Sunday 26 August 2012

St. Hildegard's Prophecies of the Second Pentecost

St. Hildegard's Illumination for Scivias

As well as providing some further prophetic detail on the Great Apostasy foretold in Scripture (see the earlier post on this subject here), St. Hildegard of Bingen also envisioned a period of renewal after the falling away from the faith:

I saw that Trier at first was adorned among the faithful with the new fire that appeared to the disciples in tongues of fire, so that in its golden faith all its streets were spread with miracles. But now it is hedged in by unstable, squalid morals and with weariness as if it did not know God, and it has been polluted with many other evils. It has been worn out with weariness and no longer enjoys the joy and beauty of its original, honorable institutions. It has become heedless of its many sins. Therefore, fiery vengeance will come upon it from enemies, unless those sins are wiped out by penitence, as happened in the case of Jonah.

Now, the law is neglected by spiritual people, who disdain to teach and do good works. Both the teachers and the prelates are asleep: they have abandoned justice. Therefore, I heard this voice from heaven, saying: O daughter of Sion, your crown will fall from your head, your cloak of increasing riches will shrink, your numbers will be forcibly reduced, and you will be banished from one place to another. Many cities and monasteries will be wrenched away by powerful individuals, and princes will say, “Let us take away from them that iniquity which, through them, is overwhelming the whole world.” And I saw and heard that all these dangers and griefs will befall regions and monasteries because they have turned aside from obedience and other precepts of the law. And I saw that even amidst sins of this kind there are some who will cling to God and will sigh unto Him, just as in the time of Elijah...

Afterward, the justice and judgment of God will arise, and the people will know the discipline and fear of God. There will also be good and just individuals among the spiritual people, who, nevertheless, will remain few in numbers because of their humility, but who, like the hermits, will turn back to the first dawn. And they will do this out of fear for times past that, they will understand, had been pernicious to them....

Then, courageous men will arise and prophesy, and they will gather together all things old and new from the Scriptures and all that has been uttered through the Holy Spirit, and they will adorn their understanding of these things as if with a necklace set with precious jewels. Through their influence and that of other wise people, many of the laity will become virtuous and will live saintly lives.

(Epistolarium II, CCCM 91)

Yet in these days, the Emperors of the Roman office shall fall from the strength by which they once vigorously held the Roman Empire, and they shall become weak in their own glory, so that the imperial power entrusted to their hands for a time by divine judgment shall decrease and fail. For they shall be morally filthy and lukewarm and servile and repulsive, and useless in all things. Though they wish to be honored by the people, they shall not seek the people’s prosperity; and so none will be able to honor or revere them. Wherefore the kings and princes of many peoples, who were at one time subject to the Roman Empire, shall remove themselves from it and suffer no longer to be subject to it. And so the Roman imperial power shall be scattered in weakness. For each nation and every people shall establish then their own king to obey, saying that the spread of Roman imperial power had become more of a burden to them than an honor. But after the imperial scepter has been broken up in this way and is unable to be repaired, then also the mitre of the apostolic office [i.e. the papacy] shall be broken. For because neither princes nor any other men of either the spiritual or the secular order shall then find any good religion in the apostolic title, the dignity of that title shall diminish. They shall prefer other masters and archbishops under other titles and in other areas, so that after it has been diminished by the adjournment of its original dignity, the apostolic see shall in that time maintain only Rome and a few nearby places that still lie under its mitre. These things, moreover, shall come to pass in part because of invasions and warfare; and in part they shall be perfected by the common counsel and consensus of both the spiritual and the secular peoples. These shall declare that each prince ought to defend his kingdom and rule his people, and that each archbishop or other spiritual master ought to constrain those under his supervision to uprightness of discipline, lest they be afflicted thereafter by those evils they had suffered previously by the divine will... 

In those days many also shall prophesy and many more shall be wise, so that the secrets of the prophets and the mysteries of the other scriptures in their fullness shall lie open to the wise. Their sons and daughters shall prophesy, just as was foretold many ages before…. They shall also prophesy in the same spirit by which the prophets of old announced the mysteries of God, and in the likeness of the apostles’ teaching, which excelled all human understanding.

