From the Franciscan Minims
Mexico • Vergel --- Jan. • Feb. 2003 --- No. 1–2
"Come to me, all of you." (Mt. 11, 28). "To come to me means: to recognize me as their God, their Redeemer and their Master."
Our Cover: Message of Nov. 12, 1969
MY spouse, tell everyone in general that the star of their life is my doctrine. By observing it, neither their hearts nor their minds will be overshadowed by darkness, in solving any concrete problem. I diffuse my spirit upon the entire human race, but... oh, what grief! So very few prepare themselves to open the door of their souls and of their understanding to receive it.
Hence, my spirit has to withdraw within itself in its Trinity of Divine Persons, and waits until someone who is well disposed should have recourse to me. That is why I have so frequently told you: come to me, all of you! Everyone should come to me, if they wish to see themselves relieved from the heavy burdens of their nature, fallen by sin.
But to come to me means: To recognize me as their God, their Redeemer and their Master. Hence this requires that they accept and keep my doctrine, that consists of the ten commandments that I gave to Moses, and those which I personally preached during my mortal life; also those which my faithful disciples have defined and approved in my holy Church, which is the only one: the Roman, Catholic, Apostolic Church, with my beloved Vicar at its head.
False pastors are all those who have attempted, and who are attempting at present, to disfigure my doctrine and to reform my Church. Separate yourselves from them!
Let none of you struggle with them. Do not argue, but withdraw from them and come to me. Let sinners come to Me. Let those who are wavering in their faith come to me. Let those who are tempted come to me. Let the lewd and lustful repent. Let the vicious come to me and confess their sins. Let the unbelievers approach to hear my doctrine. But let my doctrine be taught to them without change, without mutilations or distortions. In me let them recognize the Christ, he who is sent by the Father. --Messages, Vol. 1, p. 68-9
Actions of Infinite Value
• "And, whereas indeed he was the Son of God, he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. And, being consummated, he became, to all that obey him, the cause
of eternal salvation."
-- Hebrews 5, 8
IN 1922 Our Lord told Sister Josefa Menendez: "I gave as much glory to my heavenly Father when I swept the workshop in Nazareth, as when I preached and worked miracles during my public life. I so want souls to understand this."
On Dec. 30, 1974, Our Lord told the Portavoz: "Note well, it is because you act complying with your obligations, and you offer everything to me, and through my merits you attain merit before my justice, and as your only goal is the glory of God and the good of souls, Oh, my spouse, this is like pure gold in the divine presence. It is not necessary that your acts be great; it is better if they are little, humble and simple. Even this earns merit, because all its value is covered with a veil of simplicity and littleness. You know very well, because I have revealed it to you, how my first merits as man began secretly in the womb of my Mother. There the Word of God made flesh garbed in littleness, routed the devil."
Theologians teach us that the actions of Christ were theandric, that is, they had a divine value, because they were the acts of the Son of God. Perhaps we could understand this better if we meditated upon who Christ is:
"The only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father: by whom all things were made."
And also if we meditated upon the other great truth of our faith, the Incarnation:
"Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven. And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary: and was made man." (Nicene Creed)
Since all these truths are certain, it means that the least act of Christ, his smallest act, was an act of infinite value, and therefore having the power to redeem and save everyone.
If all this is true, we may ask: "If his redemption is sufficient to save everyone, then why are some not saved?" The answer is that God gives his salvation only to those who want to receive it: he cannot force it upon the indifferent or hostile. If some are not saved, the reason is that they deliberately refuse to accept the salvation God offers them: their malice and hardness of heart make it impossible for them to see what he wants to give them. They deliberately refuse his gifts and thus are lost.
Christ spent only three years of his life performing unusual, heroic actions: he spent most of his life in Nazareth, performing the routine, ordinary tasks of daily life, similar to the tasks we perform each day in the fulfillment of our duties. His least action was divine, for he was the Son of God. This fact is encouraging, for it means we can attain sanctity simply by performing our ordinary duties, having an intention similar to the one Christ had.
In this issue there is an article about the circumcision of Christ. The act of obedience by which he offered himself to be circumcised, and the blood and pains of his circumcision were of themselves acts of infinite value. And we can unite our pains and actions to Christ, simply by desiring to do so, whether they be painful, difficult actions or just ordinary actions.
Saint Paul wrote that Christians should have the same sentiments that Christ had. If there is any "secret" of sanctity, it is simply: love Christ as much as you can, try to unite yourself to him as much as you can, and try to do your actions for him, even small, ordinary actions.
St. Paul wrote that Christ was like to us in all things, except sin. (Heb. 4, 15). That fact is good news, because if he was like to us in his actions, we can be like him in all our actions (except sinful ones: you cannot offer a sinful action to God). If there is any "secret" of attaining holiness and being like Christ, perhaps it is simply to think of him often, and to do your actions for him, something within the reach of any person of good will.
May it be for the glory of God
The Vergel of the Immaculate Virgin of Guadalupe
Dec. 8, 2002-- Immaculate Conception of Mary
A Magazine for the Latter Times
We continue our prayers for this miserable world and the numerous problems and the Holy Father. I look forward to receiving each issue of your messenger. Our weather is very strange, and has been such since springtime. Low 20's and snow and ice for the weekend (All Saints and All Souls). -- Sincerely, Mrs. C.T., Ohio, USA
Enclosed is my subscription renewal for another year. I thoroughly enjoy reading this magazine, especially the writings on the Old Testament books. Thanks again for making this little magazine available to us in the United States. It is so helpful in these days, when everything seems to be going against our Lord and his teachings! Pax Dómini sit semper vobíscum. Orémus pro ínvicem. Vaya con Dios! -- Miss M.S., Maryland, USA
The Trial on Mount Carmel
ONE disdainful glance Elijah bestowed on the regiment of heathen priests. Pagans! Unbelievers! His eyes seemed to say; his glance was volcanic, heaping the air with reproaches. Then Elijah lifted up his eyes and hands and prayed:
"Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel, and that I am Your servant, and that I have these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their heart back again."
