Keep your eyes open!...


January 30, 2006


(Gen 8:8-9) Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put forth his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him.



Two doves released by children from the windows of the Vatican on Sunday to symbolise peace initially refused to take flight, causing the Pope to take the matter literally into his own hands.

A boy and girl released the birds from the window from which Pope John Paul had told pilgrims of the need to teach the young about peace. First the doves refused to leave the window ledge and when the Pope brushed them off, one flew back into the room.

The Pope himself then launched the bird once more into St Peter's Square but it flew back a second time, raising a chuckle from the 84-year-old pontiff. An unseen aide then threw the dove out again and it flew away.



Pope Benedict XVI called on world leaders to unite in the fight against poverty Sunday and sent two doves flying into St. Peter's Square in a symbol of peace, continuing a tradition begun by his predecessor, John Paul II.

Benedict, together with two children at his window, released a pair of doves into the square and laughed when one of the white birds darted back inside his studio.

"The dove wants to stay with the pope but it will find its freedom," Benedict said, and one of the children gave the bird another push to fly.

The birds did not go very far, perching on a cornice just below the window on the Apostolic Palace.

Benedict told the children in the square that by always saying the truth "you will become builders of peace."

The release of the doves in January became a tradition under John Paul. A Jan. 30, 2005, appearance at the window by John Paul with the children and doves was one of his last in public.

(Jer 30:5) For thus saith the Lord: We have heard a voice of terror: there is fear and no peace.


Vatican reacts with concern over Hamas election
Hamas Victory Stirs Franciscan's Concern
Churches Bombed in Iraq

EDITORIAL: Can Hamas Be Tamed?

FROM THE HOLY LAND VIA THE MAILBAG: "There is a mixed response from local Christians I have talked to: many apparently voted for Hamas, in order to punish and depose those Fatah 'thieves', believing there will be too many pressures on Hamas for them to avoid moderating their politico-religious aims. Other Christians are seriously worried what will happen when Hamas start requiring all citizens to abide by the Islamic religious Law (as announced by Mohammed Zahar just before the elections). One supposes there will soon be religious police to enforce those laws (including the jizra, or tax, which non-muslims, or dhimmis, must pay). Our Priest at Notre Dame addressed these fears in his homily last night, assuring us that with faith in the Lord, Christians should not be afraid."

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

19. John the Short said, 'If a king wants to take a city filled with his enemies, he first captures their food and water, and when they are starving he subdues them. So it is with gluttony. If a man is sincere about fasting and is hungry, the enemies that trouble his soul will grow weak.'

January 27, 2006


SPERO NEWS: The seven daily habits of Holy Apostolic people



* A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.

* An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

* A loss of interest in judging other people.

* A loss of interest in judging self.

* A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

* A loss of interest in conflict.

* A loss of ability to worry (this is a very serious symptom).

* Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

* Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.

* Frequent attacks of smiling.

* An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.

* An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

PRAYER-  "Lord our God, with the birth of your Son, your glory breaks on the world. As we celebrate his first coming, give us a foretaste of the joy that you will grant us when the fullness of his glory has filled the earth."

Catholic Sacramentals and Spiritual Warfare
Sacramentals: What Are They?
Blessed Salt by Rev. John H. Hampsch, C.M.F.
Cardinal Cottier on Exorcisms

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

7. They said of Agatho that for three years he kept a stone in his mouth in order to teach himself silence.

January 26, 2006

MORE MIDEAST INSTABILITY BREAKING- Palestinian shocker: Hamas claims election victory

(Mat 24:6-8) And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that ye be not troubled. For these things must come to pass: but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And there shall be pestilences and famines and earthquakes in places. Now all these are the beginnings of sorrows.


John McCain called Iran's nuclear ambitions "destabilizing" and "unacceptable," warning that military options are on the table.

"There's only one thing worse than the United States exercising the military option, and that is Iran having nuclear weapons," McCain (R-Ariz.) said on "Fox News Sunday."

McCain called for the United States first to use diplomacy, saying, "This is the most serious crisis we have faced, outside of the entire war on terror, since the end of the Cold War."

Iran has defied the United States by working to resume uranium enrichment, which Iran says it wants for electrical power but which can be used to make nuclear weapons.

McCain endorsed the administration's desire to take Iran to the United Nation's Security Council for possible sanctions if it doesn't cease its nuclear program.

MORE: Iran: Our Military Options

EXCERPT STRATFOR ANALYSIS- One geopolitical constant must be taken seriously: Israel will not permit Iran to deploy nuclear weapons.

Iran knows this. It has three possible strategies. First, hope that Israeli or American intelligence misses the development of weapons until after they are deployed, giving Iran a deterrent. Second, hope for an Israeli attack in order to position themselves in the Islamic world as the real leader and victim of the anti-Zionist struggle. Third, carefully approach the line of deployability without crossing it.

We suspect that the third option is the Iranian strategy. The problem with the strategy is it assumes that the United States and Israel are both seeing the same thing as the Iranians, which assumes that they have not only excellent intelligence but trust its excellence. The United States will have trouble with that assumption, while the Israelis have so much at stake that they will have a much lower trigger point. In short, the possibilities of miscalculation in the Iranian situation are substantial. The unintended rather than the intended consequence is the most dangerous.


U.S., Israel to attack Iran nukes 'before April'

Iran Warns Israel About Attack
Bush: 'We will protect Israel'
Report: Israel has identified 60 targets in Iran

HEADLINES: Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iran’s president sees “final war” between Muslims, West
Iran to question authenticity of Holocaust
Iran's leader challenges Europe to take back Jews in Israel
Iran president meets anti-Israel militants in Syria

Iranian defense minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar: "Israel does not have the courage to attack Iran, and if it commits such a big mistake, the defenders of Islamic Iran will put Israel in an eternal coma like Sharon."

CHICAGO TRIBUNE EDITORIAL: Why allow Iran's charade to continue?

VIA CHIESA ONLINE: Holy War- The Year the Muslims Took Rome by Sandro Magister

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

4. Daniel said of him, 'All the years he lived near us, we gave him the minimum amount of food to last each year, and every time we went to visit him, he shared it with us.'

January 25, 2006

(John 17:20-22) And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: "We understand, therefore, the reason why it is so important that we, Christians, invoke the gift of unity with persevering constancy,". "If we do so with faith, we can be sure that our request will be heard."

"We do not know when or how, as it is not for us to know, but we must not doubt that one day we will be one, as Jesus and the Father are united in the Holy Spirit."


Christian churches and communities of all denominations in Rome are taking part in a week of prayer for Christian unity among Christians. Pope Benedict XVI has stressed the need for all those who had been baptised to reflect and pray for the restoration of full Christian unity. The overall theme for the week this year is taken from St. Matthew’s gospel “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them”.

The conclusion of the week of prayer will be on Wednesday 25 January, the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, when Pope Benedict will preside at vespers at 17.30 in St Peter’s Basilica. Representatives of all the Christian communities in Rome are expected to be present.

REVIEW: The Need for Full Christian Unity

A LOOK BACK: Pope appeals for Christian unity at inauguration Mass


Pope hails spirit of Christian unity
Vatican meets with Anglicans after year-long break
Pope Pleased by Restart of Catholic-Orthodox Talks
Orthodox Leader Says He Will Meet Pope
Patriarch: Pope to visit Istanbul
On relations between Rome and the Lefebvrians

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

3. Arsenius said, 'One hour's sleep is enough for a monk if he is a fighter.'

January 24, 2006

(1Ti 2:1-2) I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity.

HEADLINE: Judiciary Committee advances Alito nomination to the full Senate 


The confirmation of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court will make him a decisive vote in several upcoming cases.

The Los Angeles Times says Alito will have an immediate impact in the areas of abortion, religion and the death penalty.

Alito`s arrival on the court would also set the stage for far-reaching changes in election campaigns and the environment, the newspaper said.

President Bush`s nominee could tip the balance to the right on about half a dozen issues on which the justices have been closely split.

While Justice Sandra Day O`Connor voted in favor of a ruling that government officials may not prominently display the Ten Commandments, Alito has favored a greater accommodation for religion in public life.

