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Apocalyptic times feels like an understatement

To say that we live in Apocalyptic times feels like the understatement of the millennium.  For several years now, there has been a growing sense that something terrible is looming over us, but the fact of the matter is, this shouldn’t be surprising when we consider the events of October 13, 1917.  As you well know, on October 13, 1917, three small children of Fatima Portugal were at the epicenter of an incredible miracle witnessed over 70,000 people.  That miracle is now referred to as the Miracle of the Sun, as it danced about the sky, shooting off a variety of colors in all directions, only to culminate in it plunging toward the earth as if to burn it all up.

When Catholics talk about it today, it sometimes feels as though we might as well be talking about the latest football scores or a recent archeological discovery of moderate interest.  That is … if such Catholics are even aware of the Miracle at Fatima at all.  Or, if there is real interest in this event, it is often one of a glorified awe at the power of God, as one expresses when a miraculous healing takes place.  But what is lost in the spectrum of attitudes is the gravity of this type of miracle and what it truly means for us.

The Miracle of the Sun at Fatima is a miracle of biblical proportions in a very literal sense.  In all of Scripture, there are only three miracles related to the sun.  The first is miracle of the sun remaining fixed in the sky for an entire day, without moving, so Joshua could demolish an enemy army (Joshua 10:12-15).  The second miracle was the moving back of the sun by 10 hours as a sign to Ezekias that he had heard his prayer (Isaiah 38:6-10).  The third miracle was on the day of Our Lord’s death on the cross, when there was an eclipse the day after a full moon, which is impossible.

The Prophet Isaiah also tells us that miracles in the Heavens pertain to judgments.  In the thirteenth chapter, he wrote:

“Behold, the day of the Lord shall come, a cruel day, and full of indignation, and of wrath, and fury, to lay the land desolate, and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven, and their brightness shall not display their light: the sun shall be darkened in his rising, and the moon shall not shine with her light. And I will visit the evils of the world, and against the wicked for their iniquity: and I will make the pride of infidels to cease, and will bring down the arrogancy of the mighty.”

The observant reader will note that this language corresponds with the Apocalypse of St. John, Chapter 6: “I saw, when he had opened the sixth seal, and behold there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair: and the whole moon became as blood.”

Commenting on the symbolism of the darkening of the sun and the moon, Fr. E. Sylvester Berry in his commentary on St. John’s Apocalypse, wrote the following:

“The darkening of the sun is a symbol of the weakening of Catholic Faith by the spread of the Arian heresy. A similar weakening of Faith will occur before the days of Antichrist.

The blood color of the moon caused by the darkening of the sun is an omen of wars and persecutions which follow these internal troubles of the Church. This prophecy was fulfilled at the time of the Arian heresy and during the so-called Reformation of the sixteenth century. Similar wars will attend the coming of Antichrist.

In various passages of Scripture stars represent the faithful. In the first chapter of the Apocalypse the bishops of the Church are symbolized by stars. The falling stars predict the defection of large numbers of bishops, priests, and faithful from the true Faith.”

The bottom line is this … we cannot treat the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima in 1917 as “just another miracle,” or indeed as anything but a grave warning of things to come.

In fact, Our Lady did warn of terrible things that were going to happen, several of which have been fulfilled.  For instance, she warned that another war, worse than the First World War, would take place if men did not cease to offend God.  World War II began just as Our Lady warned, with a strange light across the night sky.  Our Lady also warned that Russia would spread her errors.  And Russia has indeed spread the errors of abortion, contraception, divorce, communism, materialism, and so forth.

The miracle of the sun, in and of itself, is a warning of impending judgment, the likes of which the world has never seen.  In 1973, Our Lady spoke to a deaf nun in Akita, Japan, warning of the Church being filled with compromisers, strife among the episcopacy, the sacking of churches and altars, deep corruption among those consecrated to God, and fire falling from the sky.

This grave warning of judgment corresponds with the miracle of the sun in Fatima and speaks to something terrible that is coming. 

The question is, “What?  What is going to bring about such a judgment?”

Throughout the Fatima apparitions, beginning with the Angel of Peace, all the messages ask for prayers of reparation for outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences by which Our Lord is offended.  At Akita, Japan, Our Lady told Sr. Sasagawa, “if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity.”

