Take courage; I have conquered the world!’ (Jn 16:33)
It takes a lot of courage today to go against the flow, against the nice sounding slogans and rhetoric from the very powerful psychological bombardment of the mass media and from the educational institutions (including seminaries), as well as well planned diversion tactics. But without the daily Rosary, without Sunday Mass and monthly confession, without Eucharistic adoration, today it is almost impossible to not slide into the great apostasy of relativism. Saint Paul tells us that before the second coming of Jesus Christ, “that day will not come, unless the rebellion (apostasy) comes first” (2Thess 2:3). The virtue of perseverance, which is part of the virtue of fortitude, is fundamental. Many Catholics pray only when they feel like it, when there is a personal motive, when there is something in it for them, but few pray gratuitously to console the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for so many souls who cannot pull themselves out of the habit of mortal sin without the prayers and sacrifices of others, as Our Lady of Fatima asked us to do with much insistence!
As you know, I am a member of the Marian Movement of Priests. During the International Spiritual Exercises, at Collevalenza – Sanctuary of Merciful Love (Madre Speranza), June 24-30, 2012, Father Francis Geremia C.S. offered to over 200 priests and to over 10 bishops of the movement these words in a meditation, with the title of the meditation, “The Age of Confusion”:
(The dates after the citations are when Our Lady gave the message to Don Stefano Gobbi.)
THE AGE OF CONFUSION
On July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart was reaching the end of her round-the-world fight. She had already flown 19,000 miles in her twin engine Lockheed Electra airplane. She was crossing the South Pacific on the final stage of her journey before landing in California. However there was to be one last stop for refueling at Howland Island. It was a tiny speck of an island in the sea. Amelia had it recorded on her charts, but, unfortunately, she could not find it, as she flew back and forth searching for it. At 8:44 a.m. she radioed a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and said, "We must he above you, but we cannot see you." These were her last words before the plane was lost in the ocean. What happened? One researcher claimed that Amelia could not find Howland Island because the navigational charts at that time showed the island in the wrong location. She was following the wrong co-ordinates. So tragic! - and all because of incorrect numbers on a chart.
The point of the story is that, for Amelia. confusion and error meant death. What about us on our long journey of life? We too arc searching. What exactly are the co-ordinates of truth? What are the co-ordinates of Heaven? Today these co-ordinates have been tampered with. They are difficult to discern. As a result, many are off-course and in great danger.
The influence of deceit
The Evil One has obscured the co-ordinates of truth. And when the truth is obscured, disaster follows. "How, Satan, my adversary from the beginning, is succeeding today in deceiving and seducing you!... He causes you... to make shipwreck of your faith and leads you, all unaware, into error. (August 22 1976)
“Because of the spread of these errors, many are moving away today from the true faith, bringing to fulfillment the prophesy which was given to you by me at Fatima: ‘The times will come when many will lose the true faith.’ (June 13, 1989)
The real power and deadliness of deception lies in this reality - that very often, sin is preceded by deception. If we were to look back to the Book of Genesis, one might ask, what was it that preceded the fall?
Temptation? Yes, but even more so, it was deception. After eating the forbidden fruit, did not Eve say to God, "The serpent tricked me"? This was the first assault on truth, when the Serpent deceived Eve, telling her, "You will not die!"
This is the reason why the Evil One is, first and foremost, the Ancient Liar. He seeks, above everytlng else, to deceive, to falsify the truth, to hide and cover over the light with his murky darkness, because it is the light that defeats him. Thus, Satan always wishes to extinguish the light. "The darkness spreads and the smoke of Satan seeks to cover everything." (March 10, 1977)
Satan reigns in the dark
One night, in the old Basilica of Assisi, St. Joseph of Copertino was praying before the tomb of St. Francis. Suddenly he heard the door open violently and he saw a man enter. The man walked so noisily that his feet seemed to be encased in iron and chains. Joseph watched him closely. He noticed that, as the man approached, the torch lamps went out, one by one, as he passed by them, until finally all of them were extinguished, and the intruder stood at his side in utter darkness.
