DAILY CATHOLIC    THANKSGIVING WEEK     November 25-29, 1998     vol. 9, no. 231

THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE
    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 eight

Watch and Pray!

          The vigil before one of the biggest feasts in Venezuela - the Feast of Our Lady of Zaragoza - was beautiful but crowded. And we do mean crowded! People began arriving around 10 am on October 11 and the traffic just increased steadily after that. Our group arrived shortly after 5 pm and already the entire area was full. Inching our way, and this editor means that in the literal sense, our group was able to find a spot under a banana tree on the far right edge of the property against a cyclone fence and about 200 feet from the open air chapel. The days are hot in the sun, but if you can manage to find a shady spot, the weather is quite comfortable. The evenings cool somewhat but still it was a balmy 70 degrees all night. There was plenty of activity throughout the evening with music and prayer and fellowship mostly in Spanish since the vast majority of people there were Venezuelans and October 12 was not only a feast day but also a national holiday commemorating Christopher Columbus. We feel this mushroomed the turnout more than anticipated. There were so many lights erected on the property that it almost seemed like daylight and it brought to mind a "religious Woodstock."

          This light was dearly missed when, at approximately 11:15 all the lights went out…all that is except the lights along the main road where the gypsy souvenir stands were lined up for blocks. It reminded one of the passage in John 11:10 of how the man who walks in the dark stumbles. People were definitely stumbling in the pitch blackness. When the lights went out in Betania, many in the crowd sensed it was Our Lady's doing and that she was going to appear. It was learned the next day that someone had purposely cut the wires. Persecution has no barriers.

          A calm hysteria permeated the massive throng huddled in the dark and numerous flashlight beams danced on the trees above the grotto. Awes and oohs emanated from many but it was not Our Lady, only the lights generated by the Energizer bunny's batteries! There are always some pranksters in every crowd and they persisted in confusing the crowd with "fake sightings" by stubbornly aiming their flashlights.

          The schedule had called for a Mass every hour alternated by the Rosary. Unfortunately because of the power outage Mass was unable to be said, but extra Rosaries were recited, many hymns sung in Spanish, Latin and English, and some even caught a few winks in the early morning hours of October 12th. As the sun rose slowly in the east, Masses resumed culminating with the noon Mass officiated by Fathe Otty Aristazabel, visionary Maria Esperanza de Bianchini's spiritual director and the priest to whom was bestowed the Eucharistic Miracle detailed two installments ago on these pages. Before the noon Mass, Maria came forth and spoke to the huge throng via loudspeaker. The translation was muffled but we knew Our Lady had appeared to her and we felt her presence though very few really saw her. Yet, no one was really disappointed for Our Lady touched each and every person in his or her own special way that only each individual could describe. It occurred to this editor what Maria had relayed on August 15 that Our Lady had told her that on October 12, "I would physically come to Betania." We wondered aloud if through the night and during the day if we might have brushed up against the Blessed Mother in the elbow-to-elbow crowd. It's a thought since it has happened before.

          Known as the "Land of Grace", as dubbed by Christopher Columbus, there is no doubt as to the abundant graces received from our pilgrimage to this holy place which reminds one so much of Lourdes because of the healing waters, the grotto and Our Lady's references to her apparitions there. This editor cannot testify to seeing any supernatural phenomena other than the spinning of the sun, but we did receive the greatest sense of peace and a magnetic draw toward Mary's Divine Son Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. It was the same sensation this author felt at Lanciano.

          In the next installment we will delve into the meaning of Betania's Message of Unity and Reconciliation.


November 25-29, 1998       volume 9, no. 231
THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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