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When chastisement comes, it will be because of hatred for religion, which is hatred towards God; materialism and pride, meaning selfishness; lust and abortion, one leading to the other; and the peculiar prominence of homosexuality.

That's our "word." There are many words. There is much circulating. The prophetic pulse throbs. Is it just the economy, the change in politics, and the shift in international perceptions, or are we rushing toward a denouement?

On the apparition beat: at the most famous alleged one, Medjugorje, in Bosnia-Hercegovina, there have been rumors for weeks now that seer Mirjana Dragicevic Soldo is no longer allowed (by the local bishop) to have apparitions in a place called Cenacolo -- a Catholic center near the village that reforms alcoholics, drug addicts, and others with severe problems. We have now confirmed that. Is something in the wind? Or is it just another joust with Mostar?

The most well-known priest associated with Medjugorje, Father Jozo Zovko, who was pastor when the apparitions began, and who regularly spoke to pilgrims (as an integral part of pilgrimages), has suspended all public appearances for a year. It is said that he is going to Italy. The stated reason is health: Father Jozo has had heart issues. Some think he has been silenced. In 2002, he was disallowed from celebrating Mass at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington after a bishop in Mostar, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Ratko Peric, who is strongly anti-Medjugorje, sent a letter to all dioceses in the U.S. stating that the priest -- accused of defying the bishop -- was under canonical censure. Some dioceses accepted the letter, while others felt the bishop did not have jurisdiction (Father Jozo's Franciscan superior general in Mostar, Father Slavko Soldo, said the priest was in "good standing"). We'll go with the official statement from Medunarodno Kumstvo in Siroki Brieg, circulated February 9, which states that "due to health reasons, the need for rest and recuperation, and due to the commencement of construction on Badija, Father Jozo Zovko has asked his superiors for permission to reside outside of the province. The province board approved his request. For this reason, we are cancelling all programs planned for the ensuing year."

We will strictly abide by whatever the Church decides, regardless of our personal opinions. The matter is currently under study by a special Vatican commission. We can't report full details because an information curtain has been drawn over such details for many years.

In the U.S., information moves in nearly a frenzy. One "prophetic" e-mail claimed to be a message from the Archangel Michael to a well-known nun, Sister Briege McKenna of Palm Harbor, Florida -- a healing religious who has ties to Medjugorje. "Lo and Behold!" began the message. "A new year dawns upon humanity, and it is a year of great changes for all of the sons and daughters of the Father in Heaven. You are preparing yourselves now for a powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit that will become evident to all of you within the near future."

This moved swiftly in cyberspace because of the nun's popularity but alas the message was received not by the nun, but by a former nightclub owner named Ned Dougherty (from Long Island), who believes he is "spoken" to regularly and who in fact seemed to foresee the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York (following a near-death experience). Somehow his message was confused with the Florida sister.

"As many inquiries have been received, it is necessary to make an urgent clarification that Sr. Briege did not receive an alleged message from St. Michael the Archangel," says her website. "We understand that this message was received by a Mr. Dougherty, who is unknown to Sr. Briege."

Anyway, many things are moving swiftly in cyberspace.

"Dear Sons and Daughters, tell everybody that now is the good time for a great return to The Lord," reports an alleged seer from Brazil. "I ask you to be meek and humble of heart, for this is the only way you can contribute to the definitive triumph of My Immaculate Heart. Seek Jesus. He is your hope. Your happiness is in Him and outside of Him you cannot find salvation. Do good to all and fill yourselves with the love of The Lord so you can comprehend My presence in your midst. The days will come when people will be kept from practicing the good works, and the divine laws will be despised. The powerful of this world will make their laws and My poor children will be lead to deny the faith. Now is the time of great spiritual  confusion. Pay attention. You can conquer evil by the power of prayer. Pray. I am with you.  This is the message I transmit to you today in the name of The Most Holy Trinity. Thank you for permitting Me to reunite you here once more. I bless you in the name of The Father, and of The Son, and of The Holy Spirit. Amen. Be at peace."

Whatever the truth of various reports, there is a quickening sense, and it is reflected on various and sundry more private "visions" -- not from famous visionaries or well-known nuns but from our viewers, whose inclinations -- whose pulse -- we have always forwarded for consideration.

At the least, some are metaphors. And it is in this way that we offer them. We don't know about accepting such visions literally, especially when they are very specific, but they reflect a sense -- even from the young -- of turmoil.

"Recently," says one, Kathy Holbrook, "my ten-year-old son had a very interesting dream. He is a rascal, not overly pious, in fact, he is your regular boy, and would rather play than pray. Yet he has had certain things happen of a mystical nature, and so I put more weight on this than I would otherwise.

"He said in his dream, all around us there were meteorites falling from the sky. The brand new house right next to us was hit by one and blew up, as well as many others. He mentioned a certain skyscraper here in Cincinnati, a bank I believe, that was hit by one and exploded. He said this was not only happening here, but throughout the U.S. and he mentioned seeing some big buildings in New York explode. As this was happening, dad attached a scapular on our door. Not wanting to damage the door with a nail, he used tape to fasten it. Some bad people came to our door, but couldn't get in as long as the scapular hung there, so they pulled on it trying to remove it. However, Our Lady put her hand on the tape, and she held it fast, and so they were unsuccessful. Our son then said that he saw our family members in other parts of the country, who had returned to the practice of their faith, and were being protected in similar ways. In one family he saw a Rosary protecting them, in another a statue of St. Michael. Finally, he said the one place that was not being hit by meteorites was Florida. There was a priest down there who was protecting this state."

Metaphors? Is "purgatory descending" (as one seer put it)?

Be careful these days with prophecy. At the same time, don't despise prophetic utterance; simply discern (after fasting). Fast and pray before going to healers. In prayer, the Holy Spirit (wordlessly) speaks to all of us. Pray for sinners. Pray for government leaders. Pray to be ready for whatever may come in the world and and in the economy and in your own household, for life is always a test.

Noted another e-mailer: "I live in Naples, Florida, and I awoke last night and turned on the light and I had a sudden and profound intuition to look at the time -- before I could the the lights went completely out, the fans went dead, the entire apartment went quiet. And I exclaimed loudly to check the time.

"My mom woke and looked at the Blackberry -- it was three a.m. -- and everything was silent; we checked the street lights outside; they were dark; very eerie feeling.

"We then got through to the electric company with the Blackberry and at that juncture they said it was a power line -- and at least 1,500 residences were without power -- and that they would fix as quickly as possible. The power did come back on around 3:40 A.M. 

"It was simply a strong feeling that something poignant was going on -- and as I relaxed into sleep mode, the message 'preparation' kept floating through my mind's eye, and it still is." 

[resources: Tower of Light and The Final Hour]

[see also: Vatican to update guidelines]

[Tampa retreat with Michael Brown: afterlife, prophecy, family healing, preparing for times]

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