What does this statement mean, especially today when across the globe the Mother of God is appearing to fewer and fewer visionaries as she pares back the messages she has been imparting to numerous visionaries and countless locutionists throughout the world? What does it all mean? Our Lady has tried time and again to expand on what she emphasized at Fatima, then Beauraing, Amsterdam, Garabandal, Akita, Betania, Medjugorje, and beyond. At each she has spoken of a time when her Immaculate Heart will triumph. But the prophecy of the Triumph didn't begin at Fatima. It began even as early as the Old Testament when God told His people through His prophets that the Woman clothed with the Sun, a crown of twelve stars upon her head, standing upon the moon, would crush the serpent, who is, of course, satan. After countless centuries this biblical passage remains a cause of division and misinterpretation. Is the woman the Church? Is she the Mother of God? Is she merely a symbol? And if the latter, then a symbol of what? There are seemingly so many questions. Where, then, are the answers?
It would seem, as we near the millennium, that many people around the world are suffering from a good dose of doubt, of perplexity, all enveloped in confusion. This is evident in every Marian center throughout the country as the number of the faithful, who once supported these centers so faithfully, have dwindled to a mere handful, forcing many to abandon their apostolate, or to restructure their ministry by cutting costs in order to continue on a shoestring. This says something about the Triumph for those who believe, even though they do not know the answers, are the real soul of God's faithful army. The multitude of those who once believed, because they sought answers from God via His many chosen messengers, have now fallen by the wayside because they did not understand the messages of Heaven correctly to begin with, and expected something from God that He never intended for us, His children. And another large number are those who do not seek to truly live the messages from Heaven via Jesus or His Blessed Mother. Rather, they have become "message chasers" or "message junkies" as we treated in yesterday's editorial. They are those souls who so hunger for knowledge of the future that they read only to seek a blueprint of what is yet to come, so they can somehow avoid the catastrophes in this life, avoid the crosses, while feathering their nests, so to speak, for their entrance into Eternal LIfe. This latter portion of the once-strong Marian movement do not understand that no one messenger is more important than another, nor is one place more holy than another place. They do not understand that the messages from around the world - those truly of God - all basically say the same thing: Fast, Pray, Convert your heart, go to Mass, receive the Sacraments worthily - Prepare! Is this not what our Heavenly Mother told the children, and through them, the entire world at Fatima? Isn't this exactly what she has been telling the visionaries at Medjugorje for nearly seventeen years? Isn't this the essence of her messages to her countless souls God has chosen as locutionists, mystics and visionaries in these special times? Aren't the messages the same in content as they were at Rue de Bac, Lourdes, LaSalette and others?
Surely, so many rationalize, there is more; much more; and they search tirelessly, going here and there, reading this locutionist, that visionary, and forgetting about the messages from locutionists or visionaries who have fulfilled their mission for God and whose messages to the world have come to an end, because their curiosity has not yet been satisfied. That Mary's Immaculate Heart will triumph has been foretold and promised by God in both Sacred Scripture and in private revelation. No matter how much we hunt for answers, no matter how much we doubt or grow lukewarm, nothing will change the finality of God's Will - the Triumph of His Mother's Immaculate Heart. Because we have not listened, we have not understood through the grace of the Holy Spirit what the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart means.
In tomorrow's editorial we will bring you five little-known but pertinent prophecies Our Lady imparted to Saint Bernadette Soubirous which the holy visionary confided to Pope Leo XIII in 1879. They were lost by the Vatican for over a century but discovered in an iron box in the bowels of the Vatican Library by Father Antoine LaGrande recently. Four of the prophecies have already been fulfilled, the fifth deals with the Triumph and fits the timetable Our Lady has indicated to many messengers including Father Don Stefano Gobbi. Tomorrow we shall reveal those prophecies. How the people take it and respond in sharing with others through evangelization will determine if the watchword for the Triumph is Anticipation or Apathy!
The Warning, "a correction of the conscience of the world", an anticipation in time of our individual judgment in eternity, is surely the ultimate appeal of God's mercy. I have often noted the connection of these events with the revelation of Divine Mercy to Sister Faustina.
The great Miracle will be an out-pouring of the healing love and cleansing mercy of Christ's Heart to those who have responded to the Warning. Will the Cross of Christ, appearing in the skies and illuminating the earth, as foretold to Sister Faustina, be somehow linked to the Miracle? In this age of electronic and satellite communication, the impact of the Miracle on the world will be such that God can say: "What more could I do that I have not done?"
The Chastisement is conditional. We wonder how would it be possible that anyone could resist the persuasion of God's mercy? Yet we all have confronted the spiritual blindness, the closure of hearts and minds to the supernatural. We can only pray that the apocalyptic scenes of the "night of screams" will yet be averted. Nevertheless one understands the misgivings of Conchita. For justice as well as mercy are equally attributes of God.
As I first read the spellbinding history of Garabandal, I felt transported into a realm of goodness and innocence. The simplicity of this bless hamlet and its humble people, so childlike in faith, became for me a spiritual refuge to which I have had recourse when the smog of sophistication, the tangle of "new theology", the web of bureaucracy, the "mature" Catholics propagating their ": new church" became suffocating and terrifying.
What Mary did in this village during her visitation of four years created a rarefied atmosphere of Heaven on earth.
