Thursday January 1, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Reading I (Numbers 6:22-27) Reading II (Galatians 4:4-7)
Gospel (St. Luke 2:16-21)
~~~Homily from the Mass at Midnight~~~
Now as we celebrate this day of the octave, the octave being the eight days, reminding us again of God’s seven days of creation and then the eighth day being the first day after creation, so now we look forward to something new. For many years we have been awaiting this day. For a long time, I have been preaching to you in various homilies about things that are to come, and if those who are purported in our world to be mystics are to be believed, this year – finally! – is the year we have been waiting for. Let me explain to you why I believe what I have been telling you. Because there is absolutely no reason in the world for you to take my word for it, I will explain to you why I have been preaching the way that I have, what is behind it, and what may be coming. First of all, before I say anything else, let me just simply remind you that when it comes to dates and times, no one knows. These things can be mitigated and so it could be that the timing is off; we just simply do not know. I am hoping and praying, quite honestly, that these people are correct, because as I tell my friends, I have had about enough. I have seen the evil and it is time for God to intervene. And as we begin our new year, offering everything to Our Blessed Lady and beginning the year by dedicating everything to her, it is certainly most fitting that God has turned everything over to her.
There are many people among the Protestants looking at the signs of the times who believe that the Second Coming is about to happen. These unfortunate souls also think they are going to get “raptured” out, which is completely anti-Scriptural, anti-doctrinal, and anti-Christian, for all that matters. To think that Jesus Christ would die on the Cross for us but He would let us out without having to take up the Cross does not make sense. It is completely fallacious and no one heard about it until 200 years ago when a woman supposedly had an apparition from Jesus telling her that was what was going to happen. So the Bible Christians, as they call themselves, suddenly believed in something that was not in the Bible; and now they all think they are going to get out, even though Jesus says, “Those who hold out to the end will be saved,” not “Those who get out before it comes will be saved.” They are going to be sorely disappointed on two counts: first of all, that they did not get raptured out; secondly, that it is not the Second Coming and, perhaps most importantly, the woman whom they have chosen to hate is the one whom God is sending to be able to prepare the world for what is to come.
This is the time given to Our Blessed Lady. Saint Louis de Montfort says that the kingdom of Mary must be established firmly on earth before the kingdom of Christ will come, and that as Our Lady came before Jesus two thousand years ago so it will happen again. The first time, for both Our Lady and Our Lord, it was very much hidden; this time, for neither will it be hidden. Our Lady is going to come to establish justice on the earth and that is going to be followed by a lengthy period of peace. Then will come the Second Coming when Our Lord will be seen in all of His glory escorted by the angels. That will not happen in our lifetime, but this other one I hope and pray will come very soon.
Having said all that again, let me explain why. First of all, in Fatima in 1917, Our Lady appeared to the three shepherd children and gave them a series of promises. There is only one promise at Fatima that has not yet been fulfilled, that is, in the end Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph and that will be followed by a long period of peace and unprecedented growth for the Church. We have not yet seen that. Along with that, Our Lady (not in 1917, but much later) appeared to Sister Lucia, the only seer from Fatima who is still alive, and promised her that she would be alive to see the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. Sister Lucia is now 95 years old, and so the timing on that tells us that something has to happen fairly soon. Beyond that, back a few years ago, the day after the tragic incidents that took place out in New York City with the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, the very next day Mother Angelica went on national television and announced that in the year 2004 we will be in the era of peace. She said, “Do not ask me how I know that because I will not tell you. All I can tell you is that in 2004 you will see the era of peace.” There is a woman by the name of Christina Gallagher, whom many people purport to be a true mystic from Ireland, and she is saying the same thing. There is a woman from Venezuela by the name of Maria Esperanza who has the approval of her bishops and has made a variety of predictions with extraordinary accuracy over the years, and for quite a few years now, certainly more than ten, she has been telling the world that in 2004 everyone on the face of the earth will know that God exists. More recently, she has said, “In mid-2004, you will begin to see the light,” and that the turn-around is going to be taking place around halfway through the year. Again, all of these people could be entirely wrong. The date can be pushed back; things could be mitigated. We do not know.
