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Why 2017 Will Be a Very Important Year – A Homily for The Solemnity of Mary Mother of God

December 31, 2016

021-smallerLast week at Christmas we celebrated an event that was both pivotal and hidden. The conception and birth of Jesus Christ were events that changed human history. It was a daring, hidden raid by the Kingdom of Light into the kingdom of darkness, an incursion behind enemy lines, into enemy territory. Only some shepherds in Bethlehem and a few magi from distant lands were witnesses to this event, one which began the undoing of the long reign of sin.

St. Paul hints at this drama in today’s second reading: When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman (Gal 4:4). Yes, all time meets here. The long reign of sin is ending; Our Savior stealthily emerges to begin His work of giving us a way out. The wall has been breached and will one day wholly crumble.

Even Satan, to whom we often attribute exaggerated powers, seems unaware. The later visit of the Magi makes him suspicious, but even with that, his knowledge is lacking. Through his agent, Herod, he stabs wildly, searching for the interloper, but he misses the mark. Jesus eludes him for another thirty years, preparing for a final showdown that will seal Satan’s fate as the great loser.

Something happened that quiet Christmas night, enormous in its implications but mostly hidden and unnoticed. A ray of light flashes in a darkened world, just long enough to be remembered by a few. It is like a seed that is sown; it remains hidden for a time, but later yields a harvest that will undermine the world of darkness.

I offer all of this as a prelude to a year that I think will be significant for the Church and for the world. The Year of Our Lord 2017 may seem to many to be an insignificant one; we tend to favor years that end in 0s or 5s. The year 2000 seemed to carry great weight, but it passed quietly.

Why should 2017 be significant? I offer several reasons for your consideration. I do this in all humility, reminding those who read this that official and public revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle. No Catholic is required to give any credence to the disclosures or private revelations of apparitions or to the writings and warnings of mystics and saints; you are free to accept or reject these prophecies. While the Church commends approved apparitions to our consideration, she does not command our acceptance of them.

Yet Scripture does say, Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem had long been prophesied, as were most of the central truths of His ministry and Paschal mystery. And while much of this was seen most clearly in the rear-view mirror, God does signal His people of His plans, lest we be caught off guard or think that He acts whimsically.

I would argue that we today are being called by God to special prayer. This summons is always at work, but certain prophecies indicate that 2017 will be significant. Consider, then, the following indications that 2017 will require special prayer of us.

It is the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima. These apparitions are unique in that they have been affirmed by a miracle and by historical fulfilment.

Three young children, Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia, were visited by the Mother of Jesus six times in the region of Fatima, Portugal between May 13th and October 13th, 1917. At that time, the First World War was ending and the Western world was torn asunder by bloody violence.

At the time, the appearances of Our Lady generated both controversy and fascination. Our Lady’s message was fundamentally one of peace, but she warned of serious consequences if people did not turn more wholeheartedly to her Son, repent of their sins, and pray for peace.

She explained that war is a punishment for sin and warned that without our repentance, God would further castigate the world for its disobedience. She indicated that we would experience the wretched fruits of our sins through war, hunger, and the persecution of the Church, the Holy Father, and the Catholic faithful. The Blessed Mother prophesied that although the First World War was ending, without our repentance, a second and worse war would arise and that Russia would be God’s chosen instrument of chastisement, spreading the “errors” of atheism and materialism across the earth, fomenting wars, annihilating nations, and persecuting the faithful everywhere.

She further prophesied that a final warning would be given before the outbreak of a new war: When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes. Indeed, a large display of the Northern Lights occurred in January 1938 throughout the Northern Hemisphere and reaching into the Southern Hemisphere, making headlines internationally. Shortly thereafter, the Second World War was underway. Germany occupied Czechoslovakia in 1938 and invaded Poland in 1939.

As a verification of her appearances, Our Lady promised a miracle at the final apparition. With as many as 70,000 people in attendance, the miracle of the sun took place on October 13, 1917. Those gathered both marveled and feared as the sun danced and moved about in the sky on what had been a rainy day.

Recall that this was prophesied in 1917, long before the Second World War and Russia’s rise to power. Most could not have imagined a more devastating war than World War I, nor that Russia, a poor and largely Christian nation, could or would do such a thing. Yet all these prophecies were fulfilled.

