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.

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.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Spiritual Warfare Part I- Personal Holiness

The Catholic laity in today’s society find themselves in a unique time in the age of the Church. We face many obstacles that often derail us from union with God. Today’s society has taken materialism, atheism and progressivism to an extreme, combined it is otherwise known as modernism. This revolutionary mindset possesses the heart and soul of modern man. Those who seek to earn a living, raise a family, live in the world, find it extremely difficult to maintain the “devout life.” The prince of this world throughout history has always made it difficult for man to keep his eyes on God and that is all the more apparent in our time. This prince has now taken his power and control to an unprecedented level and man finds himself all the more lured away from God towards vice and sin. Catholics today know this but few are able to maintain the devout life. We listen to the warning which Saint Francis of Assisi gave to his followers, “..let us beware of the malice and craftiness of Satan, who does not want anyone to turn his mind and heart to God…he wants to blind it through worldly affairs…” (Early Rule of St Francis) The Society of Our Lady of Good Success aims to help solve this challenge, that of living a life of personal holiness and perseverance in prayer.

The Conceptionist Convent in Quito

The Church also finds herself in a unique age where modernism has pervaded its members to paralysis. This should indeed disturb those who seek holiness in God’s Church. “How indescribably grieved is God’s true lover, and every spiritual person, on seeing the ruin and deformity of the Church. How afflicted he is at the daily loss of innumerable souls.” (Denis the Carthusian-Spiritual Works) The Church is crippled by her lack of evangelization and those who should be shepherds often act as wolves. Our Lady of Good Success has warned us about this. Likewise the laity have also become corrupt and often grow lukewarm. Therefore the Society also aims to counter these maladies by encouraging a group of likeminded Catholics who will pray together for the restoration of Holy Mother Church.

The Three Pillars of Restoration.

There are three pillars upon which the laity can build upon to help restore the Church.

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.

“No more sleeping! We’ve slept so long we are dead to the state of grace.”
(St Catherine of Siena T24)

Christ Ecce Homo at Conceptionist Convent in Quito.
Personal Holiness

The great plague that afflicts Catholics in every age including our own is the inability to stay committed to the prayer life, or the lack of perseverance. In order for one to obtain salvation one must attain personal holiness, and one cannot attain holiness without perseverance in prayer and meditation. Mother Mariana de Jesus was a perfect model of perseverance. This is the first goal of the Society, which is to help people attain holiness through perseverance in the spiritual life, starting with prayer and meditation. God the Father spoke to St Catherine of Siena clearly on the importance of perseverance, “anything worthwhile calls for perseverance, and because they do not persevere they never find the object of their desire, never reach the goal toward which they had set out…So perseverance is essential if you want to see your desires realized…The soul cannot but move: If she does not go forward, she turns back.”

Many lay people find it difficult to retain a prayer schedule in their busy lives and thus eventually find themselves lukewarm in their faith. Their desire for prayer is often choked out by worldly affairs. Although the prayer schedule proposed on this blog is not exhaustive, it does aim to provide a foundation for the spiritual life. The Society then seeks to inspire the laity to perseverance through a basic rule of prayer.

“Go constantly forward with true and perfect perseverance, for you know it is not merely setting out but only perseverance that wins the crown.”
(St Catherine Siena T107)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mother Mariana and the Foundresses: Suffering

Mother Mariana and some of the foundresses, although not officially yet canonized by the Church are indeed Saints whom we can invoke for their intercession. Little is written in English on the Conceptionist Franciscan Sisters in general let alone on the lives of the other sisters from the convent in Quito. As we know the apparitions of Mother Mariana are approved by the diocese of Quito and have been supported by the bishops since Mother Mariana's own time. In fact, her own bishop is the one who approved the making and blessing of the statue so that Our Lady under the title of 'Good Success' would be honored and venerated for all time. We have it by Our Lord's and Our Lady's testimony that all of the founding sisters listed below are in heaven and ready to help us reach heaven.

There are at least five of the sisters from Quito we should invoke for spiritual help. They are Mother Maria de Jesus Taboada, who was the first abbess of the convent, Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres to whom Our Lady came to under the title of 'Good Success' and three of the foundresses, Lucia of the Cross, Ana of the Conception and Francisca of the Angels. Christ Himself told Mother Mariana, "Lucia of the Cross, Ana of the Conception and Francisca of the Angels. Look at their final trials.... These sufferings are destined to purify them completely, so that they may neither know nor pass through Purgatory."