There is a Vietnamese priest who was captured by the Communists some 21 or so years ago now. He was put into a concentration camp where for 13 years he had to break rocks everyday. At the end of the day, they would give him a cup of rice and send him back out the next day to break rocks. He did that everyday for 13 years. He is now free, and a couple of years ago this man was traveling to France for some surgery (you can imagine the condition his body is in after all of that) and he heard about a hermit priest in Belgium. He wanted to stop and speak with that priest about something extraordinary that had happened to him, and he told the hermit priest this story. He said, “I had a friend, another priest in Vietnam, who was also captured by the Communists. This particular priest was beaten to a bloody pulp by the Communists, dragged into the sanctuary of this parish church, dumped on the sanctuary floor, and there he died in front of the Blessed Sacrament.” Not a bad way to go. About two years or so ago, he said, “My friend has recently appeared to me and he told me this: that in the year 2000 the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart began, but it will begin with the Triumph of the Cross.” (Which I interpret to mean that the Church is going to be crucified, which the Fathers of the Church told us many times is going to happen.) He then went on to tell his friend that Satan had been given 100 years to destroy the Church. (That is according to the vision of Pope Leo XIII from 1884.) In that 100 years, Satan overstepped his boundaries and in punishment for overstepping his boundaries God has meted out two points of punishment: number one, He took some of Satan’s power away from him and has given it to Our Lady; number two, the reign of the antichrist will be severely limited – perhaps to even as little as six weeks. Thanks be to God! Three and a half years is what Scripture told us it would be, which none of us would be able to survive. Our Lord knew that and He Himself told us, “If the time were not shortened even the elect would fall astray.” So we knew the time would be shortened; the question was how much. This man is saying “perhaps even as little as six weeks”. Then he went on to say, “In the year 2004, you will see the era of peace.”
Now that coupled with what happened back in 1961in a little village called Garabandal in Spain, with some apparitions that have only just recently received local approval by the bishop so now we can actually talk about them, and in those apparitions, Our Lady said a few things that are of import for us. Number one, she said that there will only be three more popes until the end of the present age. How one interprets that is entirely up to you because she did not explain it. Our present Holy Father is the third, the three being Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II. Now this becomes also very important timing-wise because Our Lady told us at Garabandal that there will be a warning, and the warning will be what is variously called “an illumination of conscience”, or simply put, every person will get to see their soul as God sees it. For some, this will be a great blessing. After all, if you just think about it, if you had been shown by God everything that is on your soul so that you have the opportunity to go to confession and rid yourself of absolutely everything that is there, this is cause for great rejoicing. For some, however, she said it will be so horrifying that they will die. So it will not be a pleasant thing for most people to see, but for anyone who is trying to live a good life, it will be a great blessing. That is really something to look forward to, although it is going to require a great grace because she said, “The priests will be in the confessional around-the-clock hearing confessions, one after the next, 24 hours a day.” Not humanly possible, but with God all things are possible. And then she said, “Within a year, that will be followed by a great miracle which will be a Eucharistic miracle.” The children thought it seemed that it would be much, much shorter than a year, but what Our Lady said was that within a year this miracle would happen. It would be able to be seen by television cameras and it will be demonstrated throughout the world. But what is important for us is that she said, “The Pope will see the miracle from wherever he happens to be in the world when it happens,” which means that our Holy Father has to be alive when it happens.
So you have the two persons who have been named: Sister Lucia being 95 years old, and our Holy Father being 83 years old and not in very good health. Whether it happens in 2004 or sometime thereafter, one can surmise that it cannot take too much longer before something is going to occur. Now at Garabandal, Our Lady said, “If people do not change their ways, that will be followed by a great chastisement.” The chastisement was foretold at the last fully approved apparition (“fully approved” meaning not only locally and provincially, but even by the Vatican), and that was at Akita in Japan in 1974 when Our Lady appeared to a nun and told her that fire will fall from the sky killing the greater part of humanity and the living will envy the dead thinking that they had the better part. Everyone in the state of mortal sin will die, and some who are in the state of grace will die so that no one will be able to make judgments about the people who have died. It will not be a pleasant time for anyone on the face of the earth. How exactly that is going to be, we do not know. The fact that Our Lady appeared in Japan to tell us that I think is important. Many saints from back in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries had visions and prophesied about the fact that a comet is going to crash into the earth. Now this is my pure conjecture, but back in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries they did not have intercontinental ballistic missiles; if you were a sixth century mystic and saw a fireball coming from the sky with a tail on it and a huge explosion following from it, what would you think it was? It looks like a comet, so it must be a comet. We know better. If you read the Book of the Prophet Zechariah, you will find two things there that are rather terrifying. One, the prophet says, “One-third of the people will be saved through the fire.” Our Lady said, “The greater part of humanity will die.” So one-third will be saved through the fire according to Scripture. And then the prophet Zechariah gives a particularly terrifying presentation of what is going to happen to people: their flesh will rot, their eyes will be pulled into their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths as they stand there. That is exactly what happens when a nuclear device is exploded.
