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How many young girls would have that kind of faith today? For that matter, how many of the faithful remnant would even have that kind of trust and obedience? Thank God, Mary did. Even though we celebrate the Annunciation every year, these times have taken a new meaning as to the Annunciation for God has been sending His very Own Mother to announce to us to "let it be done according to Thy word". Yet, how many of us truly respond with that full commitment, no holds barred? Truth be told, very, very, very few. It's the human nature of man to be skeptical, to want to see something before taking the leap. God knows that, so does His Loving, Immaculate Mother. That is why They keep announcing over and over and over and over and over ad infinitum to return to the loving embrace of His Sacred Heart and Mary's Immaculate Heart through prayer, sacrifice, penance and obedience to God through His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. That shouldn't be so hard a responsibility when one considers the ultimate privilege - the reward ahead: Heavenly bliss forever! But so often we have to ask "why" and we tend to procrastinate. But putting things off often leads to regret because too many times we wait too long, until it may be too late. No one likes that possibility, yet so few are willing to do something about it. They want to see more, they want more proof that the Blessed Mother has been appearing all over the world in these final days of the second millennium. They want absolute proof that it is Mary speaking and then, they want the Church to say, without a doubt, it is true and they back it up. That is all fine and good, but so often when they wait on others they can easily miss the bus, in a manner of speaking. If what Our Lady is imparting wasn't important, would God send her over and over and over to almost every country in the world in some form of private revelation to wake us up and knock us over the head with God's love for all His children? Would He have begun a succession of apparition events from Rue de Bac on over the past two centuries if He weren't serious by sending His Own Holy Mother? We doubt very seriously He would have done it this way if it weren't vital His children hear the message.
But the message is not new; it is the same message imparted in Divine Revelation through the Word in Scripture, through the traditions and teachings of Holy Mother Church. Why then this concentrated effort to flood the world with His Mother? One reason has to be that His children are not staying true to the normal means of faith - His Commandments. Another is that they are not remaining faithful to the Church the Son of God established nearly 2000 years ago. Therefore, the Heavenly need to intensify the "annunciation" of God's Will comes into serious focus. Wouldn't you think God would get tired of telling His people over and over and over ad infinitum to be faithful, to heed His Laws and Will? Of course, but remember, His Love is so consuming, He loves us so much, that He will go to every measure to return fully to His embrace. So will His Mother, who many credit for being even more lenient than the Almighty Judge. There's the standard joke that Saint Peter complained to the Lord about all the misfits in Heaven, and Jesus replied, "I know, but what can I do, My Mother keeps letting them in the back door!" It's cute but it brings home a point. Like any mother, Mary is the feminine side, the side all can go to and thrust themselves into her arms, asking forgiveness with little fear of reprisal other than a loving, reconciling reminder not to stray again. Again, it's part of human nature to confide in mom more than dad, it's part of our makeup to lean on mom because traditionally she is the "heart of the family" as Mary was within the framework of the Holy Family of Nazareth. No wonder God has sent Mary then. He could have sent Gabriel again, or someone else, but He chose to send the one Heavenly person we could easily relate to and hear. But after all these years of cold-hearts, the Almighty is getting impatient. Mary has confirmed this at Garabandal when she said she can no longer hold back the hand of the Father, that "before the cup was filling up, now it is overflowing." At that same site Mary is purported to have announced the Warning and the subsequent Miracle. The annunciation of this and the annunciation of what our souls will see when this happens - to see ourselves exactly as God sees us with no camouflage, no pretense - makes the impending Warning a definitive and unique "annunciation." LIkewise the Miracle that is to follow, some speculate the great rainbow in the sky as Saint John Bosco saw in his vision, whatever it will be, it will be a stunning, spectacular "annunciation."
You might say, this entire century has been one constant "annunciation" of God's Will, yet, as we near the momentous third millennium so many remain unmoved. What will it take? Could it be an "annunciation" of a purification period? Could it be this purification - also known as the chastisement or tribulation - will make a bigger impact on those who have refused to hear the "annunciation" until now? We would certainly think so and hope so, for the sake of their souls. Jesus and Mary have already promised a Second Annunciation - the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart which will usher in a wondrous event - era - that will announce the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart - the New Pentecost - the Era of Peace - the New Advent. In essence it will be a time when Jesus will truly return to be with us on earth, not as man walking the earth, but in a Eucharistic way that all will know, cherish and respond in kind. Oh, and there will be one more "annunciation" - one of the most anticipated by loyal children of God who are the prime targets of His chief adversary. That "annunciation" will be the announcement that satan has been bound and chained and thrust back into hell where he belongs. Before all that happens and it will happen quickly, can we stand before God, before the mirror of our souls and look ourselves squarely in the eye, confidently and humbly saying that, through our prayers and obedience to His Will, we have been true to Mary's words, "Be it done to me according to Thy word."? Time and Prayer will tell.
Fr. Andreu was a role model for priestly holiness and devotion. The next day, while the visionaries were conversing with Our Lady they heard the voice of Fr. Andreu. It was a confirmation to them that this good man was with Mary in Heaven. Word spread of this and devotion to Fr. Luis has spread. The capper was a message given to Conchita on July 18, 1964 in which Our Lady promised that on the day after the great Miracle at the pine grove, Fr. Andreu’s body would be found incorrupt just as Saint Bernadette and Saint Theresa’s are.
