Will we be Pawns of satan or dedicated Knights of Christ?
Too often, without realizing it, we tend to stress the letter of the law, and are less sensitive to the spirit of the law. We look at what the Blessed Mother of God has entrusted to us through the messages of Medjugorje and we strive to do what she asks. So we go about diligently trying to get our three rosaries in a day - even to the point where we have to rush them at times or say them late at night when we don't have our heart into it and even forget we've been saying it as our mind wanders to all regions of past and future. Do we realize Our Lady has also said that one Our Father, or one Hail Mary prayed sincerely from the heart is worth more than three raced-through rosaries?
We read what Our Lady said - Fast on Bread and Water on Wednesdays and Fridays, and so we go about it religiously…almost to the point that we've become a "club of fasting Pharisees", not realizing the real purpose of what Our Lady is requesting. It is to make reparation and to condition us spiritually. Yes, the Blessed Mother has asked us to fast but there are other ways to fast if physically it would deter us from fully turning into God's Will. Our Lady has said the best form of fasting is to fast from sin - to not say one unkind word about our neighbor. How many of us can say we keep that kind of fast? If we could maintain that kind of discipline, more graces would be available to fend off the evil one.
The real Refuge is the Most Blessed Sacrament. Many reason to themselves and with others that we'll always have the Blessed Sacrament in our churches. Though there are some Catholic Churches in this country where that is doubtful today, many still do, and for now, any sanctuary which preserves the True Presence in the tabernacle - where the pastor and associates are truly obedient to the Holy Father and Magisterium of the Church - then those churches are true Refuges for now.
There are so many things Our Lady of LaSalette imparted, especially: "The society of men is on the eve of the most terrible scourges and of gravest events. Mankind must expect to be ruled with an iron rod and to drink from the chalice of the wrath of God."
God is definitely not happy with what man has done. Yes, it is inevitable that a great chastisement is coming to every continent on this earth, including our country. If this sounds far-fetched, look back at Yugoslavia just a few years ago. No one who traveled to Medjugorje could foresee the terrible devastation that would befall Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was then just a state. In our narrow-mindedness and world perception from the media perspective, we can't fathom that same kind of thing happening in the United States. Yet Our Lady has cautioned us numerous times through numerous visionaries and locutionists that what happened in Bosnia and now in the Balkans not only can happen here, but also will happen. When? We know not, but Mary has given us an accurate time-table through her messages to Father Don Stefano Gobbi and others.
At Fatima, Our Lady said: "If my requests are not granted, Russia will scatter her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be destroyed." We know much of that has happened. We also unfortunately, are being lulled into a "false peace" by the media and governments - including our own. Remember the words of visionary Josyp Terelya: "We will be witnesses shortly of a great division in the Roman Church. Some of those bishops and clergy now that still belong to the Catholic Church, even in America, will leave the Church and create their own catholic church. This fragmentation of the Church is read to destroy the unity of the Church. And we have to be ready for that because the enemies of the Church have been preparing for this specific act. Everyone must now become aware of this evil at hand and this is why the Christian world is becoming consolidated through the Mother of God." He gives the essence of Mary's role. He also warned, "I admonish America to maintain its position of strength. Because the moment that America weakens by disbanding its military that's when the Soviets will stab everyone in the back. Beware!" We are being lulled into this "false peace" by the media and the present administration as well as foreign governments. Our country and its constitutions are being eroded and will soon be in big trouble when the One World Order is in place along with the Antichrist. We do know it's imminent.
Our Lady imparted to Father Gobbi, "Take courage! Be strong, my little children. To you befalls the duty, in these difficult years, of remaining faithful to Christ and to His Church, putting up with the hostility, struggle and persecution."
We must go on faith that God, in His wisdom, will guide us and not abandon us. In studying the apparition messages at Garabandal, we discover that God will send a Great Warning and then a Great Miracle. This warning has been detailed as being an "illumination" where we will each see the state of our own soul the exact way God sees us. That can be a scary thought. But it also shows how merciful God is, for before He exacts His Justice, He will bestow His Mercy in what could very well be a "dress rehearsal" for the Final Judgment. In His Mercy God will give every one of His children a chance to "make good". Our Lady is a vital part of God's plan; she is the intercessor, the one who He has selected to give us a part of the Infinite tableau. Beginning with her apparitions at LaSalette, Our Blessed Mother has been sharing a portion of the overall picture for over 150 years. The more she divulges, the more we can begin to see the full facsimile of what is to occur. The closer we come to the end times, the more she is disclosing to us through many more visionaries and messengers for the specific purpose of helping us navigate through the deadly mine field and traps laid by her adversary.