Thereupon, the devil, for it was he, furiously attacked Joseph, threw him to the floor and attempted to strangle him. Joseph however, called out to St. Francis, and saw him come forth from his tomb. St. Francis, however, did not take hold of the devil. Instead he went and relit all the lamps, one by one, with a small candle. And at the gleam of these lights, the wicked fiend suddenly vanished. It was no secret to St. Francis, that it is the light that defeats him. (from St. Joseph of Copertino, by Fr. Angelo Pastrovicchi, p. 81-82)
"The seductions of the Evil One have become so insidious and dangerous that they are succeeding in deceiving almost anyone”. (August 7, 1976)
In our inclination to be deceived, we bear sonic resemblance to the King and the townspeople in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, "The Emperor's New Suit". When the two swindler weavers came to town, they deluded everyone into marveling at the magnificent new clothes of the Emperor, made from the finest, most exquisite loom-woven material. It was told that this material possessed the wonderful quality of being invisible to anyone who was unpardonably stupid. So, of course, everyone admired the exceedingly beautiful clothes, which were, in fact. invisible, and which, in fact, did not exist at all!
Satan the great swindler
So too, Satan, the great swindler, has deluded the people by artfully inventing the exceedingly beautiful mirage of a "heaven without God", which in fact, does not exist at all, but is, in fact, a grand illusion. Our Lady tells us:
"This world is constantly drawing further and further from God... thus does it fall into the darkness of the denial of God, and into the deceitful mirage of being able to do without Him." (November 20, 1976)
"Paradise, that is, the real one, is not found on this earth" (August 15, 1976)
"Creation without the Creator fades into nothingness." (From Vatican II: The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World).
We have fallen for the haughty lying promise of the cunning Tempter that once rang out in the desert, "I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms, for it has been committed to me and I give it to anyone 1 choose. Worship me, then, and it shall all be yours" (Luke 4: 6-7).
How many said yes to this deception
The mirage! How enticing it is. Our Blessed Mother said: "He has made you slaves of pleasure" (October 13, 1987). How many there are who have chosen an illusory happiness on the other side of God, east of Eden. How many have said ''yes" to this mirage.
"Satan has deceived this entire poor humanity, bringing it so far away from God and building for it idols of his own perversion: pleasure, money, pride, egoism, amusement and impurity". (December 8, 1993)
“Shield yourselves from that surge of words and images, which sweeps everything before it and contaminates it. It is in this way that my Adversary succeeds in leading you astray.” (March 25, 1980)
The vision of man has been so distorted by the Evil One that he can no longer distinguish the genuine from the imaginary. So he chases after these mirages in vain. "All is vanity and a chase after wind". (Ecclesiastes). Pursue them as he may, they continually elude him. He does not seem to know that they are not really what they appear to be, that they are only mirages. He chases after them, only to discover that they are very ephemeral, fleeting, transitory, evasive, ghostly and unsatisfying. And so he ends up being disillusioned, puzzled, and saddened because his heart is never really fulfilled. Yet he stubbornly persists in refusing to admit that there is no heaven to he found in these alluring mirages. How true, Our Lady's words, "They become intoxicated with emptiness " (December 31, 1984), infatuated with nothingness, enchanted by the mist.
It is as though mankind has been hypnotized. Has not Satan cast his spell over so many, drawing them into a deep trance? This trance consists in having lost consciousness of the reality of God.
A person in a trance is unaware of reality. He is lost in a dream-world, a make-believe world. He is like a sleepwalker. His eyes are open, but lie is asleep, asleep to God, asleep to elernily, asleep to the approaching judgment, asleep to the existence of Hell.
Sister Faustina, in her diary, describes her descent into the realms of Hell. She was surprised to discover that most of the souls in Hell did not believe in Hell when they lived on this earth. (Diary, no. 741)
The mission that our Mother has entrusted to us.
(From the letter of Fr. Gobbi of 2006)
The task that the Blessed Mother entrusts to us priests and faithful of the Marian Movement of priests, consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, is that of being the Apostles of the new evangelization. We must proclaim with new strength, with new courage. And with a renewed and absolute fidelity, the message that Jesus has entrusted to his Church. For this reason, we must be fully conscious of the obstacles that today oppose themselves to the announcement of the Gospel. These are: the relativism in Dogma; the naturalism in Sacred Scripture; the permissiveness in Morality; the lack of discipline in the Liturgy; the disobedience to the Magisterium of the Pope; the neglect towards the Eucharist; and religious globalism.