And, in a discussion about abortion last week, Alito refused to pledge to uphold Roe vs. Wade, saying only that he values precedent and that it would take a 'special justification' to reverse the ruling.

While the court is not likely to face a question of overturning Roe vs. Wade in the next few years, the justices are likely to decide soon on whether to allow more government restrictions on abortion.


Alito would be fifth Catholic on Supreme Court
Catholic majority on the High Court?
First U.S. Supreme Court Catholic majority in history

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Compunction

27. A brother asked a hermit, 'I hear the hermits weeping, and my soul longs for tears, but they do not come, and I am worried about it.' He replied, 'The children of Israel entered the promised land after forty years in the wilderness. Tears are the promised land. When you reach them you will no longer be afraid of conflict. For it si the will of God that we should be afflicted, so we may always be longing to enter that country.'

January 23, 2006


At March for Life, Thousands of Teens and Women Condemn Abortion
Protests at abortion decision anniversary
Abortion fight may move to states
Demonstrators Mark Roe V. Wade Anniversary

VIA Baptist Press: NYC still U.S. abortion capital

New York City has maintained its hold on an infamous title -- abortion capital of America.

The New York Daily News reported Jan. 15 the following, recently released statistics from the city's Department of Health to illustrate why the Big Apple deserves the designation:

-- There were 74 abortions for every 100 births in the city in 2004.

-- Of every 100 pregnancies in the city, 40 resulted in intentional abortions, far surpassing the national average of 24 in 2002, as estimated by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. (In New York City in 2004, there were 124,100 live births, 91,700 induced abortions and 11,700 spontaneous abortions.)

-- Abortions in New York City for out-of-town women increased from 57 to 70 of every 1,000 between 1996 and 2004.

On the same day, New York Magazine gave more insight into why the city is the country's abortion capital:

-- The ratio of abortions to births is one to one in some parts of the city.

-- New York City has "more abortions performed on minors, more repeat abortions and more late abortions (over 21 weeks)" than any other United States city.

-- Seven of every 10 abortions performed in New York state occur in its most populous city.

-- There are 34 clinics in New York City that perform more than 400 abortions apiece each year.

"New York City has fashioned itself as being the philosophical center of 'abortion on demand,' and it has a thriving industry to show for it," Christina Fadden Fitch told the Daily News. Fitch is legislative director of the New York State Right to Life Committee.

Excerpt Homily by Father Altier:

God will take the blood of all of those babies and He will make something great, as only God can, because the old saying is The blood of martyrs is the seedbed of faith. There is no blood more innocent than that of a child in the womb; therefore, there is no blood that is going to be more powerful than that of a child from the womb. And we have now spilled upon this earth the blood of over 1 billion babies. That is a powerful force crying out to heaven, and God will hear the cries of those babies. But God will also hear the cries of the mothers. We recall when we think about the Holy Innocents, the Gospel writer Matthew tells us that that was to fulfill what was said: Rachel wailing for her children because they are no more. There is not a heart of a woman who has aborted a baby that does not cry out in pain. As much as they might want to try to hide it, they cannot. The reality is there. And if any woman will turn to God and allow those cries to be cries of repentance directed to Almighty God, those will be powerful prayers. So instead of turning upon ourselves, which is what this world tells us to do, we need to turn to God and we need to hear the words of Jesus Christ: Repent, and believe in the Gospel because the kingdom of God is at hand.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Compunction

24. A hermit said, 'As the shadow goes everywhere with the body, so we ought to carry penitence and weeping with us everywhere we go.'

January 19/20, 2006


(Zec 12:2-3) "Lo, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of reeling to all the peoples round about; it will be against Judah also in the siege against Jerusalem. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it shall grievously hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will come together against it.

John: Jerusalem and the End-Time

The religious capital of the world

It is stating the obvious to say that Jerusalem is the religious capital of the world, seeing that no other city has such a profound importance to so many religions. All three monotheistic religions regard Jerusalem as a holy city – one that has had a fundamental significance for the founders of their faith:

For Judaism this is the place where Abraham was tested and where God chose to establish his earthly presence among the forefathers of the Jews, a city whose past glories are a mere foreshadowing of future messianic expectations.

For Islam Jerusalem is Al Quds, the Holy City, which was at first the qibla, the point to which every Muslim had to face when praying. It was also believed that Mohammed once visited the city by night, before receiving his heavenly revelation (Koran 17,1; 53:13-18). However, since Muslims consider Mecca and Medina to be the most holy cities, Jerusalem effectively comes third in the list of cities regarded as holy in Islam.

For Christianity, the status of Jerusalem is perhaps not so clear: the New Testament writers foresaw God’s judgment falling on Jerusalem, because of her rejection of the Messiah and his Church. It was not until the 4th century AD that, through the preaching of St Cyril, Patriarch of Jerusalem, this city came to be regarded unambiguously as the Holy City. He promoted Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land as a ‘fifth gospel’, through which one could personally come close to the mission, Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ, and the subsequent birth of the Church at the first Pentecost.

Eschatological importance of Jerusalem

Nevertheless, all that is history. What we often tend to overlook, though, is that Jerusalem’s status, as a religious capital for the world’s monotheistic religions, is also due to her anticipated role at the end of days, as the location of the final judgment and of the momentous events leading up to this.

This is particularly relevant nowadays because in all three religions eschatological belief has been awakened by an undeniable historical fact of the 20th century: the massive immigration of Jews to the Holy Land.

In Islam, ‘Quranic prophecy clearly confirms that, upon the return of the exiled Jews to the Holy Land, the Day of Judgment commences: “And We said unto the Children of Israel after him: Dwell in the land; but when the promise of the Hereafter (wa'dul akhirati) cometh to pass We shall bring you as a crowd gathered out of various nations” (Koran 17.104).’ (quoted from ).

In Judaism, the vast majority of modern orthodox Jews (Religious Zionists), base themselves on the post-exilic prophecies of restoration in the Old Testament, and believe that the return of the Jewish people to the Land of their forefathers, and the establishment of the State of Israel, are precursors to their imminent messianic redemption.

For Christians, also, there are hints in the Gospels that indicate a time, just before the end of the age, when the Lord ‘will restore the kingdom to Israel’ (Acts 1,6-7), after ‘the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled’ (Lk 21,24).

So the return of the Jews to the Holy Land has strong religious and spiritual significance for all three religions. Consciously or unconsciously, this undeniable historical fact forces, or should force, the faithful of all religions to think eschatologically, that is to say to prepare themselves for the final Judgment, and to live their lives, more than ever, in the imminent expectation of the end. The fact that this historical event is most acutely felt in Jerusalem, where the religious presence of the Jews is most evident, may explain why eschatological, not to say apocalyptic, thinking is more lively and vivid here in Jerusalem than perhaps at any other place on the earth.

Eschatological traditions concerning Jerusalem have their origin in the Old Testament prophetical writings that describe the last judgment taking place in the valley (Jer 7,30-34; Isa 22,5; Ezek 39) between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives (Zech 14) which carries the symbolical name of Jehosaphat, ‘God judges’ (Joel 4,2.12). Inter-testamental apocalyptic writers developed this theme further and described people from all the world being assembled before the divine Judge in the same valley, now called Kidron, between Gethsemane and the Gihon spring just below the ancient City of David. At the time of judgment, the dead will be raised to stand before the throne of God, “some for everlasting life and others for everlasting shame and disgrace”, according to Daniel 12,2. Over the centuries, therefore, this area has been filled with the graves of those who have desired to be the first to receive God’s merciful judgment. Just around the corner, to the south of the ancient city, is the valley of Hinnom (Gehinnom), which has given its name to the destiny of those who will receive the judgment of everlasting condemnation (1 Enoch 27,1-4). On the hill above these two valleys of Kidron and Hinnom is city of Jerusalem itself, or Zion, which has given its name to the place where God’s presence will be re-established in the world to come.

The geography of Jerusalem has clearly been very important for the symbolical development of eschatological thought in all three monotheistic religions, and may partly explain why they have very similar core beliefs about general resurrection and final judgment. However, before concluding that the importance of Jerusalem is entirely symbolical, we would do well to examine the mainline eschatological expectations of each of the three monotheistic religions. If we do this we will see that Jerusalem figures literally, and not just symbolically, in many of the events leading up to the final judgment.

