Saturday, 19 March 2011

It’s the oil, stupid

Something Colonel Gadhafi said on Tuesday seemed to be tipping point for a Western push for military action in Libya. He said: “We do not trust their firms, they have conspired against us...Our oil contracts are going to Russian, Chinese and Indian firms.” In other words, if Gadhafi was to stay in power, Libyan oil would no longer go to Europe but to BRIC (Brazil, China, Russia, India) countries instead.

Currently no less than 85% of Libya’s oil is sold to European Union (EU) countries. Libya is the largest oil economy in Africa with at least 46.5 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. That is 3.5% of global output. It has the potential to dramatically increase its daily output of oil and cost of production is very low at roughly $1.00 per barrel. All of this makes Libyan oil extremely attractive.

It’s interesting to note which countries voted in favour of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution approving “all necessary measures,” including imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya. The resolution was passed with 10 members, including the US, France, the UK and Lebanon, voting in favour and five — Russia, China (both permanent members with veto rights), Brazil, Germany and India — abstaining. Brazil and Germany had voiced their scepticism about military action; but in the case of Russia, India and China other (energy) motivations may have been at play.

It seems pretty obvious to me that oil did play a major role in the decision for Western intervention in Libya. Added to this are concerns about Libya being a major gateway for African migrants to get into Europe. Then there are those US/EU arms firms who likely to profiteer too. But the case for war has been sold as a humanitarian mission to help the beleaguered people of Libya being oppressed by Gadhafi. What about military intervention in Bahrain where the current Sunni ruling elite, along with their Saudi allies, are brutally cracking down on the local Shia population? The difference is Bahrain is ruled by a pro-western Sunni regime, which is home to the US Fifth Fleet, while in Libya everything is up for grabs.

There are major risks associated with implementing a no-fly zone, and it has every chance of backfiring. The big unknown is what Gadhafi will do. His minister of defence has already warned that all aerial and naval traffic in the Mediterranean is at risk, and every civilian and military target is fair game.

STRATFOR, a leading global intelligence company based in the US, warned that “war as a humanitarian action should be undertaken only with the clear understanding that in the end it might cause more suffering than the civil war. It should also be undertaken with the clear understanding that the inhabitants might prove less than grateful, and the rest of the world would not applaud nearly as much as might be liked — and would be faster to condemn the occupier when things went wrong. Indeed, the recently formed opposition council based out of Benghazi — the same group that is leading the calls from eastern Libya for foreign airstrikes against Gadhafi’s air force — has explicitly warned against any military intervention involving troops on the ground.”

There’s something eerily reminiscent of Iraq here. What is ostensibly sold as a humanitarian mission has the underlying signs of strategic interests being the real issue. There is the possibility that things may not go according to plan, which could lead to civilian casualities and a very unstable situation in Libya – something the West may learn to rue.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Our Lady of Akita's dire warning

The epicentre of the earthquake that hit Japan on 11 March is less than 90 miles away from Akita, where Our Lady is purported to have appeared to a Japanese religious sister, Sr Agnes Sasagawa, in 1973. In these apparitions, which received approval from the Catholic Church after many years of investigation, the Virgin Mary foretold a number of future events, including natural disasters even more severe than the latest one, if people do not repent and turn back to God. As Japanese authorities try desperately to avert a catastrophe at a nuclear power plant that was badly damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, I’ve been reviewing Our Lady’s messages to Sr Agnes.

Sr Agnes lost her hearing when she was working as a catechist in the church of Myoko-kogen. Doctors declared her condition as total deafness and incurable. Documents were issued for this reason permitting her state subsidy. Unable to continue working as a catechist, she joined the religious life at the Institute of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist in Akita. It is here she received the stigmata and three messages from the Virgin Mary.

First message

The first message was given on the morning of 6 July 1973 while Sr Agnes was praying in the chapel. She heard a beautiful voice coming from a statue of the Virgin Mary, carved from a single block of wood from a Katsura tree. This was the message Sr Agnes received:
“My daughter, my novice, you have obeyed me well in abandoning all to follow me. Is the infirmity of your ears painful? Your deafness will be healed, be sure. Does the wound of your hand cause you to suffer? Pray in reparation for the sins of men. Each person in this community is my irreplaceable daughter. Do you say well the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist? Then, let us pray it together.”

“Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in Holy Eucharist, I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your Heart, being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father pleading for the coming of His Kingdom.”

“Please receive this humble offering of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls.”

