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Quite often it seems like the experiences or inclinations of regular people -- normal folks -- ring at least as true as the words of claimed locutionists and seers, though we will also, in a moment, discuss those. Incidents from common people -- what they perceive as unusual events -- are constantly reported to us in what we have called the prophetic "pulse." Many have to do with what are often expected as coming disturbances -- disasters -- and, certainly, foresights of periodic "chastisement" are not aloof from our faith and have been a part of major Church-approved apparitions such as LaSalette, the Miraculous Medal, Kibeho, and Fatima -- the latter foreseeing war and persecution and the focus of our attention this weekend as Pope Francis becomes the third Pope to make a consecration in line with requests by the Virgin Mary there.

But still, what to make of such? How far to take them -- prophetic indications? Is foresight gained also by way of dreams and strange coincidences? "For quite a while I had a picture of the plaza of St. James Church [in Medjugorje] and Our Lady's statue set as a desktop background on my computer," related one viewer from Aurora, Colorado. "But around the first of the year [2012] a strange thing happened that changed that. I was moving around on the internet one morning and had a few files open -- none of them connected with 'display settings' -- when the screen gave a lurch and went into a kind of 'automatic pilot.' It jerked a little, flip-flopped, and then looked to be rearranging things, all in the blink of an eye.

"I backed away (more like backed off) thinking it was about to shut down. But in a few seconds the action stopped and the screen opened to the desktop -- only now, the background wasn't bright and sunny St. James plaza. It was a darkened Crucifix that covered the desktop, so dark that the white waistcloth of the Corpus was the only discernible detail. It was centered and hanging in front of a stained-glass window with a pattern of burnished filigree that was partially darkened as well. I didn't recognize the image, but when my heart settled back in my chest, I was able to locate the file."

Still, it caused her to reflect on Matthew 6:23: "The lights go out, darkness falls -- and indeed, if your light is darkness, how deep, how ever deep, will the darkness be!" (Aurora is where the infamous theatre shooting would soon after place, during the opening of the movie, The Dark Knight Rises.)

Also as related to the apparitions at Medjugorje: "My friend and I were in Medurjorge last week," wrote Clare Ryan of Clonakilty in County Cork, Ireland. "One evening we were praying the Rosary and we were walking towards the Risen Christ statute when I saw a large orange orb or what looked like an enlarged moon, it was gliding behind the statute. I could see that another man saw it as well. I went up to him to ask what he saw but he could not speak English. I'm wondering what does it mean?" If Medjugorje is accepted by the Church, more attention will be drawn to its reputed secrets pertaining to warnings and chastisements.

Do current disasters presage larger future ones? In New Jersey, near where disaster has struck in a major way twice during recent times -- first on September 11, then with Hurricane Sandy -- it's interesting and coincidental that rumblings in the earth or sky followed both events. As a viewer and former New Jersey resident Jim Fifth recounted, "Two days after 9/11, around nine p.m., I walked outside and noticed a strange rumbling that seemed to last for a long time. I knew it wasn't a plane, yet it continued for a long while. While listening, I also noticed a red aurora in the sky. Being so far south, it wasn't that pronounced, but I noticed it because I had not seen one before." Meanwhile, a small quake rattled towns in that same area last year (2012) in the wake of "Sandy" when a temblor with a magnitude of 2.0 was recorded, centered in Ringwood, a community that was still dealing with downed trees and power outages from the storm (and causing what a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center called "a loud boom").

If nothing else, it intrigues us (recall that an aurora borealis figured into the "great sign" presaged at Fatima), as do the alleged experiences of men like James Reid Sr., who -- perhaps answering the question of why events, so long in the prophetic stew pot, have not yet begun -- related that, "Many years ago in a small park overlooking the Gulf of Mexico I was weeping before the Lord for this nation. After a season of prayer Genesis 15:16 came to mind with the thought, 'I am waiting for the iniquity of the Amorite to be completed!' When He spoke this I shuddered because I knew He was speaking of this nation. It was as if He was saying: 'By waiting, I am giving you every opportunity to repent; and by waiting I am also giving you time to complete the level of perversion I require prior to executing My sovereign right to bring judgment upon you!' And now He is standing at the door; it is only a question of time and we are now almost out of it."

Again, if nothing else, it's a novel perspective.

Long before, in 1988, this man said he was given a "vision" of a "well-to-do neighborhood" with homes, still in good condition, that had been abandoned; something had occurred that even money could not protect against. Here we think of Psalm 127:1: "Unless the Lord guards the city the watchman keeps awake in vain..."

