Apparition Approved

Our Lady of Good Success is deemed worthy of belief by the diocese of Quito. From the beginning when Mother Mariana asked the local bishop for permission to commission the making of the statue this devotion was approved.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Bishop Ribera: Two Lessons For The Spiritual Life

In 1610 Mother Mariana went to the bishop of Quito, D. Salvador de Ribera to request that the statue of Our Lady of Good Success be commissioned. The bishop was most cooperative in having this done. What is important to know is that the bishop had not long to live after the making of the statue. In fact, he was warned by Mother Mariana that his time was short, that soon his earthly life would be over and his day of judgement would upon him. 

Like all humans do, there was at first a denial of this reality by Bishop Ribera. Knowing the holiness and visions of Mother Mariana, the bishop asked her to pray that his life be extended. He would also pray a novena for this intention. Our Lord however did not extend his life, and Mother Mariana not only confirmed the time of his coming death, but she saw that he would spend much time in Purgatory. The bishop, as predicted,  lived only one year after the statue was completed, and went to his repose on March 24th, 1612. What lessons can we learn from Bishop Ribera?

1. Our day of judgement is determined, prepare now.  

God has determined what day we will be asked to give an account of our lives at the judgement seat of Christ. We have tendency to think our death is sometime way off in the future. As a result we tend to not take or actions as seriously as we should. We always think we have more time to make things right. Even the bishop thought that God would yield to the request of holy Mother Mariana's prayers that his time be extended. In fact, the bishop had plans to return to Spain and take some time off to recuperate from his challenging duties in the New World. His plans were dashed and everything that he had planned was for nought. We should all keep in mind that we do not have the luxury of knowing when our death will come as the bishop had. So we must always be prepared for it and not live as if we will always have more time to correct ourselves and do penance to make reparation for our sins. 

2. Hell and Purgatory are real, and we could end up there if we are not careful. 
(Pray the Rosary) 

Bishop Ribera was not a model bishop. He had an issue with pride and judged many harshly under his rule of his diocese. Bishop Rivera was also a very learned man and often saw himself as being better than others. Our Lord said that he lacked charity with his flock. The bishop had a dream of the judgement that was to come and was shown the sinful things he had done in his rule as bishop. Mother Mariana was shown the possibility of the bishop even going to hell for his prideful and harsh rule. Our Lord told Mother Mariana that despite these things that the bishop had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother of God and the Most Holy Rosary. Because of his great love for the Rosary Our Lord said, "Divine justice will never remain deaf to guilty peoples or souls who practice this devotion with careful diligence." The bishop knew he had two more years to live and for these two years the bishop changed his ways and sought to do more penance to make up for his past sinful actions. Still after two years, a long purgatory awaited him. In fact, Mother Mariana would go to her repose many years after Bishop Rivera and she was in heaven before he was. This should be a lesson to us. For one hell is real and if we do not live lives of charity we can end up there. We tend to think that as long as we do not kill someone or commit a heinous act that heaven is guaranteed.  If we have not charity we also merit eternal punishment. We should also not think that we can easily do penance for our past sins and easily and avoid the pains of Purgatory. We should act as if our judgement is upon us and spend as much time as we can praying and growing in charity. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Spiritual Warfare Part VII- Education and the Restoration of the Church

Everything that we learn comes through our intellect. When we digest bad information we pollute our intellects, so should be careful as to how we educate ourselves. A Catholic today must strive to remain grounded in the tradition of the Church by focusing on the spiritual and theological classics, many so loved by the Saints. One must first root themselves in solid Catholic publications, whether they are converts or cradle Catholics. I recommend first reading some of the spiritual classics such as ‘The Dialogue’ of Saint Catherine of Siena, ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’ by Saint Francis de Sales and the lives of the Saints. It is important to root oneself in theological works that are rooted in Thomism such as the ‘Catechism of Trent’. By doing this one becomes properly formed and begins to  think like and behave like a Catholic. I believe that a well-grounded Catholic should always be reading and studying about their faith. We learn not for the sake of learning, but for the sake of knowing God better so we can love and serve Him better.

