From the Franciscan Minims
Mexico • Vergel ------- Jan. • Feb. 2004 ------- No. 1–2
Padre Pio received the visible stigmata in 1918,
while he prayed before this crucifix.
He had received the invisible stigmata three years earlier.
Our Cover: Crucifix of Padre Pio
AFTER offering Holy Mass on the morning of Sept. 20, 1918, Padre Pio knelt in the church choir to make his thanksgiving. As was his custom, he knelt at the foot of a large crucifix. It was the third anniversary of his reception of the invisible stigmata. Suddenly, coming from the five wounds of the crucifix were five luminous rays that penetrated his hands, feet and side. The joy and the pain he experienced were so great that he swooned and fell to the floor. Padre Pio was the first priest to be blessed with the holy stigmata.
The wounds were repeatedly examined by doctors, one being Dr. Romanelli, who exclaimed that he "could not find a clinical symptom that could authorize me to classify those wounds." Nor could he explain scientifically why the wounds "do not fester, show no complications and do not heal."
After examining the wounds soon after their appearance, the provincial superior said, "If I were questioned by superior authority on this point, I would state, under oath (such is the certainty of the impression I have received), that looking through the wounds in the palms of Padre Pio’s hands, one would have been able to see in all its details a piece of writing or another object placed on the opposite side of his hands."
Padre Pio was to experience mental suffering caused by suspicion, condemnation, criticism and claims that the wounds were produced by hysteria. He nevertheless performed all his duties in obedience and humility. Later, when his wounds were regarded as genuine, he endured numerous medical examinations and frequent visits from both the clergy and various laymen. He received countless pieces of mail and was overwhelmed at times by crowds that clamored for his attention.
The holy friar was to experience many mystical phenomena including the gift of prophecy. (Continued on p. 23).
Think of Heaven
"There is little perceptible charity because you think too much about yourselves, and not enough about your God and about Heaven. You neglect the virtue of Hope.
"And yet this virtue is neither optional nor supplementary. I ask it of you. Hope makes everything joyous. It is My messenger that opens the door and introduces My graces.
"Do you not feel, My little daughter, that it always speaks the truth? That is why It gives and communicates its joy—My joy –only to sincere souls.
"If you love Me, welcome and radiate Hope!" (565.)
"In heaven you will have a full knowledge of the Divine Mercy –here on earth, you ought above all to contemplate the mystery of the Cross, because the work of redeeming souls calls you, it needs your generosity to second the action of My Grace; here on earth there is a call for expiation –do you not hear it?" (494.)
–Words of Our Lord to Sister Mary of the Holy Trinity
OUR readers will recall that in the July 2003 issue we had an editorial named The Great Finality of Our Lives, and in the same issue an article about the virtue of hope. In that issue we emphasized that anyone who teaches religion should often teach about heaven, because being in the heaven of the blessed is the end, the finality, of our lives as Christians. The virtue of hope is so closely related to this end. In the quotation given above, Our Lord spoke about this and how we should often think about being in heaven. It is precisely those who most think of heaven, who do the most good in this world. If people do not think of heaven, that means that they do not even know the purpose of their existence, and if they do not know the end of their existence, then how can they make good decisions?
So many people follow the impulses of their passions blindly, and they do not know where they are going, nor where they are being led. They are in darkness. They need the first gratuitous grace of conversion, but this grace cannot come by words only. It is obtained by our being united to Christ, by sacrifices and by prayer. The work of redeeming souls calls us, the mystery of the cross fascinates us, because only by the cross can souls be redeemed.
"In heaven you will have a full knowledge of the Divine Mercy –here on earth, you ought above all to contemplate the mystery of the Cross, because the work of redeeming souls calls you, it needs your generosity to second the action of My Grace; here on earth there is a call for expiation –do you not hear it?"
Christ said that this work needs our generosity, our obedience, our expiation and our prayers. Souls need our cooperation in order to be saved. So we request all our subscribers to do whatever they can: holy hours, little sacrifices, obeying God, even when it is difficult, and he will give us the opportunities of serving him. The more we try to help our neighbors by these hidden actions, the more happiness we will be creating for ourselves and for others. On the day of judgment all the actions of victim souls will be revealed, and how they helped to give salvation to souls in distress. "It is more blessed to give than to receive,"
May it be for the glory of God
The Vergel of the Immaculate Virgin of Guadalupe
Jan. 12, 2004 • Octave of the Epiphany
l m l n l U l m l m l
"All those who yield themselves to My way of the cross and suffering, will be blessed for all eternity." –Our Lord to the Portavoz: April 23, 1969
Hope For Sinners. -- "If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow; and if they be red as crimson, they shall be made white as wool." (Is. 1, 18).
"For I have come to call sinners..." (Matt. 9, 13).
"Her sins, many as they are, shall be forgiven her, because she has loved much." (Luke 7, 47).
"Him who comes to Me, I will not cast out." (John 6, 37).
The Strange Career of Elisha
AND where was Elisha, amid the gathering darkness that began to overshadow the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah? The courts of the childish kings knew him no longer; in his dark cave, meditating on the crest of Carmel, in desert vigils and wilderness prayers, he spent his time, turning his back on a heedless world. It was a blood-thirsty spectacle from which the aging prophet fled, a stage of swiftly changing scenes of kings dying too soon and princes born too late, of strife, marauders, battles, victories, and retreats – but in all the stratagems, plots, schemings, and desperate essays no one turned to the one true God, as Elisha had urged them to do. So what more was left for him to say?
Jezebel’s daughter, a sharp-eyed vixen called Athalia, saw her son ruling in the south, but when word came from Jerusalem that the king was dead, she usurped the throne of Judah, sitting in state on the throne of David and Solomon. Her recipe for security was murdering all the seed royal, every living soul with a drop of David’s blood in his veins; she slew them all but one.
