Tuesday 13 May 2014

Pope St John Paul II: The Spark from Poland

The prophecy of the "spark from Poland" which would prepare the world for the Second Coming of Christ is one of the most well known private revelations given to St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), the Apostle of Divine Mercy.

“As I was praying for Poland, I heard the words: I bear a special love for Poland, and if she will be obedient to My will, I will exalt her in might and holiness. From her will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming.” 
(The Diary of St. Faustina, 1732)

For obvious reasons, many Catholics believe that this prophecy was fulfilled by elevation of Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla to the pontificate as Pope John Paul II in 1978. Pope St. John Paul II, who was raised to the altars on Divine Mercy Sunday, 27th April 2014, alongside Pope St. John XXIII, was undoubtedly the world's greatest devotee of St. Faustina's private revelations concerning Divine Mercy.
But what is the exact meaning of the prophecy of the "spark from Poland"? And in what way could Pope St. John Paul II have prepared the world for the Second Coming of Christ?

In order to understand the meaning of St. Faustina's prophecy of the "spark from Poland", it is first necessary to reflect upon this private revelation in the context of its relationship to the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday itself. St. Faustina had been told by Christ that she was to prepare the world for His Second Coming, and that she would do so by establishing the devotion of Divine Mercy:

You will prepare the world for My final coming. (Diary 429)

Jesus had told St. Faustina that before His final Coming in Glory to pronounce God's judgment upon the world, there would come the "Day of Mercy":

Before the Day of Justice, I am sending the Day of Mercy. (Diary 1588)

When we look at some similar entries in St. Faustina's Diary, it becomes evident that the "Day of Mercy" is inextricably linked with the formal extension of the Feast of Divine Mercy to the universal Church calendar, which first took place during the canonization Mass of St. Faustina, as part of St. John Paul II's initiatives for the Great Jubilee Year 2000. In the entries below, for example, we can see quite clearly that St. Faustina viewed the coming of the "Day of Mercy" as one and the same as the inauguration of the Feast of Divine Mercy itself:

“Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity… tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near.” 
(Diary 965)

“I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.” 
(Diary 699)

So according to St. Faustina, the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy throughout the entire Church would occur shortly before the final Coming of Christ in glory, to signify a final act of God's infinite grace, by allowing an outpouring of His mercy upon the world. Jesus said to St. Faustina that the Day of Mercy would be a "sign for the end times",  which would take place shortly before the coming of the Day of Justice:

Speak to the world about My mercy... It is a sign for the end times. After it will come the Day of Justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fountain of My mercy.  (Diary 848)

For St. Faustina, the coming of the Day of Mercy was closely associated with the arrival of the Second Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit would be poured out on humanity during the Last Days, allowing the Gospel to be proclaimed throughout the entire world before the Second Coming of Christ.

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)

The institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy took place on April 30th, 2000, when Pope John Paul II bestowed the Polish nun with the honour of being the first saint of the new millennium, with the intention to highlight the deep significance of this event. In his own words, the Holy Father had stated that his canonization of St. Faustina as the first saint of the new millennium was an intentional act designed to draw attention to the importance of the inauguration of the Feast of Divine Mercy:

Sr Faustina's canonization has a particular eloquence:  by this act I intend today to pass this message [of Divine Mercy] on to the new millennium. I pass it on to all people, so that they will learn to know ever better the true face of God and the true face of their brethren.
(Pope John Paul II, Mass in St Peter's Square for the Canonization of Sr Mary Faustina Kowalska, April 30th, 2000)

On March 23rd, 1937, St. Faustina recorded that she had received a vision that the Feast of Divine
Mercy would be celebrated throughout the Church. She saw large crowds celebrating the Feast of Divine Mercy in her local chapel, and that the same celebration would also take place in Rome presided over 
by the Pope. She recorded that the "crowd was so enormous that the eye could not take it all in. Everyone was participating in the celebrations" (Notebook III, 1044). This of course came to pass during her canonization mass in St. Peter's Square in the year 2000, at the same time the basilica of the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Krakow was being constructed at the site of her local chapel between the years 1999-2002. This basilica was in turn consecrated by St. John Paul in 2002.
St. Faustina appears to have had an accurate intuition as to the exact timing of when the institution 
of the Feast of Divine Mercy would eventually take place, as after the first Mass when the Divine Mercy image was first displayed on the Octave of Easter (Low Sunday), St. Faustina conveyed a particular delight that it took place at the conclusion of the Jubilee of the Redemption in 1935:

