Apostles of the End Times

By Peter Bannister, MTh, MPhil

FR MICHEL RODRIGUE AND THE “APOSTLES OF THE END TIMES”  

In this article I would like to attempt to offer some clarifications and hopefully  lower the temperature somewhat with respect to the ongoing controversy  surrounding Fr Michel Rodrigue and his alleged revelations. I will be  particularly focusing on a specific term which seems to have created much  confusion, and to which two Canadian bishops, Mgr Gilles Lemay [1]http://www.diocese-amos.org/sn_uploads/fck/FABL/2020-09-03-Open-letter-from-Bishop Gilles-Lemay-about-Father-Michel-Rodrigue.pdf and Bp Robert Bourgon [2]http://hearstdiocese.com/diocese/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/2020-09-9-Letter-to-the faithful-from-Bishop-Bourgon.pdf, have recently objected in print, at least as it has been  employed in the purported messages to and presentations by Fr Rodrigue.  This is the expression “apostle of the end times” which, for those unfamiliar  with Catholic mystical literature, may strike some readers as grandiose,  sensationalist or even “millenarian” in tone. The term is certainly one with  definite eschatological overtones that may make some readers – and some  churchmen – understandably nervous, but it is my conviction that when  properly interpreted in the light of approved mystical Tradition, the words  “apostle(s) of the end times” take on both a conceptual coherence and a theological solidity which ought to relativize fears regarding the essential  message of Fr Michel. In saying this, it ought nonetheless to be emphasized  that none of the following constitutes irrefutable proof of any supernatural  inspiration behind his supposed revelations, which is a separate question that  cannot be conclusively answered here. 

THE APOSTLE OF THE END TIMES”? 

Contrary to what some may think, in appropriating the term “apostle of the  end times”, Fr Michel Rodrigue should not be taken as arrogating any kind of  special status or honour to himself, and still less should any implications of exclusivity be read into its use. To my knowledge, the only occasion on which  the Canadian priest has ever referred to himself as “the apostle of the end  times” (to quote Bishop Bourgon’s letter, which seems to accuse Fr Michel of  self-aggrandizement on this point) was when describing his investiture as  abbot of the Fraternité Apostolique St Benoit-Joseph Labre. During the  ceremony, Fr Rodrigue claims to have heard the Virgin say “I call the apostle  of the end times”. Regardless of whether this claim is grounded in a genuine mystical communication, the wording itself is not necessarily problematic in  context. It can justifiably be interpreted as nothing more than an indication of  a particular apostolic role among a small community of people and with  respect to a function in leadership (just as if, in the presence of a number of  individuals including just one member of the clergy, someone said “I call on  the priest”). Perhaps more importantly, the clear sense that emerges from the  broad sweep of Fr Rodrigue’s teachings, as opposed to isolated remarks, is  that the apostles of the end-times are a group of believers, a groundswell  arising within the Church. For example, a message dated January 3, 2019 said  to have been communicated to him by the Archangel Michael finishes with  the words “we pray with the Mother of God for the apostles [plural] of the last  days to rise.” 

THE ORIGINS OF THE TERM “APOSTLES OF THE END TIMES” AND  ITS USE IN CATHOLIC MYSTICAL TRADITION 

ST LOUIS-MARIE GRIGNION DE MONTFORT, MELANIE CALVAT  AND ST HANNIBAL DI FRANCIA 

For those unfamiliar with the term itself, the expression “apostles of the end  [or latter] times” (apôtres des derniers temps) originated in the Treatise of True  Devotion to the Blessed Virgin by the Breton evangelist St Louis-Marie  Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716), whose thought exerted a decisive  influence on the pontificate of Pope St John Paul II, as emblematized by his  appropriation of the apostolic motto Totus tuus: “I am all yours, and all that I  have is yours, O most loving Jesus, through Mary, your most holy Mother”  (Treatise n° 233). St Louis-Marie’s fiery description of the apostles of the latter  times, arising in the period prior to the Lord’s Second Coming, when Mary’s  role in the history of redemption will be especially honoured, remains one of  his most well-known passages: 

