Featured Image: Fr. Michael Scanlan and Ralph Martin while filming an episode of “The Choices We Face.”
The following text is taken from a reflection Ralph Martin shared on a Renewal Ministries’ YouTube Weekly Message, which can be found here.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My name is Ralph Martin. I’m the president of Renewal Ministries, and I teach at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. There has been a tremendous response to my recent video commenting on a prophecy given by Fr. Michael Scanlan, who was president of Franciscan University of Steubenville for twenty-five years and who really led it into led it into being the premier, in some ways, Catholic university in the country right now.
In less than two weeks, 154,000 people viewed it. It’s been translated into five languages so far: Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and German. It’s literally going around the world helping people to understand what they’re feeling, what they’re experiencing, what they’re seeing, understanding the response that we’re being called to make, and understanding also that the Lord has his hand on this. He foreknew this, and He’s got a plan to bring good out of it, but we’ve got to get into the relationship with Him and with each other that He’s calling us to, and that’s what I emphasized in the video. If you haven’t seen it, please go back and take a look at it. (You can find the video here.) It’s important for you to hear that.
I’ve had some questions come up from people about things I said in that video. Questions I’ve had are, “What is prophecy? What do you mean that Fr. Mike has a prophetic gift?” There are Old Testament prophets that we’re very familiar with: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the lesser prophets, whose messages have now become part of Sacred Scripture.
A lot of people don’t realize that there are also New Testament prophets. For example, in Ephesians 4, we read Paul saying that the ascended Christ, who has gone back to the Father, is now bestowing leadership gifts on the Church—apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists—not to do the whole work of the Church themselves, but to equip the saints for the work of ministry to help us, the baptized. That’s what they called Christians in the early days—the saints, the holy ones—because we’ve been made holy by the waters of baptism, and the Lord Himself is dwelling in us, and we’re one spirit and one body in Christ. We’re temples of the Holy Spirit, so there is a basic holiness that all of us have.
These leadership gifts are supposed to function in the Church in a really significant way, but we haven’t paid that much attention to some of them, particularly the apostles, the prophets. There are the official apostles, the hierarchy of the bishops, and there are the official teachers, pastors, and evangelists, which are the pastors of parishes, but one of the most neglected charisms—charismatic, ministry gifts—is that of the prophet. The main way in which Jesus actually self-identified, and the main way in which He was thought of by other people during his earthly ministry was as a prophet. I can’t go into all of this right now, but I’ve just written a fifty-page booklet called Priest as Prophet, which discusses our conformity to Jesus. (You can find the booklet here.) Relevant for all of the baptized, it’s particularly geared toward priests. The priestly role of a prophet isn’t just giving short, good, orthodox homilies. There’s something more to it. There’s fire to it. So, there are New Testament prophets.
It says in the Church at Antioch that there were prophets there. It talked about Barnabas and Paul and various others—teachers and prophets. And then there was a prophetic word that came to them when they were praying and fasting, saying to set aside Barnabas and Paul, send them on a mission. So, there were people in the New Testament in the early Church who had the prophetic gift, and the prophetic gift isn’t primarily about telling the future. It’s primarily giving insight into God’s plan and God’s Word, calling us back to what’s been revealed to us in public revelation. One of the ways we have to test prophecy like this is, is it in accord with what the revealed Word of God is as it comes to us in Scripture, Tradition, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
Fr. Mike’s prophecy that I quoted in the last video is nothing less than what Jesus asks of us all the time in the Scriptures. Jesus says, “Unless you renounce all you have, you can’t be my disciple” (Lk 14:33). He said, “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it just remains a single grain” (Jn 12:24).
Now I’m going to talk about something else that came up in a question about my last video. People said, “What do you mean by house churches?” Fr. Michael’s prophecy said we may not be able to rely on these structures like we have been. Parishes and schools that we know are closing, and who would have ever thought that our churches themselves would close for maybe three months, all over the world? And what if that comes back again—what are we going to do? I just reminded people that for the first three-hundred years of the early Church’s existence, they didn’t have church buildings. They met in homes, they met in courtyards, in bigger homes, in smaller homes, and that’s where the life of the Church was nourished, fed, taught, and that’s where the Eucharist took place too.
