Thursday, April 26, 2018

Two things are required

Two things are required
in order to obtain eternal life:
the grace of God and man’s will.
And although God made man without man’s help,
He does not sanctify him without his cooperation.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Mother of Good Counsel

In the quaint medieval town of Genazzano, about 30 miles from Rome, on a side altar of the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, there is a small image of the Blessed Virgin holding her infant Son. The Child, in His turn, lovingly encircles Mary's neck with His arm, inclining her head towards Himself in a gentle and intimate embrace.

This small fresco has a marvelous history.

In the fifteenth century there lived in the town an elderly widow, by name Petruccia, who had invested the entirety of the small fortune left to her by her husband in a needed side chapel for her church. Her money running out when the walls were only a few feet high, the townsfolk openly mocked and ridiculed her for her foolishness. Undaunted, Petruccia assured them that in spite of the apparent failure of her own endeavors, the Mother of God and St. Augustine, whose spiritual sons were caretakers of the church, would finish the work she had begun.

On April 25, 1467 as the inhabitants of Genazzano celebrated the feast of their patron St. Mark, marvelous music was heard approaching, its source seemingly from above. Looking upwards, the astounded citizens saw a brilliant cloud descending towards them. The bell of the church, and then others throughout the town, began to peel of their own accord. The cloud came to rest on Petruccia’s unfinished chapel wall and gradually dissipated, revealing the extraordinary image of the Madonna and Child. The widow's supernatural confidence being so wonderfully rewarded before the astonished gaze of all, the construction of the chapel was not long in its completion.

Shortly after these remarkable events, two foreigners in strange attire arrived in Genazzano claiming to be Albanians. Their names were Giorgio and DeSclavis and on seeing the icon, they cried out with joy and then told a wonderful tale.

After the death of Albania's king, George Castriota, known as Scanderberg, their nation had finally been conquered by the invading Turks. Early in 1467, while they prayed before the miraculous fresco, the image suddenly became illuminated, and detaching itself from the wall, it began to move through the air. Entranced, the two former soldiers followed the painting, first over land and, then, across the Adriatic Sea, which solidified under their feet.

In the Eternal City they lost sight of it, until hearing reports of a great miracle in a nearby town, they surmised where their Madonna had come to rest. Both decided to remain near their treasure, and married and raised families in Genazzano.

A plaque left at the shrine by visiting Albanians begs their Madonna to return to them, but there she is to this day. It is a continuous miracle: a fresco painted on eggshell plaster suspended in the air for five and a half centuries, but how much greater is the miracle of that tender embrace between Mother and Child, that union of soul into which each one is invited and warmly received.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

She thought Our Lady had not kept her promise, but then this happened!

A True Story…
Three months after her husband had been buried,
a priest knocked on her door and asked,
"Are you Mrs. Donna E.?"
America Needs Fatima has 8 to 11 full-time teams of Fatima Custodians crisscrossing America all year long. Each team carries a replica of the miraculous Pilgrim Virgin statue of Our Lady of Fatima that wept 13 times. Her most recent weeping–photographed, investigated, and ecclesiastically approved–was in a church in New Orleans, USA, during the evening of July 17, 1972. (story and photo here)
Along with taking the statue of Our Lady of Fatima into their hosts’ homes, our Fatima Custodians show an audio-visual presentation on Mary’s apparitions in Fatima, Portugal in 1917, and speak about her prophetic message to the world.
Kenneth Murphy, one of our Custodians, relays the following true story from a Fatima home visit:
“Hosting the Fatima Visit was Mrs. Donna E., in Arlington, VA.
While explaining how to fulfill the Five First Saturdays devotion I asked, ‘Does anyone know Our Lady’s promise to those who make this devotion?’
Donna replied, "Those making the Five First Saturdays will receive all the graces they need for salvation before they die." (see note in P.S.)
She then said that her husband had loved making the Five First Saturdays devotion. However, when he died, it seemed that Our Lady hadn't kept her promise… He passed away suddenly.

Here’s what happened
One day Donna’s husband was traveling through snow-covered roads. Suddenly, he suffered a heart attack, lost control, and crashed.
The ambulance promptly arrived but, unfortunately, her husband passed away on the way to the hospital.
When Donna arrived at the hospital, she was told that he had died, and, unfortunately, without the benefits of the Church’s Sacraments…Besides the obvious grief at such news, she was anxious as to the state of his soul at that last moment.

Apparently, Our Lady hadn't kept her promise
Three months after Donna’s husband had been buried, a priest knocked on her door and asked, "Are you Mrs. Donna E.?"
The priest then related how, three months earlier, he had been driving behind her husband and saw him lose control of his car.
He said, "I knew right away that he had experienced a heart attack and was in danger of dying." The priest stopped, ran over and asked, "Are you a Catholic?" Mr. E. responded in the affirmative.
He was in a lot of pain but was able to make a full confession to the priest. The priest heard his confession and gave him Last Rites before the ambulance arrived.
Because the priest had been on his way to say Mass, when the ambulance arrived, he left for the Church.
After hearing that Mr. E. had passed on the way to the hospital, the priest felt that it was important to let the family know that he had had the Last Rites. The medical facility, however, would not give him the family's information.
Only after three months did someone at the hospital give him an address.
Indeed, Our Lady had kept her promise!  