We can learn the value of suffering through these penitential, saintly sisters who await our petitions to help us in these dire times. We know of the intense sufferings of the first abbess Mother Maria de Jesus Taboada in establishing the convent. We know of the sufferings throughout Mother Mariana's life including the five years of intense suffering she endured to save the soul of the ring leader of the rebellious sisters in her convent. Few know of the suffering of the other foundresses such as the last three months of Mother Francisca of the Angels who spent these last moments of her life in intense suffering so as to merit graces on earth.

The Child Jesus when appearing to Mother Mariana spoke of the value of suffering on earth and how He valued such souls that he chose to undergo certain sufferings before their repose. The Child Jesus told Mother Mariana concerning Mother Francisca of the Angels, "...she will fill her soul with great merits. Because when I give Purgatory during the mortal life to some souls very dear to My Heart, it is so that the purification may come accompanied by merits, which would not happen in place of expiation.... where the souls atone for faults committed  but do not acquire any personal merit." So here Our Lord allowed Francisca of the Angels to suffer on earth so as to obtain merit which would not have been possible has she passed through Purgatory. This merit that she obtained in Christ could then be applied to other souls such as ours who are in dire need of help. Mother Francisca also had the wounds of Christ secretly imprinted on her which allowed her to further unite herself to Christ's suffering on the cross.

These sisters while teaching us the value of suffering in Christ, also stand waiting for us to ask for their help. We live in dire times where the enemies of the Church have infiltrated her walls and the very ones who are supposed to be leading us are instead working as traitors among us. Let us ask Our Lady of Good Success and all of these Conceptionist sisters for their help so that we and others may persevere in faith and receive eternal life in Christ.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Three Divine Truths to Embrace

Three Divine Truths to Embrace

Although there could be volumes written on the heavenly examples of virtue that can be mined from the story of Mother Mariana, such as humility, patience, prayer, suffering and charity; for the sake of brevity we will briefly touch on only three in this article. These three divine truths however are very important for us to acknowledge and put into practice. All three pertain to the salvation of our souls. The first is the importance of prayer, especially that of the Rosary. The second is the value of suffering, and the third is the importance of Our Lady’s intercession. Without the embrace of these three realities in the life of a Christian, there is no hope for true holiness.

First we will look at the example of Mother Mariana and her prayer life, and her love of the Rosary. Although most of us will not be able to spend as much time in prayer as a cloistered nun, most of us spend nowhere near the time we should be spending in prayer in our state of life. Most of us do not understand the true value of prayer and how powerful the Most Holy Rosary is. There is an old saying; “those who pray much have a great chance of going to heaven, those who pray little have little chance of going to heaven and those who do not pray have no chance of going to heaven.” We should take this saying to heart.
Although there are many examples of Mother Mariana’s prayer life in her biography, there is something that stands out when you read it. One of the chief concerns of Mother Mariana throughout her life was keeping the traditional rule of the order. This meant always following the prayer routine and discipline of the rule. This idea should also spark in us an idea of developing a regular prayer schedule and sticking to it. Laxity is always a danger in the spiritual life whether you are in the cloister or outside. We are never on a plateau, we are either rising towards God in grace, or falling towards hell in sin. We must always keep fervor in our prayers and always keep to a standard rule of prayer. For those who struggle to keep a prayer rule, the Rosary is good place to begin. Praying the Rosary daily is not an option, it is a mandatory component of our daily prayer. The Rosary was one of Mother Mariana's favorite devotions. Only by persistent sincere prayer can we discern God's will for our lives and purge ourselves of our sinful inclinations. 

I think it is important to notice that it was Mother's strong devotion to prayer that brought Our Lady to her. This is substantiated by Our Lady’s own words when she appeared to her, “I am Mary of Good Success whom you have invoked with most tender affection; your prayer has pleased me greatly; your faith has brought me; your love has invited me to visit you.” So Our lady was pleased at her devotion and petitions. After being paralyzed for five months Our Lady brought Mother Mariana our of her deadened state and her first words were, "Mothers my whole body can now move. How good is the Queen of Heaven who has cured and saved me. Let us now pray the Rosary." Mother Mariana like Saint Bernadette at Fatima centuries later stressed the importance of the Rosary by her example.