Also, in various times, in places like Japan and Korea, where priests were expelled and horrible persecution broke out, for two-hundred years sometimes, no priest was able to come, no Eucharist was able to be celebrated, but the lay faithful, because of their relationship with each other, because of their faithfulness to Christ, because of them holding on to what they were taught, kept the Church alive until missionaries were able to return. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but we’ve just been through maybe a little warning, that maybe it could come to that, and that we’ve got to be prepared. We’ve got to know that our relationship with the Lord doesn’t depend on a building, and that—as important as the Eucharist is—even if we’re deprived of the Eucharist, we’re not deprived of Jesus. He’s dwelling in us, and He’s coming to us in his Word.
Now I’d like to share one more thing about the first prophecy I shared with you from Fr. Mike. Remember how the questions came, “Are you willing to see your money worthless? Are you willing to see the country that you love no longer be a country? Are you willing to see your churches closed?” Want me to tell you what my answer is? No, I’m not willing. I like the financial prosperity that we have here in the United States of America. I like our churches. I love our parishes here in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I love the church buildings. I love the frequent and easy access to the Sacraments. I love that we have a stable city here. I love that when people call 911, the police show up. I love that when crime breaks out, someone’s there to protect innocent citizens and their businesses, and I don’t want to see lawlessness break out. I don’t want to see the police be afraid to answer calls because they’re not going to be supported by the political powers that be. I don’t want any of those things—I’m not willing for any of those things—just like Jesus in the Agony in the Garden, He said, “Father, if this cup that it looks like I need to drink could pass by, if there could be some other way, I’d like it.” But then He said, “Not as I will, but as You will.”
So that’s where I end up. I hope that these things don’t happen. I’m not willing for them to happen, but if they need to happen for the sake of the purification of the Church, if they need to happen for the world being given a shock and saying, ‘wake up and turn away from your idolatry, turn away from all the things you are attached to that aren’t the Lord, turn away from your unbelief,” I’m willing, because it’s about the salvation of souls. And no measure is too extreme to save one soul. No measure is too extreme for the Church to be the Church of Jesus Christ like the Lord wants it to be.
I’ve discovered another prophecy from Fr. Mike Scanlan that I think is really important that we also need to pay attention to. It’s longer, and certain parts of it are addressed to certain groups, but there’s a lot of it that’s really relevant, so I’d like to take some time right now to talk about this other prophecy by Fr. Michael.
The whole prophecy is posted on our website (here). He gave this in 1980, four years after he gave the prophecy I talked about earlier. It’s rather long; I’m not going to go through every part of it, but there are certain parts of it that are really relevant. Here’s how it goes:
“The Lord God says, ‘Hear My Word: The time that has been marked by My blessings and gifts is being replaced now by the period to be marked by my judgment and purification. What I have not accomplished by blessings and gifts, I will accomplish by judgment and purification. My people, My Church is desperately in need of this judgment. They have continued in an adulterous relationship with the spirit of the world.’”
Quite honestly, for those of us who live in developed countries, those of us who live in North America or Europe in particular, no generation in the history of the world has been so blessed with so many things like we have. We’ve had basically a time of peace since the end of World War II. We’ve had tremendous advances in medical technology. We’ve has tremendous advances in all kinds of technology. We’ve had prosperity. We’ve had peace. We’ve had stability, by and large, in our countries. We have been so blessed. We have abundant food. We’ve been blessed beyond measure.
And it’s really strange to say, but it’s really true that with the more education Catholics have had in our countries, the less they believe. The more prosperity Catholic countries like Ireland have had, the less they believe, and the less they follow Jesus. Our prosperity has been a tremendous blessing from the Lord, but many of us have responded to the prosperity by saying, “We’ve got things under control. We’ve got what we need. We don’t need God.”
And rather than thanking Him for the blessing, the time of peace, and good food, and medical technology, and all those other things—for basic stability in our countries—we’ve kind of taken them for granted. Many of us have drifted away, unfortunately, into lukewarmness and compromise with the world, just like the prophecy says here, “An adulterous relationship with the spirit of the world.”
And then it goes on to say, “Satan goes where he will and infects whom he will. He has free access throughout my people—and I will not stand for this.” I have to tell you: I’ve been aware of this for a long time. When I read Ephesians 6, and I read about the spiritual battle that we’re in, and Paul says our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities and the dark places (Eph 6:12).
