March 14, 2008
Recently Vassula passed on a message to us from Our Lady (January 7, 2008). Vassula and Fr John Abberton have made several comments about the message which will help readers when contemplating the recent message. Vassula reminds us that we have already read similar things in the existing Messages of True Life in God. She also reminds us that we do not know when such prophesies will be fulfilled; it may even take ten years or more, we do not know. Fr Abberton, in his article to follow, reminds us that we should act now in trying to live the Messages. To take the prophecy seriously means that we should respond now to live a true life in our Lord and not wait.
By Fr John Abberton
First of all, it is important to say that the only new thing in this message is the statement that we are nearer events that have already been prophesied. The TLIG messages contain elements that are apocalyptic, and some passages are dramatic. As an example, look at the message given on April 28, 1995 where Jesus is apparently speaking about what the Bible calls, “The Day of the Lord”:
“I shall appear on a white horse, as a warrior of justice and give judgement for all of My saints, apostles and prophets, against the dragon, the Beast, the false prophet alias the second Beast and the three foul spirits, and with My sword I shall strike each one of them”
He speaks also of the followers of the Beast, some of which seem to have infiltrated the Church. He says:
“I will extirpate each of them and burn them in the fire, and My Breath shall devour the rest of them like fire…”
What is this “fire”? Our Lord speaks about His Breath as “fire”. In this message the word “Breath” has a capital “B”, and that is as it should be because the Holy Spirit is the Breath of God. The Holy Spirit is the “Fire” that comes from Heaven.
Vassula has advised us that when we read passages like this we should seek the spiritual meaning. We should not always think of some physical, geographical events, but of the spiritual changes that the New Pentecost will bring to each of us and how the clear disclosure of the Truth (the “Sword”) will act as a judgement, especially on those who have rejected the Gospel. All of this is prophesied in Holy Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments.
Of course, as we read this message from Our Lady we must admit that the coming chastisement (if that is what we are talking about) will indeed include actual, physical events. The language is undeniably pointing to geographical and historical events:
“The earth will spew out from within it rivers of fire”.
Similar images can be found in the messages given to Don Gobbi of the Marian Movement of Priests (MMP is mentioned early on in the TLIG messages). One message in particular from September 15, 1993 , speaks about the coming of fire and says that a great part of humanity will be destroyed. In the same message, although not by name, the apparitions and message of Akita are mentioned. Similar images can be found in part of the message of Garabandal (also mentioned in both the TLIG messages and in the MMP book).
There is more to say on this, but we really need to know how we should respond.
Let’s stay with the spiritual meaning, since this is the most important interpretation of such messages.
To begin with, the message is challenging. We are put in front of a mirror and asked to look at ourselves. Are we really followers of Christ? Do we really accept the messages of “True Life in God”? We are living in dangerous times. Our enemies may not always be visible, but they are real. Are we taking this battle seriously? The early Christians suffered and many went to their deaths rather than deny Christ. They made many sacrifices, sometimes leading to the ultimate one. Are we living comfortable lives? What sacrifices are we making? If we go back to the Message of Fatima (1917), we will see that Our Lady asks us to “live good lives”, and that means offering up all the sacrifices that we must face as a result. In other words, the first sacrifices we offer are those that come to us as we try to live the Christian life according to our vocations, position in life (e.g. married or unmarried) and geographic location. In many cases these will be enough. Just think of the Christians of Pakistan!
For many in the affluent West, more is needed, but “more” does not always mean “big”. We should never allow a day to pass without some sacrifice. We may offer a number of small ones. We must not try to do more than God asks us, nor presume that we are being asked to make sacrifices beyond our strength. We must avoid spiritual pride. Also, we are not being given permission to damage our health. There should be no need to make a list of the kind of sacrifices we can make voluntarily. It does not take much effort for each one of us to decide what he or she can do. However, the chief meaning is accepting the sacrifices that follow our commitment to True Life in God, whether this be more and better prayer, service of the poor, witnessing or, indeed, actual suffering in union with Christ. The patient acceptance of persecution is part of the deal.
At the same time, we are not being asked to be constantly glum. St Teresa of Avila prayed, “God deliver us from sad saints”. We are not being told to give up all pleasurable activities. In these times we often need relaxation, and some entertainment is not a bad thing, but we must make sure that everything is done with the Lord. We may be invited to go somewhere or to do something that we know we cannot do in His company; we must refuse. This is an example of the kind of sacrifice we must make if we are to remain true to our commitment. The Lord does not ask us to be sad and He does not ask us all to live like hermits. If you are a hermit then you must live like one, but not even hermits are asked to be sad. All our activities are done in His presence, whether we know it or not. As readers of TLIG we are asked to live, “We, Us”. The implications of this are that we do not sin, and we offer ALL that we do, think and say in union with the two hearts. Jesus is with us whether we are in Church or in the cinema. Since He goes with us, we should be aware of what He wants and decide what we should see or not see, do or not do on that basis. We must be wary of fruitless activities and wasting precious time. This does not mean being overanxious about our leisure activities but keeping a proper balance in our daily lives.
One of the most challenging things in the message given by Our Lady comes at the end. She asks Vassula (and us) to be “more recollected when we pray”. Again, we come up against the need for sacrifice. One of the great secrets of the spiritual life is concentration. We might describe it in this way: every thing we do can be made into a prayer. We do not need to struggle and strain with this, but just say, “Lord, I offer this to you etc” and then do the best we can to concentrate on whatever it is we are doing. In the case of a Benedictine monk for example, his work in the garden or in the candle factory (or whatever) is important and can be offered to God. To make it a good offering – a good prayer – he must pay attention to what he is doing. Good prayer can teach us how to concentrate and to be aware of God at different times of the day. Prayer which is constantly distracted and prayer where we are thinking ahead, for example, to what we are going to do next, needs to be changed. We cannot avoid distraction, but we can recollect ourselves and get back our concentration. It is the effort that counts, along with the intention of our hearts.
The word “Immolation” may cause some problems. What does it mean? One definition is, “to put to death by fire”. This makes it a good word for us, because there are parts of us, and things about us, that have to die. The spoilt, egotistical self has to be healed, and the prescription is, “die to yourself”. This means, saying “No!” to that part of ourselves. It means discipline and it means – sacrifice. Fasting forms part of this healing process. The other thing about immolation is that it has something of the meaning of “offering” about it. What am I offering God? If I allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to purify me, what is already spiritually dead in me can be finally destroyed and removed. What I can then offer to God is myself purified by fire (immolated). The love of God can burn within me and kill the sin and imperfections. This is not the work of a day or a year, but having the intention is important. Ultimately it is God’s work, and I cooperate with it. I am also immolated through the sacrifice of obedience. Obedience can be a real sacrifice; a denial of pride and a choice of humility (even, in some cases, humiliation). “He who humbles himself will be exalted”.
As I said at the beginning, there is nothing new here. Are we not familiar with the invitation to “annihilate” all that is us, so that we can receive “all that is” Christ? Basically we are reading the same call to holiness that we already have in the messages. Live the messages and we will be in union with God. What more do we need to know?