 there have been at least three rejections in Argentina. One in Cuencha, Ecuador remains under investigation.

What do we say, when messages seem a bit too bleak, or perhaps a bit focused on a certain person, or when angels speak? Or when the "Blessed Mother" is preaching to the choir?

Angels speak, of course, in Scripture. We weigh that as we also weigh the admonition that a deceptive spirit can come as an "angel of light."

To weigh is to seek the truth, as well as balance.

Moving up to the Caribbean, there is Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, dating back to 1953 but apparently still with a following. This oft-quoted alleged apparition has been ruled against by the Episcopal Conference of bishops. Four separate letters from bishops have been issued (in 2002, 2006, 2007, and 2011). Here, even the Vatican, citing the devotional harm it could do, issued a warning on it, advising those who persisted that they would be subject to official sanctions ("penalty of interdict by extra-judicial decree"). In obedience: stay away. Rejections have also been issued of late elsewhere in South America -- in one case focusing on an alleged stigmatic in Chile.

[resources: Prayer of the Warrior

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