(Our resident archivist, Beckita, suggested that because of the influx of new readers, I ought to repeat this piece that originally ran last January. I agree…and will try to make it a habit to repeat foundational pieces on days when I do not have new material or a guest column. I have a couple of pieces by Dan Lynch I will get up shortly, too.
I had a good chat in Laguna Hills in Orange County on Wednesday evening. Tomorrow, I will be at the Pauline Bookstore in Culver City, part of the greater Los Angeles area, for a chat. I was there last year and took delight in meeting the dear nuns who run it. I look forward to seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones. Last year, the actor Peter MacNicol, secured the venue for us. I hadn’t mentioned him publicly, for fear it would be a negative in Hollywood. He was with us at a dinner last Sunday and told me there is a solid core of seriously Catholic actors in Hollywood – and spoke proudly of how Catholic actors have played important roles in getting some Parishes started and off the ground. When I get pictures in from various coordinators, I will put some up from my visits to San Francisco and Los Angeles. The details on the Pauline Sisters Bookstore visit tomorrow are:
Los Angeles, CA (Free Event)
Saturday, July 23, 2016
1:30 pm: Rosary
2:00 pm: Public Talk
Pauline Books and Media 3908 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230
Contact Josephine at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Charlie Johnston
Authentic prophecy is always an invitation from God. It is an invitation to remember His goodness in times past, to see His mercies in times present, to come back to Him with our whole heart, and to call others to do the same. It is guidance on how to act in particular times and circumstances to accomplish this. It is assurance that He is there, that He loves us, that He wants us back, and that He will walk with us if we heed Him. It is an invitation first to the one called to prophesy, and then to all who will hear. It is an invitation to come to God and participate with Him in His gathering of His children. The most important part of prophecy is its call for what we should do.
It is a great achievement of the devil that he has seduced so many into reducing prophecy to fortune-telling, a sort of mystical mystery theatre in which most act as passive spectators, choosing the character on-stage who best appeals to their interests, beliefs and vanity – then sitting back and enjoying the show. God calls you to act, to act with Him, to act selflessly to rescue His children from despair and disorder. If the emphasis of any mystic is on what will happen rather than what you are called to, it is a diversion, not prophecy. Authentic prophecy is active, requiring you to stretch out your heart and your mind to God and to stretch out your hand in solidarity with your fellows. It is not passive.
Many seem to think interpretation of prophecy is simply getting the narrative right, then charting it two-dimensionally. The foolishness of this reminds me of the ancient fable of the six blind men and the elephant. The Book of Revelation is fascinating for many reasons, not least of which that it presents the closest thing to a raw telling of what the mystic actually is shown than anything I have ever seen. Oh, there is plenty of interpretation in it to make it somewhat comprehensible to us, but St. John gives us a good look at much of the raw material he was working with. Revelation has been seriously studied by thousands of great saints and theologians – and there are almost as many variations in interpretation as there are people who have studied it seriously. There is a general consensus on some larger themes in it (though even here some things are hotly disputed) but there are huge disputes on the meaning of many of the details.
Now, as then, a glimpse into eternity does not produce a neat, little, linear narrative. If it were so, I would not have spent a lifetime being instructed. I have told you I spent nearly two decades getting much wrong when I was instructed by my angel. I think you know that, in earthly terms, I am a pretty smart fellow. If it was as simple as studying a linear narrative, I would not have needed five decades of instruction and testing. So, with a caveat that I cannot describe it with precision unless I made up a whole new vocabulary, let me tell you a little about how it actually is.
I gave you a hint of it in my piece, “Into the Whirlwind.” I described the cosmos, in part, in these words:
“Imagine that God showed Job our world, sparkling blue and green like some impossibly rare and precious gem, glittering with life and light. Then God shows Job the entire universe. Think of Job’s wonder at the billions of stars, comets, quarks and planets all pulsing and whirring, a symphony of light and rhythm…”
When you are shown, when you get a glimpse into eternity, it is like that. Trillions of parts all pulsing and whirling, traveling at different speeds and directions, often changing speeds and directions. It is like a three-year-old trying to make sense of the working of a nuclear reactor. At the most elementary level, you try to discern the convergence point of several different elements. It is a game that appeals to your vanity – kind of like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube writ large. Except it is impossible. Things change speeds and direction regularly. After a while, if you are wise, you largely drop that effort and focus on patterns that emerge. While you can’t discern all – or even many – of the details, you can see the larger trends they form.
