From the Franciscan Minims
Mexico • Vergel ------ Nov. • Dec. 2003 ------ No. 11–12
The Intercession of Mary
Mother of Divine Grace
Our Cover: Mother of Divine Grace
AS soon as Assuerus saw Esther standing before him, he asked her, with love, what she came to seek. ‘What is thy request?’ The queen replied, "If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, give me my people, for which I request." (Est. 7, 2). Assuerus granted her request, and immediately ordered the revocation of the decree. And now, if Assuerus, through love for Esther, granted, at her request, salvation to the Jews, how can God refuse the prayers of Mary, loving her immensely as He does, when she prays for poor miserable sinners, who recommend themselves to her, and says to Him, ‘My King and my God, if ever I have found favour in Thy sight? (though the Divine Mother well knows that she was the blessed, the holy one, the only one of the human race who found the grace lost by all mankind, well does she know that she is the beloved one of her Lord, loved more than all the saints and angels together), ‘give me my people for which I ask.’
If thou lovest me, she says, give me, O Lord, these sinners, for whom I entreat Thee.’ Is it possible that God should refuse her? And who is ignorant of the power of the prayers of Mary with God? "The law of clemency is on her tongue." (Prov. 31, 26). Each of her prayers is, as it were, an established law for our Lord, that He should show mercy to all for whom she intercedes. St. Bernard asks why the Church calls Mary ‘the Queen of Mercy’? and he replies, that ‘it is because we believe that she opens the abyss of the mercy of God to whomsoever she wills, when she wills, and as she wills; so that there is no sinner, however great, who is lost, if Mary protects him.’
But perhaps we may fear that Mary would not deign to interpose for some sinners, on account of their being so overloaded with crimes? Or perhaps we ought to be overawed at the majesty and holiness of this great Queen? 'No,' says St. Gregory the Seventh, 'for the higher and more holy she is, the greater is her sweetness and compassion towards sinners, who have recourse to her with the desire to amend their lives.' (continued on p. 24.)
Hope for Poor Sinners
Sinners will find in My Heart an infinite ocean of mercy.
– Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
ON Jan. 21, 1970, Our Lord said to the Portavoz: "Help Me to bring everyone to the truth. Every day I am in hands that are more stained than these. All of you, do not be shocked at faults and at human defects. Love everyone, and win their souls for heaven, by drawing them away from error. Be prudent and patient, and bear with one another. Stretch forth your hand to those who have fallen, and invite them to arise.
"My daughter, unite together in charity and preach the truth, with the one and only longing of helping me, so that My truth and My justice may reign upon earth."
Do Not Be Shocked at Faults
In the previous issue we wrote about Our Lord’s desires, and how he does not want to be left alone and abandoned. He made a request for holy hours, not only to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, but to all men and women of good will. Our Lord has to endure the ingratitude and coldness of so many hearts, and he is asking us to console him. "Could you not watch one hour with me?"
Our Lord wants us to repair and make atonement for the laziness and indifference of so many souls, by means of holy hours or any other acts we can give him. One of the intentions in our holy hours is the conversion of sinners. Christ predicted that many scandals would come, and now we can see the fulfillment of what he said. There are so many scandals everywhere, there is so much indifference, so much coldness, so many souls are in darkness and without anyone to guide or help them. When we take all these facts into consideration, we should not be surprised at all to see so many of our neighbors falling into mortal sin. Our Lord told us: "Do not be shocked at faults and at human defects." If we were shocked at the faults of others, we would be similar to the Pharisees, not realizing that pride and despising others is the worst of all vices. All sins offend God, but pride offends him more than the others. At least let us make the resolution of not being like the Pharisees, of not despising our weak and sinful neighbors, of not committing the ugliest of all vices, pride and stubbornness.
We should not despise those in mortal sin, because we do not know if we ourselves will persevere in grace. If people do not have spiritual leaders or anyone to teach them, of course they will make many mistakes and errors.
Our Lord once told the Portavoz that no one can understand these spiritual truths, unless he first receives the gratuitous grace of conversion. Our rosaries and holy hours might help to obtain this precious grace. For this reason we are requesting all our subscribers to please make holy hours. Holy hours will console our Lord so much, precisely because they might obtain the conversion of a sinner. To convert a sinner is greater than creating heaven and earth, it is greater than healing the sick or resurrecting the dead. It is resurrecting the dead, souls dead in mortal sin.
When we make holy hours, it is not only to console our Lord and for our own benefit (they help to make us more fervent), but above all it is for the benefit of others. Those living in mortal sin NEED holy hours, that is, they need someone to pray for them. If they do not have anyone to pray for them, the majority will end in the eternal abyss of hell. A holy hour is just one hour of time, but it might make a difference that could last for the endless ages of eternity.
Victimhood in Little Things
Some persons are afraid of the word victimhood, because it means heroism, and not everyone has the vocation to be a hero. If people feel repugnance toward this word, that is understandable: Christ himself felt repugnance in the Garden of Gethsemani. It is an ordinary human feeling and is no defect.
Not everyone can offer heroic sacrifices, but everyone without exception can offer little things to God. A headache, an illness, a misunderstanding, being with an impolite person, a small failure, --these events happen in the lives of nearly everyone, and we can offer all these little sufferings to God, remembering that we ourselves are sinners and that we need purification (only the pure will enter heaven), and offering all these little events in union with the passion of Christ, for the conversion of sinners. It cannot be emphasized too much, that we should think so often, as often as possible, of the passion of Christ. Everything that we may suffer in our lives: being abandoned by our friends, being rejected, misunderstood, etc., all that happened to Christ. Every time we have to suffer a physical or moral pain, we should always think: Christ suffered the same situation himself. He also was misunderstood, rejected, abandoned by his friends, etc.
