It was the region of Moab, now southern Jordan, where the Israelites, after wandering so long in the desert, first got an inkling of the "Promised Land." During the time of Christ Jordan was part of Judea on both sides of the Dead Sea, the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee, though the Romans segmented the area as Decapolis and the Tetrarchy of Philip. Yet it was largely known as Judea with the southern portion comprising Arabia. Iraq was part of Mesopotamia and later the great Persian empire before being incorporated as part of the Ottoman Turkish empire and then British occupation until the Kurdish revolts against Assyrian Christians. This was followed by a major tribal uprising in the Euphrates basin which allowed the Arab regime to take over and the eventual rise of Saddam with his masterminding the attempted assassination of General Kassem in 1959 and his thorough involvement in the Revolutionary Command Council in 1969 and ten years later his take over of the country in 1979. It was unfortunate that he was so coddled by the United States. Yet, in retrospect, we can see the reasoning for America had just lost their great ally the Shah of Iran via the overthrow of his regime by the nasty Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini at the same time Saddam came to power.
Meanwhile, further south in what had been called Trans Jordan, another Hussein , the Hashemite sherif of the Hejaz in eastern Arabia, proclaimed himself king of the Arabs in 1916 and began the great war made famous in the film "Lawrence of Arabia". Though this Hussein was forced to abdicate his throne in 1924, two of his sons ruled in Iraq and Trans Jordan at that time. The late King Hussein, whose lineage could be traced to Hashem, the great-grandfather of the seventh century prophet Mohammed, came into power in 1952. His forty-seven year reign was a fitting reparation of the damage done by his ancestors in which millions upon millions have been killed over the centuries in the name of religion. He was more like the "Good Samaritan" of the Scriptures who would distribute kindness and care while the other nine nations refused. Samaria, by the way, borders both Israel and Jordan with its capitol remaining Jericho. We all know what happened to the walls of Jericho. Hussein was well aware of these religious roots. He took over Trans Jordan three years after Israel became a state in 1949 when she returned to this sacred soil after nearly two millenniums of wandering in the desert of anonymity. To this day Israel still laments the fall of Jerusalem towards the end of the first century as her clerics pound their heads at the wailing wall.
During King Hussein's regime mideast nations fell and were founded, great men came and went; men like David Ben Gurion, Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin. Like Switzerland, Hussein remained neutral through it all, buoyed by the oil rush of the mideast region that enriched the coffers of these Arab nations. But the riches have not been evenly distributed and therein lies the problems of the mideast where history and resentments stem from ancient times. As much as many of these nations resent the "great satan of the west" - the United States - they have become carbon copies of America in that the rich get richer and the poor poorer. We only hope the transition of the throne to his little-known son Abdullah Hussein will be as smooth as his regime was. If not, look for bigger problems in these areas where Abraham and Christ once walked the earth.
It is no coincidence that these nations have become so prominent in these end times of the second millennium for this, indeed, is the stage on which Sacred Scripture says the great final act will be played out and where the purification of the earth as God has promised will begin and end. The political climate in this mideast region has been sensitive to say the least over the past twenty years and grows more unsteady with each passing day. Though Jordan had not been an announced ally of Israel, Hussein was not her enemy. Now, with the changing of the guard, we cannot be so sure. There will be undue pressure placed on him by other Arab allies who will threaten, cajole and persuade Abdullah to embrace the Arab anthem of oneness against the Jews. If Abdullah would take a harder stance toward the state of Israel, then Israel will indeed become an isolated island in a sea of Arab foes gnawing at the bit to devour the Jewish people, much the same as in biblical times.
As in those times, the Jews would be wise to heed God's warnings and treat others in the manner of the "Golden Rule." First of all, don't rock the boat and don't upset the rest of the world with demands and conditions that are not feasible if they are not willing to give in return. In the spirit of Christ's words in Luke 6: 28, "Forgive, and you shall be forgiven; give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they pour into your lap. For with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you." This includes affording the Palestinian Christians the freedom to worship and live in peace along the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It would also help better pave the way for the Holy Father to make his much-anticipated pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 2000. But the climate remains very volatile and only sane, wise leaders can keep things steady. Sadly, with the passing of King Hussein, there are few sane, wise leaders left in this region of the world; ironic in a land that gave us the great King Solomon. One way for both Jew and Arab to increase in wisdom is to learn from the Word of God and history, for, as we all know because God allows it, history has a way of repeating itself!
