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We enter 1999 as we left 1998 with the balance of justice and decency turned topsy-turvy just as the Blessed Virgin Mary has predicted to so many of her messengers over the past two centuries. To give you a glimpse of how messed up this world is, consider how the world perceives things: Adultery and lying are considered commendable, while chastity, commitment to one's spouse and honesty are considered weaknesses. Doing your own thing and exercising free will - whether that be doing whatever one selfishly wants to do from eliminating responsibilities through abortion to dismissing the problems of old age or sicknesses with euthanasia - is considered a God-given right, even though no such thoughts have been given by Our Lord. The only freedom we can achieve in our free will is choosing wisely, and the only wise choice is to submit our will to God's will. Then and only then will we truly realize freedom! Three-fourths of the globe is at war. The only reason we can't consider it World War III yet is because these countries have not united into two camps. When they do, look out!!! Look at the pathetic situation is China and India where religious are being persecuted and subjected to unspeakable crimes. The same with the myriad of African countries where rebels and shaky regimes use priests as bullet-ridden punching bags to get back at the other. In Russia communism still writhes beneath the surface as people are starving everywhere and the Roman Catholic Church has basically been shut out by the stubborn Russian Orthodox Church. In South and Central America unrest is reaching an all-time high as the bishops and clergy seek a resolution to the killings and persecutions by being one of the few stable voices in a sea of madness. In Australia the bishops are desperately trying to hold control over a frenzied laity, many of whom are trying to take the Church into their own hands. The same for America where the liberal modernists have made alarming inroads not only in parishes from sea to shining sea, but in many diocesan chanceries as well. The United States is also faced with a dilemna: forsake the strong economy and material matters and do the right thing by upholding not only the laws of this nation but God's laws, or turn our backs on the Almighty's graces and selfishly cling to temporal matters, bedazzled by satan's emissary in the White House and his legion of spin-meisters? We speak, of course, about the Clinton fiascos and abrasive amoral atmosphere that permeates from inside the belt-line. Something is seriously wrong when that man from Arkansas finishes first in a poll of "most admired men in the world" and the runner-up is the most admired man in the world in practically every country - Pope John Paul II. Talk about topsy-turvy! The senate can do the right thing by bringing the president to trial, but too many are afraid to "throw stones" because they're afraid their glass houses will break and they, too, will be exposed. Like the Roman courts of the great Roman empire, immorality has flooded the ranks of congress and its tentacles have reached to the highways and biways of this great land where once values and virtues were regarded with honor. But over the years we have become jaded by so many murders and explosive violence, explicit sex, and the game of cheating...all brought into our living rooms on a daily basis through satan's tabernacle, that our souls and hearts are dulled to the tremendous damage wrought.
Now a great cancer surges through America's body. Who can save her? Not the doctors, who, for the most part, have forgotten their Hippocratic oath and present themselves as hypocritic oafs; not the lawyers, who, for the most part, have forsaken morals and ideals and fabricate the fabric of truth and decency for the almighty dollar through that twisted excuse known as "loophole;" not the politicians, who, for the most part, have disregarded the reasons they were elected and use their positions to forge their own ambitions at the expense of their trusting constituents; not the parents, who, for the most part, have submitted to their children's demands for more to the point of excess and access - access to things that undermine all that God intended the family to be; not the children, who, for the most part, are ignorant to the wisdom passed down by the elderly, rejecting their sage advice as inane and out-of-touch; not most of the religious leaders, who, for the most part, speak in hollow tones afraid to tackle the tough questions for fear it would not be politically correct - instead men like Jesse Jackson embroil themselves in an agenda that defies spirituality; not the lukewarm, who, haven't got a clue of God's Infinite Mercy and Ultimate Justice and, by their inaction and apathy, couldn't get a running start if they even thought of trying...which they won't simply because they are lukewarm souls and we all know what the Almighty has said about the lukewarm! So, then, who can save America as well as the rest of the world? Only God can! But God needs arms, legs and strong-willed men and women totally in alliance with His Holy Will to effect this. That's where we all come in. Loyal Catholics, members of Mary's Little Army are the ones the Triune Divinity is counting on to come through in this great race.