A Promise of Final Triumph
Satan and his unfortunate and miserable followers may triumph for a few months or even for several years, but by the very fact that they are fighting against God, they are on the losing side. Their triumph is only for a time: God’s triumph will last for ever. And those on God’s side will rejoice for ever in the heavenly Jerusalem, and even upon earth they will rejoice by means of hope. Hope is such a beautiful virtue, because it creates joy in the midst of the most difficult situations.
Omnipotence and Impotence
People are accustomed to thinking: God is almighty, and therefore he can do whatever he wants. In regard to inanimate creatures, or creatures without free will, the answer is yes: he is omnipotent. In regard to human beings gifted with free will, the answer is: he is impotent. If people decide to give God nothing, they will make him sad (according to our human manner of speaking): if they decide to give him a little, they will give him a little happiness, and if they decide to give him much, they will give him great happiness. In regard to the human power of willing, God is impotent: he accepts what we decide to give him (many by ignorance give him nothing at all). In regard to human beings, he cannot enforce his will. He can only beg.
By means of his saints and his messengers, he is begging for our love: "Could you not watch one hour with me?" We exhort our subscribers to be as generous as possible with his request, and to give him as much time as possible. The more you give Him, the happier you will be. And you will be creating happiness not only for yourself, but for the poor sinners, now living in darkness, who need help so much.
May it be for the glory of God
The Vergel of the Immaculate Virgin of Guadalupe
November 1, 2003 • Feast of All Saints
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"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
IT was not long after the defeat of Moab that Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, plotted war against Israel. This time Elisha seemed to read thoughts from far and gave warning to his own king of what was afoot. Told of this apparent mind reading, Ben-Hadad raged and threatened and gave orders to have the prophet seized and brought before him. But the abductors, arriving near Elisha's lodging, suddenly found themselves groping in darkness, instantaneously struck blind. It was Elisha who took them by the hand and sent them homeward.
And then the Voice spoke to Elisha, in a mysterious summons to finish a commission that had been long ago entrusted to Elijah, and now was ripening for action –nothing less than the anointing of a new king for Israel.
Elisha called to his side a young friend, the son of a village mystic, and gave him a box of oil.
"Go to Ramoth-Gilead," Elisha said. "Look for Jehu, son of Jehoshophat, son of Nimshi. And pour this oil on his head. And say, Thus says the Lord, I have anointed you king of Israel. Then tarry not."
Although this was a fantastic, even treasonable action, the messenger did just as he was bidden. Jehu, captain of the host and with a reputation as a fast and furious driver of chariots, was called upon by a young stranger. Told to kneel, he did so. The oil was rubbed into his bushy hair and he was told to smite the house of Ahab, root and branch, for that family had brought suffering, sin and wanton murder to Israel through Jezebel, the Zidonian queen.
"Who was that mad fellow?" asked his men of Jehu when the messenger had run off without pause for further ceremony.
When Jehu informed them of what had taken place the men, deeply moved, took off their outer garments and piled them on the top of the stairs to make a throne for their captain. They blew trumpets and the shout went up: "Jehu is king!"
At once the newly proclaimed monarch set about his commission from God’s prophet to wipe out the house of Ahab. First he raised troops and drove on to the plain of Esdraelon, at full chariot speed, with a detachment of cavalry galloping after him. There at Jezreel lay King Jehoram of Israel, wounded in a recent Syrian battle, and squatting by his side his nephew, King Ahaziah of the southern kingdom, Judah.
A sentry on the tower spied the cavalcade coming at a distance, and a horseman was sent out to meet them and ask: "Is it peace?" But the horseman did not return. Another rider was sent, with the same ominous result. Sick as he was, Jehoram clambered into his chariot, as did Ahaziah, and neither spoke of the fact that the meeting was at the vineyard of Naboth, a place once named in a prophecy of doom by Elijah.
Then Jehu killed Jehoram with an arrow, and the terrified Ahaziah fled the place, only to be slain in the open road that same day.
This bad news soon reached Jezebel: all of it, including the battle cry of Jehu’s soldiers: "What peace, so long as Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?"
So Jezebel painted her cheeks, reddened her lips, and lined the arches of her eyebrows. She attired herself alluringly and sat in the window of her palace. Bold and defiant, she mocked at Jehu as he entered the gate. He commanded her own eunuchs to throw her out of the high window; her broken body was trodden under the feet of the horses where she fell, and her blood sprinkled the wall with crimson. Dogs came and ate her flesh, leaving only the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands.
Which horrible fate, people now remembered, was in precise fulfillment of the long-ago word of Elijah.
Everyone connected with the reigning house was slain by Jehu, including seventy sons of Ahab and forty-two relatives of Ahaziah, the late Jehoram’s nephew.
"Ahab served Baal a little, but Jehu shall serve him much," declared the new king to the people.
This shocking announcement filled the followers of the Lord God with dismay. Why had Elisha called this man to be king, if he would out-Ahab Ahab in the worship of a false heathen idol? They did not realize that Jehu’s speech hid a secret meaning. They did not know that Jehu was a fanatic, with all the dangerous cruelty and cunning that goes with overzealousness. He ordered the priests of the house of Baal to proclaim a full assembly of all the false god’s worshippers. They crowded into the temple, everyone, and Jehu himself offered a special sacrifice. The festival was a notable one.
But secretly Jehu had stationed fourscore men around the Temple with instructions to murder the whole congregation when the signal was given. Just at the end of the burnt offering the soldiers of Jehu crashed into the throng of unsuspecting worshippers and left not one alive to tell the tale. The idols of Baal were broken to bits. It was a purge, so Jehu thought, and hoped, a wholesale and bloody sweep of reform in Israel.
