We admit, we're as guilty as the next for publishing the speculation but that is the nature of the beast known as informative journalism and our responsibility as a publication. Plus, it tied in with the Rosary crusade for the Holy Father from Ascension Thursday to Pentecost Sunday. Does that mean the plethora of Rosaries prayed were for naught? Far from it. If you remember, the reason for the Rosaries was to help the Pope discern when would be the best time to proclaim this glorious dogma. Many felt Pentecost Sunday would be, but it was not to be because the Holy Father discerned it as so. That is the way it should be. In all things we all must bow to the Supreme Pontiff in his decisions and wisdom. Whether you realize it or not, this holy Polish Pope has a definite method to his "madness." If you review anything written, we speculated that it was highly doubtful, and even though we prayed for it if it were God's will, we doubted it would come this past Sunday. Why? Not because of anything we had heard or hadn't heard, but rather simply from the fact that God does not specify dates, neither does His Blessed Mother in her apparitions or messages regarding world events. They may indicate a time span, but never a specific date for all to know ahead of time. This is true of all private revelation. In fact, the only prediction we can think of that was prophesied specifically was Christ's Resurrection. He foretold to the Apostles and His disciples, as recorded in Matthew 17: 22, how "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and on the third day He will rise again." Many believe the time of Christ's birth was prophesied. Yes and no. The time frame was, but the exact day was not. While Jesus, the prophets before Him in the Old Testament and those who followed after His Ascension prophesied much, none pinpointed a specific date or time except for His Resurrection. Therefore, we cannot be disappointed that the "Final Marian Dogma" was not proclaimed on the Solemnity of Pentecost, which this year coincided with the feast of the Visitation and the date Pope Benedict XV proclaimed to honor Our Lady as Mediatrix of all graces. Humanly there's a tinge, but we can get over that in a matter of seconds for one very good reason: It was not the right time in God's calendar! Does this mean we won't report on rumors and speculated dates? That depends. Sometimes predictions can be so far out that we won't even bother, but when reliable sources submit information and principals involved, we have to at least give it some credence. Such was the case this past week when many Mariologists, including Dr. Mark Miravalle, were invited to Rome. As it turned out it was for the first official Lay Conference which was a huge success and opened new vistas for the lay movement worldwide, which is now recognized as a viable entity in the Church; so much so that a special curial has been set up - the Pontifical Council for the Laity and headed by American Cardinal James Francis Stafford, former head of the Archdiocese of Denver who hosted World Youth Days in 1993.
The purpose of the Daily CATHOLIC is to promote and inform readers of things Catholic, and, as such, we need to stay on top of everything and report as accurately as we can. That we owe to our readers. Therefore, we will always stay on top of stories and reports that emanate from the Vatican and when they prove false, we will always report that, too. Thus, we admit the report of the proclamation was premature. We still believe, from all sources to this point, which remain quite reliable, that it will still happen. As for when, it is better to follow Our Lord's advice in Matthew 25: 13, and to pray and prepare and not be caught without our lamps lit, for Jesus has alerted us to "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." We have those words to comfort and encourage us and to help us realize Holy Mother Church has traditionally, through the centuries, moved slowly but surely. That's really the best combination. For with the Holy Spirit as our Consoler, we can never be disappointed in the Church.
His elevation to the papacy was something that had actually been prophesied by Saint Francis of Assisi. The story goes that as a youngster his father, Matteo Rossi Orsini, a great Roman nobleman, tried to influence the humble saint by offering Giovanni as a candidate to the Order of Friars Minor. But Francis knew that God had other plans for this young man, telling his father that he was destined to become not a Franciscan, but rather the Protector of the entire Order and head of the entire Church. True to his word, Giovanni went on to become a diocesan priest, bishop and cardinal and be appointed Protector of the Franciscans and, on November 25, 1277 the Supreme Pontiff. A month later on December 22, he was coronated. His first rule of order was to continue his campaign to gain more independence for the Holy See by negotiating with Charles. Nicholas, imposing severe restrictions on the Angevin king of Sicily if he refused the Pope's demands, convinced Charles not to seek reappointment as a senator of Rome. This move not only removed Charles from power in Rome, but gave Nicholas the opening to appoint himself to the Roman senate as Charles successor. This was an important move for it forever created the "papal signoria" over Rome. Nicholas further eroded Charles' power in central Italy by declaring no non-Italian prince could hold office in Italy or Rome without approval of the Holy See. To keep Charles at bay and assure he would comply, Nicholas negotiated with King Rudolf I of Habsburg, who had been Pope Gregory X's choice for Holy Roman Emperor. Since Gregory had not been able to consummate the coronation, Rudolf had gone through three Popes in one year while waiting. In return for favors from Nicholas, Rudolf agreed to vacate Romagna. With this move Nicholas was able to form the Papal States with the boundaries they would enjoy throughout Italy until 1860. To solidify this, he arranged a marriage of Rudolf's daughter Clementia to, of all people, Charles' grandson Charles Martell. The union proved a brilliant piece of political prowess by Nicholas for both Charles and Rudolf agreed to respect, as well as defend, the other sovereign's territories. As part of her dowry, Clementia was awarded Burgundy and thus was established four kingdoms: Germany, Lombardy, Tuscany and Burgundy. It was agreed the Holy Roman Emperor would oversee all four. Thus peace was at hand largely through the masterful political prowess Pope Nicholas III had wielded.
