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)