The result was instantaneous and terrifying. Whole sheets of fire fell from the skies, consuming not only the wood and the bullock, but the stones and the very dust, the fiery red-orange tongues licking up every drop of the water.
"The Lord, He is God!" roared the people, again and again, and again, shaking fists at the dumfounded priests of Baal.
"Take the prophets of Baal; and let not one of them escape." Elijah roared back to them. The eight hundred and fifty died there at the brook Kishon, and not until then did Elijah confront the king:
"Get you up, eat and drink; for this is a sound of abundance of rain."
Without waiting for a reply, the prophet withdrew to a cave on the top of Mount Carmel, where he lowered his face between his knees in silent prayer.
"Look to the sea," he called to his servant without changing his position. The man looked and saw nothing. Seven times Elijah told him to look down on the Mediterranean, and on the seventh the servant reported a little cloud, "no bigger than a man's hand." But that was enough. Soon the sky was black with clouds, and winds were blowing a gale, and a torrential rain poured upon the parched earth.
And Ahab went home to Jezebel.
What Do You Here, Elijah?
The word came back to Elijah that on the very next day his life was to be taken—and the murderous message came straight from Jezebel. Why she warned him the prophet could only guess; either she wanted him to suffer like a mouse who sees a hungry cat coming after him, or she wanted him to leave the kingdom and save her the need of having him killed, for his rising popularity might make her pause before ordering his throat cut.
Whatever the motive that brought warning from the court at Jezreel, Elijah acted. He fled to Beersheba, in the south, and in the wilderness back from the sea he sat down under a withered juniper tree and let melancholy roll over his soul.
What had he accomplished in trying to obey the Voice of the Lord God? Nothing, so it seemed to the despondent Elijah; the bleakness of his spirit was like a hot, dry, desert wind, a khamsin, blowing through mind and heart. In utter depths of hopelessness he fell asleep.
Did he dream now—or was it supernatural vision that possessed him, this feeling of being touched by a ministering angel of grace, of cool fingers on his humid eyelids, and a whisper at his dusty ears? He roused himself, awake and looking around, and then he gasped. How could his vision have been merely a dream when, there before him, were goblets and gourds and platters, bread and wine?
"Eat well," some ministering angel of grace seemed to murmur to the old mystic; there was a long journey still for him to make, and his legs would need strength and fuel.
Many days and nights Elijah traveled through the gray, hot sands of the wilderness, until at last he saw before him a mountain he could not mistake. Dark and desolate it loomed above the plain, Horeb, which was Sinai, the Mount of the Tablets of the Law. At sight of that historic height, Elijah knew that this was his destination—it was as if the ministering angel of grace took his hand and led him to a grim, forbidding fissure in the mountainside, entrance to a deep resounding cave—and Elijah, walking barefoot on its smooth cool floor, losing his moist face in its ever-deepening shadows, heard the Voice once more:
"What do you here, Elijah?"
Bitterly the old prophet replied, reporting the apostasy in Israel. He alone was left to fight the evil, and even his life was now being sought for the truth he told. The Voice was silent until the sorry tale was ended; then Elijah was told to leave the cave, climb the mountain, and stand upon the topmost peak.
"And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not the wind. And after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire a still small voice:
"And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave...
"What do you here, Elijah?"
Again the prophet told how downcast he was over all Israel. In a cryptic answer the Voice bade him start off on another long, long journey toward the region of the city of Damascus. There he was to anoint a man named Hazael to be king of Syria, and likewise to anoint another man, Jehu, the son of Nimshi, to be king over Israel. And for a third ceremony, Elijah was to find a young man called Elisha, the son of Shaphat, and anoint the youth as his own successor in prophecy.
"Him that escapes the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay," said the Voice, "and him that escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay."
It was an extraordinary visitation at the mouth of the cave. The Lord told Elijah that there were seven thousand faithful souls in Israel who had never bowed the knee to Baal, nor kissed his image; seven thousand Israelites who could be a leaven of righteousness in restoring the whole nation to faith in the one true God.
It was clear now what Elijah must do. He had hoped to hide for the rest of his days in the cool hermitage of his Sinai cave; an eremite meditating in damp solitude and a dim light even at noon; a recluse whose work in the frightening world outside was over and done. But not so!
Elijah had not gone far on his new journey out of the wilderness, be-fore he passed a great hillside farm and saw a good-looking young plow-man in a broad brown field turning over the soil. Elijah halts at the side of the road and watches for a long time, as the young plowman goes and comes back, behind his bladed stick pulled by a mule. The busy young man salutes the stranger, but does not recognize him.
The old man takes off his ancient mantle. He stops the plowboy with a gesture and carries his cloak, age to youth, and wraps it around the young man's shoulders. What meaning—to receive the mantle of a prophet!
Look, Mother! See, I wear this old man's robe. Good-bye, Mother, See, Father, I have the mantle of Elijah the Tishbite. Good-by, Father. I must go.
And go he did. Elijah had obeyed God, and now Elisha, too, obeyed the call without questioning. After a feast of farewell for the neighbors with the boiled meat of two oxen, Elisha forsook his native place to follow Elijah. The two men started off to anoint two new kings.
All these events were happening in an uneasy time. King Ahab and his Jezebel were never free from fear, for everywhere around their frontiers were unfriendly neighbors. Their leader, Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, had thirty-two rulers of smaller kingdoms ready to follow him in any cause, and he had recently been making impudent and impossible demands—the surrender of Israelite women and treasure, on the threat of leaving, of the northern kingdom and its people, naught but a handful of dust.
In a brief war that had been fought, King Ahab found that the Lord seemed to be on his side. Some nameless, wayside mystic had sworn that it would prove so. While Ben-Hadad and his fellow kings were drinking themselves into sottishness in the vine-grown Syrian land, the Israelites took them by surprise. Eventually the enemy leader put on sackcloth and draped ropes on his head, in token of sorrow and submission. Ahab, always willing to appease, proclaimed an amnesty and now, relishing peace with great relief, Ahab and Ben-Hadad called each other brother.