In today's climate there are many books being published claiming to be Catholic. One cannot be too careful in deciding what reading material they digest. Many modern books are being written by converts who have more zeal than knowledge and often infuse their Protestant mindset, creating their own version of Catholicism.  In my opinion these types of pseudo-Catholics are jut as dangerous as outright heretics. There are numerous modernists who pollute Catholic doctrine with modern philosophical concepts which are not compatible with Catholic doctrine or right reason. For new converts, I would avoid most published spiritual and theological publications that were published after the closing of the Second Vatican Council. This may sound extreme to some, but I have been burned, and been down the road of reading many of the newer titles and I had to relearn everything by reading older books or reprints of older books. For example there are few new books written on the Mass that are worth reading. In fact, most of them are damaging to ones understanding of the Mass. However getting your hands on a copy of Father Dunney's book on the Mass from the 40s is invaluable. It think it is safe to say that Catholic literature is at an all time low-point in the history of the Church. It is also true that we have access to more of the classics than ever before. We should take advantage of this fact. Our Lord did not leave us helpless in this regard.

Listed here are some of the books I would recommend reading for a solid foundation to build upon. Although there are hundreds of titles I could list, below are some of what I consider to be essentials for a laypersons Catholic bookshelf.

1. The Story of Good Success and Novena- Kimball
2. The Admirable Life of Mother Mariana Vols 1 and 2- Horvat
3. Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine- Scheeben
4. The Dialogue- Catherine of Siena
5. The Letters of St Catherine of Siena- Noffke 4 vols
6. Introduction to the Devout Life- de Sales (There are many publications)
7. Catechism of Trent- Barronius
8. Thomas Aquinas (His personality and thought)- Grabmann
9. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers- The Systematic Collection
10. Forgive Us Our Trespasses- Loyola
11. Trust- Loyola
12. The Soldier of Christ- Loyola
13. The Spiritual Writings of Denis the Carthusian- Riain
14. Blessed Be God Prayer Book- PCB
15. The Blessed Sacrament Prayer Book- Lasance
16. The Golden Key of Heaven- Claret
17. The Mass- Dunney
18. True Devotion to Mary- de Montfort
19. Mother of the Saviour- Lagrange
20. Aquinas' Commentaries and Writings- Aquinas Institute 
21. The Soul of the Apostolate- Chautard
22. The Rosary: It's History and Meaning- William

The Restoration of the Church
“In order to free the Church from the slavery of these heresies, those whom the merciful love of my Blessed Son will destine for the restoration, will need great strength of will, constancy, courage and much confidence in God. And to put this faith and confidence of the just to the test, there will be occasions in which, apparently all will be lost and paralyzed; and then will be the happy beginning of the complete restoration.”
(Our Lady of Good Success to Mother Mariana)
As Catholics find themselves more and more under the pressing secularism that is coming from within the Church, we realize that a restoration is needed. The Church is largely failing in its mission to evangelize and bring the message of the Gospel to the world. Ecumenism has failed and many Catholics in hierarchy are against active proselytization and conversion of those outside the Church. The Sacraments have been profaned and most have lost any sense of sin. The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is more often than not a den of irreverence, with no respect being shown to the Blessed Sacrament or the Sacrifice that is taking place on the altar. Many despair over this crisis in the Church, but we must fall into this diabolical state. The title of Our Lady of Good Success pertains to an event, which is the restoration of the Church.

To be a part of this restoration which Our Lady speaks of, we must have an unrelenting attachment to our faith. We must put all of our confidence in God and persevere in prayer and meditation. Through the practice of personal holiness, devotion to Our Lady and our attachment to the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we can be a part of the much needed restoration of Holy Mother Church. We know well the struggle that many face today in winning the race and persevering to the end in their struggle to reach their heavenly homeland. We also know that in order for us to live our vocations successfully we must be men and women of prayer. We feel that those who persevere in this trifold mission, will be doing God’s will, which is the highest hope that anyone can hope to achieve. May we have the courage and confidence in God to persevere to the end and participate in the restoration of Holy Mother Church.

"(The Image) will be consecrated with holy oil, and in it, all sinners and tormented souls will find forgiveness of their sins, comfort and choice to all your needs and tribulations. For that, my Blessed Mother wants to take so sweet The invocation of Good Success. " (Jesus speaking to Mother Mariana)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Spiritual Warfare Part VI- The Latin Mass and the Blessed Sacrament

“Let everyone be struck with fear, let the whole world tremble, and let the heavens exult when Christ, the Son of the living God is present on the altar in the hands of a priest!” (St Francis of Assisi- Letter to the order)
It is very important that one have a great love for the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the priests who offer it. This Sacrament strengthens us while we are pilgrim travelers on this earth. (Catherine Siena- Dialogue) Thus it is important to regularly receive Holy Communion at each Mass that you attend. One must first understand that the Mass should not be taken for granted. Nor should anyone ever receive Holy Communion while in a state of mortal sin, for it would be to their condemnation. God the Father spoke to Saint Catherine of Siena concerning this; “…I provide within the soul’s emotions by administering grace through the service of the Holy Spirit. The wicked receive it to the lessening of grace within them.” For those however who receive the Sacrament in the state of grace, Our Blessed Mother told Mother Mariana that the Eucharist was "an antidote against sin and an easy and powerful means of uniting souls with their God and redeemer." So we reverently attend Mass in a state of grace so that we may obtain perfection through Christ in the Sacrament.

We do indeed believe the Mass is sacred and it sustains us by special graces. Pope Pius XI wrote, “…by it we are raised to God and united to Him, thereby professing our faith and our deep obligation to Him for the benefits we have received and the help of which we stand in constant need.” (Divini Cultus) We understand that the Mass is primarily sacrificial in nature. The sacrifice of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is made present for us in a mystical way on the altar during the consecration. Our Lord is present as priest and sacrifice. With this in mind we must have the utmost reverence for Our Lord who is present in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Extraordinary Form of the Mass is a most worthy treasure to preserve for the uniqueness of its form which presents this sacrificial theology very clearly. This Mass is the Mass that our great patrimony of Saints also held so dear. Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio, ‘Summorum Pontificum’ in 2007 expressed the desire to see the increased celebration of what is now referred to as the ‘Extraordinary Form.’ Its celebration has grown substantially in recent years and in the course of nearly a decade since the document was published there are now many chapels and churches that are dedicated to the Extraordinary Form.

As Catholics we know that the Mass is the source and summit of our lives. Everyone should have reverence for the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in all of its approved Rites. The Extraordinary Form however gives special significance to the tradition of the Roman Rite and her Saints throughout the ages, which influence us so heavily in our spiritual devotions. For the reasons outlined in ‘Summorum Pontificum’ it should be our goal to promote the celebration of the Extraordinary Form and to receive, “the treasures of worship and culture that had been accumulated by the Romans in preceding centuries.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

A Though On The Blessed Sacrament

Our Lord is present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Unfortunately the climate in the Church today does not convey this reality. The words of Blessed Julian Eymard ring true today, “LAS! It is but too true: our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament is not loved!” Thus we should be reminded to lend ourselves to Eucharistic devotion for our growth in personal holiness and to make reparation for blasphemies against Our Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament. It is good to spend at least one hour before the Blessed Sacrament each month. If possible this adoration should be done in the presence of the exposed Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic adoration, but it is also good to spend the hour before Christ in the tabernacle. Many blessings and graces flow from this time of worship before Our Lord whose presence in the Blessed Sacrament is unique, “The act of Eucharistic adoration has for its Divine object the infinite perfection of Jesus Christ, which of itself is worthy of all honor and glory..” (Blessed Julian Eymard-The Real Presence)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Spiritual Warfare Part V- Repentance and Confession

“If you decide to reform your life in the bit of time that is still left for you, God is so gracious and merciful that he will have mercy on you and receive you graciously into his arms… For God’s mercy is greater than our sins, so long as we are willing to change and vomit out the filth of sin in holy confession with a determination to choose death rather than return to our vomit.” (St Catherine of Siena T21)

Jesus Christ gave Himself for each and every one of us on the cross so that we might attain eternal life through Him. Jesus gave His apostles the authority to bind and loose (Matthew 18:18) concerning sin, this is done through the Sacrament of Confession (Penance). The Sacrament of Confession is a gift, which God has given us to those who stain themselves with sin after the Sacrament of Baptism. If we are able to continuously humble ourselves and come before Christ to confess our sins we will receive immense graces that will restore our unity with God and protect us against falling into sin in the future. It is good to receive the Sacrament of Confession at least twice a month. It is also in keeping with the First Saturday devotion if you do in the prescribed manner. One who is not in the state of grace cannot advance in holiness and obtain the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Scripture tell us that even a righteous man sins seven times a day (Proverbs 24:16), so we must strive to keep ourselves free from the stain of sin and remain in a state of grace so we can progress in virtue.

