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NEED FOR REVIVAL INDICATED BY ATTACKS ON CHAPELS AND STRANGE MANIFESTATIONS
Last week we were speaking with a reputed seer from South Phoenix who was one of the more reliable in that upsurge of alleged apparitions in America in the 1980s.
The visionary no longer receives regular apparitions of Mary, but she was reminiscing about those days and one of the things about which she reminisced was the time she woke up in the middle if the night and heard someone wailing mysteriously.
At first she thought it was her husband -- who often prayed in the wee hours. But eventually she discovered that it was the Blessed Mother, weeping over the Church -- specifically those who guided it -- and informing the reputed seer that there was a great crisis in the priesthood. A big one. A severe one. She wept bitterly.
That was in the late 1980s -- years before the sexual-abuse scandal exploded -- and a terrific crisis was indicated.
A terrific crisis came. A terrific crisis remains. During an apparition attended by more than a dozen priests in the 1990s, the same seer heard Mary stress that priests were her special sons, and that they must realize such and remain true to their call no matter what is going on around them. Most recently, a priest known for his traditionalist bent was arrested for abuse in Upstate New York.
The seer's hunch is that the crisis has reached its peak and now will begin to wane. The purification reached its climax. There are still shocks. There are still arrests. And the Church still needs to complete the cleansing by purging not just abusers but any actively homosexual priests. It needs to tackle the seminaries.
But the crisis may be lessening, affording us the opportunity to tackle other crises as attacks against Catholicism only increase, she says.
The hour grows late. The purification moves elsewhere. The challenges are fundamental -- and can not be cured by nuanced steps.
The Church must rush back to the miraculous example of Jesus.
Most pressing: a return to old-fashion Catholic spirituality. We have often indicated that one of the challenges is the lack of active prayer in the Church and how dry theology has choked it.
That would empty the pews, many warned, and such seemed borne out this week with release of a new Pew Survey showing -- for the first time -- that those calling themselves "evangelical" now outnumber those who remain Catholic: 26 to 24 percent of the public in the United States.
Catholicism remains the single largest denomination (evangelicals can be classed as various kinds of Protestants), but more disturbing is that, as one report noted, "the Roman Catholic Church has lost more members than any faith tradition because of affiliation swapping. While nearly one in three Americans were raised Catholic, fewer than one in four say they're Catholic today. That means roughly ten percent of all Americans are ex-Catholics."
Hispanic immigrants have kept overall numbers up (the Catholic share of the population remains stable) -- and today half of all Catholics under the age of thirty are Hispanic. Worldwide, the number of priests, and congregants, led by Third-World nations, has slightly increased. But we see the point:
In modern, non-devotional nations, Catholics have left their faith in droves, often moving to evangelical, Pentecostal, and non-denominational charismatic-type setting where theology is set aside in favor of more direct evocation of spiritual gifts.
There are plenty of questions -- and potential problems, to be sure -- with such branches of Christianity. A shame it is that anyone strays from the Mother Church. Nothing can replace the sacraments.
But it is time to dramatically alter the way seminarians are trained; to teach them how to mystically discern; to instruct them on how to pray the deeper devotions, how to bless a home, how to bless salt, how to lay on hands; and to teach them especially how to conduct spiritual deliverance.
If we do, the numbers will reverse and we will begin to win against the outside force that is coming against us. A demonic force. It is a time, in our Church, when the weapons of spiritual warfare are essential. We have been attacked from within and are also being attacked from without.
For that, we need only know that there are direct satanic attacks even on our chapels.
We carried an article two weeks ago about vandalism at a church when one woman was adoring, and in southern Minnesota a series of vandalisms (most recently at a Rochester cemetery) caused the Winona diocese to observe that it was more than just a prank or teenage foolishness. "Bishop Bernard Harrington says it seems to show 'hostility, perhaps even a satanic attitude toward' Roman Catholics," said the Pioneer Press about a ten-year string of destruction at Catholic cemeteries. Last month, a statue of the Virgin Mary was defaced.
Meanwhile, in Emmitsburg, Maryland, police charged two men with defacing religious property at a well-known Catholic shrine at Mount St. Mary's University after allegedly catching them trying to set fire to papers on the altar early Sunday morning.
Satanic assaults indeed -- attacks that can not be fought with the intellect but must be tackled spiritually.
It is time, Mother Church, to fight back with the weapons Jesus gave. Only then will there be a springtime.
"You have several articles about church vandalism recently," wrote viewer Terry Fuentes. "I wanted to tell you about Our Lady Queen of Peace in New Port Richey, Florida. Last Sunday my husband and I went to the nine o'clock Mass. We park on the north side of the building and enter through the north double door. The natural brown wooden doors are carved with lovely holy images. The holy mother on the left side and Cross on the right.