(To be continued)
Following His Footsteps
by Anselmo del Álamo
Chapter 7. Mortification, Suffering
22. It would be very pleasing to me if my friends judged me less cruel. They should have the delicacy of thinking that I do not use severity, except for their benefit and for their greater benefit. I do it through love, and if this were not necessary to cure them or in order to increase their eternal glory, I would not even let the slightest breeze bother them. --- Our Lord to St. Gertrude
23. Time is no more than a dream. God already sees us in the blessed-ness of heaven. Oh how much good this thought does to my soul! Then I understand why he allows us to suffer. --- St. Therese of Lisieux
24. We never have so many motives for consolation as when we see we are loaded with pains and suffering, for these things are what make us similar to our Lord Jesus Christ. This similarity is the true and secure sign of our predestination. St. Vincent de Paul
25. If it is necessary, let us suffer without courage. Jesus also suffered with sadness. Would a soul suffer without sadness? And we would like to suffer generously, with joy? What an illusion!
St. Therese of Lisieux
The Circumcision of Christ
From the Mystical City of God,
by Mary of Agreda
(Bk.3, Ch. 14.) The Divine Infant is Circumcised and Receives the Name Jesus.
LIKE other towns of Israel, the city of Bethlehem had its own synagogue, where the people came together to pray (wherefore it was also called the house of prayer), and to hear the law of Moses. This was read and explained by a priest from the pulpit in a loud voice, in order that the people might understand its precepts. But in these synagogues no sacrifices were offered; this was reserved for the temple of Jerusalem, except when the Lord commanded otherwise. It was not left to the choice of the people, in order to avoid the danger of idolatry, as is mentioned in Deuteronomy (12, 6). But the priest, who was the teacher or minister of the law in those places, was usually also charged with administering the circumcision; not that this was a binding law, for not only priests but any one could perform the circumcision; but because the pious mothers firmly believed that the infants would run less danger in being circumcised by the hands of a priest. Our great Queen, not on account of any apprehension of danger, but because of the dignity of the Child, also wished a priest to administer this rite to Him, and therefore she sent her most fortunate spouse to Bethlehem to call the priest of that town.
The priest came to the gates or cave of the Nativity, where the incarnate Word, resting in the arms of his Virgin Mother, awaited him. With the priest came also two other officials, who were to render such assistance as was customary at the performance of the rite. The rudeness of the dwelling at first astonished and somewhat disconcerted the priest. But the most prudent Queen spoke to him and welcomed him with such modesty and grace, that his constraint soon changed into devotion and into admiration at the composure and noblest majesty of the Mother; and without knowing the cause he was moved to reverence and esteem for such an unusual personage. When the priest looked upon the face of Mary and of the Child in her arms, he was filled with great devotion and tenderness, wondering at the contrast exhibited amid such poverty and in a place so lowly and despised. And when he proceeded to touch the divine flesh of the infant, he was renovated by a secret influence which sanctified and perfected him; it gave him a new existence in grace, and raised him up to a state of holiness very pleasing to the most high Lord.
In order to show as much exterior reverence for the sacred rite of circumcision as was possible in that place, saint Joseph lighted two wax candles. The priest requested the Virgin Mother to consign the Child to the arms of the two assistants and withdraw for a little while in order not to be obliged to witness the sacrifice. This command caused some hesitation in the great Lady; for her humility and spirit of obedience inclined Her to obey the priest, while on the other hand she was withheld by the love and reverence for her Onlybegotten. In order not to fail against either of these virtues, she humbly requested to be allowed to remain, saying that she desired to be present at the performance of this rite, since she held it in great esteem, and that she would have courage to hold her Son in her arms, as she wished not to leave him alone on such an occasion. All that she would ask would be that the circumcision be performed with as much tenderness as possible, on account of the delicacy of the Child. The priest promised to fulfill her request, and permitted the Child to be held in the arms of his Mother for fulfilling the mystery. Thus she became the sacred altar on which the truths typified in the ancient sacrifice became a reality (Heb. 9, 6); and she herself offered up this new morning's sacrifice on her own arms, in order that it might be acceptable to the eternal Father in all particulars.
The divine Mother then unwound the swaddling-clothes in which her most holy Son was wrapped and drew from her bosom a towel or linen cloth, which she had previously placed there for the purpose of warming it; for the weather was very cold on that day. While holding the Child in her hands She so placed this towel that the relics and the blood of the Circumcision would fall upon it. The priest thereupon proceeded to his duty and circumcised the Child, the true God and man. At the same time the Son of God, with immeasurable love, offered up to the eternal Father three sacrifices of so great value, that each one would have been sufficient for the redemption of a thousand worlds. The first was that He, being innocent and the Son of the true God, assumed the condition of a sinner (Phil., 2, 7) by subjecting himself to a rite instituted as a remedy for original sin, and to a law not binding on Him (2 Cor. 5, 21). The second was his willingness to suffer the pains of circumcision, which He felt as a true and perfect man. The third was the most ardent love with which He began to shed his blood for the human race, giving thanks to the eternal Father for having given Him a human nature capable of suffering for his exaltation and glory.
