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HOMILY FOR ASSUMPTION 2017 Reading the Signs of the Times

In the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, Joy and Hope, the  Council Fathers said this:

       “Inspired by no earthly ambition, the Church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ under the lead of the befriending Spirit.”  And it is in the very next sentence, then, we get perhaps the most famous phrase: “To carry out such a task, the Church has always had the duty of reading the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.”

        You and I live in amazing times and there are remarkable things going on around us.  We are confronted by evil as perhaps never before, and certainly nothing like we have not seen in many decades.  The forces of the Evil One are at play, as strong as they were at the beginning of the last century and it behooves us to “read the signs of the times in light of the Gospel,” as never before.

       Looking into the world, seeing the face of evil, in all of its forms, from the current worldly threats of North Korea, to radical Islam, to homegrown terrorism in all forms, including white supremacy and radical nationalism, and even what happened across the street almost 22 years ago; we have to know that the Evil One wishes to destroy everything we know as sacred and true. When asked what the final battles would be, Servant of God, Sr. Lucia de Santos, the only visionary of Fatima to make it to adulthood said, it would be attacks against married life and the family.

       Now this year, you and I are living in the centenary of Fatima. Just yesterday was one of the monthly anniversaries of the visions of the three shepherd children of 100 years ago.  With two more left, we still need to pay attention to the Messages of Fatima.

       And today we celebrate Our Lady’s Assumption. Next Monday, midday, as we will be in the octave of today’s feast, we, here in the USA, will experience a solar eclipse.  It is a significant event in human history.  But yet many people are not paying attention to it.  In a recent survey, 1/3 of Americans said they were paying attention and would be observing it; 1/3 said they had no interest and the last third said they knew nothing about it. 

       The last time a total solar eclipse passed the contiguous 48 states, from coast to coast, was 99 years ago; and the last time one actually occurred in the lower 48 states was 38 years ago.  The next one to come close to the USA will be in 2024 — 7 years from now.  Anytime the number 7 occurs in the life of the Church, our ears should perk up!

       When the eclipse begins, as the USA passes through it, starting in Oregon, next Monday morning, it will be 11:17 a.m.  It will also be 7:17 p.m. In Jerusalem….sunset.  It will also be the Jewish New Year, ending the year 5777 and inaugurating the new year of 5778.  Ending the year 777 and beginning the year 778. 

       But lets pause for a moment and go back in time, to another apparition.  Once our Lord and the Father, asked our Lady to come to the new world.  She was to visit an ancient people. 

       When Our Blessed Mother was asked to come to the new world, back in 1531, the nations we know on this continent did not exist.  She came and made an appearance to a simpleton on a hill called Tepyac, to help convert a peoples away from pagan ways, away from child sacrifice and call them to worship of the one true God.  Perhaps she asked herself, “how shall I go?”  Then she thought of this image of Revelation 12 in our first reading.  And decided to make her appearance to St. Juan Diego just as such.  And thus she came as Our Lady of Guadalupe and appeared as the image of Revelation 12.  The woman clothed with the stars, with the moon at her feet with the sun at her back.  An array of stars at her head.  And so that we know God does not make mistakes, and that the image of Guadalupe is not a fraud — the stars on Our Lady’s cloak, in the Tilma, are the exact stars that were over Mexico City on December 9, 1531.  Astronomers have confirmed this.  It is nothing that Juan Diego would have known or been able to replicate with his 16th century limited knowledge. 

       Keep that in mind for a moment.  6 weeks after the Great American Eclipse, another astrological phenomenon will occur.  September 23.  The Constellation Virgo has been doing strange things in the heavens for some months, along with the Planet Jupiter.  Jupiter, for astronomers is always known as the King planet…and for the last 8 1/2 months, has been moving in and around Virgo — the Virgin.  It has been “dancing” in the area of her “abdomen.”  Inside what would be her “womb.”  On or about 23 Sept, Jupiter will move back out, through her nether regions, exiting, as a birth, if you will.  And make its way back to where it belongs, in its orbit, in the heavens.

       At that time, on that date, the moon will be at Virgos feet and the sun — well the sun will be directly behind her left shoulder.  Mars, Venus and Mercury will be arrayed at her head, along with some other stars which help form the constellation Leo, the Lion.  All in all, there will be 12 bright stars right above Virgo’s head. 

       Revelation 12 will be in perfect alignment in the heavens on the night of September 23, the night we will have beatified, the first native born American martyr, our own Fr. Stanley Rother. 

       The last time the constellations aligned this way; and showed themselves in the heavens; oh, it was just about 7000 years ago, according to biblical scholars, about the time that Adam and Eve were being expelled from the Garden of Eden.

       Revelation 12 does go on to say that the woman gives birth to a child, and she and he flee to the desert — where they are protected for a period of time — while the ancient serpent pursues them trying to destroy them.  The ancient serpent of course is the Devil.  The woman has always been understood to be both Mary and the Church. The Child is understood to be both Christ and His off spring — we the Church. 

       Certainly we can say the ancient serpent, the Evil One, the Devil, has been trying to destroy the Church in the Middle East for at least the last three years.  The Chaldean Church of Erbil, in Iraq, where Christians have resided in the ancient cities of Nineveh and Mosul since the days of the Apostles, have all but vanished because of ISIS.  It was once a place of tens of thousands of Christians; today it is mere dozens.  They have fled to the dessert to Jordan and Lebanon and Israel.  The Dragon pursues the woman and her children.

       What does all of this mean?  I don’t know!  But I do know, we need to watch and pray. 

       We live in the century of Fatima; in the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation; we have celestial phenomenon occurring that have not occurred in centuries. 

       If the Magi had not paid attention to the stars, they would not have found the Messiah.  Does it not behoove us to do the same? 

       The Council fathers call us to “read the signs of the times, in light of the Gospel.”  There are signs all around us.  Wake up Church.  Look around.  See what is happening.  Heed the messages of Fatima, of Lourdes, of Guadalupe, and yes, perhaps even of Medjujorge.  Most of all, the Gospel!.  Repent and Believe.  The Kingdom is before us.  The Time is NOW!  Convert and believe in the Gospel.  Pray the Rosary and Pray before the Blessed Sacrament!  Pray for peace in our world. 

       May our Lady be our guide. May the Angles protect us.  May the saints intercede for us and bring us to the Kingdom where Christ is Lord, and has already won the Victory.  To Him, be glory and honor forever and ever.  Amen.