Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen first uttered those words in 1974.
“The world in which we live is the battleground of the Church. I believe that we are now living at the end of Christendom. It is the end of Christendom but not the end of Christianity. What is Christendom? It is the political, economic, moral, social, legal life of a nation as inspired by the gospel ethic. That is finished. Abortion, the breakdown of the family, dishonesty, even the natural virtues upon which the supernatural virtues are based, are being discredited. Christianity is not at an end. But we are at the end of Christendom. And I believe the sooner we face up to this fact, the sooner we will be able to solve many of our problems.
Thirty or forty years ago it was easy to be a Christian. The very air we breathed was Christian. Bicycles could be left on front lawns; doors could be left unlocked. Suddenly all this has changed; now we have to affirm our faith. We live in a world that challenges us. And many fall away. Dead bodies float downstream; it takes live bodies to resist the current. And this is our summons.
We will have to begin to be a different Church. We are for the moment on the trapeze. We are in between the death of an old civilization and culture, and the swing to the beginning of the new. These are the times in which we live. They are therefore wonderful days, marvelous; we should thank God we live in times like these.”
From the Writings of Luisa Piccarreta:
Vol 5 – October 12, 1903
Meanings of the crowning of thorns.
This morning I saw my adorable Jesus in my interior, crowned with thorns, and in seeing Him in that state I said to Him: ‘My sweet Lord, why did your head envy your scourged body which had suffered so much and had shed so much blood; and as your head did not want to be outdone by your body, which had been honored with the frieze of suffering, You Yourself incited your enemies to crown You with such a painful and tormenting crown of thorns?’
And Jesus: “My daughter, this crowning of thorns contains many meanings, and as much as I may speak, there is always much left to be said. Indeed, the reason why my head wanted to be honored by having, not a general share, but its distinct and special portion of suffering, and its own shedding of blood, almost competing with the body – is almost incomprehensible to the created mind. The reason is that it is the head that unites the whole body and the whole of the soul, in such a way that, without the head, the body is nothing; so much so, that one can live without the other members, but it is impossible to live without the head, because it is the essential part of the whole of man. This is so true, that if the body sins or does good, it is the head that directs it, since the body is nothing other than an instrument. Therefore, since my head was to give back regimen and dominion to men, and earn for them that new heavens of graces and new worlds of truths might enter into the human minds, rejecting the new hells of sins because of which men reach the point of rendering themselves vile slaves of vile passions; wanting to crown the whole human family with glory, with honor and with decorum , I wanted to crown and honor my Humanity first, though with a most painful crown of thorns, symbol of the immortal crown which I was giving back to creatures, taken away by sin.
In addition, the crown of thorns means that there is no glory and honor without thorns; that there can never be dominion over passions and acquisition of virtues without feeling oneself being pricked deep inside one’s flesh and spirit, and that true reigning is in the giving of oneself by the pricks of mortification and of sacrifice.
Moreover, these thorns signified that I am the true and only King, and only one who constitutes Me King of her heart enjoys peace and happiness, and I constitute her queen of my own Kingdom. So, all those rivulets of blood which poured out from my head were as many little streams which bound the human intelligence to the knowledge of my sovereignty over them.”
But who can say all that I feel in my interior? I don’t have the words to express it. Even more, the little I have said, it seems to me that I said it disconnected; and I believe it must be so in speaking about the things of God – as high and sublime as is the way in which one speaks, since He is uncreated and we are created, one cannot speak about God but in stammering.
Vol 13 -May 1, 1921
The human will casts dissimilarity between Creator and creature. For one who lives in the Divine Will everything is harmony.
Continuing in my usual state, I found myself outside of myself in the midst of a multitude of people; and up high there was the Queen Mama, speaking to that people and crying, so much so that, holding a bunch of roses on Her lap, She wet them with Her tears. I could not understand anything of what She was saying; I could only see that the people wanted to make tumults, and that the Celestial Mama was praying them, crying, to calm down. Then She detached one rose and, pointing to me in the midst of so many people, She threw it to me. I looked at it; the rose was pearled with the tears of my dear Mama, and those tears invited me to pray for the peace of the peoples.
Then, afterwards, I found myself together with my sweet Jesus, and I prayed Him for the peace of the peoples; and He, drawing me to Himself, spoke to me about His Most Holy Will, saying to me: “My daughter, My Will contains the creative power, and just as My Will gave life to all things, so It has the power to destroy them. Now, the soul who lives in my Volition also has the power to give life to good and to give death to evil. In the immensity, she finds herself in the past, and wherever there are voids to my glory, offenses not repaired, love not given to Me, she fills the voids of my glory, she makes for Me the most beautiful reparations, and she gives Me love for all. In My Will, she diffuses herself in the present, she extends to the future centuries, and everywhere and for everyone she gives Me that which Creation owes Me.
