And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered.
— The Book of Revelation, 12:1-2
The Catholic Church condemns astrology and other forms of fortune-telling, ascribing to creatures the prophetic power belonging to the Creator alone. To quote the Catechism, the compendium of the Catholic faith:
“All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums … They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”
On the other hand, the faith also holds that the Lord of heaven and earth can employ heavenly bodies to convey His messages. And prophesy lies in divinely inspired Scripture and visions, which the sky fulfills, so that humanity may know that God’s will is unfolding.
Take the aurora borealis on January 25, 1938, as reported by leading newspapers then, including The New York Times, and mentioned in this column two weeks ago.
Appearing to three shepherd children in a rural town in Portugal in 1917, Our Lady of Fatima, said visionary Sister Lucia dos Santos, conveyed a heavenly sign of coming chastisements for man’s sinfulness and unbelief: “… you shall see a night illuminated by an unknown light.” The nun pointed to the aurora borealis as that sign.
Weeks later, German troops marched into Austria unopposed, the first nation Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler would conquer in the global war foretold at Fatima.
The Star of Bethlehem and other ‘coincidences’
Unbelievers may dismiss as coincidence the spectacular illumination of the earth’s magnetic field weeks before the first invasion of World War II in Europe. Or just a nun’s superstitious claim of supernatural meaning in a purely natural event.
The thing about God is that He always leaves room for doubt and faith. So, those of us pondering the aurora borealis of 1938 and Sister Lucia’s take on the phenomenon, can take it or leave it.
There are more instances for belief and unbelief.
Consider the Star of Bethlehem in the Gospels, alerting the Magi to Jesus’s birth and guiding them to the little town. The supposed star might have actually been much more than that, as explained in the Star project at BethlehemStar.net.
Using computerized star maps showing the night sky for any period in time, the project found that in the years 3-2 BC, the planet Jupiter, considered a kingly star in the ancient world, twice passed Regulus, another kingly star in the constellation of Leo, which signified the Jewish tribe of Judah.
The thrice-kingly conjunction of Jupiter, Regulus and Leo would have signaled to the wise men a royal birth. A further pointer to kingship, all this happened at the start of the Jewish new year. And most uncanny of all, viewed from Jerusalem, Jupiter would stop its travel in the sky over an area south of the city — where Bethlehem was. Thus, the Star supposedly showed the Magi the way to the newborn King.
This celestial event, recreated by a program based on voluminous star data over decades, could be dismissed as just another wishful reading of the sky, despite the scientifically generated material. Or one could believe that heaven did try to communicate through the heavens.
There’s more. Using the same star mapping program, one can project how celestial bodies would move in future. That’s where the Revelation verse quoted above comes in.
Back in October 2015, an article by Patrick Archbold in the traditional Catholic publication The Remnant, forecast a celestial event from November 20 last year to September 23 this year. In those 9 1/2 months, Jupiter will enter and stay in the constellation of Virgo.
Virgo itself would have the sun behind it during the day, and the moon below at night. Arrayed above Virgo would be the nine stars of the Leo constellation, plus the planets Mercury, Venus and Mars.
For believers, that would seem to be the heavenly manifestation of Revelation 12:1-2: “A woman [Virgo] clothed by the sun [behind the constellation during the day], with the moon under her feet [at night], and on her head a crown of twelve stars [Leo’s nine stars, Mercury, Venus and Mars].”
And the birth? Jupiter, the ancient king star, emerges from Virgo after 9 1/2 months.
All this in the 100th year since Fatima.
The Black Star warning
Speaking of the apparitions, Sister Lucia, like other visionaries, spoke of chastisements. In her vision from the Blessed Virgin, the nun recounted: “I saw and heard: the point of a lance like a flame that is detached, touches the axis of the earth, and it trembles: mountains, cities, towns and villages, with their inhabitants are buried.”
Will this happen? A series of YouTube videos about a so-called Black Star transiting our solar system, predicts seismic events as that purported heavenly body, believed to be a dense dark star on its way to becoming a black hole, exerts force on the earth and shifts its rotation axis, moving the North and South Poles.
The pole shift, which the video says has a 25 percent chance of happening this year, could supposedly cause quakes and tsunami, and even black out the sun for a time (see < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZ_O_oAeXvY > especially after 28 minutes).
And when exactly might this one-in-four-chance event occur? From mid-April to mid-May this year — including the May 13 centenary of the first Fatima apparition.
(Ric Saludo will speak on Fatima on March 11 at the University of San Jose Recoletos Auditorium, Cebu City.)