The meaning of the original vision was discerned by the visionaries and later approved by the Church. The silent message was that the Mother of God personified personal holiness while Christ's beloved Apostle St. John signified the defense and spread of the True Roman Catholic Faith, and St. Joseph stood for Charity. The Cross, the altar and the lamb - meaning the Lamb of God which is sacrificed in an unbloody manner in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - represent source of the strength necessary for all Catholics to live their faith as God wills.
Mariologist Father Michael O'Carroll from Dublin, the well-known spiritual director of present visionary Christine Gallagher, further explains the silent vision of Knock: "The first lesson of the apparition is the Mass. Everything seems to point to that - the altar with the sacrificial Lamb, the gesture of Our Lady, the presence of Saint John in vestments, and the respectful attitude of Saint Joseph. But we may also see in the vision a reminder of another great truth connected with the Mass - the necessity of Mary's mediation and intercession and the unique character which the latter acquires because of Mary's glorious Assumption and Coronation. We use bodily relics of the Saints when we wish to obtain our requests, but we have no bodily relics of hour Heavenly Mother. We have, however, something infinitely more powerful - we have the continuation on our altars of the Sacrifice in which her Son was immolated. We have His very Body and Blood on the altar and, at the same moment, in Heaven at the right hand of the Father, and with it is the human source from which it was taken - the assumed body of Mary. If the dead bodies of the Saints move the Heart of God on our behalf, how much more the living body of the Immaculate One who crushed forever the enemy of mankind! Let us see, then, in the manifestation of Knock, an invitation to have recourse ever more to the Blessed Virgin, Mediatrix of All Graces and Queen of Heaven and earth, to pray to her and to take into our lives the consciousness of her full gentle presence in Heaven."
As is the norm, word soon spread of this phenomena and the Archbishop of Tuam was called in. He, along with a discernment board, interviewed each of the fifteen visionaries separately and at great length and found their accounts credible including local authentication of many miraculous physical and spiritual cures. Convinced this was from God he pronounced it "trustworthy and satisfactory." The area soon became a pilgrimage site and a large church was built to accommodate the vast masses coming as well as giving proper reverence to the Message of Knock with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass becoming the main focus for all activities at Knock. In 1936 Pope Pius XI concurred with the findings at Knock and officially made Knock worthy of belief for the Universal Church. Today the shrine at Knock is one of the world's major Marian shrines and has been the recipient of special privileges by at least four popes with our present Holy Father Pope John Paul II being the first to physically visit the shrine as a reigning pontiff. He did so on September 30, 1979 on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the apparitions when he bestowed the status of Basilica on the new church there, presented a golden rose to the shrine, and proclaimed publicly: "From that day of grace, 21 August 1879, until this very day, the sick and the suffering, people handicapped in body or mind, troubled in their faith or their conscience, all have been healed, comforted, and confirmed in their faith because they trusted that the Mother of God would lead them to her Son Jesus. Every time a pilgrim comes up to what was once an obscure bogside village in County Mayo, every time a man, woman, or child comes up to the Old Church with the Apparition Gable or the the new shrine of Mary Queen of Ireland, it is to renew his or her faith in the salvation that comes through Jesus, Who made us all children of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven."
I have two answers, and both are true.
Here's the first: Forming disciples for the third millennium is going to demand exactly the same missionary spirit and missionary skills it took for the first 2,000 years. The human predicament on January 1, 2000, will probably look pretty much the same as it did on January 1, 1990, and pretty much the same as it will on January 1, 2010.
There's nothing secret or magic or frightening or radically new, or even particularly dramatic, about New Year's Eve 1999 unless you're looking for an excuse to party. Or unless you believe in Jesus Christ as the center and meaning of history. God is still God. We're still made of the same stone. And most people in the world have still not heard the Gospel preached to them.
For 70 percent of the people on this planet, the "new millennium" is no more than a convenient standard for measuring time. It has no religious content whatsoever. For me, that's much more troubling than the hands on any clock. If the world does not know Jesus Christ, it's because of us: our lack of missionary zeal, our lack of sacrifice, our lack of love. And that problem isn't solved by new tools or new information. It's solved by our own conversion and discipleship which is pretty much the same story as every generation since the cross.
But we are entering an age which will have its own unique challenges, and this is my second answer that we need to form disciples in the decades ahead who are prepared for a world drastically different from anything in American memory. Physics is changing the way we articulate the structure of the universe. Genetics is changing the way we articulate the structure of the human person. And in the midst of this accelerating power and knowledge, Western societies many of them constituting the Christian world as we once knew it are removing themselves from the future.
What I mean is this: In today's developed countries, one in seven persons has an age of 65 or older. But in 30 years, that number will grow to one in four. In other the words, over the next three decades, the percentage of older people in our population will nearly double.
Here are some other statistics: In 1950, the developed countries had about 24 percent of the world's population. By 2050, they will account for barely 10 percent. Over the next half century, more than 30 developed countries, from Austria, to Russia to Spain to the United Kingdom, will actually lose population in real numbers. The fertility rate in every developed country has already fallen below the replacement rate of 2.1. By 2050, the 12 most populous nations in the world will include only one of today's developed countries. That will be the United States, which will sustain its population on immigration. These data come from Peter Peterson's new book, Gray Dawn (Times Books), but they're widely available from other reliable sources as well.
