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The recent remark by Pope Francis to a newspaper in Argentina that he stopped watching television as a vow to the Virgin Mary in 1990 brought ringing back a presumed prediction from that same precise year. It is a "word of knowledge" we have often pondered (and still, not despising prophecy, discern).

At the time -- in 1990 -- it seemed preposterous, hard to comprehend why it was even intoned, a negation of so much of modern life, it seemed; and so implausible.

Yet, still it haunts us.

"I will come not as a man of flesh, but like My mother, who already nurses Me and holds Me in her arms, as a light and power," said the alleged message, to an anonymous person, a message that has had portions materialize already.

"I will come as she has come, in light. Know this about the world: I would not appear on television, nor ride a car, nor travel in an airplane. Would I come in such a manner? Would I live in such a world?"

The possibility of Jesus returning, without use of one of the above, one day, soon or in many centuries, is hard to conceive -- but upon further thought not as hard as conceiving of Him using such means in their superficiality. It is impossible to imagine Him appearing on a flickering television, at least not in human form.

And in fact, as in this alleged prophecy, Jesus said, in Matthew 24:29-30, that "immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory."

That passage -- in linking it to "tribulation" -- also matches the 1990 message to the extent that the prophecy likewise mentioned "chastisements" before a manifestation, which would come, according to the 1990 insight, "in a series of supernatural events similar to the apparitions but much more powerful. In other words, My second coming will be different than My first, and like My first, it will be spectacular to many but also unknown initially to many, or disbelieved. Yet truly I tell you, the arrogance of the world will have been broken, and so many more than normal will believe."

 "I have not watched TV since 1990," the Pope told La Voz del Pueblo, the newspaper in Argentina. "It's a promise that I made the Virgin of Carmen on the night of 15 July 1990. I told myself: 'It's not for me.'" He spends just ten minutes a day reading newspapers and also does not surf the internet, though this was not a vow.

For us to contemplate endlessly is how Jesus communicated across the world and across time without electronic means, just by love and wisdom and goodness, which heal; by sacrifice; by simple living words; by Power. We progress best in the silence of prayer. We progress best in helping others. We advance when there is no distraction.

Meanwhile, a part of a famous message from the partially Church-approved revelations in Akita, Japan, has a phrase that has gone by almost unnoted and also links to Matthew as well as other supposed locutions. Given in 1973, it seemed a forerunner of "secrets" from apparitions that claim there will be a "permanent sign" left in the middle of coming events. (This is all detailed in Tower of Light by Michael H. Brown.)

Said the Blessed Mother at Akita:

"If men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead.

"The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son."

Might such a "sign" come after a manifestation of the Lord (and tribulations)? Is it independent? Or might it someday be part of His manifestation, when it comes, as it must, for Matthew is true.

The 1990 prophecy foresaw the breaking down of society into a peasant lifestyle, one that, implicitly, would be without television (and for that matter cell phones and computers). The more one ponders it, the more impossible it is to envision Him on television, in any way, or on Facebook.

Was the Pope "receiving" something similar, when he made his vow, in 1990? And what might the "sign" be that was mentioned to the nun Sister Agnes Sasagawa? Is it in secrets elsewhere?

[Footnote: "I will come in towering light," said the anonymous message," said 1990. "My mother held me in her arms at Medjugorje, as an infant. I will come as she has come, in light. Know this about the world: I would not appear on television, nor ride a car, nor travel in an airplane. Would I come in such a manner? Would I live in such a world? You think of the changes in very simple ways, without realizing the fundamental mistakes of mankind. The very artifice of your societies is false and against the accordance of God's Will. This artifice shall not last. Your very conceptions of happiness and comforts are a great evil and falsity. They will not stand."]

[resources: Tower of Light and On the Brink]

[See also: Michael Brown retreat, Raleigh, North Carolina area, June 20: prophecy, spiritual warfare ]

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