By Charlie Johnston
I noted in my guidelines for coordinators that you should not put pressure on either a Priest or a Bishop concerning a visit by me. As I noted, my preference is not to get them caught up on having to make some decision concerning me, but to help build them up as they proclaim the faith.
In some cases, priests have been among my coordinating committee in a region. In some, high diocesan officials have been part of the committee, sometimes openly, sometimes discreetly. After talking with Mary, my personal assistant, it seems clear to me that unless a priest is actually on your original coordinating committee, you should not look to have a presentation done at a Church. Our poor parish priests are besieged. My presentation is a bit out of the ordinary – and hard to explain. Many priests simply do not want something that is outside of the normal mainstream. That is not necessarily laziness, just prudence given the hectic demands on their time and the number of peculiar requests popping up. Those priests who have been following me for a while know that I am entirely orthodox, so it is easier for them. But the odds of you getting a Church venue for an event if the priest is not already a fan of the website is pretty slim – and we have had a few coordinators scrambling for a venue after a Priest changed his mind.
I don’t care if I speak at a VFW, Knights of Columbus Hall or whatever. It is the message that is important. If you look at the videos here, particularly the Birmingham Video, you will see that I am pretty straight-up orthodox and committed to the Barque of Peter. Except for official chancery inquiries and bona fide reports, I am going to put no one in contact with my director priests. They have work to do unrelated to this – and the demands of this work is mushrooming. The only thing I will send out is a simple statement from my Parish that I am a Catholic in good standing. There is a multitude of material here on the website showing other venues I have been at and the people and clerics I have met with there. Even if a priest has been following the website, I do not want to make the presentation from a Church if it would create a distraction from the solid work he is doing.
So save yourself some last-minute scrambling. If you have a priest on your committee who already enjoys the site and wants to offer his Parish Hall or Church to host, go ahead. If not, find another venue from the start and you won’t have to worry about the rug being pulled out from under you.
Though I was right in the midst of it this morning, packing in South San Francisco to depart for Sacramento, I did not even know there had been an earthquake until I heard about it on the news later. I thought it must have just missed me, but the reported area was right where I was. Strange, I have now been through three or four earthquakes in my lifetime, but I never noticed a one of them – and only heard later that it happened where I was. Either I am extraordinarily insensitive to such things or have some great shock absorbers.
Mark Mallett has a great piece today on Protestant prophecy. As you know, I have said I was told that all faithful Christians and Jews are to be treated as full and equal partners in the work before us and that God, Himself, will draw unity as a fruit of the Storm. I am troubled, though, that much modern Protestant prophecy focuses on judgment without rescue. I think Mark is right that it is because many have abandoned Our Lady. I don’t know how this came about. Martin Luther had a healthy veneration for Our Lady – as did even John Calvin.
When I made my presentation at the Cathedral of the Assumption in San Francisco on the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary, I prayed that I might be inspired to effectively bring Protestants back to the love and tenderness of Our Mother. They don’t have to be Catholic to love Holy Mary – just ask Martin Luther or John Calvin. But any who reject Mary dogmatically make themselves spiritual orphans, I think.
I ask my Protestant friends who do not honor Mary and are willing, to undertake a private discernment. Tell the Lord you only want to do what pleases Him, that you are quietly going to say a Rosary for a few weeks – a set time. Ask Him to show you whether veneration of His Holy Mother pleases Him or not. Then go where He leads you after you are done. It is important to do it for a set time, so as not to be pushed away by either old enmity or the dark one.
In any case, I figure Mark’s column is so timely I reprint it in full below.