But as always in forced reforms, the golden calves of Bethel and Dan still remained potent in the heads of the sullen people. For his original desire to cleanse the land of wickedness, the Lord had promised Jehu that four of his generation would rule. But before his own reign of 28 years had ended, Israel stood face to face with an inescapable crisis. A great turning point had come in the long and jagged course of her career, a shadow falling down from the future upon the kingdom’s troubled present—a shadow from the north. Far upland there was the growing and despotic emergence of Assyria, and its conquering monarch, Shalmaneser III, was looking around him. His eye had fallen on Israel, and he contemplated its people, its resources, and its king.
It would be easy to gobble up that little kingdom in one little war. So Jehu was confronted with blackmail. Pay us tribute, or Assyrian troops will annihilate you.
There is a carving that has the vividness of a photograph, recording that ancient crisis: King Jehu kneeling abjectly before the all-conquering Shalmaneser, while Israelites come bearing tribute of gold and precious fabrics for the new master. All this is on the famous Black Obelisk, displayed in the British Museum, whereon Shalmaneser III has inscribed his boasts. For young Shalmaneser was master and Jehu was a captive king of Israel, and Elisha was soon to die. The darkest times of all the history of Israel were coming on swiftly.
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. (To be continued)
Following His Footsteps
by Anselmo del Álamo
Chapter 7. Mortification, Suffering
48. If the Lord granted you the power to resurrect the dead, he would grant you less, than when he makes you suffer. For the gift of working miracles, you would remain his debtor, but when he makes you suffer, (if you suffer with patience), he becomes your debtor. And if you had no other reward except that of suffering for a God who loves you, would not this be a very great reward? He who loves understands what I say. St. John of the Cross
49. The greatest of all graces is that of being worthy to suffer for our Lord Jesus Christ. This is indeed a perfect crown, and a reward not inferior to the future reward. Without doubt, it is a greater grace to be enchained for Jesus Christ, than to be placed upon one of the twelve thrones; greater than being an apostle, doctor or evangelist. He who loves Jesus Christ understands what I say. When God gives someone the power of resurrecting the dead, he gives him a smaller grace than when he allows him to suffer, because by miracles I remain a debtor of God, but if I suffer with patience, Jesus Christ is converted into my debtor. St. John Chrysostom
50. Souls who are beloved of God are especially predestined to suffer, and this becomes so pleasing and agreeable that they would prefer to die, rather than not suffer, since for them, loving and suffering are the same. St. Louise de Marillac
51. Those who are not acquainted with God bear their trials with murmuring; the friends of God endure them with resignation, but those who are truly sons of God accept them with gratitude.
52. Adversities and tribulations of this life are very singular graces and highly to be desired; God reserves them for his dearest friends.
St. Joseph of Cupertino
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. http://www.101foundation.com
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 stigmatas imprinted in the heart of Gertrude, and her exercises in honour of the Five Wounds
I BELIEVE it was during the winter of the first or second year when I began to receive these favours that I found the following prayer in a book of devotions:
"O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, grant that I may aspire towards Thee with my whole heart, with full desire and with thirsty soul, seeking only Thy sweetness and Thy delights, so that my whole mind and all that is within me may most ardently sigh to Thee, who art our true Beatitude. O most merciful Lord, engrave Thy wounds upon my heart with Thy most precious Blood, that I may read in them both Thy grief and thy love, and that the memory of Thy Wounds may ever remain in my inmost heart, to excite my compassion for Thy sufferings and to increase in me Thy love. Grant me also to despise all creatures, and that my heart may delight in Thee alone. Amen."
Having learned this prayer with great satisfaction, I repeated it frequently and Thou, who despisest not the prayer of the humble, heard my petitions. Soon after, during the same winter, being in the refectory after Vespers, for collation, I was seated near a person to whom I had made known my secret. I relate these things for the benefit of those who may read what I write, because I have often perceived that the fervour of my devotion is increased by this kind of communication. I know not for certain, O Lord my God, whether it was Thy Spirit, or perhaps human affection, made me act thus, although I have heard from those experienced in such matters that it is always better to reveal these secrets --not indifferently to all but chiefly to those who are not only our friends, but whom we are bound to reverence. As I am doubtful, as I have said, I commit all to Thy faithful Providence, whose spirit is sweeter than honey. If this fervour arose from any human affection, I am even more bound to have a profound gratitude for it, since Thou hast deigned to unite the mire of my vileness to the precious gold of Thy charity, that so the precious stones of Thy grace might be encased in me.
Being seated in the refectory, as I said before, I thought attentively on these things, when I perceived that the grace which I had so long asked by the aforesaid prayer was granted to me, unworthy though I am. I perceived in spirit that Thou hadst imprinted in the depth of my heart the adorable marks of Thy sacred wounds, even as they are on Thy Body, that Thou hadst cured my soul, in imprinting these Wounds on it, and that, to satisfy its thirst, Thou hadst given it the precious beverage of Thy love.
My unworthiness had not yet exhausted the abyss of Thy mercy. I received from Thine overflowing liberality this remarkable gift --that each time during the day in which I endeavoured to apply myself in spirit to those adorable Wounds, saying five verses of the Psalm Benedic, anima mea, Domino (Ps. cii.), I never failed to receive some new favour. At the first verse, "Bless the Lord, O my soul," I deposited all the rust of my sins and my voluptuousness at the Wounds of Thy blessed Feet. At the second verse, "Bless the Lord, and never forget all He hath done for thee," I washed away all the stains of carnal and perishable pleasures in the sweet bath of Blood and Water which Thou didst pour forth for me. At the third verse, "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities," I reposed my spirit in the Wound of Thy Left Hand, even as the dove makes its nest in the crevice of the rock. At the fourth verse, "Who redeemeth thy life from destruction," I approached Thy Right Hand and took from thence all that I needed for my perfection in virtue. Being thus magnificently adorned, I passed to the fifth verse, "Who satisfieth thy desire with good things," that I might be purified from all the defilement of sin and have the indigence of my wants supplied, so that I might become worthy of Thy presence, though of myself I am utterly unworthy, and might merit the joy of Thy chaste embraces.
