Fr. Finegan's post on the current street riots prompts me to ask questions which include reference to the Holy Scriptures. I'm sure that many Christians will be looking at the world financial crisis and the beginning of street riots as more signs that we are in the "end times". In fact we have been in the end times since the Ascension. As things get worse in the West some might be asking if we are near some significant spiritual events. Historically it is difficult to isolate present difficulties from the suffering of the 20th century with its World Wars, the Cold War and the moral corruption of Western society. In the Church we saw mass defections from the priesthood and religious life over a thirty year period. There was a story about Pope Paul VI slumping over his desk after being faced with a list of priests asking for laicization, and going to the beginning of the last century, the story of Leo XIII's experience of hearing a dialogue between Christ and Satan in which the enemy was granted a century in which to attempt the destruction of the Church. Interestingly, someone at last week's conference remarked on that exchange, suggesting - correctly I think - that this dialogue represents something going back to a time before our ancient ancestors existed. I never doubted the truth contained in that dialogue and the fact that Pope Leo "heard" it at the beginning of the most turbulent century in the history of the world encourages me to think that we are living through the Book of Revelation. Blessed John Paul II knew this. In 1978, before he became Pope he spoke to the United Nations in these terms. It explains much of his pontificate, and of his life and death. On the news this morning a reporter suggested that there is worse to come. I have to agree with him. If that century is now over, and the enemy has not achieved what he boasted of, we may now be suffering the reaction. We are not dealing with a being that accepts defeat graciously, we are dealing with the most dangerous, evil and savage maniac in existence.
Some people may read this post and think that I have lost my reason. Some people no longer believe in the Devil. I am reminded of the words of a famous exorcist who said a couple of years ago, "If clergy child abuse is not a sign of the presence of evil spirits, I don't know what is!" As I have said before - with respect - it is time our bishops woke up. On the conference last week a well-known Irish priest writer and speaker said that the Irish church is "imploding" He also said that, whereas before the bishops looked on him as an "idiot" they are now begging for his help when they come across people who need deliverance because, apparently, there are no officially appointed exorcists in Ireland. In my view, this last comment says it all.