Friday, March 6, 2009

Prophecies of St. Malachy, Part 2

The 1980's were an interesting decade for Catholics. People were reading TAN Books and Fr. Gobbi, starting cenacles and dashing off to Medjugorje. There were also Latin Masses cropping up here and there. EWTN began to be seen more and more on cable television. It was a time when many people were talking about the coming chastisement, and hoarding blessed candles in preparation for the "three days of darkness." No one knew what was going to happen, but everyone knew it was imminent, whatever it was. All of this carried over into the 90's.

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

22 comments:

christopher said...

Elena, thanks for the recommendation towards Desmond Birch's book. I still find Dupont's Catholic Prophecy the most interesting one I've ever read just because it focuses on the Great Monarch, something 99.9% of Catholics have never heard of. I've had a weakness for things "great monarch" for a while now!

elena maria vidal said...

There was also Edward Conner's Prophecy for Today. I actually liked it better than the Dupont book. But Desmond Birch is the most scholarly.

Alan Phipps said...

"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."

The title for JPII is "De labore Solis", which need not have anything to do with an eclipse. Some have said it refers to the rising of the sun in the East, and JPII comes from Eastern Europe. This is why these are rather vague. You can squeeze a great deal into them.

+JMJ+ said...

I have been fascinated by the St. Malachy prophecies.

When watching Cardinal Ratzinger being announced as the next Pope and taking the name Benedict I kept whispering, "Why does he want the prophecy to come true?"

According to St. Malachy, this makes him the last "good" pope, correct?

I will look up the book your suggest. :)

elena maria vidal said...

Interesting, Alan, I didn't think of it that way, although I don't necessarily see that as being vague; I see it as making the title even more applicable to JPII. Wow. I have also heard that De Labore Solis "The Toil of the Sun" may also symbolize John-Paul's world travels~ like the sun, he went all over the world. That is actually even more relevant. The title can have more than one significance, not just the eclipse thing.

BTW, there was also a solar eclipse when JPII died.

Juan said...

Interestingly, Paul VI (Flower of Flowers) was baptized on September 30, 1897, the very day that the "Little Flower" died in Lisieux.

Alan Phipps said...

Well, it's vague in that it can have a variety of meanings. Being tied to a pope only encourages an interpretation that lends itself to that particular pope. I'm sure the sun rose in the East on the birthdays of a few other popes or bishops who didn't actually become pope, even if they didn't necessarily come from the East.

For me, it's interesting from a historical and literary point of view. The smaller the phrase, the more nonspecific the meaning.

The only one that isn't so vague, as you noted, is Petrus Romanus. But even then, some have suggested that the position of his entry in the list doesn't necessarily mean he immediately follows "Glory of the Olive" (and some half expected the olive line to point to the election of Cardinal Martini ;-) ). It just means he's the last pope mentioned in the prophecy.

Alan Phipps said...

"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"

Like you, I have taken the sound advice of John of the Cross in the Ascent and Dark Night. I have nothing against pilgrimage to holy shrines for spiritual renewal, but to go running after all things supernatural is a little different. We ignore that we have Christ here with us in the Blessed Sacrament anytime, and that we are present for the greatest and most glorious miracle of all at each Holy Mass.

I grew up in a California central coast town in which three women claimed to be Marian visionaries, one of whom was featured in national television some years ago. They were all connected to Medjugorje in some way, and they and the movements they started ended up competing with one another. I was always suspicious of their claims, but the disunity was truly the kicker for me. Yet people flocked to see them and hear them speak.

elena maria vidal said...

+JMJ+, I don't think it means "good" or "bad" specifically but perhaps the end of an era. Concerning the "Glory of the Olive" I have also heard that while there is the olive branch of peace, there is also the olive press of Gethsemane.

Really, Juan? I did not know that....

elena maria vidal said...

"The only one that isn't so vague, as you noted, is Petrus Romanus. But even then, some have suggested that the position of his entry in the list doesn't necessarily mean he immediately follows "Glory of the Olive" (and some half expected the olive line to point to the election of Cardinal Martini ;-) ). It just means he's the last pope mentioned in the prophecy."

That is true, Alan; they say there may be more popes between the "Glory of the Olive" and "Peter the Roman." It is not the end of the world, just the end of the list.

I remember all the Cardinal Martini jokes that were circulating during the conclave. ;-)


"Like you, I have taken the sound advice of John of the Cross in the Ascent and Dark Night. I have nothing against pilgrimage to holy shrines for spiritual renewal, but to go running after all things supernatural is a little different. We ignore that we have Christ here with us in the Blessed Sacrament anytime, and that we are present for the greatest and most glorious miracle of all at each Holy Mass."


Well said. And if we focus on Our Lord then we will ultimately have nothing to worry about.

Heidi Hess Saxton said...

I wasn't Catholic during the 80s (I was confirmed in 1994), but experienced plenty of hysteria in the Evangelical camps as well. In fact, I'd have to say that one of the strongest pulls of Catholicism was the built-in stablizer of the Magisterium. When one or the other jumps overboard, there remains a stable base of wisdom to keep us from going too far off course.

