Apparition Approved

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

Monday, January 11, 2016

Bishop Ribera: Two Lessons For The Spiritual Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 2, 2016

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

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

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

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

A Though On The Blessed Sacrament

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

Friday, January 1, 2016

Spiritual Warfare Part V- Repentance and Confession

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

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

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

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