Of course one must develop a healthy disdain for sin, which can only be instilled by constant prayer and petition to God. One must truly repent for their sins. Many today do not understand that when we sin we stand before Our Lord guilty for having offended Him. Yet, Our Lord is always waiting for us to turn from that sin and come to Him. Mother Mariana constantly lived her life in a state of grace. Our Lord was pleased with her prayers. Mother Lucia of the Cross at the Conceptionist convent saw Our Lord Jesus come to her giving an important message. She saw Our Lord with His Sacred Heart exposed surrounded with thorns around it, bleeding, pouring out a sea of blood. Our Lord said to her, "In this sea of My Heart's Blood I am ready to wash the guilt of those who, being repentant, have recourse to Me." Through prayer we must learn to weep for our sins and make a firm purpose of amendment to turn from them before we receive this precious Sacrament. We should never take the Sacrament for granted. Denis the Carthusian warns, “Wretched one, what use is it to you daily to confess? For shortly after having confessed, and at the conclusion of the Sacrament, you are shameless, thoughtless and unguarded as before. What kind of contrition is that?" So we strive to strengthen our souls by reverently visiting the Sacrament of Confession.

It is important to reflect for a moment on corporal works. In today’s world much stress is given to corporal works and very little to the spiritual works. Even worse, people confuse corporal works and social works, which are often the focus of many Catholic groups. Yet, without a foundation first being built upon prayer and holiness, works are often worth little. We must understand that active works are only truly “good” works when they are united to divine grace. This implies first off that one’s soul be free from the stain of mortal sin. One cannot do works of charity outside the realm of supernatural grace. “The good that is done in grace (without deadly sin) is of value for eternal life because it is done in grace. But the good that is done with the guilt of deadly sin is worth nothing for eternal life.” (God the Father: St. Catherine of Siena Dialogue 46) Keeping this in mind, frequent visits to the Sacrament of Confession will keep us in the state of grace so that we may be capable of actually producing good works.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Spiritual Warfare Part IV- The Gifts of Our Lady of Good Success

“O God of infinite Love! Thou hast given us in our Mother a precious shelter and consolation, placing her in the pathway of our hazardous lives so that she might be a shield to defend us in persecutions and dangers as Our Mother of Good Success. Thankful for thy goodness, may we correspond with the practice of virtue and a tender and constant devotion to Mary Most Holy, so that through her intercession we might find heaven.” (From Novena to Our Lady of Good Success)

The heart of this Society for which it bears its name, is ‘Our Lady of Good Success.” The messages and devotion of Our Lady of Good Success were given for our time. They are closely united with those of Fatima. The Fatima messages are more general in nature in some ways compared to those of Quito. While Fatima came to us via the three children in the early 1900s, those of Quito from the 16th century only have become widely known after Fatima. The Church was given a popular widespread message from Fatima explaining the horrors of sin, disobedience and lack of faith coming upon the world, in preparation for a less known more detailed message from Quito, Ecuador. These two apparitions of Our Lady are very important for our time and they should be viewed together.

The approved apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success like those of Fatima are intimately intertwined with the much-needed restoration of Holy Mother Church, and now need to be communicated to the Church and the world. We believe this to be true based on the approved prophesies of Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres. “God has reserved this invocation for that century, when the corruption of customs will be general and the precious light of Faith is almost extinct". The bishops of Quito have approved the messages given to Mother Mariana, and have been approved since her time when her bishop, Bishop Rivera approved the making of the statue of Our Lady of Good Success. Indeed he placed the keys to the cloister in Our Lady’s hands after the statue had been completed. The image we now see in Quito Ecuador, the bishop endorsed as Our Lady of Good Success so that those who have devotion to her may be saved in our age! We indeed find ourselves in the horrific age described in the prophecies.