(Liber Divinorum Operum   III.10.25-26)

St. Hildegard will shortly become a doctor of the Church alongside St. John of Avila on Oct 7th, 2012, and was recently officially canonised as a Catholic saint (although Hildegard was sainted by popular acclaim - as was common during the early Middle Ages, she was never officially canonised by the Church). The work of St. Hildegard is held in the highest regard by Pope Benedict XVI, and the fact that she is being made a doctor of the Church now appears to reflect the fact that the Holy Father believes that we are currently living through the times prophesied by the Sibyl of the Rhine.
In December 2010, the Pope quoted a passage from Hildegard's letters during a rather apocalyptic- themed address, comparing it with the sex abuse scandal in the Church. In this address, the Holy Father also made some references to the reunification of the East and West, as well as alluding to the conversion of England in mentioning his visit to England and the work of Bl. John Henry Newman. It will be worth quoting this address at length below - highlighting some words of interest:

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Repeatedly during the season of Advent the Church’s liturgy prays in these or similar words. They are invocations that were probably formulated as the Roman Empire was in decline. The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Today too, we have many reasons to associate ourselves with this Advent prayer of the Church. For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function. Consequently the forces mobilized for the defence of such structures seem doomed to failure.

Excita – the prayer recalls the cry addressed to the Lord who was sleeping in the disciples’ storm-tossed boat as it was close to sinking. When his powerful word had calmed the storm, he rebuked the disciples for their little faith (cf. Mt 8:26 et par.). He wanted to say: it was your faith that was sleeping. He will say the same thing to us. Our faith too is often asleep. Let us ask him, then, to wake us from the sleep of a faith grown tired, and to restore to that faith the power to move mountains – that is, to order justly the affairs of the world.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni: amid the great tribulations to which we have been exposed during the past year, this Advent prayer has frequently been in my mind and on my lips. We had begun the Year for Priests with great joy and, thank God, we were also able to conclude it with great gratitude, despite the fact that it unfolded so differently from the way we had expected. Among us priests and among the lay faithful, especially the young, there was a renewed awareness of what a great gift the Lord has entrusted to us in the priesthood of the Catholic Church. We realized afresh how beautiful it is that human beings are fully authorized to pronounce in God’s name the word of forgiveness, and are thus able to change the world, to change life; we realized how beautiful it is that human beings may utter the words of consecration, through which the Lord draws a part of the world into himself, and so transforms it at one point in its very substance; we realized how beautiful it is to be able, with the Lord’s strength, to be close to people in their joys and sufferings, in the important moments of their lives and in their dark times; how beautiful it is to have as one’s life task not this or that, but simply human life itself – helping people to open themselves to God and to live from God. We were all the more dismayed, then, when in this year of all years and to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.

In this context, a vision of Saint Hildegard of Bingen came to my mind, a vision which describes in a shocking way what we have lived through this past year. “In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1170, I had been lying on my sick-bed for a long time when, fully conscious in body and in mind, I had a vision of a woman of such beauty that the human mind is unable to comprehend. She stretched in height from earth to heaven. Her face shone with exceeding brightness and her gaze was fixed on heaven. She was dressed in a dazzling robe of white silk and draped in a cloak, adorned with stones of great price. On her feet she wore shoes of onyx. But her face was stained with dust, her robe was ripped down the right side, her cloak had lost its sheen of beauty and her shoes had been blackened. And she herself, in a voice loud with sorrow, was calling to the heights of heaven, saying, ‘Hear, heaven, how my face is sullied; mourn, earth, that my robe is torn; tremble, abyss, because my shoes are blackened!’

And she continued: ‘I lay hidden in the heart of the Father until the Son of Man, who was conceived and born in virginity, poured out his blood. With that same blood as his dowry, he made me his betrothed.

For my Bridegroom’s wounds remain fresh and open as long as the wounds of men’s sins continue to gape. And Christ’s wounds remain open because of the sins of priests. They tear my robe, since they are violators of the Law, the Gospel and their own priesthood; they darken my cloak by neglecting, in every way, the precepts which they are meant to uphold; my shoes too are blackened, since priests do not keep to the straight paths of justice, which are hard and rugged, or set good examples to those beneath them. Nevertheless, in some of them I find the splendour of truth.’

