Tag: Prophecy

Are These Prophetic ‘End Times’?

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This article originally appeared in the National Catholic Register. You can view it here.

By Judy Roberts

Under the sobering headline, “A Time of Judgment and Purification,” Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Renewal Ministries published a decades-old message in its July newsletter that seemed eerily timely.

“My Church is desperately in need of this judgment,” the message said in part. “They have continued in an adulterous relationship with the spirit of the world. They are not only infected with sin, but they teach sin, embrace sin, dismiss sin. Their leadership has been unable to handle this.”

First spoken by the late Franciscan Father Michael Scanlan and published in the former New Covenant magazine in 1980, those words are considered a prophecy by Renewal Ministries, which grew out of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement. The prophecy of Father Scanlan, who served as president of Franciscan University of Steubenville from 1974 to 2000, is one of several received years ago by leaders of the movement that have continued to resonate as events have unfolded in the Church and the world.

But such messages are not isolated or even rare. They are among many that have been spoken or written in the modern age, leading some to believe the world is in or entering the “end times” referred to in Scripture.

Indeed, several popes, including more recently St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, have spoken compellingly along these lines, as have the visionaries of Fatima and other Marian apparition sites and scores of ordinary people who receive visions or locutions and discern them through their spiritual directors, sometimes sharing them online.

In fact, Catholics who follow such messages were less surprised than many by the recent revelations about the clergy sexual-abuse scandal and the Church’s failure to deal with it.

Mark Mallett, a Canadian author, blogger and evangelist who sees his role as one of watching, praying and listening to what God is saying to the Church, said he believes the Church was warned of the sexual-abuse crisis in general terms partly through the messages at Fatima that spoke of how Russia would spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church if Mary’s requests were not heeded.

“The ‘errors’ of Russia, which find their genesis in the Enlightenment period,” Mallett said in an email interview, “include all the ‘isms’ that infected the nations since 1917: communism, socialism, radical feminism, modernism, individualism, moral relativism. In this sense, the sexual perversion being exposed today is symptomatic of a culture that has long lost its moral boundaries, thereby putting ‘the very future of the world … at stake,’ as Pope Benedict warned the Curia in 2010.”

Still, Mallett said, when God speaks through prophecy, it is not to predict the future, but, as then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote in 2000 in his theological commentary on the Fatima message, “to explain the will of God for the present, and therefore show the right path to take for the future.”

Role of Prophecy

Father Joseph Esper, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit and author of several books dealing with prophetic messages, said in the Old Testament, God raised up prophets as a kind of back channel of communication to the people because those who made up the religious establishment of the day were not doing what they were called to do.

“When religious leaders are fulfilling their duties, prophets, especially in the form of private revelation, are not really needed,” he said. “The fact that there has been much alleged private revelation over the last few centuries indicates that, sometimes, leaders of the Church have fallen short.”

Father Esper said in such cases, God uses prophecy to warn, prepare and encourage people, but never to introduce new doctrine and only to elaborate on Church teaching or give practical information or advice on how to put that teaching into practice.

Messages can be for an entire nation, a group of people, the Church itself or individuals, he said. Often, when warning of dire things to come, prophecy is conditional, meaning that if people take the message seriously and change their ways, chastisements can be mitigated or prevented.

Peter Herbeck, vice president and director of missions for Renewal Ministries, said prophetic messages can show the broad lines of what may be coming, given Scripture says that the Lord “reveals his secret counsel to his servants the prophets.”

Continue reading here.

A Time of Decision: Ireland’s Vote and the Prophecies of Pope John Paul II

The Following article originally appeared in the Renewal Ministries’ August 2018 newsletter.


“If you would like to visit a place where the symptoms of the sickness of our time are found near their furthest limits, come to Ireland. Here you will see a civilization in freefall, seeking with every breath to deny the existence of a higher authority, a people that has now sentenced itself not to look upon the cross of Christ, lest it be haunted by his rage and sorrow.” 1

These words, from Irish commentator John Waters, are in response to the people of Ireland’s choice to deny the unborn the right to life. Ireland is the first nation in history to enshrine the law through a majority vote of its people; it wasn’t imposed upon them by cultural elites or the courts.

The vote, as Waters indicates, is a manifestation of a deeper reality. This is Ireland’s desire “to deny the existence of a higher authority.” It is the “sickness of our time.” In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “God is disappearing from the human horizon.”2

For now, Ireland has made its decision to say no to Christ. Like many, I was shocked and sickened as I watched the crowds dance with glee, asserting their new-found freedom. What they were celebrating, whether they grasped it fully or not, was the euphoria of fallen human nature and its constant desire to “suppress the truth” about God. St. Paul tells us that it is through the “ungodliness and wickedness of men” that human beings refuse to honor God as God and to give Him thanks (Rom 1:18, 20).

A friend recently reminded me of how, during St. John Paul II’s historic visit to Ireland in 1979, he framed in stark prophetic terms the spiritual battle that country was facing. St. John Paul II made it clear that Ireland was at a point of decision about whether or not to follow Christ. He knew he was sent by Christ to warn Ireland and to help them see and understand that they were facing a great temptation, and that, if they fell to this temptation, it would have grave consequences for the whole Church.

“Lay people today are called to a strong Christian commitment: to permeate society with the leaven of the Gospel, for Ireland is at a point of decision in her history . . . Ireland must choose. You the present generation of Irish people must decide; your choice must be clear and your decision firm. Let the voice of your forefathers, who suffered so much to maintain their faith in Christ and thus preserve Ireland’s soul, resound today in your ears through the voice of the pope when he repeats the words of Christ:

‘What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life?’ (Mt 16:26)

What would it profit Ireland to go the easy way of the world and suffer the loss of her own soul?

Your country seems in a sense to be living again the temptations of Christ: Ireland is being asked to prefer the ‘kingdoms of this world and their splendor’ to the Kingdom of God (Mt 4:8). Satan, the Tempter, the Adversary of Christ, will use all his might and all his deceptions to win Ireland for the way of the world. What a victory he would gain, what a blow he would inflict on the Body of Christ in the world, if he could seduce Irish men and women away from Christ. Now is the time of testing for Ireland. This generation is once more a generation of decision.
Dear sons and daughters of Ireland, pray, pray not to be led into temptation . . . pray that Ireland may not fail in the test. Pray as Jesus taught us to pray: ‘Lead us not into temptation’ . . . May Ireland never weaken in her witness, before Europe and before the whole world, to the dignity and sacredness of all human life, from conception until death.”3

Ireland has failed the test. We pray that she may repent and turn back, but for now she has fallen to the temptation of the Adversary of Christ. The majority have decided to turn a deaf ear to the warning Christ brought to them through the prophet St. John Paul II.

Of course, we know that Ireland is not alone in its acquiescence to the spirit of the age. The whole world is being drawn into this same temptation, to prefer the “kingdoms of this world and their splendor” to Christ.

The important thing for us in the Church is to heed the warnings of the prophets the Lord has sent to us. If we don’t, we too will join the throngs of the baptized who have been seduced into embracing a false freedom that calls darkness light.

What are we to do in the face of the unrelenting forces of evil that seem to have gained the upper hand in so many of the countries that once marched under the banner of Christ? Again, St. John Paul II:

“What is going to happen to the Church? . . . We must prepare ourselves to suffer great trials before long, such as will demand of us a disposition to give up even life, and a total dedication to Christ and for Christ . . . With your and my prayer it is possible to mitigate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it, because only thus can the Church be effectively renewed. How many times has the renewal of the Church sprung from blood! This time too, it will not be otherwise. We must be strong and prepared, and trust in Christ and His Mother, and be very, very assiduous in praying the Rosary.”4

There is much work for us to do, but first and foremost we must pray. What is unfolding in the world is above our paygrade. As St. John Paul II said on numerous occasions, this trial lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a profound spiritual battle. Our plans, strategies, and organizational techniques are necessary but insufficient. We don’t just need better organization, we need courage to “give up even life, and a total dedication to Christ and for Christ.”

Prayer is what will prepare us to face the trials that have already begun and that will not only continue but will intensify. Jesus will give us all we need to be faithful and fruitful in this time of trial. He will turn the devil’s strategies against us to our good and to His glory, if we stay united to Him.

While Ireland was casting its vote, my wife Debbie and I were in Krakow, Poland. We took a half a day to visit the St. John Paul II Center and the Divine Mercy Shrine. At one point during the tour, we came upon the white cassock that St. John Paul II wore the day he was shot in Vatican Square. The cassock, encased in glass, is stained in his blood. As I knelt down to pray, I was overwhelmed by the power of his life, his beautiful and profound witness to Christ. As I wept and prayed, my heart was filled with the words he spoke to all of us from the first day of his pontificate:

“Be not afraid!”


Notes:
1 John Waters, “Ireland: An Obituary,” First Things, May 28, 201, https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/05/ireland-an-obituary.

2 Benedict XVI, Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Remissino of the Excommunication of the Four Bishops Consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre, encyclical letter, Vatican website, March 10, 2009, http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/letters/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20090310_remissione-scomunica.html.

3 Pope John Paul II, “Absolute Inviolability of Human Life”, homily, Vatican website, October 1, 1979, https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/homilies/1979/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19791001_irlanda-limerick.html.

4 Pope John Paul II, interview with Catholics at Fulda, Germany, in November 1980, published in the German Magazine Stimmes des Glaubens in October 1981, cited in The Pope and the President, by Paul Kengor (Willimgton, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2017), 209.


A Time of Judgment and Purification

Fr. Michael Scanlan at a FIRE Rally.

The following prophecy, given by Fr. Michael Scanlan, was shared in a New Covenant magazine article by Kevin and Dorothy Ranaghan in May of 1980. Its words continue to ring true today. One member of our staff responded to the prophecy with these words: “This is very sobering. It is amazing how easily we get mired in the weeds and forget or fail to see where the real battle is or who the real enemy is.” As the original New Covenant article stated, “It demands serious attention, prayerful reflection, and true repentance. It is a word that should touch and change each of our lives.”

By Fr. Michael Scanlan

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. They are not only infected with sin, but they teach sin, embrace sin, dismiss sin. Their leadership has been unable to handle this. There is fragmentation, confusion, throughout the ranks. Satan goes where he will and infects whom he will. He has free access throughout my people—and I will not stand for this.

My people specially blessed in this renewal are more under the spirit of the world than they are under the Spirit of My baptism. 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.

So 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. There will be collapse, difficulties throughout the world.

But more to the issue, there will be purification and persecution among my people. You will have to stand for what you believe. You will have to choose between the world and me. 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. The fire will move among you individually, corporately, in groups, and around the world.

I will not tolerate the situation that is going on. 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, in total submission to My plan, in the total submission in this new hour. What you need to do is to drop the things that are your own, those things of the past. What you need to do is to see yourselves and those whom you have responsibility for in light of this hour of judgment and purification. You need to see them in that way and do for them what will best help them to stand strong and be among My faithful servants.

For there will be casualties. It will not be easy, but it is necessary. It is necessary that My people be, in fact, my people; that My Church be, in fact, My Church; and that My Spirit, in fact, bring forth the purity of life, the purity and fidelity to the Gospel.

Culture in Crisis

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“There is some dark chaos in the air.” These words by Rod Dreher, in the American Conservative blog on August 18, 2017, recently caught my eye. Dreher is the author of the much-talked about book, The Benedict Option. The blog post was a reflection on the polarized and deeply confused state of our politics, which for Dreher, is a reflection of the larger cultural crisis that has gripped the country. He began with a Twitter message from Dr. Robert George that expressed a feeling shared by many:

“Things are spinning out of control.”