Islamic eschatology

Let us start with Islam (cf. ), whose expectations for the future are largely derived from the Hadith, or ‘Sayings’, of Mohammed. Before the end-times, Muslims believe that their caliphate will be re-established and that through the godly ruler, or caliph, Islam dominate the world (these are, in fact, the declared aims of many militant and non-militant Islamic movements including Bin Laden and Al Qa’ida ). At this time they will re-conquer Jerusalem from the Jews. The last in the line of Caliphs will be called the Mahdi. His rule will be challenged by a leader inspired by the devil, called Al Dajjal, who will arise from Isfahan in Iran and be supported by a multitude of Jewish people. He will deceive and corrupt many people with his lies. At this point, Jesus Christ will descend in person, as a Muslim, in Damascus. Rather surprisingly for us Christians, he will take his place in prayer behind the Mahdi, and will encourage all true believers to become Muslims. They say he will correct the Christians in their beliefs about the crucifixion (according to Muslims, Jesus was not crucified and did not die, but was taken up alive into heaven in order to reappear at the end of Time), and he will also instruct them not to eat pork. However the main purpose of his coming will be to lead the Muslims in war against the Dajjal and his Jewish supporters (thus confirming his correspondence to the antichrist of Christian tradition). Jesus will encounter the Dajjal in Jerusalem and chase him to the gates of the city of Lod, where he will kill him with a spear.

Shortly afterwards Jesus and his faithful will be surrounded at a place called Tur (At-Tur is the Arabic name for the town built upon the Mount of Olives), by the armies of Gog and Magog. They pray to God for deliverance, which comes in the form of worms that infest and kill the adversaries surrounding them. The land is filled with the stench of their corpses, but a rain falls and cleanses it.

Then Jesus will reign with justice and wisdom for 7 years, and everyone will prosper. After 7 years, a cold wind will carry away the souls of all those who have been good, leaving only those who were wicked. Satan will tempt them and they will behave like animals, until the blowing of the first trumpet, at which the resurrection will take place. At the sound of the second trumpet, the final Judgment will take place.

Jewish eschatology

Let us compare this Muslim scenario with that of the most representative branch of Judaism. As we have already stated the vast majority of modern orthodox Jews (Religious Zionists) believe that the return of the Jewish people to the Land of their forefathers, and the establishment of the State of Israel, are precursors to their imminent redemption through a leader they will call their messiah. This redemption is conceived as the historical restoration of their full political and religious sovereignty in the land of their forefathers. As a result of this redemption, the Jewish people will be vindicated over other nations, and through the leadership of their messiah the whole world will be restored (Tikun HaOlam) and all its inhabitants will experience peace and prosperity. In order to prevent false messianic movements, the criteria for identifying the real messiah were refined by Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Book 14: Judges, Treatise 5 [Kings and Wars], chs. 11-12) and are now binding from the point of view of Jewish religious law: the messiah will be an observant Jew who will succeed in bringing the entire Jewish people to keep the Torah, in defeating their enemies (and winning the famous battle of Gog and Magog), in bringing the exiles back to Israel, and, finally, in building the third temple in its place. Please take note: the coming of their messiah and the arrival of their redemption await the literal completion of the building of the temple in its place on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Their messiah will be like Moses, and his coming will be confirmed by a religious leader, who will be like Elijah. Their mission will prepare the Jews for the final judgment and resurrection at an unknown time in the future. Since all Jews will have repented by then, all will be considered righteous. The final judgment will mainly be an occasion for the punishment of the wicked gentiles, and the abolition of their nations. After the final judgment, God will live among men and the earth will be like it was in paradise, as described in Isaiah 11,6-9: “Then wolf will be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them…”. 

Some brief reflections

Before going on to speak about the Christian point of view, it is important to note, firstly, that we are talking about well-developed religious beliefs, which tend to be the strongest and most enduring of all beliefs, at the same time influencing the thoughts and motivating the activities of those who hold them.

Secondly we should note that both Islam and Judaism claim to be essential instruments in the ‘saving’, or redeeming, of the world: for Islam, the Islamic caliph must rule the world to prepare it for judgment, and for Judaism, their political messiah is the one who will repair the world and prepare it for judgment. We have here a kind of spiritual competition for the salvation of the world.

Thirdly, the Islamic and Jewish expectations appear to interact in such a way that they reinforce each other: on one side, the attempts by Muslims to reclaim Jerusalem and the Holy Land are interpreted by the Jews as the wars which their future messiah will win convincingly, giving him the opportunity to rebuild the third temple; on the other side, the Jewish leader who will consequently claim to be the messiah, will be interpreted by Muslims as the Dajjal, who will finally be defeated by the Muslim armies led by Jesus at his second coming.

In these two sets of eschatological beliefs, one sees the elements of a final conflict between the two sides. In view of the deterministic and uncompromising nature of these beliefs, and the fact that both religions zealously claim to be divinely ordained to prepare the world for judgment, the final conflict has a certain inevitability about it. Furthermore we can already see the preparations of this scenario in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, with important roles being played by extremist groups on both sides. On the one hand the religious Zionists who are preparing to take over leadership of Israel, and strengthen their grip on Jerusalem, and on the other hand the militant Islamists who are struggling on a global scale to re-establish their caliphate, and retake all of Israel and Jerusalem for the Muslims.   

Christian eschatology

So what do Christians make of all this?  Firstly it is important to say that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is very divisive among Christians. In general the traditional churches tend to be supportive of the Palestinian-Arab position, whilst the newer fundamentalist movements tend to be more supportive of Israel.

But this division amongst Christians is also a result of misunderstanding of the basic nature of the conflict. As outlined above it is not, by any means, a purely political affair, which can be solved by negotiations, compromises and human justice. There is an essential spiritual component, fuelled by spiritual pride as well as irreconcilable eschatological hopes, beliefs and expectations. The only way we Christians can rightly respond is through spiritual insight, and in this we are greatly helped by our own somewhat enigmatic eschatological prophecies, of which there are several in the NT, the main one being the Apocalypse.

This is not the place to enter into a detailed analysis of the Apocalypse, or any other NT prophecy. All that is needed is to make a few simple observations about the text, and its relevance to the present situation here in the Middle-East. Firstly, a proper understanding of Christian eschatological prophecy enables us to reject both the Muslim and Jewish versions described above: Jesus was indeed crucified for our sins, and he will never want to change this understanding, or invite us to deny this as the Muslims presently do. Jesus is the true Messiah and he has already started the process of redemption, which the Jews so fervently await at the hands of a political leader who will rebuilt their temple in its place. In Christian eyes, such a figure would indeed be the ultimate antagonist of Jesus Christ, the antichrist, since he would be claiming to fulfil the redemptive mission of Jesus. Christians will need to be strong in their faith to resist being deceived by either the Islamic or Jewish versions of redemption.

Secondly, it should be said that the eschatological prophecy that is given to us in the text of the Apocalypse (Rev 8 to the end) actually confirms the terrible scenario that we have inferred above from the interaction of the eschatological beliefs of the Muslims and the Jews. The holy city, Jerusalem, will be profaned for a short period (Rev 11,2), in which the two false messianic figures will reign (the two beasts described in Rev 13). The temple will be rebuilt (this is alluded to in 13,13), and people will be coerced to participate in some kind of cultic activity based on the personality of the so-called messiah (Rev 13, 11-17). It will be a time of unprecedented persecution for those who resist these deceptions, but it will last only a short time before a final battle takes place at ‘Harmagedon’ (Rev 16,16; 19,11-21), followed immediately by the general resurrection, the final judgment, the condemnation of evil, and the perfect realization, on earth, of God’s promises for mankind (Rev 20,7 to the end).

