Even his holiness Pope John Paul II got into the act by sending a message a few days ago to Governor Bush via the Apostolic Nuncio in which he appealed to the governor for clemency to "provide a culture more favorable to respect for life." It was not an unusual move for the Pope has submitted similar requests in a humanitarian gesture of promoting the culture of life to other officials regarding those who were about to be executed. The reason this case has received so much publicity is two-fold. One, Karla Faye Tucker will be or will have been only the second woman ever to be executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Secondly, the turnaround of this once "drug-head" 23 year-old former prostitute who now, at 37 had turned her back on sin and become a born-again Christian caused even more publicity. But it was what she had been doing since her conversion that prompts our response - working to share Christ with others in a manner truly reminiscent of Mary Magdalene.
As the hours, minutes and seconds counted down to her execution, Karla Faye Tucker was composed and accepting of whatever God so willed. She knew she would have to pay for a crime that drugs greatly contributed to, but she also realized that the penalty for sins against the Law of God are far greater than any punishment man can bestow. She violated the Fifth Commandment, not once, but twice hacking victims Jerry Lynnn Dean and Deborah Thompson to death in Houston in the early summer of 1983. She realized that she could not bring them back to life, that she could not make amends to the families of the victims; but she could make amends to God for this heinous deed of which she was truly repentant. Her actions over the last fourteen years have borne this out as she had become a model prisoner, ministering to many, even marrying the prison chaplain - though the last had nothing to do with her salvation and, in fact, hurt her credibility with many.
We could use this column to call for an end to the death penalty, but that is not our soapbox for the political ramifications, pros and cons are much more clearly cut than the abortion or euthanasia issues. Many point to the Old Testament of "an eye for an eye" mentality in reinstating the death penalty as a deterrant to stop crime. But crime can only be stopped by turning hearts. That is one of the things that Karla Faye Tucker eventually did; hearts that had been hardened by lives of crime and immoral prison life were softened to the Word of God through this diminutive prison colleague who sought to make amends to Whom it counted - her Creator. Now prayerfully her soul is freed from the prison of original sin and free to roam the regions of Heaven, if not for a possible short stint in Purgatory. Time limits we have no concept of for those are reserved for God alone. But time is what Karla Faye Tucker had on her side. Yes that's right. Though it may seem like a contradiction for many will say "time ran out on her," we say au contraire for she had time to make amends and to prepare for the time she knew she would die. How many of us would opt for this opportunity? Wait a minute you might be saying, has this editor totally lost his marbles? Not really when you read further. Think about it. What if you knew the exact time you were going to die? Wouldn't that give you the proper preparation time to prepare to meet God? How many of us have that "opportunity?" Very few for we do not know the time nor the hour! So rather than lament for Karla Faye Tucker, let us celebrate the opportunity God provided her to be ready. Remember the words of Simeon in Monday's Gospel of Luke (2: 29) for the Feast of the Presentation, "Now Thou canst dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word, in peace; because my eyes have seen Thy salvation." Karla Faye Tucker claimed she had seen the light, focused on salvation and, like Simeon, was now ready to let God call her home where she would truly be free and forgiven. That is a gift that, despite the No-Mercy platitudes of the Texas Board, truly reveals His Tender Mercies to all of us, especially to one who was lost and now is found!
The following year Our Lady continued her messages in Mariefried, Germany as well as Espis France as well as appearing in Holland and Brazil. But two of her most important visits that year were to Tre Fontane in Rome where she revealed herself as the "Virgin of Revelation" to visionary Bruno Cornacchiola a religious brother still living north of Rome. Her other apparition happened in Montichiari, Italy where Our Lady appeared as "Rosa Mystica" imparting Messages and warnings to visionary Pierina Gilli. The fame of this apparition and the replica of Our Lady in the beautiful statue known as the "Rosa Mystica" - Mystical Rose - and the wonders attributed to it have spread throughout the world and are well-known today. The theme of roses was also conveyed to a Filipino novice by the name of Teresita in Lipa the following year where Our Lady introduced herself as "Crown of Roses". That same year of 1948 the Blessed Virgin Mary is reported to have appeared in Italy, Austria, France, and Transylvania to name a few. The next year the sites claiming her visits were from Shanghai to Sicily as well as Germany and Bavaria. At the latter she allowed the visionary and those in attendance to see the sun dance similar to Fatima and which followers have come to regard this as the "Solar miracle." She also appeared in Poland where a statue of the Blessed Mother wept blood.
