Hopes and Fears for 2016 – Deacon Nick Donnelly.

by Deacon Nick Donnelly
At this time of year I observe a personal tradition that my wife and I began over ten years ago as a way of preparing spiritually for the New Year. It involves us listening in the quiet of the evening to audio recordings of the Book of Revelation, with their vivid evocation of the conflict between good and evil that is occurring now and is not yet fully upon us. In recent years I have taken this eschatological perspective further by annually reading novels by my favourite Catholic authors that explore apocalyptic themes, such as those by Michael D O’Brien and Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson.

I hasten to add that I am not attracted to the feverish, almost hysterical, millennial predications and speculations associated with some private revelations that are popular in certain Catholic circles. Rather I seek to understand the times in which we live in the light of God’s revelation contained in sacred Scripture. I think the Gospels clearly show that Our Lord wanted us to look at Time with the expectation that He would return in glory at some point in the future and to look out for signs of His return. The Holy Gospel according to St Matthew contains Our Lord’s detailed description of the signs that we must look out for that signal His return, including this admonition that we should take seriously:

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” (Matthew 24: 42-44).

It is from this perspective of supernatural hope and holy fear that I write about my personal hopes and fears for 2016.

My Hope for 2016

The hope I cherish at the beginning of each New Year is that during the course of the year we will witness the glorious Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Over the years the tentative conviction has been growing in my heart that we may well indeed be the generation chosen by providence to witness the culmination of Salvation History. Having said this, I am cautious about coming to any definite conclusion for two reasons: Our Lord’s own words exhort us to be agnostic about the day and time of His Second Coming because only Our Father has this knowledge (Mark 13:32; Matthew 24:36); and over the past 2,000 years groups of Christians have been certain that they were facing the End of the World and were proven wrong because they forgot Our Lord’s caution – live in expectation of His return but not certainty about the specifics!

In recent interviews the novelist Michael O’Brien has admitted that he believes we could be witnessing events foretold in the Book of Revelation. When asked the question “Do you think that our generation is ‘The Last Days’ one?” he replied:

“I think so, though I would be happy to be wrong about this. In our times, unprecedented apocalyptic signs are emerging all around us. Certainly, there have been lesser apocalypses throughout our history, but none with the magnitude and character we are now facing.”

I, like Michael O’Brien, would be happy to be proved wrong about this, but I agree with him that we face unprecedented apocalyptic signs. Signs such as the murder of two billion unborn babies over the past 40 years being accepted by many people around the world as moral and good. I also think it is unprecedented that sexual perversions such as homosexuality and transgenderism are approved by majorities in some countries as ‘good’ and those who criticise such perversions are condemned as ‘evil’. We are living during a great apostasy when immorality is applauded as morality, and the good is condemned as evil:

Woe to those who call evil good

 

    and good evil,

 

who put darkness for light

 

    and light for darkness,

 

who put bitter for sweet

 

    and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5: 20).

 

 

I long for His coming in glory when all things will be reconciled to Christ and there shall be no more divisions and misunderstandings.
Pope Francis and the Synods

Sometime during 2016 Pope Francis will publish his apostolic exhortation on the family in response to the two synods he convened in 2014 and 2015. It is my hope that the Holy Father will seize the opportunity to heal the deep wounds inflicted on the Church over the past three years by those cardinals and bishops who have publicly and irresponsibly contradicted divine truths contained in sacred doctrine. 2016 could prove to be Pope Francis’ s Humanae Vitae moment when, like Blessed Paul VI, as the Successor of St Peter he upholds and safeguards the Church’s Apostolic Faith so unnecessarily thrown into confusion by dissenting cardinals, bishops and theologians.

I agree with Cardinal Burke’s grave assessment of the 2015 Synod Final Report that a serious “deception” has been perpetrated on the Church. His Eminence calls it a ‘serious deception’ because its partial quotation from Pope St John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio omits the explicit reasons why divorced and re-married cannot receive Holy Communion. Cardinal Burke concludes in his interview with The Wanderer Catholic weekly:

“The final report’s paragraph on this topic is deceptive in a very serious way. It gives the false impression of presenting the teaching of Familiaris Consortio. The Synod’s final report suggests that Familiaris Consortio opens a way for access to the sacraments by people in irregular matrimonial unions. It is just the opposite. I was truly disheartened that the final report stopped short of presenting the full teaching of Familiaris Consortio in the matter. First of all, the truth as presented by St. John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio was misrepresented in the Synod’s document. That in itself discouraged me very much, especially in consideration of the fact that it was done at the level of a Synod of Bishops. At the same time, I was also disturbed because I knew this would be used by individuals like Fr. Spadaro [Editor of Italian Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica] and others to say that the Church has changed her teaching in this regard, which, in fact, is simply not true.”