That was Joash, the infant son of Ahaziah, who escaped the swords of her executioners; the priests hid him in Solomon’s Temple, with Queen Athalia not dreaming of his existence. She believed that all possible pretenders to the Judean crown were now liquidated, and that she could rule in utter peace of mind, while paganism seemed to come to full power in the city of the Temple. Ruthlessly, Athalia had put a stop to the worship of the one true God, spending the tax-payers’ money with squandering hands, she built another, rival temple in Jerusalem, a temple to Baal, her false god; she relentlessly persecuted those who worshiped in the old ways and drove them to the altar of her idol.
Nevertheless, the underground was busy; there has never been a persecution yet that could drive out the worship of God from the hearts of those that love Him. Let Athalia conjure up what torments she would; invent new agonies, revive all the tortures of rack and stretch and bloodletting, beds of fiery coals, eyes pierced with silver needles—still the soul of the persecuted loves his Lord and will not be estranged.
So by moonlight, while the court was sleeping, the bearded priests, without their sacerdotal robes, would teach the growing royal child of the high destiny to which he was born, for he was the legitimate heir to the throne of Judah. And one fine day, when the child was seven years old, the priests opened the Temple of Solomon early in the morning. They had figured out exactly what they must do to rally the people, and they were inspired to believe that now was the time. Jehoiada, the high priest—although long before officially stripped of that office— was ready to restore the worship of God to Jerusalem.
Shrewdly taking advantage of a change of palace guards, on this crucial Sabbath morning— and assisted by those same guards, who had come to loathe the queen— the high priest made a new king for Judah. Shyly the lad Joash stood beside the great pillar of the platform, as he was being anointed, then hailed as king, with trumpets and shouting. It was not long before the news of all this was brought to the ears of Athalia in her palace, and not even waiting to tidy her dress, she sped in her chariot to the crowded Temple on the hill.
At the sight of the queen the throng parted; the way opened up, and she beheld the boy Joash, her grandson, with the crown on his head. The jewels in the crown were glittering, as if in defiance of her power, and all the people, she knew, had only a moment before been rejoicing with music and song.
"Treason! Treason!" she screamed, tearing her clothes in the traditional gesture.
But the crowd, silent at her entrance, was not cowed or swayed by her theatrical performance.
"Long live the king!" they called, and the sound of those words so provoked Athalia that she cursed the people she wished to rule.
"Take her away from the Temple and slay her outside its holy boundaries," commanded the high priest Jehoiada to his captains. "And if any follow her, deal with them likewise."
The worshipers of Baal mourned loudly at the passing of their queen. Her death meant a dim future for their cult in Judah.
Thus—while damnation seemed to be creeping upon the upper kingdom of Israel and its distracted ten tribes—reforms began to make the future seem brighter in Judah. The people of the south seemed happy and sincere in their return to the Lord God, and the revival of worship brought on a busy time.
Jehoiada, the high priest, who had saved the house of David from extinction and oblivion, now made a fresh and formal covenant between the Lord and the boy king and his people, promising that the Lord alone should be their God. He wiped out of existence the house of Baal, its chief priest Mattan, and all the idols. Once again the people could come freely to worship in the Temple that Solomon had built.
Large sums of money were collected for repairs to the Temple, for years of neglect had brought the glory of Jerusalem to a pitiful state, and it took years to restore it. And, fallen human nature being what it is, there were thefts during the long project. There were misappropriations of money, even by the priests of the temple, until Joash, when he grew to full manhood, called them to account. But finally the task was finished, to the pride of the workmen on wood and stone, more honest than the priests who put their hands in the till; again, in spite of the weakness of men, the Temple stood white and beautiful on the height.
Who could have believed then in the joy of rehabilitation, that before long the Temple would be robbed, despoiled, and desecrated - by the king himself?
Yet it was so. For just as Elisha had foretold, Syria began to roam abroad like a hungry lion, and King Hazael descended on both Judah and Israel. He plundered and ravaged as far south as Gath in Philistia, and in the sweep and carnage of his invasions reduced the Hebrews in both kingdoms to vassalage. The king Joash was compelled to ransom Jerusalem from the Syrian conqueror—and the price was all the golden treasure still left to the Temple and royal palace, even relics that were hallowed and historic. In the bitterness of his humiliation the king sighed with gratitude when conspirators in his own household came to cut his throat.
Nor did his twenty-five-year-old son Amaziah help matters much when he was crowned. True, he won a military victory over Edom’s army, but the Edomites won a spiritual victory over Jerusalem—the revolution against Baal, the reformation of the government, and the repairing of the Temple came down to one ignoble compromise: victorious Amaziah, to placate the fallen foe, as a matter of conciliatory state policy, bowed down to the false gods of Edom. That was a deed that would have horrified his father; the faith of Judah had once more descended to idolatry.
• • •
Meanwhile, up north in Israel the shadows of misrule and misworship continued to deepen. Hazael, the Syrian scourge, had forced King Jehoahaz, son of old Jehu, to reduce his army to impotence, with a limit of fifty horsemen, ten chariots, and ten thousand foot-men. Of Israel it was said that Hazael "had made them like dust by threshing."
For the whole length of his reign Jehoahaz was ineffectual, and Jehoash, his son, when he came to be king, realized that the land was languishing for leadership. The new king had a wise and simple thought; there was one man of God still alive in the land—Elisha. Why not go to him?
Elisha had lived on through all the troubles and crises of these several kings, and now the prophet was hoary with years. Yet his mind was still keen and his heart still devoted to God, and he could still foresee the cycles of wisdom or folly that men would move in. Once he had wept publicly over what he foresaw that Hazael would do. But in that same sad vision he had seen the waning of his triumph.
When King Jehoash found Elisha he was on his deathbed—but the land of Syria still troubled his mind. Jehoash wept when he laid eyes on the feeble prophet. He repeated aloud the words that Elisha had spoken to Elijah that day he was caught up into heaven:
"O my father, my father—the chariot of Israel and the horseman thereof."