And as we look around the world now, it seems that things are rapidly accelerating to this point of punishment.  Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of Mexico decriminalized abortion, and that night was struck by terrifying earthquakes.  Almost immediately after Pope Francis permitted the veneration of a fertility idol in the Vatican Gardens, and allowed this thing to be paraded in a solemn procession from St. Peter’s to the Synod hall and allowed a symbol of this pagan goddess to be placed upon the altar of St Peter … mere days after allowing all of this to happen … the world found itself choking on a bioweapon that came from a Chinese lab.  And since that time, Marxist revolutionaries have incited riot after riot, all around the world; a Marxist claiming to be Catholic took control of the White House and is now instituting draconian rules to force people to take a drug against their wills … with the blessing and encouragement of Pope Francis; and now, Pope Francis is striking quickly to deal a fatal blow to the Traditional Latin Mass.

What has caught my attention of late is how the calamities befalling us in the world tend to follow the dreadful dictates of the Vatican.  As Fr.  Berry mentioned in his book, wars and persecutions follow the internal troubles of the Church. 

Much of the judgment of the Church and the world today appears to stem from the oppressive and cruel decisions coming from the Vatican, and if this is the case, then we can be assured of two things.  The first is that we must expect a terrible oppression from the world to befall us.  The second is that whatever happens will happen quickly and will come to an end just as fast.

There was a book published in 1882 titled “Works of the Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi,” which contains a rather curious prophecy attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.  What I’m going to share with you, I preface by saying that I can’t find any corroborating evidence to substantiate this prophecy, however, given the apparently shocking accuracy of it, I think it worth sharing and considering.  It is quite long, so I’ll shorten it here to a few relevant portions, but if you are interested, you can read it beginning on page 248 of the link to the book.  St. Francis:

“a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavor to draw many into error and death. Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it. There will be such diversity of opinions and schisms among the people, the religious and the clergy, that, except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God…. Some preachers will keep silence about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days Jesus Christ will send them not a
true pastor, but a destroyer.

There are doubts among many (I may address this in a future newsletter) about the canonical licity of Pope Francis’ election, so that first line is interesting.  When we consider the tragedy of the last eight years of Francis’ reign, it’s not hard to see how he is indeed leading many into error and death, nor is it difficult to see how his attack on the Traditions of the Church is leading toward the destruction of contemplative orders.  Furthermore, the deep divide in the Church along theological and moral lines has most certainly led to conversations about schisms and the multitude who have been drawn into confusion and error.

The last line is one which stands out the most … “Jesus Christ will send them not a true pastor, but a destroyer.”  What can one call Traditionis Custodes but a decree for the destruction of the Traditional Latin Mass?  Pope Francis has expressed his utter contempt for the Traditional Mass community since the earliest days of his reign, referring to traditionalists as “rigid,” “divisive,” and other derogatory terms.  And while bishops across the world, following the directives of this contemptable motu proprio, are creating a sub-class of Catholic to be sequestered and smothered into oblivion, governments across the globe are creating second class citizens in those who refuse to accept an experimental hormone therapy for an illness with a 99% survivability rate.

Right now, everything looks bleak.  But this present darkness will not last forever.  The warning of 1917 was a call to sanctity for these times in which we live, asking for reparations, sacrifices, and penance.  While we may not be able to stave off the judgment to come, we can at least remit ourselves of the sins for which we ourselves are guilty.  And most hopefully, Our Lady promised that Her Immaculate Heart would triumph in the end of this trial.  Just as Our Lord told Judas, “What you do, do quickly,” it seems that our enemies are working with great fervor to accomplish their wicked designs.  And while they will cause a great deal of destruction, all they are doing, truly, is sealing their own doom.

As we approach the month of October, the month of Our Lady and the Rosary, let us commit to dedicating and consecrating our entire selves to the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart. 

Our Lady of Victory, Pray for us!

Just a note about our website: We continue to experience strange anomalies and our site appears to shut down at random and without any warning.  Despite having regained control of the website after a month of being shut out of it, we find ourselves spending a frustrating amount of time to keep it operational.

On the bright side, we are moving forward with a website overhaul, which includes a redesign, which will hopefully resolve some of these longstanding problems.  If you have any suggestions on what features you’d like to see on our new website, please let me know.

In the meantime, be sure to take a look at our new report on Food for the Poor.  Unfortunately, we had to give it a negative recommendation, and if you click the link to the report, you’ll see why.

Some other headlines you may have missed:

Thank you to all who have been praying for my health and for the restoration of our website. I am continuing to recover and our website is back up and fully functional! 
As always, please pray for the Church, for our bishops, priests, deacons, and for Lepanto's mission as we continue to unearth the truth and "restore all things to Christ." (Col. 1:20)

Christus Vincit!

Michael Hichborn
Lepanto Insititute