P.S. OUR LADY’S EXACT WORDS: On December 10, 1925, Our Lady promised to Sister Lucia (the oldest Fatima seer) that she would “…assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months confess, receive Holy Communion, pray a Rosary, and keep me company for a quarter of an hour meditating on the fifteen mysteries with the intention of offering me reparation.”

The Miraculous Christ de la Vega

There was once in the city of Toledo, Spain a soldier, Diego Martinez, and a young woman, Ines de Vargas, who were in love.
Diego was called to fight in Flanders, so, at Ines’ insistence, before a crucifix known as The Christ de la Vega, Diego solemnly swore to marry her on his return.
With Diego gone, Ines felt lost and alone, and often sought solace at the foot of the Christ who had witnessed their solemn engagement.
Years went by, Ines always on the lookout. One day, at the head of a returning cavalry, she beheld her fiancé. She screamed and rushed to meet him, but he feigned not to know her, and passed on.
Successful in war and prowess, he had not only been promoted to captain, but had been knighted by the King, and no longer considered Ines a worthy prospect.
Tears being of no avail, the spurned young woman took her case before the governor of Toledo, Don Pedro Ruiz de Alarcon, claiming that Diego Martinez had sworn to marry her. But the captain denied such a vow, and with no witnesses, the case was about to be dismissed when Ines cried:
“Indeed, there was a witness–the Christ the la Vega!”
There was a stunned silence. But, this was Catholic Spain, and finally, judge, Diego, Ines, court and the curious repaired to the Basilica of St. Leocadia* , which housed the carved Christ.
Kneeling between Diego and Ines before the life-sized crucifix, Don Pedro held up a Bible and asked if He, Jesus Christ, Sovereign Lord, would indeed swear to the couple’s solemn vow to wed each other.
In the dead silence that ensued, all present heard a voice coming from the statue,
“I SWEAR.”
At the same time, to the astonishment of all, the statue’s right arm, descended, its hand coming to rest on the Bible which the judge held up.
So struck were Diego and Ines, that giving up all earthly plans, they entered religious life.
As to the Christ de la Vega, to this day, His right arm remains in the same position, and, some affirm, His mouth slightly open in the utterance of His witness.

By A.F. Phillips
*Now the Ermita del Cristo de la Vega

So that we might become what He is

All the penalties imposed
by divine judgment upon man
for the sin of the first transgression
– death, toil, hunger, thirst and the like –
He took upon Himself, becoming what we are,
so that we might become what He is.

St. Mark the Hermit

St. Mark the Evangelist

We learn from the Epistle to the Colossians that Mark was a kinsman of Barnabas, who was a Levite, which presupposes that Mark was also of a Levitical family.

We read of Mark accompanying Paul and Barnabas on their apostolic missions, assisting them in Cyprus (Acts 13:5) and journeying with them to Perga in Pamphylia, from whence he returned on his own to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). The Apostle to the Gentiles seems to have construed this last action on Mark's part as displaying a certain disloyalty. Later, when preparing to visit Cilicia and Asia Minor, a heated argument ensued with Paul refusing to include Mark, while Barnabas defended his cousin, "so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed" (Acts 15, 37-40).

It is this same Mark who is later imprisoned with Paul in Rome. As proof of how much his personal opinion concerning Mark had changed during their joint captivity, the Apostle to the Gentiles afterwards writes to Timothy in Ephesus, “…take Mark and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to me in the ministry.”

Tradition strongly affirms that Mark, the author of the second gospel, was more closely associated with St. Peter. Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus and Papias speak of Mark as being Peter's interpreter. Writing from Rome, Peter refers to “my son, Mark” (1 Peter 5, 13) who apparently was there with him. This is undoubtedly Mark the Evangelist.

Ancient tradition relates that Mark lived for some years in Alexandria as bishop of that city, and there suffered martyrdom.

The city of Venice claims to possess the remains of St. Mark the Evangelist, brought there from Alexandria in the ninth century. Preserved by the Venetians for centuries, their authenticity has not gone unchallenged. From time immemorial, however, St. Mark – Apostle and Evangelist – symbolized by the lion, has always been honored as patron of this "Queen of the Adriatic."
Photo by: Bolo77/Stefano Bolognini

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How to win

In the spiritual life, one does not sustain honorable losses.
War honors
come only with victory.
And winning consists in not abandoning the cross
even when one falls beneath it. It consists in persevering
amidst the apparent failures of external works,
amidst adversity, in the exhaustion of all of one’s strength.
It consists in carrying the cross to the height of Calvary, and, there,
letting oneself be crucified.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira