THE LORD OF PARDON is Jesus Christ crucified, almost bloodless after so many hours of prolonged torture, pain and suffering and while hanging on the Cross at Calvary uttered His first of seven last words, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)[i].
HOW COULD HE FORGIVE?
We cringed and became emotionally drained by the reenactment of Jesus' suffering in the movie "The Passion of The Christ".[ii] Some people became sick, some even died watching the extreme suffering Jesus went through. But that wasn't really all that happened to Him. In the words of Blessed Anna Catherina Emmerich,[iii] Jesus' body is a big gaping wound after the scourging. There's more. Could any ordinary human being forgive those who inflicted the following, unthinkable atrocities on His whole being?
1. From the words of Jesus to a holy soul and to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, respectively,[iv]
2. Jesus revealed to the pious, God-loving Sister Mary Magdalene of the Sancta Clara Order, Franciscan, who lived, died and was beatified in Rome, the 15 the secret sufferings which He endured the night before His death:[v] "The Jews considered Me as the most wretched man living on earth, so that is why:
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen[vi] wrote that the executioners, torturers, Pharisees, Sadducees and all those who hated Jesus were all waiting at the foot of the Cross, waiting to hear what He would say after all the pain and suffering they inflicted on Him. Prior to Jesus crucifixion, most of those hanged on a cross had to have their tongues cut off to prevent them from shouting obscenities which they throw at those who watch their suffering. According to Arch. Sheen they were intentionally present to see whether Jesus, Who taught love of enemies, could still love those who tortured Him. He wrote that their dismay, disappointment and consternation was indescribable when Our Lord asked pardon from His Eternal Father for all of them.
With this true display of love, mercy and pardon, almost lifeless and barely hanging on to His earthly life, He showed us how to also "forgive those who trespass against us". So that whenever we pray The Lords prayer and we reach that portion on forgiveness of enemies, we could look up to Him on the Cross, emulate His example and say with sincerity and complete love of enemy "as we forgive those who trespass against us.." By doing so, we gain forgiveness of our sins and we become truly the brethren of Jesus. "For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences."(Matt 6:14) "...My brethren are they who hear the word of God, and do it." (Luke 8:21)
[i] All Biblical verses and quotations are from The Douay Rheims Bible, (TAN Books & Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, www.tanbooks.com), accepted by Bible scholars and experts as the true and authentic translation of the Latin Vulgate, The Bibleoteca, the Book of Books.
[ii] The Passion of The Christ, A Mel Gibson Film, Newmarket Films
[iii]The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Anne Catherine Emmerich, TAN Books & Publishers, Rockford, Illinois
[iv] The Pieta Prayer Booklet, MLOR CORP., 1186 Burlington Drive, Hickory Corners, MI 49060
WEBMASTER’S NOTE: These tortures were not mentioned at all by the Apostles nor witnessed by anyone. That is why they are called “secret”. They seemed to be so severe and deadly that Jesus would have died even before He could carry His cross. Though these were not mentioned in the Scriptures nor in Tradition, the fact that a Vicar of Christ, Pope Clement II (1730-1740), gave his ‘Imprimatur’ (Let it be Printed) for public release, did mean that proper Church procedures were followed to insure that this secret tortures were not contrary to Sacred Tradition and nor to Sacred Scriptures. Human conventional wisdom would look at these tortures and infer that Jesus would not have carried His cross to Calvary nor suffered the rest of His suffering and martyrdom if these horrific torments were received by Him prior to the rest of His written suffering. That is why it more remarkable to look at the suffering of what He has to endure to save us. Surely He would have died by these tortures alone! But He has to die on the cross and fulfill the rest of the written scriptures on His salvific Passion and death. He has to will to die on the cross even though His body was almost devoid of continuity of life. These tortures shows us how much He loves us for though He should have been dead, He willed His life to more suffering so He could fulfill His mission for the Eternal Father. Though barely alive, He hanged on to His last breath so that you and me would have eternal life. No other man could have done what He did, that is why He did not exaggerate to a saint that “No one has suffered more than I did.” These include the tortures and truth-extracting atrocities inflicted by torturers in the history of man. That is why the Pharisees were so surprised He died faster than the two thieves. They themselves were not privy to the tortures Jesus received prior to His sentencing and trip to Golgotha. St. Padre Pio said, “Man should stop asking ‘why?’, for only in obedience could we be saved.” Intellectual pride has sent many to hell. Their quest for the answers to ‘why?’ did not satisfy their pride for them to change to God’s ways. Surely, they know not what Scripture has written about the proud man, “Every proud man is an abomination to the Lord:” (Proverbs 16:5) Abomination means “extreme disgust or hatred”. So they gain the hatred of God by their pride and found their way to perdition. Unfortunately for the unwary, they are attracted by these ‘intellectuals’ whose passion is pride not the greater glory of God and obedience to God. They, too, find their way to perdition. Why question what the Vicar of Christ has deemed not contrary to Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture? Why analyze these tortures as beyond human endurance, which only the God-Man could endure, and deem them as not worthy of belief? Why spread a personal analysis as better than the judgment of the Vicar of Christ? Let us just pray for those spread their personal beliefs as better than the Vicar of Christ that they amend their errors, and not lead others to the way of destruction.
