This was the essence of Maria's message to the priests who accompanied us on our pilgrimage - our spiritual tour director Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv. (who had to leave just before the vigil because of prior commitment in the states); Fr. Francis Butler, a Josephite priest seen frequently on EWTN and who has established a soup kitchen in Montgomery, Alabama for the poor; Father Gerald Haby, a bilingual Marist priest from Mount Pleasant, Texas who assisted us in Spanish; and Father James Holup, a Marian diocesan priest from Ashkum, Illinois. Along with them were Father Christopher Scadron from New Orleans, Father Al Winshman, SJ of Marian Renewal Ministry in Boston, Father Benton Thurmond from Inez, Texas, and Father Santos Mendoza, a holy priest from the diocese of Dallas who served as our spiritual confessor for the two years we were in Dallas and is currently confessor to the novices for the Institute of Divine Mercy.
Our Lady is calling all to harmony with the Trinity and with our fellow man. She is the reconciler of all people and all nations and religions. But to receive true reconciliation sacramentally, a priest is necessary. We were surrounded with good priests and our pilgrimage to Betania meant that much more, especially with the theme of Reconciliation in Petania. For reconciliation with God and with our neighbor also means being reconciled with ourselves. From these graces obtained through the Sacrament of Penance, peace and unity flow as a beautiful spring which gushes from our innermost being, the work and fruit of the grace of the Holy Spirit. To be reconciled as God wills for all mankind, Jesus Christ has given to His Church the wonderful Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through the priest in Confession, Christ not only forgives but forgets all transgressions.
In the last three decades the decline of those Catholics who go to Confession on a regular basis has diminished to the point where many of our priests no longer even feel the Sacrament is necessary unless one is in the state of mortal sin; whereas the Sacrament of Penance is meant to be an act of humility on our part, reminding us of the frail nature we have because of the sin of our first parents, but is also meant to bring to us the Peach which only God can give, and to render us joyful in the knowledge that we have been truly forgiven. That is what Our Lady is conveying at Betania, inviting us all to be "Ambassadors of Reconciliation." But to be an ambassador we must first realize what Reconciliation truly means and emulate God in not only forgiving, but also forgetting one's faults and sins. Guilt does no good if it is not warranted, and by holding grudges towards others for offenses committed against us blocks any chance of reconciliation with God, with them, and with ourselves. How hard is that for us to fathom. Can we forgive and forget? It's not easy, but we had all better start.
Our Heavenly Mother conveys at Betania that she wishes us to be reconciled, that we might have unity of mind and heart through the grace of her Divine Spouse. This is possible the more we make use of the Sacrament of Penance. Contrary to what many think or "feel" about this Sacrament, it is not reserved only and just for those who fall into mortal sin. It is a Sacrament of Strength, Peace, Joy, Humility, and, ultimately, Reconciliation with God, ourselves and to our neighbor - which means the entire world. Not only at Betania, but everywhere else she has appeared or imparted messages this century she has emphasized the calling to go to this Sacrament more frequently. Not just once a month (it should never really be any longer than that), but once a week. Why?
Because through the graces received in this wonderful, merciful sacrament, we are then able to approach our Dear Lord, truly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament in a state of grace, whereby we truly become living tabernacles and the Most Blessed Trinity abides in and with us, and we with the Trinity. This "possession" by the Trinity, the very Flame of Love and Grace of the Holy Spirit, keeps us ever moving more and more toward true unity of mind and heart. This a supernatural movement, a supernatural "event," that our finite minds cannot comprehend. But this "unity" which must and will come, can come more swiftly and more assuredly when we, as little , humble children gathered beneath Mary's Immaculate Mantle, present ourselves humbly before her Divine Son and confess our sins with a humble and contrite heart.
No one needs to travel to Betania for this, but this international shrine emphasizes this as Our Lady's messages to Maria confirm. Once we have truly accepted the essence of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and resolve to live in the Divine Will, then, and only then, can we become "Ambassadors of Reconciliation" as the Blessed Mother asks. In the next installment we shall discuss this in "A Call to be Ambassadors of Reconciliation."
Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the academy. After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.
They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.
When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition.His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."
All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No...no ..no ...no."
Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late."
More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.
One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."
The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one - no one ever makes it alone!
Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby I heard a woman remark, "That's what's wrong with this country Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream Why, I never"
Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?"
As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table.
He winked at my son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer."
"Really?" my son asked. "Cross my heart."
Then in a theatrical whisper he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), "Too bad she never asks God for ice cream.
A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes."
Naturally, I bought my kid's ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment and then did something I will remember the rest of my life. He picked up his sundae and without a word walked over and placed it in front of the woman.
With a big smile he told her, "Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes and my soul is good already."
I thank all of my little ones who so honor my beloved chaste spouse Joseph on this day.
I beseech all to call upon him, for his intercession is great before the Throne of God. His virtues while on earth permitted him to be my chaste, holy celibate spouse, and to carry in his arms the Divine Child.
In these perilous times satan and all his demons are unleashed. These demons have invaded the very sanctuary of my Son's Church; these demons now tear apart family.
There is not one among my children who do not suffer from disunity in their family. The husband and wife do not honor one another. The children are the victims of parents who are separated even though they live in the same house. And through all advertising, TV, radio, movies and all of your entertainment the very core of the family is torn apart. There is no true love as God intended. There is only satan who leads you to violence, lust, greed, every capital sin.
Thus does the world need to return to morality. You must will to do this from your hearts. My Divine Son will hear the just plea of Joseph as he intercedes for all. All lives should be modeled upon the Holy Family. This is the Divine Will. The Divine Plan.
I beseech all to put aside the world and return to God. The moment of great punishment is unleashed. Satan, the antichrist, will rule. Then shall God's Justice come. Pray! Consecrate your lives to God alone.
Thank you for responding to my Call!
My children, you must be prepared to suffer. No one shall be spared. But for those gathered beneath my Immaculate Mantle, God shall assist you. You shall offer all in union with my Divine Son's Sacred, Holy Passion. You will have His Peace, and therefore rejoice in your sufferings and persecutions.
I am calling all to have their hearts open, to have asked for conversion of heart that you may be solid in the True Faith. O! If you only knew how close is the Hour of your Visitation. The reign of the antichrist shall soon be fully proclaimed. Then shall my faithful remnant, within the refuge of my Immaculate Heart and my Divine Son's Sacred Heart know persecution. But cling to my Divine Son. Honor and reverence Him at all times, and be not afraid. All that you endure shall save many souls. All you do to surrender your will to the Divine Will shall hasten the Triumph of my Immaculate Heart.
The moment when all my faithful ones must be united is now. You cannot delay. Soon I shall not be among you any longer. But those God has chosen shall hear my voice and I shall always guard and guide you.
Pray for my Divine Son's Vicar, my beloved holy Pope John Paul II. His life is in grave danger.
Pray! Be of one mind and heart through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Seek only God's Will. Abandon the world. The world belongs to the prince of darkness. Fear nothing. Return to God. Wait, watch and pray!
I love you. I bless you. I exhort you to return all reverence to the Blessed Sacrament. This is your very life. It shall sustain all of faith, hope and love.
Thank you for responding to my Call.
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