The third prophecy of Fatima, kept secret until the year 2000, spoke of a great period of suffering for the Church, including the martyrdom of the Pope. A bishop dressed in white climbs a mountain near a ruined city toward a cross. He passes the corpses of many martyrs and many others who have suffered. At the top of the mountain, near the cross, he himself is killed by armies. In releasing this third part, the Vatican commented,

The history of an entire century can be seen represented in this image. Just as the places of the earth are synthetically described in the two images of the mountain and the city, and are directed towards the cross, so too time is presented in a compressed way. In the vision we can recognize the last century as a century of martyrs, a century of suffering and persecution for the Church, a century of World Wars and the many local wars which filled the last fifty years and have inflicted unprecedented forms of cruelty. In the “mirror” of this vision we see passing before us the witnesses of the faith decade by decade. Here it would be appropriate to mention a phrase from the letter which Sister Lucia wrote to the Holy Father on 12 May 1982: “The third part of the ‘secret’ refers to Our Lady’s words: ‘If not, [Russia] will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.’

Pope John Paul II saw his near-assassination in 1981 as the fulfillment of this prophecy and indicated that he only escaped death as a merciful intervention by Our Lady in response to prayer.

One additional aspect of the Fatima apparitions was given in 1981. Sister Lucia, the lone surviving visionary, wrote to Monsignor (now Cardinal) Carlo Caffara at the Vatican of something she heard from Our Lady: The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid … anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue.however, Our Lady has already crushed its head. (This letter is now in the archives of the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and Family.)

And here we are in modern times, desperately confused about the nature of marriage, sexuality, and the family. Many who stand up for what has always been taught and believed are called intolerant, backward, and/or bigoted.

According to the Fatima apparitions and this later addition from 1981, we are in the endgame, the final showdown, of this modern attack on the Church by Satan.

Another vision, less well-known, was said to have appeared to Pope Leo XIII on October 13, 1884 (33 years to the day before the final apparition at Fatima). It was revealed to him that a period of 100 years was coming during which the Church would be sorely tempted and tested, likely in order to purify us. Pope Leo was so troubled by this vision that he penned the well-known Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and asked the faithful to recite it; until about 1970 it was traditionally recited after Mass.

When did that 100 years begin? It is not certain, but something tells me that it began in 1917 and thus will end in 2017. I do not think it likely that it will end suddenly, but Heaven knows. Clearly the Church has been sorely oppressed; we have lost large numbers. There has been a persecution, a pruning. There has been internal turmoil over doctrine and liturgy, a breakdown in discipline, and a great exodus of priests and religious. We have been reduced to be sure, but not destroyed. We have been prepared for something … but what?

I cannot answer all these questions, but I do know this: we are called to profound prayer this year. Although this is our perennial call, this year’s call is special.

In this parish, I will be scheduling special times of prayer and adoration. I will provide more details in the weeks ahead (prior to Lent), but this much is certain: Beginning in March, I want to observe the First Saturday devotions that were requested by our Lady at Fatima. This includes going to confession, attending Mass, and reciting the Holy Rosary on five consecutive Saturdays. We will pray for the conversion of sinners (starting with ourselves), for peace in this world, and for special graces for unity and growth of faith in the Church. Prior to that time, I intend to provide further catechesis in order to prepare us.

What exactly will happen in 2017? Will it be like the first Christmas, a hidden event with later consequences? Or will it be a dramatic event that brings about widespread, sudden conversion and an end to the persecution? I do not know; I only know that we need to pray. 2017 will be no ordinary year.

On this feast of Our Lady, we need, like Jesus, to stay close to her. We need to hear her call to pray and to obey all that her Son Jesus taught. Pray with me this year, one that will likely be very significant.

Happy and Blessed Year of Our Lord, 2017.

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Comments (38)

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  1. Donna says:

    I will do these things. Thank you and God bless you.

  2. Lorraine says:

    God bless you, Father. Wish I had a parish like your own nearby. My parish thinks all is swell and never been better.

  3. Morrie Chamberlain says:

    “It was a daring, hidden raid by the Kingdom of Light into the kingdom of darkness, an incursion behind enemy lines, into enemy territory. Only some shepherds in Bethlehem and a few magi from distant lands were witnesses to this event, one which began the undoing of the long reign of sin.” More great writing from Msgr. Pope.

  4. GODFRED MCMANN KUDAYA says:

    Msgr. Charles Pope,

    Many thanks for keeping track of these things and telling us what to do.
    You are truly a watchman on the wall.

    May the Lord preserve you and I particularly with my Godfather Paolo Danesi constantly follow your blog and will be in solidarity with you in the task you propose.

    Thanks a lot.