Faith is one of the theological virtues, per se, it comes from God alone, together with hope and charity. In this modern culture, faith is perceived as what a person ‘wants to believe’. This misconception of faith is what has led to the cancer of heresies and apostasies that are eating in the core of the spirituality of every person. Faith given by God is complete unequivocal belief in and total acceptance of all the teachings, doctrines and dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church from its foundation by Jesus to the present time. Unfortunately, the conclave of Vatican II with its ambiguous, erratical teachings has led to this crisis of faith in the Church itself. The present Pope Benedict XVI seems to do some correction of those errors but seemed to be thwarted by modernistic and progressive intellectuals of the Church hierarchy. Let us pray that the latter day Apostles of Christ arrive soon to save all the elect of God. For even the elect would be deceived by the false Christ (Our Lady of La Sallette, 1846). It seems that this deception is complete. Even the clergy of our Lord’s Church have been teaching heresies, i.e. “There is NO HELL!”, “Everyone who believes is saved!”, and other outrageous doctrines totally contrary to what the pre-Vatican II Church has taught. They had even changed the Cathechism and Canons of the Church. These changes reflect more of the heresies of the Protestant churches. So the Sacraments have been watered down and efficacious graces are not received in their administration. The glut of Catholics espousing Modernistic, Liberal and Progressive thinking is in the majority, proof of the errors of the Vatican II Council. Modernism and Liberalism have been denounced as enemies of the Roman Catholic Church by Pope St. Pius X (who served from 1903-1914) and Pope Pius IX (who served for 32 years, 1846-1878), respectively but they found their way into our Liturgy. Let us seek the Mother of Mercy to assist us with her constant prayers and companionship that we may not in any way be deceived by respectable intellectuals both clergy and laity alike, who willfully or unwilling spread false information and teachings.
Catholics nowadays are split into three main groups:
a. The Modernists, Liberals and Progressives espousing the Novus Ordo Mass, Vatican II changes in liturgy, sacraments, Cathechism and Cannons. These comprise the majority, maybe about 90% of Roman Catholics. Unfortunately, some are in this group because they do not know the changes were the “diabolical disorientation” foretold in Fatima by Our Lady. The favorite line of these 'Catholics' is, "St. Peter denied Jesus too, you know. So what is the problem of these Vatican II popes teaching their own version of Catholicism?" First, Peter did deny Jesus before he received the gifts of the Holy Ghost (before Pentecost) so was very fallible. After Pentecost, he was fortified in the teachings of Jesus and was ready to die for the truth. On the other hand, these so-called Conciliar Popes (of Vatican II) came with modernistic, liberal and progressive philosophies and are determined to undermine the teachings of the Vicars of Christ from St. Peter up to Pope Pius XII. This brought about the "equalization" of the Roman Catholic Church with other religions. The Roman Catholic Church is no longer the sole church established by Jesus to help mankind gain salvation. Pope John Paul II even embraced other religions as great vehicles of salvation. This is the greatest heresy that could be brought upon mankind.
b. The Traditional and Orthodox Roman Catholics. They adhere to all the teachings, cannons, doctrines and dogmas of the pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic Church. They comprise about 5-7% of the clergy and laity of the Church. They respect the pope but are selective in accepting anything coming from the Vatican and its hierarchy. They accept only the teachings in compliance with those of the pre-Vatican II Church.
c. The third group is like group b, except, they do not respect the current pope in the Vatican. They are called ‘Sedevacantists’. It came from the Latin words ‘sede vacante’ meaning seat vacant. They believe that the popes of Vatican II up to the present are heretics and are not true popes. Thus to their belief, the chair of St. Peter is 'vacant', i.e. there is no pope. St. Robert Bellarmine, a Doctor of the Church, wrote, “For a pope to teach heresy, he ceases to be the pope.” The sedevacantists do have valid arguments about the heretical Vatican II popes. The other difference is that they seem to be uncondescending and act and speak intellectually above others who do not believe as they are. But they do have good intentions in their hearts. Let us pray for the reconciliation of groups b and c for group c originally came from group b.
[vi] The Seven Last Words, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
THE LORD OF PARDON and "THE LAST VISION" OF FATIMA
The Last Vision of Fatima[i] was experienced by Sister Lucia, the living survivor of the three Fatima children on June 13, 1929 in the Dorothean Convent chapel at Tuy, Spain while she was in prayer. It was a vision of the Blessed Trinity with The Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Last Vision of Fatima is the total and complete summation of the LOVE mentioned in the Gospel of St. John, "For God so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting." (John 3:16)
The Lord of Pardon, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, on the cross, is the eternal reminder of this merciful and all-forgiving love of Our Lord God Almighty for all of mankind. His love for us is so great that He did not hesitate to send His Only-Begotten Son on the errand of saving us from eternal damnation even to the point of His Dearly Beloved Son suffering agony and death in order to complete this task. We have heard and read this verse from the Gospel of John so many times throughout our lifetimes, but do we really know its meaning, its various implications and ramifications?
THE ETERNAL FATHER'S LOVE FOR US
The Last Vision of Fatima shows the outstretched arms of Our Eternal Father. First, to offer us His Dearly Beloved and Only Begotten Son as the only Holocaust, the only acceptable Sacrifice worthy to gain for us our salvation and entrance into His heavenly abode. Second, His outstretched arms are calling us to come home to Him, our One True Father. "And call none your father upon earth; for One is your Father, Who is in heaven." (Matthew 23:9). His arms are full of longing and love for us, His prodigal children.
Humanly indescribable and incomprehensible is The Eternal Fathers love for us. For how can any creature, verbally quantify the love of his Creator, his God and Master. In all of creation no one or nobody could describe this love, except maybe, Our Blessed Virgin Mother. So how could we explain this perfect, infinite agape love? The only way this could be put into human words would be for us to quote Abba, The Eternal Father, Himself. Since He is Our Father as Jesus has taught us, then let us listen to Him as our model Father, our Provider and Benefactor, our Nurturer, our Protector, our Teacher, Law Giver and Disciplinarian, and our Role Model for doing good. (On July 1, 1932, the Feast of The Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Eternal Father appeared to Mother Eugenia Elisabetta Ravasio of the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles in Grenoble, France. This is the only approved apparition of The Eternal Father in modern times. In this apparition Abba, revealed His love and desire for our eternal happiness. He described His love for us before creation, after creation and for all eternity.) These were Our Eternal Fathers own words, as quoted from "The Father Speaks to His Children"[ii].