This prayerful sacrifice of Jesus our Savior the Father accepted, and according to our way of speaking, He began to declare Himself satisfied and paid for the indebtedness of humanity. The Incarnate Word offered these first fruits of his blood as pledges that He would give it all in order to consummate the redemption and extinguish the debt of the sons of Adam. All these interior acts and movements of the Onlybegotten his most holy Mother perceived, and in her heavenly wisdom She penetrated the mystery of this sacrament, acting as his Mother and in concert with her Son and Lord in all that He was so doing and suffering. True to his human nature, the divine infant shed tears as other children. Although the pains caused by the wounding were most severe, as well on account of the delicacy of his body as on account of the coarseness of the knife, which was made of flint, yet his tears were caused not so much by the sensible pain as by the supernatural sorrow caused by his knowledge of the hard-heartedness of mortals. For this was more rude and unyielding than the flint, resisting his sweetest love and the divine fire He had come to enkindle in the world and in the hearts of the faithful (Luke 12, 49). Also the tender and affectionate Mother wept, like the guileless sheep, which raises its voice in unison with the innocent lamb. In reciprocal love and compassion the Child clung to his Mother, while She sweetly caressed Him at her virginal breast and caught the sacred relics and the falling blood in the towel. These she entrusted to saint Joseph, in order to tend to the divine Infant and wrap Him once more in the swaddling-clothes. The priest was somewhat surprised at the tears of the Mother; yet, not understanding the mystery, he conjectured that the beauty of the Child might well cause such deep and loving sorrow in her who had given Him birth.
In all these proceedings the Queen of heaven was so prudent, circumspect and magnanimous, that she caused admiration in the angelic choirs and highest delight to her Creator. She gave forth the effulgence of the divine wisdom, which filled her, performing each of her actions as perfectly as if she had that alone to perform. She was unyielding in her desire of holding the Child in her arms during the circumcision, most careful in preserving the relics, most compassionate in her affliction and tears, feeling herself his pains, most loving in her caresses, most diligent in procuring his comfort, fervent in imitating Him in his works, always careful to treat Him with the highest reverence, without ever failing or intermitting her acts of virtue, and without ever letting the perfection of one disturb that of the other. Wonderful spectacle exhibited by a maiden of fifteen years, and affording even the angels a sort of new lesson and cause of admiration! In the meanwhile the priest asked the parents what name they wished to give to the Child in circumcision; the great Lady, always attentive to honor her spouse, asked saint Joseph to mention the name. Saint Joseph turned toward her in like reverence and gave her to understand that he thought it proper this sweet name should first flow from her mouth. Therefore, by divine interference, both Mary and Joseph said at the same time: "Jesus is his name." The priest answered: "The parents are unanimously agreed, and great is the name which they give to the Child;" and thereupon he inscribed it in the tablet or register of names of the rest of the children. While writing it the priest felt great interior movements, so that he shed copious tears; and wondering at what he felt, yet not being able to account for, he said: "I am convinced that this Child is to be a great Prophet of the Lord. Have great care in raising Him, and tell me in what I can relieve your needs." Most holy Mary and Joseph answered the priest with humble gratitude and dismissed him, after offering him the gift of some candles and other articles.
Being again alone with the Child, most holy Mary and Joseph celebrated anew the mystery of the circumcision, commenting on the holy name of Jesus amid sweet canticles and tears of joy, the fuller knowledge of which (as also of other mysteries which I have mentioned) is reserved as an additional accidental glory to the saints in heaven. The most prudent Mother applied to the wound caused by the knife such medicines as were wont to be used on such occasions for other children, and during the time while the pain and the healing lasted, she would not for a moment part with him, holding him in her arms day and night. The tender love of the heavenly Mother is beyond all comprehension or understanding of man; for her natural love was greater than any other mother was capable of, and her supernatural love exceeded that of all the angels and saints together. Her reverence and worship cannot be compared with that of any other created being. These were the delights of the incarnate Word (Prov. 8, 31), which He desired and longed for among the children of men; and this was the recompense, which his loving heart drew from the exceeding sanctity of the Virgin Mother for the sorrows occasioned Him by their behavior. Although He pleased Himself in her alone above all the mortals and in her found full satisfaction of his love, yet the humble Queen sought to alleviate his bodily pains by all the means within her power. Therefore, she besought the holy angels to assist her and produce sweet harmony for their incarnate God, and her suffering Child. The ministers of the Most High obeyed their Queen and Lady, and in audible voices they rehearsed the canticles which she herself had composed with her spouse in praise of the new and sweet name of Jesus.
With this music, so sweet that in comparison to it all human music seemed but irksome discord, the heavenly Lady entertained her most holy Son; and sweeter yet was the harmony of her heroic virtues, which in her soul formed "choirs as of serried armies," as the Lord and Spouse himself says in the Canticles. Hard are human hearts, and more than slow and dull in recognizing and thankfully acknowledging such venerable sacraments, instituted for their eternal salvation by the immense love of the Creator and Redeemer. O sweetest Good of my soul and of my life! What wicked return do we make for the exquisite artifices of thy eternal love! O measureless charity, which is not extinguished by the overwhelming waters of our gross and faithless ingratitude! Truly the essential bounty and Holiness could not go to a greater length of condescension for love of us, nor exercise more exquisite love than to assume the form of a sinner (Phil. 2, 7), drawing upon his own innocence the punishment of the sin, which other-wise could never approach Him. If men despise such an example and for-get such a benefit, how can they be said to retain the use of their reason? How can they presume upon and glory in their wisdom, prudence or judg-ment? It would be prudence, ungrateful man, if thou wouldst afflict thyself and weep over thy notorious dullness and darkness of mind in not being moved by such great works of thy God; since not even the divine love can melt the iciness of thy heart.
Instruction which Our Most Holy Queen Mary Gave Me
My daughter, I wish thee to consider attentively the blessed favor conferred upon thee by being informed of the solicitous care and attention which I lavished upon my most holy and sweetest son in the mysteries just now described. .....
Chapter 15: The Most Holy Mary Remains in the Portal of the Nativity, until the Coming of the Magi Kings (To be continued)
A shortened version of the Mystical City of God by Mary of Agreda, is available on-line: Click here.
For information about ordering the complete set of four volumes, please write to:
Ave Maria Institute, Washington, New Jersey 07882 -- USA.
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False Miraculous Medals
An Inquiry made by Mr. Victor Lefevre, Vice-President of the Domain of the Immaculate Conception, Puylaurens, France
Continued from previous issue
Note: These articles are reprints from the Franciscan Minims' newsletter of 1981. Victor Lefebvre and Fr. Matthieu are no longer living.