And so it is these sorts of things and quite a few more that I consider as I look at all of this. Nothing more need be said, it just adds more detail and so on, but it makes the point clearly enough that we are in for some horrible times. The Church is going to be crucified, and you have the greatest blessing that has ever been bestowed upon humanity, that is, to be a member of the Church when She is crucified. Nothing greater has ever been offered to a Christian person than to be alive when the Mystical Body of Christ goes to the Cross. I believe that you have that opportunity. I believe that each one of us will also have the opportunity to be able to see Our Lady at work. Prophesied in Genesis 3:15, she is going to crush the head of the serpent, and the way that she is going to do that is through the little people that she has chosen, the humble ones, the rejected ones, the ones who do not fit in – that’s us. We are the means by which Satan is going to be crushed because we are the heel of Our Lady. Once again, a great blessing; not exactly fun, but there will be cause for great rejoicing.
So as we look forward to the events – whether they will indeed happen in this year or whether they will be coming soon, it does not matter – we need to make sure that we are ready. We need to understand that what we have seen is nothing. As evil as things are out there, it has only just begun. Things are going to get much worse very quickly. There will be immense suffering for anyone who calls himself or herself a Catholic. My suspicion is that it will be illegal to be a Catholic, and we are all going to have to make a decision of whether we will remain faithful or not. As things progress, it will appear to be hopeless. Everything will appear to be lost. The Church will appear to have been destroyed; evil will appear to have won, just as it was 2,000 years ago on Calvary. And it is only at the point where it has achieved its worst, at the darkest moment is when Our Lady is going to intervene. She is going to allow us all to see just how evil humanity can be. When left to itself, when grace is withheld, when cooperating with Satan, we are all going to see with our own eyes just what humanity is capable of in the most negative form.
We are also, at the same time, going to see – by God’s grace – exactly what humanity is capable of in the best form because remember Saint Paul’s words: “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.” Therefore, we will see in our own day with our own eyes the greatest saints that God has ever raised up in the history of the Church, with the exception of Our Lady, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Baptist. The grace is going to be present for those who choose to cooperate with God, and we will see extraordinary things. But we have to make the choice of what we are going to do, to choose Jesus Christ and to choose to go to Calvary with Him to be crucified with Him, or to run away, to apostasize. That is the choice that is before us. And so as we begin this new year, as we consider the humanity and the divinity of Christ, the divine maternity of Our Blessed Lady, we look at what God has done. What seems to be impossible, God has already worked in humanity; and what seems impossible, He is going to work once again. However, it will require great faith. Our Lady had to believe that what seemed impossible was going to work. Saint Joseph had to believe that what sounded preposterous was indeed true. And each one of us is going to have to believe as well if we are going to remain faithful to Jesus Christ, to believe when it appears that all hope is lost, to remain faithful when it appears the most foolish thing in the world to do. But the reward for fidelity will be great, and that is a guarantee from Our Blessed Lady.
So my recommendation as we begin this new year is to either renew or make, if you have not done so, the consecration of your entire being and your entire life to Jesus Christ through the Blessed Virgin Mary as given to us by Saint Louis de Montfort, to take up the prayer life and to live it fervently so that you will be accustomed to hearing the voice of Christ and being obedient to whatever He asks you to do. That is what Our Lady has modeled for us already, and if we are going to be her true children we need to be just like her. We need to be virtuous, we need to be holy, we need to be obedient. That is what God is asking of His faithful people, now the question for us is if we are willing to do it. Only you can make that answer. The choice is entirely yours. You are being invited by Our Lord and by Our Lady into what I believe will be the greatest events of human history, and you have to choose whether to accept or to reject their invitation.
I might make just a couple of quick follow-up comments to what I said in the homily in case I instilled fear into the heart of anyone. First of all, just keep in mind that God has turned this over to His mother, which means she is going to do this as a woman does it. She is a mom. She is not going to do it like a guy does it, so you do not really need to be afraid – unless you are on the other side of a mother – it is not a good place to be. But the safest place in the world to be is right there next to your mom. So just stay with Our Lady, bring your kids with you, and you have nothing at all to fear. This is not a time to run out and get six months’ worth of food, stock up your basement, and fill everything up. This is the time to pray. It is the time to prepare spiritually. None of that [material preparation] needs to be done. She is a mom. She will make sure that you are clothed and that you are fed; she will take care of everything. All that we need to do is to trust, to pray, and to be at peace.
Correction: The local bishop has not granted approval to the apparitions of Garabandal; rather, he has authorized that Mass can be prayed there.
