Hildegard’s Scivias (abbreviated form of the Latin for “Know the Ways of God”) is her record of a series of 26 visions that encompass the whole of salvation history. When she gets to the last days, specifically the time leading up to the Antichrist she makes an interesting comment on the nature of the passage of time during these days:
“All things that are on Earth hasten to their end, and the world droops toward its end” (Book III, Vision 11, chap. 1).
She is stating that one character of these times is that history will progress rapidly. She refers to the five beasts which symbolize the succession of individual historical periods leading up to the Antichrist, as “fleeting times”. She also compares them to the end of the day when the sun is setting, explaining that in her vision it is why the beasts face the west. She also likens them to end of the life of a person: Continue reading “St. Hildegard on Our ‘Fleeting Times’”→
It is generally agreed that the illuminations which accompany Hildegard’s Scivias (Rupertsberg Manuscript) were either sketched and painted by her, or produced under her supervision. The image of the Church as a Bride appears periodically throughout her visionary work. In Book III, Vision 11, chap. 13, which immediately follows her description of the era of the Grey Wolf, she describes the vision that corresponds to the illumination here:
“And I saw again the figure of a woman whom I had previously seen in front of the alter that stands before the eyes of God, …but now I saw her from the waist down. And from her waist to the place that denotes the female, she had various scaly blemishes, and in that latter place was a black and monstrous head.”
The Bride who appeared in an earlier vision only from the waist up is now seen fully complete, which reflects that the last days have arrived. Importantly, Hildegard adds that by this time the Church will be “…replete with the full number of her children” (Chap. 13); it will have completed her mission of evangelization. Continue reading “St. Hildegard’s Unsettling Vision of the Bride of Christ”→
A recent article in Vanity Fair profiled a retired French police commissioner from Paris, Sammy Ghozlan, who is a Jew born and raised in Algeria. He runs the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, an organization that he funds himself. The article notes that there were 851 anti-Semitic acts in France during 2014 (in 2013 there were 453). Gozlan notes that the dramatic increase in violence and terrorism is directly connected to the influence of the Islamic State:
“The country’s counter-terrorism forces are now desperately trying to cope with what is commonly called the ‘third wave of anti-Semitism’ in modern France. The first wave, coming from the far right, morphed into the neo-Nazi crusades of the 1990s. …The second wave came from the far left—rooted in pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel attitudes. …The third wave has been propelled by the recent rise of ISIS, has metastasized via thousands of Web sites and social media, and, in France, has become homegrown and home-schooled among a vulnerable population of young Muslims.”
GLOUCESTER: I hope they will not come upon us now. KING HENRY V: We are in God’s hand, brother, not in theirs. March to the bridge; it now draws toward night: Beyond the river we’ll encamp ourselves, And on to-morrow, bid them march away.
Henry V, William Shakespeare
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Obergefell vs.Hodges, a major and well funded campaign began to encourage the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Catholic Church and other non-profit organizations that oppose homosexual marriage. This has caused alarm among Catholic groups like The Catholic League, whose director Bill Donohue warns:
“Anyone who thinks that radical activists will stop with gay marriage is ignorant: The big prize has always been to force the churches to fall in line. …Stealth politics is what the left is good at, and on this issue they will have their unelected surrogates at the IRS do their bidding.”
From a purely financial standpoint the answer to the question posed above is probably yes, it could be a calamity, particularly with regard to a levy on Church property. Yet knowing the true financial impact on the Church would require an in-depth analysis by a major accounting firm. The USCCB might be wise to commission such a study. A lot of dioceses in America are in bankruptcy and if the Church were to be taxed like a corporation she could do what most corporations do to reduce or eliminate their tax obligations. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as bad as one might think. And then there’s the question of whether parishioners would reduce their giving or stop tithing at all, since the tax-deductability of their contribution would be eliminated. Conducting a broad survey on that question might also be wise.
Some think that the government’s removing of the Church’s tax-exempt status is very unlikely. Since the question of homosexual marriage is a religious matter for the Church, it would be seen as a violation of the First Amendment and be quickly overturned by the courts. (Although, in 1976 the IRS successfully took Bob Jones University’s tax-exempt status away because it had a policy against interracial marriage). Others suggest that the political party in power at the time of such a decision would be too fearful of suffering a backlash at the ballot box and they would elect to back off. Continue reading “Would The Church Losing Its Tax-Exempt Status Be Such a Calamity?”→
The term “social engineering” originated in the late 19th century and was used by early sociologists to define the attempt by governments to influence human attitudes toward certain ideas or behaviors. It is primarily associated with authoritarian governments like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Chairman Mao’s China. Using manipulative laws, re-education, and propaganda, they sought to reshape their societies according to their repective ideologies. All governments, however, practice social engineering to some extent, with the intention of producing a desirable outcome that is in the best interest of the public. Regulation of industry and financial markets, laws, and tax incentives are a few examples. But social engineering, even in free societies can have a sinister side.
