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For many years we have been told by Catholic "prophets" that we face a time of persecution.

This, to some degree, we have seen: crucifixes banned, nativities disallowed, nothing with the Name of Jesus.

Slowly and sometimes not so slowly, the momentum in government and media is to diminish religion -- at least Christianity (Muslims somehow earn an exemption).

It is time for Catholics to stand up. It is time for them to realize that there are more Christians -- vastly more -- than non-believers. It is time to write elected officials before the removal of Christ from Christmas expands to the removal of Christ, period.

The next time Frosty the Snowman is allowed but not the Infant in the Crib, do something; call someone; e-mail.

Will the day come when churches are actually closed in the West, as they were in the Soviet Union?


But the main persecution, for now -- and intensifying -- is a persecution in the spirit. The spiritual intensity has been ratcheted up. While it manifests in overt ways -- such as removal of religious symbols -- the main concern is how it is affecting us personally.

Catholics and other active believing Christians are seeing a rise of evil the likes of which we have not noticed before -- not just societal, worldly evil (which is what the Catholic media focuses upon), but personal attacks by demons.

The enemy is invisible and operating in the darkness of spiritual blindness -- blindsiding us at every turn.

The unfortunate events, the accidents, the tensions in households, seem to be swelling.

Neighbors are finding more fault with neighbors. Teachers and parents are at odds.

There is dissension in the workplace.

Insult and harsh language dominate the popular culture. We are at each other's throats far too often, unable to turn the other cheek, unable to forgive.

"The Lord conveyed to me that never in the history of humanity has the world been so far away from Him," says Marino Restrepo, a Catholic evangelist who had a dramatic encounter with the Lord and an angel while kidnapped in Colombia -- held for weeks by drug gangsters in a cave. "The state of idolatry has surpassed every single human cycle of the past that might be registered in the history of the sacred Scriptures. Our spiritual bankruptcy is of alarming dimension."

"Satan knows how short and transitory our earthly life is," Marino once wrote (in a tremendous book called From Darkness to Light). "He knows he has to use the vital moments of our existence to exact the greatest damage so that when we reach a mature age, we no longer have the strength to change. In retrospect I can see the urgency of Satan using our youth and vitality to keep us active without rest day and night."

A former musician and Hollywood type, in his days of living in Europe and the States, Marino says that during his encounter he learned that every unconfessed sin -- every transgression for which there has not been reparation -- "is guarded by demons," explaining how darkness builds around us and comes down through generations. "When we decide to confess our sins, we inadvertently arrest all the activities of the devil in our lives," he poignantly observed.

"The Lord showed me intergenerational inheritance, the strong force that binds those who walk in sin, who walk over the territory of evil," he added. "In addition to suffering the consequences of our own sins, we also carry additional baggage -- the sins of our ancestors."

What does Marino say about the current state of the world?

"I have been in three continents this year in a continuous mission in parishes, seminaries, convents, and many different events within the Catholic faith," he recently wrote to us. "One thing is clear to me and it is how fascinating it is to see the different infusions of the Holy Spirit with every Pope. It is definitely the sign of a shifting, of a moving closer to the returning of Jesus, a preparation of the people of God to work according to the calling of the Gospel, to be true warriors of Christ for the salvations of souls.

"These are the times of great trials, let's prepare and be good and humble so when the tough get going in our particular life we could be able to reach within and find the strength of the Almighty who dwells in our hearts because we have been faithful, then we'll not have to fear anything, we'll be strong and safe.

"Pope Benedict the XVI is unfolding as a precious gift of wisdom and strength for a Church that has to navigate the thick and rebellious waters of a world that grows more perverse as time goes by. The Holy Father is a torment for the disobedient and a joy to the obedient; it is an immense grace to have a witness of sane doctrine that has no fear and will not let the truth be compromised by anyone.
"What a painful sight it is to observe so many people dead to grace, dead to love, in danger of eternal damnation. I work hard in my heart to open wider to the Holy Spirit so that my walking by the ocean of God's souls can make a difference by giving a clear testimony of my faith: loving unconditionally everyone, forgiving the same way, making sure that I'm last and every one is first, bringing about in every thing a tireless spirit of service, striving for true charity at all cost and at all times.
"What a wonderful life has God given us and how great will it be that we'll appreciate it so that we could walk the walk of life in Christ, following His footsteps.
"What a great invitation we have to transcend this earthly life into the fullness of the spiritual realization in the eternal glory of God.
"Yes, it is sad to see people in the Church preaching heresies and people in the Church practicing magic and importing vicious philosophies and ideologies, but it is even sadder to see so many doing nothing about and so busy criticizing and judging. To be active and alert is to be faithful and compassionate.
"Let's all work much harder on being truly of God, on being humble and forgiving, on being true warriors of the love of God. This world is dying for the need of the love of God. These are the times of great spiritual darkness and we are called to be the light and the hope to all. Let's be brave and holy so that when we die and appear before the Divine Tribunal of Jesus, we could be holding the riches of the spiritual world: many souls that were saved by our testimony."
[see also: previous articles on Marino, Outrage: when will Catholics stand up?, Cardinal Pell on hate crimes, and Anti-Christian 'Glee']

[resources: From Darkness to Light, Marino's website, and The Other Side]

[Michael H. Brown retreat: Phoenix and San Antonio]

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