In presenting this article concerning my new book, Heralds of the Second Coming , I would like to explain my reasons for writing it and to draw attention as to why I hope it will shed new light on the Marian era which appears to be reaching a crescendo in our time. The primary focus of the book revolves around the popes from Blessed Pius IX to Benedict XVI, and especially their prophetic teachings, given as part of the charism of assistance promised by Jesus when he said to Peter “I have prayed for you” (Lk 22:32). (See General Audiences of Pope John Paul II, 2 December 1992, 10 & 17 March 1993)
In the past two centuries, the Catholic Church has been the beneficiary of a more or less continual stream of prophetic revelations concerning the dire situation facing humanity as the culture of hedonism, relativism and apostasy have taken a stranglehold on God’s children-both within the Church and without. We may recall the great apparitions of Rue de Bac, La Salette, Laus, and Lourdes, while in more recent times Fatima, Medjugorje, Kibeho, San Nicolas and Garabandal, some of which still await the approval of Rome. Great mystics have also been granted insights of an eschatological nature, for instance St Faustina, Blessed Elena Aiello, Mother Speranza, and Maria Esperanza among others. While this has been a great help to the Church, the emergence of apocalyptic prophecies among Catholics has left a somewhat confused picture of what is to come in the future. I believe this has come about because an individualistic approach to interpreting prophecy has taken centre stage, especially in recent times with the mass appeal of the internet and the plethora of websites devoted to private revelations. The reality is that a form of millenarianism still dominates the discussion, with the idea that a great chastisement awaits us, after which we are granted the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary leading to a temporal era of peace, and only after that would Satan fight one last time before the curtain falls on history forever.
Over a long period of time, it became apparent to me that the missing link in all discussion of the end times, was what does the magisterium of the popes say about it? Do we have clear teachings of what we can expect to happen? Is there any sense of urgency in the writings of the popes similar to those of private revelation? The benefit of bringing this new angle to the table, is that we know that the popes are protected from all errors in faith and morals, and even their ordinary magisterium is to be accepted:
This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme Magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgements made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking. (Lumen Gentium 25)
Therefore we have a guarantee that what the popes teach from an ‘end times’ point of view is to be accepted., and is guided by the Holy Spirit. The central focus of the book is to answer this pivotal question: Are we to expect some sort of temporal Kingdom before the end of the world, or are we actually approaching the glorious return of Jesus to judge the living and the dead?
It is unquestionable that in the Divine Mercy revelations,both Jesus and His Blessed Mother were referring to the end of the world with references to the ‘final coming’; in fact St Faustina told her spiritual director, Blessed Michael Sopocko days before her death that the world would not exist for much longer. Some have argued that the Vatican did not approve St Faustina’s revelations in her canonization process, but that is simply wrong. In fact, Pope John Paul quoted some of the most prophetic, eschatological passages from her Diary in homilies, and thus they then became part of his ordinary magisterium. During his trip to Poland in August 2002, Blessed John Paul said “May the binding promise of the Lord Jesus be fulfilled: from here there must go forth “the spark which will prepare the world for his final coming” (cf. Diary, 1732). The Holy Father went as far as to call it a “binding promise”, therefore the claim that her revelations are not approved is without foundation. The revelations from Kibeho, Rwanda(approved at the highest level) also have this deep eschatological element, in that Alphonsine Mumureke, one of the three approved visionaries stated that Our Lady had told them she is preparing the way for the return of the Lord.
The main cause of confusion that dominates the quest to discover the mystery behind the chastisement and era of peace, is centered around the renewal of the world. For many catholics, especially in pre Vatican II days there was no in-depth theology of the renewal of all things at the end of the world, therefore the term “end of the world” really meant total destruction, with all the saved going “up” to heaven. However this is not the case. The world is to be made new and become a second earthly paradise, but crucially it is not to happen this side of the last judgement-and it will have no end. Although a somewhat theological explanation, this passage from the Vatican website explains the issue:
Jesus spoke not of the end of the “world”, but of the end of the “age” (aion in Greek), the present period of salvation history. God was doing something new in Jesus. The Hebrew olam, Greek aion, and Latin saeculum all have temporal as well as spatial dimensions (age, period, eon, but also world). Kingdom of God language in New Testament usage is primarily temporal, not spatial. The realization of the promise will occur within history as its culmination, and not, as in Platonic, anti-material views, just over the edge into eternity. So the kingdom hope is for this world, but in a new era. (Report of the Third Phase of the International Theological Dialogue
between the Catholic Church and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches 1998-2005) .
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had also ruled out any era of peace before the final coming of Jesus in the notification of 1995 concerning Vassula Ryden- referring to the idea as “millenarian in style” It is my view that even saints and mystics in referring to an era of peace may have also misunderstood this theological point. Stressing the fact that peace on earth would come and because they perhaps understood the material world to end one day, they automatically assumed it must occur within history. Pope Benedict stated in the Apostolic Letter declaring St Hildegard of Bingen a Doctor of the Church that even she did not understand fully her revelations. This explains why the Pope, as guardian of the truth, is the one who has authority to interpret revelations like Fatima’s third secret. It is my sincere wish that this book will help to rebalance this critical point and thus we will gain knowledge of the secret mystery of Fatima in particular.
What the reader will discover throughout the pages of this book is a startlingly bold prophetic message-and the answer to many important questions that have seemingly remained hidden. For instance: How does Fatima relate to the end of the world? What is the true meaning of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart? What did Pope John Paul mean by prophesying a great springtime for Christianity? What was the eschatological significance of Vatican II? Other important issues addressed concern the visions of St Hildegard of Bingen in which she was shown by God the Father the “Five Furious Epochs” to come from her time, until the end of the world; significant in that certain pin point accurate prophecies allow us to discover where we are in that sequence of epochs. Another element of great importance considered, is the meaning of certain words and phrases used in biblical language, which deepen our understanding of what is to come-for instance Pope John Paul’s proclamation of a “new and divine holiness” to come in the near future.
I would like to stress that Heralds of the Second Coming is not a duplication of the many books available that study apparitions and prophecies. Far from it. It is a unique volume which presents this important subject for the first time from the teaching authority of the successors of St Peter. The mysterious veil is lifted, and light is shed on the mission conferred by the Holy Trinity upon Our Blessed Mother to prepare hearts for the second glorious coming of Jesus. Any doubts about the hour if history we face are dispelled upon reading the remarkable words of all these popes. “Spectacularly present, yet strangely overlooked” in the words of Fr Aidan Nichols OP.
With a Foreword by His Eminence Cardinal Ivan Dias, a great marian devotee himself, and Cardinal member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and endorsed by a variety of experts, I hope you will find answers to the many questions of our time, and above all help us to live our lives in an “advent” spirit so that the Lord finds us watching and waiting when he comes to inaugurate the new heavens and new earth.