Trust in the Fidelity of Pope Francis

My hope for 2016 is that Pope Francis will cut through the intentional ambiguity of the Final Report and correct this dangerous deception. I’ve been reading Cardinal Sarah’s encouraging and consoling interview “God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith with Nicholas Diat” in which he talks about his hopes for the outcome of the two synods in which he played such an important part. His Eminence uses a phrase that I have taken to heart as we wait for Pope Francis to announce his decisions – Cardinal Sarah says “I trust in the fidelity of Pope Francis”. Time and again Pope Francis describes himself as a “faithful son of the Church.” The steadfast faith of the successor of St Peter is essential for the personal faith of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, because his role, given him by Our Lord, is to confirm us all in our personal faith:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”(Luke 22: 31-32).

We can be certain that Our Lord in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father, is praying that the faith of Pope Francis does not fail after the sifting of the Synods, so that he can turn to us and strengthen us in our faith, which for many has been badly shaken by the sight of so many bishops betraying the faith.

My Fear for 2016

One of the things that struck home with me during 2015 is a truth that I have tried to avoid admitting for the past decade or so, that the Church, and Christianity, is being forsaken in Europe. Both the writings of George Weigel, the theologian and commentator, and Cardinal Sarah have helped me realise this unavoidable truth. Pope St John Paul II diagnosed the cause of the death of the Church in Europe as being people living as if God did not exist. In his post synodal apostolic exhortation Pope John Paul II wrote:

“At the root of this loss of hope is an attempt to promote a vision of man apart from God and apart from Christ. This sort of thinking has led to man being considered as “the absolute centre of reality, a view which makes him occupy – falsely – the place of God and which forgets that it is not man who creates God, but rather God who creates man. Forgetfulness of God led to the abandonment of man”. It is therefore “no wonder that in this context a vast field has opened for the unrestrained development of nihilism in philosophy, of relativism in values and morality, and of pragmatism – and even a cynical hedonism – in daily life”. European culture gives the impression of “silent apostasy” on the part of people who have all that they need and who live as if God does not exist.” (Ecclesia in Europa, 9).

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI also warned against this spirit of secularist hedonism infiltrating the Church:

“It is not just an external threat to believers, but has for some time been evident in the bosom of the Church herself. It invades all aspects of daily life and causes the development of a mentality in which God is effectively absent, entirely or in part, from human life and conscience”.

Wake Up, Strengthen What Remains and is On The Point of Death

This attitude of living as if God does not exist is so pervasive in the UK and Ireland that all of us, clergy and laity, are tainted, to various degrees, with the same nihilism, relativism, pragmatism and hedonism. These influences, that effect us all, are toxic to living a life of grace and faith, to our living and moving and having our being in God.

My fear for 2016 is that I personally, along with many others, will continue sleep walking the European Church into the deathly silence of tomb. The words of the Book of Revelation echo in my mind and heart as I sit here writing this article:

“‘I know your works; you have the name of being alive, and you are dead. Awake, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.” (Revelation 3: 1-4).

My fear for 2016 is well grounded because I know that not only am I far from ready for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but also that the Church in the UK and Ireland is unready and unprepared for the Day of the Lord. What will it take to wake us from sleep? Since Our Lady appeared to St Catherine Labouré at the Rue de Bac in 1830, and throughout all the series of European Marian Apparitions, God, in His Providence, has taken exceptional measures to wake us up from sleep. But the Churches in Europe, apart from Poland, refuse to wake. In fact tragically, the Irish and English Churches appear to be falling deeper into the sleep of nihilism, relativism, pragmatism and hedonism.

Our Lord has repeatedly given us the remedy to shake off the hold of this deadly sickness – praying daily the mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So, amid your hope and fears for this year, if you make one New Year’s Resolution for this Jubilee Year of Mercy, for your sake, and all our sakes, please respond to Our Lady’s urgent appeal to pray the rosary, with this supplication, “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of your Mercy. Amen.”

 

About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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9 Responses to Hopes and Fears for 2016 – Deacon Nick Donnelly.

  1. Deacon Donnelly is right. The Apocalypse probably will not take place this year. Surely, however, a world where so many people, in so many countries, lead their lives as though all types of immorality were permitted and God did not exist, may soon have to suffer the consequences. If and when that happens, our civilization will by no means be unique in this regard, certainly not if history has anything to teach us.