Weekly Letter No. 55. --- Imagine, dear friends, how impatient we were to let the little flock of our subscribers know about the exceptional documents that we now had at hand. Nevertheless, the Blessed Virgin Mary incited me to postpone, to wait. I have heard this word may times, and it was beginning, I am ashamed to admit, to set my nerves on edge, especially since the subscribers, delighted with the article "Tears of Blood," were clamoring for the next article. And the more they clamored, the more Heaven demanded us to be patient. We had to wait!
On April 11, 1979, Father Mars wrote again to me. And while he showed himself impatient to receive the pamphlet concerning the false Miraculous Medals, he gave me reassuring news from the lady-lawyer.
Dear Sir, April 11, 1979
No need to tell you with what impatience I am expecting Volume 7 and its supplements. I have met the young lady-lawyer again. Now her life is transformed! I'm in contact with a priest who is in charge of the different centers of the diocese. Although he does not yet make any statement about the "Work of the Domain," he was very impressed by the article about the Medal (mainly because he knows the story of my lady-lawyer). Would it be possible for you to add to your envelope one extra copy of your supplement which I will deliver to him? I think, on the other hand, that you will manage to have a widespread diffusion of that document. --With all my thanks and in union of prayers.
I communicated this important testimony and put him in direct relationship with Fr. Mars. Then Fr. Matthieu replied with quite a long letter, of which the main passage is as follows: "I thank you for that document which is of extreme interest. Besides my own personal affirmation, I am not always in a position to support with proof what I say or ascertain. I am a witness, yes, but oftentimes I am all alone! The document you just sent me is very precious, because it corroborates what I have seen, heard, and lived."
Evidently, we were now expecting a reaction on behalf of the Work of the Miraculous Medal in Rue du Bac, Paris. Already at the beginning of February, Father Médard, the director of "La Medaille Miraculeuse" (The Miraculous Medal) sent letter after letter to his confused correspondents, and he did not spare words in the terms he used:
Paris, February 5, 1979
Madame, ---For several months now, ridiculous rumors have been circulated about the Miraculous Medal, concerning its authenticity, whether it has, or not, one or two dashes under the M. They are nothing but minimal variations of an engraver which cause no defect in the symbolism of the Medal. Remain quite reassured, and consider all that gossip as worthless lucubrations. --Please believe me, Madame, devotedly yours,
(signed), Fr. Médard
Madame, Paris, Feb. 6, 1979
The sisters gave me your letter, for the reason explained on the yellow sheet. We are not obliged to send out medals with or without a dash under the M, because this is a matter of prejudice without any foundation, as explained on the white sheet. --Kindly believe in my religious sentiments. (signed) Fr. Médard
Now, what white sheet is referred to? It is a circular letter signed by Fr. Médard and whose text is here integrally reproduced.
CONCERNING THE MIRACULOUS MEDAL
For several months now, a curious campaign of denigration, the origin of which is still unknown, raises doubts about the authenticity of certain Miraculous Medals which are propagated a great deal in France. Those which do not carry dashes under the M on the reverse side would be authentic, while those with two dashes under the M would be "non-conforming," this being the result of a Masonic or Satanic intervention to "neutralize" them. To confirm that, there are some people who make use of arguments the childishness of which makes one sorry: alleged revelations, dreams, analogies, tendentious confrontations, etc. All these allegations are without any foundation whatsoever.
Evidently the Medal was minted according to the indications of Catherine Labouré, and the first ones, made by Mr. Vachette in 1832, carry two dashes. Saint Catherine Labouré approved that medal. She received one of the first ones, and wore it with devotion. The other mintings of the 19th century, with a few rare exceptions, carry dashes, two and sometimes three, and Saint Catherine never protested. These were the medals which were propagated by millions throughout the world. They were the occasion of so many graces that the popular surname of "miraculous" dates from that period. Where is the sign of Satan in all of that? Those variations, together with others noticed on the reverse side of the Medal, are, with all evidence, due to the diversity of engravings and engravers. On the other hand the medal is not a talisman or an amulet. Truly one cannot see how the presence or absence of a minimal detail, which in no way changes the symbolism of the Medal, could prejudice in any way those who wear it with confidence in the Blessed Virgin.
I am really sorry to have to deplore the maneuvers of people who, doubtless, have a right intention, but are obsessed, and perturb sincere souls with ridiculous and unjustified insinuations.
Fr. Médard, c.m., Director of "La Médaille Miraculeuse"
Weekly Letter No. 56. --- At that time we received testimonies from every-where, not only from France, but also from all over the world. Tongues were getting loose! Not only were we going to get acquainted with the origin of the two famous bars or dashes, we were also going to discover a Marian magazine (which is nevertheless creditable) in the very act of lying. Many convents, monasteries and Carmelite nuns sent us specimens of the most fantastic, most blasphemous kind of Miraculous Medals, like the two illustrated below: one bearing a triangle which should not be on that spot, and the other one (which exists in millions of copies) with the left leg of the Virgin completely nude. We were dumbfounded, scandalized, yet happy in spite of everything, to discover this abuse of the Miraculous Medal. Yet we still had to find out what the purpose had been. As for the rest, we were not delayed in being informed. First of all we had to take some steps backwards.
As we have seen, all of this had been launched from a letter received from Mr. Philippe Babeau, dated Nov. 9, 1978. But that correspondence was already proof that a rumor was being circulated concerning the "two bars" and that had taken place for only a few months. And my memory reminded me that on Oct. 8, 1978, Mr. Pierre Lemaitre, who publishes at Saint-Cénéré and in Paris, under different well-known social presentations, had propagated an impressive number of copies, sent gratis, of Number 5 of his magazine "Dieu est Amour" (God is Love). A circular letter was added to those copies.