ABBA, The ETERNAL FATHER
(As He appeared to Mother Eugenia Elisabetta Ravasio,
Our Provider and Benefactor
"I am the Eternal One, and when I was alone, I had already thought of using all My power to create beings in My image. But material creation had to come first, so that these beings could find their means of sustenance; it was then that I created the world. I filled it with all the things I knew would be necessary to men: air, sun and rain, and many other things that I knew to be necessary for their life."
That's why man was created last; all that man needs has to be set in place. Our Eternal Father perfectly provided all that man would need when he comes to life.
"Since man's creation, I have never for one moment stopped living beside him. As his Creator and Father, I feel the need to love him. It is not that I need him, but My love, as Father and Creator, makes Me feel this need to love man. Thus I live close to man, I follow him everywhere, I help him in all things, I supply everything. I can see his needs, his toils, all his desires, and My greatest happiness lies in helping him and saving him. I therefore desire man to remember often that I am right there, where he is, that he could not live if I were not with him, living just as he is. In spite of his unbelief, I always remain close to him. I know your needs, your desires, and everything in your hearts. But how happy and grateful I would be if I saw you coming to Me and confiding in Me your needs, like a son who has total trust in his father. How could I refuse you the smallest or biggest thing if you asked Me? Even if you do not see Me, do you not feel Me very close to you in the things that happen to you and around you? How you will he rewarded, one day, for having believed in Me, even without having seen Me!"
"I created man for Myself and it is right that I should be ALL for him."
Isn't this what each one of us wanted a father to do to watch over us, take care of us and give us all what we need?
He Gives Us the Means of Recovery
"I asked My Son to give them the means to get up again after they have fallen. These means will help them to purify themselves from their sins, so that they may still be the children of My love. They are, chiefly, the seven Sacraments. And the greatest means of securing your salvation, despite your falls, is the Cross, My Son's Blood poured out upon you every moment, if you so wish, both in the Sacrament of Penance and in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass."
"I am the ocean of charity, My children, and this is another proof of the paternal love I feel for all of you, without exception, regardless of your age, your status or your country. Nor do I exclude different societies, sects, believers, unbelievers, and the indifferent. I enfold in this love all therational creatures who make up humanity."
All of humanity He nurtures and takes care of! He gives us the means to rise up from the mire of our sins and be one with Him again. What a tolerant and infinitely patient Father we have!
"But as you have seen, at every moment My protection manifests itself through graces and benefits."
Always and everywhere, He protects us as His very own children.
Our Teacher, Our Law Giver and Just Disciplinarian
"Man sins, but it is precisely then that My infinite generosity shows itself. In the Old Testament, I created and chose prophets to live among men. To them I told My desires, My sorrows and My joys, so that they could communicate them to everyone. The more evil grew, the more My goodness urged Me to communicate with just souls so that they could transmit My commands to those who were creating disorder. Thus, I was sometimes obliged to be strict in order to reprove them; not to punish them - that would only have done harm - but to take them away from vice and lead them to their Father and their Creator, Whom they had forgotten and ignored in their ingratitude. Later, evil overwhelmed men's hearts to such an extent that I was compelled to send calamities upon the world to purify men through suffering, the destruction of their possessions, or even their death. These were the Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, man's wars against man, etc. The world has often been purified of its corruption because of My infinite goodness towards humanity. I continued to choose certain souls in whom I was pleased, because through them I could be happy with My creatures, men."
"May everyone recognize My infinite goodness towards all men, and especially towards sinners, the sick, the dying, and all those who suffer. Let them know that I want only one thing: to love them all, to give them My grace, to forgive them when they repent and, most of all, to judge them not with My justice but with My mercy, so that all may be saved and numbered among My elect."
The strict but just school teacher who is constant in his/her teachings and rules and regulations in school is the one highly appreciated and respected. Could we not do the same for The Great Almighty Father of all mankind? His commandments had not changed since He gave them to Moses. His words are etched in stone in the Latin Vulgate (as translated in the Douay Rheims Bible). He gave warnings, even actual lessons and consequences of disobeying Him. He has not changed any rules since He handed them down. Even His justice is tempered by His love and mercy. How could we not obey Him for His rules are simple, true and constant?
Our Role Model
"I promised the world a Messiah. I did all I could to prepare His coming, showing Myself in the figures that represented Him, even thousands of years before His coming! Realize then, 0 men, that for all eternity I have had but one desire, to make Myself known to men and be loved by them. I wish to stay for ever with them. Do you want an authentic proof of this desire that I have just expressed? Why did I command Moses to build a tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant, if not to come and dwell, as a Father, a brother, a close friend, with My creatures, men? This was My ardent desire."
"In spite of this, they have forgotten Me and offended Me with countless sins. I gave Moses My commandments to remind them, in spite of everything, of God, their Father, and of His sole wish, to save them. They were supposed to observe the commandments and thereby remember their infinitely good Father, always intent upon their present and eternal salvation. All this was forgotten and men sank into error and fear, considering that the observance of the commandments as I had transmitted them to Moses was too taxing. They made up other laws in accordance with their whims, in order to observe them more easily. Little by little, in the exaggerated fear they had of Me, they forgot Me more and more and heaped outrages upon Me."
"Yet My love for these men, My children, never quite ceased. When I realized that neither the patriarchs nor the prophets had been able to make Me known and loved by men, I decided to come Myself."
He taught us to love those who inflict harm and abuse against us. To prove that this could be done He, Himself continues to love us in spite of our sins, outrages, blasphemies and sacrileges. He teaches not only by His written word by His supreme example.
"But how could I come among them? There was no other way than to come Myself, in the Second Person of My Divinity. Would men know Me? Would they listen to Me? Nothing in the future was hidden from Me; I Myself answered these two questions: They will ignore My presence, even though they will be near Me. In My Son they will treat Me cruelly, notwithstanding all the good He will do for them. In My Son they will speak ill of Me, they will crucify Me to bring about My death. Shall I stop because of this? No, My love for My children, men, is too great. I did not stop there. Understand well that I loved you, as it were, more than My beloved Son, or rather, more than Myself. What I am telling you is so true that, if one of My creatures had been enough to atone for the sins of other men through a life and death similar to those of My Son, I would have hesitated. Why? Because I would have betrayed My love by making a beloved creature suffer, rather than suffering Myself, in My Son. I would never have wished MY children to suffer."
This is the true essence of that infinitely incomprehensible love The Eternal Father has for us, His children. He, Who is The Beginning and The End, the One responsible for man to be here, took upon Himself to suffer and bear the excruciating pain of the sins of His beloved masterpiece. This is the greatest example of command responsibility. The Eternal Father is basically saying, "Since I created you and you sinned against Me and My commandments, then I am going to suffer the all the effects of your sin because I am the one responsible for your existence." Our Eternal Father by doing this has given us the greatest prime example of 'command responsibility'. Because He made us, He accepts the responsibility for our sins and sinfulness. What a Father! The Eternal Father would not let any human being bear this suffering except He in the person of His Beloved Son. He Who teaches us to love and suffer for others, especially those who offends us, shows us how to do so. He is the genuine and sincere Role Model. He does what He commands and teaches!
"This, then, in brief, is the story of My love until My coming among men through My Son. Most men know of all these events, but they fail to grasp the essential thing: that love was the guiding principle in it all!"
He, Who is Love, gives love and is willing to receive atrocities just to show and give this love - the absolute Model of loving others as we love ourselves.
His Longing and Love for Us, His Prodigal Children
"I am the best of Fathers! I know My creatures' weaknesses! Come to Me, come with confidence and love! I will forgive you after you have repented. Even if your sins were as repulsive as mud, your confidence and your love will make Me forget them, so you will not be judged! I am just, it is true, but love pays for everything!"
"I make you a promise which will have an eternal effect. It is this: call Me by the name of Father, with confidence and love, and you will receive everything from this Father, with love and mercy."
"How great would be My joy to see parents teaching their children to address Me often by the name of Father, as indeed I am! How I would like to see infused into these young souls a trust and a filial love for Me! I have done everything for you; will you not do this for Me?"
"I would like to make My home in every family, as in My domain, so that all can say with absolute assurance: "We have a Father Who is infinitely good, infinitely rich and greatly merciful. He thinks about us and is close to us. He looks after us, supports us. He will give us everything we need if we ask Him. All his riches are ours, we will have everything we need." I am there precisely in order that you should ask Me for what you need. Ask and you will receive. In My fatherly goodness I will give you everything, provided that all regard Me as a true Father, living among His family, as I indeed do."
"I also desire that every family prominently display the picture I will later show to My "little daughter". I wish every family to be able to place itself under My special protection in this way, so that they can honour Me more easily. There, every day, the family will share with Me its needs, its work, its sorrows, its sufferings, its desires, and also its joys, because a Father must know everything that concerns His children."
"There is so much evil in the world! These poor, inexperienced souls are letting themselves be seduced by the attraction of vice which, little by little, leads to total ruin. You who especially need someone to take care of you in life, so that you can avoid evil, come to Me! I am the Father Who loves you more than any other creature will ever be able to do! Take refuge close, very close to Me, confide in Me your thoughts and your desires. I will love you tenderly. I will give you graces for the present and bless your future."
"As for you, souls in a state of sin, or who are ignorant of religious truth, I will not be able to enter you; however, I will be close to you, because I never stop calling you, inviting you to desire to receive the benefits I bring you, so that you may see the light and be healed of sin. Sometimes I look at you and feel compassion for your unhappy state. I sometimes look at you with love, to dispose you to yield to the charms of grace. I spend days, sometimes years, close to some souls to be able to ensure their eternal happiness. They do not know that I am there waiting for them, calling them every moment of the day. However, I never become weary and I still feel joy in remaining close to you, always hoping that you will return to your Father some day and that you will at least offer Me some act of love before you die."
"ALL THOSE WHO CALL ME BY THE NAME OF FATHER, EVEN IF ONLY ONCE, WILL NOT PERISH, BUT WILL BE SURE OF THEIR ETERNAL LIFE AMONG THE CHOSEN ONES."
"And to you who will work for My glory and commit yourselves to making Me known, honoured and loved, I give the assurance that your reward will be great, because I will count everything, even the smallest effort you make, and I will reward you a hundredfold in eternity."
"Oh, beloved humanity, oh, men who are My children, set yourselves free from the bonds in which the devil has chained you until now, inspiring in you fear of a Father Who is pure love! Come, come closer to Me, you have every right to approach your Father; open up your hearts, pray to My Son that He may help you to know even better My goodness towards you."
"You who are prisoners of superstition and the laws of the devil, leave this tyrannical slavery and come to the truth of truths. Recognize the One Who made you and is your Father. Do not try to claim your rights, paying worship and homage to those who have led you to spend your life uselessly until now, but come to Me, I am waiting for you all because you are all My children."
"And you who are in the true light, tell them how sweet it is to live in the truth! Say also to those Christians, to those dear creatures, My children, how sweet it is to think that there is a Father Who sees everything, knows everything, provides for everything, Who is infinitely good, Who forgives easily and Who punishes only reluctantly and slowly. Tell them to come to Me: I will help them, I will lighten their burden and sweeten their hard life. I will inebriate them with My fatherly love, to make them happy in time and eternity."