And I heard a voice from heaven which said: ‘This image represents the Church. For this reason, O you who see all this and who listen to the word of lament, proclaim it to the priests who are destined to offer guidance and instruction to God’s people and to whom, as to the apostles, it was said: go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk 16:15)” (Letter to Werner von Kirchheim and his Priestly Community: PL 197, 269ff.).

In the vision of Saint Hildegard, the face of the Church is stained with dust, and this is how we have seen it. Her garment is torn – by the sins of priests. The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year. We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again. This is also the moment to offer heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help victims and to restore their trust in the Church, their capacity to believe her message. In my meetings with victims of this sin, I have also always found people who, with great dedication, stand alongside those who suffer and have been damaged. This is also the occasion to thank the many good priests who act as channels of the Lord’s goodness in humility and fidelity and, amid the devastations, bear witness to the unforfeited beauty of the priesthood.

We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society. The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times. From Bishops of developing countries I hear again and again how sexual tourism threatens an entire generation and damages its freedom and its human dignity. The Book of Revelation includes among the great sins of Babylon – the symbol of the world’s great irreligious cities – the fact that it trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities (cf. Rev 18:13). In this context, the problem of drugs also rears its head, and with increasing force extends its octopus tentacles around the entire world – an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it.
(See the full text here)

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel: The Visions of Fatima and the Battle of Har Megiddo

(The below post concerning the prophetic significance of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is based on more detailed material which can be found in my book Unveiling the Apocalypse: The Final Passover of the Church)

During the Miracle of the Sun, which took place at the Cova da Iria, Fatima, on 13th October, 1917, the three shepherd children saw something very different from the spectacular solar miracle witnessed by the rest of the vast crowd which had assembled there. While the spectators among the throngs saw the now famous dance of the Sun, the children had experienced a vision of the Holy Family, and Our Lady appeared to them in various forms - including that of Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. There was undoubtedly some hidden symbolism behind these visions, which may provide a key insight into exactly what was being communicated by the extraordinary occurrence of the Miracle of the Sun. The below excerpt is taken from Sr. Lucia's Fourth Memoir, detailing what the children saw while the miraculous dance of the Sun was taking place:

We reached the holmoak in the Cova da Iria. Once there, moved by an interior impulse, I asked the people to shut their umbrellas and say the Rosary. A little later, we saw the flash of light, and then Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.
"What do you want of me?"
"I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honour. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes".
"I have many things to ask you: the cure of some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things..."
"Some yes, but not others. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins."
Looking very sad, Our Lady said:
"Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended."
Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself.
Here, Your Excellency, is the reason why I cried out to the people to look at the sun. My aim was not to call attention to the sun, because I was not even aware of their presence. I was moved to do so under the guidance of an interior impulse.
After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmanent, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours. Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.

(Fatima in Lucia's Own Words, pp172-173)

To those who witnessed it, the Miracle of the Sun was an event of apocalyptic importance. Many of those present thought that the gestures made by the dancing Sun were menacing in nature, believing that its whirling motions threatened to consume the planet. The spectators quite literally thought that they were witnessing the end of the world. So is it possible that we can further establish a link between the vision of the dancing Sun at Fatima and the threat of the world being consumed in flames, by examining it light of the visions which the shepherd children were experiencing at this precise moment? Perhaps so...

In the previous post The Third Secret of Fatima and the Angel with the Flaming Sword, we discussed how the Miracle of the Sun was a symbolic representation of the threat posed by the angel with the flaming sword, which was depicted visually to the children in the Third Secret. But what connects both of these visions to the symbolic importance of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel? As we shall see, the true significance of the apparition of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel during the Miracle of the Sun is to be found in the story of the prophet Elijah's experiences on Mt. Carmel, and how this ties into the account of the Two Witnesses detailed in the Book of Revelation.

The primary historical and religious importance of Mt. Carmel is in connection to the prophet Elijah, given that this was the location of the legendary battle between the champion of Yahweh and the prophets of the Phoenician deity Baal Melqart. Indeed, this contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal appears to have been the symbolic archetype for the battle of Armageddon foretold in the Book of Revelation. The word Armageddon is derived from the Hebrew Har Megiddo - the "mountain of Megiddo". A curious aspect of this phrase is that there is no "mountain" in the immediate vicinity of Megiddo, which is in fact situated on a plain at the foot of Mt. Carmel. The actual fortress town of Megiddo was situated on a small mound (or Tel) on the plain of Megiddo, strategically located at the head of the Carmel Ridge, overlooking the Valley of Jezreel. The section of hills behind Tel Megiddo (called the Menashe mountains) are actually a lower eastern extension of Mt. Carmel.