In his grace, the Lord does not expect everyone to grapple with the symbols of this prophecy. Instead, he empowers two Christians to prophecy these things, here in Jerusalem, just before they happen, so that all the faithful will be ready for them (Rev 11,3-13). Our role as Christians, then, is not to support one side or the other, but to witness to both Muslims and Jews the true redemption in Jesus Christ, and in this way attempt to save as many Muslims and Jews from the irreconcilable hatred, conflict and blasphemy into which their religious beliefs are leading them. 

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Compunction

7. Jacob said, 'Like a lantern giving light in a dark little room, so the fear of God comes into a man's heart and enlightens it, and teaches him all that is good and all the commandments of God.'

21. A hermit said, 'If it were possible to die of fear, all the world would perish with terror rememberig the coming of God after the resurrection. What will it be like, to see the heavens opened, and God revealed in wrath and fury, and innumerable companies of angels gazing on the whole human race gathered together? Therefore we ought to live our lives as those who must give account of each action to God.'

January 18, 2006

(2Th 2:11-12) Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

COMMENTARY: Islamic Fundamentalism- When even the pope has to whisper

INTERVIEW: Father Joseph D. Fessio on the problems Christianity, especially in Europe, faces with the spread of Islam


With negotiations over Iran's nuclear program looming once again, understanding the country's new President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is critically important. Perhaps the best place to start is the moment the world first gained a glimpse of Ahmadinejad's character and hardline program.

When he addressed the UN in New York last September, Ahmadinejad suddenly felt himself surrounded by light. It wasn't the stage lighting, he said -- it was light from heaven. Ahmadinejad related his otherworldly experience in a videotaped meeting with a prominent ayatollah in Tehran. A transcript of his comments and sections of the videotape wound up on a hardline, pro-regime internet site,

According to the transcript, Ahmadinejad said a member of his entourage at the UN meeting first told him of the light. "When you began with the words 'In the name of God', I saw a light coming, surrounding you and protecting you to the end (of the speech)," the member said.

Ahmadinejad confirmed sensing a similar presence. "I felt it myself, too, that suddenly the atmosphere changed and for 27-28 minutes the leaders could not blink ... They had their eyes and ears open for the message from the Islamic Republic," he told Ayatollah Javadi-Amoli.

Ahmadinejad's "vision" at the UN could be dismissed as political posturing if it weren't for a string of similar statements and actions that suggest he believes he is destined to bring about the "End Times" -- the end of the world -- by paving the way for the return of the Shia Muslim messiah.

Given that Iran continues to pursue suspect nuclear programs, which could bring the Islamic Republic dangerously close to weapons capability, a leader with messianic visions is worrying. After all, this is the man who recently pledged to use Iran's newfound powers to "wipe Israel off the map" and to "destroy America". In a November 16 speech in Tehran to senior clerics who had come from all over Iran to hear him, the new President said the main mission of his Government was to "pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his reappearance)". The mystical 12th Imam of Shia Islam disappeared as a child in 941AD, and Shia Muslims have awaited his reappearance ever since, believing that when he returns, he will reign on earth for seven years, before bringing about the Last Judgment and the end of the world.

In order to prepare for the Mahdi, Ahmadinejad said, "Iran should turn into a mighty, advanced, and model Islamic society". Iranians should "refrain from leaning toward any Western school of thought" and abstain from "luxurious lives" and other excesses.

Reports in government media outlets in Tehran have quoted Ahmadinejad as having told regime officials that the Hidden Imam will reappear in two years.

While many Shia Muslims worship the 12th Imam, a previously secret society of powerful clerics, now openly advising the new President, are transforming these messianic beliefs into government policies. Led by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, who frequently appears with Ahmadinejad, the Hojatieh society is considered by many Shi'ites as the lunatic fringe. During the early years of the Islamic Revolution, even Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini found their beliefs too extreme and sent them scurrying underground.

Since taking office last August, Ahmadinejad has installed Hojatieh devotees in his cabinet and throughout the bureaucracy. The Ministry of Information and Security, largely sidelined by former president Mohammed Khatami, has re-emerged as a powerful repressive force, using plainclothes agents, allied with the paramilitary Bassij and non-government vigilantes, to crack down on potential opponents of the regime.

As the world prepares to confront an Iranian regime that continues to defy the International Atomic Energy Agency on its nuclear programs, we must listen to what Iran's leaders say as we watch what they do. A religious zealot with nuclear weapons is a dangerous combination the world cannot afford to tolerate.


Iran leader: Islam to 'rule the world' Urges Muslims to get ready for coming of 'messiah'
Waiting for the "rapture" in Iran
There's method in the Mahdi madness of Iran's president

The origins of the Great War of 2007 - and how it could have been prevented

Excerpt USA Today Editorial: In nuclear challenge, Iran bets world will blink first

"An all-out international effort is needed to stop Iran's nuclear program. If that failed and Iraq acquired nuclear weapons, the likeliest outcome would be a Middle East living with the Cold War concept known as mutually assured destruction (MAD). If one nuclear power were to use a weapon, it would bring retaliatory nuclear destruction.

Not a pleasant thought. MAD assumes rational leadership, not rule by fanatics. What if a leader such as Ahmadinejad, who calls for the destruction of Israel and contends the Holocaust is a myth, were to turn a whole country into a suicide bomber? Sobering fuel for thought — and action."

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Compunction

5. When Archbishop Theophilus of holy memory was dying, he said, 'Arsenius, you are blessed of God, because you have always kept this moment before your eyes.'

January 17, 2006

Nadine: HOW TO WELCOME CHRIST INTO YOUR HEART By the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.

In the quest for Christian Perfection, there is one means that is the most effective in achieving this goal. This is the Eucharist whose special grace is union with Christ through love.

Let us immediately say that the Blessed Sacrament does far more than merely symbolize this union of the soul with Christ -- it actually efffects it! Our Blessed Lord wasn't playing with words when He promised: "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in me and I in him." (John 6:57).

This is an amazing and almost unbelievable reality -- the Eucharist truly effects a union with a physical union between our bodies and the Sacred Host; it is a union of our souls with the Divinity of Christ -- and thus with the Godhead Itself.

The special grace of this Eucharistic Food then is one that unites and gradually transforms us into Christ. An entire volume could be written on its wondrous effects, but this is the one that summarizes all others.

Theologians tell us that the whole Sacramental System is ordered to the Eucharist as to its consummation and end. This is another way of saying that all the sacraments have as their ultimate purpose union with Christ in charity. And isn't this the very goal of our Christian lives?

The conclusion that flows from this truth is obvious. The Blessed Sacrament should be at the very center of our lives, because it contains Christ and the whole power of His Passion. Also we should dispose ourselves as perfectly as possible for this wondrous gift.

In the Eucharist, our Lord comes to you in perfect self-surrender. As your Creator He comes to re-create you. As your Savior He comes to save you. As your Divine Lover He comes to put His Power, mercy and love at your disposal. He ardently desires to be your life -- your way -- your other self! You should approach Him in the same way -- with perfect self-surrender. Your faith should tell you what this sacrament contains. Your confidence in the power of this sacrament should be absolutely unlimited. Your humility should expose your spiritual need. Your love should beg Him to take over yourself and your life.

At the moment of Communion, the Heavenly Father sends His Son on a special mission to your soul. It's a time to converse at leisure with your God. A time when He is lavish with His graces. Poor use of this time will cause the loss of many special graces. As you approach Holy Communion, remember that you are about to receive far more than you have the power to give. Just as one Holy Mass can make perfect reparation for what your sins have done to God, so also one fervent Communion can repair the damage that your sins have done to yourself!

In fact it can do much more . . . many of the saints tell us that a single Communion could make a saint!

VIA READER: I have been receiving the Trib Times for several years now. Thank you for the time you devote to putting out this piece (Jan. 11). Many of your articles and highlights have touched me at one time or another, but I just felt compelled to tell you so. The person who authored the following mailbag excerpt wasn't me, but certainly could have been.

After many years of soul searching and feelings of spiritual failure...I am still such a sinner AFTER discovering many revealing messages through alleged locutions & apparitions, and by reading countless books on the subject (staying notably within the "Catholic" experience -- buying into the "rapture" never struck me as something a loving, forgiving God might do)...I realize that my hearts desire isn't in what my future holds, but in the small moments that touch me in the now. I have discovered that the only proof I need that there is a God is to love and be loved. Sure, the sun doesn't rise or set, a baby isn't born and a flower doesn't grow without God's intervening Will, its simplist and purest what defines God and who we are. What better, non-tangable proof that God exists?! If there are lessons to be learned, we will learn them in God's time, and I promise to be receptive.

