But the memory of the plateaued Ozarks pales in comparison to the announcement yesterday that a mountain was moved when his Holiness Pope John Paul II removed the biggest obstacle to Mother Teresa's inevitable canonization by waiving the five-year rule that stipulates one must be dead for five years before the process can begin toward sanctity. See NEWS & VIEWS. It follows with what we predicted in our editorial of September 15, 1997:
As this editor is typing Mother's funeral is just coming to a conclusion. As the commentators ramble on it strikes us that the process of devil's advocate is already being put into action via the secular media who are taking every pot-shot they can at Mother and her Order. But at every turn, they meet a humble, non-chalant, charitable response that leaves them speechless and even more frustrated they can't find any "dirt" on Mother or the 4000 sisters who comprise her wondrous Missionaries of Charity. Pumping Sister Nirmala, Mother's successor as Superior General, they find the same determination in this Hindu-born nun with a high degree of humility and total confidence. The media hound the sisters with questions of "how will the Order survive without Mother?" and Sister Nirmala politely, but assuredly states: "God will provide." Oh, it's beautiful the way the secular media are stumbling and bumbling all over themselves. At this rate Mother should be a saint before the millennium. We do know there is a groundswell of support not just from the people, but also the bishops and cardinals. In fact, many clerics have already gone on record as saying they would like the Holy Father to expedite the process. They point to the fact that in the early Church canonization was effected by vox populi - the voice of the people. If ever the voice of the people has been heard regarding a holy woman in the Church, it is now and it is Mother Teresa. Yes, it is an unusual request but we live in unusual times and she was an unusual woman - especially in relationship to today's lifestyles and values. In the long storied history of the saints, we doubt many dedicated themselves and their work so wholeheartedly as did Mother. Her accomplishments rival the famous founder of the Franciscans Saint Francis of Assisi for sheer numbers and total commitment.
Like her patron saint, she always did the ordinary things in extraordinary ways. On Mission Sunday John Paul II will officially proclaim Saint Therese the Little Flower a Doctor of the Church, the third female saint to be given such an honor. Like St. Therese, Mother was not an intellectual, but her wisdom in the little things she did and said speaks volumes. We may have to wait another century for Mother Teresa to be declared a Doctor of the Church, but it’s not too early to begin the process for canonization of this modern-day saint who gained global renown for being simple and loving, for living and doing God’s Will. That is what sanctity is all about. There’s a possibility the Pope is thinking about issuing a Motu proprio edict, which is a process of bypassing the beatification process, and declare the venerable Padre Pio a saint. Why not make it a dynamic duo by including Mother Teresa? We doubt anyone would object. While we wait for this glorious event, we need to live what she preached by example.
It took some time, but this is one occasion we're happy to say "we told you so!" There are many other anniversaries today that remind us of "mountains." For instance, it was on this day nine years ago that we put down the final payment on our pending pilgrimage to Medjugorje in May 1990 for a week that would ultimately change our lives forever. Medjugorje, as you know, is the mountain village where the Blessed Virgin Mary has reportedly been appearing for nearly eighteen years to six young visionaries, though now it is only a few left who still see her and all are grown adults. It was on a mountain in Bosnia on June 24, 1981 when Our Lady first appeared to the children on Apparition Hill across from Mount Krizevac. Though Apparition Hill isn't necessarily a mountain, those who've climbed it might beg to differ! Our Lady seems to have a special hankering for mountains since she has appeared in numerous mountain territories - the steepest that comes to mind being La Salette.
We assume the Infinity has a special affinity for mountains. Consider that God beckoned Moses to the top of Mount Sinai to impart the Ten Commandments. And it was at Mount Tabor, which shadows Nazareth to the west, that Our Lord was transfigured. The gospel this past Sunday brought home an interesting point about this regarding the Transfiguration. Jesus chose a mountain to exhibit His Divinity when He was joined by Moses and Elijah and lifted into the air; and He chose a mountain to exhibit His humanity while praying on Mount Olivet in the Garden of Gethsemane. On Mount Tabor Christ shone in all His Godliness as He levitated above the three Apostles Peter, John and James, projecting the inevitable truth to His Divinity. On Mount Olivet Our Lord showed His human nature. He wept bitter tears of blood for the burden was so great and because the sins of mankind from Adam to today were so overwhelming. It was a chalice He might have reconsidered except He was setting the example for what all those, who would come after Him, must also do: subject our wills to the Father. "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; yet not as I will, but as thou willest." That passage is from Matthew 26: 39. It is also recorded in Mark 14: 36 and Luke 22: 41. You might wonder why the three Evangelists all include this but the fourth, the beloved John does not. That's very simple. John was asleep. As were Peter and James. Those same three were on Mount Tabor and on Mount Olivet and both times they slept through it! Yet, those three, handchosen by Jesus, would go on to be the most functional of His Apostles, but not before many trials - from betrayal to fear - would test their persistence and loyalty. Only John stood by His Blessed Mother and the Holy Women at the foot of the Cross on Calvary, another mountain of sorts. Once the Holy Spirit descended on them on Pentecost Sunday, they became "mountain men" - rising above all others to do heroic deeds to ultimately attain the highest peaks of Heaven.
