From the Franciscan Minims
Mexico • Vergel ------ July • August 2003 ------ No. 7–8
The Intercession of Mary
Mother of Divine Grace
Picture: Our Lady of the Rockies, a large statue of Mary
located in Butte, Montana, USA. Completed on Dec. 20, 1985.
Our Cover: Mother of Divine Grace
MARY is a queen, but for our common consolation, be it known that she is a Queen so sweet, clement, and so ready to help us in our miseries, that the holy Church wills that we should salute her under the title of queen of Mercy. 'The title of queen,' remarks B. Albert the Great, 'differs from that of Empress, which implies severity and rigor, in signifying compassion and charity towards the poor.' 'The greatness of kings and queens,' says Seneca, 'consists in relieving the wretched;' and whereas tyrants, when they reign, have their own good in view, kings should have that of their subjects at heart. For this reason it is that, at their consecration, kings have their heads anointed with oil, which is the symbol of mercy, to denote that, as kings, they should, above all things, nourish in their hearts feelings of compassion and benevolence towards their subjects.
Kings should, then, occupy themselves principally in works of mercy, but not so as to forget the just punishments that are to be inflicted on the guilty. It is, however, not thus with Mary, who, although a Queen, is not a queen of justice, intent on the punishment of the wicked, but a queen of mercy, intent only on commiserating and pardoning sinners. And this is the reason for which the Church requires that we should expressly call her 'the Queen of Mercy.' The great Chancellor of Paris, John Gerson, in his commentary on the words of David: "These two things have I heard, that power belongeth to God, and mercy to thee, O Lord," (Ps. 61) says, that the kingdom of God, consisting in justice and mercy, was divided by our Lord: the kingdom of justice He reserved for Himself, and that of mercy He yielded to Mary, ordaining at the same time that all mercies that are dispensed to men should pass by the hands of Mary, and be disposed of by her at will. These are Gerson's own words: "The kingdom of God consists in power and mercy. --- (continued on p. 25).
The Great Finality of Our Lives
DID you ever notice that, at some times and under some circumstances, the exterior practice of religion seems almost useless? There are persons who attend Mass every Sunday, recite vocal prayers, listen to sermons, read books and magazines about religion, for month after month, year after year, and nothing happens. They do not change. They do not improve: they do not grow spiritually. In fact, some even fall backwards and become worse.
There is a popular word named trouble-shooting. It means checking a machine that may break down often. You cannot repair a machine, unless you know the cause of the breakdown. If people are using means to grow spiritually and they do not grow at all, they need to do some trouble-shooting.
There sometimes comes a moment when sacraments no longer sanctify, when holy water is no longer holy. There comes a moment when one must do some trouble-shooting. There comes a moment when one must search for the cause of the inconsistency, the inconsistency of those who contradict what they believe by the way they live. Because if people have the idea that they are serving God when they are really not serving him, they are living an illusion. They are involved in a deceit. They do not see reality the way it really is.
There is a possibility that what we have written may cause a misunderstanding. An explanation is necessary. Just as there are persons who have chronic illnesses that are always recurring, so there are persons who are always falling into some venial or even mortal sins. No matter what they do, no matter what prayers or sacraments they use, they always find themselves falling into the same old sin. It is not our intention to discourage this kind of person, nor to increase the sorrow they already have, of finding themselves in such a sad condition. God can draw good out of evil, he can even draw good out of a mortal sin, even out of mortal sins of weakness that are sometimes repeated, but to do this, certain conditions are necessary. The sinner must acknowledge that his action is really a sin, he would have to feel sorrow and at least a desire to stop sinning, even if he had to wait 20 years to see his desire fulfilled. Our Lord is so patient and so kind. He told Josefa Menendez: "I am willing to pardon a million, million times if necessary."
We could express this concept as follows. When a man falls into sin, he would feel sorrow and want to get up. He might take 20 years to get up, he might have to wait for 20 years for God to lift him up, but he would not want to stay in sin permanently.
When you fall into a sin, you may get up.
When you fall into an illusion, you do not get up: you stay in the illusion.
A mortal sin may be a horrible evil, but an illusion is a nightmarish evil. A fall into sin may be corrected. A serious illusion is almost never corrected. It is a nightmare. It is a curse.
We are not exaggerating. We have seen born Catholics, who performed their acts of piety 365 days a year, vocal prayers, frequent Mass, sacraments, everything, we have seen them fall into illusions so great, we have seen them fall headlong into deceits of such magnitude, that they caused irreparable damage. We are using the word irreparable, in the most literal sense: damage so great that it will never be repaired.
All the exterior things in the Church, the Mass, the seven sacraments, sacramentals, rosaries, scapulars, pictures, prayers, cathedrals, even the Bible itself, are means designed to attain an end. In the Bible it is written: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." If a person in the Church does not have a vision, an idea, a concept, in his mind about how the means are related to the great end and finality, he might make a mistake so big, that it would never be corrected. He might cause himself or others to perish. We saw it happen.
The Great End and Finality of Our Lives
BRIEFLY stated, the finality of our lives, the lives of all who have ever existed is: To dwell with Jesus Christ and his friends forever, in the Heavenly Jerusalem, the dwelling of the apostles, martyrs, virgins, confessors, angels, prophets, and of all the elect, to praise and exalt and bless him forever, for all the endless ages of eternity.
