So how then do we repay the Son of God if we don't own anything? One way is to build up dividends in His "Bank" - in the great Deposit of Faith which is the sum of public revelation and tradition entrusted to Holy Mother Church. All we need is a willingness to do God's Will. He does the rest because He owns us. He created us, and therefore possession is His. Though His adversaries - the fallen angels - try to possess us insidiously by enticing us with possessions that are not ours. Consider what happened to Adam and Eve who sought something which was not theirs. God's possessions can never be ours if we are to be true investors of Heavenly dividends. But if we keep our souls safely in the safe deposit box of sanctifying grace, we cannot be canceled or bounced. Oh, satan will write as many bad checks as he can, mess with our spiritual credit rating, and even offer us unrealistic savings. But the only saving to be done is by the Almighty Banker, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.
That brings us back to our original thought of Lent. The ashes three weeks ago reminded us of our nothingness and the words pronounced "Remember, man, thou art dust and unto dust thous shalt return" are a reminder of our needed bankruptcy to things of this world and that everything but God is fleeting. As the great Lender, God gives us more time to make reparation and even designates a special grace period each year for this life-long process. That period, of course, is Lent...a time to practice what we preach, what the Mother of God has been advocating through her Medjugorje Messages for nearly 18 years and what Our Lady has conveyed from Rue de Bac on over the past two centuries; what the Church has been imparting for nearly 2000 years. By complying with all Heaven is asking we will only strengthen our reserve in filling the coffers of our eternal account.
One of the things that is feasible is to lend an ear to all Jesus says through His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and then offer all our inconveniences, all the setbacks, all the headaches and heartaches to Jesus during this time of Lent. It is a time when Spring teases us only to hide behind another cold-front, but we can be warmed with the consolation that all we offer during Lent will be the virtues and good that spurred Our Lord on when, in the Garden of Gethsemane He wept bitterly. His tears of blood were for all those sins over the centuries that would pain Him immeasurably, another lash, another scourge. It would have been enough to prompt Him to chuck the whole effort because of the evident apathy and antipathy against Him, but He persevered, aided by the good that we all do which He could see there in that Garden of Olives while His apostles slept. He asks us to stay awake and pray with Him for just an hour. But how many of us can't even do that once a week at Mass? Never mind if the homily prompts drowsiness, remember it's Lent. Offer it up. Truth be known we should spend at least an hour a day with Him; at Daily Mass if possible and in prayer with the devotions handed down to us in the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and other prayers such as the Morning Offering, the Angelus, etc. It's all part and parcel of Lent; it's all part and parcel of our faith journey which tends to slow down about this time every Lent. In the rear-view mirror we can see Ash Wednesday in the distant past and Easter Sunday still three weeks plus away. The buds are starting to bloom but the blossoms are still hiding. Anticipation is in the air and we grow impatient waiting for the Easter Tridiuum which will usher in the glorious Resurrection. It is symbolic of the chastisements and purification that must come before Our Lady's Immaculate Heart triumphs ushering in the glorious Age of Peace - the Reign of the Sacred Heart - the New Pentecost - the Second Advent.
So, for the next three weeks we will be tested to persevere, to toe the line even when Spring fever teases us to disgard our responsibilities and penances and go for the brass ring that, in truth, corrodes. But there's a price to pay for anything worth having and Heaven is definitely worth having. Consider that God provides the spiritual funds to help us repay our debt to Him. All we have to do is spend wisely. Possessions are not ours to have; remember we don't own anything. All we have is on loan from God. These borrowed attributes we can translate into great dividends if we can leave everything at the foot of the cross and do that with no strings attached. If we can do that we'll be readily assured that before our ashes are swept into the wind, the great Provider will carefully sweep us into His embrace and preserve us from eternal harm in the spotless, dust-free vaults of Heaven. But this can happen only if we give all to Him, and learn to borrow with care and prudence, putting the virtues into action. That is the reason for Lent. If we can practice this, we won't need to look back to get past the tense times in our lives. The future is ours to determine by how we live with the present He has given us - our presence in the present. He is the great Lender Who exacts a payment of obedience from His borrowers. That's called our new lease on life - everlasting life which Christ paid for with His life. So, we have to refute the great bard William Shakespeare and rephrase his line "Either a borrower or a lender be." The future is ours to determine how we live with the present He has given us - our presence in the present. We can look ahead to our Heavenly windfall; we can look back in gratitude for Our Lord's sacrifice for though we live in the present, it was Christ's actions in the past that makes our future possible. That's another reason why it's important to remember that the past tense of lend is Lent!
He chose the name Pope Pius II, the first Pius in over 1300 years since Pope Saint Pius I in 142. His first order of business was to continue the campaign that Callistus had begun but botched badly - a crusade to fend off the Turks. On October of the same year he issued a Bull calling for the crusade and called for a Congress in Mantua for all Christian rulers. It convened on June 1, 1459. Like with Callistus, Pius faced opposition from Duke Rene I of Anjou who had been rejected by Pius in favor of Alfonso's son Ferdinand I. This did not sit well with the French. Add to this the Germans waffled on committing troops and thereafter, like a domino effect, the effort fell apart. Just prior to the council Pius had published another Papal Bull forming a new order of knights to be called the Knights of Our Lady of Bethlehem, but because everything fizzled out, so, too, did the Order. Pius took it personally and issued another Papal Bull Execrabilis on January 18, 1460 a document diminishing the prestige and power of councils, and decreeing that the Roman Pontiff could no longer be pressured by Council Fathers to convene a council at their whim. It would have to start and end with the Pope.