If these are the end times, I vow to live them as now times. I still have a few 5-7 year old totes brimming with food & medical supplies sitting in the barn in the event we have to make a run for it...even Noah was prepared! Maybe the pendulem is just swinging back a little more toward the middle now. That is why I chose to continue keeping the Tribulation Times coming to my email box through the years. Sense and sensibility. To love and to be loved.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Compunction

4. Elias said, 'I fear thre things: the first, the time before my soul leaves my body: the second, the time before I meet God face to face: the third, the time before He pronounces His sentence upon me.'

January 13, 2006


(Rev 12:12) Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! 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!"

VIA Spero News: Apparitions true and false Part 2 by Fr Peter Joseph

Very few people are aware of the devil’s full powers, and his ability to deceive - many Catholics think that as soon as any prodigy occurs, it must be the work of God

Some norms for discernment 

"The following norms are offered as guides for the spiritual director in the discernment of spirits so far as they pertain to revelations and prophecies:

1. Any revelation contrary to dogma or morals must be rejected as false. God does not contradict himself,

2. Any revelation contrary to the common teaching of theologians or purporting to settle an argument among the schools of theology is gravely suspect.

3. If some detail or other in a revelation is false, it is not necessary to reject the entire revelation; the remainder may be authentic.

4. The fact that a prophecy is fulfilled is not of itself a conclusive proof that the revelation was from God; it could have been the mere un­folding of natural causes or the result of a superior natural knowledge on the part of the seer.

5. Revelations concerning merely curious or useless matters should be rejected as not divine. The same is to be said of those that are detailed, lengthy, and filled with a superfluity of proofs and reasons. Divine revelations are generally brief, clear, and precise.

6. The person who receives the revelation should be examined carefully, especially as to temperament and character. If the person is humble, well balanced, discreet, evidently advanced in virtue, and en­joys good mental and physical health, there is good reason to proceed further and to examine the revelation itself. But if the individual is exhausted with excessive mortifications, suffers nervous affliction, is subject to periods of great exhaustion or great depression, or is eager to divulge the revelation, there is cause for serious doubt." (p. 430)


Is the information useful for the salvation of souls? If it is merely to satisfy curiosity it is unlikely to be of divine origin. Some seeming seers act like mediums, give information on births, marriages, legal processes, diseases, political events, etc. God does not run an Inquiry Office. Some are very clever at observing, or very intuitive, and can work with little things. At séances, furniture is often pushed about, or a spirit moves a person’s hand to write messages, etc. God has never done these things in any approved revelation.

Curiosity sticks out in people who claim to tell you what was the ultimate fate of Princess Diana, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, etc. We’d all love to know who’s in Heaven and who isn’t! A lady I heard of claims to know where every deceased person is: funnily enough everyone’s either in Purgatory or Heaven! I suppose it would do harm to business and popularity to tell people that certain relatives are in Hell! Actually, anyone who pronounces on famous people is immediately to be disbelieved.

Also suspect are revelations that merely give truisms and platitudes.

Why does the devil do it?

Catholics ought be very cautious in giving credence to visions and messages before they have received approbation from the Church. The devil has raised up many false mystics in recent years. People ask: "Why would the devil be behind a revelation which encourages people to pray and fast and do penance? That would be Satan divided against himself."

Fair question. Why would he do it?

Answer: For a number of reasons: to distract people from the genuine private revelations; to lead them into exercises not blessed as such by God; to bring private revelations into complete disrepute; to cause disenchantment and even a crisis of faith when a seer is later plainly seen to be false; and, worst of all, subtly to lead some people out of the Church altogether. The devil is willing to lose a lot, if he can gain in the long run.

The devil rejoices when Catholics reject the tried and true means of spiritual growth to chase after the extraordinary and the unapproved. The Church is extremely careful before approving a private revelation, for she knows how "even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor 11:14). She must avoid both credulity and unfounded scepticism. "Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything," directs St Paul (1 Thess 5:19-21). And St John warns, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God" (1 Jn 4:1). Some spirits are quite easy to discern; others very difficult. Priests in particular must be examples of prudence and obedience in this area.

Examples of visionaries judged to be false 

Some individuals have been pronounced against by name, e.g., Vassula Ryden, and the Little Pebble, William Kamm. Vassula has been condemned twice by the Holy Office (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), on the grounds that her revelations do not come from God, and because they contain errors against the Faith. You hear people say: "But her writings are so spiritual and so beautiful!" I agree; possibly 99% of Vassula’s messages are in conformity with the Catholic Faith—but that is just how the devil operates to deceive pious Catholics. It is the 1% that does harm. A poison apple is mostly good apple—but will harm you nevertheless. The devil knows he cannot mislead devout Catholics with outright heresy, but he can appeal to their piety and then subtly plant errors within.

In any case, there has been no approved revelation in the history of the Church where God took someone’s hand and gave messages by writing with their pen. But you do find handwriting messages given at séances—and séances are condemned by the Church as a practice of the occult against the law of God.

I have seen one pious magazine defending Vassula by saying that Cardinal Ratzinger never signed the statement against her printed in L’Osservatore Romano. A man I know sent them the official statement from Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official Vatican gazette, which has the Cardinal’s signature at the bottom, along with the Bishop Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Unfortunately, the editor of the magazine had neither the humility nor the honesty to print a correction in the next issue.

Another example: the alleged apparitions in Garabandal in northern Spain, in which four young girls alleged that the Virgin Mary appeared to them from 1961-1965. The response of successive bishops of the diocese of Santander has been uniformly negative, and the present Bishop Vilaplaua has concurred with this verdict. Despite this, there are a number of active associations supporting Garabandal. A simple case of disobedience to lawful authority.

This is only one of a countless number. There’s Montichiari in Italy (1947), Necedah in the United States (1949), Palmar de Troya in Spain (1968), Bayside in the U.S. (1970), Dozule in France (1972), and hundreds of others - to say nothing of all the alleged visionaries and locutionists past and present, such as the Irish lady, Christina Gallagher, and many another poor deluded souls. Mrs Gallagher’s messages, in part, read like a frantic worried woman lamenting the state of the world. There are plenty of frantic worried people, lamenting the state of the world, who are good Catholics - but the Blessed Virgin from Heaven does not talk like them, in such a human, earthly, fretful fashion. To attribute such talk to Our Lady is an insult.

"Have visions; will travel" - such publicity seekers are not to be believed. Genuine visionaries fly from publicity. They do not go around with photographers and camera crews. They submit to investigation by Church authorities; but they do not have publicity agents.

The authority to judge and the duty to obey 

No private individual has the authority to judge definitively and officially which private revelations are true and which are not.

The authority to rule on the genuineness of a private revelation rests first with the local Bishop.

The apparitions of Lourdes, Knock, Fatima, Beauraing, Banneux - to name only a few - were approved by the local Bishops. The Popes of the time never issued any judgement on them. The current canonical practice is that the local Bishop must appoint a committee to investigate and rule on any private revelation (if he thinks it worthy of investigation), but the Holy See may intervene if necessary or if the Bishops ask it to. Alternatively, he may ask the Episcopal Conference of his country to assist in the investigation and judgement.

It is forbidden, as well as sinful, to propagate private revelations which have received a negative judgement from the local Bishop, the conference of Bishops, or the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Some people say, "I’m going to follow it until the Pope says it’s false." This is a useless guide for action in this matter - very rarely does the Pope make a pronouncement for or against a revelation.

As for statements attributed to the Pope (e.g., "I heard that the Pope told Mrs Smith after Mass in his private chapel that he believes in Garabandal and Bayside;" "The Pope told Jack that he could go ahead and print that condemned book") - no one is entitled to act on such gossip. The Church is governed by publicly promulgated statements - not by hearsay and personal communications.