Sunday, April 28, 1935. Low Sunday; that is, the Feast of The Divine Mercy, the conclusion of the 
Jubilee of Redemption. When we went to take part in the celebrations, my heart leapt with joy that the two solemnities were so closely untied.
(Diary, 420)

Given that the first Mass celebrating Divine Mercy took place during the Jubilee of the Redemption (celebrating 1950 years since the Redemption of the human race), it was particularly apt that the
Feast of Divine Mercy was extended throughout the whole Church on the Great Jubilee Year of the Incarnation, celebrating 2000 years since the Eternal Word of God became Flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The timing of Pope St. John Paul II's inauguration of the Feast of Divine Mercy during the Great Jubilee Year was thus a deliberate act intended to highlight the prophetic importance of the private revelations of St. Faustina in relation to the turn of the millennium. As the Holy Father explicitly stated himself, the symbolism of his actions during the Great Jubilee of the Incarnation was intended to be "a prophecy of the future".

Dear Brothers and Sisters, it is especially necessary for us to direct our thoughts to the future which lies before us. Often during these months we have looked towards the new millennium which is beginning, 
as we lived this Jubilee not only as a remembrance of the past, but also as a prophecy of the future.
(Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, Jan 6th, 2001)

The importance of the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy was clearly linked in the mind

of St. John Paul II to the realization of the era of peace promised by Our Lady of Fatima. 

As he pointed out during the canonization Mass of St. Faustina:

Jesus told Sr Faustina:  "Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy" (Diary, p. 132). Through the work of the Polish religious, this message has become linked for ever to the 20th century, the last of the second millennium and the bridge to the third. 
(Pope John Paul II, Mass in St Peter's Square for the Canonization of Sr Mary Faustina Kowalska, April 30th, 2000)

Pope St. John Paul II understood that the coming of the era of peace promised by Our Lady of Fatima could not be fully realized until the the Church had embraced the message of Divine Mercy. During a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, Italy, in 1981, shortly after the failed attempt on his life, St. John Paul II recalled how from the very beginning of his Petrine ministry he felt that promoting the message of Divine Mercy was a particular task entrusted to him by God. At the same time, he was also clearly reflecting upon this mission in relation to the significance of first apparitions of Our Lady to the shepherd children of Fatima on the fateful date of May 13th:

A year ago I published the encyclical Dives in Misericordia. This circumstance made ​​me come today to the Shrine of Merciful Love. With this I would like to reconfirm the presence, in some way, the message of the encyclical [concerning Divine Mercy]. I would like to read it again and again to pronounce it.
From the beginning of my ministry in the See of Peter in Rome, I felt this message as my particular task. Providence has assigned me in the situation of man, the Church and the world. You could even say that precisely this situation assigned me as a task that message before God, which is Providence, which is inscrutable mystery, the mystery of Love and Truth, Truth and Love. And my personal experiences this year, associated with the events of May 13, as part of their order me to shout: "misericordiae Domains, quia non sumus consumpti" ["Because of the Lord's mercy we are not consumed"]( Lam 3:22).
(Pope John Paul II, Angelus, Collevalenza, 22 November 1981)

The connection between the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy and the promises of Our Lady of Fatima in the mind of St. John Paul II were also made clearly manifest in his actions during the Great Jubilee Year, as just two weeks after he had extended Divine Mercy Sunday to be observed by the whole Church on 30th April, 2000, he beatified two of the shepherd children of Fatima, Francesco and Jacinta Marto on May 13th, 2000, whilst also announcing his intent to publish the Third Secret of Fatima.

During a recent address, Pope Francis shared his belief that we were already living during the "time of mercy" spoken of by St. Faustina, and appears to date the beginning of this period to around the time of St. John Paul II's consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984: 

“I am sure of this. It is not only Lent; we have been living in a time of mercy for the past thirty years or more, up to today.”  
Pope Francis, Exhortation on Mercy to Roman Priests, March 6, 2014