If we continue to look closely at the life of Mother Mariana, we can gain an important understanding of the value of human suffering. Our age is repulsed by any idea of being uncomfortable let alone any type of suffering. We go to all extremes to avoid suffering or any form of pain, whether it is physical or mental. Many even go the extremes of wanting to be terminated rather than go through any suffering. This type of thinking is the result of pride and irreverence for the sovereignty of God. Our Lord and Our Lady answer the “problem of evil” in extreme detail through the life of Mother Mariana. It is clear that all who love Christ must unite themselves to His cross and join in an intimate suffering with Him. This suffering or what we may call an “evil” not only brings about a better good, but a good which exceeds any earthly idea of “good.” Suffering united to Christ brings about the salvation of souls. 

Mother Mariana often spoke of the value of self-imposed penance, “…Love penance! It is an antidote to evil passions and even healthy for the body.” While most of us view sickness as a most unwelcome event in our lives, Mother Mariana gives us a different take in her words to her sisters. “…I command you, I beg you, I urge you… to be humble and long-suffering in times of sickness, bearing in mind that it is the thermometer which indicates most reliably the virtue of a religious and the degree of her love for God.” This idea was also stressed by the words of Our Lady to Mother Mariana, “You ought to know that sickness is the only sure thermometer that measures virtue and love for God…sicknesses are the best and most meritorious penance, exempt from illusions, vanity and pride.” How hard is it for us when sickness strikes us and we complain nonstop and beg for healing! Mother Mariana teaches us to unite our suffering with those of Christ, which is most critical for it to be meritorious.We should always pray to God to give us the grace to suffer well.

Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) When we view suffering in light of the cross, we begin to see value in suffering. Modern man has a veil over his eyes as to this value, and hence modern man goes to all extremes to avoid it, even to the point of suicide or euthanasia. They miss the great graces that can come through a suffering soul. When a soul is in a state of grace it can merit great graces, which are then applied by God to whom he chooses. Although God can give grace to anyone in any manner, He usually applies these graces through the willing participation of those who love Him. Intense, constant prayer united to penance, or suffering often attains these gifts of God. Mother Mariana was a living testament that a life dedicated to prayer, sacrifice and suffering can be instrumental in the salvation of souls. We should thank God every day for His suffering on the cross, and for the suffering of His Saints which has merited so much for us!

There is one powerful example of the voluntary suffering that Mother Mariana went through to save a soul of one the most evil nuns in the convent. During Mother Mariana’s time there were two factions in the convent. Mother Mariana wanted to live by the traditional rule of the order, while another faction wanted to live by a relaxed rule. The nun often known as ‘The Captain’, ‘El Capitain’ or ‘The Commandress’ was the headed of the rebellious sisters. She was oppressed by many demons and was even at one point possessed. In fact, Mother Mariana had a vision in which see saw two demons appearing as malicious monkeys surrounding ‘The Captain’ and her unobservant sisters. The demons were giving off fire, enraging them with anger and fury towards Mother Mariana and the observant sisters. Mother Mariana often suffered many injustices from the antics of this nun and her accomplices in the convent. Despite the many injustices committed against Mother Mariana, she had a great love for 'El Capitain' and wanted her soul to be spared from the fires of hell. Again, this is an act that is contrary to our natural inclinations, which would prefer to defend oneself and even attack those who have unjustly attacked us. How many souls would have been lost however if the Saints did not behave with a supernatural grace.

As a result of Mother Mariana’s love for God and the unobservant sisters, Our Lord allowed Mother Mariana to experience five years of hell on earth in order to spare the soul of the ‘The Captain.’ In spite of being spit on by the evil nun, suffering many insults and vile attacks from her, Mother Mariana held steadfast in prayer and suffered for the salvation of 'The Captain'. No words can adequately describe the incredible suffering that Mother Mariana went through to make reparation for this nun. She experienced the total loss of God and suffered numerous and varying types of physical and mental anguish. Her suffering did not end even when she went to rest or sleep, often feeling the agonizing pain of sharp spikes in her flesh, intense burning of her skin, and other manifestations of hell.