—with Mark Mallett—
THERE are many sincere and genuine “prophets” in the Protestant churches today. But not surprisingly, there are holes and gaps in some of their “prophetic words” at this hour, precisely because there are holes and gaps in their theological premises. Such a statement is not intended to be inflammatory or triumphalistic, as though “we Catholics” have the corner on God, so to speak. No, the fact is, many Protestant (Evangelical) Christians today have a greater love and devotion to God’s Word than many Catholics, and have cultivated a great zeal, prayer life, faith, and openness to the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit. And thus, Cardinal Ratzinger makes an important qualification of contemporary Protestantism:
Heresy, for Scripture and the early Church, includes the idea of a personal decision against the unity of the Church, and heresy’s characteristic is pertinacia, the obstinacy of him who persists in his own private way. This, however, cannot be regarded as an appropriate description of the spiritual situation of the Protestant Christian. In the course of a now centuries-old history, Protestantism has made an important contribution to the realization of Christian faith, fulfilling a positive function in the development of the Christian message and, above all, often giving rise to a sincere and profound faith in the individual non-Catholic Christian, whose separation from the Catholic affirmation has nothing to do with the pertinacia characteristic of heresy… The conclusion is inescapable, then: Protestantism today is something different from heresy in the traditional sense, a phenomenon whose true theological place has not yet been determined. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood, pp. 87-88
Perhaps it would serve the body of Christ better to do away with the self-imposed categories of “Protestant prophecy” vs “Catholic prophecy.” For an authentic prophetic word from the Holy Spirit is neither “Catholic” nor “Protestant”, but simply a word to all God’s children. That said, we cannot as easily do away with the real theological divisions that persist that at times do great harm to both private and Public Revelation, either casting God’s Word into a false interpretation or leaving it greatly impoverished. A few examples come to mind, such as those “prophecies” that depict the Catholic Church as the whore of Babylon, the Pope as a “false prophet,” and Mary as a pagan goddess. These are no little distortions, which in fact, have led many souls to even abandon their Catholic faith for a more subjective (and thus precarious) religious experience.
Furthermore, these distortions have, in many instances, left out the most important aspects of the Great Storm that is upon us: that is, the triumph that is coming. Indeed, some of the most authentic voices in the Evangelical realm almost entirely focus on the coming “judgment” of America and the world. But there is so much more, so much more! But you won’t hear about it in Evangelical circles precisely because the triumph that is coming revolves around the “woman clothed in the sun”, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
HEAD AND BODY
From the beginning, in Genesis, we read how Satan will do battle with this “woman.” And the serpent will be defeated through her “offspring.”
I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel. (Gen 3:15)
It is impossible to separate the mother from the offspring—the child’s victory is also its mother’s. This is realized for Mary at the foot of the Cross when her Son, whom she carried into the world through her fiat, defeats the powers of darkness:
…despoiling the principalities and the powers, he made a public spectacle of them, leading them away in triumph by it. (Col 2:15)
And yet, Jesus made it eminently clear that His followers, His body, would likewise share in the despoiling of principalities and powers:
Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. (Luke 10:19)
How can we not see this as the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 in which the Woman’s offspring is prophesied to “strike at [Satan’s] head”? Yet, one may ask how it is possible that Christians today are this woman’s “offspring” also? But are we not Christ’s “brother” or “sister”? If so, do we not, then, have a common mother? If He is the “head” and we are His “body”, did Mary give birth only to a head or to a whole body? Let Jesus Himself answer the question:
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)
Saint John Paul II notes the significance of the title “Woman” with which Jesus addresses Mary—it is a deliberate echo of the “woman” of Genesis—she who was called Eve…
…because she was the mother of all the living. (Gen 3:20)
The words uttered by Jesus from the Cross signify that the motherhood of her who bore Christ finds a “new” continuation in the Church and through the Church, symbolized and represented by John. In this way, she who as the one “full of grace” was brought into the mystery of Christ in order to be his Mother and thus the Holy Mother of God, through the Church remains in that mystery as “the woman” spoken of by the Book of Genesis (3:15) at the beginning and by the Apocalypse (12:1) at the end of the history of salvation. —JOHN PAUL II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 24
Indeed, in the passage of Revelation 12 describing the “woman clothed in the sun”, we read:
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth… Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. (Rev 12:2, 4-5)
Who is this child? Jesus, of course. But then Jesus has this to say:
To the victor, who keeps to my ways until the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod… (Rev 2:26-27)
The “child” whom this Woman bears, then, is both Christ the head and His body.
