Ok, so it’s not in the DSM but I’m starting to see this disorder more and more in my office and among my friends. I’ve even had a few bouts with it myself. Anxiety. Agitation. Nervousness. Emotional paralysis. Sleeplessness. Obsessive thoughts and worries about the future.
We have no shortage of alleged visionaries, private revelation, and prophecies these days.
It seems like a lot of people are getting direct communications from God or Mary or various saints. Some are pretty out there but many are very compelling and approved by church authorities, an important criterion to use in your own discernment. Most of us are familiar with the big apparitions such as Our Lady’s appearances in Lourdes and Fatima and the revelations of Divine Mercy by Jesus to Sr. Faustina. As for me, I take them seriously as worthy of belief once sanctioned by the Church. But many people reject them all. If it’s not in the Bible it can’t be true or worth considering. Since we have a God who came in human flesh and has a history of sending prophets to speak to His people, it makes sense to me that He will still communicate with special souls either directly or through Our Lady. His history proves that He wants to be known.
Lately the messages are becoming more dire…that we’re in for some trouble. Evangelical prophets, secular voices, survivalist blogs, and financial analysts issue similar warnings. Harbingers, storms, and schemitahs. Changes are coming. They will be unprecedented in human history.
From a logical standpoint it makes sense. Everything is inverted these days. New “rights” invented by the Supreme Court are celebrated, while the most basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution are eviscerated. Things that were unthinkable just 15 years ago are now mainstreamed and promoted in our schools. It’s rare that you meet someone who isn’t struggling with big crosses lately. Heroin is claiming more and more young lives in affluent suburban communities. Police officers are being hunted like deer. Preborn children are being sold in pieces in macabre transactions that strain the limits of even the most perverse imagination. The process of change may be scary as we don’t know what to expect but the need for change couldn’t be more pressing…or welcome.
Let’s face it. If we continue on the road we’re on, financial disaster may be inevitable. With nearly 20 trillion dollars in national debt and growing, more people receiving government assistance than working, what else can we expect unless we change course quickly? The world seems to be caught in some kind of spell or mass hypnosis. And as bad as it really is, the devil you know is better than the one you don’t, so many just cling to the misery and, like the dance band on the Titanic, play on.
But, the constant focus and speculating is taking its toll and perhaps having the opposite of the intended effect. Being afraid and paralyzed in that fear is not only pointless but fruitless. In Fatima Our Lady appeared begging for our conversion to avoid, or mitigate, whatever chastisement is coming our way. She gave us a plan for peace. She even performed the Miracle of the Sun that was witnessed by over 70,000 people – including skeptics and atheists. What would be the point of her warning us if we can’t change course?
If God loves us and wants our good, why are we so afraid? Does He want our destruction or for us to live, to prosper, and to be happy? We’re doing none of those things successfully in recent years. Suicide now ranks as the number one cause of death by injury in the US for those aged 15 to 49. Ponder that. Suicide takes more lives than accidents. The exponential increase of auto-immune disorders says something too. Our very bodies have become our enemies. Like a fetus hunted down and killed in his own mother’s womb, our bodies are attacked by the very system given by God to protect us. You can’t make this stuff up!
So what should we do? Should we batten down the hatches and prepare for Armageddon? Living through Hurricane Sandy here on Long Island, the idea of having food and water on hand for emergencies certainly seems prudent and may be something to consider. If you feel moved in that direction, then do so. We do have an obligation to care for our families and to be prudent about their safety. But if you find yourself consumed with fear and ready to pull away from the world, think again. Is that what God is asking of us?
At heart, our problem is spiritual. There is an epic battle between good and evil that has been raging for centuries and seems to be coming to a head. The dichotomy between conservative and liberal principles is a blatant case in point. For many it looks like evil is winning hence we see such despair. ISIS advancing, Planned Parenthood’s continued funding, and rainbows over the White House paint a bleak picture. Sure, it’s hard to ignore. We need to know about it but should we focus on it? If you continuously stare at something eventually it gets larger. It consumes your vision field. It fools you into believing it’s bigger than it is. That is the devil’s tactic.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to minimize the magnitude of the problems out there or advocate putting our heads in the sand. No. We need to take heed. They’re huge and unparalleled in human history. But if we’re going to navigate successfully through our current morass and whatever may be coming down the pike, we need to fix our gaze on the answers, not the problems. Our salvation is not in human solutions any more than it is in politics, amusing as it may be to watch the debates and listen to the pundits parse candidates’ words and issue their predictions.