In the end, after five years of intense suffering, ‘The Captain’ indeed repented, was exorcised and lived the last years of her life in repentance. She is still however making reparations in purgatory, which Mother Mariana was told that she would remain until the end of time. Our Lady of Fatima told the children that Catholics needed to pray for one another and make reparation for sin. She said that many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray for them. We see first hand through Mother Mariana the immense worth of prayer, suffering and penance united to Christ. This puts suffering in our own lives into perspective, being that if we unite our suffering to Christ’s suffering on the cross it can be a source of great grace and consolation for our salvation and the salvation of others.

Thirdly Our Lady shows the great love she has for us through her messages and actions under the title of ‘Our Lady of Good Success'. Our Lady has made it clear that Mother Mariana's story and the messages were to remain hidden until our time. It is only over the past 30 years or so that this message has started to spread beyond the city of Quito, Ecuador. Our Lady has called her image in Quito a beacon of light for all those who call upon her intercession. Many do not understand the title "Good Success.” The title has a direct connection to an event, more specifically the ‘event’ of Our Lady's reign on earth, or the establishment of her kingdom on earth. She is the one who governs us with her crozier over the spiritual and temporal order, even in a world where treacherous and evil enemies surround us. Her mission is to purify and save souls. Just as Our Lady of Good Success is the abbess of the Convent in Quito, we should make her abbess of our lives and souls.

Mother Mariana had a vision one day where she saw four black clouds that would cover the four corners of the earth, from which would proceed countless demons that would take dominion over the earth. This vision was a vision of the times in which we live. Our Lady gave many prophetic warnings to us through Mother Mariana, including the total profanation of the Sacrament of Marriage, the widespread desecration of the Holy Eucharist, the spread of many heresies, and a total desecration of the image of God in the human person by unbridled sins of impurity. We indeed see this happening now with the highest court in our land legislating the most heinous crimes against God and humanity as being a “right” of every citizen. Our Lady has even said that things would go so bad for the Church that it will seem as if all has been lost, but...we should not loose sight of her as the Beacon who guides us in these dark time.

Our Lady does not leave us in a state of despair. She tells us that all indeed will seem lost to the generation that experiences these atrocities. The Church will seem to be defeated and the world will seem to have triumphed over Christ and His Church. But at that time Our Lady says that her message of Good Success will have been spread to enough faithful souls as to bring in the reign of Our Lady. It is our obligation to help spread devotion to Our Lady under this specific title. We should also know that Satan will do everything he can to stop this devotion. I have witnessed first hand how the devil tries to discourage this devotion. We should then be valiant and go out with the charity of Christ and tell others about Our Lady’s great love for us under her title of 'Good Success'. Our Lord and Our Lady have given us great consolations in that they told us about our dire times, and have promised not to leave us abandoned as orphans. “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

During my pilgrimage to Quito, Ecuador in May of 2015 I received very special graces from Our Lady, none of which were deserved. The message that I left Quito with was that Our Lady is with us, and she knows very well what evils are upon the Church and the culture in which we live. She also has given a message of hope to which all of the faithful in Christ can embrace. The message is clear: we must have a great devotion to Our Lady of Good Success, which includes much prayer, especially that of the Most Holy Rosary, and that we unite our sufferings for the salvation of souls.  We must not despair or trust in man-made solutions to the problems of our dire times. Politicians or governments are not the answer. The primary work of the faithful Catholic must be prayer and a life of holiness.The story of Mother Mariana and the messages of Our Lady of Good Success are the answer. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Historical Background

Our Lady of Good Success

Historical Background

Quito, Ecuador is a city that is not well known as a Catholic pilgrimage destination. Yet, over the past 25 years or so a devotion that has it origins stretching back almost four centuries has been becoming more popular among devout Catholics. In 1576 five foundresses by the command of the King of Spain, Phillip II sailed across the Atlantic to found a Franciscan Conceptionist Convent in Quito. Along with the five nuns also sailed a young pious girl Maria de Jesus Torres who was the niece of one of the foundresses, Mother Maria de Jesus Taboada. From the very outset of their voyage miracles occurred showing Our Lord and His Mother’s generous protection for their endeavor. The entire life of Maria de Jesus Torres was filled with extraordinary visits from Our Lord, The Blessed Virgin Mary, The Saints and even the archangels. The messages and devotion given to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres are very unique in the life of the Church being that they not only were given for Mother Mariana’s own time, but many were especially given for a future age, especially that of our own.

