January 06, 2012

St. Louis & Christians in the latter times: A reason for hope

By Joe Tremblay *

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?

I refer to today's generation of youth and young adults (ages 14-19, 20s and 30s) as the "iPod generation." The current fixation on texting, iPods, iPads, walkmans and nooks is widespread among this age bracket. The fascination with these gadgets will certainly set this generation apart from previous ones. No doubt, there will be some unfavorable social effects. Just to enjoy the company of another person who happens to be in the same room - and to further have the full attention without a text ringer going off - is getting more challenging by the day. Indeed, the simplicity of face-to-face interactions and the appreciation of the here and now is going out of style ... so it seems.

If that wasn't enough of a downer we can pick up the New Testament and turn to Second Timothy chapter 3 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 are that 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, namely, the Christian civilization.

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, the present day Catholic who knows Christ and recognizes his greatest miracle, the Catholic Church, possesses more balance and zeal than his Catholic ancestors in recent centuries. Like the early Christians, today's follower of Christ is becoming more aware of what he has been saved from. As modern civilization drifts away from the light of the Gospel it is becoming more apparent that humanity is narcissistic, dysfunctional and even barbaric when left to itself. Man needs God and without God man is all too inclined to be cruel! We seem learn this anew every time we turn on the television. With these challenging times comes God's answer: the witness of Christians.

St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716) was one such witness. He had come to realize just how important devotion to Mary would be. 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 the Muslims would be converted to Christ (read quote below). 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 Revelations 12 of the Woman clothed with the sun with the moon (The crescent is the symbol of Islam) under her feet is an indication of this.

In any case, in "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. One would think he was writing about the early Christians by the way he pays tribute to them. Indeed, there is reason to believe that underneath all of the bad news and dire predictions, God is in control. Through his loyal followers, he is calmly unfolding his plan. He compensates for the losses in the world and 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,

“They will be true apostles of the latter times to whom the Lord of Hosts will give eloquence and strength to work wonders and carry off glorious spoils from his enemies.”

“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.”

Not bad. Not bad at all. 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 a better day. Indeed, there is reason to hope that through the Catholic Church God will have an answer for the problems which daily impress upon us.

Joe Tremblay writes for Sky View, a current event and topic-driven Catholic blog. He was a contributor to The Edmund Burke Institute, and a frequent guest on Relevant Radio’s, The Drew Mariani Show. Joe is also married with five children. The views and opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily reflective of any organizations he works for.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.