They selected Alexander V, formerly Cardinal Pietro Philarghi, a Greek prelate from northern Crete. He had been one of the cardinals who had broken ranks with Gregory and collaborated against the Pope with Cardinal Baldassare Cossa, who would become the antipope John XXIII on the former's death. Since Alexander had not been elected by the College of Cardinals but rather by the council that was not recognized by Gregory nor many rulers throughout Europe, they claimed Alexander could not lay claim to the Holy See. Thus, rather than clearing up the schism, it had only multiplied with two antipopes now in the mix along with Gregory. If before two were company, then now three were a crowd. While Gregory had initially agreed to abdicate, he was not prepared to be labeled a heretic. This not only infuriated him but Kings Rupert and Ladislas as well. They accompanied Gregory to the Aquilea region where the Pope convened his own council. There the Council, small in number, excommunicated both Benedict (again) and Alexander. There are reports that the Archbishop of Aquilea was so upset with Gregory's action that he threatened the Pontiff's life. Gregory was forced to flee in disguise to Gaeta under the protection of Ladislas. From there he ruled the Church while Ladislas reconquered the Papal States of Umbria and Rome. This didn't sit well with Alexander who, in turn, excommunicated Ladislas and invested the kingdom to Louis II of Anjou sending him against Ladislas in a military battle to be played out in Rome. Alexander also dispatched Cardinal Baldassare Cossa as one of his commanders to assist Louis' army.
Meanwhile, Benedict was doing his own railing and excommunicating but his support had waned greatly. No longer at Avignon because France had fallen out of favor, he was forced to move to Barcelona where Spain was still behind Benedict. Save for Portugal and Scotland, no one else threw their support to him. While all this was underway Alexander did do something right, condemning the writings and teachings of the reformist John Wycliffe, but because the papacy was so fragmented, it did little to alarm the people to what was to come a century later. Alexander was a good man, a devoted Franciscan, who meant well but was merely a pawn in the plans of Baldassare who, some suspect, poisoned him on May 3, 1410 after returning from battle and weary. In all fairness, Alexander should not be termed an "antipope" but rather, as many historians so note, a "council pope."
With Alexander's death Baldassare was the logical successor and he manipulated it to make that a reality by being elected John XXIII by the Pisan cardinals at Bologna on May 17, 1410. Many believe he was rubberstamped in through the intimidation tactics of Louis II of Anjou who had tied his fate to Baldassare. He was as different from Alexander as night and day. While Alexander was a pious, austere man, John XXIII was a philanderer and adulterer. [It must be noted here that this John XXIII should not be confused with Pope John XXIII who became the legitimate 261st successor of Peter on October 28, 1959.] Because Gregory had lost much support and his chief supporter was embroiled in battle, France, England and several Italian and German states threw their support behind the slick John XXIII who portrayed a papal presence that persuaded many. In fact John was so persuasive that he even convinced Ladislas to forsake Gregory after Louis II had failed in his attempts to defeat the King of Naples. Gregory was crestfallen at this falling out. But it didn't take long for Ladislas to realize the error of his ways and the forked-tongue ways of John. He retaliated against the latter and John fled for his life from Rome, seeking refuge in Florence. He appealed to the German King Sigismund who had replaced King Rupert. Sigismund could see the inherent problems and thus called for a council - the Council of Constance to determine, once and for all, a solution to this schism. Having painted himself into a corner, John had no choice but to agree to Sigismund's terms and thus, on December 9, 1413, issued a bull announcing the Council. Before the Council could be convened Ladislas died on August 6, 1414 and John entertained ambitions of winning back the papal states, but he had committed himself to the course of council and thus was prevented from militarily taking action.
The Council of Constance resembled a political convention with lobbying on all sides. Benedict again refused to attend or to abdicate, holing himself up in Peniscola on the Valencia coast and claiming that there was the seat of the Church which he referred to as the "Ark of Noah." Few paid attention and Spain disavowed any loyalty to this "mad man." After numerous sessions John XXIII tried an end run by disguising himself and fled the city disguised as a bridegroom hoping that it would disrupt the council and they would disband. Rather it prompted the council to dig in. They brought him back as a prisoner and proclaimed that the Council was superior to the Pope in matters such as these, a sticky wicket that would gum up the works for years to come. But the Council did decree that all who laid claim to the papacy - Gregory, Benedict and John must be suspended. While Benedict stubbornly refulsed, both Gregory and John had no choice but to agree to the terms. Both renounced the papacy and Gregory issued a landmark papal bull on July 4, 1415 in what could be rightly referred to as the "first independence day" for finally the schism was over. John retired to Germany to live out his life there in the custody of Ludwig III of Bavaria until he was able to ransom his freedom and travel to Rome where he publicly offered homage to the new Pope before dying on November 22, 1419.