And the Bible then records a singular story. Sitting up in bed, the dying prophet made a queer request. He bade Jehoash to get his bow and arrows and then open the window. All of which the king did.
"Shoot!" said Elisha, whose name meant "God is Salvation." "It is the arrow of the Lord’s deliverance from Syria. For you shall smite the Syrians till they are consumed."
Enigmatic words, but the king obeyed. An arrow whizzed from his bow out of the window. In a fierce fervor Elisha called for others to follow it. But the impatient archer-king stopped at three; they were enough. Elisha gave him a terrible look of disappointment and with his last breath cried:
"There should have been shot five or six arrows! Then would Syria have been consumed, where now you shall smite only three times!"
True to what the prophet had foretold on his deathbed, Syria fell from her dominance with the end of Hazael, whose son Ben-Hadad was beaten thrice by King Jehoash. Thus he recovered the cities which had been lost in war by his father, and he also attacked Jerusalem, dealing Judah, the sister kingdom, a staggering blow, looted it, and carried off hostages to guarantee good behavior thereafter. And so for a little while Judah in the south was subject to Israel in the north.
The Singular Travels of Jonah --(To be continued)
Following His Footsteps
by Anselmo del Álamo
Chapter 7. Mortification, Suffering
53. It is certain that if you abounded in consolation and spiritual sweetness, and through the abundance of heavenly dew you were melted in love and veneration, you would not merit as much as you would by tolerating dryness of soul, and this cross on which I now put you. Rather, in these intimate sorrows that penetrate you, not only do I love you cordially, but rather I will make you an heir of an unspeakable reward. Our Lord to Blessed Henry Suso
54. The world flees from afflictions and it despises the afflicted, and I bless them and crown them. These souls are my beloved, those most worthy of love, most conformable and most resembling my Divinity. Our Lord to Blessed Henry Suso
55. When Our Lord was on the cross, he was declared a King, even by his own enemies; and the souls who are on the cross are declared queens. Do you know why the angels envy us? Because we can suffer for Our Lord, and they have not suffered anything for him. St. Paul, who was carried up to the third heaven and was among the delights of Paradise, considered himself fortunate only in his illnesses and in the Cross of our Lord. St. Francis de Sales
56. Considered in themselves, tribulations frighten us, but considered in the will of God, they are lovable and delightful. Can we not offer prayer? And what better prayer than to look often at the crucifix and to offer him our troubles and sufferings, uniting the little we suffer, to the immensity of the pains that Jesus Christ suffered on the cross? St. Francis de Sales
New Edition of Penitential Rosary
We inform our subscribers that we have just printed a new, larger, easy-to-read edition of the Penitential Rosary. The price is the same as before: $1.00. If you order 10 or more, there is a discount: 0.75 each. For 20 or more, 0.50.
The Revelations of Saint Gertrude
Written by Herself
"You have licked the dust with My enemies
and you have sucked honey amidst thorns.
But return now to Me.
I will receive you,
and inebriate you
with the torrent of My celestial delights."
-- Words of Christ to Saint Gertrude
Of the admirable union of her soul with God.
On the following Sunday, at the Mass Esto mihi, Thou didst enkindle my spirit, and increase my desires to receive yet more noble gifts which Thou wert about to bestow on me; especially by these two words, which moved my soul deeply, namely, the versicle of the first response: "Benedicens benedicam tibi" -- "With blessings I will bless thee," and the versicle of the ninth response: "Tibi enim et semini tuo dabo universas regiones has" -- "To thee and to thy posterity I will give all these countries." (Gen. xxvi.). For then Thou didst show me what were these countries which Thy boundless liberality had promised. O blessed country, where blessings flow upon blessings! O field of delights, whose least grain is capable of satisfying the hunger which any of the elect may have had for those things which the human heart considers desirable, delightful, amiable, sweet and joyful. While I attended to these things as well as I could, though not as well as I ought, the sweetness and charity of my Savior and my God was made known to me; not as an act of justice, for I was far from meriting such favors, but as an act of His ineffable mercy, fortifying me by an adoptive charity, and rendering my extreme vileness, all unworthy, miserable and detestable as it is, capable of receiving a more supercelestial and superinestimable union with Him. But, my God, how have I merited this inestimable gift from Thy justice? Surely it proceeds from this love which observes no rule --this ardent love, which is not limited by reason, and which has inebriated Thee, my sweetest Lord, if I may dare say so --causing Thee, as if devoid of wisdom, to unite what is so dissimilar. To speak more correctly, the tenderness of Thine essential goodness and Thy nature, being inwardly moved by Thy sweetest charity (which causes Thee not only to love, but to be all love, and the torrent of which Thou hast turned towards the salvation of the human race), having inclined Thee to draw from the depths of misery the least of Thy creatures, deficient in all good, contemptible on account of her life and conduct, to elevate her to a share in Thy kingdom, or rather in Thy Divine Majesty, in order by this to confirm the confidence of all who are in the Church; so that I have hope for all Christians, and can believe that there will not be even one who will abuse the gifts of God as I have done, or give such scandal to their neighbor.
But since we may understand the invisible things of God, in some measure, by those which are visible --as I have before remarked --I saw (to express as far as I can that which is inexpressible) that the part of His blessed Heart where the Lord received my soul on the Feast of the Purification, under the form of wax softened by the fire, was, as it were, dropping a sweat, which came forth with violence, even as if the substance of the wax was melted by the excessive heat hidden in the depth of this Heart. This sacred reservoir attracted these drops to itself with surprising force, powerfully and inexpressibly, and even so inconceivably, that one saw evidently that love, which could not be hindered from communicating itself, had an absolute power in this place, where it discovered secrets which were so great, so hidden, and so impenetrable.
