I had a fabulous time visiting with my son and granddaughter the last few days. Thanks to some friends who gave us the keys to their wonderful mountain cabin. Our little girl was tickled by the fox that came visiting the cabin and hung around. She is at that toddler stage where she walks a little like E.T., so on hikes she rode in a pack on her Dad’s back. We got supplies; crib, car seat, stroller, extra warm clothes, blankets, from some friends who have seven kids. While visiting them, she just jumped right in
with the seven kids, having a ball.
Though it did not hurt our visit, a deep tragedy struck while she was here. On Friday, her other grandfather died suddenly and unexpectedly. He was a good man and an anchor of stability for that side of the family. I hate to think of her wondering in her little way why that good man is not there anymore when she gets back.
I have been hearing from more than a few people on the edge of despair these last few weeks. The routine beheadings and crucifixions of children, the terrible turmoil gathering steam in my home country of America, and grave sorrows within individual families are taking their toll as it becomes more visible and obvious. I tell you again now that sorrows must come. The Storm comes for all. It is good that many people are working on refuges to be a profound sign of hope as things grow starker. But some have convinced themselves these will be oases that will protect the righteous from the fury of the Storm while everyone else gets blasted. We all get blasted. The difference is that those of real faith will help each other, entirely abandoning the cult of self-aggrandizement. We will become the signs of hope to each other or there will be no hope. When we humbly accept that, taking refuge first in the mantle of Our Lady in the light of her Holy Son, then we will have angels standing watch over us. But those angels will not act as our entertainment directors while we sit out the Storm. We must be the signs of hope to those around us or we risk having the Lord tell us He never knew us.
That means not giving way to despair as the skies darken and the Storm rises. Despair is a deception of the devil – and he is hoping to make it a most productive one, especially as many overconfident Christians discover they are not exempt from its fury. Sorrows must come. They will and they already are. But you cannot be a sign of hope if you have given yourself over to despair. It might be wise to watch the Italian film, “Life is Beautiful,” from 1998. It is about a man and his son who are sent to a Nazi death camp. The father makes the last few months of their lives a joy for his son despite the darkness closing in on them each day. Rescue will come for all of us eventually, but for some it will come in the form of death. It pleases the Lord to pluck those who have borne as much of the Storm as they can to heaven while they are in what would otherwise be their last state of grace. Grieve when it comes. Remember, when His friend died, Jesus – who was Master of life and death – wept. But then wash your face and be a sign of hope to those around you who remain here. Endure with fortitude, spreading joy, and all around you can be saved.
I have no doubt that these are the times of Joel when many are being visited and given prompts by the Holy Spirit. Prophecy is poured out like wine now upon those who trust in the Master. Even so, I am a little concerned about how many people are writing in comments matter-of-factly about what the Lord has told them.
It is a fearsome thing to be in the hands of the Lord. To attribute directly to Him what is merely what you already believe or even your deep and hopeful insight, is a risky business, indeed. Through the ages, that technique has been used by many to lend authority to their own particular prejudices. It does not go unnoticed by the Almighty. You should not despise prophecy. Yet you must approach it knowing that the satan knows what you already believe and eagerly tries to confirm that dramatically to lure you into attributing to God what merely came from you – or worse, from him.
So what to do? Fortunately, God is not at all interested in copyrights. In fact, He wants you to take responsibility. If He gives you an authentic prompting, He is not at all offended if you state it in your own name, taking full responsibility for it. Truth will stand the test of examination and wisdom is its own justification. In fact, God values your humility in not trying to imbue authentic wisdom with His authority. In my own case, over 90% of what I am directed I take full responsibility for myself. That way, if I tell you something and you reject me, you do not directly reject God and if I am deceived on a matter, I do not blame God for the deception. God is pleased by both the obedience and the humility.
There are times when God directs me to speak directly, either delivering a private or public message in His name. Nothing so discomfits me. Frequently, it is something I emphatically don’t want to say at all. In fact, I once complained to my angel that almost everyone I hear saying what God told them are only saying what they already wanted to in the first place. How come I get told to say so much stuff that makes my stomach rumble and they get it so easy? My angel’s response was instructive. “He didn’t send them. He does send you.” It often takes me a week or more to work up to saying, for attribution, what I am ordered to say in His name. First, I go to great pains to discern the validity of it, then I have to overcome my dread. It used to take me several days once I accepted it as authentic to say it: now I try to deliver such messages as quickly as I have accepted their authenticity, for they sit in my stomach like a rock until I am unburdened of them. Fortunately, they are fairly rare. I much prefer when God just gives me prompts on which information is currently useful for people to know and that I may profitably tell them – and leaves it to me to do my job right. I much prefer for Him to correct me when I have failed than to risk saying, in His name, what He does not command.
