From Near-Death Folks To The Pope, The Prophetic Talk Is Of A 'Time Of Upheaval'
In the thirty years since near-death reports burst upon the scene, few have recounted an aspect of them that ties into current Catholic mysticism -- and specifically prophecy.
That aspect is a feeling on the part of many who return (often after full-fledged clinical death) that it is a time of urgency. In a number of cases, those who have "died" and returned, after a glimpse of the afterlife, and encounters with angels, saints, deceased loved ones, the Blessed Mother, or, they assert, Jesus Himself, claim to have experienced visions of the future.
In a 1982 nationwide survey, pollster George Gallup found that approximately half of the eight million adult Americans reporting a near-death experience had a premonition of events in the future -- mainly circumstances in their personal lives but in some cases, report other researchers, events of a more global import.
Those with such supposed prescience convey exactly what recent Marian apparitions have: that there will be "an increasing incidence of earthquakes, volcanic activity, and generally massive geophysical changes" with "resultant disturbances in weather patterns and food supplies," according to Dr. Kenneth Ring, who wrote those words in 1998.
"'Sense of urgency' is a phrase that comes up again and again when I talk to near-death experiencers," wrote one researcher, Dr. Raymond Moody. "But they are often expressing a sense of urgency about a world in which vast destructive powers are in the hands of mere humans.
With this field, there is special concern about infiltration of New Age ideas, but there is a large element that conforms more readily with the Christian outlook, and specifically its Catholic prophecy.
None have foreseen the end of the world -- but rather an end to the current period. "The vision of the future I received during my near-death experience was one of tremendous upheaval in the world as a result of our general ignorance of true reality," asserted Reinee Pasarow, who had a near-death episode in 1967. "This suffering was not due to the vengeance of an indignant God but rather like the pain one might suffer as a result of arrogantly defying the law of gravity. It was to be an inevitable educational cleansing of the earth that would creep up upon its inhabitants, who would try to hide blindly in the institutions of law, science, and religion."
According to Dr. Craig R. Lundahl, of Western New Mexico University, and Dr. Harold A. Widdison, of Northern Arizona University, another prophetic vision from way back in the 1940s "said we can expect in the future some of nature's most disastrous upheavals. But we will experience more than environmental disasters; we will also experience major disruptions in relationships between individuals, families, and nations."
Cataclysms will be unparalleled, said this account, unless there was a turn away from materialism and a turn toward love.
Dr. Lundahl and Dr. Widdison underscored the word "upheaval."
Most reported lessons that had to do with personal spiritual development, not apocalyptic events. "My experience showed me that a kind deed or act of love done by me or someone else can dramatically make a difference in someone's path in life, and that a kind deed or act may be the weight that tips the judgment scale in favor of spending eternity in God's presence instead of being separated by a veil of blindness," noted one.
But the prophetic component is common.
Reported a man named Ravyn who had an alleged experience in 1996 and was mentioned on a prominent near-death website operated by the International Association for Near-Death Studies:
"Since my last [episode] I have had the ability to 'hear' earthquakes and sense natural disasters. After the fact, I knew there would be a bad hurricane this year  and it would be the Gulf Coast it would hit rather than Florida. Of course anyone can say that now. But I will say today that last night I 'heard' an earthquake. I am in central Virginia. I do not know where this might be, but I felt it was western U.S., or possibly mid-western. I 'heard' it about 11 p.m. EST. It sounded very big. I have had these weather-related premonitions up to a year ahead of time, but usually the earthquake ones are a lot sooner than that. I sensed the hurricane last winter, about February or March. I did not sense the tsunami, I seem to be limited to the U.S. area."
Said one woman named Sandra who according to the near-death information board had her experience in 2002, "I am having dreams of missiles flying over Phoenix. Then in one dream I am riding the bus to downtown and the buildings were bombed and on fire, dead people hanging out the windows. The survivors were walking in the streets. Thousands of them, all were sick, they had white spots all over their bodies."
How do we discern this? How much is real? Is some overly dramatic?
Another named Raul had repeated visions of Cardinal Ratzinger that perplexed him. He posted an internet message after the death of John Paul II -- but before Benedict was named -- describing his obsession with Cardinal Ratzinger, about whom he knew little.
"If Cardinal Ratzinger is nominated and accepts the position of Pope, you will find me somewhere between the floor and under the cover for a while. I know that upon looking at his name and seeing his face, all those memories for that particular scene came cascading like a waterfall. In all honesty, Cardinal Ratzinger may be just what the Church needs with all the problems it has in the USA and in Europe -- pedophiles and shortage in priests."
In the premonition, Raul also claimed to see a vision indicating that friars who were violating their vows were fearful of Cardinal Ratzinger.
And speaking of the Pope, we have this from a new collection of Pope Benedict XVI's writings ironically called, Values in a Time of Upheaval:
"Although God allows the freedom to choose evil considerable space in the world (too much space, we are often inclined to think), He never lets the world fall completely out of His Hands. When the Book of Revelation speaks of destruction, we encounter temporal limitations and what we might call percentages of ruin, 'a third,' for example. No matter what evil can do, the world belongs to God, not to evil, and this certainty is in fact a decisive part of the apocalyptic images."
And so there we have the final outlook.
[As for Raul: how's life between the floor and under the covers?]
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