FROM MARK MALLETT:
FEAST OF ST. JOHN BOSCO
First published July 18th, 2007, I have updated this writing on this feast day of St. John Bosco. Again, when I update these writings, it’s because I sense Jesus saying He wants us to hear it again… Note: Many readers are writing me reporting that they are no longer able to receive these newsletters, even though they’ve subscribed. The number of these instances is increasing every month. The only solution is to make it a habit to check this website every couple of days to see if I have posted a new writing. Sorry about this inconvenience. You can try writing your server and ask that all emails from markmallett.com be allowed through to your email. Also, make sure that the junk filters in your email program are not filtering out these emails. Lastly, I thank all of you for your letters to me. I try to respond whenever I can, but the obligations of my ministry and family life often require that I am brief or simply unable to respond at all. Thank you for understanding.
I HAVE written here before that I believe we are living in the days of the prophetic dream of St. John Bosco (read the full text here.) It is a dream in which the Church, represented as a great flagship, is bombarded and attacked by several enemy vessels surrounding it. The dream seems more and more to fit our times…
THE TWO VATICAN COUNCILS?
In the dream, which appears to take place over a number of decades, St. John Bosco foresees two councils:
All the captains come aboard and gather around the Pope. They hold a meeting, but meantime the wind and the waves gather in storm, so they are sent back to control their own ships. There comes a short lull; for a second time the Pope gathers the captains around him, while the flag-ship goes on its course. —Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco, compiled and edited by Fr. J. Bacchiarello, S.D.B.
It is after these councils, which may be Vatican I and Vatican II, that a terrible storm rages against the Church.
In the dream, St. John Bosco recounts:
The battle rages ever more furious. Beaked prows ram the flagship again and again, but to no avail, as, unscathed and undaunted, it keeps on its course. —Catholic Prophecy, Sean Patrick Bloomfield, P.58
Nothing could be truer as the course of the Church has been steadfast in this turbulent days. Nothing, says Pope Benedict XVI, will deter the truth.
The Church… intends to continue to raise her voice in defense of mankind, even when policies of States and the majority of public opinion moves in the opposite direction. Truth, indeed, draws strength from itself and not from the amount of consent it arouses. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Vatican, March 20, 2006
But this does not mean the Church cannot be wounded. The dream continues…
At times, a formidable ram splinters a gaping hole in its hull, but immediately, a breeze from the two columns instantly seals the gash. —Catholic Prophecy, Sean Patrick Bloomfield, P.58
Again, Pope Benedict described such a scene when, before being elected, he likened the Church to…
…a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. —Cardinal Ratzinger, March 24, 2005, Good Friday meditation on the Third Fall of Christ
The Two Columns referred to in the dream are a smaller column with a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on top, and a second, larger pillar with a Eucharistic Host atop. It is from these Two Columns that a "breeze" comes and instantly seals the wounds.
Under the present Holy Father, I believe two great gashes in the hull of the Church are being healed.
THE MASS WOUND
I am too young to recall the Tridentine Rite—the Latin Mass which was the ordinary rite before the Second Vatican Council. But I remember the story a priest recounted to me one evening after a parish mission I gave. After Vatican II convened, some men entered a parish in his diocese in the middle of the night—with chainsaws. With the priest’s approval, they completely dismantled the high altar, removed the statues, crucifix, and stations of the cross, and placed a wooden table in the middle of the sanctuary to replace the altar. When the parishioners came for Mass the next day, many were shocked and devastated.
Your foes have made uproar in your house of prayer: they have set up their emblems, their foreign emblems, high above the entrance to the sanctuary. Their axes have battered the wood of its doors. They have struck together with hatchet and pickaxe. O God, they have set your sanctuary on fire: they have razed and profaned the place where you dwell. (Psalm 74:4-7)
That, he assured me, was never the intent of Vatican II. While the effects of modernism have varied from parish to parish, the greatest damage has been to the faith of believers. In many places, the sublime has been reduced to the ordinary. The mystical has been demystified. The sacred has been profaned. The truth has been distorted. The Gospel message reduced to status quo. The Cross replaced by art. The God of true love replaced by a "God" who doesn’t care if we are slaves to sin, just as long as we feel we are tolerated and liked. It is becoming clearer (as we see, for instance, how many Catholics voted in America for a pro-death candidate) that perhaps the majority of Catholics have been led to false pastures. Many do not even seem aware of it, having simply followed wolves in sheep’s clothing. It is precisely because of this that God is going to permit one last great evangelization in this era, to call back those sheep (layman and clergy) who perhaps even now do not realize that they are astray and caught in the brambles of deception.
Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost… So they were scattered for the lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts. Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: I swear I am coming against these shepherds… I will save my sheep, that they may no longer be food for their mouths. (Ezekiel 34:1-11)
We already see the first signs of this corrective work, begun in Pope John Paul II, and continued through his successor. In reinstating the ability to say the older rite without permission, and beginning to slowly reintroduce reverence and true devotion (such as Communion on the tongue, altar rails, and re-orientating the priest to face the altar, at least in the Pope’s own example as we saw this past Christmas) the terrible abuses which ensued after the Council are beginning to be repaired. It was never the intention of the Council Fathers to eradicate the mystical sense of the Mass. Because modern lay people may be used to these abuses does not make them any less destructive. In fact, that is when they are most destructive.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. (Hos 4:6)
With the Pope’s recent motu proprio (personal motion) to allow greater access to and freedom to say the Tridentine Liturgy in parishes, I believe the Holy Spirit has blown a remedial breeze from the Columns of the Eucharist to begin healing a gash in the Barque of Peter. Do not get me wrong: adding Latin back into the liturgy is not going to suddenly reverse the apostasy in the Church. But proclaiming Christ from the rooftops and drawing souls into a true encounter with Jesus will. But what are we evangelizing souls into? A prayer meeting? No… we must bring them to the Rock, to the fullness of truth which Jesus has revealed in the Catholic Church. How difficult this is when our liturgies—the great encounter with Jesus—at times appear to be anything but.
THE GASH OF CONFUSION
A second gash to the hull of the Mothership, once again deriving from erroneous interpretations of Vatican II which have led to a false ecumenism in certain quarters, is the confusion over the true identity of the Catholic Church. But again, a powerful breeze has issued forth from the Two Columns in the form of a brief document entitled Responses To Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects Of The Doctrine On The Church.
In order to clearly define the nature of the Catholic Church and the validity, or lack therof, of other Christian churches, the document signed by Pope Benedict, says:
Christ “established here on earth” only one Church and instituted it as a “visible and spiritual community”… This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him”. —Response to Second Question
The document clearly states that Christian churches which do not participate fully in this "visible and spiritual community," because they have broken from apostolic tradition, suffer from "defects." If a baby is born with a hole in its heart, we say the child has a "heart defect." If a church, for example, does not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist—a belief which has been firmly held and taught from the first Apostles without dispute for the first thousand years of the Church—then that church rightly suffers a defect (indeed, a "heart defect" for refusing the reality of the Sacred Heart made present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.)
The mainstream media has failed to report the very generous and conciliatory language of the document, which nonetheless recognizes the filial relationship of Catholics with non-Catholics who profess Jesus as Lord.
It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church". —Response to Third Question
While some hardly see the Vatican’s language as "healing," I submit, it is precisely in identifying the defective condition of the child which creates the opportunity for future "heart surgery." Many are the Catholics I know today, and perhaps to a degree I am one of them, who learned to love Jesus and the Holy Scriptures from the genuine passion and love of non-Catholics. As one person related, "These evangelical churches are often like incubators. They bring new born chicks into a relationship with Jesus." But as the chicks grow, they need the nutritious grain of the Holy Eucharist, indeed, all the spiritual food which Mother Hen Church has to feed them. I for one am deeply appreciative of the significant contributions made by our separated brethren in making the name of Jesus known among the nations.
Lastly, the Holy Father continues to proclaim in a spirit of love and courage the inate dignity of the human person, the sanctity of marriage and of life. For those who are listening, the spirit of confusion is fleeing. As we can see, however, few are listening as the winds of change begin to bring the sea to a broil.