The fact that Pope Francis is very specific in this time frame (thirty years), clearly points to the 1984 consecration, the fruits of which is widely recognized by Church leaders to have led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Within a year of this consecration, Mikhail Gorbachev was made General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, whose reformist policies of Glasnost and Perestroika inadvertently paved the way for the revolutions of 1989, which led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Pope St. John Paul II is himself widely credited as the single greatest influence in the downfall of the Soviet Union, as he was the primary inspiration for the Polish Solidarity movement, which having forced Gorbachev to implement his reforms, eventually led to the outbreak of the 1989 revolutions that began in Poland itself. And without the collapse of the Soviet Union, there would be absolutely no hope for the future conversion of Russia, which Our Lady of Fatima had promised as the ultimate fruit of the era of peace. It is during era of peace/Second Pentecost that the Bride prepares itself for the Coming of the Bridegroom by becoming purified in the fire of the Holy Spirit.
We can see from these examples alone how St. Faustina's prophecy of the "spark from Poland" that prepares the way for the final Coming of Christ was fulfilled in the life and ministry of Pope St. John Paul II. According to St. Faustina herself, this prophecy is also intimately related to the "Day of Mercy" which takes place before the coming of the Day of Judgement, so it could not be any more fitting that it was St. John Paul II who presided over the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy during the Great Jubilee Year. The importance of the connection between St. John Paul and this feast day was made even more explicit in the fact that he passed away on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, 2nd April, 2005.
The Holy Father had alluded to the prophecy of the "spark from Poland" himself, when during his Mass at Victory Square in Warsaw, Poland, 1979, he prayed that the Holy Spirit would descend and transform the face of "this land":

"And I cry—I who am a Son of the land of Poland and who am also Pope John Paul II—I cry from all the depths of this Millennium, I cry on the vigil of Pentecost:
Let your Spirit descend.
Let your Spirit descend.
and renew the face of the earth,
the face of this land."
(Pope St. John Paul II, Mass in Victory Square, Warsaw, 2nd June 1979)

During the canonization Mass of St. Faustina, St. John Paul further implied a connection between the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday and the eschatological outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the Second Pentecost, by looking to the prophetic symbolism behind the original events that took place on this day. 

"Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever" (Ps 118: 1). So the Church sings on the Octave of Easter, as if receiving from Christ's lips these words of the Psalm; from the lips of the risen Christ, who bears the great message of divine mercy and entrusts its ministry to the Apostles in the Upper Room:  "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you... Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20: 21-23).
Before speaking these words, Jesus shows his hands and his side. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in his heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity. From that heart Sr Faustina Kowalska, the blessed whom from now on we will call a saint, will see two rays of light shining from that heart and illuminating the world:  "The two rays"Jesus himself explained to her one day, "represent blood and water" (Diary, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, p. 132).
(Pope John Paul II, Mass in St Peter's Square for the Canonization of Sr Mary Faustina Kowalska, April 30th, 2000)

Divine Mercy Sunday was also traditionally known as "St. Thomas Sunday", because this was the day on which the Risen Lord showed the doubting Apostle the wounds on His hands and the wound in His side from which the blood and water had flown. As St. John Paul points out, it is at this moment, when the Risen Christ showed the Apostles His wounds, he simultaneously promises them the Holy Spirit, and grants them the power to forgive sins - which is the very essence of the message of Divine Mercy.

 A copy of the original Divine Mercy painting by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, oversaw by St. Faustina

‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
(John 7:38-39)

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.
(1 John 5:6-8)

Just as doubt in Christ reached a crescendo at the millennial anniversary of the Incarnation of Christ (during an age which can only be associated with the Great Apostasy foretold in Scripture), Jesus appears to us in the form of the Divine Mercy image, which, showing us the wound in the side of Christ, invites us to once again believe in Him. By formally extending the Feast of Divine Mercy to be celebrated by the whole Church during the Great Jubilee Year of the Incarnation, Pope St. John Paul II made a bold prophetic action which served to highlight his intuition that this was a pivotal moment in world history, and served to express his hopes that the new millennium would usher in the new Springtime of the Church, during the era of peace promised by Our Lady of Fatima. The Holy Father alluded to the relation between the imagery of Divine Mercy and the coming of the era of peace during the canonization Mass of St. Faustina:

"as the Apostles once did, today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the risen Christ, who shows the wounds of his Crucifixion and repeats:  Peace be with you!"