At the young age of 13 Mother Mariana came to South America with a very special task at hand. She would be given the task overseeing the convent after her aunt would fall asleep in the Lord. Our Lord has especially ordained the establishment and future preservation of the Conceptionist convent under the protection of the Blessed Virgin of Good Success. The convent is important for several reasons. The first reason is for the salvation of souls in Ecuador and the salvation of the Conceptionist sisters in Ecuador. As we will see, their Franciscan spirit is uniquely Marian and is essential to the establishment and survival of the Catholic faith in Ecuador. There was also an immense punishment of the convent when it was separated from the Franciscan friars due to rebellious unobservant nuns. Our Lord however told Mother Mariana about the future of the convent which appeared to her, covered in Our Lord’s blood, “In this sea of my Heart’s blood I am ready to wash the guilt of those who, being repentant, have recourse to Me.”

 Our Lady also preserves the convent for the salvation of souls across the globe, especially for the souls of our modern time, which face unique persecutions from the devil. The convent is directly tied to the devotion of Our Lady of Good Success, which Our Lady said would be a beacon for the survival of the Catholic faith in our age. Our Lady told Mother Mariana, “this convent is a fortress, and it will bring about salvation for so many souls, drawing them away from the abyss of sin which they find themselves.” It is for us today that Our Lady has come under this glorious title, ‘Good Success’. Mother Mariana was born in 1563 in Spain in the province of Vizcaya. In Spain there was an older devotion to Our Lady of Good Success, which began after a discovery of an illuminated statue of Our Lady found in a cave. This devotion however was primarily a local Spanish devotion, and it was not until Our Lady appeared to Mother Mariana in Quito, that this title would become more widely known to the rest of the world.

Quito was one of the first South American conquests of the Spanish conquistadors. Miraculously, two hundred Spanish soldiers defeated over ten thousand Incans aided by the eruption of the nearby volcano, Cotopaxi. On December 6th, 1534, Sebastian de Benalcazar marched into the city after defeating the army of Atahualpa. Unable to reach the city before the Incans set fire to the city center, the Spanish were greeted by a smoldering heap of ruin upon entry. The Spanish began to immediately reestablish the city in the framework of a Spanish settlement by working up a city grid outline and the city was immediately consecrated to Saint Francis of Assisi. The official name of the town was, San Francisco de Quito. So from the beginning of Catholic Quito, the Franciscan spirit was infused into the city’s ethos, replacing the pagan. Soon after the Franciscans established a monastery in 1535 the San Francisco de Quito convent, and from that monastery a large portion of the city flowered. The Franciscans established three churches four cloisters and a college early in the city’s development.

Soon the Catholic Spanish influence began to prosper and Catholic churches and religious houses began to rise on locations of the native sites. For example, the church El Sagrario was built where the Incan nobility had previously resided known as the Temple of the Sun. The Church today offers Eucharistic adoration daily, offering worship of the true Son. The city grew to a population of around 60,000 by the end of the sixteenth century. Until 1830 when the Republic of Ecuador was formed, there were three major cities that held power, Quito, Guaycaquil, and Cuenca. Later, as a result of the strong Catholic president, Gabriel Garcia Moreno, Quito saw vast improvements of infrastructure including schools, universities, an astronomical observatory, roads, and railways.

The Monastery of the Immaculate Conception to which Mother Mariana would be associated with would be founded in 1577, and would be the first monastery of nuns in Quito. Saint Beatriz of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God founded the order itself in Spain. It should be noted that in Spanish, convents are associated with the male orders and the monasteries are associated with the female orders.  Hence we have the official name of Mother Mariana’s convent, The Monastery of the Immaculate Conception of Quito. The church and cloister although established in 1577 were not completed until 1625. Unfortunately the government in Ecuador has not always been favorable towards Holy Mother Church. The government has seized some parts of the convent over the years and the convent is in a state of constant struggle to retain its property.  