THE TWO PILLARS OF THE TWO COLUMNS
At the end of St. John Bosco’s dream, the Church does not experience the "great calm" on the sea, which is perhaps the foretold "Era of Peace," until she has been firmly anchored to the Two Columns of the Eucharist and Mary. While the dream likely spans the reign of several Popes, the end of the dream signals at least two prominent pontiffs:
Suddenly the Pope falls gravely wounded. Immediately, those who are with him run to help him and they lift him up. A second time the Pope is struck, he falls again and dies. A shout of victory and joy rings out amongst the enemies; from their ships an unspeakable mockery arises.
But hardly is the Pontiff dead than another takes his place. The pilots, having met together, have elected the Pope so promptly that the news of the death of the Pope coincides with the news of the election of the successor. The adversaries begin to lose courage. —Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco, compiled and edited by Fr. J. Bacchiarello, S.D.B.
This is a remarkable description of what has occurred in our recent times:
- 1981 assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II.
- Shortly after, there is a second attempt on his life, an assailant with a knife. Later, he is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease which eventually consumes him
- Many of his opponents were rejoicing, hoping that a more liberal Pope would be elected.
- Pope Benedict XVI was elected very quickly compared to pontiffs in the past. His pontificate has no doubt caused many of the Church’s adversaries to lose courage, at least momentarily.
- An "unspeakable mockery" toward Christ and His Church has arisen since John Paul II’s death, as writers, comedians, commentators, and politicians continue to speak the most astonishing blasphemies publicly, and without reserve. (See Deluge of False Prophets.)
In the dream, the Pope who eventually dies…
…stands at the helm and all his energies are directed toward steering the ship towards those two columns.
Pope John Paul II has decidedly directed the Church toward Mary through his own witness, devotion, and Apostolic teaching which strongly urged the Church to devote herself to Mary during the Year of the Rosary (2002-03). This was followed by the Year of the Eucharist (2004-05) and John Paul II’s documents on the Eucharist and the Liturgy. Before passing away, the Holy Father did everything possible to direct the Church toward the Two Columns.
And now what do we see?
The new Pope, putting the enemy to rout and overcoming every obstacle, guides the ship right up to the two columns and comes to rest between them; he makes it fast with a light chain that hangs from the bow to an anchor of the column on which stands the Host; and with another light chain which hangs from the stern, he fastens it at the opposite end to another anchor hanging from the column on which stands the Immaculate Virgin.
I believe Pope Benedict has extended the first "light chain" to the Column of the Eucharist by linking the present to the past through his motu proprio, as well as his other writings on the liturgy and recent book on Jesus. He is moving the Church closer to breathing with "both lungs" of the East and the West.
I believe it is very possible, then, that Pope Benedict may also define a new Marian dogma—that second chain which extends to the Column of the Immaculate Virgin. In St. John’s dream, at the base of the Column of the Virgin, is an inscription which reads Auxilium Christianorum, "Help of Christians." The fifth Marian dogma that many expect to be proclaimed is that of Our Lady as "Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate of all Graces." (Read Blessed Mother Teresa’s simple and beautiful explanation of these titles here.) There is more to say on this at another time.
THE SWORD OF BENEDICT
Of course, many people, Catholics included, believe that Pope Benedict is creating division through these most recent Church documents (and would further divide Christendom with such a Marian dogma.) I can’t help but say, "Yes, exactly." The battle on the sea is not over.
Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matt 10:34)
Ahab came to meet Elijah, and when he saw Elijah, said to him, "Is it you, you disturber of Israel?" "It is not I who disturb Israel," he answered, "but you and your family, by forsaking the commands of the Lord and following the Baals." —Office of Readings, Monday, Vol III; p. 485; 1 Kings 18:17-18
Pope Benedict XVI on the bow of a ship, entering Cologne for World Youth Day, 2006
Pope Benedict entering Sydney, Australia for World Youth Day, 2008
- Understanding how Church teaching unfolds: The Unfolding Splendor of Truth
- The purification of the "churches": That Which Is Built On Sand
- Understanding the divisions of truth: Mountains, Foothills, and Plains
- The Holy Father, Chief Shepherd and light for the Church: My Sheep Will Know My Voice in the Storm