Then he talks about how, in order to counter the spiritual darkness and the spiritual warfare, and the spiritual attack, we need to put on the whole armor of God: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of holiness and righteousness. Then he talks particularly about the shield of faith, which extinguishes the fiery darts of the evil one. Brothers and sisters, the evil one is firing fiery darts at every single person on the face of the earth today. And if we don’t have the shield of faith, we’re sitting ducks for deception. Satan’s going to run unrestrained over our lives, our minds, our souls, our emotions, and our actions, if we’re not firmly grounded in the shield of faith.
What’s the shield of faith? Jesus Himself—trust in Him, but also trust in a knowledge of his Word, which Jesus actually tells us to do. In Hebrews, it says Jesus is the source of salvation for those who believe Him (Heb 5:9). If we don’t know his Word, we don’t know what to do, how to act, or what to believe in. A lot of people today say they’re following Jesus, but they don’t pay attention to what Jesus is saying.
Peter Kreeft wrote a book called Jesus Shock, and it is really shocking to hear what Jesus says. In the last prophecy of Fr. Mike that I talked about, it said, “Are you willing to let go of all these things? Will you be willing to not have them?” And it sounds so radical. It’s the same thing that Jesus says in the Gospel to everyone. He says, “Unless you renounce all you have, you’re not worthy to be my disciple.”
Radical, shocking. He’s trying to shock us into reality. He’s trying to shock us into health. He’s trying to shock us into holiness, love, and eternal life. If we don’t pay attention to his Word, if we don’t listen to his Word, we’re not following the real Jesus. What prophecy does is it reminds us of the Gospel. It reminds us of the heart of Christianity. It’s always a call to repentance, to return to our first love, to return to faithfulness to the covenant. These prophecies don’t add anything else, other than to say, “Right now is a critical time, and we need to pay attention to Jesus right now, because things are hanging in the balance.”
The prophecy goes on—this is from Fr. Mike Scanlan in 1980:
“They are more determined by fear of what others will think of them—fears of failure and rejection in the world, loss of respect of neighbors and superiors and those around them—than they are determined by fear of me and fear of infidelity to my word. Therefore, your situation is very, very weak. Your power is so limited. You cannot be considered at this point in the center of the battle and the conflict that is going on.”
I have to tell you, brothers and sisters, if you don’t know that there’s a war going on, if you don’t have your spiritual armor on, probably you’ve been captured by the enemy and you may already have been enlisted in his campaign of deception, lies, deceit, and rebellion, and not even know it. It’s time to wake up and really examine our life according to the Word of God, and be delivered from the kingdom of darkness, if we’ve drifted into the kingdom of darkness, and come back into the Kingdom of his Beloved Son. It’s called repentance.
Then the prophecy goes on to say,
“This time is now come upon all of you: a time of judgment and of purification. Sin will be called sin. Satan will be unmasked. Fidelity will be held up for what it is and should be. My faithful servants will be seen and will come together. They will not be many in number. It will be a difficult and a necessary time.”
Let me talk about numbers here. God’s always worked through a small number of people who’ve awakened to his call. Remember Gideon? The Lord said, “Gideon, I want you to really defeat the enemy.” And Gideon said, “I’m the lowest family in the lowest clan of Israel.” And the Lord said, “Well, I’m calling you to do this.” (See Jgs 6:14-16.) Then Gideon got together an army, and the Lord said, “It’s too big; you’re going to think you did it—so let’s send a lot of people home, because I want you to see what I’m going to do, so that the glory goes to Me.” (See Jgs 7:2-8.)
Sometimes people like Elijah said, “I’m trying to follow your commandments. It’s so hard to call Israel back, but I’m the only voice left.” And the Lord said, “Guess what? There are actually seven-thousand people right now who, along with you, haven’t gone over to idols, haven’t bowed the knee to Baal.” (See 1 Kgs 19:14-18.)
So sometimes we can feel like it’s just a few of us, but it’s not really just a few of us. Maybe in the big picture it’s a few, but it’s more than enough for the Lord to work through. So don’t worry about numbers. Worry about being in tune with the Lord. Worry about putting on the spiritual armor.
“It will be a difficult and a necessary time. There will be collapse, difficulties throughout the world. . . . There will be purification and persecution among my people.”
