As usual you can listen to the homily here.
Humanity has a fascination with time. We go over and over the past and we really long to know what is going to happen. How many people consult their horoscopes no matter how often they are wrong? In fact we so often caught up in the past or the future that we rarely spend any time in the present moment. That’s one of the reasons why mindfulness is so popular – people trying to cope with today by spending time in the now. One of the benefits of real prayer is that one is grounded in the now with God. God has no past or future. He is One, now. Even eternity is a human concept applied to God to signify that He has neither beginning nor end. God IS. Prayer is being with God in His NOW. Prayer is entrusting ourselves, putting all that we are at His service NOW. Due to the Fall, though, we do not experience life as a ‘now.’ We are dragged in so many directions. So much so that we can lose sight of what is really important.
The Lord warns us that ours is not to be an easy life. We are His disciples, His followers and He is our captain, our King. We are at war with the forces of evil and because they are already defeated by the Cross there is now a period of mercy where we are to proclaim Him everywhere. We therefore will find resistance, opposition, persecution and death. The persecution Christ speaks of is due to our Faith in Him not any other reason. Our ancestors suffered so much for the Faith. We have grown soft.
This persecution may come even from family members. Christ warned us He had come to divide: people MUST choose whose side they’re on. We can expect betrayal as Christ was betrayed. I know of a man, a good, hard-working, gentle giant, who was passed over for promotion because of his faith. His wife was told so after his death. I know of families torn apart because of those who have rejected the Faith (I have cousins in North Africa who are Muslims). The Church, and each of us, individually, must follow in the footsteps of Christ even to Calvary because Calvary is the gate to the Resurrection. The life we will secure through perseverance is not in this life but in the next. Our bodies will be restored to us whole and perfect as God intended them to be.
As regards the greater persecution that is to come to the Church before Christ returns we must distinguish between Public and Private revelation. What is revealed in Scripture, especially the New Testament, and preserved in the Tradition of the Church, is Public Revelation – we must believe it to be Catholic and to be saved. Public Revelation ended with the death of the last of the Apostles. It is unconditional with regards to what will happen in the future, that is, nothing anyone can do will stop it from happening. Persecution will come, people will abandon the Faith, the Anti-Christ will come and Christ will return in glory to judge the living and the dead.
Private revelation consists of those messages, prophecies, and apparitions given to persons since the time of the Apostles. No private revelation can be considered worthy of belief until the Pope and the bishops have examined it and discerned whether it is worthy of belief or not, i.e. whether it is Catholic. It matters not one whit how often our Lady or a saint appears or how beautiful or holy the message or the messenger appears. If it is not approved by the Church one cannot believe it. One does not have to believe any private revelation even if the Church approves it as worthy of belief though often we do. Often such messages are conditional i.e. things may not happen if people respond and change. If we respond appropriately to these warnings we can change what happens to our world.
Many knowledgeable people are saying that there is a real danger of another world war or of war spread throughout the World. Private revelations have long warned us of a great chastisement to come if the world did not change. This was not so much about God punishing mankind but God allowing mankind to suffer the results of its own evil. God, it is said, will step in with three days of total, supernatural, darkness to in order to end this evil. He will do this as an act of mercy. There are those who think that, given the evils in our world today: widespread abortion, perversion, corruption, and cruel wars and the loss of basic human charity that we are getting very near to that chastisement. You do not have to believe this but many saints have spoken about it.
All that said we began in October the Centenary of Fatima. Fatima was a private revelation, probably the most important of our era, but it has certainly spoken to the hearts of many Catholics. Not many private revelations are confirmed by a miracle of the Sun seen by 70,000 people including atheists. Not many private revelations predict an imminent World War and give the sign for its arrival (a very unusual aurora). The message of Fatima still applies for it is essentially the message of the Gospel. Remember the warning of our Lady at Fatima that Russia would spread her errors around the world. This warning was given when the Russian revolution was only then just beginning. What were Russia’s errors? They were not just Communism/socialism but materialist atheism, secularism and extreme nationalism, as well as subservience of the church to the state. What can we do? We can do what Heaven asks and change.
We are called by our Lady at Fatima to change our behaviour and to do penance i.e. make sacrifices, especially those required by the duties of our state of life and keeping the moral law, in reparation for our sins and the sins of others; we are to pray, especially the rosary; we are to repent of our sins and go to Confession; and we are to cultivate a deep devotion and trust in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We are to love Jesus through, with and in the heart of Mary, above all in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Through her we can gain any grace or blessing we need and ask for. Christ intercedes with the Father on our behalf and we need to take our role seriously and intercede for the world.
If we take our Faith seriously we will listen to the voice of God in the Scriptures and in the Tradition of the Church and draw close to Him in prayer and service. If we cast ourselves upon His loving mercy we will not be turned away. God is merciful but He’s not indifferent. He will not allow the evils in this world to continue indefinitely. As St Peter says we should consider our Lord’s patience as an opportunity to be saved.