I declare also that thou hast freely granted my other petition, namely, that I might read Thy grief and Thy love together. But, alas! this did not continue long, although I cannot accuse Thee of having withdrawn it from me. I complain of having lost it myself by my own negligence. This Thine excessive goodness and infinite mercy has hidden from itself and has procured to me, without any merit on my part, the greatest of Thy gifts --the impression of Thy Wounds, for which be praise, honour, glory, dominion and thanksgiving to Thee for endless ages!
Of the Wound of Divine Love, and of the manner of bathing, anointing and binding it up.
Seven years after, a little before Advent, by Thine ordinance, who art the Source of all good, I engaged a certain person to say this prayer every day for me before a crucifix, "O most loving Lord, by Thy pierced Heart, pierce her heart with the arrow of Thy love, so that nothing earthly may remain therein, and that it may be entirely filled with the strength of Thy Divinity." Being moved, as I believe, by these prayers, on the Sunday when they sang the Mass Gaudete in Domino, Thy infinite liberality having permitted me, by an excess of mercy, to approach the Communion of Thy adorable Body and Blood, Thou didst infuse a desire in me when I approached It, which broke forth in these words: "Lord, I am not worthy to receive the least of Thy gifts; but I beseech Thee, by the merits and prayers of all here present, to pierce my heart with the arrow of Thy love." I soon perceived that my words had reached Thy Divine Heart, both by an interior effusion of grace and by a remarkable prodigy which thou didst show me in the image of Thy crucifixion.
After I had received the Sacrament of life and had retired to the place where I pray, it seemed to me that I saw a ray of light like an arrow coming forth from the wound of the right side of the crucifix, which was in an elevated place and it continued, as it were, to advance and retire for some time, sweetly attracting my cold affections. My desire was not entirely satisfied with these things until the following Wednesday, when, after the Mass, the faithful meditated on Thy adorable Incarnation and Annunciation, in which I joined, however imperfectly. Behold, Thou camest suddenly before me, and didst imprint a wound in my heart, saying these words: "May the full tide of your affections flow hither, so that all your pleasure, your hope, your joy, your grief, your fear and every other feeling may be sustained by My love!" I immediately remembered that I had heard a wound should be bathed, anointed and bandaged. Thou didst not teach me then in what manner I should perform these things. Thou didst defer it, to reveal it to me more clearly in the end by means of another person, who had accustomed the ears of her soul to discern far more exactly and delicately than I do the sweet murmurs of Thy love.
She advised me to reflect devoutly upon the love of Thy Heart when hanging on the cross, and to draw from this fountain the waters of true devotion, to wash away all my offences, to take from the unction of mercy the oil of gratitude, which the sweetness of this inestimable love has produced as a remedy for all adversities, and to use this efficacious charity and the strength of this consummate love as a bond of justification to unite all my thoughts, words and works indissolubly and powerfully to Thee. May all the deprivation of those things which my malice and wickedness have caused be supplied through that love whose plenitude abides in Him who, being seated on Thy right hand, has become "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!" As it is by Him, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, that Thou hast placed in me this noble virtue of compassion, humility and reverence, to enable me to speak to Thee, it is also by Him that I present to Thee my complaint of the miseries I endure, which are so great in number and which have caused me to offend Thy Divine goodness in so many ways by my thoughts, words and actions, but principally by the bad use which I have made of the aforesaid graces, by my unfaithfulness, my negligence and my irreverence. For if Thou hast given to one so unworthy even a thread of flax as a remembrance of Thee, I should have been bound to respect it more than I have done all these favours.
Thou knowest, O my God, from whom nothing is hidden, that the reason why I have written these things, so much against my inclination, is that I have profited so little by Thy liberality that I cannot believe they were made known to me for myself alone, since Thine eternal wisdom cannot be deceived. Grant, then, O Giver of gifts, who hast so freely and unreservedly bestowed them on me, that whoever reads these things may be touched with tenderness and compassion for Thee. Knowing that the zeal which Thou hast for the salvation of souls has induced Thee to leave such royal gems so long in my defiled heart, they may praise, adore and extol Thy mercy, saying with their lips and with their hearts, "Praise, honour, glory and benediction be to Thee, O God the Father, from whom all things proceed," thus to supply for my deficiencies.
Of the intimate union of the Infant Jesus with her heart.
O unattainable height of surpassing excellence! O profound abyss of inscrutable wisdom! O immense abundance of most desirable charity! How powerfully and exuberantly are the most delicious torrents of Thy most sweet Divinity pouring themselves forth on me, vile worm that I am, crawling in my negligences and sins. Since it is permitted to me, even while wandering in exile, to speak, according to my poor capacity, of the ravishing sweetness and inconceivable delights by means of which those who unite themselves to God become one spirit with Him, which blessedness is poured forth on me with such abundance, who am but a speck of dust. Since, after having permitted me to drink of this precious beverage, I am still privileged with the remembrance of it, I will use such words as I can to describe it.
It was on that most sacred night in which the sweet dew of Divine grace fell on all the world and the heavens dropped sweetness, that my soul, exposed like a mystic fleece in the court of the monastery, having received in meditation this celestial rain, was prepared to assist at this Divine Birth, in which a Virgin brought forth a Son, true God and Man, even as a star produces its ray. In this night, I say, my soul beheld before it suddenly a delicate Child, but just born, in whom were concealed the greatest gifts of perfection. I imagined that I received this precious deposit in my bosom with the tenderest affection. As I possessed it within me, it seemed to me that all at once I was changed into the colour of this Divine Infant, if we may be permitted to call that colour which cannot be compared to anything visible.