O eternal solstice! Secure mansion, containing all that is desirable! Paradise of unchanging delights, continual fountain of inestimable pleasures, wherein there is eternal springtime, soothing by its sweet song, or rather by its delicious and intellectual melodies, rejoicing by the odor of its vivifying perfumes, inebriating by the soothing sweetness of its mystic liquors, and transforming by its secret caresses!
O thrice blessed, thrice happy, and, if I may so speak, a hundred times holy, is he who allows himself to be guided by this grace; and who, having clean hands, and a pure heart, and spotless lips, merits to be thus united to and incorporated with his God! What does he not see and hear and feel and taste? How can my stammering tongue speak of it?
For although the Divine mercy has made me experience this by a particular favor, nevertheless the obstinacy of my sins, and the thick covering of negligence with which I am encompassed, hinders me from fully understanding it. For if all the science of men and angels were united together, it would not be capable of making us understand, even in the least degree, the sublime majesty of so high a subject.
Chapter 9. Of another admirable manner
in which St. Gertrude was closely united to God.
Soon after, during the fast when I was confined to bed for the second time by a severe sickness, and the other sisters were occupied elsewhere, so that I was left alone one morning, the Lord, who never abandons those who are deprived of human consolation, came to verify these words of the prophet: "I am with him in tribulation." (Ps. xv.). He turned His right Side towards me, and there came forth from His blessed and inmost Heart a pure and solid stream, like crystal; and on His Breast there was a precious ornament, like a necklace, which seemed to alternate between gold and rose-colour. Then our Lord said to me: "This sickness which you suffer will sanctify your soul, so that each time you go forth from Me, like the stream which I have shown you, for the good of your neighbour, either in thought, word or act, even then, as the purity of the crystal renders the colour of the gold and the rose more brilliant, so the cooperation of the precious gold of My Divinity and the rose of the perfect patience of My Humanity, will render your works always agreeable to Me, by the purity of your intention."
O greatness of this little bit of dust, which this celestial Lover has taken from the mire to encase in His Jewels! O excellence of this little flower, which the ray of the true Sun Himself has drawn from the marsh, to make it beautiful as Himself! O happiness of this blessed and favoured soul, which the Lord of glory has esteemed so highly, that though He can create whatever He pleases, He attracts it so sweetly and beautifies it by uniting it to Himself! This soul, I say, though it is adorned with His image and likeness, is nevertheless, as far from Him as the creature from the Creator. Therefore is he blessed a thousand times who has received the grace to persevere in this state, to which, alas! I fear I shall never attain, even for a single moment.
O gift surpassing all gifts, to be satisfied with the sweetness of the Divinity and to be superabundantly inebriated with Divine charity in the cellar where it is reserved, so that our feet are no longer free to roam to any place where its Divine fragrance is not perceived, unless, indeed, they are led forth by charity, when they pour out on others the wealth of the Divine faithfulness, and enable them to partake of their surpassing sweetness.
I hope, my Lord and my God, that Thou, in Thy most benign love, wilt grant me this grace, which by Thine almighty power Thou canst impart to all Thine elect. It is true Thine inscrutable wisdom alone knows how Thou canst do this, notwithstanding my unworthiness. I honour and I glorify Thy wise and merciful almightiness. I glorify and magnify Thy almighty and all-merciful wisdom. I praise and adore Thy wise and omnipotent mercy. I bless and thank Thy omnipotent and wise kindness, O my God, because Thou hast bestowed on me graces so far beyond my deserts, notwithstanding all the obstacles I opposed to Thy bounty.
A Loving Gaze toward the Crucifix
Promise: After touching a crucifix devoutly, St. Gertrude learned that "...if anyone only looks at the image of the Cross of Jesus Christ with a holy intention, God rewards him with such goodness and mercy that he receives in his soul, as in a spotless mirror, an image which is so agreeable, that the whole court of Heaven delights therein, and this serves to increase his eternal glory in the life to come, in proportion as he has practised this act of devotion in this life."
Prayer to Obtain a Special Grace
through the Merits of Saint Gertrude
O most sweet Lord Jesus Christ, I praise and thank Thee for all the graces Thou didst lavish upon Thy beloved spouse, St. Gertrude. I thank Thee especially for the ineffable love wherewith Thou didst pre-elect her from all eternity, and draw her so sweetly to Thyself by the bonds of love. I thank Thee for the unutterable condescension with which Thou didst unite her so blissfully to Thyself, dwell with such delight in her heart, and crown her life with so blessed an end.
I recall to Thee now, O most compassionate Jesus, the promise Thou didst make to Thy beloved spouse, that Thou wouldst grant the prayers of all who come to Thee through her merits and intercession, in all matters concerning their salvation. I beseech Thee, by Thy most tender love, grant me the grace.... ..... which I confidently expect. Amen.
Note: Our Lord made several promises of spiritual benefits for those devoted to this saint. The above prayer is based on The Revelations of St. Gertrude, chap. 20.
The Life of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
From the Revelations of the Venerable
Anna Catharina Emmerick
as recorded in the Journals of Clemens Brentano
Arranged and edited by the Very Reverend Carl E. Schmoger, C.Ss.R. --- (continued)
Magdalen also from her splendid seat upon which she had attracted all eyes, fell in violent convulsions. Her companions in sin applied perfumes as restoratives, and wanted to carry her away. Desiring to remain under the empire of the evil one, they were themselves glad to profit by the opportunity to retire from the scene. But just then some persons near her cried out: "Stop, Master! Stop! This woman is dying." Jesus interrupted His discourse to reply: "Place her on her chair! The death she is now dying, is a good death, and one that will vivify her!" After some time another word of Jesus pierced her to the heart, and she again fell into convulsions, during which dark forms escaped from her. A crowd gathered round her in alarm, while her own immediate party tried once again to bring her to her-self. She was soon able to resume her seat on her beautiful chair, and then she tried to look as if she had suffered only an ordinary fainting-spell. She had now become the object of general attention, especially as many other possessed back in the crowd had like her fallen in convulsions and afterward rose up, freed from the evil one. But when for the third time Magdalen fell down in violent convulsions, the excitement increased, and Martha hurried forward to her. When she recovered consciousness, she acted like one bereft of her senses. She wept passionately, and wanted to go to where the holy women were sitting. The frivolous companions with whom she had come hither, held her back forcibly, declaring that she should not play the fool, and they at last succeeded in getting her down the mountain. Lazarus, Martha, and others who had followed her, now went forward and led her to the inn of the holy women. The crowd of worldlings who had accompanied Magdalen, had already made their way off.