The Popes may choose to show their approval of certain revelations, after the decision of a local Bishop or conference of Bishops, by speaking of them, or by placing a new feast in the liturgical calendar, or by visiting the places intrinsically connected with them (e.g., Guadalupe, Paray-le-Monial, Rue de Bac, Lourdes, Knock, Fatima, Beauraing, Banneux).

Even should the local Bishop mistakenly disapprove of a genuine revelation, obedience to the Church remains paramount. It is a sin to propagate a private revelation disobediently, but it can never be a sin not to propagate one. This applies both to claimed seers and to followers. In fact, if an alleged visionary disobeys a legitimate order from the Bishop, and claims God’s backing for the action, this is a sure sign that the message is not from God. Even if a genuine private revelation has been given, not even God Himself would want or command a seer to spread it against a lawful decree of a Bishop to desist. In fact, there are occasions in the life of St Teresa of Jesus of Avila (died 1582) and St Margaret Mary (died 1690) and Sr Josefa Menendez (died 1923) where Our Lord gave them a directive, but then their superior forbade it. What did they do? They obeyed their human superior on earth. What did Our Lord then tell them? -‘You were right to obey my representative.’ 

On one occasion, the Sacred Heart of Jesus told St Margaret Mary to do something, but her Superior did not approve. When He came again, she asked Him about this, and He replied: "…not only do I desire that you should do what your Superior commands, but also that you should do nothing of all that I order without their consent. I love obedience, and without it no one can please me" [Autobiography of St Margaret Mary].

Spiritual writers have an axiom: A Superior may or may not be inspired by God in his command, but you are always inspired in obeying. (Of course, we’re not talking about where a Superior commands a sin; and, as I said above, it is not a sin to drop a private revelation).

Satan may really promote good things for a while, provided that he gains in the long run. The revelations of Necedah, Wisconsin, seemed to have good fruits, yet were false. Rosaries were said to change to gold. Similarly for Bayside. But disobedience showed them false. St Margaret Mary was told by Our Lord: "Listen, My daughter, and do not lightly believe and trust every spirit, for Satan is angry and will try to deceive you. So do nothing without the approval of those who guide you. Being thus under the authority of obedience, his efforts against you will be in vain, for he has no power over the obedient" [Autobiography].

After error itself, the mark of a false mystic is wilfulness and disobedience. I love this quote from Saint Faustina Kowalska: "Satan can even clothe himself in a cloak of humility, but he does not know how to wear the cloak of obedience." (Diary, par. 939). Genuine mystics, like Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), are models of obedience. They never pretend to set up Christ against His Church.

Everyone is free to have an opinion, but all have to submit to the judgement of the Church with practical obedience. What I mean is: you are still free to disagree (the Bishop is not infallible in this matter), but you owe him practical obedience, that is, you may not act against the decree; you may not propagate a revelation that the Bishop has judged negatively, or continue to say publicly that you regard it as genuine. Remember, a Church commission may give a negative verdict for reasons which it cannot state publicly, e.g., it may have found out things against the character of the seer, but will not say so publicly, even though this would justify the decision and help people to accept it.

If a so-called message is judged not authentic for doctrinal reasons, then you are not free to defend such messages, because then you will be defending error. Vassula Ryden is an example of this: the judgement against her was for false doctrine in her writings. How and why pious Catholics defended her after the negative judgement by the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is beyond me. Her whole case is black-and-white. Apart from unorthodoxy, her alleged messages, which are meant to be handwritten by Our Lord Himself, contain mistakes in English spelling and grammar!

Can you say publicly that an approved revelation is not genuine? Yes, if you want to. The Church never orders you to accept any private revelation. But any such disagreement should be voiced respectfully.

Caution never does harm 

The simple fact is that most claimed revelations are false. It is extremely foolish, therefore, to devote oneself to propagating a disapproved or dubious message, which might actually come from the Father of Lies. If one day you see its falsity for yourself, you will regret it enormously, and be unable to undo the harm done to others. On the other hand, there are more than enough approved messages to spread, if you want to spread them. It is better to keep to what is countenanced by the Church, than to go it alone and risk being a dupe of the devil.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Quiet

14. Matrona said, 'Many solitaries living in the desert have been lost because they lived like people in the world. It is better to live in a crowd and want to live a solitary life than to live in solitude and be longing all the time for company.'

January 12, 2006

(2Co 11:13-14) For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

VIA Spero News: Apparitions true and false Part 1 by Fr Peter Joseph

Very few people are aware of the devil’s full powers, and his ability to deceive - many Catholics think that as soon as any prodigy occurs, it must be the work of God 

As a prelude, I should state my own interest in Private Revelations. I have visited Paray-le-Monial (where Jesus showed His Sacred Heart to St Margaret Mary in the 17th century). I have visited Rue de Bac (where the Miraculous Medal was given to St Catherine Labouré in 1830). I have visited Lourdes, Knock, and Fatima; also the two Belgian towns where Our Lady appeared: Beauraing (1932-33) and Banneux (1933). I wear the Brown Scapular and the Miraculous Medal. I have conducted Holy Hours to celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy since 1993.

I think, from all this, you can see that I am not opposed to private revelations. But I am opposed to false revelations; I am opposed to dubious revelations; I am opposed to disapproved revelations; I am opposed to obsession with private revelations. I am opposed to all these things precisely because I do believe in genuine private revelations and their role in the life of the Church.

The abundance of alleged messages and revelations in the past forty years makes ever more necessary the traditional caution and discernment of spirits. Amid today’s confusion and spiritual wasteland, many Catholics are seeking contact with the supernatural via new private revelations, regardless of whether or not they have been approved, or even whether or not they are in accordance with the Faith.

Private revelations occur

God may, and sometimes does, grant revelations to private individuals. Those who receive them, and are perfectly certain that they come from God, should believe them. But the Church never imposes on Catholics the obligation of believing anyone’s private revelations, even those of the great saints. The Church gives her approval to them only when she is satisfied after rigorous examination of their spiritual utility and of the evidence on which they depend.

The Catechism

The Catechism at #67 says: "Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognised by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to ‘improve’ or ‘complete’ Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. … Christian faith cannot accept ‘revelations’ that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfilment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such ‘revelations’." (See St Thomas, Summa II-II, q.174, art.6, ad 3).

Whom does the Catechism have in mind? Among others, Moslems and Mormons. Mohammed claimed that the Gospels misrepresent Christ, and Mormons believe there is a Third Testament.

Sources of revelations

There are three sources, ultimately, of revelations, visions, prodigies, and suchlike things: God, man, or the devil.

Under the heading of God, I include God’s holy creatures, such as Our Lady or another Saint or an angel.

Under man, I mean any human knowledge or skill or trickery or imagination or any human activity or machine or device causing anything to happen.

Under the devil, I include the devil himself or any one of the other demons.

The power of the devil

Very few people are aware of the devil’s full powers, and his ability to deceive. Many Catholics think that as soon as any prodigy occurs, it must be the work of God. But, as I said, messages and prodigies can issue from three sources ultimately: God, man, or the devil. It is the work of discernment to identify who is at work in a given case.

It is knowledge of diabolical trickery which makes the Church cautious here. My next part on the power of the demons is taken from Father Jordan Aumann, a Dominican priest, who taught for many years at the Angelicum University in Rome.

What the devils can and cannot do

The devils cannot do the following:

(1) Produce any kind of truly supernatural phenomenon; (2) Create a substance, since only God can create; (3) Bring a dead person back to life, although they could produce the illusion of doing so; (4) Make truly prophetic predictions, since only God knows the future absolutely, and those to whom He chooses to reveal a portion of it. However, the devil’s intelligent conjecture about the future might appear to mere mortals a prophecy; (5) Know the secrets of a person’s mind and heart. However, their shrewd intelligence and observation may enable them to deduce many things about a person.

But the devils can do the following:

(1) Produce corporeal or imaginative visions; (2) Falsify ecstasy; (3) Instantaneously cure sicknesses that have been caused by diabolical influence; (4) Produce the stigmata; (5) Simulate miracles and the phenomena of levitation and bilocation;(6) Make people or objects seem to disappear by interfering with a person’s sight or line of vision; (7) Cause a person to hear sounds or voices; (8) Cause a person to speak in tongues; (9) Declare a fact which is hidden or distant.

