People from all walks of life are making predictions about the future. Most of these predictions are pessimistic and downright bleak; some justifiably so. For instance, economic decline and political instability are causes for concern for a lot of people. Another question that seems to linger is: What is tomorrow's generation of Americans going to be like? Are they going to be equal to their mission of keeping liberty, democracy and progress alive?
If these concerns weren’t enough of a downer we can pick up the New Testament and turn to the Second Letter to Timothy where St. Paul issues the following warning: "But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last days. People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power." (II Timothy 3:1-5) Needless to say, the people in the last days don't sound very good. This is another cause for concern.
Unfortunately, these negative predictions are likely to induce spirit of melancholy and discouragement among Christians. Yet we know (or should know) that such a disposition of mind is not from God. If you read the writings of the Saints you will find that what the Holy Spirit impresses upon the soul is one of peace and hope.
Take for instance the early Christians. They had witnessed the collapse of the Roman Empire- the greatest of all empires at the time. Yet, the people of God were full of hope, pressing forward to the future, anticipating a better day. What inspired this? It was their consciousness of eternity and the eventual coming of God's kingdom. This happy truth preoccupied their thoughts and it captured their affections! They knew a better place awaited them. This hope not only inspired heroic acts of martyrdom but it led to the greatest civilization to ever have existed – the Christian civilization.
If you take a closer look at the annals of history you will find that the Christian vision and imagination provided incentives for creativity and innovations. Indeed, the widespread belief that life really begins when we die also inspired a generous spirit of sacrifice and a spirit of magnanimity to try new things and to take risks for the glory of God.
I see a similar pattern among today's remnant; that is, among today's well-formed Catholics who, no doubt, are few in number. Nevertheless, I believe that Catholics of today who know and love Christ – who accept all that he taught – are the most solid and well-rounded Catholics we had in a few centuries. Like the early Christians, today's follower of Christ is becoming more keenly aware of what he is being saved from. God's answer always accompanies challenging times. In the latter times, according to St. Louis of de Montfort, that answer is the witness of Christians, especially that of the Mother of God.
St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716) was one who saw the importance of Mary's witness. He had come to realize just how important devotion to her would be in the modern era. In fact, he predicted that she would play a bigger role in future centuries (and indeed she has through her various apparitions). He argued that just as the first coming of Christ came to be realized through her, so too would be his Second Coming.
One startling prediction, among others, is that, according to St. Louis, the Muslims would be converted to Christ. Most Christians know that the Jews must be converted before Jesus Christ comes again. But few know of St. Louis's prophesy about the Muslims. Perhaps the vision in the book of Revelations, where the Woman clothed with the sun is depicted with the moon under her feet, is an indication of this.
In any case, in the book, True Devotion – a book that popularized the consecration to the Blessed Virgin – St. Louis speaks of the Christians in the latter times in a very praiseworthy and reverential manner. By the way he pays tribute to them, one would think he was writing about the early Christians.
Certainly, there are a lot of challenges the Church is now facing. However, St. Louis de Montfort gives us a reason to believe that underneath all of the bad news and dire predictions, God is in control. Through Christ's loyal followers, he is calmly unfolding his plan. He compensates for the losses in the Church. Yes, he has an answer when such losses seem to get the upper hand.
Below are several quotes from his book, True Devotion. If you read just a few of them you will a get a good sample of St. Louis de Montfort's peek into the future. As to the Christians in the latter times, he says,
• These are the great men who are to come; but Mary is the One Who, by order of the Most High, shall fashion them for the purpose of extending His Empire over that of the impious, the idolaters and the Muslims.
• They will carry the crucifix in their right hand and the rosary in their left, and the holy names of Jesus and Mary on their heart.
• They will bring to the poor and lowly everywhere the sweet fragrance of Jesus, but they will bring the odor of death to the great, the rich and the proud of this world.
• Thus the most fearful enemy that God has set up against the devil is Mary, his holy Mother. It simply means that Satan, being so proud, suffers infinitely more in being vanquished and punished by a lowly and humble servant of God, for her humility humiliates him more than the power of God.
• Lastly, we know they will be true disciples of Jesus Christ, imitating his poverty, his humility, his contempt of the world and his love. But when and how shall this be? God alone knows. For our part we must yearn and wait for it in silence and in prayer: "I have waited and waited."
Whether these quotes pertain to Christians of today or tomorrow, I do not know. But St. Louis de Montfort gives us reason to believe that God will have an answer to all the troubling predictions we hear about. What is more, if these Christians are members of tomorrow's Church, then, there is reason to believe that the Mystical Body of Christ is destined for better days.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.