The Last Secret by Michael Brown A look at the apparitions of the Virgin Mary throughout Church history, from the year 40 A.D. to present! You'll be astonished at the number. This is the first comprehensive history of Mary's entire history of apparitions -- how they helped form history, how Mary intervened to institute the Church, to heal, and to save her people from war and plague -- to the current day. Originally released in 1997 and now newly republished, this book is historical but will amaze you with the way the Blessed Mother helped build up what is now the oldest institution on earth! Heavy on history, it's a work meant to be a reference guide as well as a vehicle for long-term mediation! CLICK HERE
FROM THE MAIL: COMMENTS ON EVERYTHING FROM PROPHECY AND LIGHTNING TO THE MYSTERY OF CATHOLICISM
There are a number of issues in the mailbag, from prophecy to the Church (such times!) to spiritual warfare (and phenomena).
Let's start with the Church and the current turmoil:
As we all know, Catholicism, the papacy, the Mass, and the priesthood have, like everything else, evolved over time, sometimes unevenly, but their essence has been the same from the very start, based on the Crucifixion of Jesus, His Resurrection, His admonition that He would build His Church on the "rock" of Peter, and the Last Supper (the Eucharist). Yes, there have been periods of turmoil. Yes, it took a century or two for it to pull together as an institution. And, yes, it may have had imperfect men who at times were too worldly (and managerial, beholden to emperors), but overall it's amazing how many great and holy Popes we have had, how courageously they have fought secular forces, and how unique it is that the apostolic succession has carried through -- if at times more spiritually than institutionally -- for twenty centuries. Even our vestments have a deep history (see the Ravenna Mosaics). Although everything wasn't exactly then as it is now (in some cases it is said folks brought their own bread to prayer gatherings for consecration), the unification with Jesus and His admonishment in the Upper Room has carried forth without interruption: a rock indeed (although one might also think of Saint Paul as nearly a co-pontiff in those first days; to enjoy the way the first Church functioned, we need only read Acts; other historical accounts are uncertain, subject to dispute at each turn and not really worthy of debate; holiness before religiosity). Our point: the papacy and Church will certainly survive the resignation of Benedict XVI. Let us pray for a deeply pious new Supreme Pontiff (also a Marian one). Remarkable it is, how far back the papacy goes and most remarkable of all, how from the very start the Eucharist was consecrated and always -- from the start -- considered much more than a ritual. Everything else is detail. As the Blessed Mother has said, "Dear children, I wish to call you to a living of the Holy Mass. The Mass is the greatest prayer of God. You will never be able to understand its greatness. That is why you must be perfect and humble at Mass, and you should prepare yourselves there. The Mass is the most important and the most holy moment in your lives."
Our Church is also founded on the prophetic.
It edifies (no matter how much some try to defame it).
But how far to go with it?
To "prophesy" means to proclaim, to say something through inspiration, to state, in addition to foreseeing a circumstance. "Pursue love," says 1 Corinthians 14, "yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church."
Many ask about certain locutionists, visionaries, healers, and stigmatics, and we usually refrain from specific comment or analysis (and certainly criticism) because we are not the Church, though there are certain situations to which we subscribe or that we submit for discernment. The vast majority of such people are good, well-intentioned, and faithful Catholics, and whether completely true or not they should not be attacked nor held up to personal ridicule on the internet; criticism is perilous, unless the Church has ruled negatively. Charity is important.
What about a prophecy attributed to Saint Bridget of Sweden (1873): "When the feast of Saint Mark shall fall on Easter, the feast of Saint Anthony on Pentecost, and that of Saint John on Corpus Christi, the whole world shall cry, 'Woe'"?
We frankly don't know if it's authentic -- and if it is, what to think of it. Others attribute it to a mystic called Venerable Magdalene Porzat (d. 1850), which seems more likely. As some have pointed out, that intersection of feasts (Saint Mark's 5/25, Saint Anthony's 6/13, and Saint John's 6/24) would occur in 2038. Let us know if you have found anything. Riddles? Puzzles? Hints? Dates? As always, caution. It does seem like the Holy Spirit, though sometimes in secret, is more direct than that (though we will cede the riddle of "666" in Revelation along with Jesus' own oblique references through the Gospels to future events, including hints of His Crucifixion).
Some scoff at the notion that this can have spiritual import (as when it struck St. Peter's twice the day Pope Emeritus Benedict resigned). Just nature? Or a sign?
On February 2, 1605, in the frontier region near ╦quira, Colombia, hermits and priests holding a festival in honor of the Most Holy Lady of Purification heard a frightful clap of thunder that resounded through the valley as Mass began. One author recounted that "the sky obscured by dark clouds (was) ripped repeatedly by lightning flashes. Then winds of hurricane force blew up, cataracts of water coursed down the hillsides, and soon the Gachaneca River overflowed with a roar like that of wild beasts.
"All this happened in a very few minutes and was accompanied by voices of the devil that threatened death to all. The crowd attending the Mass began to cry out in terror and many fled up into the hills. Those who remained quiet although not without fear were those within the chapel and they had faith in the power of the Virgin. The voices of the demons could more and more horribly be heard and at times the frame of the chapel creaked and shook on its foundations."
The Mass had proceeded and as a priest prayed for deliverance the rain suddenly stopped and a fire ignited by lightning was likewise extinguished.
That was the war (like the spiritual war we now see in modern times); Mary was going right into the heart of the enemy.
Now on prophecy: someone recently claimed, in attacking a well-known current locutionist, that claims of hidden knowledge or seeking such makes one a Gnostic. One should tread carefully here. Gnostics did claim secret knowledge, but at the behest of demiurges and pagan spirits, whom they called by name. That's quite a distance from the "hidden knowledge" -- including secrets -- dispensed during classic and Church-approved apparitions at Lourdes, Fatima, and Rue du Bac (the "Miraculous Medal"), to name a few; Scripture has hidden knowledge.
Those who disdain it all must of course be cautious of the admonition in the New Testament: "despise not prophecy."
In fact, here are a few more snippets from the Bible:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
Despise not prophesyings.
And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith;
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.
And I fell down before his feet to worship him. And he saith unto me, See thou do it not: I am a fellow-servant with thee and with thy brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus: worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
[resources: Lenten books; Medjugorje pilgrimage, Michael Brown: purification, future, self-illumination]
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