  5. Michael says:

    It was also stated, I think by Sr. Lucia, that towards the end in the Church Cardinal would be opposed to Cardinal and Bishop against Bishop. Of course, we’ve seen that in other periods of Church history, but in light of Fatima and various other statements from saints and mystics over the centuries, I too feel along with you that 2017-2018 will be something truly remarkable and memorable.

    Finally, in one of those “nothing happens by chance” circumstances, I believe the Year of Mercy just concluded was no mere coincidence – perhaps our last big chance to get our souls in order before coming trials and tribulations? Let us all take seriously the angel’s call at Fatima for penance, penance, penance! Each of us must daily remember our Lord’s call to prayer and we must remember to regularly GO TO CONFESSION!

    • Marina says:

      Michael, you are so right – we need to head the good bishop’s call to prayer – may all of our priests head this call too, and be bold to state it publicly.
      God bless you Msgr. Pope – we need more leaders like you, Cardinal Burke, and all the bishops who supported their vital questions to clarify his position on core issues of faith.

    • Jane says:

      Akita should not be confused with Fatima. Also it is recorded that Pope Leo XII’s vision and subsequent composition of the St Michael’s prayer took place in 1884… one hundred years before the Consecration of the world (including Russia) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with the Latin Rite and Orthodox Bishops.

  6. Richard Volpe says:

    We give thanks to our loving and merciful God for having sent you as our light to guide his Holy Flock in this time of darkness and trepidation throughout the world. Millions of people, many of whom are non-Christian, have been killed or left as homeless refugees as the forces of darkness take over many of the countries in the Middle East and propagate their wickedness and depravity throughout the rest of the world. Your New Year’s homily is very revealing in explaining the trials and trepidation of the Church’s past and gives us much to be hopeful for in the coming year under your guidance and leadership. I pray that God will continue to bless you, give you strength to combat the darkness, and good health and perseverance to see you through to the end of this tumultuous time.

    • Michael says:

      Change begins from within not in opposition to someone else. Love our neighbor and our enemies and recall the battle is with powers and principalities. Take off the bushel basket and be a light to the world. The Incarnation is given birth in our Baptism. Let this grace be that same incursion of light into a darkened world. Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand.

  7. John R says:

    Thank you very much indeed for this warning dear Msgr. It all rings a bell with me. I feel sure that you are right. I never forget to say that prayer to the Archangel Michael and I think that it should still be said after Mass.

  8. Sue Korlan says:

    Could you please remind us a few days ahead about which of the 5 petitions we are supposed to be focused on each month? It would be appreciated by those who don’t remember from month to month.

  9. Tony says:

    As usual Msgnr you shed light on topics that sometimes can be quite confusing. Blessed 2017 Msgnr, May Jesus and our blessed Mother Mary bless you to keep on looking after your flock.

  10. Patricia Gehred says:

    Thank you for the above wonderful and impacting words. We certainly have our work cut out for us.
    In the abundant Graces of God and the Tender Love of Mary. Pat

  11. David says:

    I suspect you are probably right. I’m rather surprised that liberal AD Washington allows you to blog.

    Btw, I was a typical atheist academic scientist until I was in my early 30s. It took something exactly like a flash of (a ray of) light to cause me to become a Christian and Catholic. I think St Augustine had a theory about this.

    I don’t discount revelation, since without what I considered to be a private revelation, I’d have no faith.

    • Msgr. Charles Pope says:

      Thanks for hearing the call! Just a word on the Archdiocese. I don’t think that this Archdiocese is Liberal. Perhaps we are fairly middle of the road. Cardinal Wuerl has received some notoriety regarding his stance on Canon 915 and is thus termed liberal. I do not agree with his stance on that and would like to see some greater enforcement. I have spoken to him of this in meetings etc. But one issue need not define the man or the Archdiocese. I would say in most things Cardinal Wuerl is careful, cautious and doctrinally solid. He runs a ship-shape diocese and has always been fair. I suspect he and I are possessed of very different temperaments but he has never demanded that all come to have his tone or views in prudential matters. I think the very thing that makes him reticent to enforce canon 915 is also the thing that makes him reticent to silence other views, not just mine, but also views at places like Georgetown etc. Canonically I think he is respectful of the limits of the power of a bishop and aware that others have rights in the Church too. All this leads to a prudential stance that at times infuriates some Catholics who want strong denunciations in matters. But I suppose we would all do well to remember that a sword can cut two ways.