Whatever nature or science can cause, the devils too are able to cause, according to what God may permit. See the Book of Exodus where the magicians and sorcerers of Pharaoh were able to accomplish some of the prodigies wrought by Moses and Aaron (Ex 7:11-12; 7:22; 8:7; 8:18-19; 9:11). Close to 200 A.D., Tertullian writes, "first of all, they [the demons] make you ill; then to get a miracle out of it, they prescribe remedies either completely novel, or contrary to those in use, and thereupon withdrawing hurtful influence, they are supposed to have wrought a cure." (Apology of the Christian religion, 22).

In the face of the fallen angels’ power to deceive, it is no wonder that the Church is always very slow to declare a miracle or message authentic.

The devil has superhuman intelligence and is very clever, and to pretend that you can definitively judge in favour of something’s authenticity, without help, is presumptuous.

To know if something is false, it suffices to know that it says something contrary to the teaching of the Church. Hence, it is easier to pronounce against visionaries than in their favour. But the mere absence of doctrinal error is not enough. There have to be other positive indications.

The following quotations are from the final chapter of the rock-solid book Spiritual Theology (Sheed & Ward 1980) by Dominican Father Jordan Aumann.

Signs of the divine spirit

"The following characteristics are general signs of the divine spirit:

1. Truth. God is truth and cannot inspire anything but truth in a soul. If a person believed to be inspired by God, therefore, maintains opinions that are manifestly against revealed truth, the infallible teach­ing of the Church, or proven theology or philosophy or science, it must be concluded that the individual is deluded by the devil or is the victim of excessive imagination or faulty reasoning.

2. Gravity. God is never the cause of things that are useless, futile, frivolous, or impertinent. When his spirit moves a soul it is always for something serious and beneficial.

3. Enlightenment. Although one may not always understand the meaning of an inspiration from God, the effect of any divine movement or impulse is always enlightenment and certitude rather than darkness and confusion. This is true both for the effects on the individual who receives the inspiration and its effects on others.

4. Docility. Souls that are moved by the spirit of God accept cheer­fully the advice and counsel of their directors or others who have authority over them. This spirit of obedience, docility, and submission is one of the clearest signs that a particular inspiration or movement is from God. This is especially true in the case of the educated, who have a greater tendency to be attached to their own opinions.

5. Discretion. The spirit of God makes the soul discreet, prudent, and thoughtful in all its actions. There is nothing of precipitation, light­ness, exaggeration, or impetuosity; all is well balanced, edifying, seri­ous, and full of calmness and peace.

6. Humility. The Holy Spirit always fills the soul with sentiments of humility and self-effacement. The loftier the communications from on high, the more profoundly the soul inclines to the abyss of its own nothingness. Mary said, ‘I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say’ (Lk 1:38).

7. Peace. St. Paul speaks frequently of the peace that comes from God (Rom 15:33, Phil 4:9), and Jesus mentions peace as one of the manifestations of his spirit (Jn 14:27). This is a quality that always accompanies communications from God; the soul experiences a pro­found and stable serenity in the depths of its spirit." (pp. 402-3)

Fr Aumann mentions other signs also: Confidence in God, Flexibility of will, Purity of intention, Patience in suffering, Self-abnegation, Simplicity, Liberty of spirit.

Signs of the diabolical spirit

"…[S]ince the devil may disguise himself as a good spirit and even cause what appears to be authentic mystical phenomena, it is helpful to mention briefly the various signs of the diabolical spirit.

1. Spirit of falsity. The devil is the father of lies, but he cleverly conceals his deceit by half-truths and pseudo-mystical phenomena.

2. Morbid curiosity. This is characteristic of those who eagerly seek out the esoteric aspects of mystical phenomena or have a fascina­tion for the occult or preternatural.

3. Confusion, anxiety, and deep depression.

4. Obstinacy. One of the surest signs of a diabolical spirit.

5. Constant indiscretion and a restless spirit. Those who constantly go to extremes, as in penitential exercises or apostolic activity, or ne­glect their primary obligations to do some personally chosen work.

6. Spirit of pride and vanity. Very anxious to publicize their gifts of grace and mystical experiences.

7. False humility. This is the disguise for their pride and self-love.

8. Despair, lack of confidence, and discouragement. A chronic characteristic that alternates with presumption, vain security, and un­founded optimism." (p. 412)

Fr Aumann mentions other signs also: Impatience in suffering and stubborn resentment; Uncontrolled passions and strong inclination to sensuality, usually under the guise of mystical union; Hypocrisy, simulation, and duplicity; Excessive attachment to sensible consolations, particularly in their practice of prayer; Lack of deep devotion to Jesus and Mary; Scrupulous adherence to the letter of the law and fanatical zeal in promoting a cause.

Signs of the human spirit

"The human spirit is always inclined to its own satisfactions; it is a friend of pleasure and an enemy of suffering of any kind. It readily inclines to anything that is compatible with its own temperament, its personal tastes and caprices, or the satisfaction of self-love. It will not hear of humiliations, penance, renunciation, or mortification. If any director or confessor goes against its inclinations, he is immediately branded as inept and incompetent. It seeks success, honors, applause, and pastimes. It is always a great promoter of anything that will arouse admiration or notoriety. In a word, the human spirit neither understands nor cares for anything except its own egoism.

"It is sometimes difficult in practice to judge whether given man­ifestations proceed from the devil or from a purely human and egois­tic spirit, but it is always relatively easy to distinguish between these two and the spirit of God. It will be possible in most cases, therefore, to determine that a given spirit could not possibly be from God and that it must be combatted, even if one is not sure whether it is in fact from the devil or the human ego." (p. 413)

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Quiet

11. Nilus said, 'The arrows of the enemy cannot touch someone who loves quiet. But those who wander about crowds will often be wounded by them.'

January 11, 2006

(Mat 5:14-16) "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Epiphany of the Lord

Again, if you think about it and you look at yourself and think, “Well, I’m really not shining too terribly brightly for the Lord,” then rejoice all the more that the darkness is becoming so much worse, because even the dimmest bulb shines rather brightly in great darkness. But we need to make sure we continue to try to increase the brightness that is there, that we develop the holiness and the prayer life, that we seek true union with Christ. The times in which we are living should certainly be clear to anyone of faith. They are extraordinary times, certainly times of extraordinary evil – never in the history of the world has there been such an evil day. If you think about that from past events, the Flood came at the time of Noah because of the evil that was present in the world. Back in the late 1950’s, Pope Pius XII said that we live in the most sinful society that history has ever known. That was in the 1950’s. And so if that is the case, things are far worse now. We need to make sure we are living our faith. We need to make sure we are not giving way to the darkness to become like everyone else. We need to make sure we are not compromising our commitment to Jesus Christ, because in the midst of such an evil time we know there are going to be extraordinary things that are going to be happening, and each and every one of us needs to be prepared for that. We know not the day nor the hour, and it does not matter when. All that matters is that we are found watching and ready.

FROM THE MAILBAG VIA Joyce: The End Times Too much Pondering and not enough Pleading by Christopher 

When I first had my conversion experience, I was filled with the Love of God and wanted to tell everyone about this fantastic gift I’d found… so I did. My success ratio in leading people to Christ was maybe 5%, but the odds were much better with my family and friends as they were now convinced that I was 100% whacko. Through some trials, tribulations and personal growth provided by my new found Friend, I have learned how better to assist Him in witnessing to my brothers and sisters and am maturing in my faith day by day.

Somewhere along the line I learned that Jesus was going to return. I’d heard this in the past but it now seemed like a reality that was “coming soon”!

While looking into this fantastic conglomeration of information on the End Times I slowly became familiar with Apparitions, Locutions, Prophesy, Visions, Miraculous Photos, Mystics, scientific data on recent natural disasters and odd physical occurrences affecting our world. I even experience some of these phenomenon’s in my personal life.