As we approach the October 13 anniversary of the great sun miracle and final formal apparition at Fatima and the new consecration by the Pope [Fatima seer Jacinta Marto, left], we think back to how Our Lady promised that if Russia were consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, it would turn from its errors. Will Francis be the first Pope to mention Russia by name? Fascinating it is how quickly that country is currently embracing Christianity, with even the leader, Vladimir Putin, publicly defending Christianity and castigating the West for oppressing it: Russia criticizing the lack of religion in Western Europe and America! You can spin that any way you want, but it's tough not to see a trend, and it brings to mind something an alleged Australia locutionist, Alan Ames, recently mentioned. Related he:

"As events unfold in the world I am reminded of a visit I did to Russia in 1996. I was interviewed on radio in Moscow by an Arkady Rovner who had a one-hour show which took calls. Two I have never forgotten. One was from an old woman who said she had taken her granddaughter into a church in Moscow and that the young girl became excited as she said to the grandmother that she could see Jesus and He was talking to her. The grandmother asked me what she should do and what did it mean. First I said there was nothing to fear as the Lord, Jesus, was reaching out in love calling the girl and all of Russia to Him; secondly I suggested they see and speak to a priest and also increase their time in church.

"Another caller asked what the future for Russia was. I answered, filled with the Holy Spirit, that the future was meant to be a glorious one where Russia would come closer to the Lord, Jesus, and would become a burning light that drew others to God. That Russia would become a bastion of faith in a world swamped by evil and darkness. That the prophecy of Fatima would be fulfilled and that all the prayers said for Russia would be answered. Today as I reflect on this interview I see these words being fulfilled as Christianity in Russia grows and grows, as the Russian president seems to be the one major leader in the world standing up for Christianity and talking of God often. I have written before and spoke to many people of the actions and words of Vladimir Putin, such as [the fact that] he went on a pilgrimage to St. Petersburg to see the belt of Our Lady and kissed it in public then asked the women of Russia to stop having abortions. Or when he spoke at Moscow University and said to the students the best thing they can do in life is to live as St. Francis of Assisi lived. Or his frequent attendance at the Orthodox Liturgy. Or his refusal to let young children to be taught about homosexuality. Of course, he is not perfect and makes many mistakes (for he is human and has weaknesses), but despite these, he is standing up for Christ and Christians as he tries to prevent the slaughter of Christians in Syria, which many other leaders ignore. I thank God and Our Blessed Mother, Mary, that through and in Russia today we are seeing God's grace in action as God blesses mankind in confirmation of the prophecy of Fatima."

What do we think of locutionists who claim this or that Pope is an "anti-Pope"?

We have been cautious about revelations that mention Popes. Interesting it is, in the past, how mystics such as Blessed Elizabeth Canori Mora saw a Pope persecuted by "wolves plotted to betray him," while others like Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich saw "the Church of Peter was undermined by a plan evolved by the secret sect, while storms were damaging it. But I saw also that help was coming when distress had reached its peak. I saw again the Blessed Virgin ascend on the Church and spread her mantle [over it].” That was in 1820. Does it pertain to what happened in subsequent decades or to something in the future?

Both saw "chastisements," Mora a punishment whereby "the sky took on a morbid color which terrified everyone who looked at it. A dark wind blew everywhere. An impassioned and mournful shrieking filled the air, like the terrible roar of a fierce lion, and resounded all over the earth in blood-curdling echoes." Emmerich mentioned "two popes."

It's interesting how Jacinta of Fatima "saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his head buried in his hands, and he was weeping. Outside the house, there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language. Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him." Is that a past, current, or future pontiff? (It seemed to be the Pope mentioned, she indicated, in the secrets.)

We tend to take what strikes us as interesting from lengthy presumed locutions.

Someone we had quoted long ago, Ned Dougherty, a man who once was wealthy as a major nightclub owner on Long Island, until a near-death experience, during which he believes he glimpsed the future, and has since received locutions (though these seem to be ending), quotes one as saying, "As the Son of Man during my journey on Earth 2,000 years ago, I instituted the most powerful form of prayer in the Adoration and Reception of the Holy Eucharist. I call upon all of you to recognize the power of the Holy Eucharist, for it is through the Adoration and frequent Reception of the Holy Eucharist that the tide of battle against the darkness and evil in the world will be turned overwhelmingly in the direction of the good that the Father in Heaven has planned for the world. I leave you now with this Final Message: The Great Events of the Warning and the Tribulation are soon to take place within your lifetimes. You are so close now to the great events that are going to take place that there is no time now for you to delay in preparing to do the work of the Father in Heaven. So begin now to become part of the Father’s Army here on earth."

Take what sounds right; leave the rest (see 1 Thessalonians 5:20). It's not an enviable job. No one really knows. 

Always, be open, but also, beware the echo of your own sentiments.

[resources: Fear of Fire and The Bridge to Heaven]

[Retreats: Indiana and North Carolina]

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