So the most likely point of reference for the "mountain" of Megiddo, is in fact Mt. Carmel - the location of the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal:

So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal's prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.

And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.

(1 Kings 18:20-40)

At the conclusion of this religious duel, Elijah calls down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice he laid out on the altar, proving victorious over the prophets of Baal. The prophets of Baal are then slain by Elijah, and the prolonged period of drought imposed by God is ended. So the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel is the symbolic prototype for the battle of Armageddon - where the forces of evil gathered against the people of God are defeated by a stream of fire being issued from heaven. The Book of Revelation tells us that this fiery rebuke lies in store for anyone who would attempt to harm the Two Witnesses:

And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.
(Rev 11:5-6)

As I explain in more detail in the book, the Apocalypse uses the literary device of recapitulation to add further emphases to key prophetic scenes, and can be better understood when related material is viewed side-by-side, rather than read as a straightforward chronological narrative. So we can greatly benefit by re-arranging and comparing all the references to the final eschatological battle in the Book of Revelation, to give added insight into the most important prophetic themes.
Later, in Rev 20, we find that the fire which falls from heaven to consume the enemies of God described in Rev 11 above, takes place during the final eschatological battle, which is one and the same as the battle of Armageddon described in Rev 16:

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
(Rev 16:12-16)

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
(Rev 20:7-10)

The battle of Armageddon is recapitulated again in Rev 19, which like the two passages above, also contains the motif of the gathering of the nations for war:

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
(Rev 19:17-21)

So we can already see the depth of symbolism behind the appearance of the Virgin Mary during the Miracle of the Sun as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel - recalling both the greatest victory of Elijah, and the location of Har Megiddo described in Rev 16, which explains the true nature of the threat posed by the angel with the flaming sword (which in turn is to be identified with the sword that issues from the mouth of Christ in the Apocalypse). When we compare our present situation (which is undoubtedly the Great Apostasy foretold in Scripture) we can see that it has many affinities with the apostasy of the Northern Kingdom of Israel before it was destroyed by Assyria. Yet even though Elijah had managed to bring many Israelites back to the proper worship of God, it was still not enough to prevent the nation from being completely overthrown.

On a symbolic level, the drought described in 1Kings reflected the apostasy of the nation of Israel, which was only ended through the victory of Elijah. The end of the period of drought, symbolised by the small cloud coming from over the sea seen from the summit of Mt. Carmel in 1Kings 18:44, represented the efforts of Elijah, who would put in motion a series of events that would eventually re-establish the religion of Yahweh in Israel after it had reached the point of near-collapse.
Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab, had vigorously sought to promote her native religion of Phonecia - the cult of Baal Melqart. She incited King Ahab to worship this Baal, and proactively attempted to promote Baalism amongst the Israelites, which she achieved mostly through sponsoring religious syncretism. The situation in the Northern Kingdom of Israel was so desperate that Elijah lamented that he was the only person left in Israel that had not succumbed to the worship of Baal (1Kings 19:14). However his fears were allayed when God informed him that he had set aside seven thousand people in Israel who had refused to worship Baal. Elijah was then given the task of re-establishing Yahwism in the land by appointing Elisha as his successor and ensuring that Hazael was anointed as king of Syria, and that Jehu was anointed as king of Israel. Jehu would then begin a blood-purge which saw the overthrow of the Omride dynasty, and systematically cleansed the land of Baal worship.

When we juxtapose this situation with the Great Apostasy we are currently enduring, we can see a number of parallels. Just as Elijah combated the apostasy in the Israel of his own day, the Great Apostasy is foretold to be overturned at the coming of the Two Witnesses, one of whom is identified with the Elijah to come prophesied in the Book of Malachi:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
(Mal 4:5-6)

And just as the Northern Kingdom of Israel was eventually overthrown despite the best efforts of Elijah to turn the people back to the faith of their fathers, so too will the world be ultimately destroyed when "the great and awesome day of the LORD comes" - a day which the prophet Amos tells us is one of darkness, not light (Amos 5:18). Malachi had already described the Day of the Lord previously as follows:

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap..."
(Mal 3:1-2)

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch."
(Mal 4:1)

It is also interesting to note that the small cloud seen by Elijah from the top of Mt. Carmel (which symbolised the end of the apostasy) is associated with the Virgin Mary in Catholic tradition - which ties in with the promise of Our Lady at Fatima in the second part of the secret:

"In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world”.