The main message we need to glean from the plethora of prophecy out there is that returning to God is the answer…the only answer; that we need to focus or refocus on Him and on His Word. We need to turn from sin and encourage others to do the same. Whatever changes or storms (as some refer to it) that we will endure are being allowed for our ultimate good. They are not a punishment from God but the natural consequences of the actions of a world that has distanced itself from Him and allowed other idols to take His place.
If you follow any visionaries, mystics, or private revelation then there are certain criteria you need to follow to keep yourself from becoming too fascinated by their messages or from being deceived or manipulated. First and foremost, what has the Church said about them or their messages? Certain past events like Our Lady’s appearances in Guadalupe, Lourdes, LaSalette, Fatima, Knock, Akita or Green Bay have been analyzed and approved by Church authorities as worthy of belief. But, that doesn’t mean you must believe them. No, only that they are worthy of belief. Studying and living according to those messages will likely lead you in the right direction. But beware…even with Church approved apparitions there are individuals and organizations that distort the messages. For instance, Our Lady’s messages from Fatima have been misrepresented in some places. Don’t just believe anything you read on the Internet. Trust who speaks officially and ignore those who go out on their own.
For revelations that seem to be happening now, the Church generally doesn’t weigh in on them. Time usually will tell if what they predict comes to pass and the Church moves slowly and cautiously. In the meantime, the Church may allow devotions or even pilgrimages to those sites. For instance, Mary’s alleged appearances in Medjugorje continue so there has yet to be a final pronouncement by the Church. Many judge by the abundant good fruits of Medjugorje and believe in its authenticity. Hopefully they’re right and we’ll know soon enough. Going there on pilgrimage or reading the messages is okay, BUT if the Church does condemn it (or any other popular apparition) be ready to walk away. That’s it. Just walk away. Our safety is in obedience to the authority that Jesus set up not our own discernment.
As for the many mystics receiving locutions, many are compelling and pique our interest. But be careful. It’s easy to become no better than those who seek psychics for answers about the future. That is NOT what we are to do and NOT the purpose of God speaking through His chosen instruments. The purpose is always one of solace and conversion. If it leads you only to fear, then whether it’s authentic or not, stay away from it.
The most important criteria to look for in any alleged mystic or visionary is obedience. Do they have a spiritual director? Are they submissive to their Bishop? Do they ask for permission to publicize their messages or do they just put them out on their websites or publish their own books of revelation? If they are not under the direction of a spiritual director and submissive to the authority of their bishop, walk away. Don’t look back. Just drop it like a hot potato.
Remember, our troubles are the result of our sins and our disconnect from God. God is calling us to be beacons of hope in the darkness. If sinfulness is the problem, sinlessness is the solution. The sinless Immaculate Heart of Mary is our refuge. The Rosary is our weapon. She has told us that repeatedly, over and over again, frequently, constantly, and repetitively (did I make my point).
If God’s goal of allowing any coming storm, unprecedented change, chastisement, or whatever you want to call it, is our conversion, do we need to wait to be in the eye of the storm to get working on it? Or is the point of Our Lady’s warnings and any other legitimate messages to turn us in the right direction of conversion to avoid the storm, mitigate it, or shorten its duration?
If you find yourself fearful, consumed with worry, unsure how to prepare, unable to sleep, you need to stop reading all this stuff and get back to reading the Bible and the Spiritual classics. Jesus and His Mercy are the same yesterday, today, and forever. His love is still the guiding force of the universe. Don’t forget that. Get to confession monthly. Invite your friends and family. Spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Pray the Rosary and really meditate on the mysteries. Focus on God’s power, how He intervened in the Old Testament for His people. Remember His mercies and His love for us. Get to know Jesus in a more personal way as your savior, as your friend. Take His mother as your own. Be not afraid but trust. As St. Padre Pio, a modern mystic and saint said so well “Pray, hope [trust], and don’t worry.”
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