Most importantly, we have to keep in mind the Gospel and strive to love our fellow man, not excluding one soul. We need to relight the flame of love and keep our lamps burning bright as beacons for those grappling with what their role is for no one knows the hour but the Father.
We have been alerted the enemy is here. There is no time to lose, we must put on the armor of God and prepare for the fiercest battle this world has ever known. Onward Christian soldiers! It is time to get into position on our knees and use the greatest weapon we have - Prayer. With this heavenly weapon, consisting chiefly of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Rosary, we will be victorious in this great Spiritual Warfare being waged!
Next installment: Part Four of SPIRITUAL WARFARE.
All are suddenly there, and upon their faces, I see neither surprise nor shock at their summons by God, and their heavenly transportation. As it was with John, so it is with the Apostles, all of whom realize the purpose of this gathering.
Our Lady rises from her chair and bowing before her Divine Son's Apostles humbly begs each to forgive her for any failure on her part to be a true and loving mother to them. They sputter protests, but it is Peter who gestures them to silence.
When the Mother of God has finished speaking, it is St. Peter who steps forward. He has changed; his build is the same, somewhat short and stocky. His hair is quite gray, his features lined with the toil of his work, but he speaks for all the Church in a voice of authority tempered by holy humility.
"Holy Mother, in the name of all present and of all who embrace your Son as the Messiah, we solemnly declare that for you no pardon or forgiveness is necessary. Rather, we who are weak and sinners, ask you to obtain those graces we shall need when, by God's Holy Plan, you are no longer with us, but are with Him Whom we long to see."
"Peter, beloved rock of my Son, it shall be as you say. Always will I intercede for you, that my Motherly help may be yours until eternity. To your wise care, Vicar of my Divine Son, I leave these treasures, these sacred relics of my Son'' Passion and Death. Venerate them, Treasure them. Take great care that they are not defiled, for from them many graces will flow forth on those whose faith believes and trusts. I have nothing else to leave you, beloved of my Son, except my promise to constantly beseech my Son to assist you in all things."
"O dear Holy Mother," cries St. James, "how shall we manage without you?"
"You shall have strength and courage in all things if you are of one mind and one heart, always guided by the Holy Spirit. Let no man cause division amongst you. Go and do as my Son has commanded you, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled!
"You are the living witnesses of my Divine Son. Let the Holy Spirit precede you in all that you do, for then you will speak and act not as men, but as my Divine Son taught you."
The shadows have lengthened. There is only a faint glow in the room where the last vestiges of light seep between the half-opened shutters.
The Apostles form a circle around the Mother of God. They bless themselves with the Sign of the Cross, and Peter intones a psalm. One after the other, a prayer, a psalm rises to Heaven while the Blessed Mother, head bowed, her hands crossed upon her breast, communicates with God as she has always done.
When the last Apostle is finished, Mary, the Mother of God, lifts her head, gazing to Heaven. Her eyes now have a distant look. It is obvious that she is seeing something divine which the Apostles are not privileged to see. I, too, do not 'see', but am given to understand that angels of every choir have come to join in these prayers, awaiting the glorious command from the Trinity for Mary's pure and spotless soul to return home.
Our Lady begins the "Our Father." She speaks in a low voice; her words are not rushed. Each syllable of her Divine Son's Own prayer holds a wonder for her, who is blessed among all women. When she speaks the words, "Thy Will be Done On earth as It Is In Heaven," there is a radiance which emanates from her that transforms her exquisite beauty into a minute resemblance of the glory which awaits all in Heaven.
The prayer completed, Mary rises to her feet. She goes to each Apostle and tenderly places a motherly kiss upon the weather-worn cheek, and marks each forehead with the sign of her Son's Cross. Only when this is finished does she sign. It is a deep sigh, and it is as if this one long breath releases all the breath in her body. Her face becomes a little pale, and she whispers.
"I will lie down now, for the moment is at hand."
"Quick, John, light the candles. We will keep vigil as Our Lord would wish."
Mary lies down upon her small, plain bed. The mantle drapes about her body, and the folds of her veil leave only her face exposed. Even her feet are covered modestly by the length of her dress. She places her hands upon her breast, in the same manner she arranged the hands of her Divine Son when His body was hastily placed in the tomb.
For a moment, her eyes remained open, gazing upward. Around her the Apostles have gathered, each holding a candle. This illumination allows them to see the moment when the Mother of God, eyes fixed on Heaven, smiles in ecstasy and utters one word: "Son!"
Then, gently her eyes close, although the smile remains. It is several long moments before the Apostles realize that Mary's soul has been taken to Heaven. For the Mother of God, death has come gently, tenderly, without any pain or fear. She appears to be in a most peaceful rest."