As we noted in the earlier post The Two Witnesses, there are many parallels between the Third Secret and the ministry of the Two Witnesses described in Rev 11. The two angels in the vision of the Third Secret appear to represent the cherubim which adorned the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant.

And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.

The main biblical allusion being made here is to the blood of sacrifice being sprinkled over the two cherubim on the Mercy Seat, as is described in the Book of Leviticus:

And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. 
(Lev 16:14-16)

Importantly, the Ark of the Covenant is depicted at the end of Rev 11 after the martyrdom of the Two Witnesses, just as the two angels of the Third Secret appear after the martyrdom of the pope :

The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
(Rev 11:14-19)

So we can already see that the Third Secret seems to be largely following the structure of the narrative of the Two Witnesses described in Rev 11. And in the previous post Obama: Psalm 46 and the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, we discussed how the above passage concerning the third woe of the Apocalypse is also related to the battle of Armageddon. The key phrase "the nations raged, but your wrath came" (which takes place before the Last Judgment), refers to Psalm 46 (which speaks of mountains being moved into the sea), and also the siege of the Holy City by the forces of Gog and Magog in Rev 20, when fire comes down from heaven to consume the enemies of the Lord. Also if we study the phrase "destroying the destroyers of the earth", we find that it alludes to the judgment of Babylon by the casting down of the "destroying mountain... which destroys the whole earth" described in chapter 51 of the Book of Jeremiah. Which in turn parallels the burning mountain being thrown into the sea in Rev 8:8, and the angel casting a huge millstone into the sea in Rev 18:

 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,
 “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
  and will be found no more..."

(Rev 18:21 - see the post Mega-tsunami, for more details on this event)

Turning back to the relation between the Third Secret and Rev 11, the two angels in the children's' vision also appear to represent the Two Witnesses themselves. Martyrdom is the primary theme of this portion of the Third Secret - which of course is also the ultimate destiny of the Two Witnesses:

And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.
(Rev 11:7-8)

And when we compare the "great city", the place the "Lord was crucified" (where the Witnesses are martyred in Rev 11) with the location of the vision of the Third Secret - a city half in ruins, with a large cross at the top; we find that they both are describing the exact same place - the Heavenly Jerusalem, which represents the Church itself. The Heavenly Jerusalem is depicted as half in ruins in the Third Secret, in order to symbolise the fact that the Church is enduring the prophesied Great Apostasy in this time period. The desolation of the Heavenly Jerusalem in Rev 11 is communicated in its symbolic names of "Sodom" and "Egypt" - two places which the Bible tells us were destroyed by fire falling from heaven.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.” Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt.
(Exod 9:22-23)

Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
(Gen 19:24-25)

Here, the Book of Revelation warns us that the price of the Great Apostasy is the fate of Egypt and Sodom - fire will rain down from the sky and consume the land. But mercifully, the Two Witnesses will bring many back to the faith, before this terrible day of God's wrath.

We find some more passages in the Bible which highlight the symbolic significance of the location of Megiddo. First, another primary passage which the Apocalypse refers to by invoking the name Har Megiddo is found in chapter 12 of the Book of Zechariah. This portion of Zechariah juxtaposes the end-time defeat of the enemies of Israel gathered against Jerusalem (which is the battle of Armageddon itself) with a religious revival. Significantly, this passage is also traditionally associated with the Second Coming of Christ:

The oracle of the word of the LORD concerning Israel: Thus declares the LORD, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: “Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it. On that day, declares the LORD, I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But for the sake of the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the LORD of hosts, their God.’

 “On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves. And they shall devour to the right and to the left all the surrounding peoples, while Jerusalem shall again be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem.

