Reality Checks All Round!
The wife of a Roman servant and mother of seven who willingly suffered in body and soul to expiate sins, Blessed Anna Maria Taigi (1769-1837) is one of the most remarkable of all our extraordinary saints. For the last forty-seven years of her life, Our Lord placed before her a golden globe brighter than the sun but which she could look into without wincing. "I have granted thee a gift that none of [My servants] ever had," Our Lord told her. "It is a mirror that I show thee, in order that thou mayest know good and evil."
Surrounded by a crown of thorns, this sun emitted rays within which Blessed Anna could see tableaux of the present and future, sometimes by representations of reality, sometimes by symbols. She read therein the most secret thoughts of souls and saw the enormity of sin: whether her own slight imperfections or the aberrant behaviour of decadent and ungrateful men. The latter were of such magnitude in her day, especially in Rome, that they drew down God’s avenging justice by way of revolutions, riots, massacres, battles, earthquakes, plagues and other great tribulations through which He was to purify the Church.
She saw all this in detail, as also the peoples of distant lands - the cause of the scourges threatening each nation and their remedies, including the disorders of every class of society: clerical, aristocratic or lowly. Sought out by popes, cardinals, nobles and peasants, her prophecies were fulfilled precisely time and again.
Among much else, such as curing the sick with a touch and knowing the remedies for illnesses that baffled doctors, she knew, too, with certainty, how and when individuals would die and the fate of the departed: the duration and the cause of their expiation.
In this latter regard, the deposition of Anna’s confessor taken under oath during the beatification processs (one of the most comprehensive ever conducted) includes this quote:
This recalls what Our Lord Himself told Blessed Anna on 31 August 1816 while she was in ecstasy following Holy Communion: "Know that at this moment souls are falling into hell like flakes of snow. Let them weep and sob in their bitterness of soul. Rome can no longer be called holy Rome. Thou thyself dost see it, see it clearly with thine own eyes, how they live like beasts... It will be necessary for me to overwhelm them on account of their sins."
A few cautionary points: Firstly, in this instance the Beata’s vision of the greater number of lost souls apparently referred to the city of Rome at a particular period in time. Secondly, even if it had seemed to be universally applicable, the Church does not take count of all prophecies and visions of saints, even the most pre-eminent. It is prudent to keep such distinctions and balancing factors in mind whenever discussions turn to who and/or how many are saved based on this or that private revelation.
Nonetheless, as St. Leonard demonstrates herein, Blessed Anna’s sobering account tallies with the message of Holy Scripture, the teachings of the Church Fathers and the visions and views of numerous saints and theologians. As Lent draws nigh, this consensus is a timely clarion call to meditation on the Four Last Things - Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell - and the urgency of conversion!
First and foremost, we might reflect on the greater account we will have to render to God for failing to live up to the demands of the One True Faith; for all the graces we have squandered despite our privileged access to the Sacraments during the course of our lives. Let us ponder St. Teresa’s vision of hell - its lowest depths reserved for damned Catholics - and shake off our worldly torpor!
As for non-Catholics, the rampant false ecumenism and easy-going religious indifference of our day has established the heresy of "universal salvation" in the hearts and minds of many - lulling Protestants and non-Christians (and their Catholic relatives and friends) into a sense of false security based on the erroneous belief that all are saved regardless of the natural law or membership of the Catholic Church. Indeed, our December edition, which documented the great St. Pio’s confidence that two baptised Protestants and an unbaptised Jew had been saved, may seem to have encouraged that view. Yet in no way does that account point to an assured and effortless salvation that sidelines the necessity of the Church. It merely reveals the same Divine Mercy related in the article "An Extraordinary Grace" [Feb. 2006] - when Jesus responded to the pleadings of His Blessed Mother on behalf of a dying Jewess, saving her from hell at the eleventh hour by revealing to her the truth of Catholicism and the need for Baptism. That singular grace, however, took a lifetime of intercessory prayer by the woman’s son, a convert and priest! Similarly, Padre Pio’s three souls enjoyed the rare advantage of his personal intercession and expiatory suffering on their behalf.
The salvific gateway is "narrow" enough [Mat 7:13-14] without non-Catholics and non-Christians gambling their eternity on such extraordinary intercessions and last minute reprieves. Or banking on problematic appeals at Judgment to "invincible ignorance" of the manifest claims of the Church ("the pillar and ground of the truth" - 1Tim 3:15). Or staking all on "sincerity." For despite Modernist propaganda to the contrary, their Heavenly Father does not want ‘sincere Hindus’, ‘sincere Protestants’, ‘sincere Jews’, ‘sincere humanists’ and ‘sincere snake-worshippers’. That is just a diabolic ruse to fill the sulphurous caverns of hell! Rather, since Catholicism is Jesus, God desires that everyone on earth be a Catholic - an obedient one, like His Son. And so the ordinary and surest means of avoiding damnation and entering through the narrow gate that leads to eternal life is by adherence to Catholicism (Jesus) and its (His) teachings.
In sum, it’s time for reality checks all round