He then quotes conservative writer Erick Erickson, who expressed a similar feeling and observation about our times:

“This (the political confusion) is not sustainable. Something is going to give. I do not know what, but something will give. The nation cannot sustain this constant state of chaos and crisis.”

Finally, Dreher expresses his own feeling that “there is some dark chaos in the air.”

The blog post reminded me of a strong prophetic sense or word I received in July of 2015, while on mission in Uganda. Our team, Lloyd and Nancy Greenhaw, Deacon Larry Oney, and I were leading a week-long conference for close to 350 priests and bishops, at the major seminary in the Archdiocese of Kampala. Toward the end of the week, during daily Mass, I began to have a very strong sense of the Lord’s presence. I felt simultaneously a deep abiding peace, a feeling of fullness, and a childlike joy filling my heart.

I went to communion and came back to my seat. When I sat down, the Lord began to speak to me, not in an audible voice, but in an unusually clear way, in my heart. I got out my journal and began to write, thinking I would write down a thought or two. I ended up writing for nearly ten minutes. As I wrote, it felt as though the Lord was right there, speaking to me, in a very direct and clear way, in a serious tone. It felt like the Captain of the Armies of Heaven was giving me instructions, personal direction for my life, correction, encouragement, and insight.

At one point, the Lord began to talk about the spiritual battle that is unfolding in the world. I want to share with you the simple, direct words I believe He was speaking to me, knowing that prophesy is imperfect and always needs to be tested. I wasn’t expecting to communicate this publicly, mainly because I wasn’t sure the Lord wanted me to. But given the crisis and chaos we’re experiencing—some of which is completely unprecedented—and with the encouragement of Ralph Martin, I pass it on for your discernment. Here’s what I wrote down in my journal that day:

“Peter, the spiritual battle is about to intensify, it will pick up pace.

Chaos, apostasy, rage, and confusion will increase.

My judgment is coming upon the world, it is my mercy.

What is coming will flatten and expose the emptiness
of all the idols that hold my people in bondage.

Warn, console, inspire, correct.

Proclaim my majesty and glory.

Have no anxiety about anything;
no one can change my purposes.

The mighty of the world are about to be brought down.”

There are a number of Bible passages that give some insight to what I believe is happening that have come back to me time and again since that day. The first is Jeremiah 2:19-21 (NRSV):

Your wickedness will punish you,
and your apostasies will convict you.
Know and see that it is evil and bitter
for you to forsake the Lord your God;
the fear of me is not in you,
says the Lord God of hosts.

We’re witnessing a profound apostasy in our time—a rapid turning away from God. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI,

“Humanity is pushing God from the human horizon.”

The sin of Romans 1, the constant temptation of the human race to “suppress the truth” about God, is at the root of our cultural chaos. The root sin is refusal to “honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Rm 1:21). It’s the sin of idolatry. I believe what Jeremiah prophesied to Israel and what St. Paul wrote to the Romans is the same pattern that we are seeing today. The turning away from God is as Jeremiah prophesied: “It is evil and bitter to forsake the Lord your God” (Jer 2:19). It is profoundly evil for the creature to reject, ignore, refuse to acknowledge, or to be indifferent to the Creator.

To turn away from God, to refuse to obey Him, is to put oneself under a curse. St. Francis of Assisi wrote a letter to the political leaders of his time, warning them of this very thing: “Do not forget the Lord on account of the cares and solicitudes of this world nor turn aside from His commandments, for all those who forget Him and decline from His commandments are cursed and they shall be forgotten by Him” (Letter to the Rulers of the People).

The curse is expressed in the empty futility of a darkened mind:

“They became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened” (Rom 1:21).

The futility of mind is everywhere today: in the denial of human nature, the rejection of God’s design, and the denial of sin; in a world in which a boy is a girl, family is whatever you want it to be, and euthanasia is an act of love; and in the belief that human beings are nothing more than biochemical algorithms, and the bright ones among us can only find hope in a vision of the future in which man’s survival depends upon his becoming a cyborg, part man, part machine. In other words, post-human.

