I monitor the news each day, checking for matters of interest. Much of it is the same as what anyone else looks for. But I also watch for things from a perspective of what I know about the battle that lies ahead, so it gives me a bit of a different vantage point. A few examples:
I have said before that the primary reason I believe Medjugorje is authentic is because my angel told me so in March of 1993, at a time when I thought it was just sort of a religious carnival. He said that it was infected with the barnacles of our time, but was nonetheless authentic. In fact, it is part of the manifestation of the single event that also encompasses Lourdes and Fatima.
Events since then have confirmed it in a striking way for me. You will remember in the mid-90s when the former Yugoslavia, where Medjugorje is located, exploded into sectarian violence. That was no surprise. It is part of the Balkans and it is right where three strikingly different cultural heritages collide. The strife there was between the Croats, who were western, or Catholic Christians, the Serbs who were Orthodox Christians and the Bosnian Muslims. (I know this will come as a bit of a surprise to my America-centric readers, but while the theological differences between Catholic and Protestant Christians are usually greater than between Catholic and Orthodox Christians, the cultural gulf is much greater between the Orthodox and Catholics. In most of the non-western world, Protestants are just considered an exotic flavor of Catholicism, or western Christianity. The structure of relations between the state and society and faith are profoundly similar among western Christians, but profoundly different from eastern – or Orthodox Christians). The Dayton Accords of 1995 ended the immediate violence in the Balkans, but few expected the truce to last. The fact is, in the absence of great-power politics, peace rarely lasts long along cultural fault lines – where dramatically different cultures are in close proximity with each other. One of the great blind spots of American diplomacy and global analysis is thinking that everyone is, at bottom, just little Americans who want the same things we in the west do. It is a sort of cultural myopia. The multiculturalists are even blinder about it than the frank imperialists. Everybody, except perhaps Americans, expected a pause, hopefully an extended one in the sectarian strife, but all expected it to flare up again by the turn of the millennium.
So why hasn’t it flared up again in some dramatic form? Frankly, I think it is because of the phenomenon of the apparitions at Medjugorje. These visitations have crossed civilizational and cultural lines. Both Catholic, or western, Christians and Orthodox, or eastern, Christians are deeply vested in the events there. Perhaps more surprisingly, Muslims, too, have been profoundly moved when they go there. Interestingly, Our Lady is making a striking number of appearances to Muslims this last decade. It is a foreshadowing of her taking up the role she took up at Tepeyac Hill 500 years ago, when she converted the Indians when the missionaries had failed. Perhaps, even more surprising, are the astonishing number of vocations that arise from pilgrimages to Medjugorje. The vocations are almost as common among the Orthodox as they are among Catholics. Muslim pilgrims embrace peace. This is happening at what should be the front line of battle in cultural conflict – a conflict that is already raging throughout the world in other places. Yet not in the very heart of the fault line between clashing civilizations. If people were not so almost universally historically unaware, they would realize this is, in itself, a miracle…nearly unprecedented that at the very epicenter of confrontation of a growing civilizational conflict, there should be so little. Why?
I think it is a foretaste of the peace God intends, a foreshadowing of a unity that retains the freedom of differing cultural identity, but the unity that rises from direct encounter with heavenly things. Certainly it could change, particularly now as the Storm continues to rise in its fury. But it is striking to me that 14 years after the outside date most serious observers gave before a new outbreak of furious violence would arise, peace still holds there. It holds there even as it collapses everywhere else. I have thought, at times, that we really are a dull-witted lot, for we have watched an astonishing miracle right before our eyes completely unawares. But it is usually the case that we don’t recognize our time of visitation until long after it has passed. I have said I don’t spend much time reading the various messages that arise from Medjugorje. I only read them if someone presents one to me. But I do watch closely the interaction of Catholic and Orthodox Christians and Muslims who journey there. I watch it for hints of how we are to knit a bleeding world together again. And I don’t need to hear a single message to see the miracle that is Medjugorje. I have not been shown that particular spot from the vantage point of eternity as I have some others, but I can tell you from my experience of others that Medjugorje shines with brilliance, clarity and great beauty into eternity. The Queen of Peace is already there and the world doesn’t recognize it.
Why is there peace in a large region where strife should be as desperate as it is in the Middle East? Because there, at its heart, is Medjugorje, where the woman cloaked with the sun is, presenting to us the Babe in swaddling clothes…and those who go feel both His and her presence. The pilgrims sense they stand on sacred ground. They are right, It is the sacred ground from which our rescue already begins to rise.
Then there is the matter of Russia and the Ukraine. I was utterly astonished at how impoverished and historically uninformed analysis of the crisis was in the days before Russia invaded Eastern Ukraine. In America, policy leaders blithely assured us that Russia was almost certain NOT to invade Ukraine. I was astounded because I knew that the chances were about 99.9% it would – and told those officials I talked with in the days preceding it so. It was irrelevant who fomented the crisis. Once the crisis arrived, there was NO chance that Russia would gamble with losing its warm-water port in Crimea. Without it, Russia becomes a second-rate power in a dangerous world. Russia is not protected by an ocean on either side of her. She cannot make serial intelligence blunders without paying an immediate and heavy price for error like America can -and routinely does.
Beyond that, though, American policy-makers seemed like chickens who had discovered the world for the first time a few days earlier, completely unaware of long-standing historical realities. Back when the Soviet Republics broke up, much of the next decade was spent speculating whether Eastern Ukraine would break off from Western Ukraine to join Russia. Eastern Ukraine is almost entirely Orthodox and identifies overwhelmingly as Russian. On the other hand, Western Ukraine is nationalistic, almost entirely Uniate (that is loyally Catholic to the Pope while practicing eastern liturgical rites.) It again, is one of those cultural fault lines, but one with profound overtones for the future. Kiev, almost smack in the center is, if not the actual birthplace of Russia, certainly its nursery.
Comparisons of Hitler’s false flag invasion of Poland, claiming he was coming to aid German nationals who were under assault, were made to Russia’s pretext for invading Eastern Ukraine. The similarity was far more superficial than most of my politically conservative colleagues understood. No Polish nationals wanted German intervention in their affairs. Many, probably a majority, of citizens of Eastern Ukraine actually consider themselves Russian nationals.
I contemplate this in the light of events I have described transpiring over the next few years. Russia is the key nation in giving the world the strength it needs to tilt the balance against the Chinese reach for hegemony. Russia has had a 1,000-year identity crisis over whether it is a western power or an independent Orthodox Eurasian power. Ukraine, though at the far southwestern edge of Russia, is nonetheless the critical natal and spiritual center of Russia. It is also almost exactly bisected by the border between Eastern and Western Christianity. And its Western Christianity is based on the Eastern liturgical rites. Thus, Western Ukraine is literally the bridge state between Western and Eastern Christianity. How can one consider Ukraine and not contemplate that that is where the unification or final division between the poles of Christianity will likely play out? And when it does, how can one not contemplate whether that is the decisive region from which Russia must finally choose what its identity is, west or east? And just a few hundred miles west of that is Medjugorje, where both lungs of Christianity breathe in harmony right now, even as chaos rises.
What does it all mean? Well, this is what is worth contemplating in our hearts. I am often struck at how bitterly and viciously Christians will argue over a jot or a tittle of private revelation while remaining astonishingly unaware of the great miracle, the stately procession of ancient prophecy unfolding right before our eyes. If you want to contemplate prophecy, both ancient and modern-day, start here. Abandon preconceptions and see things for what they are. You will be startled to discover the framework of the new era already rising before us. We are just too blinded by the dust and racket to see it for what it truly portends.