DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     December 16, 1998     vol. 9, no. 242

THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
    INTRODUCTION
          In the lush South American country of Venezuela that the Blessed Virgin Mary calls her "land of grace," which is bordered by the Carribean Sea to the north, the Andes Mountains to the southwest and the Amazon Jungle in the south, Our Lady has been appearing for centuries. And ever since 1976, she has been coming to a tiny, remote, tropical farm in Betania, Venezuela to establish a special Refuge for all her children as the New Ark of Salvation under the special title "Mary, Virgin and Mother of Reconciliation for all people and nations." She calls Betania the "New Lourdes" offering the same healing waters to all who will take refuge in her Immaculate Heart. God has chosen Maria Esperanza de Bianchini as His special visionary with many mystical graces to convey His Mother's messages to all His children as she beckons us all to become her "Ambassadors of Reconciliation" while effecting a very special Eucharistic Miracle intricately linked with Betania. We continue with our in-depth story of this modern Lourdes from a first-hand perspective in the aftermath of our pilgrimage to this "Land of Grace."

          No matter the age, Our Lady has been imparting the same message: "Pray! Pray! Pray!" It is only through constant prayer, taken as a bouquet in loving, motherly intercession before the Throne of God, that the hearts of mankind will eventually be softened and all her little ones brought into accord with the Will of God. This continuing in-depth series on the grace-filled mystical phenomena of Our Lady's appearances through the ages and the meaning of her messages will open eyes and hearts because she is the mother of us all and her words of wisdom and warnings must be taken seriously...very seriously!

The New Lourdes: Betania - Refuge of Reconciliation
part eleven

A Call to be "Ambassadors of Reconciliation"

          From this region of Grace, this land where Reconciliation is to reach to every corner of the universe, joining in faith with the Blessed Mother Mary's requests are paramount in her messages. She urges all to begin to amend lives through reconciliation with God, self and neighbor.

          In these end times, as we near the end of these pivotal two millenniums, we are being led to be fully Eucharistic, returning all reverence to Jesus Christ. Our Lady at Betania and elsewhere urges her children to examine their consciences and determine to to attain union with God's Divine Will by means of the Sacrament of Penance as we spoke of in the last installment. The Blessed Virgin Mary has revealed at Betania that if we are reconciled and believe God will bring about this reconciliation among all men in His time, as He has planned from all time, then her Heart will triumph sooner. As we emphasized in the last installment, to be "ambassadors of reconciliation" we must first seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

          But we need priests, good holy priests to preserve the Sacraments, especially the precious Sacrement of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. Therein lies the rub. Since Vatican II over 100,000 priests have left the Church. That's startling in itself, but when you realize that for every priest that leaves he takes 20,000 souls with him - that a staggering 20 million in satan's corner! That's more than alarming! No wonder Our Lady and Our Lord weep so in these days. What we need are good, committed, holy priests to continue the call to their flocks to be "ambassadors of reconciliation." We do have some excellent priests but they are few and far between, and many are of retirement age but still plugging away as faithful shepherds when they should be allowed to relax and enjoy their autumn years. But there is no time to rest. Much needs to be done before it's too late. Minor seminaries, once teeming with prospects have been shut down. They are a thing of the past. Many are dubious about major seminaries because of the modernist theology emanating from many new priests and deacons coming out. How can we foster vocations when we ourselves are not convinced our sons will get the traditional values in accordance with what Pope John Paul II demands? We know of many young men and women who indeed have vocations but are desperately searching for the right path, the right education, the right seminary to bring their vocation to fruition.

          For anyone without a college degree, there are three suggestions: If still in primary or secondary stages of education, we strongly recommend Catholic home schooling. That way you are assured your child will receive a solid Roman Catholic education with no worldly influence or sex education classes forced on them. Even the Catholic parochial schools are a ghost of their former self today. The dedicated nuns of yesteryear are gone; the curriculums in many Catholic high schools and elementary class rooms have been compromised to curry government grants; and the ecumenism has gone too far with administrators curtailing Catholic devotion and doctrine for fear of offending the growing number of non-Catholics enrolled. For public school youngsters there are very few comprehensive CCD courses that truly convey the essential catechesis necessary to stand up for their faith. That leaves one alternative: Home Schooling! The two top programs which are very affordable and all inclusive are Seton Home Study School and Our Lady of the Rosary School which both provide credentialed curriculums from first grade through 12th grade. It is vital that today's children learn the faith so they can become "ambassadors of reconciliation."