Here, the Mother of the Church demonstrated the genuine renewal which the Council intended for the whole world. From its inception with four little girls pilfering fruit from an apple tree, Garabandal offers us the promise of a new Garden of Eden, Paradise Regained, to be spread into every city and village where human souls have made their homes.
As the content of the Message of Garabandal unfolded, I began to marvel at the profundity, orthodoxy, and coherence of its "theology." Difficult questions were frequently posed to the children from a variety of observers for a variety of motives, some no doubt to entrap the youngsters in errors which would discredit their claims.
But always the responses were phrased in complete accord with Catholic doctrine. (This is, of course, a basic criterion for authenticity.) The children often would consult with Mary or the angel before producing answers which seemed to confirm their heavenly sources by their sublime simplicity.
What God has hidden from the learned and the clever, He has revealed to the merest children. Other questions originated from the children themselves, spontaneously seeking explanations of matters of faith. The examples are too numerous to cite here. Depending, then, on the dispositions and motivations of the questioners, the responses brought consolation, confirmation, and peace, or confusion, disquiet, and frustration.
In the latter case, these colloquies remind us of the questions posed in the Gospel to ensnare Jesus in His speech, and the stunning reversal of the schemes of His enemies by terse but clinching replies.
Modernism attempts to sap the essence of the Church of transcendence, grace, the supernatural. The best means to combat this apostasy (for it is not merely heresy or schism) is for us to make known the miracles, the prophetic messages, the heavenly visitations which have been lavished upon us. Garabandal, and the related witness of Padre Pio, is an eminent example. What could refute secularism with more finality, we might add, than the first words of Mary to the children of Fatima: "I have come from Heaven."
In conclusion, I will state that I have never doubted the authenticity of what occurred at Garabandal. The convergence of external and internal evidence is overwhelming. It was, then, with unexpected delight that I was invited to write this article. The news of the new investigation kindles a hope that soon we priests will feel more encouragement to announce this liberating Message to our long suffering and imperiled faithful.
We pray for the fulfillment of the promises of Mary; conversion of Russia, conversion of sinners, conversion of the whole world, the time of one fold and one shepherd.
Our Lady of Garabandal has sustained my priestly life all these years. With joy and gratitude I present my testimony. We are now living through a suspenseful moment, when the triumph of the Church depends on a timely revelation of the merciful intercession of the Mother who opened her heart to us, in a special way to priests, on the cobblestones and among the pines of a mountain paradise. Soon, dear Mother!
Resist a spirit that goes against faith. I Peter 5:9 says, "Resist steadfast in the faith the spirit of fear and the spirit of doubt." There are a lot of evil spirits attacking us today, be it divorce or resentment or faithlessness or depression or addiction to nicotine or alcohol. Evil spirits are actually oppressing good people. As Monsignor Walsh writes in his book The Key to the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church, even the holiest of people, even the most spiritual person can be assailed by the devil and his demons. Evil spirits of infirmity, of anger, or of anxiety can actually attach themselves to us and superimpose themselves on weak areas of the body or the mind. And some people never pray for deliverance from them, even though Jesus in teaching the Lord's Prayer commands us to ask God to "deliver us from the evil one."
Certain spirits go against faith - the spirits of faithlessness, fear, doubt. They can drag us down and prevent miracles from ever happening in our lives. "And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith" (Matthew 13:58). There are miracles Jesus will not work in the midst of unbelief. I Peter 5:9 says to resist steadfast in the faith. We must deal vigorously with those spirits that militate against the faith (cf. James 4:2).
"Cast your anxieties on the LordůSatan roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he will devour. Be firm in your faith against him." Paul says something similar when he speaks of putting on the armor of God so that we might stand up against the devil's evil attacks. We are not fighting human beings, we are fighting cosmic powers of darkness. Especially watch for a spirit that seeks to undermine your faith, suggesting: "You've never worked a miracle, so give up." Satan will try to persuade you not to use faith and not to develop your faith. He will tell you it's just for very holy people, but not for you. He will do everything he can to dissuade you from growing in faith.
Go to where your faith can be fed, especially Christian gatherings. It is difficult to grow in your faith by yourself. Get into prayer meetings, groups, retreats, and organizations where you can have your faith fed. Tapes and the right kind of books, especially Holy Scripture, are a great help too.
The true story is told of a shipload of Spanish conquistadors who were shipwrecked off the coast of South America. Only three men survived, floating for days on a makeshift raft without food or water. Nearly bereft of hope, they at last sighted land in the distance. With all the feeble strength they could muster, they paddled for the land. Weaker and weaker they became from dehydration until they collapsed just off shore. Each morning they could barely open their eyes to watch natives come down to the shoreline, dip their hands in the water and drink. The miserable men on the raft could not believe their eyes. Surely they were hallucinating for no man can drink only seawater and live.
Finally one morning, first one and then another of the conquistadors died and were nudged overboard by the lone survivor. He peered once more at the daily ritual of the natives coming down to the sea to drink. Though certain it would be the death of him, the last conquistador crawled to the edge of the raft and dipped his hands into the sea. The water was sweet. He and his shipwrecked companions had discovered the mouth of the mighty Amazon River where eleven billion gallons of fresh water per second rush to meet the sea. The last man lived because he finally believed. The other two died because they would not.
Jesus offers the sweet water of life eternal to all who will drink. So many needlessly wither and die spiritually just a sip away from faith-enriched spiritual fulfillment. Let us pray with the apostles, "Lord, increase our faith!"