Then I understood the meaning contained in those sweet and ineffable words: "God will be all in all" (1 Cor. xv. 28). My soul, which was enriched by the presence of my Beloved, soon knew, by its transports of joy, that it possessed the presence of its Spouse. Then it received these words with exceeding avidity, which were presented as a delicious beverage to satisfy the ardour of its thirst: "As I am the figure of the substance of God, My Father, in His Divinity, so also you shall be the figure of My substance in My Humanity, receiving in your deified soul the infusions of My Divinity, as the air receives the brightness of the solar rays, that these rays may penetrate you so intimately, as to prepare you for the closest union with Me."
O most noble balsam of the Divinity, pouring Thyself out like an ocean of charity, shooting forth and budding eternally, diffusing thyself until the end of time! O invincible strength of the Hand of the most High, which causes so frail a vessel and one which should be cast away in contempt, to receive within it so precious a nectar! O evident testimony of the exuberance of Divine goodness, not to withdraw from me when I wandered in the devious ways of sin, but rather to unite me to itself as far as my misery would permit!
The Divinity is imprinted upon the soul of Gertrude as a seal upon wax. (to be continued)
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.
The Family of Lazarus
THE father of Lazarus was named Zarah, or Zerah, and was of very noble Egyptian descent. He had dwelt in Syria, on the confines of Arabia, where he held a position under the Syrian king; but for services rendered in war, he received from the Roman Emperor property near Jerusalem and in Galilee. He was like a prince, and was very rich. He had acquired still greater wealth by his wife Jezabel, a Jewess of the sect of the Pharisees. He became a Jew, and was pious and strict according to the pharisaical laws. He owned part of the city on Mount Zion, on the side upon which the brook near the height on which the Temple stands, flows through the ravine. Zarah's castle in Bethania was very large. It had numerous gardens, terraces, and fountains, and was surrounded by double ditches. The prophecies of Anna and Simeon were known to the family of Zarah, who were waiting for the Messiah. Even in Jesus' youth, they were acquainted with the holy Family, just as pious, noble people are wont to be with their humble, devout neighbors.
The parents of Lazarus had in all fifteen children, of whom six died young. Of the nine that survived, only four were living at the time of Christ's teaching. These four were: Lazarus, Martha, about two years younger; Mary, looked upon as a simpleton, two years younger than Martha; and Mary Magdalen, five years younger than the simpleton. The simpleton is not named in Scripture, nor reckoned among the Lazarus family; but she is known to God. She was always put aside in her family, and lived altogether unknown.
Magdalen, the youngest child, was very beautiful and, even in her early years, tall and well developed like a girl of more advanced age. She was full of frivolity and seductive art. Her parents died when she was only seven years old. She had no great love for them even from her earliest age, on account of their severe fasts. Even as a child, she was vain beyond expression, given to petty thefts, proud, self-willed, and a lover of pleasure. She was never faithful, but clung to whatever flattered her the most. She was, therefore, extravagant in her pity when her sensitive compassion was aroused, and kind and condescending to all that appealed to her senses by some external show. Her mother had had some share in Magdalen's faulty education, and that sympathetic softness the child had inherited from her.
Magdalen was spoiled by her mother and her nurse. They showed her off everywhere, caused her cleverness and pretty little ways to be admired, and sat much with her dressed up at the window. That window-sitting was the chief cause of her ruin. I saw her at the window and on the terraces of the house upon a magnificent seat of carpets and cushions, where she could be seen in all her splendor from the street. She used to steal sweetmeats, and take them to other children in the garden of the castle. Even in her ninth year, she was engaged in love affairs.
With her developing talents and beauty, increased also the talk and admiration they excited. She had crowds of companions. She was taught, and she wrote love verses on little rolls of parchment. I saw her while so engaged counting on her fingers. She sent these verses around, and exchanged them with her lovers. Her fame spread on all sides, and she was exceedingly admired.
But I never saw that she either really loved or was loved. It was all, on her part at least, vanity, frivolity, self-adoration, and confidence in her own beauty. I saw her a scandal to her brother and sisters, whom she despised, and of whom she was ashamed on account of their simple life.
When the patrimony was divided, the castle of Magdalum fell by lot to Magdalen. It was a very beautiful building. Magdalen had often gone there with her family when she was a very young child, and she had always entertained a special preference for it. She was only about eleven years old when, with a large household of servants, men and maids, she retired thither and set up a splendid establishment for herself.
Magdalum was a fortified place, consisting of several castles, public buildings, and large squares of groves and gardens. It was eight hours east of Nazareth, about three from Capharnaum, one and a half from Bethsaida toward the south, and about a mile from the Lake of Genesareth. It was built on a slope of the mountain and extended down into the valley which stretches off toward the lake and around its shores. One of those castles belonged to Herod. He possessed a still larger one in the fertile region of Genesareth. Some of his soldiers were stationed in Magdalum, and they contributed their share to the general demoralization. The officers were on intimate terms with Magdalen. There were besides the troops about two hundred people in Magdalum, chiefly officials, master-builders, and servants. There was no synagogue in the place; the people went to the one at Bethsaida.
The castle of Magdalum was the highest and most magnificent of all; from its roof one could see across the Sea of Galilee to the opposite shore. Five roads led to Magdalum, and on every one at one half-hours' distance from the well-fortified place, stood a tower built over an arch. It was like a watch-tower whence could be seen far into the distance. These towers had no connection with one another; they rose out of a country covered with gardens, fields, and meadows. Magdalen had men-servants and maids, fields and herds, but a very disorderly household; all went to rack and ruin.