There are several complications even in this. First, some things are symbolic and some are literal – and it can be difficult to recognize the difference. Some things can’t be changed; others are changed dramatically by our response. It is similar to a cruise liner sinking in the open ocean. Once it reaches a certain point in its distress it is certain to sink. It is almost certain that some people will die. How many will die, though, depends on the behavior of those caught in the catastrophe. If everyone is in panic and acting in an “every man for himself” way, many will die. If many are steady and resolute, they can help others do the same and many lives will be saved.
Meantime, there is a huge disconnect between how things appear here and how they appear there. We come up with clever schemes we think will solve problems – and most don’t even make a dent in the heavens. The sincere and humble prayer of a single person can change multitudes. When you get a cohort of people praying – and living the prayer of doing, of denying their own appetites and caring for those around them tenderly, it can change the trajectories of entire realms of those moving parts. If you knew the power of sincere, humble prayer and doing the little right in front of you, you would eagerly live it well. The machinations of those in power are mere sparklers in comparison to the majestic, tidal power of a single sincere and humble prayer.
Obviously, I explain this allegorically to you. I do it to give you some sense of what it is like, not what it is. Applied to current times, the Storm is something that is set, it must be fulfilled. But the intensity and duration of it can change based on our response. Some things about it have already changed. The intensity was increased by our determination to persist in rebellion; the duration of its fullness has been decreased because of the rise, often quietly, of renewed faith and fidelity among many who have already despaired of hope in human devices. There are far more troops out there ready to answer the call. Even in the midst of the Storm, we have entered into a great Christian revival. What God intends is that you live it and bring the hope that is in Him to those around you. If you do that well, it will spread like wildfire. It is not sufficient that you be right, but that you be effective, which means you must bury your ego. If you simply browbeat those around you, so they run away from the faith, you have utterly failed. If you never defend the faith when it is assaulted, you have utterly failed.
I am very careful in dealing with my critics. If they seem animated by a restless malice – or a vanity to prove themselves right – I largely ignore them. If they are serious, perhaps pointed, but showing no signs of malice or vanity, I try to answer them well – sometimes provocatively, sometimes gently. Many of my honorable critics have helped refine my thinking. But the key reason is that I am not sent primarily to say, but to do: to give heart to people, assurance that God is right at hand to them, in the midst of a great crisis in world and salvation history that they may endure until rescue. I am responsible for doing that for my critics, as well, insofar as it can be done, as for everyone else. So I largely refrain that their malice or vanity does not fossilize around them – and when they see God act, they may take firm hold of Him, whatever they think of me.
When I hear purported private revelations, there are certain things I watch for. Does it sound primarily like a running commentary on current events? While authentic prophecy does touch on some current events, its focus is always on the eternal and what our response to it should be. So if it sounds like a radio talk show, it may have value, but it is not prophecy. Does it have heavenly beings profusely condemning various people or peoples? In my entire life, I have never heard Our Lord or Our Lady speak in bitter condemnatory tones about anyone. I have only heard the angels speak with contempt for one person, one time. Often, they condemn sin, but there is a yearning sorrow, almost a lament at times, for their poor lost children The focus is always calling the children of the Kingdom back, not casting them into outer darkness.
The Rescue, late in 2017, is one of those things that is certain. I get nervous about it sometimes because I have frequently been wrong about times – but this is one of the incredibly rare occasion where I was told that, specifically, rather than the enigmatic “soon” or “now.” But I am constantly examining and re-examining those matters which are interpretation, for it pleases God to show me, too, how little I understand. Until my spinal event in 2003, I always assumed I would be in excellent, robust health throughout the Storm. It seemed a good interpretation because I could not see how anyone could do the things I was called to without such health. But it pleased God to show me that He writes straight with crooked lines – and that my robust health was not necessary to accomplish His purposes. I assumed too much. It is why I am grateful for my little disability, often calling it “God’s leash.” It reminded me that God is not at all dependent on me, but I on Him.
I constantly go back to what I call “first things,” what I was told specifically or the larger, immutable principles that have been embedded in me, to re-examine my interpretations. I have often said there will be no presidential election this year. Actually, there are some narrow circumstances in which there could be, but the results would be irrelevant. What I was told was that President Obama would not finish his term and that our next stable national leader will not come from the election process. You could have an explosion of events after an election and before an inauguration. You could have Obama declare a national emergency, cancel elections, extend his term and then depart before the extension was up. The most likely scenario is that everything will be up in the air before election, but there are narrow circumstances where that may not be.