"And you, My children, who have lost the faith and live in the darkness, raise your eyes, you will see shining rays coming to illuminate you. I am the sun that shines, warms and re-warms. Look, and recognize that I am your Creator, your Father, your one and only God. It is because I love you that I come to make you love Me, so that you may all be saved."
"I am speaking to all men, the world over, making this appeal of My fatherly love ring out, this infinite love that I want you to know is a permanent reality.
"Love, love, love always, but also show others how to love the Father, so that from today on I will be able to show you all the Father Who loves you so passionately."
These words are more than enough assurance to disarm any man wondering who God The Father is, and how to approach Him and speak to Him. His words are simple and easy to understand. What else could He have done to get our love, respect and trust? Now is the opportune time to go back to the One True Father of us all. By His Only Begotten Sons life, suffering, death and resurrection, He has made us His own children as well. Let us not lose this great opportunity of being His own, before He turns His back on us. "Seek ye the Lord, while He may be found: call upon Him, while He is near." (Isaias 55:6). Now is the time to love Him. Let us make Him our very own very happy Father by obeying, adoring, serving, honoring, praising and thanking Him till our last breath. Then as we stand before Him in our particular judgment, we could be assured of enjoying eternal bliss with Him as He promised.
THE HOLY GHOST'S LOVE FOR US
The Holy Ghost is the Divine Love between The Eternal Father and His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. This theological principle has been taught by the fathers and doctors of the Church. Would Love suffer when One of Those Giving Love, suffers? OF COURSE! Imagine the pain that Love has to suffer when the Divine Lover gets hate and suffering in return. In spite of all of these, the Holy Spirit still loves us more than we deserve. Beside being The Spirit of Love, The Holy Ghost is "the Spirit of Peace, of Joy, of Divine Consolation. He is the Light of our souls and the Strength of our wills." St. Louis De Montfort[iii] wrote that the Holy Spirit sustained Jesus in His earthly life as a man. The love of the Holy Spirit for mankind is never more evident today. Look at all the technological advances that man has achieved. Without the Holy Spirit, none of these is possible. For the Holy Spirit is the source of all knowledge, too. But do we deserve His incessant benefits in face of our ungrateful and nonchalant attitude towards Him? Fr. O'Sullivan[iv] wrote that "...the Holy ghost loves us with a most tender and infinite love and earnestly desires to pour out on us His Gifts and graces. This He cannot do if we do not correspond to His love if we do not correspond to His love, if we do not know Him, love Him and pray to Him. Every soul in the state of grace is a living tabernacle of the Holy Ghost...the Holy Ghost is in our souls." How do we gain this union with the Holy Ghost? By keeping our souls always in a state of grace by constant prayer, confession, communion and the practice of the spiritual and corporal acts of mercy. By constant prayer, we begin subjecting ourselves to a feeling of humility. Prayer is asking and when one asks, he asks with humility. No one asks in an arrogant manner. For such would be insulting the one asked. So we become humble and become subject to the will of the Eternal Father. When we do so, He would send down the Holy Spirit to guide us in all our ways.
THE BLESSED VIRGIN MOTHER'S LOVE FOR US
(THE TEARS AND DOLOURS OF THE MOTHER OF SORROWS)
This miraculous picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary, THE MOTHER of SORROWS, located in the Jesuit School of San Gabriel in Quito, Ecuador wept on April 29, 1906
How much sorrow should the mother of God endure to be called the Mother of Sorrows? This title implies that her sorrows were more than all the sorrows of all the mothers in history who suffered, are suffering and will suffer terrible sorrows due to the brutalities, tortures, and atrocities that their sons or children had to endure. To the casual observer, the portrait of our Mother of Sorrows would look like exaggerations. Seven swords embedded into a mother’s heart. Besides, 7 sorrows seem to be so few to qualify as the Mother of Sorrows. Her sorrows could best be quantified by her Seven Dolors and Tears that are so important that Jesus promises salvation to those who practice devotion to it. How much sorrow did the Mother of God suffered to be called the Mother of Sorrows? It is only appropriate to quote the sermon of the great salvific Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Di Liguori: “The Martyrdom of Mary Was Never Equaled”.
The words of the prophet Jeremias explain my meaning on this point:
To what shall I compare thee? or to what shall I liken thee, O daughter of Jerusalem?. . . for great as the sea is thy destruction; who shall heal thee? (Lam. 2:13) No, the acuteness of the sufferings of Mary are not to be compared, even with those of all the (Catholic) martyrs united. "The Martyrdom of Mary," says Saint Bernard, "was not caused by the executioner's sword, but proceeded from bitter sorrow of heart." In other Martyrs torments were inflicted on the body; but Mary's sorrow was in her heart and soul, verifying in her the prophecy of Simeon, Thy own soul a sword shall pierce. (Luke 2:35)
Arnold of Chartres writes that "whoever had been on Mount Calvary, to witness the great sacrifice of the Immaculate Lamb, would there have beheld two great altars, the one in the Body of Jesus, the other in the heart of Mary; for on that Mount, when the Son sacrificed His Body by death, Mary sacrificed her soul by compassion." So much so, says Saint Antoninus, that whereas other Martyrs sacrificed their own lives, the Blessed Virgin consummated her martyrdom by sacrificing the life of her Son, a life which she loved far more than her own, and which caused her to endure a torment which exceeded all other torments ever endured by any mortal on earth.