This is the end, this is the purpose, this is the finality. If a man does not know that fact well, then he does not have a goal, an aim, a purpose. He will make bad decisions and mistakes all the time. He is aim-less, a man without an aim. Our life is a journey to the Heavenly Jerusalem, but if you are not acquainted with the heavenly city, you cannot journey to it. You cannot make a journey unless you know the end, the destination. You cannot even begin to make a right decision about a journey, unless you know where the journey ends.
We could express the idea in other words. If a preacher or a teacher has to plan a course, or give talks or sermons about religious topics, there are so many topics to be learned. But by far the most important topic he can teach is: to get acquainted with Jesus Christ, to get to know his dwelling, his home, his heavenly city, his resting place, in a word, to teach about Heaven. If a religious teacher does not teach about heaven, all his other teaching is of little or no value. You cannot even begin to use the means, unless you know the purpose, the finality, the end, the destination, unless you know: Heaven.
A Difficulty Overcome
THERE is a difficulty that St. Paul mentioned, that now we see in a mirror darkly. We can only know about Heaven from comparisons, from parables, from analogies. The only way we can know Heaven as it really exists, is by dying and being there. We have to form an idea or a picture or image in our minds, of what heaven might be like. We have to use our imaginations, we have to pray and ask God himself to teach us some, because our image of heaven, no matter how advanced we may be, will be imperfect. The image or picture we make of heaven in our minds, is as different from the real Heaven, as the drawing of a five-year old child of a landscape, from the landscape itself.
Even if our picture of heaven is imperfect, the difficulty should not discourage us. If a man or woman really wants to seek God with his whole heart, God will give him enough grace so that he can learn about heaven in one way or another. If you really want to get acquainted with Jesus Christ and his apostles and friends, he will arrange things so that you can know them. You may have to see in a mirror darkly, but God will arrange for you to see so much, he will allow you glimpses of things that will astonish and delight you. Once someone said: If just thinking about heaven makes me so happy, what will it really be like, when I am in Heaven itself? It is simply inconceivable.
The Greatest Harm There Is in the World
ONCE the Portavoz asked Our Lord what sin offended him most, and he answered: the seven capital sins. Once the Portavoz was praying for a certain person with the words "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." And he remarked that they were full of darkness, they were blind. Right now, this is the greatest harm there is in the world: spiritual darkness: souls are blinded by error. (June 7, 1970)
When you hear the word darkness you think of the absence of something. It would also be correct to say that souls are blinded by illusions, by mirages. Every day we see it happening: they think money will bring them happiness, but it won't. They think running after pleasure will bring them happiness, but it doesn't. They think being powerful and famous produces joy, but it does not. They are people who spend their entire lives chasing after mirages. They are in a state of illusion: they do not see reality the way it really is. They are in a state of spiritual darkness, because they do not know religious truth: they make mistake after mistake after mistake. They do not know spiritual truth, but even people who do know spiritual truth can be led astray by illusions, as stated above.
Christ said: "You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free." We have read this so often. Did you ever think what the opposite of that statement is: The opposite is this: If you do not know the truth, you are a slave.
People in the modern world are constantly talking about freedom, about liberty, about human rights, about civil rights, about rights of children, of women, of teachers, they even talk about rights of animals. If most of the people are now in spiritual darkness, what does that mean? They are slaves, slaves of their ignorance, enslaved by their passions, enslaved by their illusions, fools running after mirages. They may talk about freedom, but they simply do not know what real freedom is, the freedom Christ came to give us, that they do not know.
They do not know the finality of their existence, they do not know the purpose of their existence, they do not know the destination of the journey. They cannot make a good decision. They cannot begin to make a good decision. They cannot begin to begin to make a good decision. You cannot make a good decision about a journey, if you do not know the destination of the journey. You cannot live your life, if you do not even know the finality of your life. They are blind, they are lost.
Can you imagine what might happen if a preacher mounted a pulpit and began to preach a sermon to people that really manifested the truth about the way they were? That is to say, he would tell them that they were blind, that they were enslaved by their illusions, that they were constantly making mistakes, that they should repent before it was too late? He would have what we might call an emotional reaction: some would become angry, some would burst into tears and lament their sins, some might even faint. If you want to help people, there is only one way to help them: you must tell them the truth: they cannot be helped by illusions. Sometimes the truth is painful and shocking and ugly, but the truth, the shocking truth, is the only thing that can save anyone. You cannot be saved by running after a mirage.
Such a sermon might be severe, but it would produce immense benefit. Showing things the way they really are would help them: only truth would help them: spiritual darkness is of no value. Illusions are worthless, mirages are a deceit.
What do you think would happen if the preacher himself were in a state of spiritual darkness, misled by an illusion? If that were the case, we would consider the church building in which they were gathered, as the scene of a nightmare. You could call such a building: the hall of deceits, the palace of illusions. They were supposed to guide the people toward God, but they did not. They were supposed to guide people into the kingdom, but they themselves did not enter into the Kingdom. They stayed outside, and they did not let the others go in.
Christ told us what would happen to these preachers and their most unfortunate, miserable, wretched listeners. He said: If the blind lead the blind, they will both fall into the pit.
That does not sound like a catastrophe. If you happen to fall into a three-foot pit, it is an inconvenience: you just climb out of it.
What would happen to a man if he were walking along and he came across a pit that was a hundred feet deep. He did not see it and he fell. What would happen if he had no rope, no ladder, no friend or acquaintance to help him get out? He would stay at the bottom.