      • David F says:

        Thank you for that explanation of the Cardinal’s stance. It helps us see his actions in context.

  12. Wise words Father. Thank you.

  13. Douglas says:

    A few months ago I had an Idea. On First Saturdays, I could start at our Cathedral, walk to Mexico Street, up one block and back the Cathedral, praying the Rosary. A trip of about 1.5 miles would circle the diocesan offices, city hall, county courthouse, county jail, the unemployment office, two different homeless shelters, the school district offices, and an service which helps previously incarcerated with re-entering society. I figure I would pray the Rosary to support and protect the family. There is ample time to pray a decade of Memorare, and sing some verses of Immaculate Mary, and a few more of the St. Michael Prayer. For a few months I’ve done this alone, but I’ve been asking men at Mass to join me. I figure we could wear white shirts and black pants. The local parade permitting is expensive, so we’ll spread out, so as to not block others on the sidewalk. My hope is to get hundreds of men, and the image of hundreds of men spread out praying will be striking. My invitation to the men is to pick up a weapon, the Rosary, and fight for the family with prayer to honor our Blessed Mother.

  14. Antonia says:

    Thank you for this wonderful summary, Msgr. Pope. I’ll save it for reference and re-reading. I’m very happy to be reading and hearing your voice in many venues lately. Regarding the upcoming year…wow! All this for 2017 AND the 500th anniversary of the Protestant revolution as well. What a year ahead for the Church…I feel so blessed to live in these times and to have been called out of atheism to worship God. Thank you, Jesus! Please bless our Holy priests, bishops, and our Holy Father in 2017 and beyond.

  15. Paul Renneberg says:

    It could be the year of the Warning.

  16. peace says:

    Peace is what is coming. God doesn’t forget &wishes for everyone’s happiness. DO NOT FEAR has always been & will always be his message.

  17. JOHN says:

    HOLY SPIRIT, make this man a BISHOP, please!

    • Andrew says:

      I’d rather he stay a humble priest so he has more time to write his daily blog and I can get my spiritual nourishment.

    • aprolifer says:

      We (Diocese of Arlington) just got a new bishop. I’m happy with him, but I’d hoped it would be Msgr. Pope. Yes, he’s needed in his present capacity, but the supply of wise, courageous, and holy bishops seems to be frighteningly scant. Otherwise my home diocese (San Diego) wouldn’t have McElroy.

  18. Patricia Rose says:

    Church-approved Fatima was different from all other revelations of Our Lady and should not be grouped with other private revelations. For one thing it was anything but private as demonstrated by the miracle of the sun. It paralleled the scriptural description of “a woman clothed with the sun,” and the messages should be better made known to people today as so many souls are at stake. Our Lady tells us how we can pray for and make reparation for souls. She lamented that souls were being lost because there was not enough people praying for them. I agree Father that if there was ever a time to get serious about living the faith and the messages of Fatima it is now.

  19. Fred says:

    Msgr. Pope- you are a true blessing to the Church. I know your road is likely not an easy one, but as a member of the Church who is inspired by your faithful witness, I thank you for walking it. May our loving God bless you abundantly.

  20. Clay says:

    Hope you are right. And, I will certainly take your advice to pray for the Church and the world more, because Why not?

    Should have been doing so anyway, right?

    Good advice

  21. Mike says:

    The final battle will be about marriage and the family. So as a pewsitter, I’m sitting out here trying to reconcile Francis’ AL, John Paul’s VS and now the Dubia submitted by 4 Cardinals. These are challenging and confusing tines at least for me. Any words of advice ?

  22. Claire says:

    Let us all join in prayer through the intercession of Mary every prayer is heard. More than ever DO NOT BE AFRAID.

  23. Joyce Yusi (Govaars) says:

    Thank you for this synopsis of our Lady’s warnings during the trials of this last century. I was born in Batavia (Djakarta, Indonesia) and was 2 years old when the Japanese invaded here in 1942 and placed all Dutch and English people in concentration camps until liberation in 1945. I suffered post traumatic stress all my life. But through a mystical experience, and my first reading of the New Testament, I converted to the Catholic Church when I was 18. My teenage heart fell in love with Jesus and all that he said and all that he did to help, love, heal and instruct people. His love and self sacrifice was such a contrast to the way we were treated in the camp. I embraced belief and experienced the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and went to daily Mass and recited the Rosary every day. After marriage and adopting two children, my husband and I detoured into the New Age for thirteen years until 1990. This almost destroyed my faith, our marriage and our children, who were out of control. Through our Lady, who said in Medjugorje, “God exists,” and recommended that we go to confession every month, we did return to confession in 1990, and experienced a reawakening and a strong return to our Faith. We began and have not stopped, the First Saturday devotion of confession, Mass, Holy Communion, five decades of the Rosary, and keeping Mary company for a quarter of an hour, meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary. The reason I am mentioning my background is because most people cannot grasp that their world can be turned upside down in a moment. I have lived total disaster and know it is very possible now, today. But the moment disaster comes, be it weather related, terrorism, disease, or war, is the moment when you will be so busy coping that you will have difficulty praying. So, I am grateful, Msgr. Pope, for your serious call to prayer – NOW – at the beginning of this unique and pivotal year.