As a general rule, the sufferings of children are also the sufferings of their mothers who are present at and witness their torments. This Saint Augustine declares, when speaking of the mother of the Machabees, who witnessed the execution of her children, martyred by order of the cruel Antiochus: he says that "Love caused her to endure in her soul all the torments inflicted on each of her children." Erasmus adds that "Mothers suffer more at the sight of the sufferings of their children than if the torments were inflicted on themselves." This, however, is not always true; but in Mary it was verified; for she certainly suffered more in witnessing the sufferings of her Son than she would have done had she endured all the torments in her own person. "All the wounds," says Saint Bonaventure, "which were scattered over the Body of Jesus were united in the heart of Mary, to torment her in the Passion of her Son" so that, as Saint Lawrence Justinian writes, "The heart of Mary, by compassion for her Son, became a mirror of His torments, in which might be seen, faithfully reflected, the spittings, the blows, the wounds, and all that Jesus suffered." We can therefore say that Mary, on account of the love that she bore Him, was in heart, during the Passion of her Son, struck, scourged, crowned with thorns, and nailed to the very Cross of her Son.
The same Saint Lawrence considers Jesus on His road to Calvary, with the Cross on His shoulders, turning to Mary and saying to her, "Alas, My Own dear Mother, where are you going? What a scene will you witness? You will be agonized by My sufferings, and I by yours." But the loving Mother would follow Him all the same, though she knew that, by being present at His death, she would have to endure a torment greater than any death. She saw that her Son carried the Cross to be crucified upon it; and, adds Abbot William, she also took up the cross of her sorrows, and followed her Son to be crucified with Him. Hence Saint Bonaventure considers Mary standing by the Cross of her dying Son, and asks her, saying, "O Lady, tell me where did you then stand – was it near the Cross? No, you were on the Cross itself, crucified with your Son." About these words of the Redeemer, foretold by the prophet Isaias, I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the Gentiles there is not a man with me. (Isaias 63:3) Richard of St. Lawrence says, "It is true, O Lord, that in the work of human redemption You did suffer alone, and that there was not a man that sufficiently pitied You; but there was a woman with You, and she was Your own Mother; she suffered in her heart all that You endured in Your Body."
To show the sufferings endured by other Martyrs they are represented with the instruments of their torture; Saint Andrew with a cross, Saint Paul with a sword, Saint Lawrence with a gridiron; Mary is represented with her dead Son in her arms; for He alone was the instrument of her Martyrdom, and compassion for Him made her the Queen of Martyrs. On this subject of Mary's compassion in the death of Jesus Christ, Father Pinamonti gives expression to a beautiful and remarkable opinion: he says, that "the grief of Mary in the passion of her Son was so great, that she alone compassionated in a degree by any means adequate to its merits the death of a God made man for the love of man."
Blessed Amadeus also writes, that "Mary suffered much more in the Passion of her Son than she would have done if she herself had endured it; for she loved her Jesus much more than she loved herself," Hence Saint Ildephonsus did not hesitate to assert, that "the sufferings of Mary exceed those of all Martyrs united together." Saint Anselm, addressing the Blessed Virgin, says, "The most cruel torments inflicted on the holy Martyrs were trifling or as nothing in comparison with your martyrdom, O Mary." The same Saint adds, "Indeed, O Lady, in each moment of your life your sufferings were such that you could not have endured them, and would have expired under them, had not your Son, the Source of your life, preserved you." Saint Bernadine of Sienna even says, that "the sufferings of Mary were such that had they been divided among all creatures capable of suffering, they would have caused their immediate death." Who, then, can ever doubt that the martyrdom of Mary was without its equal, and that it exceeded the sufferings of all the Martyrs; since, as Saint Antoninus says, "they suffered in the sacrifice of their own lives; but the Blessed Virgin suffered by offering the life of her Son to God, a life which she loved far more than her own."
The Martyrs suffered under the torments inflicted on them by tyrants; but Our Lord, Who never abandons His servants, always comforted them in the midst of their sufferings. The love of God, which burnt in their hearts, rendered all these sufferings sweet and pleasing to them. Saint Vincent suffered, when on the rack he was torn with pincers and burnt with hot iron plates; but Saint Augustine says that "the Saint spoke with such contempt of his torments, that it seemed as if it was one who spoke and another who suffered." Saint Boniface suffered when the flesh was torn from his body with iron hooks, sharp reeds were forced under his nails and melted lead was poured into his mouth; but in the midst of all, he could never cease to thank Jesus Christ, Who allowed him to suffer for His love. Saint Lawrence suffered when roasting on a gridiron; "but the love which inflamed him," says Saint Augustine, "did not allow him to feel the fire, or even that prolonged death itself."
The greater the love of the Martyrs for Jesus Christ, the less they felt their pains: and in the midst of them all, the remembrance of the Passion of Christ sufficed to console them. With Mary it was precisely the reverse; for the torments of Jesus were her Martyrdom, and love for Jesus was her only executioner. Here we must repeat the words of Jeremias: As the sea is all bitterness, and has not within its bosom a single drop of water which is sweet, so also was the heart of Mary all bitterness, and without the least consolation: Who shall heal you? Her Son alone could heal her and heal her wounds; but how could Mary receive comfort in her grief from her crucified Son, since the love she bore Him was the whole cause of her Martyrdom?
"To understand, then, how great was the grief of Mary, we must understand," says Cornelius a Lapide, "how great was the love she bore her Son." But who can ever measure this love?
Blessed Amadeus says, that "natural love towards Him as her Son, and supernatural love towards Him as her God, were united in the heart of Mary."
These two loves were blended into one, and this so great a love that William of Paris does not hesitate to assert, that Mary loved Jesus ''as much as it was possible for a pure creature to love Him." So that, as Richard of St. Victor says, ''as no other creature loved God as Mary loved Him, so there was never any sorrow like Mary's sorrow."
Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother. Let us stay awhile to consider these words before concluding our discourse; but I entreat you to renew your attention.
There stood. When Jesus was on the Cross, the disciples had already abandoned Him; they had done so from the moment in which He was taken in the Garden of Olives: then the disciples all leaving Him fled. (Matt. 26:56) The disciples abandoned Him; but His loving Mother did not abandon Him; she remained with Him until He expired.