When we take into consideration the other major prophetic action taken during the Great Jubilee Year, when St. John Paul II once again consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in unison with the bishops of the world on 8th October, 2000, we are reminded of St. John Bosco's prophetic dreams of the Two Pillars and the March of the 200 Days. 
In his Dream of the Two Pillars, after two sets of "meetings" which represent the First and Second Vatican Councils, Don Bosco sees a pope who is "gravely wounded" by his enemies. While many have linked this part of the dream to the assassination attempt on Pope St. John Paul II in 1981, this interpretation fails to take into account the fact that the March of the 200 Days points to the year 1999 for the fulfillment of the prophecy of the pope who anchors the barque of St. Peter between the two pillars. Each of the four hundred days in this prophecy represents a month, giving a total of 33.333 years, and calculating from the close of the Second Vatican Council in December 1965, this brings us up to the year 1999 (see the post St. John Bosco and the Turn of the Millennium for more information on this topic). This means that the pope who secures the barque to the two pillars of devotion to the Eucharist and the Immaculate Virgin at the turn of the millennium must be St. John Paul II. If this is correct, then the Dream of the Two Pillars gives an exact sequence of the popes who lead the Church following the Second Vatican Council, up until the turn of the millennium. The pope who is "gravely wounded" by the enemies of the Church after Vatican II would be Pope Paul VI, whose pontificate encompassed the cultural revolution that has resulted in the massive decline in the influence of the Church in modern culture - the beginning of the Great Apostasy. The pope who is killed by the enemies of the Church would therefore be Pope John Paul I, who many believe was the victim of a sinister assassination plot. Unfortunately, the truth surrounding John Paul I's sudden death is now almost impossible to ascertain. The mention of the unusually rapid series of papal conclaves may allude to 1978 as the "year of three popes", due to this exceptionally short 33 day pontificate. 
It should be worth taking a look at the Dream of the Two Pillars again in full:

“Imagine yourself to be with me on the seashore, or better, on an isolated rock and not to see any patch of land other than that under your feet. On the whole of that vast sheet of water you see an innumerable fleet of ships in battle array. The prows of the ships are formed into sharp, spear-like points so that wherever they are thrust they pierce and completely destroy. These ships are armed with cannons, with lots of rifles, with incendiary materials, with other firearms of all kinds, and also with books, and advance against a ship very much bigger and higher than themselves and try to dash against it with the prows or burn it or in some way to do it every possible harm.
“As escorts to that majestic fully equipped ship, there are many smaller ships, which receive commands by signal from it and carry out movements to defend themselves from the opposing fleet. In the midst of the immense expanse of sea, two mighty columns of great height arise a little distance the one from the other. On the top of one, there is the statue of the Immaculate Virgin, from whose feet hangs a large placard with this inscription: Auxilium Christianorum—”Help of Christians”; on the other, which is much higher and bigger, stands a Host of great size proportionate to the column and beneath is another placard with the words: Salus Credentium—Salvation of the Faithful.
“The supreme commander of the big ship is the Sovereign Pontiff. He, seeing the fury of the enemies and the evils among which his faithful find themselves, determines to summon around himself the captains of the smaller ships to hold a council and decide what is to be done.
“All the captains come aboard and gather around the Pope. They hold a meeting, but meantime the wind and the waves gather in storm, so they are sent back to control their own ships. There comes a short lull; for a second time the Pope gathers the captains around him, while the flag-ship goes on its course. But the frightful storm returns. The Pope stands at the helm and all his energies are directed to steering the ship towards those two columns from whose summits hang many anchors and strong hooks linked to chains.
“All the enemy ships move to attack it, and they try in every way to stop it and to sink it: some with books and writings or inflammable materials, of which they are full; others with firearms, with rifles and with rams. The battle rages ever more relentlessly. The enemy prows thrust violently, but their efforts and impact prove useless. They make attempts in vain and waste all their labor and ammunition; the big ship goes safely and smoothly on its way. Sometimes it happens that, struck by formidable blows, it gets large, deep gaps in its sides; but no sooner is the harm done that a gentle breeze blows from the two columns and the cracks close up and the gaps are stopped immediately.
“Meanwhile, the guns of the assailants are blown up, the rifles and other arms and prows are broken; many ships are shattered and sink into the sea. Then, the frenzied enemies strive to fight hand to hand, with fists, with blows, with blasphemy and with curses.
“Suddenly the Pope falls gravely wounded. Immediately, those who are with him run to help him and they lift him up. A second time the Pope is struck, he falls again and dies. A shout of victory and joy rings out amongst the enemies; from their ships an unspeakable mockery arises.
“But hardly is the Pontiff dead than another takes his place. The pilots, having met together, have elected the Pope so promptly that the news of the death of the Pope coincides with the news of the election of the successor. The adversaries begin to lose courage.
“The new Pope, putting the enemy to rout and overcoming every obstacle, guides the ship right up to the two columns and comes to rest between them; he makes it fast with a light chain that hangs from the bow to an anchor of the column on which stands the Host; and with another light chain which hangs from the stern, he fastens it at the opposite end to another anchor hanging from the column on which stands the Immaculate Virgin.
“At this point, a great convulsion takes place. All the ships that until then had fought against the Pope’s ship are scattered; they flee away, collide and break to pieces one against another. Some sink and try to sink others. Several small ships that had fought gallantly for the Pope race to be the first to bind themselves to those two columns. Many other ships, having retreated through fear of the battle, cautiously watch from far away; the wrecks of the broken ships having been scattered in the whirlpools of the sea, they in their turn sail in good earnest to those two columns, and having reached them, they make themselves fast to the hooks hanging down from them and their they remain safe, together with the principal ship, on which is the Pope. Over the sea their reigns a great calm.”

