In 1984, the consecration of the whole world by Pope St. John Paul II was followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of communism in Russia. The world breathed a sigh of relief and the peace that Mary promised seemed to have materialized. Sr. Lucia, one of the three seers of Fatima, unequivocally recognized the validity of the consecration.
An insightful review of the book was posted today on the popular Catholic blog Unam Sanctam Catholicam. Some highlights:
“The book is very cautious; when it makes connections and inferences, it does so in a very qualified manner, respecting the limits posed by the nature of eschatological speculation. That being said, the inferences it does make are very strong and convincing.”
“Any student of Catholic eschatology, especially that branch which studies the private revelations of the saints, will want to check out Mr. Turner’s book.”
You may click on the icon below to go to the book’s Amazon page:
Archbishop Thomas Wenski of the Archdiocese of Miami recently celebrated a Red Mass for members of the legal community. His homily touched on the legal troubles currently facing the Catholic Church:
“And so in our country as in other Western countries, we see a tendency to relegate religion to the private sphere. And, in these countries, we see the courts chipping away at the original understanding of religious freedom. In order to fit new political agendas, religious freedom is being reinterpreted narrowly to mean merely “freedom to worship” but excluding the freedom to serve and/or the freedom to witness. The Catholic Church in this country is currently battling in legislatures and in courts against this tendency. And it is not clear that we will prevail. Education, family law, healthcare are just some of the areas in which narrow readings of religious freedom are paving the way for antireligious policies.”
According to St. Hildegard’s vision of the fourth beast, the Black Pig, we will not prevail. This era, which began in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union, is unusual in that it is focused squarely on society’s leaders rather than the people themselves. She explains that the blackness is caused by the pig rolling around in mud and excrement, reflecting the corrupt nature of this era’s leaders:
“…[T]his epoch will have leaders who blacken themselves in misery and wallow in the mud of impurity. They will infringe the divine law by fornication and other like evils and will plot to diverge from the holiness of God’s commands”[Scivias, Book III,Vision11]
The reason we will not prevail has to do with Hildegard’s explanation of the symbolism of the ropes, which signifies that the particular evil that characterizes each era will be present from its beginning to its end. Archbishop Wenski goes on to call what’s happening to the Church “soft despotism”:
“…[I]n this country and other liberal democracies, people of faith are being increasingly subject to a soft despotism in which ridicule, ostracism, and denial of employment opportunities of advancement are being used to marginalize us. We see this when butchers, and bakers and candlestick makers are being put into the legal dock for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs. …Christian pastors are stalked and threatened for being “Christian” pastors, social scientists are expelled from universities for having turned up “politically incorrect” facts, charitable organizations and confessional schools are harassed if they take seriously their faith’s moral precepts and required their employees to support their missions.”
I discuss this present era at length in the book. Until it ends, however, what signifies the era, the actions of leaders who “…plot to diverge from the holiness of God’s commands,” will continue unabated. Catholics should be prepared for this to intensify.
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.
As such, this is not coming from a Catholic perspective, but an academic one. The participants may or may not be Catholics, but either way, academics have to be able to maintain an ability to communicate on an academic level with their secular colleagues–which means any talk about the miraculous is forbidden (though one of them seems to go in that direction). Nevertheless, the respect that these three scholars have for Hildegard is truly striking.
An explanation for her prophetic visions is put forward suggesting that in her 40s she simply pieced together the sum of her very extensive Benedictine education in a series of personal revelations which she then attributed to God. This is pure sophistry, of course, of which Hildegard’s writings are too often subjected to.
After hearing this talk, you will know much more about this great saint. Pope Benedict appreciated her in the way these academics do; but moreover, he was keenly aware of her critical importance to the situation facing today’s Church.
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 St. Hildegard’s vision, the five beasts represent five brief historical periods of time that precede the arrival of the Antichrist (more here). I argue that the first three have passed and the fourth, the era of the Black Pig, I suggest in my book, is coming to an end.