There stood by. Mothers fly when they see their children suffer much, and are unable to give them relief; they have not the strength to endure the torment, and therefore fly to a distance. Mary beheld her Son in agony on the Cross; she saw that His sufferings were slowly depriving Him of life; she desired to relieve Him in that last extremity, but could not; but with all this she did not fly, she did not go to a distance, but drew nearer to the Cross on which her Son was dying.
She stood by the Cross. The Cross was the hard bed on which Jesus Christ had to die. Mary, who stood by its side, never turned her eyes from Him; she beheld Him all torn by the scourges, thorns, and nails; she saw that her poor Son, suspended by those three iron hooks, found no repose. She, as I have already said, would have desired to give Him some relief; she would have desired, at least, that He should have expired in her arms; but no, even this is forbidden her. "Ah, Cross!" she must have said, "restore me my Son; you are a gibbet for malefactors, but my Son is innocent." But wait, O sorrowful Mother; God's will is that the Cross should only restore you your Son when He has expired. Saint Bonaventure, considering the sorrow of Mary in the death of her Son, writes, that "no grief was more bitter than hers, because no son was as dear as her Son." Since, then, there never was a son more worthy than Jesus, nor any mother who ever loved as Mary loved, what sorrow can be compared with the sorrow of Mary? "Ah, there never has been in the world a more amiable Son than Jesus," says Richard of St. Lawrence, "nor was there ever so loving a Mother. Had there been less love between this Mother and Son, His death would have been less cruel, their griefs would have been diminished: but the more tender were their loves, the deeper were their wounds." Mary saw that death approached her Son; therefore, casting her compassionate eyes upon Him, she seemed to say, "Ah, Son, You already depart, already You leave me; and are You silent? Give me a last remembrance." Yes, He did so. Jesus Christ left her a remembrance; it was this: Woman, He said, behold your son, referring to Saint John, who stood near; and with these words He bade her farewell. He called her woman, so that by not calling her with the sweet name of ‘mother’ He might not increase her grief: Woman, behold your son, he will take charge of you when I am dead.
There stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother. Let us, finally observe Mary, who stood at the foot of the Cross and beheld her Son expire. But, a God, what Son was it that died? It was a Son Who from all eternity had chosen her for His Mother, and had preferred her in His love to all men and Angels: it was a Son so beautiful, so holy, so amiable; a Son Who had always obeyed her; a Son Who was her only love, for He was her Son and her God; and Mary had to see Him die before her eyes, of pure suffering. But behold, the hour of the death of Jesus has already come; the afflicted Mother saw her Son then enduring the last assaults of death; behold, again, His Body was already sinking, His head drooped down on His breast, His mouth opened, and He expired. The people cry out, "He is dead! He is dead!" And Mary also said, "Ah, my Jesus, my Son, You are now dead!"
When Jesus was dead, He was taken down from the Cross. Mary received Him with outstretched arms; she then pressed Him to her heart, and examined that head wounded by the thorns, those hands pierced with nails, and that body all lacerated and torn. "Ah, Son," she said, "to what has Your love for men reduced You!" But the disciples, fearing that with her Son clasped in her arms she would die of grief, out of compassion approached her, and with reverential determination, removed her Son from her arms, wrapped Him in the winding sheet, and carried Him away to bury Him. The other holy women accompanied Him, and with them the sorrowful Mother followed her Son to the tomb; where, having herself deposited Him with her own hands, she bade Him a last farewell and retired. Saint Bernard says, that ''as Mary passed along the way, her sorrow and grief were such, that all who met her were thereby moved to tears;" and he adds that "those who accompanied her were weeping rather for her than for Our Lord."
My readers, let us be devout to the sorrows of Mary. Saint Albert the Great writes, that ''as we are under great obligations to Jesus Christ for His death, so also are we under great obligations to Mary for the grief which she endured when she offered her Son to God by death for our salvation." This the Angel revealed to Saint Bridget: he said that the Blessed Virgin, to see us saved, herself offered the life of her Son to the Eternal Father: a sacrifice which, as we have already said, cost her greater suffering than all the torments of the Martyrs, or even death itself. But the Divine Mother complained to Saint Bridget that very few pitied her in her sorrows, and that the greater part of the world lived in entire forgetfulness of them. Therefore she exhorted the Saint, saying: "Though many forget me, don't you, my daughter, forget me." For this purpose the Blessed Virgin herself appeared in the year 1239 to the founder of the Order of the Servites, or Servants of Mary, requested them to institute a religious order in remembrance of her sorrows; and this they did.
Jesus Himself one day spoke to Blessed Veronica of Binasco, saying, "Daughter, tears shed over My Passion are dear to Me: but as I love My Mother Mary with an immense love, the meditation of the sorrows which she endured at My death is also very dear to Me." It is also well to know, as Pelbart relates it, that it was revealed to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, that Our Lord had promised four special graces to those who are devout to the sorrows of Mary: 1st, that those who before death invoke the Divine Mother, in the name of her sorrows, should obtain true repentance of all their sins: 2nd, that He would protect all who have this devotion in their tribulations, and that He would protect them especially at the hour of death: 3rd, that He would impress upon their minds the remembrance of His Passion, and that they should have their reward for it in Heaven: 4th, that He would commit such devout clients to the hands of Mary, with the power to dispose of them in whatever manner she might please, and to obtain for them all the graces she might desire.
Our Blessed Mother confided to Bethe Petit, a humble Franciscan Tertiary on March 25, 1912, the following, “…To you I call myself the Mother of the Sorrowful Heart. This title, willed by my Son, is dear to me above all others. Accordingly, as it is spread everywhere, there will be granted graces of mercy, spiritual renewal and salvation.” (Pieta Booklet, MLOR, LLC, Hickory Corners, MI.)