In the second reading that we heard today from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, he said, “In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son born of a woman.” This is something that we will never be able to comprehend: that the Son of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, would become man. The point of today’s feast is to very clearly make the point to us that the child to whom Our Lady gave birth is God. This is something that many Christian people do not want to believe. They want to believe in something like the heresy of adoptionism, where it says that Jesus was born just like we are and then somewhere along the line, whether that would be the minute after he was born or whether that would be at the time of his baptism or whether it was at twelve years old, they will give you a variety of different time frames, but they want to say that at that point God looked down upon Jesus and saw that he was so virtuous and upright that He decided to make him His son. Now that not only is the heresy of adoptionism, but what it would really do if we believe that is make Jesus two persons because we would be claiming that he was born as a human person and somewhere along the line he became divine. There is a man by the name of Nestorius who made that same point historically, saying that Jesus is God but He is also a man, so therefore He is both a divine person and a human person right from the womb. That would make Jesus a true and perfect schizophrenic but it is not our faith; in fact, it was condemned back in the 300’s.
So the point of this feast, which is celebrated on the octave day of Christmas, is to make very clear to us that the child born of Our Lady is a divine person. She is the Mother of God, and to say that she is the Mother of God means that the child conceived in her womb is not a human person. A person can only be one person and we cannot change to become another person. Therefore, from the first moment of His conception, Jesus Christ is God because as a divine person He has existed from all eternity. There was never a time when He did not exist, yet what He chose to do was to take a human nature – not a human person, but a human nature – to Himself. Therefore, He took our human body, our human blood, a human soul just like ours, but He did not take a human personality to Himself because He is already a person. And so He truly was human but He was not a human person.
Now if this seems a little bit confusing, all we need to do is consider that for all eternity we will never be able to comprehend this mystery. We will believe it, we will even worship it, but we will never comprehend it. Even more wonderful is that for all eternity the human nature of Jesus Christ will never comprehend this mystery. In His divine nature, He has a divine mind. He is God; therefore, He understands it perfectly. In His human nature, He has a human mind which is finite. And because this is an absolute and infinite mystery, in His human mind He will never understand this mystery completely. So if even Our Lord in His humanness cannot understand it completely neither will we. But what that means is for all eternity we will be filled with wonder and awe as we look upon Our Lord and as we look upon the miracle, the entirely supernatural reality, of what took place in the womb of Our Blessed Lady.
Again, we must be very clear that to say she is the Mother of God does not imply in any way that Jesus became God. Not only did He not become God outside of the womb, He did not become God in the womb. He is God from all eternity and His divinity cannot change. So when He was conceived, He was conceived as a divine person, not as a human person. All that He took to Himself was our human nature. We see how much God loves us in this way, that He would desire to become one of us, that He would desire to experience everything that we experience rather than just simply saying, “Why don’t I come down into the world like Adam did, as an adult, spend a couple of hours on earth and die on the Cross?” He chose instead to live exactly as we do: to be conceived, to develop in the womb, to be born, to live a simple hidden life, and a life of one indeed who was rejected. And so as we go through our lives, we are able in all things to understand, we are able to relate to what happened to Jesus. Or shall we look at it the other way: that He is able to relate to us? We cannot ever look at God and say, “You don’t understand,” because He did it all for us.
And out of love for us, He chose the single most incredible creature ever made. He created her for Himself, but He created her for us. We have to understand that as we celebrate this feast of the divine maternity of Our Lady – that is, Our Lady as the Mother of God – this has great implications for us because each one of us through our baptism has been made a member of Jesus Christ. And each one of us through our baptism has become a partaker of the divine nature. We do not become God per se; the difference between Jesus and us is not merely that He is God from all eternity and took a human nature to Himself, and we who are human have now taken a divine nature to ourselves, but rather in Jesus it is a substantial union. In us, it is an accidental union, which means that we do not actually become the Second Person of the Trinity; we do not become God but we share in His nature. And because we share in the divine nature, we have a share in the divine life, if indeed we are in the state of sanctifying grace. Then the only thing that we can say is that Our Lady is our mother too. She is our spiritual mother because she gave birth to the Head of the Mystical Body, and a mother does not give birth merely to a head, she gives birth to the fullness of the person. So it is with Our Lady. She gave birth to both the Head and the Body. She gave birth to God, and in a spiritual way she also gives birth to all of those who will be members of the very Son of God Himself – and that is us.
So when we hear those words from the Book of Numbers, that beautiful blessing of the Israelite people – “May God bless you and let His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you” – above all He has done that to Our Lady. But as I mentioned just a moment ago, it is not a mystery that is separated from us, but rather it is a mystery into which each one of us has been drawn. Each one of us shares in that blessing because as members of Jesus Christ His countenance is shining upon us. We are united with Christ.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.