  2. Robert says:

    Well I disagree with Deacon Donnelly the reason is as pointed out by St Vincent Ferrer whom was quoting the early church and recognising the Church in his day. The significance was the creation of the Franciscan’s and the Dominicans. Remember that St Francis was told to rebuild the Church.
    The Church has been likened to the Moon (reflects the Sun ie Christ) which waxes and wanes and suffers eclipses. The Church destined to recreate the Life of Christ, including the Passion and Resurrection (the Passion as seen in the Fatima vision published 2000). Apostacy and Rebellion these are the signs expressly cited by Our Lord over Jerusalem of the later days.
    Apostacy is the rejection of the Passion of Our Lord and His resurrection, He opened Heaven.
    Rejecting Christ is actually to wish to live under Original Sin! By rejecting Christ this worldmis and has embraced Sin.
    Rebellion is a State Church separation whereby the State claims that it doesn’t have to be bound by Christ or indeed any Faith.
    Now why is this Apocalyptic? because since 19 century Globalisation has happened therefor the conflict is at the Global level.
    It is impossible to return to the pre Christ world since the Old Dispensation has been rescinded, the world is now subject to the New Dispensation.
    The Faith tells Us that Christ opened Heaven to Us through His Life and Death. So what has been rejected in this Age and globally is Heaven.
    At Fatima the children were shown Hell, they were told of souls that they had personnel knowledge of who had died and were in Purgatory! Heaven was expressly mentioned.
    Remember Pope Leo XIII expressly invoked St Michael (the Archangel that opposed Satan and the rebel Angels). St Michael appeared at Garabandal ( not condemned by the Church but left in limbo!).
    GlobaL Apostacy and Rebellion against Christ Laws on Fornication, Divorce, Fornication, Sodom these Liberal Laws are Global Laws of this Age (think of the Atheist Russian Revolution itself a child of the French atheist Revolution).
    We are also seeing Christians being martyred for their Faith!
    Globally the State Laws ALL have Divorce! So it is not a question of the Apocalypse in the Future it is actually living in and through the Apocalypse.

  3. toadspittle says:

    “Rebellion is a State Church separation whereby the State claims that it doesn’t have to be bound by Christ or indeed any Faith.”
    You may not have noticed, Robert – but the States today in Western Europe (and the U.S. and virtually everywhere, except the Middle East) contain several assorted Faiths. Which one is it to be bound to? You wouldn’t expect an overwhelmingly Lutheran country to be bound by the “Faith” of Hindus, or Mormons – would you?
    …I thought not.

    “Globally the State laws ALL have Divorce!”
    Quite right, too. That’s because most people want the option of divorce. That’s democracy. If you and your wife don’t want to divorce nobody will force you to do it. Not if I can help it, anyway. We live in a pluralist, tolerant, society (generally.) Which is good (generally.)

  4. Robert says:

    Once again thank you Toad.
    The creation, actually deliberate creation, of pluralist religious culture in the West was the deliberate intent of free masonry. Where the British Empire went Lodges were set up under the pluralist naturalist God of masonry. Perhaps the Popes who unanimously condemned Masonry for over 200 years were wrong? Christianity has been deliberately and progressively undermined as a matter of naturalist policy in the West. This was not accidently but a deliberate Policy by Free Masonry under its various guises ands sects. The role of the Masonry in the French Revolution is actually recorded by Sir Walter Scott.
    The role of internationalist such as Dr Dee and Ashmole for instance is on record.
    No Toad there are only two adversaries Christ and Satan since the New Dispensation and the battle is Global (think of Satan’s Temptation of Christ).
    The waning of the Church (mystical Body of Christ) was well understand by the ancient Church. The profoundity of the Malachi mottos “De mediatae Lunae” and “De labore Solis” were not known to St Vincent Ferrer. But there significance in reference to the cycle of the moon and the eclipse of the Sun wouldn’t have escaped his or his contemporaries understanding.
    The Apostacy of the West is the clash between the Naturalist/ alleged modernist (Satanic) God of Masonry and the Revelation/Dogmatic Trinity of Christianity. This Apostacy was planned and meticulously implemented.
    The last countries to implement Divorce Malta, Philipines within the last decades. As far as choice with Divorce is concerned it is a very modern scandal. In England the Liberal Laws in the 60’s of Wilsons Government were not by popular acclaim because Divorce, Abortion and homosexuality were socially unacceptable before 60’s.
    No Toad the waning of the Church and the reason why we can identify with the Apocalpyse is because of this insidious globalist/international plot of the Lodges to create a pluralist society.
    The Divorce Laws and family planning expressly attacked the family and guess what happened people began to live together. Divorce Laws and lawyers have made a fortune out of the destruction of homes/families and made Christian marriage well nigh impossible.
    Deliberate Toad well thought through as Marx pointed out Social Evolution! Evolution away from Christ to Liberalism/Modernism.
    Now here is a Truth understood by Our Fathers in the Faith. Exclude God from Society and you open the door to the vices and dictatorships (modern so called democracies are actually dicatorships! as I pointed out the Liberal agenda of the 60’s has used the Law to force its anti Christian Laws on society and the destruction of babies (Abortion) marriage (divorce) etc. This is Sin and the broad road to Hell. This is not tolerance its Liberal Dictatorship! Intolerance of Christ and virtues and reward for vice/Liberalism.
    It should be very clear that these policies and laws will not be re-enacted and therefor the Sins cited by Heaven at La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima and yes Garabandal have brought man into open rebellion against the Trinity.
    Consider that God is omnipotent and omnipresence therefor only a Fool would deny God. This is what the tolerant liberal actually dictatorship of masonry has achieved. There will be no Peace (Our Lady of Fatima is called of Peace!) there can be no Peace with vice and Sin.
    Fatima in the End the Immaculate will Triumph (that is virtues victory over Liberal Sin and vice) BUT at what Price!
    We are already seeing God publically blamed for woes and evils which means simply put that Hell is preferred to Heaven. Mankind is beginning to experience Hell on Earth.
    I choose the narrow road to Heaven, Jesus and Mary, the virtues and Graces. That is my choice. That is where the future lies and this was promised at Fatima.