We Christians know that a merely physical death is not the greatest evil. Do you think the death of the man in the pit might signify another kind of death? If a man in the state of mortal sin fell into a pit, what would happen? What would happen if the pit were three hundred feet deep and he died instantly?
In the Apocalypse (book of Revelation) there is mention made of a pit. Could you tell us what kind of a pit it is, and what happens to those who go into it?
Christ said that if the blind lead the blind, something so ugly and horrible and terrifying and nightmarish will happen, that perhaps it is better not even to think about it.
In reference to souls, Christ used the word loss. The word loss seems to have a rather simple meaning. If you lose a car, you can get a new car. If you lose a child, perhaps you may have another child. If you lose a home, you are homeless, but perhaps you might find another home. If you lose an arm, you can even get an artificial arm. If a Christian loses his physical life, really, it is a small loss, he has everlasting life. If you lose a temporal life, you can even get an eternal life. If you lose one thing, you can get almost the same thing back.
But there is one loss that is irreparable, it is irrevocable. Its loss can never be repaired. You may have two cars, two children, two homes, even two lives. But there is one thing that is given only once, and if you lose it, you will never get it back: a soul. The loss of a soul is the worst catastrophe that can happen, from the beginning to the end of the world. It is an irreparable loss, a loss that will never be repaired, for a million, million years, for all the endless ages of eternity.
Friendship is Like a Game
HAVE you ever heard a conversation like this? "That sounds just like the kind of thing that would delight him. Let's go ahead and do it." Or: "I would never want to do something like that. It would upset him so much." What you observe in such conversations is that the man in the conversation is appealing to a standard of behavior that we might call the "Law of Friendship" or perhaps norms of friendship. There are no fixed laws of friendship at all. The only way you could learn the norm is as follows: You have to observe your friend or partner for some time, perhaps a year. After you have observed him, after you have known his ideas by means of conversations, then you acquire a knowledge of his likes and dislikes, his tastes, his habits, his way of acting, his way of doing things. You acquire a knowledge of his character and personality by talking with him and observing him. Only then can you begin a friendship. There are many laws and norms about behavior, about how to deal with people, for example, do not lie, do not steal, etc. Perhaps the most basic is: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This is a norm that is in all religions and even atheists accept it. It is simply basic, human morality. You could express it as follows: "Be polite, because you want others to be polite to you." You are, or ought to be, polite to everyone, even to total strangers. But if there is a norm of friendship, it would never be that simple. Friendship means doing something extra, more than just politeness. You would have to observe your potential friend, and then you would have to give him something that pleases him, you would have to surprise him. You might surprise a total stranger by chance, but if you really wanted to make a plan to surprise someone, you would have to become acquainted with him first.
Christ said that his disciples were not his servants, but that they were his friends. If you made a comparison between human friendship and being the friend of Christ, what conclusion would you reach?
The conclusion would be something like this: a saint or a friend of God is one who guesses what Jesus wants, then he gives his friend a surprise. Then Jesus guesses what his friend wants, and he gives his friend a surprise. That may seem odd. How can you surprise God? He knows everything. God cannot be surprised, and he does not have to guess. But with that exception, the norm is true. The only way of being Christ's friend is to guess what he wants. He will not tell you. You have to guess. That is the way friendship is.
May it be for the glory of God
The Vergel of the Immaculate Virgin of Guadalupe
June 24, 2003 • Feast of St. John the Baptist
The Strange Career of Elisha
WHEN Elijah rode up and off in his chariot of flame, he left behind him not only his protégé but also his mortal enemy, that bloodthirsty heathen woman, Queen Jezebel. The new prophet realized that he had inherited a bitter feud. He knew, too, that the old Tishbite, Elijah, had opposed the infernal cunning of that royal female demon with the powers of grace that God, the one and the true, had furnished him with. In these struggles that he must now carry on, would Elisha be able to summon up equally miraculous powers?
Standing by the riverbank, with the glitter of the flying chariot just vanished in the distant heaven, the new prophet decided to seek the answer to his doubts, in this same place. Elijah's mantle was lying on the ground where it had fallen. The young man lifted it with both hands, raised it over his head, and with a swift smiting motion, slammed the garment against the foaming surface of the Jordan, crying as he did so, the deepmost doubt and challenge of his soul:
"Where is the Lord God of Elijah?"
And with ready answer the new prophet of Israel saw that he was truly one of that long line, running back to the days of Moses, who had beheld the miraculous works of God exhibited in the waters of this same river Jordan. Even as Elisha watched, as if it were a miniature Red Sea, and as if the God of the exodus from Egypt remembered, the narrower torrents of the Jordan were dammed up and parted, north and south, the coming and the going currents held back as if by the Lord's very hands, and rocks and stones revealed the silt in the bed of the river that had lain hidden by the waters since time began.
Thus, as Elijah ended his career in a miracle of fire, Elisha began his with a miracle of water.
Watching all this from afar was a company of some fifteen men, a special group who were sons of lesser prophets of those days. Seeing the waters part, they acclaimed their new leader:
"The spirit of Elijah does rest on Elisha."
Having begun his ministry on the wondrous stroke of a parted stream, Elisha then headed into the political huggermugger of his day, and for long years afterward he wielded increasing supernatural force, until his extraordinary deeds were talked about wherever ships sailed and camels marched.