Pope St. John Paul II tried to warn the West about this in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor. Written just after the fall of the Soviet Union, something he had helped accomplish, he cautioned the West about the dangers of freedom in a society that was losing its moral foundations:
“Today, when many countries have seen the fall of ideologies which bound politics to a totalitarian conception of the world — Marxism being the foremost of these — there is no less grave a danger that the fundamental rights of the human person will be denied and that the religious yearnings which arise in the heart of every human being will be absorbed once again into politics. …Indeed, if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.”
It may not be correct to assert that social engineering itself is an evil; that would depend on whether the desired outcome is evil in nature. We get a clue about the intentions of today’s social reformers from a recent article in the New York Post. Citing Gallup Polls, the writer points out some of the dramatic changes that have affected American culture in the last decade or so. They reflect a complete shift in attitudes toward moral issues over very brief periods of time. Some examples:
In 2003 34% of people polled said they were in favor of legalizing marijuana; in 2013 it was over 50%. (Interestingly, only 7% said they used it).
In 2006, support for homosexual marriage stood at 39%, today it is 60%.
In 2001, only 40% of those surveyed considered homosexuality morally acceptable; today it is 63%.
In 2003 only 34% of people polled thought that having a child out of wedlock was morally acceptable. Today that number is 61%.
He compares the scale of these massive changes to the cultural revolutions of the 1960s and notes perceptively: “We’ve hardly taken notice of it, because it happened in people’s minds instead of in the streets.” He cannot explain how this came to be, but suspects it has to do with the degrading nature of pop culture. In my view, however, what is ultimately responsible for this is social engineering by government institutions: schools, legislatures, presidents, judges, as well as lobbyists and special-interest groups, and those that fund them. The journalist rightly poses a troubling question that should give Roman Catholics a cause for concern, “…what comes along with this mass departure of moral judgment from public life?”In his encyclical, St. John Paul II answers that question: “…if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power.” (note the word “easily”) Continue reading “Is Social Engineering the Salient Evil of Our Time?”→
I recently received an e-mail from someone who had just finished reading my book, The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society, stating that it “…sent chills down my spine”. The reason it can have that effect on readers is due to the compelling case the book presents which demonstrates that four of the five symbolic beasts, representing a succession of historical eras preceding the Antichrist, may have already occurred. If readers agree with the book’s assessment of recent history in light of St. Hildegard’s vision, then they will conclude that the events marking the fifth era are likely to be experienced by them, which also includes you and me, our children and grandchildren. An era, as described by Hildegard, that would indeed send chills down your spine.
Each of the five eras also reflect a particular social evil as symbolized by its respective beast. For example, the second era, the Yellow Lion, is an epoch engulfed in militarism and malice (1914-1945); the third, that of the Pale Horse, is identified with licentiousness and hedonism (1948-1991). The fourth is the current historical era that began after the collapse of the Soviet Empire. The fifth one, the era of the Grey Wolf, the only era left before the arrival of the Antichrist, is described as a time of extreme civil violence and economic disparity. Today, certain “signs of the times” suggest that this era may not be too far off. Hildegard portrays it as a period of class warfare and revolution (in another chapter she adds that it will include persecution of Christians):
“And the last is like a grey wolf; for those times will have people who plunder each other, robbing the powerful and the fortunate. …And they will divide and conquer the rulers of those realms” (Book 3, Vision 11, chapter 6) [Hildegard of Bingen: Scivias, translated by Columba Hart and Jane Bishop. The Abby of Regina Laudis: Benedictine Congregation Regina Laudis of the Strict Observance, Inc. Paulist Press, 1990.]
Today we often hear concerns about income inequality and a growing “wealth gap” in America. 20% of the total income earned in the U.S. goes to the top 1% of income earners, which is double what it was a few decades ago. The distribution of wealth, however, is 10 times more unequal, with the top .01% of the population (160,000 people) owning the same amount of wealth as the bottom 145,000,000. Historically, these are recurring economic realities and there are numerous studies that demonstrate what effects they can have on a nation. One is an increase in violent crime, particularly murder. We’ve seen this in a number of American cities today like Baltimore and St. Louis. British researcher Richard Wilkinson argued that it wasn’t a nation’s overall wealth or lack thereof that determined its level of social diseases like crime, violence, mental health etc., but its level of income disparity. If he’s correct, and should this inequality continue to worsen, so also will American society. This may explain why wealthy people in New York City are building safe rooms in their apartments and adding 1400 lb. doors.
A recent historical study concluded that income inequality can also lead to civil war, adding, however, that there are always other factors involved, like extreme distrust in government or a high unemployment rate. One doesn’t need to be an historian to recall some famous examples of this: the French Revolution, Russian Revolution, American Revolution, and more recently, the “Arab Spring”. Is America today headed toward a similar end? The answer is probably no, at least not for the moment. Those other factors that historically can lead to civil war, like high unemployment, extreme distrust of the government, repressive laws, etc., are not at a level that would suggest a potential revolt. The unemployment rate is currently 5.5% (though, unlike Europe, the U.S. conveniently refuses to count as unemployed those who have given up looking for work, in which case it would be about 11%).