A) the relativism in dogma
We are living through a profound crisis of faith that leads to an ever greater diffusion ol'the apostasy.
Pope Paul VI said. "there is a great uneasiness, at this time, in the world and in the Church, and that which is in question is the faith." (Pope Paul VI)
And Cardinal Ratzinger: "Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and "swept along by every wind of teaching, "looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today’s standards. We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one’s own desires. " (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, April 18, 2005: Homily at Conclave’s Opening Mass)
As a result of this relativism that today dominates also in theology, there is spread the tendency to not accept the definitive character of the truth of the faith. Thus, a few of these [truths] come to he denied, and others are completely ignored.
“...You must announce to all, to the very ends of the earth, the Gospel of Jesus, in these days of great apostasy. In the great darkness which has descended upon the world, spread the light of Christ and of his divine truth." (December 8, 1994)
Let us preach all the truths of the Catholic faith, especially those which today are no longer preached. Let us speak again of death, of the judgment of God, of hell, of purgatory, of heaven, of the Cross that saves us, of sin that separates us from God, of the obligation to live our baptism by following the way that Jesus has traced out for us in his Gospel.
"Spread my light, by preaching the Gospel of Jesus with force and fidelity. His divine word must be proclaimed by you with the same clarity and simplicity with which Jesus has announced it to you.” (November 15, 1995)
B) The naturalism in sacred scripture
A quotation from our book: "Jesus is the Truth because it is He -the living Word- who is the font and seal of all divine revelation. [Yet some] work to obscure his divine word, by means of natural and rational interpretations and, in the attempt to make it more understandable and acceptable, empty it of all its supernatural content. Thus errors are spread in every part of the Catholic Church itself." (June 13, 1989)
Above all, we must defend the historicity of the Gospel and believe in the truth of the Word and of the miracles perfomed by Jesus. On March 25, 1982, Our Blessed Mother said:
“Often, a purely human interpretation is given to it [the Gospel of Jesus], an interpretation which tends to exclude any supernatural intervention whatsoever. How many of its events are thus explained as legends or literary forms! Never before has the great mystery of God been given such a banal and paltry interpretation. As a result of this, the faith of many has become extinguished, and grave errors are spreading more and more throughout the Church. You will remain in the true faith only if you will give your full assent to all that is said in the Godpel of Jesus. Announce it to the letter; live it to the letter. Be living gospels; and then, the plan of the Father will be accomplished, anc the fire of the love of the Holy Spirit will purify this world…”
C) The permissiveness in morality
Because of secularism that characterizes the culture of our epoch, today there is a general tendency to justify sin, to consider it not as an evil, but as something valuable and good. To the concept of it being a transgression of the Law God, there is substituted that of a legitimate satisfaction of the need for one's own liberty. We must form the faithful to comprehend sin as a moral evil that consists in a violation of the Law of God and the rejection of his Fatherly love. Grave or mortal sin deprives us ol'sanctifying Grace, separates us front the communion of life with God and, if this separation lasts until the moment of death, it leads us to hell. It is today urgent to preach the necessity of individual sacramental Confession for those who find themselves in the state of mortal sin.
Against the custom of receiving Eucharistic Conmnution even in the state of mortal sin, we must recall the faithful to the obligation of sacramental confession before they come up to receive Communion. (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 305). And here Fr. Gobbi insists: I invite the members of the Marian Movement of Priests to frequent confession that must, above all, characterize the life of our Priests, rendering them always available to the faith who wish to have recourse to the Sacrament of Reccntciliation.
D) The lack of discipline in the liturgy
On Feb. 2nd 1979, the Blessed Mother said: "It is lack of discipline to disregard with ease the norms which the Church has laid down for the regulation of liturgical and ecclesiasticl life. Today each one tends to direct himself according to his own tastes or free choice, and with what scandalous facility are violated the norms of the Church…” (February 2, 1979)
Therefore. I invite the priests of the M.M.P. to be conformed in everything with regard to that which is ordered in the document “Redemptionis Sacramentum” ("On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist", March 25, 2004). Above all, I ask that you not participate in Concelebrations without wearing the liturgical vestments, and that you not follow arbitrary Eucharistic rites and prayers.