At the very start of his career he healed the brackish waters and barren ground around Jericho by the sprinkling of a cruse of salt and a prayer that all be purified. Walking toward Bethel on another afternoon, he was tormented by a pack of wild and vicious children, whose parents had not taught their young the old religion, but the practice instead of the murderous, abominable, and orgiastic perversions of Baal, the god of queen Jezebel. The crowd of children swarmed around the prophet, who, raising his staff, called on the Lord for deliverance. Mankind has ever since recoiled from the dismal memory of that afternoon in early summer when two she-bears, erect on hind feet and roaring to the winds, came lumbering forward and tore asunder forty and two. That shocking report spread everywhere, and Elisha was named with dread.
Yet he was the friend of the people, not a spiritual bully, imposing his own will by the grace of God. One day a widow came weeping to the door of his hut, crushed with grief because she could not pay a debt, and the creditor was on his way to seize her two sons and sell them into slavery.
"What have you in the house?" asked Elisha.
"Not anything except a pot of oil."
"Go borrow vessels from all your neighbors. Borrow not a few. And when you are in the house, you shall shut the door upon you and upon your sons and shall pour out into all those vessels... go sell your oil and pay your debt."
Then there was the amazing case of the Shunammite woman, a great lady of broad estates who still worshiped the one true God. When she learned that Elisha was serving the Lord as a prophet, tramping the countryside, reiterating the Ten Commandments, retelling the past from the Garden of Eden to the days of oppression in Egypt, Moses, the wilderness, Joshua, David, and Solomon, she took an interest in the ragged stranger and made him welcome in her house. She gave him a room just for himself, with Gehazi-- a servant Elisha had picked up along the road-- sleeping outside the curtained door. And there seemed no way by which Elisha could repay her kindness; the rich lady of Shunem wanted nothing.
"What is to be done for her?" Elisha asked Gehazi. The servant looked sideward and downward, with a wily smile. The lady had no child-- and her husband was an old man. Rebecca! Sarah! Rachel! And now, after nearly a thousand years, Elisha promised the Shunamite woman, against all likelihood, that she, too, would conceive.
"You man of God! Do not lie to your handmaid," she protested, her voice like an echo from the long past of Israel and a whisper of a future sill far away.
But, as people were saying to each other everywhere in those days, Elisha's prophecies were never proved false. The lady of Shunem did indeed bear a son, strong and energetic, and as the years passed he grew to be a fine and comely lad, first heir to the gardens and broad lands of his mother. He was no princely idler; he was learning everything about the management of the estate, and like many a son of a wise owner, was learning his trade from the start. Then one day at harvest time, as he worked with the reapers in the fields of golden grain, his head began to ache and he fell in a faint. Carried to his mother's arms, he died.
This terrible fact was accepted by his mother with a serenity that shocked all the mourners. A woman of action who was governed by faith, she did not hesitate in what she knew must be done. She lifted the dead body of her son and, seeing her inflexible gaze, no friend or servant ventured near her, and she carried her burden not to the rooms of state in her magnificent house, but to that bare back room upstairs where now and then the wandering prophet had been lodged. She laid the dead boy on the bed of Elisha and ordered that no one come near it. Then, saddling her favorite donkey, she went riding away alone.
It happened at that time that Elisha had gone into a retreat, meditating and praying in his dark cave that once had known Elijah's prayer and solitude, that dark old hollow in the rocks that travelers visit to this day on the height of Mount Carmel. Taking a walk, Elisha observed, far down the steep and winding road, was a woman in familiar robes, tortuously coming up on the back of a donkey.
"Behold the Shunammite!" he exclaimed to Gehazi. "Run and ask her if all is well."
The servant Gehazi was, like many another helper to great men, an officious fellow. He tried to show his own importance by sending the grieving woman away; his master was here for prayer and solitude, renewing his spiritual forces, and should not be disturbed by anyone. But Elisha shoved him aside and tenderly received her.
"Take my staff," said Elisha to Gehazi. "Go with her and lay the staff on the face of her child." The servant hurried on ahead, as the grieving mother returned homeward with the prophet.
But soon Elisha knew, as by some mystical telepathy, that the attempt had failed. The rod of the prophet, laid on the cold face, brought no flutter to the eyelids, nor stir of breath or returning life.
Reaching the house, Elisha asked to be left alone with the corpse. He lay down on the bed, prone on the lifeless boy, and warmth of his own body touching the icy figure, while he seized the rigid jaws and forced them open and breathed down the empty throat.
And surely there was never a stranger sound than suddenly exploded in the prophet's bedroom. The dead young man sneezed violently, seven times. The sound of it was heard by the mother, waiting and praying, outside the curtained doorway. And the young man opened his eyes.
Elisha called her into the room, his own voice shaken with joy as he said: "Take up your son."
Many other astonishing things were told of Elisha. He fed a hundred hungry men with not enough food for a fifth of that number, and had bread left over: once more a prefiguring of miracles to come with the dawn of a new era when Jesus of Nazareth would feed four thousand with seven loaves and a few little fishes. --- (To be continued)
Following His Footsteps
by Anselmo del Álamo
Chapter 7. Mortification, Suffering
36. Affliction preserves one from great harm, it makes a man know himself, restrain himself, and keeps faithfulness toward one's neighbor; it keeps the soul in humility, it teaches patience, it diffuses chastity, and finally it prepares a crown of blessedness. -- Our Lord to Blessed Henry Suso
37. I am turned into a pincushion pierced with punctures. I can go on no longer. Truly the holes are small, but they pain me even more than large ones. The poor pin-cushion trembles and shakes, but I feel so happy to suffer all that Jesus permits. -- St. Teresa of Jesus
38. We instruct souls with words, but they are saved by suffering. -- P. Chevrier
39. He who is most advanced in the path of contemplation, is the most vexed and harassed by temptations. -- St. Gregory the Great
40. Let us fear to be deprived of our suffering, more than the miser of his treasures. -- St. Paul of the Cross
41. To suffer sweetly, to be silent with patience and to fulfill our duty faithfully, behold this is the science of the saints, which should constitute the study of our entire life. -- St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
Meaning of 101
In 1973 the Virgin Mary began to appear to Sister Agnes Sasagawa in Akita, Japan, and the wooden statue of Mary in the chapel wept tears 101 times, over a period of several years.