In the circular letter it was written that the purpose of this exceptional, free distribution of issue No. 5 of "Dieu est Amour" was that the messages it contained might be known by the greatest number possible of readers. It was also mentioned that the second purpose was to collect funds and subscriptions which would make possible the re-publishing of that special issue as often as might prove necessary. Now, what do we find in issue No. 5 of the magazine "Dieu est Amour" (God is Love) edited by Mr. Pierre Le-maitre? We find a narrative of several Marian apparitions: Rue du Bac (Miraculous Medal), La Salette, Lourdes, Pontmain, Pellevoisin, Fatima, Beauraing, Banneux. It explains the apparition of Rue du Bac in detail. But what was not our stupefaction when we got to the description, on page 8, of the reverse side of the Miraculous Medal:
"Second Picture: All of a sudden the picture turned over, thus representing the reverse side of the Medal. In the center, the letter M surmounted by a Cross with a double bar under the letter M and under the Cross. Underneath were two hearts, of Jesus and of Mary, one crowned with thorns, the other pierced with a sword, and surrounded by a crown of 12 stars."
Now nothing is more false than that description. Not only is it false, but it corresponds strangely with what the adversaries of the Miraculous Medal are endeavoring to have us swallow. What is the proof? It is easy. Catherine Labouré herself is the one who is going to supply it. In 1841, M. Aladel, Catherine's confessor, requested from her a hand-written report to confirm and correct what had already been published in reference to the origin and the effects of the new Medal. In 1841, therefore, Sister Catherine Labouré wrote what she really saw. If you are willing, dear readers, we are going to stick more especially to what she writes concerning the reverse side of the Medal. First of all, here is a facsimile reproduction of the very handwriting of Catherine Labouré, reporting what was told her by the Virgin herself about the reverse side of the Medal. And this is irrefutable proof.
"Around the Virgin a framed picture was formed, of an oval shape. On the upper part of the picture there were the words: O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee, written in gold letters. Then a voice was heard that told me: "Have a medal struck according to this model; all the persons who wear it shall receive great graces, wearing it around their neck. Graces will be plentiful for the persons who wear it with confidence." At that moment it seemed to me that the picture turned over and I saw the reverse side of the Medal. I was anxious to know what had to be put on the reverse side. After many prayers, one day, during meditation, it seemed to me that I heard a voice which told me: "The M and the two hearts speak enough..."
And there you have proof that the Miraculous Medal was counterfeited: the Blessed Virgin herself is the one who declared to her seer, Sister Catherine Labouré: "The M and the two hearts speak enough." Mr. Jean Guitton, a member of the French Academy, in his book entitled "Rue du Bac ou la Superstition dépassée" (Rue du Bac or Superstition Surpassed), on p. 74, writes the following: "The reverse side of the Miraculous Medal presents abstract symbols which have no relationship with the human body. There is an M and two Hearts. Period. Nothing else. Sister was struck by the plain, elementary character, somewhat insufficient, of that second vision (the first one being the front side of the medal). She asked herself what it meant; she heard the answer: "The M and the two Hearts tell enough."
That is why it is more than astonishing to get acquainted with the book of Abbé Laurentin (Life of Catherine Labouré) (Edition Desclée de Brouwer) and to read on p. 62: "A few moments later, that picture turned over, and on the reverse side, she made out the letter M, topped with a little cross, and underneath the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary." As one can see, "a little cross" makes its appearance, when the Blessed Virgin specified quite well: "The M and the two Hearts are enough." And there again we have proof that this little cross, the twelve stars and the two famous bars (dashes) have been put as an addition, since the Abbé Laurentin, on p. 74 of his book, writes: "Did Catherine concern herself with freedom of interpretation: those of Aladel who had stylized the model, according to the Virgin of Bouchardon (a sculptor); those of the goldsmith, who had placed on the reverse side of the stars which had been omitted on the front side of the medal (around the head of Our Lady), and had added two little bars horizontally...?" Therefore Abbé Laurentin admits that the two bars (dashes) belong entirely to the interpretation of the goldsmith, Mr. Vachette. Moreover, on p. 79 of his book, Abbé Laurentin adds: "In 1839, more than ten million copies of the Medal were propagated throughout the whole world. Numbers of goldsmiths and silversmiths fabricated them. Mr. Vachette was overwhelmed and had no more time left to take action against his competitors and the counterfeiters." Here then, you have evidence of a counterfeit.
Now it is only in 1841 that Sister Catherine Labouré wrote down the text we are publishing, in reproducing her handwriting and its translation, at which time more than ten million copies of the Miraculous Medal had already been minted. And why did we publish it? Because, as we have already stated above, it was not only to confirm, but also to correct, what had previously been written about the Medal, that sister Catherine Labouré wrote her report: Jean Guitton is the one who revealed it to us.
As for the Medal, it was already too late: genuine and false medals were already circulated, all mixed together, throughout the whole world. Now, to see more clearly through the whole thing, we had to search for the origin of the two horizontal bars. And we were not going to be disappointed by our almost unbelievable and terrifying discoveries. -- (To be continued).
The Last Illness of Mary of Agreda
"The days of thy life in this world are coming to a close."
--Coronation, p. 639
FOR many years Sor María had been preparing for death by prayer, penance, and meditation upon the meaning of death. She would make her confession as though it were her last, and receive Communion as though it were the Viaticum. Often she would retire to a secluded place and open the coffin containing the bones of her father, looking upon it as her own sepulchre. Then in agonizing attitude she would invoke Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and her Guardian Angel to help her in that dreadful hour. She chose Jesus and Mary as the Executors of her last will, entreating them as sovereigns of her soul to dispose of it as they willed, and to grant her a happy death. God sent an angel to prepare her for death, which, it is believed, He foretold to her.
After Easter in the year 1665, María asked her confessor's permission to practice some special exercises in preparation for death. She told her sisters that her death would soon occur. She assembled them in Chapter on a Monday, an act which for 35 years had been held on Friday. After she had given advice to each sister, she told them that this would be the last Chapter she would hold, for soon she would depart from this world. On Wednesday she was stricken with a mortal illness.