Upon returning from Mantua, Pius was faced with a marked aggression in southern Italy as the French dug in to aid Rene and the Anjou line against Ferdinand and his Spanish sympathizers. Thus it came down to France against Spain in his own back yard of Italy. All the skirmishing did was resurrect the bitter battles between Pope Boniface VIII and France's King Philip IV from nearly two centuries before. The French monarch King Louis XI took power in 1461 and immediately rejected Pius' overtures for peace, decreeing that France would return to the old standards whereby the French monarch dictated ecclesial matters of the French clergy and once again "investiture" raised its ugly head. Pius was helpless to counter it for he was so embroiled with the war and keeping the Germans at bay.
Pius II had so wanted to unify Christian Europe and instead things seemed to get worse. Pius had no choice but to excommunicate Duke Sigismund of Tirol who had so rebelled against the Pope's reform program and had tried at every chance to undermine Pius' efforts, even appealing to the Council Fathers. Because of the Papal Bull of January 1460 the Council's hands were tied. Pius next handed an interdict to Archbishop Diether von Isenburg of Mainz who sought to foment rebellion with Bohemia's King George of Podebrady against Frederick III and Pius II. Isenburg was one of the thorniest problems for Pius for he wielded great influence and played a major role in defeating the Holy Father's resolve to form a crusade. It all stemmed back to the Council of Basle which the Archbishop could still not agree to the events and decisions that were passed. Stubbornly both Isenburg and George refused to accept the inevitable and, gaining an ally in the Hussites, chose another direction after being handed the bell, book and candle by Pius II. It all contributed to the growing, festering boil that would break into the cancerous reformation less than a century later.
Like his predecessors, what Pius had so hoped to accomplish never materialized. He had grandiose plans to reunite Europe for God, but man stood in his way. Such an idealist was Pius II that he decided, despite all the cards stacked against him, that he would pursue the crusade concept. He even believed the Turk's Sultan Mehmet II could be converted and drafted a letter to him to abandon the Islamic faith and convert to Catholicism, thus winning back the Eastern Empire without violence. It was an ambitious and unrealistic plan but Pius was hell-bent to do it. Yet, according to most historians, for some reason the letter was never delivered by his envoy. Whether Pius realized this or not is not known, but it is suspected he assumed it had been brought to the Sultan and rejected since the Sultan showed no signs of reconciliation. Thus, when he was able to muster some commitments from Venice and Hungary in October 1463, the crusade was on again. By now, however, the burdens of the office had taken their toll on Pius, and, like his predecessors, illness and aging set in. Though only 58 years-old he had become quite sick but stubbornly forged on, traveling to Ancona where the crusaders were to depart for Turkey. It was there that Pius died, waiting at the shore for the Venetian ships. Though the Venetian galleys arrived to find him dead and, because of the confusion and sadness, stalled there on the east coast of Italy on the Adriatic Sea. His supporters in Ancona asked the coroner if he could remain in Ancona and the latter compromised, removing his heart to be buried there while the rest of his body was interred back in Rome.
Pius II left a plethora of writings to the Vatican library and much of the history recorded for this time can be attributed to Enea Silvio Piccolomini whose 59 years were full of ambition and accomplishments, though he felt he failed as he laid dying on the docks at Ancona on August 15, 1464. Pius was a man of stubborn pride and was very independent, dismissing many cardinals he didn't trust in favor of family members, which in turn alienated others just as his predecessors had done. Yet, Pius II's dream of reconquering the Eastern Empire for Christianity spurred him on to hold out hope even to his dying breath. His successor Pope Paul II would be almost a carbon copy of Pius as the Church continued to navigate the ruts in the road.
Next issue: Pope Paul II: A compromise crusade and the return of the Renaissance
Let Advent prepare you. Pray and live the messages, and you will be filled with the Holy Spirit.
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!
I say now to all of my children: The time of severe trial has come. You must heed my motherly call and return fully to my Divine Son. You must not postpone the conversion of your heart. And to all who have received the conversion of their heart, I beseech you to pray ceaselessly for the gift of humility. Without humility you cannot be obedient to the Will of Almighty God. In truth, without humility you are prey to Lucifer's sin - Pride! And so cunning is the evil one he will deceive you by allowing pride to choke your conscience and you will believe you are little and humble when you are swollen by maggot-filled pride.
Little ones, the First Friday devotions are of utmost importance and I remind you again to renew your devotion to the First Fridays and make reparation to my Son's Most Wounded Sacred Heart. Then, little children, come to your Heavenly Mother on the First Saturdays; I, your Mother, intercede ceaselessly for you, who are truly meant for Heaven. Make reparation to my Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, and in this way my Divine Son's Sacred Heart is again consoled and Mercy is poured forth on the world.
Now, little children, is the time for Mercy and Mercy comes through your acts of faith, hope and love. Will to make these acts. Will to live holy lives. Will to obey God, and listen to Him, for He talks to each of you. Prepare! Do not let one moment escape you in your daily life. Let my places of refuge be built by generous souls. Let the simple, true monastic life be lived. Let all hearts be opened and believe. I am your Heavenly Mother and I will guide you. But you must abandon the world and all your attachments to it if you would persevere. Know God loves you.
Prepare to receive my Divine Son, for He comes again, and I, the Mother of the Second Advent call you to receive Him. Behold, the signs come. I am the Woman clothed with the Sun. Come home, dear children. Pray! Pray! Pray!
Thank you for responding to my Call!
The Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I marries Bianca Sforza, the daughter of Italian powerbroker Francesco Sforza
Close of the Fifth Lateran Council by Pope Leo X where the Council Fathers declared nul and void the Council of Pisa. Events in the aftermath of this council and Leo's actions led to Martin Luther's revolt.
Ferdinand Magellan discovers the Philippines and declares them for Portugal and Holy Mother Church. The faith has remained strong in these islands on the northern edge of Oceania.
Martyrdom of Jesuit missionaries in East Africa.