Modern man lacks wisdom, because he no longer fears God. Things are spinning out of control, and a dark chaos is in the air, because, as St. Paul put it so bluntly, “God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper” (Rom 1:28, NABRE). In other words, the chaos is a sign of God’s judgment for the sin of idolatry.

God does this so that we will experience the futility of our ways and turn back to Him.
So how should we respond to all this?
» Pray, fast, do penance.
» Proclaim the Gospel.
» Have no anxiety about anything. (Phil 4:6)
» Be of good cheer. (Jn 16:33)
» Set your mind on things above, where Christ is.(Col 3:2)
» Do not be surprised by the fiery ordeal that may come upon you.(1 Pt 4:12)
» Be sober, be watchful, know that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world.(1 Pt 5:8-9)
» Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. (Prv 3:5)
» Set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.(1 Pt 1:13)
» Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances . . . do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything; hold fast to what is good. (1 Thes 5:17-21)
» Fear God and give him glory . . . worship him who made heaven and earth.(Rv 14:7)

This article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ November 2017 newsletter.

‘Be Still and Know He is God’

Be still
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Ralph Martin gave the following prophetic reflection in Rome for the Golden Jubilee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. His talk followed ones by Patti Mansfield and Dave Mangan.

Be still and know that He is God.

God is here. The God that Patti and Dave are speaking about is here, now.

He’s right next to you, right in you. It doesn’t matter where you are sitting. It doesn’t matter whether you’re thirsty. It doesn’t matter whether you’re hot and sweaty.

He is here.

God is here.

He wants to do in our souls, and He wants to do in our hearts, what He most loves to do.

He loves to invite us to repentance. He wants to give more of Himself to us. He is asking us to let go of things we may be holding on to that are blocking His love in our life.

We should be asking ourselves, “What should we do?” Because we’re not just celebrating something from the past. We are telling the story of One who is still present.

God is here now, wanting to do what He did in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost and the Ark and the Dove (the retreat house in Pennsylvania where the Catholic Charismatic Renewal began). Ask the same question they asked of Peter on the day of Pentecost: “What shall we do?”

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus.

We know from the Acts of the Apostles, the gift of the Holy Spirit isn’t just a one-time gift. When the apostles were facing persecution, they prayed for more of the Holy Spirit. We are facing difficulty and persecution all over the world. We need more of the Holy Spirit.

When Timothy got lukewarm in his ministry, Paul said, “Stir up the fire I gave you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Tm 1:6). That gift is meant to be stirred up. For some of us, maybe it’s gotten lukewarm. Some of us here maybe don’t even know why we’re here tonight. We heard of big things happening, and we’re curious.

What’s happening here tonight is the action of God being made visible in this most amazing gathering of people from 127 different countries, who have sacrificed to be here as witnesses, out of love for God.

Everybody here is a witness!

Everybody here is a witness to the action of God.

In a few minutes, we’re going to pray for more of the Holy Spirit. We need to prepare ourselves to do what Peter asked us to do on the day of Pentecost.

There’s lots of distraction. There’s lots of very wonderful excitement. There’s lots of wonderful celebration.

But God is here. The God that Patti and Dave were speaking about is here. Now.

He’s right next to you. He’s in you. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to convict us of ways in which we can have courage to be witnesses. It’s only because of the Holy Spirit that anybody can say that Jesus Christ is Lord. Every knee will bend and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

To anyone here who hasn’t surrendered their life to Jesus Christ, Jesus Himself is here, and He is speaking to you. He’s loving you, and He’s urging you, and He’s hungry for you to accept His love.

I’m going to close with something that Jesus said through the Holy Spirit to one of the first Christian communities: “I am the first and the last. I was dead, but now I’m alive. Behold, I am alive for ever and ever” (Rev 1: 17-18).

Jesus is alive forever and ever! He’s here tonight. He’s ready to heal. He’s ready to pour out the Holy Spirit. He’s ready to forgive sin. He’s ready to pour out His heart!

Let’s open our hearts to God!