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.

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.