The nineteen fifties dawned with only two reported visits - one in Cassacicchio, Italy and one in Denver where Our Lady wept bitterly. The next year she increased her visits, appearing to stigmatist Antonio Ruffini in Cisterna, Italy and visionary Luigia Nova in Arluno, Italy where she came as the "Virgin of the Poor". In Poland she appeared again as the "Queen of Angels" emphasizing the vital importance of the Rosary. In 1952 she is said to have revisited a site in Belgium as well as appearing to Father Louis Shourlah a Jesuit priest in India to whom she imparted the Devotion to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. In 1953, only two places made claim to apparitions - Calais, France and Bivigliano, Italy. The following year, 1954, Our Lady appeared in Ireland and Germany, and to a place she had not been before - the Ukraine where she prophecied the "Deluge of Fire" that was coming. This prophecy at the time was not taken seriously enough as mystic and visionary Josyp Terelya relates in his book "Witness" and what followed at Chernobyl clarified her certain forecast for that region and the world. Mary appeared also in Calabria, Italy to Mother Elena Aiello with dire Warnings similar to what she had imparted at the Ukraine and chose visionary Sister Mildred Neuzell of Cleveland, Ohio to appear as "Our Lady of America" also warning of things to come. This same theme followed through the next six years with her visit in 1955 to Ngome in Africa where she appeared as "Mary, Tabernacle of the Most High" asking the children to repent, and in Hungary where she emphasized the "Two Hearts" and that we should offer our lives body and soul to her Immaculate Heart and her Divine Son's Most Sacred Heart and where she also issued dire warnings to "repent before the great trajedies come upon you." Just a little over a decade later Russian tanks would roll into Hungarian territory and great bloodshed would occur. Our Lady knew. In 1956 she appeared only in one place - Austria where she warned that a "terrible punishment was close." In retrospect, today Austria suffers greatly within the Church as schism has taken over and bishops, priests and laity are in open rebellion to Rome. Alas, they did not heed Our Lady's words. In 1958 the Queen of Heaven appeared in Czechloslovakia with the intent message "Repent or you will suffer much." Here, too, Our Lady could see the upheaval that was coming in Eastern Europe and did all in her power to bring her little ones back to her Divine Son.
It was in 1961 that Our Lady made two appearances in Europe; one in Hungary and the other in Spain, the latter is one which has great ramifications today as we near the end of the millennium and an apparition that we shall spend several installments on because of its importance and the vital messages imparted there. The former, was to Mrs. Erzebet Szanto Kindelmann, a Hungarian mother of six who died in 1985. Our Lady communicated to Erzebet for several years but it was in the first years that she imparted the following, appearing as the "Flame of Love": "My Daughter, your compassion for suffering souls moved my Motherly heart so much that I will grant the grace that if anyone anywhere will say three Hail Mary's in reference to my Flame of Love on each occasion a soul will be freed from Purgatory." The Blessed Mother continued with a powerful promise that all Catholics can practice during every month of November - a month of reconciliation, redemption and thanksgiving: "Furthermore, in the month of the Holy Souls ten souls will be freed from Purgatory for each Hail Mary...Suffering souls will also feel the effect of the grace coming from my Motherly Flame of Love." This devotion to the "Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary" spread quickly throughout the world and is still very pertinent, powerful and poignant today! It was a union of the Communion of Saints in which we as the Church Militant pray for the Church Suffering while the Church Triumphant prays for us.