As for Gregory XII, it was not easy but he was obedient to the Council's actions. In obedience he was appointed Cardinal-bishop of Porto and a lifetime legate to Ancona while being declared ineligible from ever being considered again for the papacy. Yet, in loyalty to him, he was assured of ranking next in priority to the new Pope who was a while in being elected due to the Council and the reforms of elective process that continued for over 18 months. It would be over two years later when Pope Martin V would be chosen on November 11, 1417. Three weeks prior to that Gregory, obedient and repentive and exuding holiness, died at Recanati, Italy
Next issue: Pope Martin V: The struggle to start anew
I beseech you! Open the eyes of your soul. There is but one source of Power, Strength, Truth and Justice. The Triune Divinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit look upon all creation and seek only to call all mankind home. Home is Heaven, where your immortal soul, created by God, is re-united to the Creator. But you, my children, have denied God. You have stripped my Divine Son of His Divinity and His Redemptive Act. You have misunderstood Sacred Scripture. You have altered its sacred meaning by your manipulation of its language. You have become godless people headed for perdition. All that is happening in your world comes upon you as a warning from God that most refuse to see or acknowledge. You cannot control the power of nature. You cannot hold back God's Divine Justice by your continued pride, arrogance and lack of obedience.
Therefore, I call you anew to take off the world. Cast it aside. Each of you must do this through constant prayer, mortification of your flesh and sacrifice. Unless you become spirit-filled people living as the first Christians lived, you shall not withstand the antichrist's reign. You shall not recognize the true evil until it is too late.
Therefore, I solemnly tell you that soon I, your Heavenly Mother, the Immaculate Conception, shall no longer be among you. I have come as the New Ark to implore all the world to be reconciled with God, to have great faith and absolute trust in your Heavenly Father. This is the sure path. You must be and continue to be a reverent, holy, devout Eucharistic people who, on bended knee, come before my Divine Son in the Blessed Sacrament and acknowledge Him as King of Kings.
Woe to all shepherds who lead their flock astray, who refuse to believe and deny my children the right of absolute reverence. Triple woe to all who, having authority over the little ones, deny the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Now is the time for all whose hearts are opened to seek physical refuge, forming Eucharistic communities that shall be their source of all good. If you believe and persevere you shall hasten the Triumph of my Immaculate Heart and mitigate God's Justice.
The time draws nigh! Therefore, I beseech you to pray and offer yourself as a living prayer to my Divine Son in His Passion. Join your prayers to mine and you shall see the marvelous work of God.
Know I am truly your Mother, the Mother of God. Know I always intercede for you and love you.
Please, dear children, heed my words. Thank you for responding to my Call!
Now I ask of you, My Hidden Flower, to tell My children how grievously offended I am because even in the midst of My countless signs there are so many cold, hardened hearts. O! How My Sacred Heart is pierced by all who cry out to Me with their lips, but not because they love and reverence Me! Because they want their earthly security restored. O! Foolish children. How satan seduces you, who are made in the image and likeness of God.
Therefore, hear Me, your Lord and Savior. The signs of warning, of chastisement shall continue. I, the Son of God, Savior of the world, do solemnly tell you that your own country shall suffer grievously, for you are a proud, arrogant, godless nation who has made of Me a mockery. You blaspheme Me in the Holy Eucharist. You dismiss My Sacred Passion as being long ago, and not the Infinite Sacrifice it is, being daily offered in the True Sacrifice of the Mass. You have allowed your pride to become god, permitting the sin of grievous murder through abortion and euthanasia. You refute God's Perfect law by condoning, encouraging homosexuality, and abuses of every kind against the flesh, which houses your immortal soul and is to be as a temple - pure and spotless.
O! Woe to all who, having heard My Word, reject It. They shall not receive Mercy which I offer, but rather shall suffer the Father's Perfect Justice.
Come unto Me, your God. Be as a humble, obedient child and you shall drink freely from the chalice of Divine Mercy.
Be strong My children. The Hour of Justice is prepared. Heed My Words, be attentive to My warnings which are Mercy. Soon My Mother shall not be among you in the extraordinary way I have allowed her to be. You must stand firm in the full Truth and defend Me, even unto death.
Therefore, pray and surrender your will to the Divine Will, and all shall be given unto you.
Know I love with Infinite Love. I bless you. Prepare and be watchful, for the Hour is about to come.