In keeping with the idea that Our Lady would become more involved in the Church in these dire times of apostasy, we also look to St Louis de Montfort who said that Our Lady has desired to become more prominent in our time. “She will consequently produce the marvels, which will be seen in the latter times. The formation and the education of the great saints who will come at the end of the world are reserved to her, for only this singular and wondrous virgin can produce in union with the Holy Spirit singular and wondrous things.” Thus the Society intends to spread devotion to Our Lady, especially through the image and title of ‘Our Lady of Good Success’, which Christ Himself said that many would find salvation through. "(The Image) will be consecrated with holy oil, and in it, all sinners and tormented souls will find forgiveness of their sins, comfort and choice to all your needs and tribulations. For that, my Blessed Mother wants to take so sweet the invocation of Good Success." 

Thus we believe in order for the restoration of the Church to take place it must begin in the heart of each Catholic. Our Lady of Good Success comes to the assistance of those who call upon her. As we strive for our personal holiness and the restoration of the Church, Our Lady indeed helps us to obtain this prize. “Under your mercy we take refuge, Mother of God, do not reject our supplications in necessity. But deliver us from danger. You alone chaste, alone blessed.” (Sub Tuum Praesidium) We must strive to bring the message and devotion to all those whom we meet so that we may see the conversion of souls and the triumph of Our Lady. I highly recommend that you read the biography of Mother Mariana de Jesus, either ‘‘The Story of Our Lady of Good Success and Novena’ (Dolorosa Press), or the two volume set on the ‘Admirable Life of Mother Mariana’ (Horvat) so that you may be familiar with the devotion that you will be committing yourself to. Each day it is good to say the daily prayer to Our Lady of Good Success. Anyone may use the images on this blog and download them and print them for your private devotions. I would also recommend at least once a year to pray the novena approved by the diocese of Quito to Our Lady of Good Success for the three intentions of the Society.

1. To promote the restoration of the Church first through the pursuit of holiness by adhering to an established prayer routine, daily meditation and the regular study of right doctrine.
2. To spread the message and devotion to Our Lady of Good Success.
3. To spread devotion of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

It is also important to note that anyone who dedicates themselves to spreading devotion to Our Lady under this title receives special graces. Our Lady told this to Friar Juan in a vision which he then conveyed to Mother Mariana, who was a dear friend of hers, “… all those who, with their efforts and their resources, contribute to the making of the holy statue, and also those who dedicate themselves to the propagation of its title in every century will be blessed.” Thus there are special graces attached to this devotion that derive directly from Our Lady of Good Success.

Total Consecration to Mary

“As all perfection consists in our being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus it naturally follows that the most perfect of all devotions is that which conforms, unites, and consecrates us most completely to Jesus. Now of all God's creatures Mary is the most conformed to Jesus. It therefore follows that, of all devotions, devotion to her makes for the most effective consecration and conformity to him. The more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus.” (St Louis de Montfort- True Devotion to Mary)

All Catholics should consecrate themselves to the Blessed Mother Of God. Most are familiar with the form that St. Louis Marie de Montfort has given us. You can follow the exercises and then consecrate yourself on a Marian feast day. It is also important to enroll yourself in the Brown Scapular. Contemplate the words that Saint Dominic spoke after being given the gift of the Rosary from the Our Lady, “Through the Rosary and the Scapular She will save the world" It is a unique time for Catholics who can take the gifts of Marian consecration, devotion to the Brown Scapular, devotion to the Rosary and uniquely couple it with devotion to Our Lady of Good Success. In addition to a daily prayer rule, devotion to the First Saturday Mass and devotions to Our Lady as she requested at Fatima is yet another weapon in our arsenal. It is important to understand that devotion to Our Lady is not a peripheral option of a Catholic, but is a central component of union with God. Please consider all of these options that are so readily available to you and make good use of them, for there are great graces awaiting behind each one.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Spiritual Warfare Part III- Meditation