Today I'm nominating you for the "Premio Dardos" Award for excellence in writing. It will be posted at Mommy Monsters in the next few minutes. Although you hardly need awards from ME (your blog is 10x the size of mine, I'm sure!), I wanted you to know how much I admire your consistent excellence in your writing. I always learn something when I stop in here!

de Brantigny........................ said...

After readin g all the comments I kinda got lost, but composing my self quickly...
I was in the VA when Cardinal Ratzinger was proclaimed Pope. I had just been tallking to some people, whose comments were mainly this, "I hope it is not Cardinal Ratzinger!" Being more aggresive then than now i reminded them It was the Holy Spirit who chose the Pope not the Cardinals, and I went further to say disist in those thought lest you anger God by your disbelief.

I told them about Saint Malachy, and I told them the Bendictines always claimed it would be a Benedictine who would preserve the Church. No sooner were those words out of my mouth then, we saw and heard... the announcement given in Latin by the senior Cardinal Deacon "Habemus Papem!". And then it was announced the new pope would be Cardinal Ratzinger and he would take the name Bendict XVI.

You could have heard a pin drop.

As for Medjugorje, I believed in ti for a short time, until my Lieutenant (a fervant Catholic man) told me what the vision looked like. Basically a peasant dressed in Brown, and one could see her feet. Queens do not dress in brown or drab colours. They are regal. Jesus would not let his mother be seen in such a way.

Richard

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you so much, Heidi. I am truly honored.


Richard, I have heard other stories like that about Pope Benedict's election. Fascinating!

Terry Nelson said...

I enjoy such speculation - it is an indulgence in curiosity and speculation which amounts to little more than entertainment. Yet we have no way of knowing what the prophecy actually means until it comes to pass.

Elena, we have known similar people all along it looks like - especially the Medjugorje types. Someone once offered to pay my way as well.

elena maria vidal said...

"Yet we have no way of knowing what the prophecy actually means until it comes to pass."

That is true. In the meantime, we can be reassured that all is in God's hands, while continuing to "watch in prayer" as Our Lord commands.

elena maria vidal said...

A reader wrote in, recommending a book on the subject:

La mystérieuse prophétie des papes(1951, Imprimatur 1945 by Jos. Carton de Wiart) by French Jesuit Rene Thibaut, S.J.

Fr. Thibaut, after a great deal of research, hypothesized that while the list of popes was probably not by St. Malachy, it was a genuine prophecy, although parts of it were definitely tampered with in the sixteenth century. The latter part of the prophecy was left untouched, Fr. Thibaut surmised. He did not think that the list indicated the end of the world, but the end of an age. Whatever the case, it sounds like a fascinating book, although it should be approached with great discernment.

Terry Nelson said...

We are certainly at the end of an age. The revelation I most cherish and feel comfortable with is the apparitions and message of Fatima, followed by the revelations to St. Faustina and the Devotion to the Divine Mercy.

elena maria vidal said...

Me, too.

Kent & Lori-Lyn said...

My husband agrees with your recommendation of Birch's book. It was recommended to him by one of our parish priests. He suggests another title, "The Last Times: Public and Private Prophecies" by Rev. Benjamin Martin Sanchez. It carries and imprimatur, etc. from 1968 and 1971.
Thanks for the enlightening information on the St. Malachy prophecies.
Lori-Lyn

elena maria vidal said...

You are welcome and thank you, Lori-Lyn, for the book recommendation!!

Maryrose said...

I feel trepidation in saying I have been to Medugorje and I received many graces there. I did not see or receive any personal revelations but I got a greater appreciation of Holy Mass and confession and really came to appreciate the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I feel that you all are being very judgmental on those who go to Medjugorje. At every holy site one does meet people who are overwhelmed and a little over the top but I cant say I know anyone who is very enthusiastic about Medjugorje and lives an 'immoral' lifestyle. I am sure these kind of people are in all areas of church life. One has only to read the newspapers to see the scandals that exist in the clergy.
The church currently has a commission reporting on Medjugorje and I will accept what the church says on this. I dont know what image is being referred to that describes Our Lady as a peasant dressed in brown. The image of Our Lady at Medjugorje is certainly not that image.
I do accept that Medjugorje may not appeal to everybody but many people who have been lukewarm or distant from the faith have received grace that brings them into a deeper relationship with Jesus and Mary and that cant be a bad thing.

maryrose

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, Mary Rose, for your feedback. We have discussed this before and I do respect your thoughts on the matter. I have a dear friend whose experience was similar to your own, and I know of other people as well who were thus blessed.

Sadly, I am also personally acquainted with people who found an emotional high at Medjugorje but unfortunately the feeling was not translated into an enduring conversion, since they have behaved in ways that have given public scandal. Hopefully, such cases are isolated ones.

I hope someday it is all cleared up!