  5. toadspittle says:

    “The creation, actually deliberate creation, of pluralist religious culture in the West was the deliberate intent of free masonry.”
    What total nonsense. And nobody else on here will call you on it. (Why?) Have you never heard of the Catholic Emancipation Act in England? Thanks to it , you can publicly, and without fear of prison, follow your religion, Robrot. Do you think the Masons invented Mormonism, or Methodism? Maybe you do.

  6. Robert says:

    Toad
    The Faith is One Name Christ and that’s it. One Name! The ONLY begotten of the Father. This is the New Dispensation.
    Under the Old Dispensation the Natural Law was common to Men/Man BUT as St Augustine pointed out in City Of God these alleged Gods deities had vices!
    Now Free Masonry as you know has this vague notion of Grand Architect God by any other name including Naturalism (no God). Masonry makes no distinction between deities irrespective of their vices (demons).
    Do Catholic Bishops sit in House Of Lords? Can I refuse Gay marriage? Can I refuse Divorce? Can I refuse Abortion? Can the Monarchy be Catholic? Harold Wilson’s minority Government sought to modernise and guess what Liberal Laws! actually against the Creator.
    The Laws enacted Globally are Anti Christian! Laws proposed by Enlightened Europeans. State Church separation simply means Let the Devil run the world.
    Understand that it isn’t even necessary to be a formal Mason to accept their Liberal Laws, which you have already cited. What you are justifying is Sin. That is your argument, However there is always the soul reaching out for Christ. Thirsting for Christ because man knows there is a God. Christ didn’t promise Paradise in a Fallen World rather the next (Heaven). It is the global nature of Anti Christian Laws and the Apostacy of Old Christendom, nay the Rebellion of what had been Christendom. This is what points to the Apocalypse.

  7. toadspittle says:

    “What you are justifying is Sin.”
    Not justifying it, Roger, just accepting its existence.
    “Can I refuse Gay marriage? Can I refuse Divorce? Can I refuse Abortion?”
    Yes. Go ahead. Have nothing to do with them.
    “The Laws enacted Globally are Anti Christian!”
    Plenty of Christians (including Catholics) accept them. Nobody’s forcing you to.
    You must abide by them, though.

  8. kathleen says:

    I was wondering why this well-written article by the good Deacon had received so few “likes”, when I came to the conclusion that it could only be because of his overly-optimistic view of Pope Francis’ coming apostolic exhortation on the family after the two 2015 synods coming down squarely on the side of traditional Catholic Teaching. Most Catholics are not convinced such a complete turnabout is either likely or possible… and in fact who can blame them? I also have my doubts.

    But Nick Donnelly reminds us, and I remember being told, that Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae in (I think) 1968 was also totally “unexpected” by faithful Catholics at that time of the great upheaval in the Church, so it came as a breath of fresh air in a darkening world. It proves Our Lord’s words He will always be “with us”.

    We can at least.hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will delight us once again.🙂

  9. Michael says:

    Kathleen @12:19:

    An excellent point. We should never underestimate the ways in which God can bring good out of difficult (sometimes seemingly impossible) situations, and it is a worthwhile exercise to reflect on the many times such unexpected about-turns have occurred throughout Church history (including, as you note, very recent history). The long view is a great antidote to despair🙂

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