Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.
Mount Carmel in the Holy Land has been a place of spiritual significance since biblical times. It is where the prophet Elijah took on the prophets of Baal and dared them to prove that their god was superior to YHWH. They failed, he won and slit all their throats (messy business being a prophet) thus claiming Mount Carmel as a place where the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob would be worshipped. This is also the place from where Elijah spotted the tiny storm cloud in the distant horizon that signaled the end of a devastating drought in Israel. For Christians that cloud symbolizes Mary, who would eventually come to Israel and bring forth the Savior who would end Israel’s spiritual drought. Hence she is called Star of the Sea.
Today the Carmelites still have a monastery on Mount Carmel dedicated to the Mother of God who when she gave St. Simon Stock the brown scapular promised that her faithful children would be protected come the final judgment. The brown scapular is an outward sign for those who have been marked by the seal of the living God. It is a mantle of grace and love. Mount Carmel itself has always been a place of beauty and fertility in the midst of the barren wilderness of the Holy Land. Hence the description of Mary as the beautiful and most fruitful flower of Mount Carmel.
On the lower eastern extension of Mount Carmel is a series of hills sometimes referred to as Har-Megeddon that is probably the source of the name Armageddon, the valley where the battle of the last days will begin (Rev 16:16). This is a strategic area as it is a boundary between the Kingdoms of the North and of the South. It would make sense that if Israel were to be invaded this spot would be the location of a great conflict. The scriptures also say that when Mount Carmel withers God’s devastating judgment will come upon the earth (Nahum 1:4).
The biblical timeline regarding the end of days really kicked into gear in 1948 with the return of the Jews to Jerusalem and Israel. Prior to 1948 Israel could not have been attacked since it was not in existence. So just as the prophets foretold, the tribes of Israel were gathered once again from the four corners of the earth and took possession of their land for the final time.
The scriptures describe that at the time of the battle at Armageddon, there will be four great Kingdoms ruling the earth. Simply put they are the Kingdoms of the North, South, East and West. The Northern Kingdom which is probably present day Russia (the descendants of Gog and Magog) in alliance with Persia (Iran); the Southern Kingdom is most likely an alliance of the Arab Muslim nations; the King of the West, which is described as a union of 10 peoples, possibly the European Union where an Anti-Christ will seize control; and the final Kingdom is referred to as the Kings of the East: China and its allies. (Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation). This Kingdom of the East will enter the conflict in the Middle East with an army of 2 million men.
Scripture scholars have always been perplexed as to why China would get embroiled in the Mid-East turmoil. Well recently, since January in fact, the Saudi’s have been negotiating with the Chinese to form an agreement whereby Saudi Arabia would supply China’s oil needs until 2035 in exchange for short-range nuclear missiles (the Dong Feng-21 medium range ballistic missile, apparently the Saudi’s also fear a nuclear Iran). The Saudi’s also would agree to allow Chinese troops on Saudi soil to provide security for oil production in Saudi Arabia. This would explain why and how the Kings of the East come to the Middle East conflict.
The table is certainly set for the world to be engulfed in a catastrophic battle. But we must remember that though the battle will be real and devastating to the earth and its inhabitants, the battle must be fought on with spiritual weapons. Since it is only faith that helps us remain strong and serene in the face of suffering. And as the scriptures foretell many will fall over to worship the Beast just to gain security and survival.
All this reminds us not to be fearful but to trust that we who are marked by the seal of the living God will be spared the devastation to come. This is why we at Mount Carmel Parish in Tempe are so graced to be under the mantle of Mary’s protection and security.
Our Beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel, most fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, holy and singular,
who brought forth the Son of God, still ever remaining a pure virgin, assist us in our necessity!
O Star of the Sea, help and protect us!
Show us that you are our Mother!
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!
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Fr. John Bonavitacola