They will be ministers of the Lord who, like a flaming fire, will enkindle  everywhere the fires of divine love. They will become, in Mary’s powerful  hands, like sharp arrows, with which she will transfix her enemies. They will  be as the children of Levi, thoroughly purified by the fire of great tribulations  and closely joined to God. […] They will be like thunder-clouds flying through  the air at the slightest breath of the Holy Spirit. […] They will be true  apostles of the latter times to whom the Lord of Hosts will give eloquence  and strength to work wonders and carry off glorious spoils from his enemies  […] [T]hey will be true disciples of Jesus Christ, imitating his poverty, his  humility, his contempt of the world and his love. […] They will have the two edged sword of the word of God in their mouths and the blood-stained  standard of the Cross on their shoulders. They will carry the crucifix in their  right hand and the rosary in their left, and the holy names of Jesus and Mary  on their heart. The simplicity and self-sacrifice of Jesus will be reflected in  their whole behaviour. Such are the great men who are to come. By the will of  God Mary is to prepare them to extend his rule over the impious and unbelievers. But when and how will this come about? Only God knows. For  our part we must yearn and wait for it in silence and in prayer: “I have waited  and waited.”  ((St Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Treatise, ch. 1, nos. 56-59) )

The manuscript of this extraordinary and prophetic work remained hidden  for over a century after de Montfort’s death, with the expression “apostles of  the end-times” first re-appearing in the writings of Mélanie Calvat, visionary  of the approved apparitions of La Salette on September 19, 1846, four years  after the discovery of the manuscript of St Louis-Marie in 1842. 

When discussing Mélanie Calvat it should be acknowledged that we need to  proceed with caution. It is true that the Catholic Church has never accepted the “secret” of La Salette – in which the words “apostles of the end times”  appear – as Mélanie published it in Lecce in Italy in 1878-1879, over 30 years  after the church-ratified events of 1846. When not only Fr Michel Rodrigue  but also other well-known Catholic speakers frequently quote from the secret as if it were fully approved, a certain degree of nuance is therefore undoubtedly required. Even the eminent philosopher Jacques Maritain, who  argued (unsuccessfully) in favour of the literal authenticity of Mélanie’s  “secret” in a personal meeting with Pope Benedict XV in 1918, recognized in  later life that the translation of a transcendental message into human  language is a complex and mysterious matter in which the recipient’s mental  faculties and subjectivity are inevitably involved. 

This having been said, however, three things pertaining to the notion of the  “apostles of the end times” are a matter of historical fact rather than  theological speculation as to the extent of Mélanie Calvat’s supernatural  inspiration. Firstly, writing in 1876, Mélanie certainly claimed that the Mother  of God had given her instructions in 1846 for the creation of a new religious  order called the apostles of the end times. Secondly, at a private audience with  Pope Leo XIII in 1878, the Pontiff encouraged Mélanie to pursue the creation  of the order according to the rule supposedly given to her by the Virgin Mary.  Thirdly, St Hannibal Mary di Francia (1851-1927) [3]St Hannibal was also responsible for disseminating the writings of Italian mystic Servant of  God Luisa Piccarreta (1865-1947). It was his canonization in 1994 which opened the way for a  renewed investigation into her voluminous writings after nearly six decades of Vatican imposed silence concerning them. was assisted by Mélanie in  the foundation of the Rogationist order in Sicily in 1897 and its female  counterpart, the Daughters of the Divine Zeal of the Heart of Jesus, one of the congregations’ aims being to call forth, through prayer, the apostles of the end  times.

REFERENCES TO THE “APOSTLES OF THE END-TIMES ” BY MYSTICS  OF RECENT DECADES 

Turning to our own times, it is important to note that Fr Michel Rodrigue is  far from being the only alleged mystic to have used the term in recent decades;  at least seven others can be identified as having attributed it to Jesus and/or  the Virgin in their alleged messages. 

The first appears to have been the Italian mystic Giuliana Buttini Crescio  (1921-2003), virtually unknown outside specialist circles but the author of a vast corpus of an estimated 38 000 manuscript pages of supposed locutions,  with the expression apostoli degli ultimi tempi appearing in a series of  messages received 1973 in 1974. [4] http://www.amicidigiuliana.org/volume-i/messaggi-106-222Far better-known is Don Stefano Gobbi,  founder of the Marian Movement of Priests, who was regularly invited by  Pope St John Paul II to con-celebrate Mass in the Pontiff’s private chapel; the  term appears initially in Don Gobbi’s writings on November 1, 1981 in a  locution attributed to Our Lady, addressed to members of the MMP gathered  in Puebla in Mexico (n° 236): 