If this interpretation is correct, the pope anchoring the barque of St. Peter to the two pillars of devotion to the Eucharist and the Immaculate Virgin at the turn of the millennium, must be a reference to the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy and the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the Great Jubilee Year. The Feast of Divine Mercy is essentially Eucharistic in character, with its emphasis on the blood and water which issued from the side of Christ as the source of the outpouring of God's mercy.

The blood and water issuing from Christ after His side is pierced with a spear is traditionally linked with the prophecy of Zechariah, which also has an eschatological context that foreshadows the future conversion of the Jews during the final outpouring of the Holy Spirit:

“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.
(Zech 12:10)

On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
(Zech 13:1)

By directing our attention to the blood and water which was poured out from the side of Christ, the image of Divine Mercy recalls the Eternal Sacrifice of Jesus commemorated during Mass in the Holy Eucharist; and at the same time also points forward to the future conversion of the Jews (the "house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem"), which the Catechism states must take place before the Second Coming of Christ.

The pope securing the barque of St. Peter to the pillar bearing the Blessed Sacrament in St. John Bosco's prophetic dream appears to depict the Holy Father anchoring the Church to the devotion of Divine Mercy. The smaller column bearing the statue of the Immaculate Virgin may indicate that the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the Great Jubilee Year was of lesser importance at this particular time, given that the same ceremony was already performed previously in 1984. But it is still possesses a sufficient level of significance to warrant a place of honour in Don Bosco's dream, especially since it fulfilled the request to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary given to Blessed Alexandria Maria da Costa, whose feast is celebrated on Oct 13th - the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun. The "light chains" which the pope uses to anchor the barque between the two pillars would thus be the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the First Saturdays Devotion.
The fact that St. John Paul II celebrated the Great Jubilee Year by performing such highly symbolic actions was intended to highlight the prophetic significance of the millennial anniversary of the Incarnation of the Word of God in the womb of the Immaculate Virgin. The Book of Revelation presents the Blessed Virgin Mary as the new Eve, and uses the story of the nativity to demonstrate how the fall of humanity is reversed by a woman conceived without sin, who crushes the head of the Ancient Serpent by bearing God Himself into the world. It is the Incarnation of the Word which signals Satan's ultimate defeat on the Cross.

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God".
(Rev 12:1-10)

It is interesting to note the timing of the recent blood moon on 15th April, 2014 (the first of a much vaunted tetrad series of lunar eclipses which fall on Jewish feast days) in proximity to the recent canonization of Pope St. John Paul II on 27th April, 2014. This tetrad of blood moons certainly appears to be of some prophetic significance, in the fact that it recalls the words of Scripture: "The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes" (Joel 2:31). But it fails to take into account the fact that the Bible details a very specific combination of astronomical events, all of which occurred at the turn of the millennium, leading up to the Great Jubilee Year of the Incarnation. This includes an earthquake, a total solar eclipse, a total lunar eclipse, and a meteor shower, as well as the appearance of the "sign of the Son of Man", which like the Star of Bethlehem, appears to be a planetary conjunction:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn...
(Matt 24:29-30)

A series of astronomical events which the Book of Ezekiel informs us are related to the casting out of Satan from heaven, which states that when the "dragon in the seas" is cast to the ground by God, the estchatological astronomical phenomena would appear:

When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens and make their stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over you, and put darkness on your land, declares the Lord GOD.
(Ezek 32:7-8)