“Most holy Mother of God, never let me be separated from Your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as Your Special Child. Amen.”
When the prayer was finished, the heavenly voice said:
“Pray very much for the pope, bishops, and priests. Since your baptism you have always prayed faithfully for them. Continue to pray very much... very much. Tell your superior all that passed today and obey him in everything that he will tell you. Your superior is wholeheartedly seeking prayers now.”

Second message

The second message, like the first message, was given by the heavenly voice coming from the statue on 3 August 1973. This is the second message:
“My daughter, my novice, do you love the Lord? If you love the Lord, listen to what I have to say to you.”

“It is very important...You will convey it to your superior.”

“Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father. I wish, with my Son, for souls who will repair by their suffering and their poverty for the sinners and ingrates.”

In order that the world might know the wrath of the Heavenly Father towards today’s world, He is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son, many times I have tried to appease the wrath of the Heavenly Father. I have prevented the coming of the chastisement by offering Him the sufferings of His Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and the compassionate souls who console the Heavenly Father…a cohort of victim souls overflowing with love.

“Prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father's anger. I desire this also from your community: please make much of poverty, deepen repentance, and pray amid your poverty in reparation for the ingratitude and insults toward the Lord by so many men. Recite the prayer of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist with awareness of its meaning; put it into practice; offer your life to God in reparation for sins. Let each one endeavour, by making much of one's ability and position, to offer oneself entirely to the Lord.”

“Even in a secular institute prayer is necessary. Already souls who wish to pray are on the way to being gathered together. Without attaching to much attention to the form, be faithful and fervent in prayer to console the Master.”
After a moment, the voice continued:
“Is what you think in your heart true? Are you truly prepared to become the rejected stone: My novice, you who wish to become the pure bride of the Lord. In order that you, the bride, become the spouse worthy of the Holy Bridegroom, make your vows with the hearty readiness to be fastened to the Cross with three nails. These three nails are honest poverty, chastity and obedience. Of the three obedience is the foundation. With total obedience follow your superior. Your superior will understand you well and guide you.”

Third message

The third and last message was also given by the voice coming from the statue on 13 October 1973. This is the third message:
“My dear daughter, listen well to what I have to say to you. And relay my messages to your superior.”

As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Heavenly Father will inflict a great punishment on all humanity. It will definitely be a punishment greater than the Deluge, such as has never been seen before.

Fire will plunge from the sky and a large part of humanity will perish... The good as well as the bad will perish, sparing neither priests nor the faithful. The survivors will find themselves plunged into such terrible hardships that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the sign left by My Son (Eucharist).

Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary pray for the bishops and priests. The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church. One will see cardinals opposing other cardinals... and bishops confronting other bishops.

The priests who venerate me will be scorned and condemned by their confreres; churches and altars will be sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will tempt many priests and religious to leave the service of the Lord.

The demon is trying hard to influence souls consecrated to God. The thought of the perdition of so many souls is the cause of My sadness. If sins continue to be committed further, there will no longer be pardon for them.

“With courage, convey these messages to your superior. He will tell each one of you to continue prayers and acts of reparations for sins steadfastly, while ordering all of you to pray fervently. Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to help you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their total confidence in Me will be given necessary help.”

Other extraordinary events

Nearly two years later, on 4 January 1975, the statue of the Virgin Mary began to weep. This happened 101 times until 15 September 1981, the Feast of Our Lady of the Seven Dolours. There were hundreds of eyewitnesses including Bishop John Shojiro. Scientific examination of the liquid from the statue proved that they were human tears. Other events related to the statue included the flowing of blood from the right hand and a sweet smelling perspiration which was so abundant that it had to be wiped away.

Sr Agnes was cured of her deafness during mass on the Feast of Pentecost on 30 May 1982. Doctors who had examined her nine years previously, when she became deaf, were completely amazed. There was no natural explanation although this was in keeping with Our Lady’s promise in her first message to Sr Agnes.


It is plainly clear from the messages given by Our Lady in Akita that we can expect to see corruption and disunity in the Church as well as further natural disasters if men do not repent and turn back to God. The image of fire falling from the sky, a chastisement greater than the Deluge and a large part of humanity perishing is indeed frightening. What can this allude to? An asteroid hitting earth? A nuclear war? The persecution of the Antichrist?

