There are various trials and tribulations particularly in the economic world occurring today. There has been a great deal of talk of the plunging stock market, the Dow, the credit crisis, bank trouble, financial problems, the real estate market is down and people are losing jobs. The economic climate is deteriorating, and chaos, confusion, fear and anxiety are growing. The ordinary family here in the States has been affected, but also the global scene as well.
Change in the Times
To compound the economic issue, there are also other political issues in the international arena. The Middle East is as uncertain and as tense as ever. Then of course in nature you see the unpredictable weather patterns— storms, hurricanes, and high winds among other natural disasters. We also see impending disasters, such as large glaciers melting and a changing climate. There’s some sort of change in the times and the seasons we are experiencing today.
All of this has already been mentioned and referred to explicitly in the Bible and explains why there is a synod on the Word of God in Rome. The Word of God is not just the Bible. The Bible is a book, but the Word of God is not just a book. Catholic understanding is that the Word of God is a person, not a book. A person. Christ, our Lord, is the living word. The Bible records some of the teachings of Christ—the Word of God. That is the difference between Roman Catholics and Protestants; our understanding of the Word of God and the Protestant understanding.
In the synod, they speak about the Word of God as a living person speaking to us today. In the same breath, the church is asking us what is the same person Jesus Christ who spoke to us 2,000 years ago, who spoke to us before that through the Old Testament prophets, what is He saying to us about the times we are living in? How do we discern the times and the signs today?
If you look at the times we are living in through the light of the secular media, you see a skewed secular humanistic view of the world. But if you see the world and interpret the signs, the turmoil, the conditions, the hopes and dreams of the present world, the present order in the light of the Gospel then we are truly inspired with the faith filled vision. Our gospel is not based on looking at Google or the Internet, but rather we are called to scrutinize in prayer through Divine grace and inspiration, scrutinize the Scriptures, come before the Lord in the Eucharist, attend Mass, receive Holy Communion, and worship God in Eucharistic Adoration.
Our Lady of Fatima spoke to us about these times. Our Lady speaks to us when we turn to her with filial devotion through the Rosary and through wearing the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. These are ways and means in which we may be able to truly understand and come to grips with the world we are living in. St. Paul says “Brethren the world as you know it is passing,” which can be seen today in the financial, political, military, human, environmental, and biological order that is in transition, in mutation, and in a frenzy. The only thing that remains is what is eternal and that is why St. Paul’s words are one of the great themes of the Jubilee 2000: Jesus Christ—“Before, yesterday, today, and tomorrow for ever more.” Jesus Christ is the only eternal foundation to really interpret the passing events of our world, our generation, and our society.
Fear is of the World
When we speak about the times we are living in, they may be apocalyptic and there may be room for speculation. Our reference point is always to Scripture, to the word of God. Remember, we don’t live in fear. Fear is of the world. St. Paul said to the Romans “Therefore I tell you, put off the old man, and put on the new creation and the new creation in Christ Jesus.” We are to think, behave, and act as people inspired by the Word. We are to act as galvanized, mobilized people; we are to marshal our forces to be people of virtue, men and women of distinct clarity, of vision, of a stalwart purpose, of undaunted faith, unwavering hope, and relentless giving charity. That is who we are as Christians and Catholics. We need to be unapologetic, unyielding in our faith and in our steadfast loyalty.
Recently, a gentleman told me “Father, whatever I am, I hope and pray I am a steadfast Catholic in today’s passing world.” Well, dear friends, many people are losing their savings in the stock market. The stock market is here today, but we never know what will happen tomorrow, let alone in a few years. It’s volatile. In the face of volatility the only thing you can trust is Christ Himself. History is full of tumult, turmoil, chaos, wars and struggles. Wars between Christ and the anti- Christ, Christ and Satan, good and evil, the Christian and the pagan, between the city of man and the city of God, but in all of this we see a vision of God as Lord.
Nothing happens in history unless the Lord either wills it to happen or permits it to happen. The Lord does not will evil, but He may allow it. Eventually He may conquer evil and somehow through evil a greater good may result. That is the story of the Lord’s death and resurrection. The Paschal Mystery teaches us that ultimately God has the definitive word. We know dear friends how the last times will end. We know what’s going to happen in the end. If we stay steadfast with Christ, we will win the day and be victorious with Him.
How We Gain Heavenly Treasures
I don’t know about you, but if you need someone to bail you out it’s not Congress, it’s not $700 billion to bail you out and your soul from your sins. It’s not the US Treasury or the Federal Reserve that’s going to bail you out. The only treasury that you can count on is the heavenly treasury, the treasury of the Church, the treasure of the infinite merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why the Lord says to not place your focus on earthly treasures, but rather heavenly treasures where corruption cannot touch them. How do you gain these treasures? You gain them through a life of virtue and grace and through your spiritual journey with the Lord.
There are different religious groups and faiths that read and interpret what is going on today in the light of their own interpretations. That is why as Roman Catholics, we need to stay close by to the Magisterium of the Church who authentically interprets Scripture, including the apocalypse. It is the prophetic office of the Magisterium of the Church that is able to guide us and see through the chaos of today’s world.
Dear friends, let me ask you this question. How many of us are just staring at the TV, watching the news, reading the paper and becoming fearful? How many of us are getting down on our hands and knees and praying to almighty God for solutions? How far does the stock market have to go down before this country knows what it means to rely on God? God is here. Let’s go back to church, let’s pray with all of the energy and strength that our hearts and lives can muster. Let’s pray for Divine Providence to intervene. Let’s pray for Divine Protection. Let us pray for prosperity by humbly beseeching the Lord, knowing His will and embracing it and walking in His ways as an individual, as a family, as a community, as a nation, and as a world. Let’s do reparation for our sins.
Spiritual and Physical Peace
Spiritual and physical peace and prosperity will be a fruit of God’s blessing if mankind faithfully obeys the Commandments of the Lord and lives the Beatitudes. Our Lady of Fatima told us to do reparation for sin because greed, corruption, death, and war pervade the world. She did say that if mankind does not amend its ways, there will be war. Our Lady appeals to mankind to pray the Rosary for the reparation
of sin, for the conversion of nations, for the conversion of Russia, for the sanctification of souls, and for unity in families.
The last apparition of Fatima included St. Joseph with the Christ Child blessing the world and 70,000 people saw the miracle of the sun. The Lord manifested Himself greatly in Fatima. People that were drenched within a moment or two were completely bone dry. Miracles took place as a sign of God’s Divine Mercy.
We do live in perilous times, dear friends, no question about it. We have only to open our eyes to realize that the world is undergoing major seismic shifts, and we are powerless to do anything about it. The only thing we can do is turn to the Lord. We need to have a personal conversion and repent of our sins through a good, integral, and fruitful confession.
After September 11th many people invoked God. Never before in recent memory in the collective consciousness of a nation and culture have we turned to God in the hour of need, fear, and anxiety like we did on September 11th. People felt so insecure that many were humbled and felt helpless wondering when the terrorists were going to strike next. In that insecurity people started coming back to church and turning to God and perhaps for the first time in decades going back to the sacraments, to confession, to the Holy Eucharist, to the Rosary, and to personal prayer. In the months following September 11th, God started disappearing and then this wall between church and state was raised once again.
In India, Christians are being persecuted and the persecution is growing. Even the bishops themselves are ringing the alarm bell. In other parts of the world, Christians are being persecuted. Scripture talks about the persecution of the believer. The signs are not lacking. What may be lacking is perhaps the resolve and determination to overcome the adversity, the crosses, the difficulties, the scourging, and the persecutions of living out our faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.