Before going down to His inn, Jesus healed many blind and sick. Later on, He taught again in the school, and Magdalen was present. She was not yet quite cured, but profoundly impressed, and no longer so wantonly arrayed. She had laid aside her superfluous finery, some of which was made of a fine scalloped material like pointed lace, and so perishable that it could be worn only once. She was now veiled. Jesus in His instruction appeared again to speak for her special benefit and, when he fixed upon her His penetrating glance, she fell once more into unconsciousness, and another evil spirit went out of her. Her maids bore her from the synagogue to where she was received by Martha and Mary, who took her back to the inn. She was now like one distracted. She cried and wept. She ran through the public streets saying to all she met that she was a wicked creature, a sinner, the refuse of humanity. The holy women had the greatest trouble to quiet her. She tore her garments, disarranged her hair, and hid her face in the folds of her veil. When Jesus returned to His inn with the disciples and some of the Pharisees, and while they were taking some refreshments standing, Magdalen escaped from the holy women, ran with streaming hair and uttering loud lamentations, made her way through the crowd, cast herself at Jesus' feet, weeping and moaning, and asked if she might still hope for salvation. The Pharisees and disciples, scandalized at the sight, said to Jesus that He should no longer suffer this reprobate woman to create disturbances everywhere, that he should send her away once for all. But Jesus replied: "Permit her to weep and lament! Ye know not what is passing in her." --and He turned to her with words of consolation. He told her to repent from her heart, to believe and to hope, for that she should soon find peace. Then he bade her depart with confidence. Martha, who had followed with her maids, took her again to her inn. Magdalen did nothing but wring her hands and lament. She was not yet quite freed from the power of the evil one, who tortured and tormented her with the most frightful remorse and despair. There was no rest for her, she thought herself forever lost.
Upon her request, Lazarus went to Magdalum in order to take charge of her property, and to dissolve the ties she had there formed. She owned near Azanoth and in the surrounding country, fields and vineyards which Lazarus, on account of her extravagance, had previously sequestered.
To escape the great crowd that had gathered here, Jesus went that night with His disciples into the neighborhood of Damna, where there was an inn, as well as a lovely eminence upon which stood a chair for teaching. Next morning when the holy women came thither accompanied by Magdalen, they found Jesus already encompassed by people seeking His aid. When His departure became known, the crowds awaiting Him at Azanoth, as well as new visitors, came streaming to Damna, and fresh bands continued to arrive during the whole instruction.
Magdalen, crushed and miserable, now sat among the holy women. Jesus inveighed severely against the sin of impurity, and said that it was that vice that had called down fire upon Sodom and Gomorrha. But He spoke of the mercy of God also, and of the present time of pardon, almost conjuring His hearers to accept the grace offered them. Thrice during this discourse did Jesus rest His glance upon Magdalen, and each time I saw her sinking down and dark vapors issuing from her. The third time, the holy women carried her away. She was pale, weak, annihilated as it were, and scarcely recognizable. Her tears flowed incessantly. She was completely transformed, and passionately sighed to confess her sins to Jesus and receive pardon. The instruction over, Jesus went to a retired place whither Mary herself and Martha, led Magdalen to Him. She fell on her face weeping at His feet, her hair flowing loosely around her. Jesus comforted her. When Mary and Martha had withdrawn, she cried for pardon, confessed her numerous transgressions, and asked over and over: "Lord, is there still salvation for me?" Jesus forgave her sins, and she implored Him to save her from another relapse. He promised to do so, gave her His blessing, and spoke to her of the virtue of purity, also of His Mother who was pure without stain. He praised Mary highly in terms I had never before heard from His lips, and commanded Magdalen to unite herself closely to her, and to seek from her advice and consolation. When Jesus and Magdalen rejoined the holy women, Jesus said to them: "She has been a great sinner, but for all future time, she will be the model of penitents."
Magdalen, through her passionate emotion, her grief, and her tears, was no longer like a human being, but like a shadow tottering from weakness. She was however calm, though still weeping silent tears that exhausted her. The holy women comforted her with many marks of affection, while she in turn craved pardon of each. As they had to set out for Naim, and Magdalen was too weak to accompany them, Martha, Anna Cleophas, and Mary the Suphanite went with her to Damna, in order to rest that night and follow the others next morning. The holy women went through Cana to Naim.
Jesus and the disciples went across through the valley of the Baths of Bethulia, four or five hours farther on, to Gathepher, a large city that lay on a height between Cana and Sephoris. They passed the night outside the city at an inn that was near a cave called John's Cave. (Taken from The Life of Christ, by Anne Catharine Emmerick).
On Mary Magdalene (from whom, according to the Gospels, Our Lord drove out seven devils): 'Mary Magdalen is a very great saint, in whom one can put one's utmost trust. As soon as she had the good fortune to know God, her contrition was so great, her tears so abundant, that no devil could make her sin again. She is a model for all true penitents, who should make her their special advocate with God, for God grants great favor to those who invoke her aid.' (from Satan in the Modern World, by León Cristiani, p. 87).