It is John who is at the head of the bed who pronounced the words; "She has gone to her reward. May all Heaven and earth rejoice."
Peter holds his candle closer, to where any breath from her pure lips or nostrils would cause the candle flame to waver. But the flame remains steady, and the reality slowly sinks in: Mary, Ever-Virgin Mother of God, has gone to be with her Son.
"She appears as a young woman in the midst of a peaceful dream," says St. Thomas.
"What, then, are we to do?" asks St. Philip.
"We will gather flowers to place around her. We will keep the candle lit and each will have his turn of watch. We will pray. The Holy Spirit will show us that which God would have us do for His Mother. It is difficult to…to think of placing her in a sepulcher."
All but Peter and John blow out their candles and reverently leave. They will gather flowers. They will also notify the holy disciples and women who are in Jerusalem that Jesus has called forth Mary's soul into Paradise.
While all of this has happened, I have been permitted to see, but for a fleeting moment, Mary's soul leave her body. I see it as a luminous star, brighter than any star in the canopy of the Heavens. This star is held in the embrace of two angels who are dressed completely in white, while around them the other angles break into glorious songs as they go at once before the Throne of God. I see them ascend the structure of the house no obstacle for these pure spirits. But I am not permitted to accompany the angels to Heaven, where the Blessed Trinity awaits the Most Blessed Virgin, Mother of the Word.
Rather, I remain in prayerful watch beside the bed where Mary's body remains as if asleep. There is color in her face. Her body remains supple, even though she does not breathe, nor does her heart beat.
Soon the room is filled with the scent of flowers, which the Apostles have gathered from many parts of Jerusalem. The word has spread among all the faithful, and in the growing darkness outside, the faithful come to kneel and pay homage to the Mother of God, Mother of the Savior, Mary, Most Holy.
The Apostles take watches by twos. One at the head of the bed; the other at its foot. They pray and often look upon the body of God's Own Mother and their eyes are filled with tears of human sadness, but also spiritual joy.
How Mary has longed to be with her Son. How faithfully has she waited these many years that she might nurture the infant Church to a fullness of life and health.
Throughout the night, all the following day, vigil is kept. People from the town and nearby villages also take turns keeping watch, and upon the bed where Mary's body rests, the flowers first brought remain fresh, and unwilted, and soon the floor beside the bed is also strewn with flowers.
Two by two, the Apostles kneel and pray, I am given to understand that all sorrow has passed from their hearts. Guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, they receive Divine Knowledge that in God's Perfect Plan this moment of natural death must occur for our Blessed Mother. They who have seen in their lifetime witnessed the death of friends and relatives, have seen that death of the mortal body which God had desired for all His children. No pain. No suffering, no fear, nor anxiety. Simply, as a little child, the person would have lain down, cradled in the embrace of the Creator and God would have summoned the soul back to him.
Mary remains beautiful in her death-sleep. The checks are slightly blushed, the hands so gently laid upon her breast. Her head is slightly inclined to the right, but there is no stiffness of body. And the scent of flowers fills the room, and noticeably, becomes stronger with each passing hour. It is not the scent of any particular flower, nor the profusion of aromas from the myriad of flowers strewn on the bed and floor. This aroma, which permeates beyond the room and out into the open is noticed by all whom are present. These people, faithful Christians of the newborn Church recognize in it the very presence of God, and they cross themselves and pray, while many are given to tears of joy, for there is no sadness among them. Though bereft now of the Mother of God, their trust in Him grows. Interiorly they know in the intellect of their soul, that Jesus will not abandon them, as He has promised to be always with them. They understand that His Mother shall always be a true Mother to all who seek and love her Son. And enveloped in the beauty of this peaceful scene, the interior vision fades.
NEXT AND FINAL INSTALLMENT: Part three: The Blessed Mother prepares to be reunited with her Divine Son
Death of Saint Bernardine of Siena whose feast we celebrate today. This Franciscan served as vicar general of his order and became a bishop. This missionary was known far and wide for preaching devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He was canonized by Pope Nicholas V in 1450. For more on him, see DAILY LITURGY
Death of Christopher Columbus, who, despite all his great accomplishments and acknowledgment from Queen Isabella, died in poverty and neglect at Valladolid, Spain.
A day after dispatching of Anne Boleyn, the irreverant King Henry VIII marries Jane Seymour (not the actress), further raising the ire of Rome and Pope Paul III who would excommunicate the king two years later.
Pope Saint Pius V, the 225th successor of Peter, forms the Holy League in alliance with Venice and Spain which would be the nucleus, along with the Papal States of the navy that would defeat the great Turkish fleet at the landmark battle of Lepanto under Don Juan of Austria later the same year on October 7th.