When the news of her illness was spread abroad, public prayer and penances were ordered, in the hope that God would prolong her life. Many miraculous images were carried to the convent. All the clergy from surrounding towns marched in solemn procession to the convent. It was a most pathetic spectacle to see that immense gathering, each person weeping as though he were losing his own mother.
At that time, Father Samaniego, her biographer, was Provincial of Burgos, and it seemed that God willed that all of Sor María's superiors should be present at her death, because they were on their way to the Provincial Chapter to be held in Tudela. Father Alonso Salizanes, Superior General of the Order of St. Francis, was inspired to go to Agreda instead of the Chapter. He delayed the Chapter that he might be present at her death, spending many hours daily at her bedside, edified by her piety.
Death and Transition of the Soul of Sor María
"It can be truly said that Ven. Mary of Jesus of Agreda
surpasses them all." --Andrew Mendo, S. J.
The last and perhaps the greatest trial of Sor María was similar to the Virgin Mary's own trial after her presentation in the temple at the age of three. The Lord seemed to abandon Sor María during the course of her illness, which lasted from the eve of the Ascension until Pentecost. It is believed that she never lost her baptismal innocence. Yet to hear her accuse herself with such lively compunction, one would think she was the greatest sinner in the world. She confessed several times daily and received Holy Communion every day. When her sisters wept over her, she would tell them that such a vile worm of the earth was not worthy of tears. She was deeply grieved at the demonstrations of esteem for her which were made in Agreda. The seeming abandonment of God made her often repeat: "My soul is sorrowful unto death." Her confessor told the sisters she seemed to have no strength except for fervent acts of contrition.
When she was given Extreme Unction, the serenity of her spirit shone on her countenance, which became beautiful and smiling. She gave her last advice and blessing to each sister saying: "I recommend to you, virtue, virtue, virtue."
On the Feast of Pentecost at the very moment of the day (nine o'clock) when, according to tradition, the Holy Ghost descended upon the Virgin Mary and the Apostles, she, who had enjoyed so many visions, was called to the eternal Beatific Vision. At the moment she died, she was seen radiant with heavenly light in a church in Agreda by John Carrillo, a teacher who frequently communicated with the Venerable María and to whom she had foretold her death. He had just received Communion in the Church of St. Julian of the Franciscan Fathers, when he saw the servant of God surrounded by a globe of light ascending toward heaven.
María died at the age of 63 years on the 24th of May, 1665, having been a nun 46 years, 35 of which she was Abbess. Her sisters testify that in her last moments they heard a most sweet voice repeat:
"come, come, come"
At the last call, Sor María de Jesus de Agreda breathed forth her soul.
Most Rev. Joseph Zimenez Samaniego relates that at the precise hour of her death, Sor María was seen ascending into heaven by persons of eminent perfection in several places far distant from Agreda—thus fulfilling in a pre-eminent degree the promise of the Holy Spirit regarding His Spouse, the Virgin Mary:
"Qui elucidant me, vitam aeternam habebunt." --Ecclus. 24, 31
"So shall the last be first, and the first, last." Matt. 24, 16
"They who work in me, shall not sin." --Ecclus. 24, 31
When the news of the death of Sor María de Jesus was heard throughout Spain, people of all walks of life began to flock to the convent. The sisters were obliged to place her dear remains in the church to satisfy the universal devotion. The crowds became so great that it was necessary to have a guard of soldiers to maintain order. Those who could reach the grate presented rosaries, medals, etc., requesting the sisters to touch them to her precious remains. The veneration paid to her was so great that the Superior General of the Order of St. Francis judged it prudent not to deliver an oration in her honor, for fear the people might be excited to some public demonstration of worship forbidden by the Church.
The Most Rev. Samaniego wrote that "every day the fame of her holiness increases, and it seems that every moment the devotion towards her becomes more fervent. She is called the saintly nun, Sor María de Jesus, by the faithful, from the noblest to the lowest and from the most learned and renowned to the most simple and most ignorant. It is evident that this is an inspiration from the Lord, the Master of hearts."
The principal reason for this veneration was owing to the many mira-cles attributed to her while she lived and their stupendous multiplication through the nearly three centuries after her death.
Among the many miracles may be mentioned these few:
The daughter of Nicolosa Franco was afflicted with epilepsy. Her mother took a thread from a piece of cloth which had belonged to Sister Mary, placed it in a glass of water and gave it to her child to drink. She was instantly cured.
While Sor María was still living, a young man named Jerome Abarea, a native of Tudela in Navarra, a professional musician, stopped in Agreda. When he heard about Mother María he cast aspersions upon her virtue of purity. He was immediately afflicted with a paralysis similar to St. Vitus Dance. After repenting of his rash thought he was restored to his former health. From that day forward he never ceased to relate in public the praises of Sister María.
A great number of the cures were effected through the use of rosaries or even a part thereof which had belonged to Sister María. It would disproportion this epilogue to give a full account of each one of these cures.
The devotion of the faithful for Sister Mary of Jesus de Agreda has not diminished in the least degree during the two centuries which have elapsed since her death. She is yet invoked with confidence especially in Spain, France, and Belgium. Every day graces and favors are obtained through her intercession. The truth of this last statement is confirmed by a letter written by Msgr. Cosimus Marrodan J. Rubio, Bishop of Tarrazona, from which the following is taken:
"The nuns of the convent of Agreda, among whom religious discipline flourishes in its primitive rigor, have preserved the sworn testimonies to many of the above mentioned miracles. Among these is the testimony of a poor woman who was afflicted with heart disease. The physicians, after having employed every known remedy but without effect, declared the case hopeless. The woman had recourse to God and with lively confidence implored the intercession of Sister Mary of Jesus. She drank a few drops of water out of the cup which is known as the "cup of the mother," because it was presented to Venerable Mary by King Philip IV. The patient intended to make a nine-day novena, but her favor was granted before the novena was finished. The moment she put the cup to her lips she was restored to perfect health. The doctors testified on oath that her cure could be attributed to nothing but a miracle."