Note that the above mention of the "mourning" at the appearance of the "sign of the Son of Man" mentioned by Jesus during His Olivet Discourse is directly connected to the same passage in the Book of Zechariah referenced by the image of Divine Mercy:  "when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child" (Zech 12:10). It is perhaps of some significance then that the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy during the Great Jubilee Year, on 30th April, 2000, took place just days before the planetary conjunction of all seven classical planets known to the ancients, which occurred on 5th May, 2000, which in turn was just days before the beatification ceremony of Francisco and Jacinta Marto on 13th May, when Pope St. John Paul II announced his intention to publish the Third Secret. We have already discussed how this event may have been related to the "sign of the Son of Man" in the post The Seven Wandering Stars and the Heads of the Dragon.
This rare planetary conjunction was preceded in the previous year by one of the most widely witnessed total solar eclipses in human history - that of 11th August, 1999, whose path of totality not only crossed one of the most densely populated areas on earth, but also directly through Turkey, near the city of Izmit, where a 7.6 magnitude earthquake took place just six days afterwards, on 17th August, 1999, killing 17,000 people.
Turkey also happens to be the site of ancient Asia Minor - the location of the seven churches to which the Book of Revelation was addressed, including the site of Pergamon, which the Apocalypse states is "where Satan's throne is" (Rev 2:12). So here we have two of the "signs in heaven" taking place within an incredibly close time frame - an earthquake and the sun turning black "like sackcloth", both centred upon the location to which the Apocalypse was originally addressed.

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.
(Rev 6:12-13)

Then in November 1999, there was the occurrence of the Leonid Meteor Storm, the most prolific of all meteor showers, which takes place every 33 years (which recalls what is traditionally believed to be the duration of the life of Christ). This was quickly followed just two months later at the very start of the new millennium and the beginning of the Great Jubilee Year of the Incarnation, by the appearance of a blood moon on Jan 20th, 2000 - the anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of the Miracle to Marie Alphonse Ratisbonne in 1842 (which prefigures the future conversion of the Jews). The institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy took place just over three months later, followed by the aforementioned rare planetary conjunction of the seven classical planets. The very next year brought the world-changing events of 9/11, which as we have already argued in the previous post The Angel of the Seven Thunders,  is connected to the "blood fire and columns of smoke", which Joel prophesied would accompany the "signs in heaven" during the eschatological outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. 
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.
(Joel 2:28-32)

As I argue in my book Unveiling the Apocalypse, chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation is a dramatization of the eschatological astronomical phenomena, which means that the appearance of this series of astronomical signs heralds the casting down of Satan from heaven by the Archangel Michael. The Red Dragon standing under the Woman's feet represents a blood moon, since the horns of the crescent moon is traditionally associated with the Devil. Such symbolism is incorporated into famous icons such as Our Lady of Guadeloupe, where the crescent moon under the feet of the Blessed Virgin evokes the words of the Protoevangelium:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
(Gen 3:15)

The Dragon standing under the Woman's feet also represents the total solar eclipse at the opening of the sixth seal, which turns the Sun as "black as sackcloth". The third of the stars being swept from the sky by the Dragon's tail symbolizes the stars falling to earth; while the seven heads, which we are told bear "blasphemous names", appears to refer to the seven classical planets, which are named after pagan gods. So an alignment of the seven classical planets is also alluded to in Rev 12.
The appearance of this unique and highly specific collection of astronomical signs points to the precise moment in history when Satan is cast down to the earth by the Archangel Michael, following which, the Devil transfers his great power and authority to the Antichrist - who is represented by the Beast which rises from the sea:

Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
(Rev 12:12)

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.
(Rev 13:1-2)

Once the head of the Serpent has been crushed by the Woman Adorned with the Sun, the fatal head wound inflicted upon Satan appears to be healed when the Antichrist rises to power on earth:

One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
(Rev 13:3-4)

We can find further Scriptural evidence that these eschatological astronomical signs portend the defeat of Satan in heaven, by studying chapter 24 of the Book of Isaiah - which explicitly states that the darkening of the Sun and Moon at the end-time marks the exact moment when God punishes the rebellious angels during the war in heaven:

On that day the LORD will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth. They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed, for the LORD of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and his glory will be before his elders.
(Isa 24:21-23)

Once Satan is defeated in heaven, and cast down to the earth, he drags the rebellious angels down with him, who number a third of the heavenly host. The above passage in Isaiah states that during the appearance of the signs in heaven, the fallen angels would be gathered together as prisoners in the pits of hell, where they would have to wait for a period of "many days" before their final punishment would be meted out during the Last Judgment. This same eschatological episode is referenced in the Second Epistle of St. Peter and the Epistle of St. Jude:

God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment...
(2 Peter 2:4)

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day...
(Jude 1:6)

In relation to this, it is interesting to note that the greatest point of eclipse on 11th August, 1999, was concentrated exactly on a town in Romania called Ocnele Mari, which translates from Romanian as "Large Prison" or "Large Pit". It seems beyond mere coincidence that an astronomical event which can be associated with the signs in heaven that herald the casting down of Satan (described by Isaiah as the gathering of "prisoners in a pit") should be directly centred on a location called "Large Prison/Pit". And that in turn, this event should take place during the millennial anniversary of the Incarnation of Christ, which is so closely associated with the promises of the Protoevangelium (that the Woman will crush the head of the Serpent), and the "Apocalyptic Nativity" described in chapter twelve of the Apocalypse.