In most of her messages Our Lady mentions to pray for priests that they will be holy and zealous - much like Fr. Luis. Priests are vital for the life of the Church for without them there can be no Eucharist. This is the focal point of the messages - the Eucharist. Mary tells the Garabandal visionaries as well as messengers the world over, to beckon the faithful to visit her Divine Son Jesus in the tabernacle as often as possible. Along with Saint Michael, she entreats all to treat her Son with the utmost care, respect and reverence. The Garabandal visionaries carried this out to a "tee," never turning their back on Our Lord residing in the Tabernacle at the village Church. When they would leave they would back out so as not to ever turn their back on Him. Do we have this much respect? We can learn a lot from these simple acts of love and reverence.
One of these was Maria Esperanza de Bianchini of Betania, Venezuela. Maria, visionary from Betania, spent a good deal of time in Italy because her husband Geo Bianchini Gianni was from Rome. This afforded her the opportunity to visit many shrines and monasteries and thus she struck a lasting friendship and spiritual bond with Padre Pio. In fact Padre Pio prophesied about her apparitions and, just before he died, he passed on the reigns personally to Maria. Today, Maria has the stigmata and many other mystical gifts which Padre Pio was blessed with In addition, Our Lady’s apparitions to Maria convey the same message as Garabandal with a special emphasis on Reconciliation with God and one another before it is too late. Like Garabandal, the Eucharist is the focal point emphasized by God granting a Eucharistic Miracle to the Betania parish priest Father Otty Aossa Aristzabal and the faithful gathered on His Immaculate Mother’s feast day December 8, 1992. Today it resides in Bishop Pio Ricardo Bello’s church in Los Teques, Venezuela where it has been proclaimed a Eucharistic Miracle and Betania has been approved by the Church in the first stage.
Besides Betania, the messages of Akita in Japan, El Cajan in Ecuador, San Nicholas in Argentina, El Escorial in Spain, Damascas in Syria, Naju in Korea, Hrushiv in the Ukraine, and countless other apparitions and locutions throughout the United States, Ireland, Italy, and Canada echo the same message of warning and great hope for those who return to her Divine Son.
No apparition parallels Garabandal as much as Medjugorje in respect to the young visionary children, the terrain, the condition of the hamlet, the faith of the villagers - and most importantly, in the content of the messages - the number of which are unprecedented in the annals of Marian Apparitions. The Gospa in Medjugorje has intricately linked Fatima with Medjugorje, in her August 25th, 1991 message to the world Our Lady said: "Therefore, dear children, pray and fast more firmly - so that everything I wanted to realize through my secrets which I began at Fatima will be fulfilled."
Foretold at LaSalette and Lourdes in France with the central focus on repentance, Our Lady unveiled even more at Fatima. She revealed in 1917 that World War I wound soon end, that another way would commence even more severe, and that Russia would become a world power and propagate atheistic communism throughout the world. She also prophesied that if we prayed as she requested, especially her Rosary, and attended Holy Mass and received her Divine Son present in the Holy Eucharist reverently, Russia would be converted and there would be an era of unprecedented peace on this earth - a peace not hitherto known to man: God’s peace.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part Eight - Garabandal: For whom the Bells Toll! The Warning and The Miracle!
Judas falls to his knees and he bends his head back and howls. Not even the howl of a wolf or an animal of the earth. This is a thoroughly horrid, demonic howl and his face is fully inhuman. His eyes are rolled up, his hair breathes, his nostrils flare, the lips are completely drawn back from his teeth which gleam and appear as fangs that wish to tear to pieces any and everything they come in contact with.
After he stops howling Judas struggles awkwardly to his feet and now he looks directly at me. There is the most terrible, sickening glow in his eyes. It is not human. Certainly not of God. And I tremble and cry out "Jesus" because I am looking into the eyes of Lucifer. And I am given to see the prince of darkness take and squeeze the last ounce of life from Judas’ soul, and the evil one, like an insidious spreading cancer, takes over all of Judas’ mind. It is Lucifer who thinks, who acts and who would destroy the body he has possessed, tearing it limb from limb in his hatred and fury.
For an instant I see Judas’ body sag, go limp as if he had died, only to jerk spasmodically back into an upright position for Lucifer himself animates, controls, drives.
Judas whirls around, looking in every direction. He seems pushed to return to the Temple area to give witness to his own hideous deed, but in the next instant he is whirled around and propelled in the opposite direction.
His feet are a tangle. He constantly stumbles, falls, rises, runs, stumbles again and sprawls headlong into a filthy gutter. Finally, mercifully, he is gone from my sight and I am shaking, praying, wanting only to be with Jesus.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part Three of Lesson 9: Our Lady's Meditation on THE ISCARIOT IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE BETRAYAL
&nsp;O Lord, it was through the message of an angel that we learned of the incarnation of Your Son Christ. Pour Your grace into our hearts, and by His Passion and Cross bring us to the glory of His Resurrection. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.