The holy women, when the Lord arose from the dead, were near the little gate belonging to Nicodemus. They knew nothing of the prodigies that were taking place; they did not know even of the guard at the sepulchre, for they had remained shut up in their house the whole of the preceding day, the Sabbath. They anxiously inquired of one another: "Who will roll away for us the stone from the doors?" Full of longing desire to show the last honors to the sacred body in the tomb, they had entirely lost sight of the stone. They wanted to pour nard water and precious balm over the sacred body and scatter their flowers and aromatic shrubs upon it; for to the spices of yesterday's embalming, which Nicodemus alone had procured, they had contributed nothing. They wished therefore to offer now to the body of their Lord and Master the most precious that could be obtained.
Salome had shared with Magdalen in defraying most of the cost. She was not the mother of John, but another Salome, a rich lady of Jerusalem, a relative of St. Joseph. At last the holy women concluded to set the spices on the stone before the tomb and to wait till some disciple would come who would open it for them. And so they went on toward the garden.
A Virtue Within the Reach of All
(Reprinted from Estrella, Feb. 1987)
"O how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory!" –Wisdom 4, 1
The purity of our body... will be the light of our soul!
This beautiful virtue places the human spirit in a state so divine, rays penetrate it and envelop it in its light. It is, as Holy Scripture says, like the "lily of the valleys." The lily always opens its calyx to receive the dew, and thus the pure soul is always open to heavenly influences.
God breathed man with his glance fixed always on high, but sin bent him over and obliged him to look at the ground. That is what sin does to a soul who loses the transparency and whiteness granted to her by God on the day of her Baptism! Nevertheless, purity is the virtue that restores to human beings their primitive honor, it recovers for them the grace lost, and makes them raise their eyes again on high, to have their faces turned to Heaven. Because, if the horrifying sin of impurity reduces man to the level of brutes, angelic purity elevates him above his own nature.
God does not deny His graces to anyone, and if we ask Him for the love of this virtue, He will give it to us abundantly. He, Who grazes among the lilies, demands that purity of body and soul of us, for if we are Temples of the Holy Ghost, we must not profane ourselves with impurities.
Purity decorates the soul who possesses it with great charms, and it is wonderful to consider that even souls who live immersed in the vices of the sin of impurity feel the influence of that magnetic virtue in innocent souls. That limpid glance makes them remember how charming the state of innocence is.
Indeed, how we are attracted by the sweet glance of a child who has not lost his innocence, who has not known the malice of sin! The same thing is certainly true of pure souls; there is always modesty in their walk, cleanliness in their person, because they know if their soul breathes purity, their body, too, must reflect what they are inside. What refinement in their speech! And how gentle in their looks and actions! This should be the portrait of a soul who lives under the gaze of the Divine Gardener, she who has been planted in the delightful and chosen garden of privileged souls. And that happiness she enjoys spiritually is the reward for her heroic virtue in preserving purity in all her being.
Let us love purity and let us strive to preserve it, for it is a precious gift that compensates in part for the victory our enemy had in Paradise over our first parents. It will not be difficult for us to preserve it, if we are always disposed to detest evil. What joy remains in a soul after she has committed sin? The Imitation of Christ tells us: "Sin enters mildly, but finally... bites and kills." Indeed, it kills the soul who has committed it more and more, because if it was just pleasure, the joy will not last.
The Little Flower of Lisieux has left us such admirable examples of her angelic purity that, in reality, she inspires us to imitate her.
In everything she has left us of her writings, we realize how chaste souls enjoy a special grace very particularly with blessed spirits, for the latter look at such souls as their sisters who resemble them, pure spirits by nature, by their virtues.
How delightful it would be for a guardian angel – to guide a pure soul in this world!
In the bliss of the cloister, little Therese contemplated Heaven filled with stars. She knew the Good God had made that beautiful Heaven for all in union with her, but she knew, too, that only pure souls, clean of heart would possess it.
Imagine the choir of virgin souls in Heaven, those who follow the Lamb without blemish. They alone will have the joy of singing the new hymn, the hymn of Love to the Divine Lamb!
Oh, if only we knew how to give the esteem it deserves to the virtue of virginity, how easy it would be to preserve it! We are not unaware of the heroism of the child Maria Goretti, of St. Agnes, of St. Cecilia! And we know how many souls have shed their blood for love of purity. They were made of the same material we are and, nevertheless, they overcame the enemy with their valor and their virtue. How many young men, too, have left a luminous wake of virtues and love of chastity and virginity!
Beauty is delightful in itself and its purity is a fragrance that attracts the spirit: it cannot be anything but exquisitely delightful. But we should not only cherish it, but look at it with great joy, so the charm we feel for it might communicate fortitude, so we may acquire its possession.
Purity.. the virtue so extolled by virgin souls! They are said to be just a little less than angels!
What a delight to consider how our miserable nature has received that exalted grace of being able to resemble pure angelic spirits!
What a wonder when Heaven contemplates a soul who, in this life, works with the purity of an angel!
Young Christian girls.. love the virtue of purity! It is possible for all of you to be one of those souls who form the cortege of the Immaculate Lamb. They, too, fought with the same concupiscence of the flesh, but they had the invincible weapons that won triumph for them: prayer and penance!
It is urgent to rebuild a chaste generation! Impurity is proclaimed in all parts of the world, and God, almighty and most pure, is asphyxiated by the immorality of His creatures.
Consecrated souls, at least, preserve the beauty of the jewel of your virginity!
The Blessed Virgin sighs with her sad laments about consecrated souls because, she says, they have forgotten the promises made on the day of their Profession and they delight in filthiness. The Blessed Virgin weeps! She weeps because her children, we human beings, will not let ourselves be saved.
We must repeat this as often as we can and everywhere we can!
Let us not make our Blessed Mother suffer, and let us not wound the Heart of our Divine Spouse. How can we hope to hear from his lips those tender words, Come, my chosen one, and I will place you on my throne! How, if we do not fulfill the promises we have made...?