 “And the LORD will give salvation to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not surpass that of Judah. On that day the LORD will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD, going before them. And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo."
(Zech 12:1-11)

This reference to wailing at Megiddo alludes to the story of the good King Josiah of Judah, who spearheaded the Deuteronomic Reformation following the discovery of the long lost Book of Deuteronomy during renovations of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. So again the theme of a religious restoration is made once again, this time ending in the death of the very person who instituted the revival - just as the Two Witnesses who will inaugurate the Second Pentecost are prophesied to die at the hands of the Beast who rises up from the Abyss.

After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to meet him. But he sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo. And the archers shot King Josiah. And the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.” So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem. And he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah; and all the singing men and singing women have spoken of Josiah in their laments to this day. They made these a rule in Israel; behold, they are written in the Laments.
(2 Chron 35:20-25)

King Josiah, who turned the people of Judah back to God before the land was finally destroyed by Babylon, appears to be the biblical prototype for the Great Monarch of Catholic prophecy - who is foretold to help restore the faith at the end-time together with the Angelic Pope, before the coming of the Antichrist. Does the example of Josiah foreshadow this future restoration? And does the description of his death in the battle of Megiddo provide an insight into the events leading to the battle of Armageddon? As Qoheleth states in the Book of Ecclesiastes:

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.

(Eccl 1:9)

Given the above combined evidence, it seems that the martyrdom of the Two Witnesses under the auspices of the Antichrist will be the final catalyst for God's judgment on the world. As Zechariah foretold, it is the two "olive trees that stand before the Lord of all the earth" (represented by Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest) who cause the "great mountain" to collapse (cf. Rev 8:8).

Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain...
(Zech 4:7-8)

It is the Two Witnesses who have the faith to "move mountains", described by Christ:

Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
(Mark 11:23)

We find the inspiration for Jesus' words here in the Book of Ezekiel, which also depicts a prophet causing the collapse of a mountain, before the narrative of the battle of Gog and Magog (which we have already equated with Armageddon):
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir, and prophesy against it, and say to it, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against you, Mount Seir, and I will stretch out my hand against you, and I will make you a desolation and a waste. I will lay your cities waste, and you shall become a desolation, and you shall know that I am the LORD. Because you cherished perpetual enmity and gave over the people of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, at the time of their final punishment, therefore, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; because you did not hate bloodshed, therefore blood shall pursue you. I will make Mount Seir a waste and a desolation, and I will cut off from it all who come and go. And I will fill its mountains with the slain. On your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines those slain with the sword shall fall. I will make you a perpetual desolation, and your cities shall not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am the LORD. 
(Ezek 35:1-10)

But on that day, the day that Gog shall come against the land of Israel, declares the Lord GOD, my wrath will be roused in my anger. For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Lord GOD. Every man's sword will be against his brother. With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur. So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.
(Ezek 38:18-23)

Turning back to the events at Fatima, we find that the appearance of the Holy Family in the first vision during the Miracle of the Sun, seems to symbolise the apocalyptic significance of the story of the Nativity, which is the primary biblical narrative alluded to in chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation. As we already argued in the post Our Lady of Light and the Apocalyptic Nativity, the true significance of the Church approved apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Zeitoun, Cairo, in 1968, lay in the fact that they appeared in a location associated with the Holy Family's Flight to Egypt, in order to escape from King Herod's slaughter of the innocents. Given that these apparitions took place in the exact same month as the first legalisation of abortion in the Western world with the implementation of the UK Abortion Act, we can thus see that these apparitions were communicating to the world the fact that it was about to engage in a modern day "slaughter of the innocents". In the book, I argue that these apparitions were a historical actualisation of the prophecy of the Woman Adorned with the Sun detailed in Rev 12. And the horror of  legalised abortion - the very pinnacle of the culture of death, is currently the ultimate threat to the Tree of Life, which is guarded by the angel with the flaming sword. The flames of this sword will finally shoot forth at the point when humanity threatens to usurp God by striving to pursue the fruit of the Tree of Life, in order to achieve artificial "eternal" life - attempting "to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 676). It should be worth citing the full quotation from the Catechism below:

Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.
The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.
(CCC 675-677)

We have already argued elsewhere how the flight of the Woman Adorned with the Sun also symbolises the Great Apostasy at the end-time - which links us back to the threat of judgment looming over the world for the mass departure from the faith. Apostasy is always met with destruction in the Bible. The dragon persecutes the Woman Adorned with the Sun, sending forth a flood which threatens to carry her away - which symbolises the apostasy. But the Woman is protected by God, and is given the two wings of the great eagle (which represent the Two Witnesses), so that she can flee to a place of safety. The earth (symbolising the people of the world) then comes to the Woman's aid, and the flood is swallowed up - which signifies the success of the ministry of the Two Witnesses. The dragon then goes off to make war on the rest of the Woman's offspring, which is a prophecy of the final persecution of Christians under the Antichrist - who puts the Two Witnesses to death.