The move of unification did not please everyone, specifically Michael VIII Palaeologus, the Byzantine emperor who had strung the Popes along in order to quell Charles. When Nicholas brought Charles to his knees through honey rather than the vinegar of excommunication, Michael was livid, but could do nothing about it. In fact, Nicholas had the upper hand and played it to the hilt. He sent papal legates to Constantinople with an ultimatum. He would keep Charles from attacking the city if Michael signed the terms he enclosed. If the Byzantine emperor thought the terms demanded by Blessed Pope Innocent V a year and a half earlier were stiff, he was astounded how demanding Nicholas' terms were, which included a permanent papal legate headquartered in Constantinople. Michael was caught between a rock and a hard place and had no choice but to reluctantly accept the tough terms. Michael's half-heartedness, however, would come back to haunt him and cause his excommunication in the next regime when Nicholas' successor Pope Martin IV would sadly undo so much of the wonderful relations established by Nicholas.
But during Nicholas pontificate everything was right with the world. True to Francis' prophecy, Nicholas, formerly protector of the Franciscans as well as the Dominicans, issued a papal bull that would go far in establishing the Franciscans as a solid foundation among religious orders in the Church. It was Exiit qui seminat, issued on August 14, 1279 and largely inspired by Saint Bonaventure which ended the dispute among the Friars on the type of poverty that Franciscans should practice. In addition, Nicholas made it a severe ecclesial violation for anyone to either attack or alter the rule established by Saint Francis. He appointed a tremendous number of Franciscans and Dominicans to prestigious positions within the curia and dispatched Franciscan missionaries to the far reaches of the world, including preaching to the Tartars in eastern Hungary to settling in Persia and even China. Closer to home Nicholas began the restoration of Saint Peter's Basilica and the push to reestablish the Holy See at the Vatican. He had been arch-priest at St. Peter's before receiving the red-hat and always had a special affinity for St. Peter's and its site as opposed to the Lateran or other Papal Palaces elsewhere in Italy. It was Nicholas who purchased additional land around the Vatican and established most of the boundaries which incorporate Vatican City today. He also planted the first of the Vatican gardens, which today are among the most brilliant in the world. It is ironic that, as much as he loved the Vatican, it was at the summer residence of Soriano, near Viterbo that he suffered a stroke and died on August 22nd, 1280. Like Innocent V, he died before he could formally coronate Rudolf I as Holy Roman Emperor and this would come back to haunt the Church as we shall see in future installments. He was buried in the chapel of St. Nicholas which the Pope had built himself inside St. Peter's. He was mourned by all but a few, one of them being the poet Dante Alligheri, who, because Nicholas awarded so many appointments to relatives of the Orsini family, accused him of nepotism and condemned him to hell where he was depicted in the poet's most famous work "Dante's Inferno." Truth be told, we doubt Nicholas found his way to the nether regions, but rather the etherial realm of Heaven for, through his strong adherence to Church law and the Doctrines, Teachings, Dogmas and Traditions of the Church and his masterful handling of events and characters of that time, he further strengthened Holy Mother Church. It was but a brief oasis in the desert of inept pontiffs for his successor would undo much of the progress Nicholas had accomplished as the people would rebel against this weak successor who became a puppet of Charles.
Next installment: Pope Martin IV: The bitter tones of the Sicilian Vespers.