On Sept. 28, 1981, an angel explained to Sister Agnes the meaning of the number 101. She was in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. She did not see the angel in person, but a Bible appeared open before her eyes and she was invited to read a passage (Genesis 3:15). The voice of the angel explained that the passage had a relationship with the tears of Mary:
"There is a meaning in the figure one hundred and one. This signifies that sin came into the world by a woman, and it is also by a woman that salvation came to the world The zero between the two signifies the Eternal God, who is from all eternity until eternity. The first one represents Eve, the last the Virgin Mary."
Information about the apparitions at Akita, and other Marian apparitions, is available from: 101 Foundation,
P.O. Box 151, Asbury, New Jersey 08802-0151 USA ----- www.101foundation.com
Message of Sunday,
April 5, 1970.
Octave of Easter
"My daughter, tell My people that they must repent and stop persecuting the children of My Church. Let them change their minds and submit to My new law, the law of My gospel, which is that which I have given to My holy Church, because outside of My Church there is no salvation."
Immediately afterwards, our Lord said to me once more. "Open the book to plate 45."
I opened the book and there was a colored image or painting of the Blessed Virgin when she was a child. In this picture Mary is sweetly sitting on the floor, with some kind of manual work on her knees. Her little hands are joined in an attitude of prayer; her eyes, raised to the heights, and nine little angels are crowning her, that is, only their faces. All of this is observed as though it were through a curtain. On one side, she has several sewing instruments and a book; on the floor there are a basket and a pitcher, but with a flower vase containing roses and lilies. The title of the picture reads thus: The Blessed Virgin as a Child, by Francisco Zurbaran. It is from the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York.
Jesus repeated to me some words which He told me not long ago: "My Mother always lived in a state of constant adoration."
But now He told me: "This picture has earned for its author eternal salvation, and that of many other souls. Try to reproduce it and to spread it among others, and to teach how little girls ought to live: in imitation of my Mother, in adoration and recollection. Even while engaged in work, my Mother used to be in prayer always. There is a need for pious, modest and holy women, so that there be a chaste generation, my daughter. Tell it thus to the entire world; above all, this message is directly intended for the schools."
Here again, I questioned my Jesus and He answered me: "Lord, what relation have Exodus and Deuteronomy, which you have made me read, with the situation of the world? What have you wanted to tell me, or to indicate, by making me read them now?"
In the hard-copy edition of Reflections,
there is a color picture here.
The Blessed Virgin as a Child, by Francisco Zurbaran (1598-1664). "This picture has earned for its author eternal salvation and that of many other souls. Try to reproduce it and to spread it among others, and to teach how little girls ought to live: in imitation of My Mother, in adoration and recollection. Even while engaged in work, My Mother used to be in prayer always." (April 5, 1970).
This was His reply: "I have used and continue using patience in bearing with human beings. And I will continue to do so; but tell all of them that they must strive to give up the life of vice and sin. Let them read the Holy Bible; above all, Exodus, until the death of my great prophet, Moses, through whom I gave them my very first commandments, which have not been derogated, but rather confirmed, by my gospel. The precepts of the Old Testament which I gave through Moses, I came down to perfect them with my law of grace and love.
"Yet, My children continue to provoke me to anger, and this wrath shall fall upon them soon. And such will befall those who are stubborn and who do not amend their lives. And it will fall upon my race, if they do not detest their sins and their incredulity; and if they do not humble themselves and become once more my people, I will detest them forever.
"Remember, My daughter, that I have always taught you that, on the final day of the periods of time, My justice shall be exalted and glorified as much with the just man who will be saved, as with the reprobated one who will be condemned forever into everlasting fire with the fallen angels. (Mt. 25, 41). Now, let all of you be alert, because great signs of my power and holy vengeance will take place very soon. Just as in former times, now and forever I am the Almighty; and I will punish the stubbornness of My evil children, because I will not tolerate them forever. And with this, it is enough!" The Jesus kept silent.
Later, Jesus dictated the following: "Let everyone understand how much they are provoking my justice, so as to let my wrath fall against the obstinate, especially upon those who are undermining my holy Catholic Church, and causing such great suffering to my beloved vicar, Pope Paul VI."
"Now, My daughter, dedicate your time to publishing all the words that I have entrusted to you from the beginning, because afterwards, I desire to give you a little time which you may devote to your own soul and to your community.
"Do not feel sad if you are not raised from the state in which you are, in the company of your sisters. The little and upright of heart are pleasing in my sight, not the great ones according to the world and the human way of thinking.
"At an opportune time I will bring to My work the souls who are pleasing to me and suitable for consecrating themselves with me, victims before my justice. As for all the rest, My daughter, it is worth nothing. Such things are grandeurs of the earth, not of heaven. Love me, and tell all of those who surround you in this work, to give me all of their love, to give themselves over to my cross, and that, as for the rest, I will do it all with my power and my glory.
