Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Anne Catherine Emmerich


"I saw also the relationship between two popes ... I saw how baleful would be the consequences of this false church. I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city of Rome. The local clergy grew lukewarm, and I saw a great darkness...

"I had another vision of the great tribulation. It seems to me that a concession was demanded from the clergy which could not be granted. I saw many older priests, especially one, who wept bitterly. A few younger ones were also weeping. But others, and the lukewarm among them, readily did what was demanded. It was as if people were splitting into two camps."


"I see the Holy Father in great anguish. He lives in a palace other than before and he admits only a limited number of friends near him. I fear that the Holy Father will suffer many more trials before he dies.

"I see that the false Church of darkness is making progress and I see the dreadful influence it has on the people. The Holy Father and the Church are verily in so great a distress that one must implore God night and day…”

I don't usually talk about my own religious experiences or practice, really. I never could stand this nauseating, trendy nonsense of "faith sharing" or, as I like to call it, "indiscriminately blabbing all over the place details of the most intimate and private relationship imaginable". But here is one I will share, given the current circs.

Many years ago, I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was going through an excruciating process of re-entering the practice of the Faith. During that time, I was Devout. I prayed a lot. I went to Mass every day if I could. I went to confession a great deal. I hung out with other Devout people, and I read a lot of books about the Faith. It was at this time I discovered Peter Kreeft, who sometimes still gets a mention around here. He helped to walk me logically through the process. I think I read nearly every book he wrote up to that point. Kreeft introduced me to Thomas, and the rest, as they say...

However, I never really cottoned on to much of the "spooky" end of things. The Eucharist simply seemed to me a no-brainer. Of course the bread can become the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Son of God and feed us. What's the problem? Angels, demons, miracles, walking on water, bilocation, incorruptibility, liquefaction... it all just seemed perfectly sensible. Hardly even worth remarking on.

Where I drew the line was with all this "charismatic" nonsense. One could not simply work oneself up into a lather of emotional fervour and call it spirituality or "gifts of the Spirit". It was nothing but a bunch of enthusiastic, self-generated, egotism and pseudo-mystical rubbish. When one was praying, one did not get "words". I thought then, and still think even more now, that such things betrayed a childish (not, mind you, "child-like") faith, and the people who indulged in these festivals of egoism needed to grow up.

Thus, imagine my surprise when I was sitting in my usual back pew at St. Mary's Basilica one afternoon, reading my Breeve, and the name "Anne Catherine Emmerich" suddenly popped in there. I had heard the name of course, she was one of these visionaries. Beyond that, I thought it very suspect. But there it was: unmistakable.

I did not immediately go out and buy the book, however. It was not for a few years that I started just happening across her stuff now and then, here and there, as you do.

Many years after that, I was living in Toronto in the house of the late, great John Muggeridge, and we were having our little evening sit-down. It was our little unofficial prayer time. We would say the Rosary, and I would read aloud something spiritual of his choosing. One day, the book was the Dolorous Passion of Our Lord by Anne Catherine Emmerich. We got to the bit where she said that the angel told her that Stan would be released "50 or 60 years before the year of Our Lord 2000" and John, who had been sitting back in his chair listening with his eyes closed, suddenly sat up and said, "What was that?!" "I'll just read it again, shall I?" "Yes please."

After that, I started paying more attention to her.