From it’s founding there were miracles associated with the monastery setting it apart for the work of God and Our Lady. Even before the sisters arrived in Quito, they were attacked by Satan who appeared as a hideous monstrous serpent with 7 heads in the waves of the sea, which tried to sink the ship upon which they sailed. As the sisters prayed for deliverance, Our Lady appeared and confronted the beast. Satan angrily told the sisters that he would never allow the founding of the monastery. Our Lady answered his hollow threats by cutting him to pieces driving away the dark skies, which appeared over them upon his arrival. Soon after the sisters arrived in Ecuador Our Lady affirmed her desire for the establishment of the convent. On Jan 21st 1577 while praying in a small provisional chapel three lights shined in the chapel.  One shined upon a statue of the Blessed Virgin, holding the Divine Infant in her arms. The second light shined on the altar itself and a third illuminating a star on the crucifix above the altar. All who were present heard a heavenly singing and the image of Our Lady itself was seen to be moving. Thus from the very start of this convent, Our Lady has miraculously claimed it as her own.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Divine Child For Our Time: Jesus del Pichincha

"I can not do more for you, to show you my love! Ungrateful souls do not repay me with scorn, sacrilege and blasphemy... be my comfort in my Eucharistic solitudes, watch in my company...

During my stay in Quito, I found myself quite drawn to a statue in the Conceptionist Convent. It was an image of Our Lord as a very young man with his arms extended in liturgical vestments with the Eucharist behind His head. The name of the image is El Divino Nino Jesus del Pichincha. I was constantly pulled before Him when praying my rosary during my numerous visits to the Conceptionist Convent. I had never seen an image of Our Lord quite like this one, and I wanted to know the story behind it. Our Lord looked so inviting, and the expression on His face was one of compassion, yet very serious. I felt like He was offering the world a message that no one was really interested in hearing. During my stay in Quito I came to learn that this image is a very unique one and that the image and story behind it Our Lord desires to be shared in conjunction with the story and image of Our Lady of Good Success.

Christ appeared to Mother Mariana many times. This particular vision not only has great significance for Ecuador, but also for those who desire to keep the faith in our dark time throughout the world. Mother Mariana saw Our Lord as a young child appear on the summit of Mt Pichincha overlooking Quito, which sits between a large valley. Our Lord told her that He would give Himself on Pichincha for the good of the republic of Ecuador, and would that He would be very happy when Our Lady is extolled under the title "Good Success." He continued to say that all who extolled her under this title would receive graces to remain strong in the faith, and persevere in the spiritual life.

Mother Mariana saw the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael take the Divine Child up to the summit where the mountain was wrapped in heavenly light. Jesus was dressed in a long white robe dotted with stars and a lovely pinkish purple colored garment, which is very unique and according to Mother Mariana, had never been seen before on earth. The Divine Child found Himself before a cross with a crown of thorns. Jesus fell on the ground and prayed to God the Father for Ecuador, so that He and Our Lady would reign over it. He was then lifted upon the cross overlooking Ecuador as He wept. Our Lord's tears were collected by the angels and spread over the country far and wide.

As The Divine Child overlooked Quito and wept he said the following, "I can not do more for you, to show you my love! Ungrateful souls do not repay me with scorn, sacrilege and blasphemy... be my comfort in my Eucharistic solitudes, watch in my company... Amid the bitterness and dire times that are coming to this country, your humble, secret and silent prayer together with your voluntary penance, save it from destruction.."  Our Lady promised that she would personally look over the Conceptionist Convent and  that the convent would always remain there until the end of time. In 1634 Our Lord informed Mother Mariana that He also wanted this image to be spread further across the world with the message attached to it above. He stressed the following phrase, "I can not do more for you, to show you my love! Ungrateful souls do not repay me with scorn, sacrilege and blasphemy...” This is a great plea for those of us who receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. The divine child giving Himself on the cross represents the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Behind the Divine Child’s head can be seen the Eucharistic host, which has a great significance for us. The image shows Christ in the Mass giving Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist desiring for us to show an increased reverence for Him in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Upon further investigation I discovered another message while having a discussion with our friends in Quito. I was curious as to why Our Lord presented Himself as an older child appearing as if in His teens, and not as an infant. Most of the time Our Lord appears as an infant or an adult, but rarely if ever as an older child. I was informed that Our Lord appeared at this age knowing that the Devil would especially target young children at this age where they are most vulnerable. Those in the early teens are easily tempted to sins of impurity, immodesty, and pride. He wanted to present Himself at this particular age to plead for the salvation of those tempted at that age in our time. Our Lord and Our Lady wanted this devotion to be rekindled for us today! I encourage all parents who have children to have a strong devotion to the Divine Child of Pichincha. I also encourage teens to carry an image of Him with them to turn to in times of temptation. 

El Divino Nino Jesus del Pichincha have mercy on us! 

Feel free to print out any of these pictures for your private devotion.