I knew that the fullness of the Storm could have begun as early as the summer of 2012. I was grateful that it did not. But I thought, along with many of my critics, that with all that had to happen, we really did need to enter into the fullness by mid-2014. I somewhat nervously was telling the Lord that I knew He knew best, but didn’t we need to get a move on? After enough of this, He appeared to me and simply said, “When I act, it is done.” It was a reminder to me that, even with all the instruction, I was thinking of these things and time in the way men do, that He is not subject to such limitations. I have since come to see what a grace the delay is. If anti-Christian governments had wanted to assume emergency powers, the fall of 2014 was about the last time they had a reasonable chance of imposing it and making it stick for more than a few weeks. Since then, their real power has been ebbing away even as they act more arbitrarily and oppressively. Their very oppressive and harassing actions have sapped the fundamental consent of their citizens.
The key to everything in these times, after five decades of instruction, is not in the grandiose, but the simple. Acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you. That is wisdom that will last and will not fail. Live this well and you are already part of the Rescue.
I want to finish with a meditation which originally appeared as a comment here. It was written by YongDuk, the pseudonym an American Catholic Bishop uses to comment with. I often hear people explain to me the meaning of various Biblical prophecy and private revelations. They give me their complex explanations for the two-dimensional linear narrative they have come up with. I usually listen politely but know that, like early Job, they have not entered into the whirlwind and have no clue that the things they speak of are too big for us – and not subject to linear narratives. Whatever YongDuk’s intention was with this piece, I recognized it as one of the best meditations on prophecy I have read.
By Yong Duk
While quite possibly historical, the city and tower in Gen 11:3-4 are allegorical to all the false gods that we humans make for ourselves, to make a “name” for ourselves, to make ourselves–individually or collectively–a man-made habitation away from God and above other people or proper hierarchies and authorities out of ourselves: our creativity, intellect, bodies, spaces, etc.
«They said to one another, “Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.” They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar.”
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky,* and so make a name (Heb: shem) for ourselves.»
The tower in Genesis 11 comes out of the city and therefore the city might be seen as the essential component wherein mankind fosters the creation of false-god — again individually and collectively — as the Author is careful to note who first founds a city in Gen 4:17. (The clan is wherein God and the Family of God is protected.)
The theme of Cain and Abel are sown through Genesis and the Torah into the rest of Scripture. The structure of the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 echoes the list in Genesis 4 and 5.
There is a change in Genesis 11:
Initially, it is an individual and individuals acting. After the Flood, it is the collective.
Genesis 10 and 11 shows that while Shem, the firstborn son of Noah, is still alive and kicking, almost immediately (within a generation or so) the collective revolts against him and in him, as the Patriarch of the Family of God, against God by the theme of city being reintroduced. This introduction of the tower shows the degree of the pride and perhaps even intends to show the degree that the Flood failed to due its job.
Charlie many times speaks that he hopes that it is generations upon generations before the Great Apostasy happens after the Storm. While Grace (i.e. sanctifying grace wherein we become friends of God and temples of the Holy Spirit) had not yet been restored in the case of the Flood, St. Peter echoes the theme of Noah’s Ark in his epistle, so that we should see our Time of Grace (the fullness of time, Gal 4:4, when God sent for His Son, born of Mary) as parallel to the Time of the Flood and the restoration of humanity. Yet, how few of us ponder the connexions? How few of us truly sift through our egos and tear down our temples to false gods. How few of us stop aiding and abetting in other’s building bricks that lead to temples to false gods in them?
And then, with the Storm and after the Storm, who of us will to one another, “Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.” How much time, years or generations? (I mentioned weeks ago that it will be the challenging of hierarchies that will usher in the Great Apostasy. It is making for ourselves a “name” over and against the Patriarch and Patriarchs of the Family of God. This is reflected in Genesis 11 in the Schisms and Heresies throughout the Ages, the break up of families and the family.) How will we respond and will we endure and judge righteous judgment?
St. Peter says as much in 2 Peter 2:
For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned…
and if he did not spare the ancient world,
even though he preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness…
and if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah…
making them an example for the godless [people] of what is coming…
and if he rescued Lot…that righteous man…
then the Lord knows how to rescue the devout from trial…
Charlie mentions the role of the prophet in preparing in speaking of what is to come.
The object of prophecy in the Old Testament is to remind people, to cause people to remember what God has done for them.
The Prophet points to the past to prepare God’s People for the future trials and to live righteously:
“See what God has done for us? He has done it again and again and again in Christ and will do it yet again! But will you do it again?”