During her interview with Fr. Fuentes, Sr. Lucia stated that not only are we in the "last times of the world", but also that we were right on the cusp of a final and decisive battle between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Devil.

"Father, the Most Holy Virgin did not tell me that we are in the last times of the world, but She made me understand this for three reasons.
The first reason is because She told me that the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Virgin. And a decisive battle is the final battle where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat."

When we return to review the implications of St. John Bosco's prophetic Dream of the Two Pillars in respect to the above considerations, it is worth noting that the primary basis of this vision is rooted in the historic naval battle fought at Lepanto in 1571, the outcome of which Catholics attribute to the intercession of Our Lady of Victory. Pope St. Pius V had asked all of Europe to pray the Rosary with the intention for the victory of the Holy League against the Ottoman Turks, who were threatening to overrun the whole of Western Europe. After the Catholic forces secured a resounding victory over the Ottoman fleet, St. Pius V instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, to be held each year on 7th October, which is still celebrated today as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
A vital key to interpreting St. John Bosco's Dream of the Two Pillars and the March of the 200 Days can be found in his architectural plans for the Church of Mary Help of Christians in Turin, which were based on his prophetic visions. They show not only that the visions were indeed based on the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, but also dates the "new triumph of the Madonna" shown in the Dream of the Two Pillars as taking place at some point in the 20th century - which means that the fulfillment of this prophecy must be already in the past.

...additional work on the Church of Mary Help of Christians was in progress. Each of the two belfries flanking the facade was to be surmounted by an angel, nearly eight feet tall, fashioned from gilded wrought copper, according to Don Bosco’s own plan. The angel on the right held a banner…bearing the word “LEPANTO” drilled in large letters through the metal, while the one on the left offered…a laurel wreath to the Blessed Virgin standing atop the dome.
In a previous design, the second angel too held a banner on which the figure “19” was drilled through the metal followed by two dots. It stood for another date, “nineteen hundred,” without the final two numbers to indicate the specific year. Though ultimately, as we have said, a laurel wreath was put into the angel’s hand, we have never forgotten the mysterious date which, in our opinion, pointed to a new triumph of the Madonna. May this come soon and bring all nations under Mary’s mantle.
(Lemoyne, Biographical Memoirs IX, p276)

The two angels bearing banners here are the same as that seen in St. John Bosco's March of the 200 Days. The date originally depicted in the banner of the second angel was given as 19.., but was then replaced with a laurel wreath (representing victory) being presented to the Blessed Virgin - which symbolized the time of this great Marian triumph. If we cross-reference the date presented in St. John Bosco's architectural plans with his March of the 200 Days, then the obscured date given as "19.." must be the year 1999.

Another intriguing aspect in relation to this can be found in the mysterious motto ascribed to Pope St. John Paul II in the prophetic list of popes attributed to St. Malachy,  De Labore Solis "From the labour of the sun" or "from the eclipse of the sun" - which is highly evocative of the prophecy of the labour of the Woman Adorned with the Sun described in Rev 12. Does this motto suggest that the prophecy of the Woman Adorned with the Sun was fulfilled during the pontificate of St. John Paul II? Writing in a commentary on the Apocalypse first published in 1955, Fr. Herman Kramer had suggested that the portion of Rev 12 which mentions the Woman giving birth to a male child who was to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, is in fact a prophecy of a particular pope.
If Fr. Kramer's insight on this matter was correct, then it is most likely that the pope referred to in this prophecy was in fact Pope St. John Paul II, as he was the residing pontiff when the eschatological astronomical phenomena foretold in the Bible actually took place. Furthermore, Fr. Kramer also muses whether that the Dragon standing under the woman's feet so that he could devour her child as soon as he was born could refer to an assassination attempt on the pope, which of course would fit in with the pontificate of St. John Paul II exactly:

She brought forth a male child who is destined to rule all nations with a rod of iron. The pope elected is virile and fearless. He is the one destined by Providence to overthrow the schemes of the dragon...
The clause, "that he might devour her son", does not necessarily mean assassination...
(Fr. Herman Kramer, The Book of Destiny, p285)

The Woman's child clearly survives the Dragon's attempt to devour him, following its Scriptural precedent in the Slaughter of the Holy Innocents. A rather unsettling aspect of this interpretation is that it could potentially identify Russia in some way with the Great Red Dragon, since in all likelihood, it was the KGB who engineered the assassination attempt on St. John Paul II, because of his destabilizing influence within Poland itself. This recalls the words of Sr. Lucia herself, who warned that:

“Russia will be the instrument of chastisement chosen by Heaven to punish the whole world if we do not beforehand obtain the conversion of that poor nation ...”