By your prayer, your suffering and your personal immolation, I will bring my  plan to completion. I will hasten the time of the triumph of my Immaculate  Heart in the Reign of Jesus, who will come to you in glory. Thus a new era of  peace will begin and you will at last see new heavens and a new earth. (…) I  have great designs -on you: respond, each and all, with generosity! In this  extraordinary Cenacle, I have obtained for you from the Father, through Jesus,  the gift of the Holy Spirit. He will transform you into ‘apostles of these  last times.’[…] 

While Mélanie Calvat remains to some extent a controversial figure, much light has been  shed on her life and times in recent decades following the 1999 re-discovery by French  researcher Michel Corteville of the original written depositions of the “secret” of La Salette by  Mélanie and her fellow seer Maximin Giraud in 1851 for Pope Pius IX. Copious historical  documentation, including Mélanie’s proposed rule for the order of the Apostles of the End  Times, can be found in the book Découverte du secret de La Salette by Corteville and René  Laurentin (Paris: Fayard, 2002). A recent attempt by Paul-Etienne Pierrecourt in the book De  la Salette à Diana Vaughan (Editions Rémi, 2020) to discredit Corteville’s work appears to have  gained a certain traction in French traditionalist circles, but belongs more to the genre of  conspiracy theory than to serious scholarship (Pierrecourt is for example convinced that  “Diana Vaughan”, famously held up by the Church at the end of the 19th century as a prize  convert from Freemasonry, actually existed, whereas it has been long known that she was the  fictional creation of the author Léo Taxil). 

A message (n° 533) received on December 8, 1994, Feast of the Immaculate  Conception, Don Gobbi in Santiago in the Dominican Republic strikingly  develops and contextualizes the notion of these “apostles ”: 

Precisely on this day, you are celebrating here the five hundredth anniversary  of the beginning of the evangelization of all this great continent of America.  After nearly two thousand years since the first announcing of the Gospel,  humanity has again become pagan. I am the Mother of the second  evangelization. Mine is the task of forming the apostles of the second  evangelization. During these years, I have formed you with particular care  and through the gift of my words, to be the apostles of these last times.  Apostles of the last times, because you must announce to all, to the very ends  of the earth, the Gospel of Jesus, in these days of the great apostasy. In the  great darkness which has descended upon the world, spread the Light of Christ  and of his divine Truth. Apostles of the last times, because you must give to all  the very life of God, by means of grace which you communicate with the  sacraments of which you are the ministers. And thus you spread the fragrance  of purity and of holiness in these times of great perversion. Apostles of the last  times, because you are being called to bring down the dew of the merciful love  of Jesus upon a world parched by the inability to love and menaced more and  more with hatred, violence and war. Apostles of the last times, because you  must announce the closely approaching return of Jesus in glory, who will lead  humanity into the new times, when at last there will be seen new heavens and  a new earth. Proclaim to all his forthcoming return: ‘Maranatha! Come, Lord  Jesus!’ 

To anyone familiar with the themes emphasized by Fr Michel Rodrigue in his  presentations, the continuity with this message of Don Gobbi ought to be self evident. The same is true for at least five other alleged mystics having used  the term “apostles of the end times”: 

Luz Amparo Cuevas (1986), seer of the apparitions of El Escorial near  Madrid in Spain where, although the apparitions are not formally  approved by the Church, public worship is authorized. 

Agustín del Divino Corazón (Colombia), co-founder of the accredited  congregation of the Servants of Reparation of the Sacred Hearts, whose writings have received the Imprimatur from the diocese of Lurin, and who  has authored a whole book of alleged locutions entitled “Mary, teacher of  the Apostles of the End Times”. Agustín is on record as saying that when  he first “heard” (in the sense of a locution) the words “apostles of the end  times”, they struck him as suspiciously reminiscent of New Age  spirituality, presumably because he was unaware of the completely  orthodox Catholic tradition underpinning the concept.

Luz de Maria de Bonilla (Costa Rica, living in Argentina), Augustinian  Tertiary, whose writings between 2009 and 2019 have received the Imprimatur from Bishop Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara of Esteril, and who  is featured on this website. 

Sulema (El Salvador, living in Quebec), author of three volumes of  locutions published by Swiss specialists in private revelation Editions  Parvis, written/dictated to her in elegant literary French, a language that  Sulema, a first-language Hispanophone, only speaks at a rudimentary  level. Interestingly, the primary reference to the “apostles of the end  times” (August 24, 2012) reproduces several exact expressions from Don  Gobbi’s message n° 533, but in more developed form that does not  suggest plagiarism. 