I soon found myself immersed so much in the “end” times I all but forgot to live in the “now” times and my child like faith was slipping away. All of this research became obsessive and was also taking up a lot of my time which would have been better spent taking care of business, reading scripture and pleading on my knees in prayer.

By our Lords Grace the real Truth began returning to me and I recalled the basics: that I was supposed to Love God above all, and my brother (and sister) as self. This simple Truth had became more difficult to hold on to as I wondered and speculated on both real or prophesied events of the End Times, some filling me with fear or worry of what was to come. With this spiritual unrest inside of me, Christ could not emanate from me.

Now what was that our Lord told us in Matthew 24:34? Oh yes: "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Oops… I almost forgot that verse… I’m so grateful that our Lord is compassionate enough to be reeling me back to where He wants me again. I’m not really sure why I had to go through this experience but Isaiah 55:8 comes to mind: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.

The cunning and deception of the evil one knows no limits. He actually used Christ’s return to become a stumbling block to my faith! Isn’t my faith based on Christ’s birth, death, resurrection and return? I sure was off track for a while there. I Praise God for shining through once again!

I would be lying if I said that I no longer find End Time prophesy and current world events fascinating, and believe me, it’s a much better hobby than some I’ve devoted myself to in the past ( amen )!

I know that miracles happen every single day and that God is showing us signs of the times through scripture and in many other forms. From now on I’ll pray about the things I feel I should, but won’t attempt to figure out things that are not for me to know ( back to Isaiah55:8 ).

Yup, I’m going to nip anxiety in the bud this year and instead of searching every known media source for “answers’ I’ll continue to fast and drop to my knees in thanksgiving for all of my Blessings, praying for the sins and conversion of the world, my family, my friends and myself.

Let’s take the recent advice of Michael Brown from concerning End Time prophesy:

“Indeed, watch; watch and discern and be careful as we all try not to go overboard”.

May Our Lord bless you abundantly with his Peace and Joy!

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Quiet

8. Evagarius said, 'Cut the desire for many things out of your heart and so prevent your mind being dispersed and your stillness lost.'

January 10, 2006


Epiphany of the Lord

We rejoice when there are conversions. We rejoice when people see the light. But how often we are put to shame by the way these people live their lives. They have seen the truth and they have changed their lives to conform to the truth, whereas so many of us continue to try to compromise the truth, to be mediocre Catholics, and to find a way to let the darkness attempt to cover the light. We cannot do that any longer. The Wise Men were smart enough to look to the light in the darkness. We live in a day where darkness covers the earth and thick clouds cover the people, but there is a brilliant star that shines in the darkness. If we have any wisdom about us at all, we should be able to see that star – Who is Jesus Christ – shining in the darkness and to follow that star, to keep our eyes fixed upon it until we find Him, we unite ourselves with Him, and we bow down before Him and worship Him.

VIA Dr. Stephen A Rinehart: Epiphany

Although an Epiphany is often considered a single moment or an event of realization in a person's life, the Wise Men's trip to Bethlehem offers additional insight into The Epiphany. They undertook a faith-based journey based on Scripture and their knowledge as astronomers and their "epiphany" occurred in seeing the "Light of Christ" at the end of the journey.

This suggests that an Epiphany awaits each one of us who make a faith-based journey each day of our lives so that we too will see the Light of Christ (Our Epiphany) at the end of the journey. To do this, we must carry the peace, truth and love of Christ to all we meet on our journey. Our Star in The East is The Holy Spirit who is guiding us each day on our way home. Peace, Truth and Love are the Frankincense, Myrrh and Gold which we will bring to the Christ-Child when we arrive at the Manger.

May your journey be a faith-filled and blessed trip to your Epiphany one day.

VIA Frank R Molver:  For the seed to bring forth life the shell had to be cracked. For us it is the same in the spiritual realm. Our body and soul want to control and do things their way. The spirit waits for the soul to decide to submit. When Jesus carried the cross he embraced it because it brought life.

Thank him for the pain. Don't dwell or mourn for the past. Change your thinking. Changing our thinking will allow the Holy Spirit to come forth and heal. It will allow the love of God to be real and evident in our life. It will bring peace and life. Let go of the past, thank him for the now. Crack your shell and enjoy his company now. Let Him have his way.

VIA Sadie Jaramillo:  It has taken me many years to learn that I must love nothing and no one MORE than God. I must be willing to be like Father Abraham, who did not question God's command to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Can you do that? Can you put your loved ones on that altar and give them to God in sacrifice? Accepting in imitation for instance St. Rita's example of praying:

"Lord if you know that my sons will lose their salvation, take them now, but give them a chance to repent."

Within two years if memory serves me correct, her two sons were dead. Her prayer came from over hearing her sons plot murderous revenge against the person responsible for their father's murder. True to her prayer, they had a chance to repent and convert and died in the grace of God. When I read that story many years ago, it truly made an impact me and made me do some serious thinking about the loved ones in my life and where I held them in my heart.

I don't like when bad things come to me or anyone in my family...but I try to see the value in the suffering IF I accept it and rejoice (I am not quite THERE yet, for I can't say that I rejoice).

The difference I CAN feel is I don't fall apart...I don't become a "basket case"....I feel a strength that I KNOW is not mine. The Holy Spirit leads me to do what I need to do....when I need to do it......and there is no fear.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Quiet

2. Antony said, 'He who sits alone and is quiet has escaped from three wars: hearing, speaking, seeing: but there is one thing against which he must continually fight: that is, his own heart.'

January 9, 2006   


Pope Benedict on Monday warned of a clash of civilisations caused by the "moral perversion" of terrorism, called for peace between Israel and Palestinians, and urged cuts in arms spending to feed the poor.

The 78-year-old German Pope offered his considerations of the international scene in his first "state of the world" address -- a traditional new year speech to diplomats accredited to the Vatican from more than 170 countries.

Benedict, elected last April, said parts of the world had witnessed "appalling scenes of military conflict" and urged all nations to shun the "law of might" to solve disputes.

His French-language speech was delivered in a frescoed Vatican hall amid international anxiety for the health of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and its ramifications for Middle East and global peace.

He said the Holy Land was a "nerve point of the world scene" and the solution of problems there was vital for international peace.

"There, the State of Israel has to be able to exist peacefully in conformity with the norms of international law; there, equally, the Palestinian people has to be able to develop serenely its own democratic institutions for a free and prosperous future," he said.

He said peace in the Middle East and elsewhere was possible only when diversity and equality among people was mutually recognised and respected and when all parties in conflict acknowledged their own errors and sought forgiveness.


The danger of a "clash of civilisations" had been "made more acute by organised terrorism, which has already spread over the whole planet," the Pope said.

"Its causes are many and complex, not least those to do with political ideology, combined with aberrant religious ideas. Terrorism does not hesitate to strike defenceless people, without discrimination, or to impose inhuman blackmail, causing panic among entire populations, in order to force political leaders to support the designs of the terrorists," he said.

"No situation can justify such criminal activity, which covers the perpetrators with infamy, and it is all the more deplorable when it hides behind religion, thereby bringing the pure truth of God down to the level of the terrorists' own blindness and moral perversion," he added.

He said he was thinking especially of Iraq, "the cradle of great civilisations, which in these past years has suffered daily from violent acts of terrorism."

Benedict said peace did not mean merely the absence of war.

"One cannot speak of peace in situations where human beings are lacking even the basic necessities for living with dignity," he said, urging the world community to tackle the scourge of starvation, of the homeless, of refugees.

"Are these human beings not our brothers and sisters? Do their children not come into the world with the same legitimate expectations of happiness as other children?" he asked.

He again called for arms spending cuts to help the poor.

"On the basis of available statistical data, it can be said that less than half of the immense sums spent worldwide on armaments would be more than sufficient to liberate the immense masses of the poor from destitution. This challenges humanity's conscience," he said.

RELATED: More than 800 million children are exploited, says Vatican report

SEE ALSO: Pope attacks 'culture of death'

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Quiet

1. Antony said, 'Fish die if they stay on dry land, and in the same way monks who stay outside their cell or remain with secular people fall away from their vow of quiet. As a fish must return to the sea, so must we to our cell, in case by staying outside, we forget to watch inside.' 

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