And prayers and repentance are vital for our present times as Our Lady warned over the decades of the late forties, through the fifties and into the sixties and beyond for today we are reaping what we have sown. This is evident from the hard-heartedness of people the world over as terrorism and violence has increased beyond expectations globally. In fact there have been more who have given their lives for the faith over the last one hundred years than in any of the previous centuries - some claim in all of the previous centuries combined. When you consider the plethora of early martyrs, that is a staggering amount. The callousness of God's people and the obscenities in our media and news that no longer shock us shock God and we're in for a shock. God has promised it. In the next several installments we shall concentrate on one apparition that began in 1961 in the mountains of southern Spain near a village called Garabandal which would have repercussions not only around the world but through several decades as the countdown to the millennium calls to mind the impending Warning and resulting Miracle promised by Our Lady as we shall see next week.
To review all past installments of this on-going series, go to Archives beginning with the inaugural A CALL TO PEACE internet issue in January 1996. volume 7, no. 1.
Taken from Treasury of Novenas by Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D.
Alone of all the children of Adam, you were gifted with the fullness of sanctifying grace that made you the object of a very special love on the part of God. How wonderful were the workings of Divine power to make you a fitting dwelling for the Redeemer of the world! With no tendency to evil, but with a deep yearning for the highest virtue, you glorified God more than all His other creatures. At the very instant of your conception your mind was filled with the light of God, and you will was entirely conformed to the Divine Will. You were always intimately united with God.
We thank God with you for these wonderful blessings. Help us to imitate your holiness to some degree. Your holiness was not the result of the privilege of your Immaculate Conception and sanctifying grace alone, but followed from your gift of yourself to God and your constant cooperation with His graces. Help us to be generous with God by turning to good account the graces that He ever bestows on us, and by rising promptly when we fall, with renewed confidence in His Mercy.
Ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comfort of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings. Deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.
By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, from which you dispense your favors; and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. We come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of our requests. Through gratitude for your favors, we will endeavor to imitate your virtues that we may some day share your mercy.
Through your loving compassion shown to thousands of pilgrims who come to your shrine at Lourdes, and through your special love for your devoted client Bernadette, we ask for this grace if it be the Will of God:
Intercede for us that we, too, may walk the simple paths of faith. Help us to imitate your example, at our heavenly Queen’s request, by saying the Rosary daily and by doing penance for sinners.
Teach us to imitate your wonderful devotedness to God and our Lady, the Immaculate Conception, so that, like you, we may be blessed with the grace of lasting faithfulness and enjoy the happiness in heaven of the eternal vision of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Q. Does the Church, by granting Indulgences, free us from doing Penance?
A. The Church, by granting Indulgences, does not free us from doing penance, but simply makes our penance lighter that we may more easily satisfy for our sins and escape the punishments they deserve.
Q. Who has the power to grant Indulgences?
A. The Pope alone has the power to grant Indulgences for the whole Church; but the bishops have power to grant partial Indulgences in their own diocese. Cardinals and some others, by the special permission of the Pope, have the right to grant certain Indulgences.
Q. What must we do to gain an indulgence?
A. To gain an Indulgence we must be in the state of grace and perform the works enjoined.
Q. How and why should we make a general intention to gain all possible Indulgences each day?
A. We should make a general intention at our morning prayers to gain all possible Indulgences each day, because several of the prayers we say and good works we perform may have Indulgences attached to them, though we are not aware of it.
Q. What works are generally enjoined for the gaining of Indulgences?
A. The works generally enjoined for the gaining of Indulgences are: The saying of certain prayers, fasting, and the use of certain articles of devotion; visits to Churches or altars (tabernacles), and the giving of alms. For the gaining of Plenary Indulgences it is generally required to go to confession and Holy Communion and pray for the intention of the Pope.
Q. When do things lose the Indulgences attached to them?
A. Things lose the Indulgences attached to them: (1) When they are so changed at once as to be no longer what they were; (2) When they are sold. Rosaries and other indulgenced articles do not lose their indulgences, when they are loaned or given away, for the indulgence is not personal but attached to the article itself.
Q. How and when may we apply Indulgences for the benefit of the souls in Purgatory?
A. We may apply Indulgences for the benefit of the souls in Purgatory by way of intercession; whenever this application is mentioned and permitted by the Church in granting the Indulgence; that is, when the Church declares that the Indulgence granted is applicable to the souls of the living or the souls in Purgatory; so that we may gain it for the benefit of either.