The implications for people in the developed countries are pretty obvious. As lifespans increase and fertility drops, pension and healthcare expenses will go up. Unfortunately, the workforce supporting those expenses by taxes will shrink. Therefore, the tax burden on each younger worker will grow. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that euthanasia, to name just one example, will look more and more cost effective in the coming decades. At a minimum, friction between the old and the young in developed countries will increase. And it will have a huge impact on social welfare policies. Population growth in the less developed countries, meanwhile, is likely to continue. This is why governments like our own are forcing population control on the more fertile developing countries it's now seen as a matter of urgent national security in many of the aging, industrialized states.
I mention these projections because the assumptions which we've made, for most of our lives, about the shape of the future . . . well, they're going to be wrong. Drastically wrong. The human story will remain the same, but the organizational terrain of human societies and institutions will not. And we can't avoid much of what's coming, both the good and the bad. If the entire developed world woke up from its death wish tomorrow and began restoring its fertility rate, it would take decades to have any effect. More importantly though, if a society has freely chosen against life, does it make any sense to mourn it? Beyond a certain critical threshold, the human family might be better without such a society.
In Deuteronomy, God reminds His Chosen People that "I call Heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice and cleaving to Him, for that means life to you and length of days" (30:19-20).
I began my remarks today by saying that alarmism is the wrong path for Catholics, and that separating ourselves from today's culture accomplishes very little beyond isolating us from others. I want to say that even more strongly as I conclude. Whatever lies ahead, the world doesn't need more anger, more fear and more enclaves. It needs seeds of renewal, and the leaven of Christian hope. That means us, and those whom we teach. The work each of you does today as a Catholic educator is the most important enterprise in the world. Forming disciples for the third millennium boils down, finally, to preaching, teaching and building the culture of life which flows from the cross of Jesus Christ.
"Therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live." Amen, and God bless you all.
On January 26, 1996 the Pope transfered him to the order of cardinal priest. He is currently the President emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications offering his expertise to the current President Archbishop John Patrick Foley from Philadelphia. Cardinal Deskur also holds Curial membership in the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, plus the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers and the State of Vatican City Commission.
He remains one of John Paul's most trusted advisors as they have been friends since their days in the seminary when the Holy Father was four years ahead of Cardinal Deskur.
How my Motherly heart swells with joy for all of my little ones who, in faith, honor me as the ever-Virgin, the Immaculate Conception. I, the Mother of God, was granted this privilege by the Triune Divinity. I, the lowliest of all creatures could but bow humbly to God's Will, for my heart sought Him alone and His Will was my will.
I solemnly tell you, dear children of my Immaculate Heart, that as you honor me it is great comfort to my Divine Son. Come then into the refuge of my Immaculate Heart, and know I seek only to lead you directly into the true refuge of the Sacred Heart.
Come now, for in this season of Advent, I seek to help each one of you to prepare to become not only as a little child, but to prepare your soul to be the manger to receive my Divine Son into your soul.
Heed my words which come as many graces to you. Come to my Divine Son with all your being and do not waver, for I solemnly tell you that as this Advent marks the beginning of more severe chastisements, so also it symbolizes the world awaiting my Divine Son's return, which is closer than you can conceive.
Know I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!
Children, I beseech you as your Lord and Savior, to believe and trust in My Mother's apparitions throughout the world. Many, many of Her Messages given to certain messengers must be lived and spread, because they come from God's authority. There are many who hunger only for the words, but do not change their lives. These souls are of great sorrow to Me. They were the cause of much of My agony in the Garden of Olives.
Therefore, as you gather today to honor My Mother and to believe in Her Immaculate Conception, I, Jesus Christ, Only-Begotten Son of God, Savior of the World, do solemnly tell you that the moment is not far off when My Vicar on earth shall proclaim the Ever-Virgin, Mother of God, as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all Graces.
I, your Lord and Savior, hold out My arms to receive into My Heart all of My children, for I love all and gave My life for all. I await you in the Tabernacle, but you do not come. I await at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to come to you in Holy Communion. Where, today, can I look for any who will believe in My True Presence and due all manner of reverence for Me, their God? I look! I call! I seek and knock, but I remain alone, often abused and neglected.
Therefore, comfort My Sacred Heart and give your lives completely to Me through My Mother's Immaculate Heart.
Soon, dear children, My Holy Mother will not be among you in the extraordinary way She has been for many years. You must listen to Her and allow Her to guide you to Me, for the hour has come to mankind when I shall be denied again, while My enemy assumes worldly control.
Do not be anxious. Do not fear! I do not abandon anyone who truly seeks Me.
Little ones, My places of refuge where I gather My little ones to live as the first Christians lived, are forming. These places are of the Divine Will. But I look to each of My children to help those called to build and live in community in these places in order to fulfill My Will. Pray for one another. Seek reconciliation with God, yourself and all your family. Help through all the graces you have been given, for each place of refuge - each Eucharistic Community which will be built will be a place where My True Presence is preserved. Here you will find Me, your God and Savior. Here I shall pour out torrents of Divine Mercy. Here man will learn now to live as he will live after the Time of Darkness.
Pray to receive fully the Holy Spirit. Allow My Mother, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, to help you.
I solemnly tell you I shall re-claim My Kingdom. Evil shall be wiped from all the earth. Then shall come the Age of the Divine Will, which was the covenant I made with the Father in My Prayer - the Our Father.
My Mother's Heart nears the moment of Triumph. Be awake. Watch and wait, for I come to gather My faithful remnant. Know I love and bless each of you and am comforted when you give My Mother due honor.
Peace! My children. Peace! I am with you. Help Me pour out My limitless Divine Mercy.
I bless you, My children. Call on Me, for I will come sooner as your faith grows.
Love Me Who Am Love, and seek only eternity with Me. All else is for naught. I, your Jesus, bid you come as humble children. I reject no one of humble, contrite heart.
Pray, for My Coming is near - very near!