On the other hand, looking at Europe, the unemployment rate in Spain is 23%, it’s over 12% in Italy and France, and 26% in Greece. Youth unemployment is a staggering 51% in Spain, 43% in Italy, and 24% in France. There is also a high level of distrust of the government in Spain, Portugal, and an alarming level of mistrust in Italy.
The upshot of all these studies is that parts of Europe and America may be ticking social time-bombs. In a previous post I discussed the consequences of rising interest rates in America. Countries that are deep in debt like the U.S., U.K., Italy, Spain etc. are only able to service their debt because of extraordinary interventions by central banks to force interest rates down to the lowest level they’ve been since usury laws were enforced in the Middle Ages. Should the banks lose control of rates and they start to rise, triggering a rise in inflation, many governments would quickly find themselves insolvent. In my view, this is mathematically unavoidable. In Tunisia, inflation and rising food prices were the straws that broke the camel’s back, setting in motion the events that led to the “Arab Spring”. The era of the Grey Wolf, particularly in Europe, strikes me as only a crisis away from its own “Spring”. Changes are coming.
Keep an eye on interest rates.
In her book, Scivias, St. Hildegard writes in far more detail about the world during the era of the Grey Wolf.
Lou Verrecchio, author of the popular Harvesting the Fruit blog wrote a post on the Second Vatican Council document intended to redefine the relationship of the Church with the Jewish people, Nostra Aetate. He rightly criticized an interpretation of the document by Swiss Cardinal Koch, who, in a recent speech celebrating its 50th anniversary suggested rather clearly that Jews who have rejected Christ as the Messiah may still find a pathway to salvation:
“That the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery.”
Lou points out how unbiblical such a notion is, as well as contrary to Catholic teaching regarding salvation. In a follow-up post, Lou attempts to clarify a passage from Romans 11:25-27 where St. Paul emphatically states that “all Israel will be saved”:
Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
In 1997, America’s former national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote a book on America’s new role as the only global superpower, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives. He warned that America’s post-Cold War role in the world may not last long:
“In the long run, global politics are bound to become increasingly uncongenial to the concentration of hegemonic power in the hands of a single state. Hence, America is not only the first, as well as the only, truly global superpower, but is also likely to be the very last.” (p.209)
Eighteen years later, in a recent interview he suggests that this may have already taken place:
“The fact of the matter is that the redistribution of global power has produced a situation in which the US is no longer the sole hegemon. The US has to acknowledge the fact that the world is now much more complex.”
While the theater where the era of the Grey Wolf is to set to play out is primarily Europe, my attention for the moment is more focused on the point at which the United States officially (or forcibly) relinquishes her role as the “sole hegemon”. Why this is so important is that St. Hildegard’s five bestial era’s must align with well defined historical periods (she refers to them as “five ferocious epochs of temporal rule”) and the present one (the era of the Black Pig) that began with the fall of the Soviet Union, will likely end with a similar fall of the United States. Shifts in the world’s geopolitical power alignment, for historians, conveniently mark the end of an era and the beginning of another.
In the first part of this series we focused on the unsustainability of America’s financial condition and the consequence of the U.S. dollar losing its status as the world’s reserve currency. We did this by reevaluating the true total debt owed by the United States, combining the government’s reported “official” debt total with the present value of the country’s long-term unfunded liabilities like Social Security and Medicare. America’s official 18 trillion dollar national debt fails to account for these future obligations. Numerous economists have calculated the true dollar figure to exceed 200 trillion, likely forcing the government to devalue its currency through inflation.
But here in Part II, we will assume that these future liabilities don’t exist or somehow become manageable, leaving the 18 trillion in debt as all the government has left to worry about. Unfortunately America, you are still insolvent!. This will have far reaching domestic and international consequences, triggering the end, or limiting of, America’s military role in Europe and elsewhere.
When was the last time your priest talked about the fires of hell and gave you a good scare, or compared America to Sodom and Gomorrah and suggest that it’s headed for the same fate? The Church today is too nice. God must have gone through anger management classes because He might be all nice and warm today, but He could be very angry and vengeful in biblical times. The phrase “doom and gloom” is used to deride those who tell you unpleasant things you’d rather not hear; it is a decidedly pejorative phrase. Purveyors of gloom are also scorned because they often use it to make a lot of money.
What comes to my mind is Hal Lindsey’s 1970 book with the ominous title, TheLate Great Planet Earth. It’san interpretation of biblical prophecies about the end times, but heavily influenced by dispensationalist theology. Dispensationalism is a common belief among evangelical protestants which holds that God interacts with man in different ways during different dispensations (periods of time in history). From Abraham to Noah was a dispensation, as is the time from the birth of the Church to the Rapture, (the point in time when Christ takes all Christians to heaven before all hell breaks loose–Armageddon). For Lindsey, the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 triggered the beginning of the end times, it fulfilled the prophecy of the return of the Jews to Palestine and he took it from there. The biblical basis for all this is, in my view, scant, and in conflict with Catholic eschatology (the study of end times). The problem has been, needless to say, Lindsey’s predictions, which were specific scenarios of the future geopolitical events which turned out to be hit and miss (more miss than hit), and often readjusted. Continue reading “How Did “Doom and Gloom” Get Such a Bad Reputation?”→