The End of the Present World (and the mysteries of the future life), by Father Charles Arminjon, an incredibvle and inspired lesson on how to look past the material world and toward the glorious eternal one! What a book for our times: The signs that will precede the "end." The coming of anti-christ. Biblical end-times prophecy. St. Therese of Lisieux commented that 'reading this book was one of the greatest graces of my life.' Click here



It certainly was peculiar. There, on the front page of this website, the other day, was an article recounting an old apparition in which the Blessed Mother predicted a chastisement in Wisconsin. It was October 8, 1859.

As the article recalled, twelve years later, precisely on the anniversary of the apparition -- October 8, 1871 -- the greatest forest fire in recorded U.S. history killed one to two thousand and destroyed huge swaths of Wisconsin and Michigan; it was also (just to the south) the day of the Great Chicago fire.

Moments after the article was posted, news flashed across the internet that the roof of Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago -- seat of the cardinal -- was ablaze. A fire had erupted in the attic. The cathedral was spared total destruction, but below, in the church itself, was extensive water damage. The last time the cathedral was damaged in such a way was, yes: during the 1871 Chicago fire.

Strange. There is much strangeness in the wind. Everyone seems to be feeling it. It is why we have added a discussion of preparation to retreats. What was the message of that coincidence -- an article on the apparition the same day as the fire erupts? What if anything can we read into it?

Mainly, from the old apparition, there is the lesson that Mary does indeed mention chastisement -- true ones, chastisements that in fact come, contrary to modernists who preach that God does not punish.

In Wisconsin Mary not only foresaw a chastisement, but, as it turns out, one that included actual balls of falling fire.

Was it a hint that heat is in the future? A day later, Australia made the news with fires that now have become historic ones. Thus far the blazes have destroyed 865,000 acres -- nearly equaling the 1.2 million set ablaze in 1891.

In Chicago, the altar was spared. During the Wisconsin apparition, the chapel miraculously escaped. But in Australia, several Catholic churches were incinerated. Is it just the way of the wind or is there a message?

The fact that a fire erupted at the seat for one of the nation's largest dioceses and home to a cardinal who is president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops caused one to search out possible implications. Was there a message for the U.S. Church? At the least, perhaps we can take from it that our sanctuaries will be refuges in coming days and it is time to prepare the flock for that.

Let us note that five red cardinal hats (galeros) that were worn by previous archdiocesan leaders were soaked in the cathedral but otherwise intact.

Each of the hats was raised to the ceiling on a cardinal's death.  The tradition, believed to have started in Europe centuries ago, is to leave the hats aloft until they crumble. Some believe that decay—"from dust to dust"—is a reminder of man's mortality, noted a news site. Others believe that when a galero is raised, it means the cardinal has reached Heaven. Still others say that it is when the hat finally falls that the cardinal has reached the pearly gates.

That was a good "sign" (that the galeros were not in flames). Less so was news at the very same moment that the Legionaries of Christ, home to 800 priests, had to admit their founder, Father Marcial Maciel, not only had been accused of homosexual relations with seminarians but also, heterosexually, had fathered a child -- living what the Catholic media called a "double" life. It was yet another blow in a scandal that has still not dissipated.

The Church needs yet more purification. In Chicago, setting aside galeros, the cathedral needs to replace statues that were removed. Elsewhere, devotion must replace bureaucracy. Perhaps altars and chapels survive when they are the center of devotion. It is a lesson for where the future refuges will be and what our pastors should be preparing us for.

There are questions about "studies." A recent study of seminaries found that they were basically sound and healthy. Were no problems found with a lack of devotional education and mystical theology? A new study will review female religious. Will it take note of the rampant New Age practices in retreat houses and convents? 

The Church is strong. It is built on rock. But there are problems with it. There is a crisis of pride and segments of it -- of necessity -- are crumbling. Perhaps it is as Benedict XVI foresees: that a smaller Church would be a purer one. We recall the pastor of a church in Florida which also suffered roof damage, in that case during the hurricanes of 2004. The roof was fixed after long and hard and costly work but one day, the pastor was railing against the notion that God chastises and at the moment he concluded his homily there was the sudden drip of water leaking again from the roof, to the janitor's exasperation and amazement.

And so we are where we are. Parish after parish is closing. The Church is always the first to be chastised. Other segments of society are now following. Nature groans. It also roars. Study the term "meltdown." What's next? How far will meltdowns -- in finance, in the educational system, in our culture -- go?

Hot. Flames. Embers. Brimstone. When asked about the future, St. Padre Pio once reportedly replied, "Can't you see the fire?"

[resources: Tower of Light, Sent to Earth, and The Final Hour]

[Tampa retreat: healing Mass, preparing for coming times]

[see also: Churches destroyed in fire, A labyrinth in church? and Holy See urged to act on Legion]

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[Feedback from the mail:

"It would be great if you some day soon would write a leader article about bullying in the church which can get  very serious for some people who suffer terribly and in silence. (Some leave).
"I am sure this happens in the USA as well as in Europe. The worst bullies are those in small groups who hold some position in the church. The victims are often nice,  quiet and very devoted persons who go to their Mass and do not bother. I have seen this personally [website on bullying]."