Daily devotion to meditation is necessary to advance in the spiritual life. Catholics have a notion that daily meditation is only for those living religious vocations. It is easy to read the life of Mother Mariana and write off her dedication to prayer and meditation as something only a religious can do. This type of thinking is a great danger, and it must be stressed that all Catholics are called to daily meditation. How much time should a lay person spend in devotion daily? That depends on one’s state in life. Saint Francis de Sales in his spiritual classic ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’ tells us, “Devotion must be exercised differently for the noble, the craftsmen, the servant, the prince, the widow, the young girl and the wife; and not only that, but it is necessary to accommodate the practice of devotion according to the strength, the business, and the duties of each separate individual.” So we must be prudent in exercising our devotions, but we must nonetheless persevere in meditation on some level. It is good for every person to spend at least 15 minutes a day in meditation. Only in meditation can we reflect on God and our relationship with Him. This is an essential element to grow in the spiritual life. No matter what our vocation is, we must not neglect this devotion.

It is important to expound upon meditation since it is the tool with which we conquer temptations that come to us throughout the day. Our thoughts are our own worst enemies much of the time and we are bombarded on a daily basis with all sorts of spiritual attacks from various sources. Temptations come from our own fallen nature, the world, and the devil. We must have some sort of protection from these attacks if we are to survive the spiritual war we find ourselves engaged. Sin comes first from desire, which is first cultivated in our minds. We dwell on an idea before we act. If we dwell on sinful ideas we eventually commit them if we are not careful. Mediation is a remedy for sinful thoughts. It is a purifier for the soul.

Denis the Carthusian warns us of the dangers of a mind out of control. “The mind itself is torn to pieces, poisoned and greatly tormented; for, as the proverb puts it: A mind out of control is its own tormentor.” When we turn our minds to meditate regularly on Christ and His mysteries we can begin to heal our minds and our transform our sinful inclinations into charitable works. Denis says we should contemplate Our Lord on the cross, His way of life, His teaching, His exhortations and the way the Saints have lived their lives in Christ. Only by doing this can we determine God’s will for our own lives. Meditation is also an examination of our lives in union with Christ.

It is my opinion that the devil tries the hardest to get Christians to give up on daily mediation because he knows it is the primary weapon of God to transform souls. When we become busy in worldly affairs, our daily meditation is the first thing that gets set aside. This is known as the sin of sloth. The sin of sloth however is not just spiritual laziness; it is an actual detriment to the soul's ascent to God. In the spiritual life there are only two paths to follow, one goes up, one goes down, we are never really on a plateau. So when sloth enters and meditation stops, sin enters into our thoughts and lives. Denis the Carthusian puts this reality into a blunt condemnation of neglecting meditation and giving oneself only to worldly thoughts. “What have you to say to this, my wretched soul? Why pretend?.. Why are you dragged this way and that, why are you dissipated by empty and frivolous cogitations? Worse still, why do you fornicate with demons in shameful and vile fantasies? Why? After all, you have so many subjects and such copious matter for wholesome meditation; so much that is necessary and profitable for your salvation... How long will you be drunk with wine, how long will you be out of your mind?.. Rather vomit up the wine of the vineyard of Sodom and of the suburbs of Gomorrah that have intoxicated you?” This is also one of the battles that Mother Mariana fought in her own convent. Many of the rebellious sisters wanted to lax the rule of their order. Our Lord, Our Lady and St. Francis were all extremely upset about their laxity. So it is with us, even if it is on another level, we must not grow lax in the spiritual life.

To effectively engage in meditation we must fully give our undivided attention to God. Denis the Carthusian tells us; “On God we must fix our gaze and our attention…I pity you who honour the presence of personages rather than the presence of God.” It is a great danger for us to become enraptured in the worldly things. We have bills to pay and jobs that demand more and more of our time. We have dangerous tendency to put off the spiritual life for a later time in life. Yet we never know the hour of our death when we will stand before the dread judgement seat of Christ. We cannot make the mistake of saying that when we find ourselves in a more opportune state in life, then we will focus on God. Maybe once we retire we can sit back and pray more? This is a trick of the devil to get you to put off working on the salvation of your soul. He dangles before you the enticement of procrastination hoping we will fail in joining with God in meditation. In case you are still not getting it, meditation is not an option for the Christian, it is necessary for our salvation.