In obedience to what is requested by the Church, I invite all priests of the M.M.P. to wear always the ecclesiastical garb: clergyman's or tailored suits for diocesan priests, and the proper habit for the religious.
We must be recognizable as priests of the Marian Movement of Priests by the way we are dressed.
E) The disobedience to the magisterium of the Pope
“My motherly Heart is wounded to see how the silence and neglect of my children often envelop the words and actions of the Holy Father, whilce he is increasingly struck and impeded by his adversaries… his ver ministry is not sufficiently supported and furthered by the whole Church whom Jesus has wanted to be united about the successor of Peter.” (February 11, 1979)
“You priests, whom I am now gathering into my Movement to check this advance of Satan, you must, with the Pope, form a strong barrier. You must propagate his word; you must defend him, because he will have to carry the cross in the midst of the greatest storm in history.” (August 28, 1973)
“Unite yourself, through love and prayer, with all the priests of my Movement, whom I myself am bringing to an ever greater love for the Pope and for the Church united with him. You must support him with prayer, with you love and with your fidelity. You must follow him, carrying out to perfection whatever he determines for the good of the Church. In this, be a good example to all.” (October 17, 1978)
F) The neglect towards the Eucharist (we are still quoting Fr. Gobbi)
Unfortunately, the Year of the Eucharist did not bring to the Church a new blossoming of love, of adoration and of reparation to the Eucharistic Jesus. This, therefore, is the task that the Blessed Mother now entrusts to the Marian Movement of Priests, because the Eucharistic Jesus alone must he the heart and the center of our new evangelization.
On August 21, 1987, the Blessed Mother said: "I ask that there be once again a return to the practice of making everywhere hours of adoration before Jesus, exposed in the Most Holy Sacrament desire that there be un increase in the homage of love towards the Eucharist and that this become manifest also through evident but most expressive signs of your piety. Surround the Eucharistic Jesus with flowers and with lights; encircle Him with delicate attention; draw close to Him with profound acts of genuflection and of adoration.” (August 21, 1987)
G) Religious sincretism
In the face of the subtle and dangerous snare of a religious globalism which tends to make all religions equal, in these times the Church must proclaim to all the world, with the courage and the strength of her witness, to the point ot'shedding blood, that which St. Peter announced before the Sanhedrin: “For of all the names in the uorid given to men, this is the only one [Jesus Christ] by which we can he saved. " (cf. Acts 4:12)
He alone is our Redeemer. He alone is our Savior. Jesus Christ is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, the luminous Morning Star, who leads us to live the new day of his glorious return.
With the greatest love and the most complete fidelity, let us all follow Pope Benedict XVI who was given to the Church of' these times, not only by the Holy Spirit but also through the suffering and the prayer of our most beloved John Paul II, who today is following and blessing us from Heaven.
He [Pope Benedict XVI] who has seen tie Church "like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side... '' (Station 9 of the Way of the Cross, Good Friday 2005) has been placed at the helm so that, in the tempestuous seas of these times, he can guide Her [the Church] with firmness to the secure port of the encounter with Jesus, Her Founder and Lord.
He walks and walks, but he knows not where. He walks endlessly, in every direction. but with no destination, because he is going nowhere. His soul is in a kind of prison, the prison of the trance. Satan has imprisoned his spirit like a bird in a cage. Our Blessed Mother says: "Why are so many of you again sleeping today?” (March 7, 1976)
"Even those who should he a light for others have been deceived and seduced by Satan and are now nothing more than shadows walking in the darkness." (July 24, 1974)
The “mad search for pleasure” (June 11, 1994), has become so obsessive and utterly consuming, that it is necessarily accompanied by a lapse of memory about the existence of God. Materialism leads to atheism. It is a form of atheism - the "atheism of amnesia". of the forgetfulness of God. "Men have forgotten God" (October 29, 1974), Mary said.