As the race heads for a frantic finish, we have to kick our spiritual lives into overdrive or be run over by these same vices that have afflicted so many others. We can fall back on the merits and exemplary lives of the saints and upon some who are with us today. Besides our Holy Father, there are good and devote parish priests, educators and lay people who strive to live the Divine Will. In addition we have such outstanding bishops as Cardinal John O'Connor, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, Cardinal Bernard Law, Cardinal Anthony Bevilaqua, Cardinal William Keeler, Cardinal Adam Maida and Cardinal James Stafford as well as Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., Archbishop John Donoghue, Archbishop John Favalora, Archbishop Justin Rigali, Bishop David Foley, Bishop Thomas Daily, Bishop James McHugh, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, and Bishop John Meyers to name those who immediately come to mind. Two other Bishops we want to give a strong kudos to are Bishop William K. Weigand and Archbishop Edwin O'Brien. Congratulations to Bishop Weigand of the Sacramento Diocese for not bowing to pressure or political correctness when California's Governor-elect Gray Davis, a purported Catholic who advocates abortion, wanted to use the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament for an ecumenical service that is considered more political than spiritual. Because of Davis' stance on abortion and the culture of death, the good bishop flatly denied Davis access to the Cathedral. We need more bishops like that who will stand up to the pressure of society, men like Archbishop O'Brien, head chaplain of the archdiocese for US Military Services, who bravely spoke out against the concept of "my country, right or wrong" when he boldly stated that military personnel have an obligation before God to question orders if they are in "violation of the moral law." That took guts for we can imagine the repercussions that may come for daring to question both the commander-in-chief and the Pentagon. But that's what it takes and what both bishops have shown by their actions and words, we, too, have to have the guts to gut out the long, grueling race. And it takes conditioning. We can exercise through attendance at daily Mass, reverent recitation of the Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy, learning our faith better, living the messages and conducting ourselves above reproach by being all that Jesus and His Blessed Mother ask us to be. As mentioned above, as of today, Tuesday, January 5th there are exactly 360 days left until the Third Millennium. Think about it and pray what you can do to run a better race. It's time to put it in a higher gear for we all need to amend our lives more in order to be able to run in step with God. With 360 to go we need to take heart and do a 180!
His first duties included reigning in the Inquisition and imbuing the Church with more scholarly disciples. He had been a scholarly teacher himself and he made it a point to support many students from poor families as well as endowing numerous universities while reforming them at the same time. In addition he founded new institutions of higher learning at Orange in France, Krakow in Poland, and Vienna in Austria. It is no secret that Urban, because he was not a cardinal himself, was somewhat intimidated by the red-hats when meeting them face-to-face. Also, because he did not feel worthy to wear the papal robes because he had not been a cardinal, he chose to wear the Benedictine robes he had grown so familiar with as an abbot. It also reminded him to maintain his spiritual life and he spent tremendous amounts of time in prayer.
One of his main goals was to reunite with the Eastern Church which for two centuries had been in schism. To appease the Greeks, he preached a crusade against the Turks and set the monarch of France King John II as head of the crusaders. He also felt he could kill two "birds" with one stone by employing the free companies that had been ravaging Avignon and much of Southern Europe and Italy. These were mercenary men who were basically robbers. Yet, because the idea of a crusade sounded like a broken record, there was no urgency for Europeans, and the mercenaries had grown comfortable looting in Europe, the crusade never really got off the ground. When John died in 1364 the fervor of it died with him.
Much to Urban's chagrin, there were problems in northern Italy that had come to a head in Milan. The constant foe of the Church Bernabo Visconti was winning handily over the beleaguered and dishearted papal troops. Add to this the Roman Cardinal Gil de Albornoz, head of the papal troops had a high disregard for a French Pope and Urban knew morale was low; therefore he had to step in to save Bologna and, ultimately the Church in Italy. Thus he signed a humiliating pact with Visconti paying him huge amounts of money to evacuate Bologna. Many could not understand how the Pope would give away the store so-to-speak, but Urban had sincere plans to return the papacy to Rome and felt his biggest obstacle remained Visconti. The Holy Father's announcement of his eminent return to the eternal city won Albornoz over and he became Urban's papal legate in paving the way for Urban to return. The French cardinals bitterly opposed this and appealed to the new monarch of France King Charles V who, rather than helping the cardinals, chose to assist the Pope, primarily because the papacy in Avignon had exerted too much influence in France. Thus, he turned his back on the French court and the cardinals and personally offered to escort the Supreme Pontiff on April 30, 1367 from Avignon to Corneto in Italy. Urban was met there by Cardinal Albornoz who had become fiercely loyal now. They journeyed to Viterbo where the mercenaries tried to assault the Pope and Albornoz' men, but they fended them off, finally arriving at the Lateran on October 16, 1367 heavily escorted by the cardinal's troops. However the Lateran had been ransacked and burned making it virtually unlivable and thus Urban opted for the Vatican. He had already planned for this by beginning rennovations three years prior while still in Avignon. While most of the curia had remained behind in Avignon, Urban spent his time in Rome rebuilding churches that had been damaged and beginning a total rebuiliding of the Lateran church.