Often times, God speaks in more than a little whisper to console you or lift you up. If you can console another with it, well and good. But beware: if you start to deliver messages publicly, you will be held to a strict accounting for them. And if you speak what God did not direct you or give you leave to publicly say, even if it is good and true, you will be called to account. It is a fearsome thing.
I tell you this so you will know that I am being very cautious about clearing comments that matter-of-factly declare content to have come directly from God. It is good that God should share so many intimacies with so many in these dark times. But He expects that we will not be as promiscuous as a teenage boy in sharing those intimacies.
I am glad that so many are starting to think seriously about how to actively defend those around them, people given into their care. At the same time, this will not become a website devoted to technical details of defense. It is important, but outside my area of competence. When I have a guest article put together on weapons safety and use, it will not be a detailed course. Rather, it will help you find the resources you need to become competent yourself, while warning you away from those things that are dominated by overheated paranoia.
Remember, you are not called to do everything. The key is to find what you are called to as this Storm gathers and live it well. Then support others who are living their authentic calling. We are the people of God, living in community with each other. As St. Paul so profoundly put it, the body has many parts, each with its own purpose. So, too, do we who form the Body of Christ. If you are a hand, do not squander energy trying to be a foot. Live your calling well – and all will be well.
Never forget that our primary weapon is our God…use the Rosary. If you have not taken recourse to it yet, abandon yourself to God through the Prayer of Miraculous Trust. It was given specifically for these times.
A catechist for young students asked me if I knew of a good resource on why satan is the ruler of this world that would be age-appropriate. I told him I did not, but would write a brief piece that might be helpful. This is it.
First, the Bible says so bluntly on several occasions. In John 12:31, Jesus says about the satan, “…now shall the ruler of this world be cast out.”
In John 17:14-16, Jesus elaborates on why the world hates Him and those who follow Him. It is because He is “…not of this world.”
In II Corinthians 4:4, speaking of satan, St Paul says, “…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…”
Perhaps even more powerful than the overt references is the scene from Matthew 4:1-11, in which the satan tempts Christ.
In the first temptation, the satan says that if Jesus is the Son of God, He should prove it by turning stones in front of Him into bread to relieve His hunger. Jesus refuses, noting that God is the source of life, and that man shall not live by bread alone. Note that satan does not offer to turn the stones into bread, himself, but demands that Christ do it to prove Himself.
In the second temptation, the satan tells Christ to prove Himself by jumping off a cliff, for the angels have charge over Him and will allow no harm to come to Him that would hinder His mission. Again, the satan does not offer to protect the Christ, but asks Him to reveal His power and anointing. It is a subtle demand to prove His faith, as well. How often do we take a stupid dare to prove ourselves? But Christ is not given to such silly displays. His power is for His work, and He will not be tempted by the idle curiosity of a being that just wants to aggravate Him.
The third temptation confirms the whole question. The satan takes Jesus up to a high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of this world, telling Him that if Jesus will only bow down in worship, he will give Him dominion over all these earthly kingdoms. You cannot give what you do not own, thus satan confirms that the things of this world are his. At that point, Jesus tossed the satan away – for even the ruler of this world is subject to the commands of God.
To help understand the division, it is useful to remember that everything in this world is always passing away; it is all temporary. In God’s kingdom, nothing passes away. All is eternal. Satan rules over what is dying, what is in the process of vanishing. God rules over what will last. Satan’s role is kind of like being king of the bus stop for one day. It all comes to an end when the bus arrives to take you to your destination.
It is not that the world is an illusion. Rather, the world itself, like everything in it, is dying. Jesus takes our immortal souls to Him. If we gain heaven, after all is passed away here, the Lord will re-unite our glorified bodies to our immortal souls and we will live eternally. The satan and all who followed him in this world will pass away to hell, alone, isolated, aware of God but forever separated from Him who gives life. And when this world passes away, the satan will have no kingdom at all. He will be as alone and isolated as all he deceived into following him while he had a kingdom.
People often think the things of this world are real, and so pass on love, on caring for each other to amass wealth, power and celebrity. But the most wealthy, powerful and famous of even as recently as 100 years ago are all dead – and almost all forgotten. They await judgment for permanent things. Satan knew that Jesus could make stones into bread…and water into wine. Satan dazzles people by a sort of magic, but all he can do is make bread into stones and wine into vinegar. He deceives people into embracing things that are passing away in an effort to get them to let go of the things that will last. He is ruler of this world, which is passing away. We must live in this world, but the sacrifice of Christ opened the gates to allow us to join Him in the Kingdom that will last.