"To you, I will come many more times yet, but I will not give you one single message more for the world or for My Church. However, they will see the fulfillment of all that has been announced through you.
"Adore Me! Love Me! And continue in peace!"
Then, during these moments as at other times, I felt the caressing touch of the hand of Jesus on my forehead.
From that moment until the present, during which time I am writing these notes, an hour has passed by. It is now 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon.
May it be for the glory of God -- The poor Portavoz of Jesus
St. Michael Appears
in the Garden of Gethsemani
From the Mystical City of God,
by Mary of Agreda
THE agony of Christ our Savior grew in proportion to the greatness of his charity and the certainty of his knowledge, that men would persist in neglecting to profit by his Passion and Death. His agony increased to such an extent, that great drops of bloody sweat were pressed from Him, which flowed to the very earth. Although this prayer was uttered subject to a condition and failed in regard to the reprobate who fell under this condition; yet He gained thereby a greater abundance and secured a greater frequency of favors for mortals. Through it the blessings were multiplied for those who placed no obstacles, the fruits of the Redemption were applied to the saints and to the just more abundantly, and many gifts and graces, of which the reprobates made themselves unworthy, were diverted to the elect. The human will of Christ, conforming itself to that of the Divinity, then accepted suffering for each respectively: for the reprobate, as sufficient to procure them the necessary help, if they would make use of its merits, and for the predestined, as an efficacious means, of which they would avail themselves to secure their salvation by co-operating with grace. Thus was set in order, and as it were realized, the salvation of the mystical body of his holy Church, of which Christ the Lord was the Creator and Head.
As a ratification of this divine decree, while yet our Master was in his agony, the eternal Father for the third time sent the archangel Michael to the earth in order to comfort Him by a sensible message and confirmation of what He already knew by the infused science of his most holy soul; for the angel could not tell our Lord anything He did not know, nor could he produce any additional effect on his interior consciousness for this purpose. But, as I related above, Christ had suspended the consolation, which He could have derived from his human nature from this knowledge and love, leaving it to its full capacity for suffering, as He afterwards also expressed Himself on the Cross. In lieu of this alleviation and comfort, which He had denied Himself, He was recompensed to a certain extent, as far as his human senses were concerned, by this embassy of the archangel. He received an experimental knowledge of what He had before known by interior consciousness; for the actual experience is something superadded and new and is calculated to move the sensible and bodily faculties. Saint Michael, in the name of the eternal Father, intimated and represented to Him in audible words, what He already knew, that it was not possible for those to be saved who were unwilling; that the complaisance of the eternal Father in the number of the just, although smaller than the number of the reprobate was great; that among the former was his most holy Mother, a worthy fruit of his Redemption; that his Redemption would also bear its fruits in the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Virgins and Confessors, who should signalize themselves in his love and perform admirable works for the exaltation of the name of the Most High. Among these the angel moreover mentioned some of the founders of religious orders and the deeds of each one. Many other great and hidden sacraments were touched upon by the archangel, which it is not necessary to mention here, nor have I any command to do so; and therefore what I have already said, will suffice for continuing the thread of this history.
He returned to the three Apostles, who, having been more favored, also had more reasons for watchfulness in imitation of their Master. But he found them asleep; for they had allowed themselves to be overcome by insidious disgust and sorrow, and in it had been seized by such a remissness and lukewarmness, that they fell asleep. Before speaking to them or waking them, the Lord looked at them for a moment and wept over them. For He saw them oppressed and buried in this deathly shade by their own sloth and negligence.
Let us now return to the Cenacle, where the Queen of heaven had retired with the holy women of her company. From her retreat, by divine enlightenment, She saw most clearly all the mysteries and doings of her most holy Son in the garden. At the moment when the Savior separated Himself with the three Apostles Peter, John and James, the heavenly Queen separated herself from the other women and went into another room. Upon leaving them She exhorted them to pray and watch lest they enter into temptation, but She took with Her the three Marys, treating Mary Magdalen as the superior of the rest. Secluding Herself with these three as her more intimate companions, She begged the eternal Father to suspend in her all human alleviation and comfort, both in the sensitive and in the spiritual part of her being, so that nothing might hinder Her from suffering to the highest degree in union with her divine Son. She prayed that She might be permitted to feel and participate in her virginal body all the pains of the wounds and tortures about to be undergone by Jesus. This petition was granted by the blessed Trinity and the Mother in consequence suffered all the torments of her most holy Son in exact duplication, as I shall relate later.
The three Marys were instructed by the Queen to accompany and assist Her in her affliction, and for this purpose they were endowed with greater light and grace than the other women. In retiring with them the most pure Mother began to feel unwonted sorrow and anguish and she said to them: "My soul is sorrowful, because my beloved Son is about to suffer and die, and it is not permitted me to suffer and die of his torments. Pray, my friends, in order that you may not be overcome by temptation." Having said this she went apart a short distance from them, and following the Lord in his supplications, she continued her prayers and her petitions, feeling the same agony as that of the Savior in the garden. She also returned at the same intervals to her companions to exhort them, because She knew of the wrath of the demon against them. She wept at the perdition of the foreknown; for she was highly enlightened in the mysteries of the eternal predestination and reprobation. In order to imitate and co-operate in all things with the Redeemer of the world, the great Lady also suffered a bloody sweat, similar to that of Jesus in the garden, and by divine intervention, she was visited by the archangel saint Gabriel, as Christ her Son was visited by the archangel Michael. The holy prince expounded to her the will of the Most High in the same manner as saint Michael had expounded it to Christ the Lord. On this occasion she sent some of her angels with a towel to the garden in which her Son was then perspiring blood, in order to wipe off and dry his venerable countenance. The Lord, for love of his Mother and for her greater merit, permitted these ministers of the Most High to fulfill her pious and tender wishes. When the moment for the capture of our Savior had arrived, it was announced to the three Marys by the sorrowful Mother. All three bewailed this indignity with most bitter tears, especially Mary Magdalen, who signalized herself in tenderest love and piety for her Master.