Pope St. John Paul II claimed that it was "a mother's hand" which guided the path of the bullet on that fateful day, on May 13th, 1981, saving him from the assassination attempt. This event was almost certainly the same that was prophesied in the original Church approved versions of the secrets of La Salette given in 1846:

The pope will be persecuted from all sides, they will shoot at him, they will want to put him to death, but no one will be able to do it, the Vicar of God will triumph again this time...
(Secret given to Melanie Calvat)

If we are to correlate the prophecies of La Salette with St. John Bosco's prophetic Dream of the Two Pillars, then the pope who "is persecuted" is most likely John Paul I, and the "pontiff that nobody expects" who arrives to bring about the coming of the "great peace" before the turn of the millennium must be Pope St. John Paul II:

Before all that arrives, great disorders will arrive, in the Church, and everywhere. Then, after [that], our Holy Father the Pope will be persecuted. His successor will be a pontiff that nobody expects.
Then, after [that], a great peace will come, but it will not last a long time. A monster will come to disturb it.
All that I tell you here will arrive in the other century, at the latest in the year two thousand."
(Secret given to Maximin Giraud)

Returning to Fr. Kramer's suggestion that the male child of the Woman is in fact a pope, the prediction that he is "to rule all the nations with a rod of iron" would then refer to Pope St. John Paul II's role in the spectacular dissolution of the Soviet Union, which imploded almost completely peacefully between the years 1989-1991:

And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
(Rev 12:4-6)

In relation to the prophecy of the "spark from Poland", the Polish people themselves often point to a prophetic poem composed by Juliusz Slowacki in 1848, which foretells the coming of a "Slavic Pope" who prepares the way for the Second Coming of Christ: 

Here comes our Slavic Pope to the rescue,
Brother of mankind.
Angel batallions dust off his throne with
Whisks made of flowers,
While he pours lotion onto our bosom,
Pontiff benign.
He will distribute love like a warlord
Passes out arms;
His strength sacramental will gather the cosmos
Into his palms.
Then will he send glad tidings to flutter
Like Noah’s dove:
News that the spirit’s here and acknowledged,
Shining alone.
And we shall see part nicely before him
The sky above.
He’ll stand on his throne, illumined, creating
Both world and throne.
His voice will transform the nations to brethren.
Burnt offerings
Circle the spirits in their march toward
Their final goal.
Strength sacramental of hundreds of nations
Will help our king
See that the spirits’ work overpowers
Death’s mournful toll.
The wounds of the world shall he cleanse, and banish
Rot. pus and all–
He will redeem the world and bring to it
Both health and love.
He shall sweep clean the insides of churches
And clear the hall,
And then reveal the Lord our Creator
Shining above.

Friday 9 May 2014

The End of the World: What Catholics Believe

My latest work, The End of the World: What Catholics Believe, has just been published by The Catholic Truth Society (CTS), the publishers to the Holy See in the United Kingdom. It is yet to be made available on Amazon, but can already be purchased directly through the CTS website itself (I'll let readers know when it becomes available on Amazon as well). This CTS booklet traces the development of Catholic eschatology through history, and examines why some interpretations of Scripture in relation to the end-times were rejected by the Early Church, whilst outlining the position that was eventually embraced by Catholicism. In particular, it addresses the central problems posed by millenarianism in its many modern forms, and illustrates in some detail why this position is forcefully condemned by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
This short text covers a wide range of topics, ranging from the end-times literature of the Bible, to discussing the errors of Joaichim de Fiore and the Spiritual Franciscans, before moving on to the modern "Age of Mary", which was anticipated by St. Louis de Montfort during the 18th century.
The CTS blog Catholic Compass, has kindly posted an interview with myself, and an extract of the booklet itself:

Our summer titles are now available covering a wide and varied range of subjects. Here on CTS Compass, we have been speaking to some of the authors of those titles to find out a bit more about them and their books. Today we publish an interview with blogger, expert and first-time CTS author Emmett O’Regan on his book, The End of the World: What Catholics Believe.
(Read the full interview, as well as a generous extract from the text itself, here)