Without doubt Venerable Mary of Agreda's miracle par excellence is the writing of the Life of the Most Holy Mother of God, and the wonders it performs in inspiring to sanctity the souls who read and meditate upon it. Yea, the biography itself is an endless chain of miracles! This statement is entirely consistent with the logical deduction drawn from the study of the voluminous eulogies of the great Popes, cardinals, prelates, eminent theologians and Mariologists, priests, sisters, noblemen, kings, and common people. All the great universities of Europe and all the religious orders of the Church gave the writing enthusiastic praise. During the 17th century it was one of the most popular books in all Europe. To give an account of these eulogies in this brief work is impossible. P.D. Diegus de Silva, Abbot of the order of St. Benedict and Bishop of Guardia, delegated by King Philip IV to examine the first edition of the Mystical City of God, seems to us to sum up the total of all these praises in this sentence:
"With the exception of Sacred Scripture, the heavenly wisdom which it contains has never before been revealed to mortals."
In 1667 when her precious remains were exhumed and found to be incorrupt, permeating the surrounding air with a most sweet fragrance, there was among the many celebrities present Don John of Austria, savior of Christianity from the Turks, whose success in great measure was due to the prayers of Venerable María de Jesus.
Even during her lifetime Ven. María exerted powerful influence upon both Church and State. Father John Gilmary Shea states in his "History of the Catholic Church in the United States:"
"Through her life, Ven. Mary of Agreda petitioned the Holy See to define clearly two points, made de Fide in our times—the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin and the infallibility of the Sovereign Pontiff."
Her famous letter to Pope Alexander VII caused the cessation of hostilities between the two most powerful monarchies in Europe, France and Spain.
Father Samaniego wrote the following regarding her influence upon the government of the only kingdom (Spain) of Europe where the poison of heresy had not spread. In our own day, Spain is the only nation that has defeated Communism. Says Fr. Samaniego:
"God decreed that a poor nun of St. Clare, who was educated in the mountains and secluded in a convent situated in the most remote part of Castille, should be the intimate and immediate adviser of the King of Spain."
BUT in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound the trumpet, the mystery of God shall be finished, as he hath declared by his servants the prophets. And I heard a voice from heaven again speaking to me and saying: Go and take the book that is open, from the hand of the angel who standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I sent to the angel, saying unto him that he should give me the book. And he said to me: Take the book and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter; but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey. And I took the book from the hand of the angel and ate it up; and it was in my mouth, sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it my belly was bitter. And he said to me: Thou must prophesy again to many nations and peoples and tongues and kings. — Apocalypse 10: 7–11
Commentary, by Rev. Bernard F. Leonardtaken from The Book of Destiny
Verse 7. The time of fulfillment shall be when the seventh angel shall begin to blow his trumpet. The Christians at the end of the first century were confronted by the "great tribulation," the Roman persecutions, which would soon become universal. And although the predictions of this prophecy could not be realized in their entirety at once, Christ's ultimate triumph must be affirmed time and again in the revelations. The successive events in chapters 8 and 9, if diligently studied, would convince anyone of a long lapse of time before the parousia. So no one could conclude from the angel's oath to its immediate arrival but only to the promise of its certainty. Before the "mystery of God" shall be fulfilled, the "mystery of iniquity" (2 Thess. 2, 7) must run its course in XI 7-13.
The "mystery of God" as foretold by the prophets (Amos 3, 7) will begin to become an actual fact on "the great day of almighty God." (Mal. 4, 5). This will be the conversion of all nations to God and the unending peace for the Church and the world (Is. 62, 1 ff). The powers of evil shall by that time have spent all their fury against the Church; they shall be surfeited with the blood and slaughter of the true believers; their measure of iniquity shall be filled up, and they shall be ripe for the sickle (XIV 18) and the winepress of God's wrath. (Is. 63, 3). After their swift destruction, the golden age shall dawn upon the world. Not the message of woe was sworn to by the angel, but as stated in Greek and Latin the joyful message of peace. The evils adhered to and propagated, as IX 20-21 states, shall hasten the judgment; and this is announced at XI, 14. If the nations would return to God and halt the progress of evil, the judgment would be postponed (Is. 38, 6-7). It will not wait till the Church has become so much affected by the prevalent evils, that only a remnant can be saved.
The Execution of the Judgment does not begin at XI. 15 but at XVI, 1. There are many phases in this judgment, and they are minutely narrated in chapters XVI to XX. The reign and persecution of Antichrist and the False Prophet partly shown in XI 1-12 must be related first. This is the climax of the "mystery of iniquity." Human language must traverse the same ground several times to depict the many phases of the supreme conflict in separate scenes, before it can unravel the final outcome into which all events of the grand drama converge. The completion of the mystery of God will not come about immediately after the angel's oath, but in future "days," when the seventh angel shall begin to blow the trumpet. That trumpet heralds the end of the mystery of iniquity, and at the same time the solution of the mystery of God.
2. St. John Takes and Eats the Scroll
Verse 8. The same voice that forbade him to write what the Seven Thunders had spoken now commands St. John to take the open scroll from the hand of the angel. The sea and the land are mentioned again to keep before the seer's mind the universal authority of the angel, and the extent of the revelations in the scroll.
Verse 9. St. John rapturously leaves his station at the door of the Church and goes to the mighty angel to ask him for the booklet. The angel invites him to take it, adding that it will be sweet to the taste but bitter to the stomach. This is rather a strange metaphor, because the stomach has no sense of taste. The metaphor is used in the Old Testament to signify the imparting of future secrets to the prophet. He eats the scroll by pondering deeply over its contents, to get a clear understanding of the whole scope of the revelations contained in it.
From the angel's words, as also from his oath and appearance, we can draw the inference that the wicked shall receive their just retribution. The last words of verse seven, "as he has declared the joyful message by his servants the prophets," assure the preservation of the faithful and the triumphant ascendancy of the Church above the smoke of the great conflagration. The message will fill St. John with mixed feelings. (To be continued)
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