Through the wild ravine at the head of which Magdalum lay far up on the height, flowed a little stream to the lake. Around its banks was a quantity of game, for from the three deserts contiguous to the valley the wild beasts came down to drink. Herod used to hunt here. He had also near his castle in the country of Genesareth a park filled with game. This beautiful district consisted entirely of gardens, villas, castles, parks, walks, orchards, and vineyards. The whole year round found it teeming with blossoms and fruits. The rich ones of the land, and especially of Jerusalem, had here their villas and gardens.
Jesus Teaching in Azanoth, -- Second Conversion of Magdalen
ABOUT an hour to the south of the inn at Dothain lay the little town of Azanoth. It was built on an eminence upon which was a teacher's chair and, in earlier times, it had often been the scene of the Prophets' preaching. Through the activity of the disciples, the report had been spread throughout the whole region that Jesus was about to deliver a great instruction in that place, and in consequence of this report, multitudes were gathered there from all Galilee. Martha, attended by her maid, had journeyed to Magdalen in the hope of inducing her to be present at the instruction, but she was received very haughtily by her sister, with whom things had come to the worst. She was on Martha's arrival engaged in grooming herself, and sent word that she could not speak to her then. Martha awaited her sister's appearance with unspeakable patience, occupying herself meanwhile in prayer. At last, the unhappy Magdalen presented herself, her manner haughty, excited, and defiant. She was ashamed of Martha's simple attire. She feared that some of her guests might see her, consequently she requested her to go away as soon as possible. But Martha begging to be allowed to rest in some corner of the house, she and her maid were conducted to a room in one of the side buildings where, either through design or forgetfulness, they were allowed to remain without food or drink. It was then afternoon. Meanwhile Magdalen adorned herself for the banquet, at which she was seated on a richly decorated chair, while Martha and her maid were in prayer. After the revelry, Magdalen went at last to Martha, taking with her something on a little blue-edged plate and something to drink. She addressed Martha angrily and disdainfully, her whole demeanor expressive of pride, insolence, uneasiness, and interior agitation. Martha, full of humility and affection, invited Magdalen to go with her once more to the great instruction Jesus was going to deliver in the neighborhood. All Magdalen's female friends, Martha urged, those whom she had lately met, would be there and very glad to see her. She herself (Magdalen) had already testified to the esteem in which she held Jesus, and she should now gratify Lazarus and herself (Martha) by going once more to hear Him preach. She would not soon again have the opportunity of hearing the wonderful Prophet, and at the same time of seeing all her friends in her own neighborhood. She had shown by her anointing of Jesus at the banquet in Gabara, that she knew how to honor greatness and majesty. She should now again salute Him whom she had once so nobly and fearlessly honored in public, etc., etc. It would be impossible to say how lovingly Martha spoke to her erring sister, or how patiently she endured her shamefully contemptuous manner. At last Magdalen replied: "I shall go, but not with you! You can go on ahead, for I will not be seen with one so miserably clothed. I shall dress according to my position, and I shall go with my own friends." At these words, the two sisters separated, for it was very late.
Next morning Magdalen sent for Martha to come to her room while she was grooming herself. Martha went, patient as usual and secretly praying that Magdalen might go with her and be converted. Magdalen, clothed in a fine woolen garment, was sitting on a low stool, while two of her maids were busily engaged washing her feet and arms and perfuming them with fragrant water. Her hair was divided into three parts above the ears and at the back of the head, after which it was combed, brushed, oiled, and braided. Over her fine woolen undergarment was put a green robe embroidered with large yellow flowers, and over that again a mantle with folds. Her headdress was a kind of crimped cap that rose high on the forehead. Both her hair and her cap were interwoven with numberless pearls, and in her ears were long pendants. Her sleeves were wide above the elbow, but narrow below and fastened, with broad, glittering bracelets. Her robe was plaited. Her under-bodice was open on the breast and laced with shining cords. She wore an ornament on her breast. It was covered with gold, and incrusted with cut stones and pearls. Over the narrow-sleeved under-dress she wore an upper one with a long flowing train and short, wide sleeves. It was made of changeable violet silk, and embroidered with large flowers, some in gold, others in different colors. The braids of her hair were ornamented with roses made of raw silk, and strings of pearls, interwoven with some kind of stiff transparent stuff that stood out in points. Very little of the hair could be seen through its load of ornamentation. It was rolled high around the face. Over this headdress, Magdalen wore a rich hood of fine, transparent material. It fell on the high headdress in front, shaded the cheeks, and hung low on the shoulders behind.
Martha took leave of her sister, and went to the inn near Damna, in order to tell Mary and the holy women the success she had had in her efforts to persuade Magdalen to be present at the instruction about to be given in Azanoth. With the Blessed Virgin about a dozen women had come to Damna, among them Anna Cleophas, Susanna Alpheus, Susanna of Jerusalem, Veronica, Johanna Chusa, Mary Marcus, Dina, Maroni, and the Suphanite.
Jesus, accompanied by six Apostles and a number of the disciples, started from the inn at Dothan for Azanoth. On the way, He met the holy women coming from Damna. Lazarus was among Jesus' companions on this occasion.
After Martha's departure, Magdalen was very much tormented by the devil, who wanted to prevent her going to Jesus' instruction. She would have followed his suggestions, were it not for some of her guests who had agreed to go with her to Azanoth, to witness what they called a great show. Magdalen and her frivolous, sinful companions rode on asses to the inn of the holy women near the Baths of Bethulia. Magdalen's splendid seat, along with cushions and rugs for the others, followed packed on asses.