How then should we meditate? Meditation is often coupled with spiritual reading in which one reads on a topic and then reflects on what he has read in order to enkindle in him the fire of divine love. This act is known traditionally as “Lectio Divina” One can reflect on the Sacred Scriptures, the Psalms for example, or a spiritual writing by one of the Saints such as St Francis de Sales, ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’. One can meditate on the crucifix or some other image so that they may grow closer to Our Lord and contemplate His mysteries. St Catherine of Siena and Teresa of Avila often meditated on the crucifix or an image of Our Lord, to which they were then drawn into a deep contemplation. It is critical to orient oneself toward God in consistent daily meditation so that they may love God above all things. Daily meditation is best done at the beginning of one’s day so that he may bring forth a spiritual souvenir, as St Francis de Sales calls it, to one’s mind many times during the day. This souvenir is a spiritually beneficial thought that one should bring to one’s mind as he or she encounters the world. When one perseveres in this, over a period of time they begin to inoculate themselves from sin.

On a final note, one cannot reach the stage of contemplation without first meditation. These terms are often confused and used interchangeably. However meditation is the doorway to contemplation. One uses the intellect and reason to engage in meditation. He uses his memory and recalls certain to truths to dwell upon. As Saint Anthony Mary Claret says, " meditates when one uses discursive reasoning from one truth to another...." Contemplation allows one to interiorly behold a truth of God, seeing it in a form of admiration for that particular truth such as God's love or His hatred for sin for example. Saint Anthony Claret continues, " contemplates when interiorly one sees or grasps a truth in a simple glance, without a variety of discourse; of admiration, love, sorrow for sins, etc., etc." Let us make time for daily meditation for it is certainly a purifier for the soul and a doorway to contemplation.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Spiritual Warfare Part II- The Rosary (Pardon for Guilty Souls)

The Rosary (Pardon for Guilty Souls)

Saint Dominic and his Rosary.
"There are such grandeurs which are contained in the Angelic Salutation," he explained, "which mortal men are unable to comprehend." Archangel Gabriel to Mother Mariana

A good building block to your daily rule is a firm dedication to the Marian Psalter or what we refer to as the Most Holy Rosary. The Rosary comes to us from Our Blessed Mother herself as a gift to Saint Dominic and the Church. Since it comes from Our Lady herself, it is one of the most efficacious forms of prayer. The recitation of the Rosary is most pleasing to God and Our Lady. There are few prayers that have the power of conversion, sanctification, and provide the gift of final perseverance than the Rosary. Our Lady told us at Fatima that the Rosary would be critical for combating the difficulties of our day. In virtually every appearance Our Lady made to the Fatima children she told them to pray the Rosary every day. Sister Lucia said, “The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Holy Rosary. She has given this efficacy to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all, spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” A famous miraculous image at Las Lajas not far from Quito in Columbia depicts Our Lady handing a Rosary to St. Dominic and St. Francis, again confirming the origin of the Rosary as coming directly from Our Lady.

A replica in Quito of the famous image of Las Lajas. St Dominic on left and St Francis on right. 

Mother Mariana also had a great devotion to the Rosary. When the bishop of Quito was to be judged by Our Lord, Mother Mariana saw Christ in a vision in which He said concerning the bishop and his many faults, "He is, nevertheless, a religious of the Dominican Order, so dear to my Blessed Mother, where he learned the melodious devotion of the Marian Psalter (The Rosary), by means of which Divine justice is unable to resist pardoning guilty nations or souls... the bishop loves my Blessed Mother, honors her with the Psalter... and for this reason he will be treated with mercy on the day of his death." The Rosary allows us to contemplate the mysteries of Christ and His Blessed Mother. The mysteries prayed throughout the day keep us focused on Christ. It is a most fitting meditation on the Gospel and a sure path to obtain the help of the Most Holy Mother of God. With the Church being in such a corrupt state, the Rosary has the power of restoration. How sad so few Catholics pray the Rosary. One should then take seriously the need to pray the Rosary daily in order to attain personal holiness and to attain the restoration of Holy Mother Church. Those who are single or empty nesters should strive to pray all 15 decades daily. One may say a decade while driving to and from work, and one in the morning or before bed. Those with families who find themselves occupied by their marriage vocation should at least make a daily family rosary.