What will you look like when you see your soul as God does?
A key question, there.
While a good deal of Christine Watkins’s new work, The Warning: Testimonies and Prophecies of the Illumination of Conscience, pertains to a purported major future event or events that presumably will cause everyone to see into his or her soul, much of the book revolves around the personal accounts of those who, through visions or near-death brushes, have been shown where and how they erred in life.
And it can be — literally — sobering.
None of it should lead to fear or even embarrassment. Jesus always looks into the soul, the testimonies make clear, with an ineffable love. But it is that time of the year for Confession, if we haven’t already partaken of it — as both cleansing and protection.
“In a flash, Jesus began to show me, interiorly, my past sins and their consequences,” testified a man named Vince Sigalia. “I had no control over what was happening to me. I saw every transgression that I had knowingly and unknowingly committed. What I had thought were little things, like yelling at my brother or my mom, weren’t little at all; and my sins of omission, actions I should have taken but didn’t — which I didn’t know were sins at all — struck my heart with tremendous regret and sorrow.”
Mortal sins, as one person put it, cut us right off from the Holy Spirit, while venial sins muddle our communication with Him, as do, indeed, mere “imperfections.”
Another poignant testimony:
That of a nun named Sister Nicolina Kohler, who thought she had her spiritual act rather together.
At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, over the rock of Calvary, “all at once, complete darkness surrounded me,” she says. “I reached my hand down into a pitch-black hole in the rock. At that moment, time was suspended. Whether I stayed in my body or traveled out of it, I do not know.
“I saw the Cross in front of me, even though my eyes were closed. And on the Cross was Jesus, nailed alive, looking directly at me.
“His eyes were soft and kind. They held no condemnation, no desire to complain or punish. They were so filled with love that in the illumination of His gaze, I saw my unworthiness as I never had before. The experience felt so big, so overwhelming. I had been living a lie in so many ways, yet I felt no need to hide or lower my head out of embarrassment or shame. Jesus took off my mask, my outer shell, my painted-on face, so I could see my real self.
“Stripped naked before Him, I didn’t feel demeaned or have to cover up anything. His gaze felt different from anything I’d know before.
“I saw my pride. I saw my life of betrayal, how much I hurt Jesus and others with each little sin. It all added up to an attitude, a stand, a lifestyle. I didn’t see specific moments, rather a larger picture, which made it more horrible. He remained on the Cross in terrible pain, as His penetrating, all-loving stare infused me with interior knowledge. I knew everything about myself at once, and all was painfully clear. He showed me my soul as He saw it, bringing into focus the ugliness of my sins with all my excuses erased, so He could pull me straight to His bosom without any lies or barriers, and I could rest my head on His Heart without any fear or pride.”
A number of the testimonies attest not just to blatant sins like adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lust, hatefulness, and masturbation, but also overindulging in food or drink (careful, this time of year!); judging others; and wrongdoings that we may slough off as inconsequential (not even confessing them; they may not be inconsequential to Him!).
A good practice every day, especially in the morning and evening: asking God in Jesus’s Name and Light to illuminate our own souls.
There are too many examples of transgressions cited in the book to here synopsize. Says another who testifies, Marino Restrepo — a Colombian who had his experience of illumination during a hedonistic lifestyle and in the end a kidnapping by drug dealers — “We are living in the darkest spiritual age humanity has ever experienced, and the Lord told me it’s going to get darker. Because of advances in medicine and the health sciences, there have never been as many physically beautiful people as there are today; but there have never been as many ugly-looking souls. [Yet], the world has also never been as bright as it is now, and it is going to get brighter. The Lord is shining on us more than ever because our world is losing its light.”
Thus, no matter what you have or haven’t done, there is no need for despair, just for correction. If, indeed, it is true that there is more evil than ever, if really we are at a worse state than in ancient Rome, or during parts of the Middle Ages (not to mention the centuries Before Christ), we also are being given a prime, invaluable opportunity to shine in that darkness; we have in the Church all the tools we need to navigate through the obstacle course of life.
“Once back in New York, I became acutely aware of the presence of evil,” says Christina Georgotas. “Just as suddenly as I had understood that God existed, I was made aware that Satan existed, as well. Now I started to see his mark all around me. It seemed as if New York City had been created as a distraction to keep us from seeing God. People were bombarded with a million different messages, advertisements, superficialities, pop culture icons, movies, bars, strip clubs, satanic images, obsessions, fears, lusts, jobs, money… Satan was trying to lure and distract humanity in so many ways, and people were oblivious to his tactics — slaves to the fake world around them.”
In dark times, when there is so much temptation (and deception, including among God’s own, who follow false prophets), there is also, then, special illumination. Let us pray for ours. Pray every day also for how you may be deceived. Pray for how, in Heaven, you are perceived. In the afterlife, we’ll be surprised at how we were fooled by various things and people. Only Christ grants us clarity of vision.
Yes, this book has a lot about prophecy in it — the future of the world, a coming “warning,” a grand “illumination.” But the important messages are in these personal experiences.
“I am often asked how I have changed since [my near fatal] accident,” says a priest named Father Steven Scheier. “While I will never be able to adequately answer that question, I can say that I am more accepting of the behavior of others and less judgmental. I have to discern and judge good and evil, but I can’t condemn.
“And my sense of the sacred has altered drastically.
“I see clearly now how we waste an incredible amount of precious time on frivolous, stupid things. I cannot turn the radio on in the car anymore. I have to be praying, saying the Rosary, doing something productive. I’m unable to take a vacation, so to speak, or just lie on the beach. That, to me, is a waste of time. I’d rather make a retreat with God.”
Of course, we can pray at a beach — and especially, we can pray for everyone there (especially those less than modestly clad!). We can exercise our bodies — temples of the Holy Spirit. We can meditate in nature — God’s “first temple.” We can contemplate the value of sufferings, large and small.
While this is Christmastime — not Easter — as another testimony points out, quoting 1 Corinthians 1:18: “The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the Power of God.”
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“How God will judge my life I know not, but I trust he will see me with mercy and compassion. I am only certain there will be three surprises in Heaven. First of all, I will see some people whom I never expected to see. Second, there will be a number whom I expected who will not be there. And – even relying on God’s mercy – the biggest surprise of all may be that I will be there. When the record of any human life is set down, there are three pairs of eyes who see it in a different light. 1. As I see it. 2. As others see it. As God sees it.” (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen)
Lord, help us to focus on You as Fulton Sheen did so that we may be humble when looking upon ourselves, so that others will see You when they look upon us, and so we can see our lives as You see us.
Prayer for Canonization, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be]