Dear children, how often I have told you that you have been chosen ffrom all eternity to live in these, the end times, which precedes the Reign of My Sacred Heart.
O! If you knew My Mercy in choosing you to live at this time, for I Who Am desire to set you in the firmament of heaven as a shining star, for by virtue fulfilled through My One True Church, you shall persevere till the end.
Therefore, I solemnly tell you that the mark of these end times which all the world, so divided by the evil one, can clearly see, is the death of virtue.
The just man is a man of virtue. A man of virtue possesses My Light and Life, and to the degree he possesses Me is led along the path of salvation.
Of what virtues do I speak if I tell you that before My Eyes the world and all mankind appear not even as a wasted, barren desert, but as rotted corpses? How shall you hear and take to heart My words which are Life Itself, if your souls, being deprived of My Life, suffocate in Spiritual Darkness?
Today I will begin by speaking about the virtue of Humility.
O! You do not wish to hear this word! To consider it a virtue is an abomination to your finite mind, and thus you reject it.
You say: "How often am I subjected to humiliations. Daily I am insulted in my home, where I work, where I recreate. I am ever humiliated in Church, for I no longer understand that which takes place in a Church once totally united" (Jesus speaks of The Roman Catholic Church).
O! Little children of My Sacred Heart, all that you murmur in your heart is true. I hear the murmuring of the heart, My children. And I solemnly tell you: Do not murmur. You cannot say you are Mine if you do not feel the stinging blow of humiliation and by virtue of grace, accept the humiliations as a means given to keep all manner of pride and vanity from your soul.
O! How you suffer because at the first instance of humiliation you experience the fullness of the human ego. Unchecked by virtue, the human ego finds speech and launches into a defense of itself, and in its defense spares no one's feelings. This self-defense is that-"self"-seeking to adorn itself with righteousness, which is truly pride and judgment and uncharitableness.
Humility is that deep abiding awareness of the soul which fully recognizes and acknowledges all of the limitations of each individual-limitations of the physical body and the interior struggles of the soul as it seeks to return home to Me.
True humility, which resides in the heart, is a virtue that comes only after much struggle and self-surrender to Me.
Humility of heart sees mystically My Power and Glory, and beside Me acknowledges its absolute nothingness. Humility of heart, the fullness of the virtue of humility, does not bring the soul to despair, which is the whispered lie of the evil one. Humility of heart disposes the soul, and thus all human faculties, to focus on Me, to trust Me, to seek Me in all things. True humility of heart recognizes the truth about Me, and about My creature Whom I love with Infinite Love. Humility attributes all good to Me, and bows humbly before Me, because the faults of the weakened flesh and effects of sin offend Me and keep you far from Me.
Humility of heart speaks charitably. It speaks the Truth, not giving witness to false pride which would deny My graces within you. rather, humility says simultaneously "I (the soul) belong to God, My Creator. I am His Child, and He is My All. But of myself, I am as nothing, worthless and wretched before Infinite Goodness."
Thus, in this mystical way humility is that interior disposition of soul and heart which accepts not only one's limitations, but also all injustices suffered because of the egoism of others, because it is satisfied that I alone see and judge each heart and soul. True humility makes the soul strong and a proper dwelling place for the Most Blessed Trinity, for it effectively eradicates the self and allows the Holy Spirit to transform you into My Image and Likeness.
I solemnly say to all who seek Me. "Am I not God? In My earthly life did I not suffer every form of humiliation? Are you to do less?
If you would grow in humility, then be always before Me as My humble, obedient child. Do not seek to defend yourself. I am your sole defense. I Who Am defend My own, and I Am Infinite.
Detach yourself from the opinion of the world. Of what importance is it if the world finds fault with you? The world found fault with Me, the Sinless One, and put Me to death. I forgave and you must do no less. Is it not My Judgment of you that counts, both in this earthly life and in the next?
Therefore, I solemnly tell you that by virtue of true humility you comfort Me. You are in the Refuge of My Sacred Heart and upon you I shower great graces so as to bring you to Me swiftly.
When you pray, pray humbly, for this is prayer from the heart. Pray peacefully, for that is prayer from the heart.
How essential is this virtue at all times and in all ages, but in these end times this virtue must be renewed, re-born if you are to persevere in the True Faith!
Humility is virtue. Virtue is My armor against the Spiritual Darkness. Put on humility, for by it I shall Come sooner!