          That is why Our Lady has been appearing so frequently and so many places in these last decades of the second millennium. That is why Betania is so important in her tableau of apparitions over the centuries. We should also be thankful to Almighty God for sending His Mother to Betania, for having chosen Maria Esperanza de Bianchini as His servant and messenger, for giving Maria the grace to say "Yes" to Him through His Mother, and for spreading the messages of Reconciliation to the world. Let us also thank the Trinity for the wisdom of both Bishop Bernal and Bishop Pio Bello who, following the norms set down by Holy Mother Church, were given the grace of proper discernment and in faith approved the apparitions which have allowed so many faithful from around the world to come to this blessed Land of Grace. May all who have traveled to this land extend reconciliation to all whom they meet, and may all who have not been called to go to Betania know that God'' Own mother reaches out to all, and extends the same graces to all who cannot go there, through those who have gone.

          God cannot be outdone in generosity. Let us all respond with a "Fiat" that is the echo of Mary's own Fiat to the Archangel at the Annunciation (a significant feast in the events of Betania) and become the little child held in her arms, as she held in her arms the Divine Infant. Reconciliation is ours if we desire it and are willing to surrender our own will to the Divine Will. Only then will the Triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart come sooner and issue in the Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Age of the Divine Will, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Advent, the Second Pentecost.

          To be true "ambassadors of reconciliation" we must all truly say from the heart that part of the Lord's Prayer which says, "…Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

          For those who are interested in learning more about Betania, we recommend three sources which have been invaluable to us in preparing this article and of which we are grateful: One is the definitive book "Apparitions in Betania, Venezuela" by Sister Margaret Catherine Sims, CSJ which can be obtained for $8.95 plus $3.00 shipping from Medjugorje Messengers, 85 Bethany Road, Framingham, MA 01701. Another is the excellent video tape "Betania - Land of Grace" narrated by Ricardo Montalban, which is available for $24.95 plus $3.00 sipping from Marian Communications, P.O. Box 8, Lima, PA 19037. The last is a small booklet by Father Jose Luis de Urrutia, S.J. entitled "Finca Betania, Latest Apparitions approved by the ecclesiastic authorities, besides Fatima" which is available in both English and Spanish in Venezuela when you are there, either free or at a nominal price.

          Our Lady is calling all of us to be "ambassadors of reconciliation" and if we don't respond, then her Triumph is delayed and satan gains. We must pray for our priests. Following is a special prayer for priests from Our Lady's Center for Peace in Louisville, Kentucky:

         

      Lord Jesus, You have chosen Your priests from among us and sent them out to proclaim Your word and to act in Your name. For so great a gift to Your Church, we give You praise and thanksgiving. We ask You to fill them with the fire of Your love, that their ministry may reveal Your Presence in the Church. Since they are earthen vessels, we pray that Your Power shine out through their weakness. In their afflictions let them never be crushed; in their doubts never despair; in temptation never be destroyed; in persecution never abandoned. Inspire them through prayer to live each day the mystery of Your dying and rising. In times of weakness send them Your Spirit, and help them to praise Your Heavenly Father and pray for poor sinners. By the same Holy Spirit put Your Word on their lips and Your Love in their hearts, to bring the Good News to the poor and healing to the broken-hearted. And may the gift of Mary Your Mother, to the disciple whom You loved, be Your gift to every priest. Grant that she who formed You in her human image, may form them in Your Divine Image, by the Power of Your Spirit, to the Glory of God the Father. Amen.

      O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

          Through prayer and perseverance we can all not only become "ambassadors of reconciliation" but through our example and life of grace, can effect more "ambassadors of reconciliation" among God's children. Come then in faith and be united with Our Lady's invitation at Betania. It is meant for everyone…without exception. We are all God's children, and Mary is Mother of all!

          This concludes this year's installments on THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS. Since the next two Wednesday issues incorporate the CHRISTMAS ISSUE and the NEW YEAR'S ISSUE, we will not resume installments of this on-going megaseries on Our Lady's apparitions until January 6, 1999 in issue volume 10, no. 3.


December 16, 1998       volume 9, no. 243
THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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