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We are about a third of the way down to go in the economy, and then will come the natural events, including a great medical emergency.

That's one word. Call it a "projection." Call it too speculation. Prompts in the Spirit. Do we disregard such?

Look at a few headlines from just Monday:

Global Stock Rout... 
Dow's Lowest Close Since April 1997... 
BANK OF AMERICA CEO says taking $20B was 'mistake'...
PUMP: AIG Gets More Aid After Record Loss...
Ukraine risks unrest as ills worsen; Cash withdraw not available at banks...
REUTERS: Bailouts may CAUSE a recession...

Stocks will bounce up and down. For a real view of our times, behind the headlines, there is 2 Timothy and that incredible passage in the third chapter:

"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it."

A better description of modern Western man could not possibly be penned.

It is called "Difficult Times Will Come," and we are in "difficult" times. They will become more difficult. The landscape will change. The changes come from God and are good. We are called to simplify, which is a grace. It is the desert. There, we pray and fast, which keep us from the temptations of the devil. The "end times" or the end of an era? Either one fits the passage.

Lovers of self. Lovers of money. Greed. Pride. Is there not an epidemic of it?

Now, stock managers seek jobs as janitors.

At a famous alleged apparition site of Mary, the messages have grown increasingly admonishing. On Monday: "I am here among you. I am looking into your wounded and restless hearts. You have become lost, my children. Your wounds from sin are becoming greater and greater and are distancing you all the more from the real truth. You are seeking hope and consolation in the wrong places, while I am offering to you sincere devotion which is nurtured by love, sacrifice and truth." It and Timothy say the same thing.

As for the Church, where the purification began: how much of it (meditate on these words) "holds the form of religion while denying the power of it"?

When we are reading Timothy,  we are turning a key into the lock of prophecy.

Note how the Lord is cleansing and beginning to break down and even erase institutions. The question: how much do these institutions violate His plan? Government. Education. Real estate. The world of finances. Automobile corporations are in trouble. So are sports leagues. Banks and insurance companies are not solvent. Television networks -- the old Big Three -- fear extinction. So do newspapers, which long have been a bastion of secular humanism. The purification will move through the legal field next, and higher education.

"Avoid such men as these," the passage further says (2:5-8). "For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Evil rises. At the Denver airport is a large statue of a horse that gives passersby the feeling of the nefarious. Near Detroit, a billboard for a casino is so sinister that local politicians want it removed -- showing a dark backdrop with evil eyes. Elsewhere is an upside building shaped like a pyramid that's equally unsettling in how it visually translates itself in public.

No matter what rises around us, with God there is no fear. In times of simplicity, joy rises. Your refuge is the Bible. Immerse yourself in it this Lent, and nothing around you will disturb you.

With prayer comes vision. With fasting we distance ourselves from the evil. Our prayers are super-charged. With Scripture, they are "atomic" power with God. We allow Him to work miracles in our lives -- real miracles. Believe it.

"Thus says the Lord: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55: 10-11).

[resources: Tower of Light and The End of the Present World]

[Detroit retreat and Tampa retreat with Michael Brown: healing Mass, preparing for times]

[see too: Watch faith cause miracles, Reassessing gadgets, Time to use the dreaded 'D-word'?, Hard times bolster ranks of monks, Working professionals head to food bank, and Might there be civil war?]

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