"Well we were shocked to see a cream colored paint heavily splattered all over Our Lady's image, and splattered over to the right door. There was sand all over the sidewalk and on the carpet. We were met at the door by a lady with oxygen tubes in her nose and pushing an oxygen tank. When she saw the shock on our faces, she said, 'Pray for those misguided souls.'
"I was disgusted by the thought that there are such sick hateful people out there that would do such a thing. But almost as though [the pastor] heard my thoughts, he began to tell the congregation that it wasn't the first time that vandalism occurred, but a pretty frequent thing at Our Lady Queen of Peace, that it's taken care of and he doesn't get upset with it."
It often shows, he added, that the attacks can come when we are doing what is right -- what is powerful against the enemy. But it also shows a vulnerability. The worst reaction: to fear. The best reaction: to fast. The bottom line: we must face it. We must counterattack. This occurs best in deep spirituality. We must purge pride in our Church and other forms of abuse.
The enemy is afoot. We have the means to defeat him. Others hear things like strange howlings.
It is a time of manifestations.
There is heightened activity.
And our Church must respond in a heightened spiritual way.
"The last ten years have been filled with experiences of a paranormal nature," another wrote to us. "I moved to Jackson, New Jersey. The new house my husband and I bought had disturbances 'not of this world' at times.
"The first night we moved in, we heard a crash downstairs that sounded like crashing metal and pounding in the laundry room. Toys would go off, voices were heard by my husband, dark shadows were scene. One of my son's at the time was three. I was changing his diaper and pointed behind me and asked who is that behind my back. I froze with fear, and said, 'I don't know,' finished, and immediately went downstairs. All the smoke alarms went off after the batteries were changed. No wind was in the room. My husband smelled sulfur in the upstairs room one time."
Do we get the point?
Stuff our Church must address.
"For about a year I have been experiencing paranormal moving of objects and unexplained sounds, in my home, in hotel rooms, and in other places," writes another. "There have been almost two dozen incidents to date, and no two have been exactly alike. Several times other people have experienced these at the same time. Of course these incidents are unsettling, to say the least, and I have been struggling to understand why they are happening."
We all struggle. We all need to discern. And we all need the Church to help us.
If she does, many will stay. If not, the attacks will increase. Last Christmas feces were even smeared on a life-sized image of the Lord in one church in Winsted, Connecticut, while other incidents of harassment seem to haunt chapels. In other cases, the harassment is subtle, a simple lack of respect.
"One day while kneeling in prayer before Mass the youth in the loft were playing take me out to the ball game and the Adams Family theme song as if no one would noticed," wrote Karen Rodriguez, getting back to other issues in the Church. "There is so much abuse. On Ash Wednesday a young girl was walking up the aisle to receive her ashes while text-messaging someone on her phone."
"I was adoring Our Eucharistic Jesus at the Blessed Marie Rivier Adoration Chapel at Ste. Marie's Parish in Manchester, New Hampshire," writes Paul Anthony Melanson. "While in contemplative prayer, I noticed (there is a window just to the right of the table with monstrance) a man standing at the far end of the parking lot. Although he was quite a distance from the Chapel, I could actually feel his stare. But I re-focused on my prayer and made a conscious decision to ignore this distraction.
"After approximately fifteen minutes or so, this man walked across the parking lot, entered the Adoration Chapel, and walked right across where I was kneeling (on a Prie-Dieu) while staring at me in an odd fashion. He sat on the other side of the chapel, to my left, and just stared. I remained focused on Jesus in the Eucharist and refused to be distracted. After staring at me for roughly ten minutes, this man stood up and walked out while never taking his eyes off me. As he left the chapel, I heard him mutter, 'I guess not.' I took this to mean that he (or some other entity) was acknowledging his failure to distract me from prayer.
"The following week, a woman clad in a mini skirt entered the Chapel while I was deep in prayer -- again on the Prie-Dieu. She too stared at me the entire time she was in chapel. At one point she sat provocatively on two chairs with her legs stretched out in an immodest fashion in my direction. Although I didn't look in her direction, I could see this briefly out of the corner of my eye. Seeing that I remained intent on Jesus in the Eucharist, this woman stood up and prostrated herself on the floor in front of the monstrance exposing her under garments as she did so. I maintained custody of my eyes by closing them.
"The Evil One hates our adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist. To this end, he sends many distractions. By the grace of God, we must continue to banish these distractions and turn our hearts and minds back to the Lord."
[see also: Cops blame 'ghosts']
[resources: spiritual warfare prayers]