Back in Rome where he could more properly deal with his greatest concern - the Eastern Church, he received the Byzantine Emperor John V Paleologus and great strides were made; possibly, too good for the emperor was so taken by Urban's holiness and his own need to have Rome behind the emperor in his battle against the Turks, that he converted to the Latin rite, abjuring his Greek Orthodox faith which, while great for the Church, left John powerless for the rest of the Byzantine empire did not go along with his conversion. Leaders of the Eastern Church demanded a council be convened, but Urban resisted for he and John had agreed a Latin Church would be established in Greece. The Pope and emperor had already settled on sending missionaries to the Greeks for that specific purpose. Yet, because no council was held, John became a paper tiger in his own land and no reconciliation was possible.
Urban had made inroads in reforming the curia and might have remained in Rome had it not been for the warring families and the mercenaries who made his stay there very, very difficult. Perugia rebelled and Urban excommunicated the city. To add injury to insult, Visconti stirred up the Romans in early 1370 to depose Urban and the Pope had to retreat to Viterbo. The handwriting was on the wall for the Pope could not properly conduct the business of the Church with a mere skeleton crew in Rome where there was so much unrest and the rest of the curia in France. He realized that for the sake of the Church he must return to Avignon, though he had so wanted the papacy back in Rome full-time. In addition, the 100 Year War was in full force again between England and France and Urban, always the peacemaker, felt he could mediate between the two countries better if he were back in Avignon. Thus inevitable came a reality when he appointed eight new cardinals in September, 1368 and six of them were French, only one a Roman. Despite the warnings of Saint Bridget of Sweden, who was given a message that if he truly decided to go back to Avignon he would soon die, Urban felt otherwise and feeling prompted by the Holy Spirit, he sailed from Corneto on September 5, 1370. Arriving at Marseilles two weeks later, he returned to Avignon on September 27, 1370 and a few weeks later, true to Bridget's prophecy, he became seriously ill and died on December 19, 1370. It was not the way Urban had wanted to end his papacy, but the climate in Europe at that time prevented him from staying put in either Avignon or Rome. It would be left to his successor Pope Gregory XI to put an end to the Babylonian Captivity in France and return the Holy See, lock, stock and barrell to Rome as we shall see in the next installment through the coaxing of another holy woman; not Saint Bridget who would die in 1373, but a fiesty religious from Siena named Catherine.
In this month in which my Divine Son's True Church so honors me, I have asked of my Son still a little more time. I ask because the Father's Hand is ready to strike.
Therefore, I solemnly tell you that in this month I shall call even louder to all of my children. I shall cover the world with my Immaculate Mantle so as to gather all who are of pure heart into the Refuge of my Son's Sacred Heart.
For many months I have spoken to you. Now I solemnly tell you that the call to refuge has been sounded, and there is no one whom I desire to remain part of the world. You are called first to spiritual refuge through conversion of heart, prayer, fasting, reconciliation and the frequent reception of the Sacraments. This is true refuge. Now I call all who are part of my little army to physical places of refuge. Know that the Holy Spirit will guide you, and the call will be placed upon your heart and its persistence will be the sign you need.
Be at peace. Always pray and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There are many places of refuge, and many are now coming to fruition. In these, my places of refuge, your only weapons must be faith which, like an anchor, keeps your eyes focused on my Divine Son. It is my desire that in my places of refuge there should be perpetual adoration of my Divine Son, for the moment has come when the vast majority of my children, even many of my priest-sons no longer believe in the True Presence.
Therefore, let all whose hearts are opened now receive my words through the grace of the Holy Spirit. I desire all of you to be of one mind and one heart through the Holy Spirit.
Ask for this great grace of unity as Pentecost draws near. All Just Prayer is answered. God's love is without limit, but He, the Author of all life, is also perfect Justice.
Therefore, come. Come to refuge. Come before my Divine Son on bended knee and you shall be sustained.
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call.
Darkness covers the Eternal City, the place where my Divine Son's True Vicar speaks for all the faithful. My child, I solemnly tell you that soon it shall appear to all of my little army as if there is no longer the Light which comes from the Holy See.
This is satan's plan. The evil one shall seduce the vast majority of the world, silencing the Holy Father's words. But yet shall the foundations remain intact, for the foundation is my Divine Son, and the unbroken succession from St. Peter till the present day. It is my faithful army who will keep the ember of the True Faith alive. It is they who will persevere, recognizing the evil one and all his schemes. Yet shall the persecutions come. Yet shall many give their lives as witnesses for the Truth.
Little children, will you not make yet another effort to pray - pray from your heart? Beseech God to allow my Immaculate Heart to triumph now! O! This is Mercy. O! How dearly you are loved! If you could only open your hearts, then you would understand. Give these, my words to all of my children everywhere, and say to them from their Heavenly Mother, "Pray! Pray! Pray!"
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call.