And what is the consequence of this sleepy unconsciousness to God? This is the consequence, as the Gospel tells us: "Blessed are those whom the master finds awake when he returns" (Luke 12: 37), and one might add, "and cursed are those whom the master finds asleep"! Is not this sleepwalker's trance to be identified precisely with the "drowsiness" of the "sleeping bridesmaids" of the Gospel, who were too late, who found themselves locked out of the wedding hall, only to hear, "Amen I say to you, I do not know you." (Mt. 25:12)?
Then, in the parable of the "narrow door", the sleepy latecomers experience a similar fate when they knock on the door, hearing those frightful words, "I do not know where you come from. Go away from me, all you evildoers!" (Luke 13:27)
And with regard to those sleeping priests, who have sold out to the world, Our Lady says of them, "They have become walking corpses, whitewrashed tombs." (March 10, 1977)
Age of confusion
The world has witnessed the "Age of Reason", and the "Age of Enlightenment". And now it has arrived at - the "Age of Confusion".
It is because of this pervasive deception, falsehood and illusion that our modern era can be described as the "Age of Confusion". It possesses a darkness which is deeper than that of the "Dark Ages" because the light of truth has been lost sight of, and there is no deeper darkness than the loss of truth.
Our Blessed Mother says: "How many there are who are lost each day, swept along by this widespread and dangerous confusion.” (June 30, 1982)
"Those who only yesterday were good and generous souls, swept away by the general confusion, become timorous. insecure and as though paralyzed." (December 28, 1973)
One of the effects of this confusion is futility, Confusion leads to an uncertainty about everything, in particular, about the meaning and purpose of life. Where the faith is lost sight of in the fog of confusion, hope dissipates into hopelessness. And so, for many, life can then seem useless, leading nowhere, and of questionable value, futile.
John Bunyan's famous Puritan book, "Pilgrim's Progress", written in 1678, tells the story of Christian's journey to the Celestial City. As the good-willed Christian made his way along the road, he encountered numerous dangers and ordeals. One day he found himself unavoidably having to pass through the wicked city of Vanity Fair. It was not long before his presence in the town market square caused an uproar. This resulted in his being put in irons and chains and locked in a cage!
The charge? - his ways and beliefs were seen as contrary to those of the townspeople of Vanity Fair. Therefore, indictments were brought against him for "speaking things which ought not to he spoke", and for the "disloyal notions" of his "principles of faith", which had caused such "commotions and divisions" in the city.
Accordingly, he was condemned for treason, and incriminated as an "enemy and disturber", a "lunatic and madman"!
On our earthly sojourn to the Celestial city, we too find ourselves having entered the unholy precincts of Vanity Fair. Our Lady tells us:
“These times of yours are wicked times, because the hearts of men have become wicked, closed, cold, hard.” (October 13, 1992)
“My Adversary has succeeded in transforming the world into the city of Babylon, perverse and sinful.” (October 13, 1987)
Father Francis Geremia, C.S.
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An Experience of Life:
I always thought it would be a great value that people live together and that human diversity might be a source of great humanity for the world. This was the strong feeling that I was carrying in my heart, but I could not succeed in living it concretely in my city of Paris.
Thank God I met a Christian community that proposed to me to live the Gospel. I proposed to live that extraordinary dream that was confusedly in my heart and to live it in an ordinary life. No need to go halfway around the world. The poor were there at my door, at the gates of Paris.
What a discovery! Elderly people living alone at home waiting for a visit, homeless people in the center of Paris next to the cathedral of Notre -Dame who just need love, recognition, embodied in the encounter on the street where they live. Children and young people in the suburbs, lost at the foot of the towers, who found hope through schools of peace in which they learn to live together in peace and solidarity.
I've learned to live concretely the love for others, especially for the poor, as if they were my family, through common prayer, the daily encounter with the Word of God and authentic and true friendship.
What a joy to be able to live this reality, to discover that it is possible to live together humanly and spiritually in the great secularized Paris. Prayer, the poor, peace: behold what changes the world. Yes, the world can change! You can live the extraordinariness of the Gospel in the ordinariness of Life.
Father Joseph Dwight