On the other hand, let us not be deserving of those tremendous words, "Truly I say to you.. I do not know you; depart from Me, you workers of iniquity!"
The pure soul delights in God and the things pertaining to God and, if the soul seeks her beloved... how much more her Beloved seeks her!
If we were to think about this well, how careful we would be not to stain the purity and innocence of our conscience with the pestilential vapor of Hell. Let us contemplate the blue of the sky, the glow of stars, the light of dawn, the luster of the mountains; then we will live for the heights, we will live for God!
Let us be as pure and innocent as children. Jesus loves children with predilection, because they are a reflection of the clean souls who will enter Heaven. When we contemplate Him surrounded by children, how He embraces them, clasps them in His Divine Heart and gives them a kiss of peace on their foreheads. And He wanted His Apostles to love little ones, children in the same way, because of such is the Kingdom of Heaven, and of those who are like them as well.
May the Blessed Virgin, our most pure Mother, teach us the secret of loving purity, so we may be among those blessed souls when we leave this world! ---- May it be for the glory of God.
HOPE is one of the theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, and the great men who built up the Middle Ages, all left their mark on earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth "thrown in:" aim at earth and you will get neither. It seems a strange rule, but something like it can be seen at work in other matters. Health is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of your main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is something wrong with you. You are only likely to get health provided you want other things more-- food, games, work, fun, open air. In the same way, we shall never save civilization as long as civilization is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more.
Most of us find it very difficult to want "Heaven" at all-- except in so far as "Heaven" means meeting again our friends who have died. One reason for this difficulty is that we have not been trained: our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world. Another reason is that when the real want for Heaven is present in us, we do not recognize it. Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would be ordinarily called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in the reality. I think everyone knows what I mean. The wife may be a good wife, and the hotels and scenery may have been excellent, and chemistry may be a very interesting job: but something has evaded us. Now there are two wrong ways of dealing with this fact, and one right one.
(1) The Fools' Way. -- He puts the blame on the things themselves. He goes on all his life thinking that if only he tried another woman, or went for a more expensive holiday, or whatever it is, then, this time, he really would catch the mysterious something we are all after. Most of the bored, discontented, rich people in the world are of this type. They spend their whole lives trotting from woman to woman (through the divorce courts), from continent to continent, from hobby to hobby, always thinking that the latest is "the Real Thing" at last, and always disappointed.
(2) The Way of the Disillusioned "Sensible Man." -- He soon decides that the whole thing was moonshine. "Of course," he says, "one feels like that when one's young But by the time you get to my age you've given up chasing the rainbow's end." And so he settles down and learns not to expect too much and represses the part of himself which used, as he would say, "to cry for the moon." This may be a better way than the first, and makes a man happier in this world and less of a nuisance to society. It tends to make him a prig (he is apt to be rather superior towards what he calls "adolescents"), but, on the whole, he rubs along fairly comfortably. It would be the best line we could take, if man did not live for ever. But supposing infinite happiness really is there, waiting for us? Supposing one really can reach the rainbow's end? In that case it would be a pity to find out too late (a moment after death) that by our supposed "common sense" we had stifled in ourselves the faculty of enjoying it.
(3) The Christian Way.-- The Christian says, "Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of my life to press on to that other country, and to help others to do the same."
There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of "Heaven" ridiculous by saying they do not want "to spend eternity playing harps." The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them. All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is a symbolical attempt to express the inexpressible. Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendor and power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of Heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it. People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs. (Mere Christianity, p. 113-116).
A Magazine for the Latter Times
Enclosed is my subscription to Reflections for another year. I thoroughly enjoy reading this booklet, especially the writings on the Old Testament books. Thanks again for making this little booklet 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 Domini sit semper vobiscum. Oremus pro invicem. Vaya con Dios! –Sincerely yours, M.S., Maryland, USA
Crucifix of Padre Pio(continued)
The holy friar was to experience many mystical phenomena including the gift of prophecy, the reading of souls, visions, supernatural knowledge, bilocation and the odor of sanctity. He was frequently visited by angels and the souls in Purgatory, who asked for his prayers. Many were the physical cures he performed and many were the converts he gave to the church. He was able to exorcise demons, but in turn the devil assaulted the holy friar on numerous occasions.
The Holy Masses offered by Padre Pio were most extraordinary, with the holy friar often lapsing into ecstasies which lengthened the Sacrifice to an hour and a half. Although the pain of the stigmata was almost always constant, the pains became more acute during the Holy Mass, when fresh blood would appear on the hands. The monastery church was always crowded for the Holy Masses of Padre Pio. It was regarded as a profound spiritual favor not only to assist at the Padre’s Masses, but also to receive the Holy Eucharist from his hands and to be blessed by him. He celebrated only the traditional Mass.
By the year 1966 Padre Pio had developed a serious heart condition and endured crushing pains in the chest. He also suffered severe attacks of asthma and bronchitis, arthritis and osteoporosis –all of this in addition to the pains or the stigmata.
Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968, after celebrating the golden jubilee of his reception of the visible stigmata. It is estimated that 100,000 people gathered at San Giovanni Rotondo for the funeral services.
"Know you not that the friendship of this world
is the enemy of God?" –James 4, 4
THE question of worldliness is a very difficult one, and one which we would gladly have avoided, had it been in our power to do so. But it is in too many ways connected with our subject, to allow of its being passed over in silence. In the first place, a thoughtful objector will naturally say, If the relation between the Creator and the creature is such as has been laid down in the first eight chapters, and furthermore, if it is as manifest and undeniable as it is urged to be, how comes it to pass that it is not more universally, or at least more readily, admitted than it is? Almost all the phenomena of the world betray a totally opposite conviction, and reveal to us an almost unanimous belief in men, that they are on quite a different footing with God from that one, which is here proclaimed to be the only true and tenable one. There must at least be some attempt to explain this discrepancy between what we see and what we are taught. The explanation, we reply, is to be found in what Christians call worldliness. It is this which stands in the way of God’s honor, this which defrauds Him of the tribute due to him from His creatures, this which even blinds their eyes to His undeniable rights and prerogatives. How God’s own world comes to stand between Himself and the rational soul, how friendship with it is enmity with Him—indeed an account of the whole matter must be gone into, in order to show, first, that the influence of the world does account for the non-reception of right views about God, and, secondly, that the world is in no condition to be called as a witness, because of the essential falsehood of its character. This identical falsehood about God is its very life, energy, significance, and condemnation. The right view of God is not unreal, because the world ignores it. On the contrary, it is because it is real that the unreal world ignores it, and the world’s ignoring it is, so far forth, an argument in favor of the view.