Instruction which Mary, the Queen of Heaven, Gave me
My daughter, estimate and weigh within thy soul, how important is the eternal predestination or reprobation of the souls, since my most holy Son looked upon it with such great anxiety, that the difficulty or impossibility of saving all men added such immense bitterness to the death, which he was about to suffer for all. .......
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The Unceasing Act of LoveRevealed to the Capuchin Nun
Sister Mary Consolata (1903-1946)
The Spiritual Fruitfulness
of the Unceasing Act of Love
(Continued from previous issue)
WHO brings souls to salvation? Not we, certainly. It is Jesus Crucified who has been saving souls and continues to save them by applying the infinite merits of his bloody expiation. At the most, and due to his condescension, we can become co-operators in the salvation of souls in proportion to our union with Him, that is, our love for him.
Everything that Saint Paul says about love as related to the supernatural value of our actions, may be applied to our apostolate for the benefit of other souls. Without love, all our words, whether spoken or written, would be but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals; all our knowledge would profit us nothing, nor would our endeavors to find new ways of impressing souls. We may be preachers, public speakers, journalists, organizers, but if the charity of Our Lord does not burn within us, we will never be apostles. An apostle is someone intimately united to Jesus, and has his love for souls.
Sister Consolata was burning with zeal because inflamed with love. Here is what Jesus told her concerning the apostolic fruitfulness of the act of love:
Remember that one act of love may decide the eternal salvation of a soul! You ought to feel remorse, therefore over the omission of a single 'Jesus, Mary, I love you! Save souls!' (Oct. 8, 1935)
The same consoling promise was given her at other times:
Do not lose time! Every act of love means a soul!
The Blessed Virgin also exhorted her in the same sense concerning the unceasing act of love:
"Only in heaven will you come to know its value and its fruitfulness in saving souls!"
For a number of years Sister Consolata had been praying for the conversion of her brother Nicholas, and for that of her uncle Felix Viano. The former surrendered to grace at Easter 1936, and in the month of July following Jesus told her:
Remember, Consolata, that I have not given you Nicholas, nor will I give you your uncle Felix, in reward for your penances and sacrifices, but solely because of your unceasing act of love. Remember that, for it is love that I desire from My creatures!
Nicholas died a holy death in December 1947.
The act of love is also most fruitful as a prayer of reparation:
Why is it, Consolata, that I do not permit you so many vocal prayers? It is because the act of love is more fruitful. One 'Jesus Mary, I love You! Save souls! repairs a thousand blasphemies! (Oct. 8, 1935).
The unceasing act of love also has greater value for the soul who is practicing it and is, therefore, more fruitful of merit than any other work:
Consolata, place at one side all the acts of virtue which you could perform to-day, and on the other side a single day passed in a continuous act of love—I will prefer the day passed in continual love to anything else you might do or offer Me!
The Strangest Story in the World(quotation from The Everlasting Man)
"Compared to the wandering philosophers, the life of Jesus went as swift and straight as a thunderbolt. It was above all things dramatic; it did above all things consist in doing something that had to be done. It emphatically would not have been done, if Jesus had walked about the world forever doing nothing except tell the truth. And even the external movement of it must not be described as a wandering in the sense of forgetting that it was a journey. This is where it was a fulfillment of the stories rather than of the philosophies; it is a journey with a goal and an object, like Jason going to find the Golden Fleece, or Hercules the golden apples of the Hesperides. The gold that he was seeking was death. The primary thing that he was going to do was to die. He was going to do other things equally definite and objective; we might almost say equally external and material. But from first to last the most definite fact is that he is going to die. No two things could possibly be more different than the death of Socrates and the death of Christ. We are meant to feel that the death of Socrates was a stupid muddle and miscarriage of justice, interfering with the flow of a humane and lucid, I had almost said a light philosophy. We are meant to feel that Death was the bride of Christ, as Poverty was the bride of St. Francis. We are meant to feel that his life was in that sense a sort of love-affair with death, a romance of the pursuit of the ultimate sacrifice. From the moment when the star goes up like a birthday rocket to the moment when the sun is extinguished like a funeral torch, the whole story moves on wings with the speed and direction of a drama, ending in an act beyond words.
"The story of Christ is the story of a journey, the story of a quest of a hero moving to his achievement or his doom."
Comment by Franciscan Minims. This is a passage from the book The Everlasting Man, by G.K. Chesterton, and we are printing it here, because it has material that may serve as a meditation for victim souls. A victim soul is a soul that has been chosen to follow Christ, to participate in his sacrifice, for the salvation of its neighbors.