In the soul who lives in My Will I hear the echo of my power, of my love, of my sanctity; in all my acts I hear the echo of her own. She runs everywhere – before Me, behind Me, and even inside of Me. Wherever My Will is, there is hers; as my acts multiply themselves, hers also multiply. Only the human will puts disharmony between creature and Creator; one single act of human will puts chaos between Heaven and earth, and casts dissimilarity between Creator and creature. On the other hand, for one who lives in My Will everything is harmony; her things and mine harmonize together; I am with her on earth, and she is with Me in Heaven – one is the interest, one the life, one the Will.
See, because Creation has not moved from My Will in anything, the sky is always azure and starry, the sun is full of
light and heat. The whole Creation is in perfect harmony; one thing is support of the other. It is always beautiful, fresh, young; It never grows old, nor does It lose one shadow of Its beauty; on the contrary, It seems that each day It rises as more majestic, giving a sweet enchantment to all creatures. So would man have been, had he not withdrawn from My Will; and so are the souls who live in My Will: they are the new heavens, the new suns, the new earth – all flowery; even more, more varied with beauty and enchantment.”
Vol 17 -February 15, 1925
The Divine Will in Heaven is Confirming, Beatifying, Bearer of Happiness, Divinizer. On earth, in the soul who lives in It, It is operating, and forms eternal waves which overwhelm everything and place everything It contains in motion.
I was abandoning all of myself in the Most Holy Will of God, and in this total and full abandonment I felt a new heaven within me, an air all divine, which infused new life in me. And my always lovable Jesus, moving in my interior, seemed to be stretching out His arms toward me, to receive me and hide me within Himself, placing me under this new heaven of His Will which, by His grace, had formed in me. With great contentment, I breathed the balsamic and sweet air of His Most Holy Will, and, taken by amazement, I said: ‘My Love, my Jesus, how beautiful is the heaven of your Will! How enjoyable it is to be under It. O! how refreshing and salutary is Its celestial air!’ And Jesus, pressing me more tightly to Himself, told me: “Daughter of My Will, each act in My Will is a new heaven which extends above the head of the soul – one more beautiful than the other. The air of these heavens is divine, and brings with itself sanctity, love, light, fortitude, and contains all tastes together. This is why one feels a balsamic and sweet air. My Will in Heaven is confirming, beatifying, bearer of happiness and all-pervasive, transformer and divinizer of everything within Itself. On the other hand, in the soul who possesses these new heavens of My Will on earth, My Will is operating, and as It operates, It delights in extending new heavens. Therefore, My Will works and operates more in the pilgrim soul than in the Celestial Jerusalem. Up there, the works of the Saints are accomplished – there is nothing left to do; while here, My Will has always something to do in the soul in whom It reigns. This is why It wants everything for Itself, nor does It want to leave even one act to her human will – because It wants to do much, and for every act It were to surrender to the human will, It would fail to extend one more heaven, and it would be one work less for It. Ah! you do not know what happens in the soul when she gives My Will all the freedom to operate within her, and the soul operates in My Will!
Imagine the sea when the waves rise up as so powerful and high, that the power of the waves transports not only the waters, but also the fish – up high, in such a way that in those waves one can see, carried by the power of the storm, how the fish also have come out from the bottom of the sea, from their everyday dwelling, to rise up high together with the waves. The waves have overwhelmed them, and they have not been able to resist their power; while, without the power of the waves, they are unable to go out of their harbor. O! if the sea had a power without limit, it would make all the water overflow from the bed of the sea, forming gigantic waves, with all the fish overwhelmed within them. But what the sea cannot do, because it is limited in its power, My Will does. As It makes the acts of the soul Its own by operating in her, It forms Its eternal waves in her; and within these waves It overwhelms everything. In these waves, one can see what my Humanity did, the works of my Celestial Mama, those of all Saints, and everything that the very Divinity did.
Everything is placed in motion. My Will is more than sea; Our works and those of the Saints can be symbolized by the fish which live in the sea. When My Will operates in the soul, and also outside of the soul, everything which is present in It, moves and rises; all works place themselves in order, to repeat for Us glory, love, adoration. They pass before Us, as though in a parade, saying to Us: ‘We are your works. Great and powerful You are, because You made us so beautiful.’ My Will encloses everything that is beautiful and good, and when It operates, It leaves nothing behind, so that nothing of what is Ours may be missing in that act, and so that Our glory may be complete. And there is nothing to be surprised about, because it is the eternal operating that is carried out in the soul. Therefore, the operating of My Will can be called eternal wave, which overwhelms Heaven and earth as though in one single point, and then diffuses over all, as bearer of a divine act. O! how Heaven delights when It sees the Eternal Will operate in the soul! In fact, since their works are confirmed in the Divine Will in Heaven, they see their works flow within that divine act, and feel their glory, happiness and joys, being redoubled. Therefore, since you are the little daughter of my Supreme Volition, I recommend to you: leave each act of yours prey to the eternal waves of My Will, so that, as these waves reach the foot of Our Throne in Heaven, We may confirm you more and more as Our true daughter of Our Will, and We may grant you charters of grace for your brothers and Our children.”