And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
(Rev 12:13-17)

Next in the childrens' vision, we are told that St. Joseph and the Child Jesus blessed the world, making the sign of the Cross - which sounds remarkably like the promised "great sign" which is prophesied to precede the grace of the Second Pentecost. This blessing, symbolised by the gesture of benediction, encompasses the whole world, and recalls the Gospel being preached to all nations, before the end of the world:

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
(Matt 24:14)

This spectacle took place before the appearance of the next vision - which in remarkable contrast to this period of blessing, is the Virgin Mary as the Mater Dolorosa - Our Lady of Sorrows (we will discuss the prophetic significance of this particular vision, and how it is related to the Great Apostasy further in a future post). It is only after the appearance of Our Lady as the Mother of Sorrows, that the children saw the image of the Virgin change to that of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Now that we have attempted to establish the true significance of the appearance of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel at Fatima, we can see that it is ultimately connected to the "mountain of Megiddo" - the location of the final eschatological battle, and the death of King Josiah - a biblical precursor to the Two Witnesses. Given the fact that one of the central themes of the Third Secret is that of the martyrdom of a pope, and that it closely follows the imagery depicted in the chapter in the Book of Revelation concerning the Two Witnesses; this makes it all the more likely that these individuals are to be identified as the Great Monarch and Angelic Pope of Catholic prophecy. It thus seems highly likely that the vision of the pope being killed in the Third Secret, is ultimately connected to the martyrdom of the Two Witnesses in Rev 11:

And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.
(Rev 11:7-8)

The martyrdom of these two end-time prophets of God, who restore the Faith by establishing the Second Pentecost before the coming of the Antichrist, finally results in the promised retribution for anyone who would attempt to harm the Two Witnesses - fire comes down from heaven to consume their foes. This will apparently be brought about by the collapse of the "destroying mountain... which destroys the whole earth" of Jer 51:25, which is one and the same as the "great mountain, burning with fire" of Rev 8:8, which brings about the collapse of the eschatological world empire which is symbolically called "Babylon". As I argue in the book, it the total collapse of America in the wake of the mega-tsunami caused by the collapse of the volcano Cumbre Vieja in the Canary Islands, which will plunge the world into the political chaos that will allow the Antichrist to rise to world dominance. Without the equilibrium established by the "world's policeman", the world of geo-politics will become incredibly volatile. And following the sequence of events laid out in the Bible, it seems that this last great war - the battle of Armageddon, will be brought about by an invasion of Israel - which will be left without the protection of its greatest political ally, and struggling to rebuild in the wake of the eschatological earthquake that is foretold to ravage the city of Jerusalem. It is tempting to propose that this invasion will be provoked by plans for the redevelopment of the Temple Mount complex following this disaster, which would in all likelihood lie in ruins following the greatest earthquake "since man has been on the earth" (Rev 16:18). The surrounding Muslim nations would undoubtedly be furious with any state intervention by Israel on redevelopment plans for the Temple Mount area, which could quite quickly spill over into all-out conflict. But to speculate on this any further would perhaps stray too far from the biblical texts.

Whatever the case, it seems that the true significance of the appearance of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel during the Miracle of the Sun, was to confirm that the frightening motions of the Sun on October 13th, 1917, did in fact symbolise the prospect of the destruction of the earth by fire - and that this threat is specifically related to the battle of Armageddon - when the angel's flaming sword will finally fall upon the earth.

Monday 6 August 2012

BBC Horizon Mega-tsunami Documentary

For those interested in watching the full documentary, I've just came across the complete video on Youtube, which can be watched below:
To see how this event is predicted in biblical prophecy, see the earlier posts Mega-tsunami and The Casting Down of Mountains.