– Greek Orthodox visionary Vassula Rydén in a 1996 message in the book  True Life in God, subject to a Vatican Notification in 1995 but granted the  Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur in 2005 following the clarification of points of  theological contention during extended individual dialogue between  Vassula and Cardinal Ratzinger of the Congregation for the Doctrine of  the Faith. 

“END-TIME APOSTLE” BY AUTO-SUGGESTION? 

The way in which the “apostles of the end times” are described is remarkably  consistent in all these purported messages, despite the fact that the mystics  concerned, including Fr Michel Rodrigue, demonstrably have little if any  idea of the contents of one another’s supposed revelations. How are we to  explain this convergence? Is it possible that, given his own knowledge of the mystical tradition, Fr Michel is seeing himself as an “apostle of the end times” and generating his revelations by auto-suggestion due to an  unconscious mechanism of wish-fulfillment in relation to the spiritual figures  whom he admires? [5]In a slightly different form, we can see a similar mechanism in operation in the attempts of  certain schismatic groups, such as the SSPX and Archbishop Lefebvre in person to  appropriate certain Marian apparitions (notably those of Quito, Ecuardor to Venerable  Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres (1563-1635), seeing themselves as the fulfillers of the  prophecies associated with the apparitions in question. Put somewhat crudely, is he simply trying to become  another Don Gobbi and generating the requisite material for the role out of  his religious imagination? This is certainly a psychologically plausible  mechanism to which some self-appointed seers (without naming names…)  currently active on the internet may well have succumbed, but there is no  reason why this must be true in Fr Rodrigue’s case. The logical question  would therefore seem to be this: how are we to judge whether he has fallen  into the trap of self-delusion or is having authentic mystical experience? 

One (provisional) answer would appear to lie in trying to identify elements  in his case that cannot be explained by psychological reductionism. One such  element is arguably the simultaneous appearance of alleged revelations  virtually identical to his in sources to which he is evidently unconnected,  especially when these revelations cannot simply be traced back to a common  source in Scripture or Tradition. 

An example of this is a message to Gisella Cardia in Trevignano Romano  dated August 18, 2020 [6]https://www.lareginadelrosario.com/2020/08/messsaggi-agosto-2020.html English  translation: https://www.countdowntothekingdom.com/gisella-cardia-do-not-be-far-from-god – calling the faithful to prepare 3 months of food  reserves, the precise duration mentioned by Fr Michel on a different  continent and in a different language. Given that this message appeared in  Italy months after Fr Michel made a similar appeal, if plagiarism is the  explanation for the convergence, it would logically be the Italian visionary  who would be the suspect. However, in Trevignano Romano the seer’s  locutions are backed up by multiple scientifically unexplained phenomena  documented on film including the “Dance of the Sun” at the apparition site,  in principle impossible to fake; this would seem to diminish the likelihood of  plagiarism on Gisella Cardia’s side. This particular instance of convergence  (and there are several others) therefore remains an unresolved enigma: if  copying is eliminated as an explanation, we are basically left with chance or common supernatural inspiration as the alternatives between which the  reader must judge. 

A second objective criterion obviously concerns the fulfilment (or lack of it)  of various predictions made by Fr Michel Rodrigue, especially those where he has mentioned specific dates, Autumn 2020 being the most obvious  example. This is admittedly an extremely bold – or possibly foolhardy – move  on his part, as if the predicted events do not materialize this will surely reveal  him to be unreliable as a prophetic voice (unless there is some credible  evidence that the events have been staved off by concerted prayer on a major  scale). [7] It should however be remembered that all prophecies dealing with scenarios in which  human free will plays a part are by definition conditional. However, to those who have been following his words for any length  of time, certain time-dependent statements made by him in the past – notably  the prediction towards the end of last year that Christmas 2019 would be the  last in normal conditions, and that world events would accelerate after  December 25, have proved uncannily accurate. The resurgence of covid-19  after a summer lull also corresponds closely to a prediction made by Fr  Rodrigue several months ago. Only time will tell whether these should  simply be regarded as “random hits”, the result of astute guesswork, or the fruit of genuine supernatural inspiration, but given the timeline that Fr  Michel has outlined, events will at least tell us sooner rather than later. One  possible strategy for those readers uncertain as to how to evaluate his words  might therefore be to suspend judgment at this point, returning to them in  early 2021 when things ought logically to be clearer. 

