Jesus reproached the people of his time for being able to read the signs of the weather but not being able to read the signs of the times. This means that He wants us to understand the times we live in and their significance in terms of what God is doing in the world and in the Church. The Old testament is filled with Priests Prophets Judges Kings who God used to communicate His word, desires, will, messages if you will to His people, His children. He didn’t just give them commandments and let them go, assuming they now knew His will and had everything they needed and could now apply it to every circumstance so that they never needed to hear from Him again.
When Jesus came and established His Church He formed the Apostles to carry on His doctrine giving Peter the office of Pope and the character of infallibility to preserve His teachings so that every time and place could know His doctrine, sealing His Church to last until the end of time. St. Paul tells us that aside from the Apostolic ministry and the presbyteral ministry there are gifts given to many people for the good of the church and he lists prophets as one of them, saying it is the highest of these charismatic gifts, meaning they are charisms freely given by the Holy Spirit and not gifts that are part and parcel of the ordained ministry. The entire book of revelation is a prophetic one and is called revelation because God Himself revealed these things to the Apostle St. John. It speaks of the end times and therefore proves that God Himself desired us to understand the end times and to be able to read the signs of the times. All these things being true it is only natural that when these times near God would raise up prophets to give messages to His people, His children to help them understand the times they are in so as to be spiritually prepared for them as a truly loving Father would do, right?
Some people may ask why these aren’t coming from the heirarchy or at least priests, wouldn’t they know, wouldn’t it make more sense to use them, wouldn’t the people be convinced easier, wouldn’t it be more proper to their vocation seeing as they already have the pulpit to preach from and the audience of the Church? Good question. But let us remember that St. Paul tells us that we are one body and that all parts have their place and are important and that God made it so on purpose for unity and charity. Let us also remember that scripture tells of the great apostasy and these being the end times means we are in the time of the great apostasy and that it extends to the priesthood as well as the lay people. How many priests do you know that are willing to talk about the end times, how many times have you heard a homily on it? Therefore it is not hard to understand the need for God to raise up lay people to become today’s prophets and teach them His ways of holiness through union with God and have them call His children back to Himself through private revelation.