Next morning, Magdalen again arrayed in her most wanton attire and surrounded by her companions, made her appearance at the place of instruction, which was about an hour from the inn at which she was stopping. With noise and bustle, loud talk and bold staring about, they took their places under an open tent far in front of the holy women. There were some men of their own stamp in their party. They sat upon cushions and rugs and upholstered chairs all in full view, Magdalen in front. Their coming gave rise to general whispering and murmurs of disapprobation, for they were even more detested and despised in these quarters than in Gabara. The Pharisees especially, who knew of her first remarkable conversion at Gabara and of her subsequent relapse into her former disorders, were scandalized, and expressed their indignation at her daring to appear in such an assembly.
Jesus after healing many sick, began His long and severe discourse. The details of his sermon, I cannot now recall, but I know that He cried woe upon Capharnaum, Bethsaida, and Corozain. He said also that the Queen of Saba had come from the South to hear the wisdom of Solomon, but here was One greater than Solomon. And lo, the wonder! Children that had never yet spoken, babes in their mothers' arms, cried out from time to time during the instruction: "Jesus of Nazareth! Holiest of Prophets! Son of David! Son of God!" Which words caused many of the hearers, and among them Magdalen, to tremble with fear. Making allusion to Magdalen, Jesus said that, when the devil has been driven out and the house has been swept, he returns with six other demons, and rages worse than before. These words terrified Magdalen. After Jesus had in this way touched the hearts of many, He turned successively to all sides and commanded the demon to go out of all that sighed for deliverance from his thralldom, but that those who wished to remain bound to the devil should depart, and take him along with them. At this command, the possessed cried out from all parts of the circle: "Jesus, Thou Son of God!" --and here and there people sank to the ground unconscious.
Magdalen also from her splendid seat upon which she had attracted all eyes, fell in violent convulsions. (To be continued)
The Holy Hour
To Beg Mercy for Sinners
During a retreat that St. Margaret Mary made in the year 1673, Our Lord revealed to her the manner in which He wished her to ask pardon for sinners:
"Thou shalt lift up thy heart and thy hands to heaven," He said, "with the offering of prayer and good works, presenting Me continually to My Father as a Victim of love, in sacrifice and oblation for the sin of the whole world, and placing Me as a secure bulwark between His justice and sinners, to obtain mercy, with which thou wilt feel encompassed when I shall be pleased to grant My favors to any of these sinners. Thou must, then, offer Me to My Father in thanksgiving for the mercy I have shown."
Here, then, we learn from the lips of Christ how we may best obtain pardon for sinners. It is by offering our Divine Lord Himself, His adorable Body and Blood, His soul and Divinity, in Holy Mass and in the Blessed Eucharist: offering, too, to His Eternal Father His life and labors; His bitter Passion and Death, and every thought, action and suffering of His mortal life on earth; His five most precious Wounds, the merits He amassed, and the infinite satisfaction that He made to His Eternal Father. In all this we have an infinite treasure from which we can draw at will, to make atonement for our own sins, and for those of all mankind.
How to Keep the Holy Hour
See the previous issue, Sept.-Oct. 2003, p. 24.
Our Compassion Consoles the Suffering Heart of Jesus
Our Lord desires that those who venerate His Sacred Heart, should continually meditate on His bitter Passion and Death. For this reason He appointed Friday for the majority of practices of devotion to His adorable Heart. The lives of the saints furnish numerous revelations which have for their object His bitter Passion and Death. Our Lord said to Blessed Angela of Foligno: "Be you blessed by My Father, you who have compassion with My tribulations and walk in My way, for thereby you have merited to have your garments washed in My Blood. Be you blessed, you who compassionate My inexpressible sorrows, and the Death I endured to rescue you from eternal torments, to make satisfaction in your stead, to pay the purchase-money for you, who have been found worthy to share My poverty, My humiliations and sorrows. Be blessed by the Father and the Holy Ghost, be blessed with the blessing which I Myself shall pronounce on the day of judgment. For instead of repulsing Me as My persecutors have done, when I came unto My own, you offered Me in your heart a place of refuge. When I was tortured by hunger and thirst, pierced by nails, when I was in My last agony on the Cross, you desired to be My companions and comforters, and thus exercised mercy toward Me."
Ought not these considerations urge us to watch an hour with our Savior every Thursday, to venerate His immeasurable sufferings on Mount Olivet, to comfort His heart by saving souls? Oh, let us not refuse this loving service to our abandoned Lord!
With Jesus on Mount Olivet
From the Prayers of St. Gertrude
O my Jesus, my God and Savior, how full of grief was Thy last day on earth! The hours were passed in bitter anguish, and as the moment approached in which by Thy own will, Thou wast to die for us sinners, Thy suffering became so intense that it pierced Thy loving Heart. In spirit I see Thee go forth to the Garden of Gethsemane, sorrowful and desolate. Thou dost ascend the mount of Olives, Thou dost fall on Thy knees in prayer and wring Thy hands in anguish. The unspeakable burden of sins which Thou hast taken upon Thyself weighs Thee to the ground. The chalice which Thou art to drink even to the last drop is filled with most bitter sorrow and grief. A nameless horror seizes Thee, a bloody sweat bursts forth from every pore of Thy Sacred Body, and falls to the earth. Raising Thy holy Countenance heavenward, I hear Thee call out with inexpressible anguish: "Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt." As, how piteously Thou dost plead for mercy, while the pains press deeper and deeper into Thy loving Heart!