A WOMAN STILL IN LABOR
How does Mary “give birth” to us? It goes without saying that her motherhood to us is spiritual in nature. Even Martin Luther perceived this:
Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees… If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother. —Martin Luther, Christmas Sermon, 1529.
The Church was conceived, so to speak, beneath the Cross. There, a profound symbolism takes place that mirrors the marital act of consummation. For Mary, by perfect obedience, “opens” her heart completely to the will of God. And Jesus, by his perfect obedience, “opens” His heart for the salvation of humanity, which is the will of the Father. Blood and water gushes forth as though “inseminating” the Heart of Mary. The Two Hearts are one, and in this profound union in the Divine Will, the Church is conceived: “Woman, behold your son.” It is then, at Pentecost—after the labor of waiting and prayer—that the Church is born in the presence of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit:
And so, in the redemptive economy of grace, brought about through the action of the Holy Spirit, there is a unique correspondence between the moment of the Incarnation of the Word and the moment of the birth of the Church. The person who links these two moments is Mary: Mary at Nazareth and Mary in the Upper Room at Jerusalem. In both cases her discreet yet essential presence indicates the path of “birth from the Holy Spirit.” Thus she who is present in the mystery of Christ as Mother becomes—by the will of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit—present in the mystery of the Church. In the Church too she continues to be a maternal presence, as is shown by the words spoken from the Cross: “Woman, behold your son!”; “Behold, your mother.” —SAINT JOHN PAUL II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 24
Really, Pentecost is a continuation of the Annunciation when Mary was first overshadowed by the Holy Spirit in order to conceive and give birth to a Son. Likewise, what began at Pentecost continues today as more souls are “born again” of Spirit and water—the waters of Baptism that flowed from the Heart of Christ through the Heart of Mary “full of grace” so that she would continue to participate in the birth of the People of God. The genesis of the Incarnation continues as the means by which the Body of Christ is born:
That is the way Jesus is always conceived. That is the way He is reproduced in souls. He is always the fruit of heaven and earth. Two artisans must concur in the work that is at once God’s masterpiece and humanity’s supreme product: the Holy Spirit and the most holy Virgin Mary… for they are the only ones who can reproduce Christ. —Archbishop Luis M. Martinez, The Sanctifier, p. 6
The implications of this profound presence of Mary—by God’s design and free will—places this Woman alongside her Son at the center of salvation history. That is to say, that God not only willed to enter into time and history through a woman, but intends to complete Redemption in the same manner.
On this universal level, if victory comes it will be brought by Mary. Christ will conquer through her because He wants the Church’s victories now and in the future to be linked to her… —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p. 221
Thus is exposed the “gap” in Protestant prophecy, and that is that this Woman has a role in giving birth to the entire People of God in order to further the reign of God on earth, the reign of the Divine Will “on earth as it is in heaven” before the end of human history. cf. The Coming New and Divine Holiness And this is essentially what was described in Genesis 3:15: that the Woman’s offspring will crush the serpent’s head—Satan, the “incarnation” of disobedience. This is precisely what St. John foresaw in the last age of the world:
Then I saw an angel come down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a heavy chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan, and tied it up for a thousand years and threw it into the abyss, which he locked over it and sealed, so that it could no longer lead the nations astray until the thousand years are completed. After this, it is to be released for a short time. Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Rev 20:1-4)
Thus, the key to understanding the “end times” lies precisely in understanding the role of Mary, who is a prototype and mirror of the Church.
Knowledge of the true Catholic doctrine regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary will always be a key to the exact understanding of the mystery of Christ and of the Church. —POPE PAUL VI, Discourse of 21 November 1964: AAS 56 (1964) 1015
The Blessed Mother becomes for us not only a sign and real hope of what we are to become, but a mirror of what we already are:
At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church: “the Church indeed. . . by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 507
Thus, the coming triumph of Mary is at once the triumph of the Church. cf. The Triumph of Mary, Triumph of the Church Lose this key, and you lose the fullness of the prophetic message that God wants His children to hear today—both Protestants and Catholics.