Each one of the previous eras ended with major international crises that led to a redrawing of the map of Europe and a change in the world’s global power structure (the dramatic events of the year 1914, for example). When I look at the present situation in Europe and the West, I think the answer to the question of what sort of events will mark the end of this present era for future historians are not difficult to speculate about.
America has been Western Europe’s defender since the end of WWII. The demise of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War in 1991 left America as the sole hegemon. It might have been a good opportunity to close most of America’s European military bases. Much of Europe was in the process of integrating, eliminating borders and forming the European Union. What chance was there of a WWII happening all over again? Today, America supports hundreds of military bases or facilities in Europe and the world. The question is: how long is this sustainable?
Do you remember the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, otherwise known as Bowles-Simpson? It was commissioned by President Obama in 2010 and charged with coming up with a plan to improve the long term fiscal sustainability of the U.S. government. It failed miserably. The vote against it’s recommendations in the House of Representatives was 382 to 38. It would have sliced 4 trillion off the National Debt, which at the time was about 12 trillion. Today, five years later, the debt has increased to 18 trillion. But there’s more to the story.
St. Hildegard (1098-1179) is the perfect subject for the study of Catholic mystical literature; there are simply no red flags associated with her. We know precisely who she is, a twelfth-century nun born into a noble family and who, because of her visionary gift, was given as a child to be raised by the Church and eventually became an abbess. She is not only a saint but a Doctor of the Church. Her writing was prolific, covering her extraordinary visions of salvation history, medicine, and even music composition. We also have hundreds of her letters; she corresponded with kings, queens, popes, abbots, nuns, etc.
Hildegard was left out of the history books and it is not clear why. She fell into obscurity shortly after her death. She was rediscovered in the late twentieth century by Latin scholars looking for new material for their students; her Latin works were first translated into English in the late 1980s. She was elevated to Doctor of the Church in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. It is as though she came back after 800 years of obscurity to continue her service to the Church in a world she had described for us in her vision of five beasts, which she explained were symbols of the last days (vision 11 from her book, Scivias, Latin, “Know the Ways“)
In her letters one thing stands out as an urgent priority, the call to holiness and purity. They clearly show that for Hildegard a spiritual battle was raging in the twelfth-century, particularly with regard to corruption and immorality among the clergy. She writes with impressive authority:
“The Spirit of God says earnestly: ‘Oh shepherds, wail and mourn over the present time, because you do not know what you are doing when you sweep aside the duties established by God in favor of opportunities for money and the foolishness of wicked men who do not fear God.’ And so your malicious curses and threatening words are not to be obeyed. You have raised up your rods of punishment arrogantly, not to serve God but to gratify your own perverted will.” [Letter to Heinrich, Archbishop of Mainz.Baird, Joseph L. The Personal Correspondence of Hildegard of Bingen. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, p.42.]
If you look at the image I used for the header at the top of the page you will notice that it comes from the cover to my book. The image was divided into three parts that change randomly as you go to different pages on the blog. If you click around you will see all five beasts. These are illuminations that adorned the Rupertsberg manuscript of Hildegard’s Scivias, the book which contains the vision of the beasts, and are assumed to have been either painted by Hildegard herself or artistically directed by her..
Each beast represents a brief historical period (see here for the background). You will notice that there is something coming out of each of the beast’s mouth. Hildegard describes these as ropes that are attached to the top of a mountain. The mountain, she tells us is meant to symbolize a specific social evil that is characteristic of the individual historical era.
Prophecy is a charism, a spiritual gift given by the Holy Spirit to some members of the Church. It is not difficult to understand how it works. It puzzles me how Catholics can have such varying opinions on it.
I had a long online discussion with a blogger I had read and admired for years. He recently wrote a post on the unapproved apparitions in Garabandal, Spain, suggesting that there would be a miraculous event that the world would see in April of 2017. Because of some positive statements on the apparitions by some Spanish Bishops and from Rome he felt that the apparitions would soon be approved.