But not only does this question of worldliness present itself to us in connection with the whole teaching of the first eight chapters; it is implicated in the two objections which have already been considered, namely, the difficulty of salvation and the fewness of the saved. If it is easy to be saved, whence the grave semblance of this difficulty? If the majority of adult Catholics are actually saved, because salvation is easy, why is it necessary to draw so largely on the unknown regions of the death-bed, in order to make up our majority? Why should not salvation be almost universal, if the pardon of sin is so easy, grace so abundant, and all that is wanted is a real earnestness about the interests of our souls? If you acknowledge, as you do, that the look of men’s lives, even of the lives of believers, is not as if they were going to be saved, and that they are going to be saved in reality in spite of appearances, what is the explanation of these appearances, when the whole process is so plain and easy? To all this the answer is, that sin is a partial explanation, and the devil is a partial explanation, but that the grand secret lies in worldliness. That is the chief disturbing force, the prime counteracting power. It is this mainly, which keeps down the number of the saved; it is this which makes the matter seem so difficult which is intrinsically so easy; nay, it is this which is a real difficulty, thought not such an overwhelming one as to make salvation positively difficult as a whole. Plainly then the phenomenon of worldliness must be considered here, else it will seem as if an evident objection, and truly the weightiest of all objections had not been taken into account, and thus an air of insecurity will be thrown, not only over the answer to the two preceding objections, but also over the whole argument of the first eight chapters.
This inquiry into worldliness will, in the third place, truthfully and naturally prepare us for the greatest conclusion of the whole inquiry, namely, the personal love of God is the only legitimate development of our position as creatures, and at the same time the means by which salvation is rendered easy, and the multitude of the saved augmented. For it will be found that the dangers of worldliness are at once so great and so peculiar, that nothing but a personal love of our Creator will rescue us from them, enable us to break with the world, and to enter into the actual possession of the liberty of the sons of God.
O, it is a radiant land –this wide, outspread, many-colored mercy of our Creator! But we must be content for a while now to pass out of this kindling sunshine into another land of most ungenial darkness, in the hope that we shall come back heavy laden with booty for God’s glory, and knowing how to prize the sunshine more than ever. There is a hell already upon earth; there is something which is excommunicated from God’s smile. It is not altogether matter, nor yet altogether spirit. It is not man only, nor Satan only, nor is it exactly sin. It is an infection, an inspiration, an atmosphere, a life, a coloring matter, a pageantry, a fashion, a taste, a witchery, an impersonal but a very recognizable system. None of these names suit it, and all of them suit it. Scripture calls it, "The World." God’s mercy does not enter into it. All hope of its reconciliation with Him is absolutely and eternally precluded. Repentance is incompatible with its existence. The sovereignty of God has laid the ban of the empire upon it; and a holy horror ought to seize us when we think of it. Meanwhile its power over the human creation is terrific, its presence ubiquitous, its deceitfulness incredible. It can find a home under every heart beneath the poles, and it embraces with impartial affection both happiness and misery. It is wider than the catholic Church, and is masterful, lawless, and intrusive within it. It cannot be damned, because it is not a person, but it will perish in the general conflagration, and so its tyranny be over, and its place know it no more. We are living in it, breathing it, acting under its influences, being cheated by its appearances, and unwarily admitting its principles. It is not of the last importance to us that we should know something of this huge evil creature, this monstrous seabird of evil, which flaps its wings from pole to pole, and frightens the nations into obedience by its discordant cries?
But we must not be deceived by this description. The transformations of the spirit of the world are among its most wonderful characteristics. It has its gentle voice, its winning manners, its insinuating address, its aspect of beauty and attraction; and the lighter its foot and the softer its voice, the more dreadful is its approach. It is by the firesides of the rich and poor, in happy homes where Jesus is named, in happy hearts which fain would never sin. In the chastest domestic affections it can hide its poison. In the very sunshine of external nature, in the combinations of the beautiful elements –it is somehow even there. The glory of the wind-swept forest and the virgin frost of the Alpine summits have a taint in them of this spirit of the world. It can be dignified as well. It can call to order sin which is not respectable. It can propound wise maxims of public decency, and inspire wholesome regulations of police. It can open the churches, and light the candles on the altar, and intone Te Deums to the Majesty on high. It is often prominently, and almost pedantically, on the side of morality. Then, again, it has passed into the beauty of art, into the splendor of dress, into the magnificence of furniture. Or, again, there it is, with high principles on its lips, discussing the religious vocation of some youth, and praising God and sanctity, while it urges discreet delay. It can sit on the benches of senates and hide in the pages of good books. And yet all the while it is the same huge evil creature which was described above. Have we not reason to fear?
Let us try to learn more definitely what the world is, the world in the scripture sense. A definition is too short, a description is too vague. God never created it: how then does it come here?.... (from The Creator and the Creature, by Fr. William Faber, p. 315)
"In the cross is salvation: in the cross is life; in the cross is protection from enemies. In the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind. In the cross is joy of spirit. In the cross is height of virtue. In the cross is perfection of sanctity."---- Imitation of Christ, Bk. 2, Ch. 12
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