CONCLUSION 

Bishop Bourgon’s letter concerning Fr Michel concludes with the words  “I pray for all the faithful who may have experienced moments of anguish in  the face of Father Rodrigue’s words and presentations.” Such a prayer is of  course understandable, and to be echoed on a pastoral level, but it does beg  at least two questions. 

Firstly, it has to be asked as to whether the anguish is the direct result of Fr  Michel’s communications or whether the latter have simply struck a raw  nerve in already vulnerable individuals whose reading of private revelation  is at least partially motivated by existing personal insecurity or fear of the  future. Particularly as he and many other seers in the “international  prophetic consensus” have consistently reminded us that, in the words of  Psalm 91, God is our “refuge and fortress”. 

Secondly, at the risk of sounding blunt, which is objectively more anxiety inducing: the eschatological presentations of Fr Michel Rodrigue or the  desperate reality faced every day by thousands of millions of people in the  world, particularly outside the industrialized nations? A reality marked both  by the “cry of the poor” and the “cry of the earth”, by spiralling violence of  all kinds, increasing totalitarianism, religious persecution on a massive scale,  family breakdown, crippling inequality, major population displacement and  ecological catastrophe, all steadily worsening without any obvious indication  of an improvement on the horizon. 

The irony, it would seem, is this: ultimately, as the quotation from Don  Stefano Gobbi’s message n° 533 tells us, it is against this bleak backdrop that  the vocation of the “Apostles of the End Times” (a vocation open to anyone who chooses it) is to be messengers of hope and healing, “called to bring down  the dew of the merciful love of Jesus upon a world parched by the inability to love and  menaced more and more with hatred, violence and war.” Their apostolic role is to “announce the closely approaching return of Jesus in glory, who will lead humanity  into the new times, when at last there will be seen new heavens and a new earth.”  This, it seems to me, is precisely what the likes of Fr Michel Rodrigue aspire  to do, all their human limitations notwithstanding. Their aim is not to create anguish but to inspire Biblically-grounded faith in God’s promises for his  Creation. But to hear the contemporary prophets this way requires a certain  effort and spiritual discipline on the part of the listener, whose prime concern  needs to be the overarching message, not the short-term details, however  shocking they may appear. And that message is ultimately nothing other  than an unpacking of Scripture’s account of salvation history. We cannot say  for certain at this point whether Fr Michel will ultimately be vindicated as an  authentic prophet or join the ranks of many well-meaning but misguided  individuals throughout Christian history who have confused genuine  inspiration with the workings of their own religious imagination. But surely  the appropriate response not only to his words but also to the manifest  turbulence of our times is neither to seek other-worldly escape nor self protection at any cost, but to follow the recommendation of Our Lord himself,  while always remembering that Heaven’s timing is not our own: 

“stand up and raise your heads, for your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28) 

 September 19, 2020 (anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady to Mélanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud in La Salette, September 19, 1846)

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Footnotes

Footnotes

1 http://www.diocese-amos.org/sn_uploads/fck/FABL/2020-09-03-Open-letter-from-Bishop Gilles-Lemay-about-Father-Michel-Rodrigue.pdf
2 http://hearstdiocese.com/diocese/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/2020-09-9-Letter-to-the faithful-from-Bishop-Bourgon.pdf
3 St Hannibal was also responsible for disseminating the writings of Italian mystic Servant of  God Luisa Piccarreta (1865-1947). It was his canonization in 1994 which opened the way for a  renewed investigation into her voluminous writings after nearly six decades of Vatican imposed silence concerning them.
4 http://www.amicidigiuliana.org/volume-i/messaggi-106-222
5 In a slightly different form, we can see a similar mechanism in operation in the attempts of  certain schismatic groups, such as the SSPX and Archbishop Lefebvre in person to  appropriate certain Marian apparitions (notably those of Quito, Ecuardor to Venerable  Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres (1563-1635), seeing themselves as the fulfillers of the  prophecies associated with the apparitions in question.
6 https://www.lareginadelrosario.com/2020/08/messsaggi-agosto-2020.html English  translation: https://www.countdowntothekingdom.com/gisella-cardia-do-not-be-far-from-god
7 It should however be remembered that all prophecies dealing with scenarios in which  human free will plays a part are by definition conditional.
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