  24. Deana Progar says:

    Msgr. Pope,
    I am new to your site. Thank you for your article (homily). Charlie from the Next Right Step recommended we read your Homily on our Blessed Mother, the Mother of God. So I took his advice. I loved your homily.
    Msgr. Pope I started another prayer group (with the permission of our Pastor) for one day, October 13, 2016 following the prayers from http://www.solidarityinprayer.com/about.html. And I just asked for permission to continue the prayers starting May 13th. and meeting every 13th. of each month to Oct. 13th, 2017, at 4:00 pm our time (Orange County, California). I will also follow your advice to observe the 1st. Friday devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary starting in March. (can I ask why March?) If you have any other suggestions for prayers, kindly let us all know. I will be following your web site for any other advice that will bring us closer to God and our Blessed Mother. We are her children, and follow, we will.
    I like Douglas idea of a procession with the Rosary. I also had that same thought about three months ago of getting a group to walk out in the streets processing and praying the Rosary together once a month. I’ll see if anyone is interested. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, so I will not carry any banners.
    May the Holy Spirit continue to inspire and bless you unconditionally,
    Deana

  25. David F says:

    I’d echo others here and add a small bit. Another Chruch approved private revelation is that of St Faustina. She wrote of God’s mercy and numerous visions and visitations. Consistently she was told to warn us that mercy preceeds judgement. That and it naturally follows that after a world wide public pronouncement of a year of mercy, judgement many be expected to follow, in God’s time of course. He warns us and He provides means for us to be reconciled. Last this August 21 on Saint Pius X day, the eve of the Queenship of Mary, there will be a total eclipse visible in the US.

  26. Jane says:

    It is recorded that Pope Leo XII’s vision and subsequent composition of the St Michael’s prayer took place in 1884… one hundred years before the Consecration of the world (including Russia) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with the Latin Rite and Orthodox Bishops by Pope St John Paul II on the 25th March 1984. Today Russia has returned to Christianity and over 87 dictatorships around the world have been over thrown. Satan’s plan to destroy the Church has been thwarted, but nevertheless the errors of communism need to be over come.

    • Mary says:

      It is important to note, yet unnecessary to spend valuable time over, that though Russia (the Russian people) may be experiencing an easier time of attending religious services, it is the Orthodox Church which has resurfaced; not the Uniate church, that is, not the Church acknowledging the Pope.

      • Mary says:

        The term, Uniate, should be deleted. The point is that the Church acknowledge the Pope as the successor of Peter.

  27. Dave says:

    I’m not sure if Medjegore has been mentioned but our Lady stated
    to the seers there “I came to complete in Medjegore what I began
    at Fatima.”
    I believe Archbishop Fulton Sheen also believed that the 100 years
    began with Fatima (with him saying 50 years after Fatima you had
    the 1967 summer of love – he compared to the persecutions in France).

    I also expect things to happen this year.

  28. Mary says:

    Surely, if the angel requested that the three seers of Fatima say three times the prayer that he taught them, we also can say this before and following our reception of the Eucharist:

    O MOST HOLY TRINITY, FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT I ADORE YOU PROFOUNDLY AND

    OFFER YOU THE MOST PRECIOUS BODY, BLOOD, SOUL AND DIVINITY OF OUR LORD JESUS

    CHRIST PRESENT IN ALL THE HOLY TABERNACLES OF THE WORLD IN REPARATION FOR ALL

    THE OUTRAGES, SACRILEGES AND INDIFFERENCE BY WHICH HE HIMSELF IS OFFENDED.

    THROUGH THE INFINITE MERITS OF HIS MOST SACRED HEART AND THE IMMACULATE HEART OF

    MARY, I BEG FOR THE CONVERSION OF POOR SINNERS. AMEN