One night in 1991, a nice but mentally unsound lady called me up and offered me $2000 to go to Medjugorje, telling me the Blessed Mother had told her that I was supposed to go. I was teaching at the time and to go away would have caused serious inconvenience to the nuns who were my employers. I told the nice lady that I could not go and returned the check which she insisted on sending to me.
As time passed, I got tired of hysterical women telling me of their visions and I became wary of anything to do with Medjugorje. I wearied of people using religion and apparitions as an excuse for irresponsible behavior; of people running after visions and supernatural phenomena and then, as was occasionally the case, adopting immoral lifestyles. (Needless to say, I do know of some people who have had positive experiences and made enduring conversions at Medjugorje. Good for them.)
As I grew in Carmel, I identified more and more with the Dark Night of St John of the Cross and agreed with the Little Flower who said: "To ecstasies at Lourdes I prefer the monotony of sacrifice." Not that I have anything against Lourdes, having been there three times, but at some point we must all get down to the difficult job of living a life of virtue, day-by-day, in spite of aridities and trials.
I had gone through a phase of reading prophetic literature in the 80's and 90's but have since become very cautious about it and so there are only a few titles now that I would recommend. One such book is Trial, Tribulation and Triumph by Desmond Birch, a scholarly work based upon the writings of the Church fathers and various saints, mentioning only approved apparitions. Birch does not base any of his writings upon the Prophecy of St Malachy concerning the popes, believing that the famous list has been subjected to interpolation. The list of popes may be based upon an original writing of St Malachy, but probably was tampered with at some point, perhaps in an attempt to influence a papal conclave, as previously mentioned. Fr. Menestrier seems to have thought it to be the "work of many hands." (Birch does believe St Malachy's prophecy concerning Ireland to be authentic.)
I do wonder if the present form of the list of Popes is indeed taken from something that St. Malachy actually wrote or said. One reason I have for such speculation is that the basic structure of the list reminds me of a litany. The Irish had long loved to pray in litanies or "loricas", a carry over from pagan times. St Malachy lived in a tumultuous era when Celtic Christianity in Ireland was being replaced by Roman custom and tradition. St Malachy, nevertheless, would have been well-grounded in the Celtic ways of praying and of recording information.
Critics of St. Malachy's list claim that most of the titles are so vague that they could be applied to anyone. That may be true. The motto "A light in the sky" could have applied to Pius X as well as to Leo XIII, but it was Leo XIII who bore a star on his coat of arms. There was an eclipse of the sun when Pope John Paul II was born, and his title happens to be "Of the Solar Eclipse." People say that eclipses of the sun happen all the time. Was there an eclipse when Pope Paul VI was born? I don't think so.
"Flower of flowers," the title for Pope Paul VI, representing purity, love and Our Lady, could accurately have applied to Pope John Paul I or Pope John Paul II. But Pope Paul had the fleur-de-lys on his coat-of-arms, and he was the Pope who published Humanae Vitae, exalting chaste love during the a time when chastity was becoming a rare commodity.
Pope Benedict XVI is "The Glory of the Olive," symbolizing peace. How beautifully he has spoken of peace, how hard he works for peace and unity at a time when violence escalates all over the world. I remember reading way back in the 80's that the "Glory of the Olive" would have a connection with St. Benedict and that he would restore the sacred liturgy. Perhaps it is all a coincidence. I do not base my faith on it. But it certainly is interesting.
Whether it is a pure forgery or an interpolation of a lost prophecy of an Irish mystic, the Prophecy of the Popes has captured the imagination and interest of many throughout the world. It has become part of our history and will not go away; it is all over the internet. Instead of scathing dismissal and ridicule, intelligent reflection and discussion may be of better use to our young people in such matters. Trust in God and doing His will is the best way to prepare for anything the future may hold.
(More on the Prophecies of St. Malachy, HERE.) Share