Another great "mountain man" was Saint Francis of Assisi who grew up in Assisi in the Umbrian Mountains and often took refuge there, as did Saint Benedict at Subiaco centuries before the gentle Franciscan. Some of the greatest monasteries are built on mountains from Monte Casino to Mont Michel, not to mention countless famous shrines and churches all over the globe from the Alps to the Pyrenees, from the Apennines to the Dinaric range, from the Balkans to the Caucasus range, from the Rockies to the Andes, from the Filipino Mountains to the Great Dividing Range in Australia.
Two "mountains of holiness" and Catholicity were also born on this date - Gioacchino Vincenzo Pecci in the mountainous hills south of Rome in 1810 and Eugenio Maria Guiseppe Giovanni Pacelli on the hill above the Vatican in 1876. You might know them better as Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XII, who, along with our present Holy Father Pope John Paul II, Pope Saint Pius X and Pope Pius IX are considered mountains of strength, fortitude, virtue and holiness in these last two centuries of the millennium. To add to the elevation, Pius XII was also elevated to the Papal Throne on this date in 1939. He faced a mountainous task with World War II just as Pius X had to deal with World War I, Leo XIII with the coming evils of communism and socialism, and Pius IX with the Italian conquest of the Papal States. Today John Paul II faces not only the mountainous task of taming a world out of control and on the brink of World War III, but an even greater evil - the culture of death manifested in abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment and a growing immorality that plunges the soul of mankind into a thicker darkness than ever before. If they were not all "mountain men" and prepared spiritually for the insurmountable tasks encountered, they would have stumbled into the abyss of failure. But because they all have firmly staked their spiritual pegs in the firm rock of the Church, they were and are able to climb ever higher and conquer the lofty heights of sanctity. But, like Jesus, they too were and are very, very human, having wept and still shedding agonizing tears over those who have turned their backs on God and His Church. They realized, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the spiritual exhilaration of reaching the apex of God's love here on earth but they also realized their conquest could not be complete without sharing it with the rest of mankind.
But so few there are to share His glory. Could it be the light air above makes man dizzy and unable to concentrate on the goal? Could it be that the imposing cliffs of sanctity seem unsurmountable? Could it be because we have grown lazy in the valley of our own comfort zones that we have no inclination to tackle the grueling climb? Sadly so few are willing to brave the elements and storms of the world, the flesh and the devil; sadly so few are willing to pack their crosses on the way up. For though each individual cross can be heavy, like an essential mountain-climber's backpack, it is a necessary accessory that we cannot do without. Sadly, so few realize this and shed the wood in order to lighten their load, forgetting that it makes them unsteady and too light; for with the slightest gust the winds of change and apathy will sweep them away into an avalanch of sin and despair. What it boils down to is that the cross is a mandatory item of any spiritual spelunker's equipment. Without it we'll never make it to the peaks. That is the message so many saints and sinners over the centuries including Saint Benedict, Saint Francis, Saint Theresa, Pope Pius IX, Pope Leo XIII, Pope Saint Pius X, Pope Pius XII, Padre Pio, Mother Teresa and our current Sovereign Pontiff all convey. Afterall, they want a huge crowd with them in Heaven. Just as Jesus said in Matthew 7: 14, "How narrow the gate and close the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it.", maybe that's what is meant by "lonely at the top!"
One of his great accomplishments followed when he was able to do the impossible - bring to a peaceful conclusion the schism that had erupted at the Council of Basle with the "rump council" and the antipope Felix V. Through Nicholas' gentle persuasion he was able to convince King Charles VII of France to mediate between the Church and Felix. It worked to perfection with Felix willfully abdicating and reconciling with Rome and Nicholas on April 7, 1449. Nicholas willingly readmitted Felix's cardinals to good standing in the Church and, in celebration of the reunification of all in the Western Church, proclaimed 1450 a Jubilee Year. He established Rome as the focal point for pilgrims to come during this year and it was then when Nicholas made grandiose plans for a lasting Vatican City people could visit, one that would remind them of the great traditions of the Church and her saints and instill a reverence that would last. He foresaw the Church as the trendsetter of culture. Thus he initiated the Renaissance at the Vatican, employing the great Fra Angelico and his able assistant Benozzo Gozzoli to begin adorning the churches, palaces and other buildings throughout Rome and Vatican Hill. It was the beginning of a makeover of the exterior of the Holy See that over the next century would prove to fulfill his vision with the emergence of such Renaissance masters as Raphael, Michelangelo and Bernini. Nicholas can be considered the true founder of the Vatican Library having left over a thousand Greek and Latin manuscripts to posterity.