I do believe we are living in truly diabolical times. Avarice, materialism, false pride, sexual immorality, pornography, abortion, terrorism, dissent against the teachings of the Catholic Church as well as other evil practices are so rampant today that what we are experiencing seems to be nothing short of a moral tsunami, and the tsunami shows no sign of receding.

Can a responsible and loving father stand back and ignore the wickedness of his children? He would not be a good father if he did so. Likewise, the same applies to God. Remember He is more concerned about our eternal destiny than our relatively short temporal existence.

Pope John Paul II said:

“We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it, because it is only in this way that the Church can be effectively renewed. How many times, indeed, has the renewal of the Church been effected in blood? This time, again, it will not be otherwise. We must be strong, we must prepare ourselves, we must entrust ourselves to Christ and to His Mother, and we must be attentive, very attentive, to the prayer of the Rosary.”

For the simple fact that we reap what we sow, the only possible way we can alleviate some of the trials that lay ahead of us is by recognising our faults, doing penance, praying and living more faithfully to the Word. Recall that in the Old Testament, when Jonah warned the people of Nineveh that God was going to destroy their city if they did not amend their lives, they heeded his message and Nineveh was spared God’s wrath. Likewise Our Lady of Akita’s request for men to turn back to God needs to be taken seriously; otherwise I think it will be well-nigh impossible to avoid the chastisement that she has forewarned us about.

Our Lady of Akita pray for us.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Japan earthquake and tsunami

We watch with horror at the scenes of destruction wrought by the devastating earthquake off the coast of Japan and the tsunami it triggered. The powerful waves that spread across the shores of Japan did so as effortlessly and destructively as ink dropped on a sheet of virgin paper. At least 1,300 people are known to have died but the final death toll is likely to be much higher. If it wasn’t for the fact that buildings in Japan are designed to withstand earthquakes, I’m sure the carnage would have been much greater.

We are reminded once again of our frailty in the face of nature. Despite our best efforts, which do seem impressive to our human eyes, we are still extremely vulnerable to the worst that nature can throw at us. We are reminded also how fragile and short our existence on this earth is. We may be alive one minute but dead the next without even a hint of the unexpected. The humanist sees in this the reason to live life enjoying the fleeting pleasures of the world; but for the god fearing man this is justification for why he should live for the glory of God each day, so that when the moment of death finally arrives he is as prepared as possible for his salvation.

Let us remember the people of Japan and stand united with them in this time of need. O Lord, give them strength to cope with this tragedy and rebuild their lives. We pray for aid workers, soldiers, medical personnel and governments; that they are able to work together and help the injured, the bereaved and the lost. Let this tragedy open new avenues for partnerships and peace. Finally, let this remind us the need to turn back to you O Lord.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


"What mortal has ever looked at suffering, with its severe and sombre countenance, or squared up to it, without soon blessing it as a sweet gift from heaven? Just as the hardest metals soften and melt under the effect of fire, so it is that suffering transforms noble souls. It arouses in them a virtue that moves, restores, supernaturalizes, and soothes them.

Take, for instance, the poor man who has long suffered indigence and unhappiness. If he attains wealth, he will use it with wisdom and moderation. He has learned through hard experience how much it costs to be poor, to eat a seldom-found load of bread, and to live on earth wandering, sick, and ignored.

Look at the statesman, the mighty and respected prince. If, before being raised to the throne, he has endured the anguish and bitterness of exile, if he has drunk to the full the cup of ingratitude and opprobrious conduct, he will not let himself be dazzled as much as another man by the grandeur and glitter of his sovereignty. He will willingly cast a respectful and compassionate eye upon an obscure subject fallen into disgrace. He knows that nobility of thought and loftiness of soul can lie hidden under rags no less than under the dignity of kinship; he calls to mind that he, too, has long lived in banishment, a fugitive unknown and defamed.

Or look at the priest: when, by the melancholy of his eyes, the premature deterioration of his features, and the smile of resignation on his lips, people conclude that suffering has often visited his soul, he is held in greater respect and affection. Those who are forsaken will learn their grief-stricken souls more trustingly upon his, in the belief that remedy and consolation are bound to flow from his soul in a more paternal and merciful manner.

Lastly, is this man, tried by long and bloody misfortunes, an obscure, forsaken creature? Far from despising him, we see in his pain a glorious purification of his life. A secret feeling tells us that such a man is a privileged being, carefully prepared by the divine hand for a destiny more glorious than that of time. In him we admire a nobility more splendid than that of blood, the nobility of suffering unflinchingly borne."

By an ancient philosopher