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Monday, 27 May 2013

"Heralds of the Second Coming" by Stephen Walford

Our Lady, the Divine Mercy and the Popes of the Marian Era from Blessed Pius IX to Benedict XVI.

Stephen Walford focusses principally on the "Popes of the Marian era" (an expression he explains and justifies) their teaching on the end times and, more particularly, our response to the present time in which many of the signs of the end are present. The signs which previous Popes and saints discerned, sometimes in graphic language, are far more evident today than in their times which seem morally healthy and placid by comparison

As he says at the end of chapter three:
The popes of the Marian era, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and the intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, carefully discerned the signs of the times and courageously proclaimed the reality that for the Church, its final, great struggle against the forces of evil was at hand. By recognising the maternal mediation of Mary, they placed before the faithful the image of the Hodegetria, she who "shows the way" to the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ. In Mary Mos Holy, the Roman Pontiffs perceived the role of the Mother of the Second Advent, who would stay at the foot of the Cross, dispensing the graces necessary for the church to accept its own crucifixion.
Interestingly, there is a chapter on the eschatological teaching of Vatican II. This is overlooked today, and it is true that the teaching of the Council on this question as on many others, was hijacked in the aftermath of the Council to the extent that "eschatological" became a buzz-word, used to excuse aberrations in dogmatic and spiritual theology. However Walford is right to highlight the genuine teaching of the Council documents in their reference to "the final age of the world." The second half of the book is devoted to Blessed Pope John Paul, with an epilogue on Pope Benedict.

This is a useful contribution to eschatology, collecting material from a variety of modern sources and offering a balanced reflection on how we should live in the Church at times of crisis. It is helpful both in giving a reasoned rejection of millenarianist approaches to eschatology, and in reminding us that in the Church we are ever focussed on the second coming of Christ.

Heralds of the Second Coming: Our Lady, the Divine Mercy, and the Popes of the Marian Era from Blessed Pius IX to Benedict XVI
has a Foreword by Cardinal Ivan Dias, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. It is published by Angelico Press and is available from Amazon UK for £10.95 (link below.)

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