Besides being a great lover and visionary of the arts, Nicholas was a stickler for reform but lacked the manpower and time-management to truly put this in motion. He did elevate the great Franciscan reformer Saint Bernardine of Siena to sainthood as an example to all and, in the face of various heresies and abuses arising throughout Europe, he dispatched legates to "hotspots" throughout Europe accompanied by the renowned Cardinal Nicholas de Cusa and Saint John Capistrano to Germany and Cardinal d'Estouteville to France.
In Nicholas' growing passion to develop more arts, sculptures and paintings Nicholas often was duped by artists who flocked to Rome because of the generous stipends they would receive with little thought to living their faith. Scandal often accompanied these early Renaissance artists and this was one of the faults Stefano Porcaro used to try to blackmail and depose Nicholas after he himself had been rebuked for his own fanatical humanistic views. Porcaro grew to be a burr in Nicholas's saddle in 1453 and, though the attempt to overthrow Nicholas thankfully failed, this insubordination affected Nicholas's health greatly in his final years. It began on March 19, 1452 when Nicholas crowned Frederick III as Holy Roman Emperor. He would be the last emperor to be so crowned in Rome. Early in 1453 the good times of Nicholas' papacy seemed to fade with two events. The first was the revelation of a plot by Porcaro, an avowed republican fanatic who envisioned a return to the political and cultural times of ancient Rome, who, as mentioned above, sought to try to discredit the Pope and depose him. This plot failed and Nicholas signed the execution of Porcaro and his fellow-conspirators. This capital punishment haunted Nicholas for the rest of his papacy. Adding to this was news that the great Constantinople had fallen at the hands of the Saracen Turk Mohammed II, thus bringing to an end the magnificent Byzantine Empire and adding a heavier burden on him as the leader of Christendom which had badly been defeated in the east by the Saracens. These weighed heavily on Nicholas' conscience and a severe case of the gout disabled him greatly over the final two years of his pontificate. Though he had disdained any desire for nepotism and greed as a loyal pontiff intent on rebuilding the Church, he felt he had failed both for the previous two reasons and that he felt he had failed to become the restorer of Rome that he had hoped to be. In retrospect, he hadn't really failed at this, but he had set the bar so high that anything that came in under it would have been considered a failure in his eyes. But his eyes never left the ultimate Prize - his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Whom Nicholas represented on earth as His vicar. He died on March 24, 1455 after a productive eight year pontificate despite his own feelings of inadequacy. It would be left to his successor Pope Callistus III to carry on what Nicholas had begun, but the former had no interest in the arts, only in reclaiming Constantinople for Christianity to which he poured most of his efforts.
Next issue: Pope Callistus III: The Constantinople Crusade consumes Callistus
Meditate upon your lives, your personalities and character. All is known to God, but unless you are willing to recognize your lowliness you cannot receive the graces that enfold you within His Sacred Heart - the Font of Divine Mercy.
My Little Ones, each day you must be a new ‘Yes’ to God. It is not a word uttered only once and then swiftly cast aside because of worldly concerns. The ‘Yes’ of your entire being must be given to God, and He in return shall asset you in all temporal needs.
The holy apostles, with human love, wanted to protect their Master, my Divine Son. They did not understand that pure love, which is divine, must allow the Divine Will to be accomplished for the good of all men.
Likewise, in your life it is necessary to surrender your will and seek only the Divine Will. Judas Iscariot had only to recognize, admit and repent of his sins, and Jesus would instantly have forgiven him everything. Judas Iscariot did not will this. His pride became a barricade against life and light.
The human love of the holy apostles would transform into Divine Love when, later, the Holy Spirit came upon them. But they, too, were tested and purified, as each of you must be.
If you desire for the testing and purification to bring you into the Beatific Vision, then learn from the holy, sacred Passion of my Divine Son who eagerly embraced the Divine Will on behalf of all men who rejected it.
Soon, my Little Ones, the moment of the Divine Will, shall come upon the earth, and al men shall live in the perfect harmony God has always intended for His children.
You are able to cause this moment to happen sooner, swiftly, more mercifully if you are willing to suffer in this life in the name of my Divine Son.
Cast aside the constraints of your human weakness and ascend into the celestial air of Heaven by walking your Calvary with faith, hope and love. In all things seek the refuge of My Son’s Sacred Heart through my Immaculate Heart, and the wisdom of God shall be yours and His peace, your joy in the midst of trials.
Pray and meditate and ask for purity of intention. I love you. I bless you. I thank you for your response which gives joy to my sorrowful heart.