And here’s a key line, “You will have to choose what word you will follow and whom you will respect.”
The prophet Elijah said one time to the Israelite people, “Stop straddling the issue. It’s time for you to decide who you are going to follow, the Lord or Baal.” (See 1 Kgs 18:21.)
The Lord is asking us the same question. Who are you going to follow? Who are you going to believe? Who are you going to respect? Is it people who are communicating the true Word of God as it comes to us and is taught to us by the Catholic Church and the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Are you going to pick and chose from what the Church teaches? Are you going to pick and choose from what Jesus says in the Scripture and only pick the parts that you like? That’s rebellion. That’s infidelity. That’s creating your own religion. That’s creating a god in your own image.
One day I was talking about some of the things that Jesus says that are challenging, and brothers and sisters, I’m challenged as much as you are. I don’t want these terrible things to happen, but if they need to happen to purify us and get us to be where we’re supposed to be, and enable more souls to be saved, I’m willing. I remember one day talking about some of the things that Jesus said about the division of the human race, between the saved and the lost, the grain and the chaff, and all of that kind of stuff, heaven and hell, and a lady came up to me afterward and she said, “My Jesus would never say that.”
It was really hard to hear that, because she was creating a Jesus in her own image. She was creating an idol. Maybe none of us create idols, maybe all of us bow down before the one true God, the one true Jesus, and repent of any picking and choosing we’ve done amongst his teachings, and embrace it. But for what we don’t understand, let’s ask God to give us understanding. What we don’t think we can live, ask God to give us the power to live it.
“You will have to choose what word you will follow and whom you will respect. And in that choice, what has not been accomplished by the time of blessing and gifts will be accomplished. What has not been accomplished in the baptism and the flooding of gifts of my Spirit will be accomplished in a baptism of fire. The fire will move among you and it will burn out what is chaff.”
This is the Gospel. This is what John the Baptist says when he introduces Jesus. Matthew 3:11-12 says, “His winnowing fork is in his hand. I am not worthy to carry his sandals.” He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and He will clean his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary. But his chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.
The fire of God’s love, the fire of his judgment, the fire of his purification—all for the good. He’s trying to draw us to Himself. But honestly, it’s tough love, and He needs to use tough love in order to get our attention, in order to save us.
“I will not tolerate the mixture and the adulterous treating of gifts and graces and blessings with infidelity, sin, and prostitution. My time is now among you. What you need to do is to come before Me in total submission to My Word. . . . (This is the hour to do it.) For there will be casualties. It will not be easy, but it is necessary.”
It’s necessary for the salvation of souls, it’s necessary for the purification of the Church. It’s necessary for us to be delivered from deception and bondage, and set into that glorious freedom of sons of God. God loves us so much, He’s speaking words like this to us. God loves us so much, He’s reminding us of what Jesus said in the Scripture and what the Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Let’s respond to it. Let’s ask God to help us.
. . . .
We’re celebrating our fortieth anniversary as Renewal Ministries this year. For forty years, we’ve been trying to communicate this message, the message of the Gospel. We have the longest-running Catholic television program right now on EWTN, thirty-five years. We’ve got two daily Catholic radio programs. We’re doing mission work in more than forty countries. We’ve published countless booklets, books, DVDs, CDs, MP3s, MP4s. We’ve really upped our YouTube Channel in the last couple of months, and the Lord is using it in major ways. We have a Facebook presence.
We’re trying to be a clear voice, a faithful voice, a voice that just mirrors what Jesus is speaking to us. Not original speakers passing on what Jesus is saying, but passing it on with the anointing of the Holy Spirit that we believe He’s offering to all of us.
During this time of economic shakeup, shut down, and all that, some of our donors haven’t been able to support us like they had. I know that many of you are facing economic uncertainty. I know many of you are supporting tremendously worthwhile ministries in your parishes, and we don’t want to take away anything from what you are doing. But if you’ve got any extra crumbs that you could pass on to us, if the Lord has blessed you with any kind of abundance right now, and you’d like to share it with us so that we can continue doing what the Lord has called us to do, I’d really appreciate it.
You can go to www.renewalministries.net/donate. Whatever you can do would help us to keep doing what we’re doing, and even do it better, and even do it more.
Thank you very much for being with us. Thank you very much for following Jesus. Thank you very much for passing on this word. Amen.