O beloved Jesus, the contemplation of Thy anguish and abandonment on Mount Olivet fills me with shame and contrition for my sins. By my sins I have shared in causing Thee this pain, this anguish. Oh, pardon my wickedness by which I have so sorely offended Thee! Behold, I prostrate myself upon the earth beside Thee in the Garden of Gethsemane. Ah, by my loving affection let me console Thy afflicted Heart, let me wipe the bloody sweat from Thy adorable Countenance. I beseech Thee, grant me the grace to participate in that anguish and suffering which Thou didst endure for me on the Mount of Olives; permit me to share in Thy bitterness, that I may be filled with horror for every sin, and may be moved to tender compassion for Thee, my agonizing Redeemer.
O heavenly Father, for the sake of the agony endured by Thy Divine Son, have mercy on me and on all sinners, and forgive us our sins. Amen.
Mother of Divine Grace(continued)
Kings and queens with their ostentation of majesty, inspire terror, and cause their subjects to fear to approach them: but what fear, says St. Bernard, can the miserable have to approach this Queen of Mercy, for she inspires no terror, and shows no severity, to those who come to her, but is all sweetness and gentleness. ‘Why should human frailty fear to go to Mary? In her there is no austerity, nothing terrible: she is all sweetness, offering milk and wool to all.’ Mary is not only willing to give, but she herself offers milk and wool to all: the milk of mercy to animate our confidence, and the wool of her protection against the thunderbolts of Divine justice.
Prayers for a Holy Hour
Leader. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created.
Response. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
L. Let us pray.
R. O God, You who have taught the hearts of Your faithful people, by sending them the light of your Holy Spirit, grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
For a Visit to the Blessed Sacrament
L. Lord Jesus Christ, who through the love which You bear to men remain with them day and night in this Sacrament, full of mercy and of love, expecting, inviting, and receiving all who come to visit You. I believe that You are present in the Sacrament of the Altar. From the depths of my nothingness I adore You, and I thank You for all the favors which You have bestowed upon me, particularly for having given me Yourself in this Sacrament, for having given me for my advocate Your most holy Mother Mary, and for having called me to visit You in this church.
R. I this day greet Your most loving Heart for three reasons: first, I wish to thank You for this great gift; second, I wish to make reparation, for all the injuries You have received from Your enemies in this Sacrament; and third, I wish by this visit to adore You in all places, where You are least honored, and most abandoned in the holy sacrament.
L. My Jesus, I love You with my whole heart. I am sorry for having offended Your infinite goodness. I resolve, with the help of Your grace, never to offend You again; and, at this moment, miserable as I am, I consecrate my whole being to You. I give You my entire will, all my affections and desires, and all that I have. From this day forward do what You want with me and with whatever belongs to me. I ask and desire only your love, the gift of final perseverance, and the perfect fulfillment of Your will.
R. I recommend to You all poor sinners and the dying. Finally, my dear Savior, I unite all my affections with the affections of Your most loving Heart; and, thus united, I offer them to Your Eternal Father, and I entreat Him in Your name and for Your sake to accept them. Amen. (St. Alphonsus Liguori).
Prayer of Adoration
L. My God and Savior Jesus Christ, true God and true man, with that deep humility which faith itself inspires in me, I love You with all my heart, and I adore You hidden here.
R. I wish to make reparation for all the irreverences, profanations, and sacrileges, which You receive in the most adorable Sacrament of the Altar. I adore You, my God, though not so much as You deserve, nor so much as I should, yet as much as I am able.
Would that I could adore You with that perfect worship, which the angels in heaven can offer You. My Jesus, may You be known, adored, loved, and thanked by all men, at every moment, in this most holy and divine Sacrament. Amen.
L. I adore You every moment, O living bread from heaven, great Sacrament.
R. Jesus, my God, I adore You here present in the Sacrament of Your love.
L. Jesus, son of the Virgin Mary and only Son of the living God, I adore You and acknowledge You as my God, the only true God, one and infinitely perfect. You have made out of nothing all things that are outside of You, and You preserve and govern them with infinite wisdom, sovereign goodness, and supreme power.
R. I beg of You, by the mysteries that were fulfilled in Your sacred Humanity, to cleanse me in Your Blood from all my past sins. Pour forth abundantly upon me Your Holy Spirit, together with His grace, His virtues, and His gifts. Make me believe in You, hope in You, love You, and labor to merit the possession of You through each of my actions. Give Yourself to me some day in the brightness of Your glory, in the company of all Your saints. Amen.
For a Greater Love for Jesus
l. I greet You, sacred Heart of Jesus, living and life-giving Fountain of eternal life, infinite Treasure of divinity, glowing Furnace of divine love! You are my place of rest and my most sure refuge.
R. My dear Savior, enkindle my heart with that burning love with which Your own is on fire. Pour into my heart the manifold grace, of which Your Heart is the source. Let Your will be mine, and let mine be forever obedient to Yours. Amen.
L. Behold, my most loving Jesus, how far Your great love has reached! You have prepared for me a divine table of Your own Flesh and most precious Blood, in order to give Yourself entirely to me. What has brought You to such generous love? Surely nothing but Your most loving Heart.
R. Adorable Heart of my Jesus, burning furnace of divine charity, receive my heart within Your most sacred wound, that in this school of love, I may learn to return love to God, who has given me such wondrous proofs of His own love. Amen.
L. Sweet Heart of my Jesus, grant that I may always love You more.
R. Heart of Jesus, burning with love for us, set our hearts on fire with love of You.
Counsels and Thoughts of Padre Pio
Walk the way of the Lord in simplicity. Do not torment your spirit. Say the truth, always the truth.
Do not be so given to the activity of Martha as to forget the silence of Mary. May the Virgin who so well reconciled the one with the other be your sweet model and inspiration.
That which proceeds from God begins with a salutary fear, and finishes with peace of mind.
Jesus and your soul must cultivate the vineyard together. It is for you to pick up and carry away the stones, to pull out the thorn bushes. It is the task of Jesus to sow, plant, cultivate, to water.
"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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