Chesterton wrote: "The life of Jesus did above all things consist in doing something that had to be done. It emphatically would not have been done, if Jesus had walked about the world forever doing nothing except tell the truth." A victim soul is above all a soul that has a task, a mission, a job to be done, and it cannot do the job by talking about it. A victim soul is one who above all else observes silence, especially in the difficult moments when most people complain and defend themselves. A victim soul can never speak to defend itself. It must permit itself to be considered a fool (like Christ), it must allow itself to be suspected of doing something it did not do (as Christ was suspected, as Christ was accused). A victim soul must keep silence, in those moments, when 99% of people immediately begin to defend themselves, and say "I did not do that." A victim soul always tends more to silence than to speech, and speaks mainly as an act of obedience, that is, to fulfill its duty, to answer a question, to be polite. But most victim souls (unless their superiors command them) do not give talks about suffering. We spoke about illusions. It is an illusion to think that just because you talk about victimhood, that means you are a victim. We have seen that: we have seen people who can talk and write endlessly about victimhood, but they do not do it. They just talk about it. Jesus taught, but his teaching was secondary to his real goal, his mission, his destiny, his ordeal, his trial, his doom: his death.
Chesterton wrote: "The life of Christ was in that sense a sort of love-affair with death, a romance of the pursuit of the ultimate sacrifice...... The story of Christ is the story of a journey, the story of a quest of a hero moving to his achievement or his doom." In stories we read of a hero who goes upon a quest, then he has to submit to an ordeal, and then there is a great triumph. But the triumph happens, only because he submitted to the ordeal. In fairy tales and romances, there is always an "if." There is always a condition. If the hero or the person in the story does not fulfill the condition, there will be no happy ending. A victim soul is like someone in a drama. At the end of the drama there will be a great triumph: the conversion, sanctification and salvation of a soul, a soul that will be happy forever in the Heavenly Jerusalem. But the triumph will only happen, if the victim submits to the trial or test, as a hero submits to his ordeal. What ordeal? God will arrange something. What trial? God will provide one. But if the person does not submit to it, if the soul just throws away its cross and says "I do not want to carry a cross", then there will be no triumph.
We have seen souls whom God wanted to be protagonists in this great drama of salvation. He came to them and asked them: "Would you like to participate in my cross, in my trials?" and they answered (by their actions): "No, I don't want to carry your dumb cross. I don't want to participate." Their refusal marks them out as mediocre, miserable failures. In English we say "he is washed up." That means, a miserable being whose life is a total failure. Since they refuse the cross, Jesus must go and look for other people. No cross, no triumph.
There is always an "if". You have to submit to the trial, you have to pass the test, you have to undergo the ordeal. Then there will be a triumph, a great victory, a drama that has a Hollywood ending. Victim souls may have to be in very ugly situations, but it is worth it. The more horrible the situation, the greater the triumph. That is reality. That is the way life really is.
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).
Mother of Divine Grace(continued)
These are Gerson's own words: "The kingdom of God consists in power and mercy; reserving power to Himself He, in some way, yielded the empire of mercy to his mother.' This is confirmed by St. Thomas, in his Preface to the Canonical Epistles, saying, 'that when the Blessed Virgin conceived the Eternal Word in her womb, and brought Him forth, she obtained half the kingdom of God; so that she is Queen of Mercy, as Jesus Christ is King of Justice.
Maxims of St. Francis de Sales
Don't despair over your shortcomings. Start over each day. You make spiritual progress by continually beginning again and again.
It is far better to do a few things well, than to undertake many good works and leave them half-done.
A soft answer puts away wrath as water puts out fire.
A man without patience makes the loudest complaints.
Nothing is so strong a gentleness— nothing so gentle and loving as fortitude.
A wise silence is preferable to uncharitable truth.
Do not wish to be anything save what you are, and strive to be that perfectly.
Counsels and Exhortations of Padre Pio
Walk in the way of the Lord with simplicity and do not torment your spirit. You must hate your defects, but with a quiet hate, not troublesome and restless.
Lean on the Cross of Jesus as the Virgin did and you will not be deprived of comfort. Mary was if paralyzed before her crucified Son, but one cannot say that she was abandoned by Him. Rather, how much more did she love Him when she suffered and could not even weep?
Be comforted with this divine thought that your spiritual and physical pains are the test of the Divine Will. All lovers of Jesus must conform themselves always more to this divine and eternal model. Jesus went to the limits of abandonment of the spirit. Jesus wanted to experience in his humanity this incomprehensible pain of seeing Himself abandoned by His heavenly Father.
You should rather humble yourself before God than be distressed if he reserves for you the sufferings of his Son, and makes you experience your weakness. You should offer up to Him the prayer of resignation and hope, even when you fail through frailty, and thank Him for all the benefits with which He continually enriches you.
You are suffering, it is true, but with resignation. Fear not, because God is with you. You do not offend Him but love Him. You suffer, but believe also that Jesus Himself suffers in you and for you.
Crosses are the necklaces of the Spouse, and I am jealous of them. My sufferings are pleasant. I only suffer when I don't suffer.
The ardent desire to be in eternal peace is good and holy. But it is necessary to moderate it by a complete resignation to the Divine Will. It is better to do the Divine Will on earth than to enjoy heaven. To suffer and not to die was the motto of St. Teresa. Purgatory is sweet when one suffers for the love of God.
The longer the trial to which God subjects you, the greater the goodness in comforting you during the time of trial and in the exaltation after the combat.
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Famous Persons who Died
During the Octave of the Assumption
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, died on August 20, 1912, in London.
Michael Collins, hero of the Irish struggle for independence, died on August 22, 1922, in Bealna-Blath, Cork. He began his fight for Irish independence, after having read The Napoleon of Notting Hill, by G.K. Chesterton.