A sword piercing a heart in the actual sense would cause nothing but death, this sword and the other six to follow were actually so severe that she would have died each time she experiences it. Her love for God, her Son is so great that she would give her life for God and Jesus. Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) This statement Jesus spoke would also apply to our Blessed Mother besides Himself. These seven sorrows could have actually cause her to expire.
We have heard of people who died in sorrow because of the death or sickness of a love one. Our Mother is no different from them that her love is so great that her sorrowful compassion and empathy in each causative event of her Son’s life and suffering would have caused her to die.
1. The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke -35).
How could it be that a simple prophecy would be such a source of sorrow to our Blessed Mother? Isn't she the Queen of prophets? “Queen of prophets” is one of the titles of our Lady in the Litany of Loreto. For many Catholics calling Mary “queen of prophets” is a reminder that the prophets of the Old Testament looked ahead to the Mother of the Messiah as well as the Messiah himself. In early Christian understanding, however, our Lady was herself also regarded as a prophet.(catholicus.wordpress.com) As such she also has a share in the foreknowledge of God regarding the future particularly the future sufferings of the forthcoming Messiah. By her scriptural studies in the temple, all the prophecies on the Messiah, His birth, excruciating suffering and death she has known and kept in her heart. That is why she shared with a certain saint that she greatly desired to be the handmaid of the mother of the Messiah for she knew what the Messiah and His mother would undergo. God kept from her, the truth that she would actually be the mother, not just the handmaid of the mother, of the Messiah. So great was her surprise when the Archangel Gabriel broke her the news of her divine maternity. She was going to be the Mother of the Messiah not the handmaid of the Messiah's matriarch. She realized that she was actually the handmaid of God! So in great humility, docility and gratitude she exclaimed, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)
So on this day of joy, the presentation of the first born to Almighty God, the old man Simeon broke the news: "And thy own soul a sword shall pierce" (Luke 2:35) Then her day turned to a day of sorrow. The scriptures said that she pondered all these things in her heart. As a prophet she could have seen the last 24 hours of Jesus life from the Last Supper to His burial in the first Good Friday. Grief and tears could have overtaken her but she has to hold herself together and keep her composure. Who would understand what she was seeing? But these are future events, almost 33 years from that Presentation day. That would be 12,045 days (365 days at 33 years) hence. From henceforth, for the next 33 years, she would live through 12,045 Good Fridays. Each of those 12,045 days she would see and relive every torment and suffering Jesus would undergo. That is why the prophecy of Simeon was a terrible sword that pierced her heart. A simple statement, which to bystanders would not mean much, may be an allegory to some, but to her the Passion of Jesus started that day. The first sword in her heart was would seem to be the most painful and enduring of all, for it lasted for 33 years. A sword daily piercing her heart as she awaits the first Good Friday for mankind's salvation. Sadly, each day that passes, she felt a sort of kinship with the shepherds lovingly raising, caring and nurturing a prized, spotless lamb for the slaughter of a Passover. For her, she has to take care of the perfect sacrificial lamb, the Lamb of God, the pristine Holocaust for the day of Redemption.
2. The Flight into
When the angel came suddenly in the middle
of the night to inform St. Joseph that the Child Jesus has to be saved, they fearfully
escaped Jesus’ murderous enemies. They
barely had any provisions or sustenance through the most extreme situation and
environment for the long journey. How
could one bear this tribulation at age 15?
While other young girls of the same age are just starting to enjoy their
ripening into womanhood, here was the chaste young virgin with Child, trying to
save her beloved Son’s life through the cold, desolate and unforgiving
desert. The darkness, the cold, the
foreboding desert, the long journey through the unknown, all these add up to
difficulty and misery of escaping to
3. The Loss of The Child Jesus in the
Three days after the Pasch, Momma Mary thought Jesus was with St. Joseph; he thought the other way too! When they saw each other and realized that Jesus was with neither one of them, they immediately searched for Him. Jesus, her Beloved Son, her God is gone! Another sword stuck into her heart – the sword of nervous anxiety in the loss of a child, especially, the Child-God. Knowing Jesus is God, and is All-Wise, consoles her but the loss of a missing loved one would be hard to bear. Is there a loving and caring mother out there who could not empathize with her for her Loss? Did she know that this would be repeated again in 21 years? Worried anxiety and unsettling sense of loss was a sword that knifed through her heart. Though she is a prophet too, the whereabouts of Jesus were not given to her until they found Him in the temple. Finding Him, He sounded like He was rebuking her when she inquired why did He do this to her and St. Joseph, “How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know, that I must be about My father's business?” The sword was thrust deeper into her heart.
4. The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of The Cross.
It has been almost 10 hours since they
took her Son from the
5. The Crucifixion (and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross).
When they reached
Then they laid down the Cross on the ground. “How come there were no ropes to tie Him up on the cross He is carrying?” she thinks to herself. They have large newly machined spikes. Maybe the spikes are for holding the cross to the ground. But wait! They are going to impale Him on His cross with those spikes! They are impaling His hands and feet to the Cross! Each blow of the mallet on each spike felt like her heart was being pierced and pounded! The sound of the spikes penetrating the wood of the cross through the crunching sound of fracturing bones was so hard to bear! Blood squirted from His hands and feet like wine from a punctured full wineskin! How could our Blessed Mother bear up to this! 33 years ago she was reminded by Simeon, the high priest, of her future sufferings. Was that a long enough time to prepare for this? She knows that no time is enough to prepare for such atrocious injury inflicted to her heart, especially to her Son.
Then they raised up the cross and stood it up on a pre-dug hole. Looking up she saw her Son shaking, twitching and trembling like a fading lamb in the last throes of life. The Divine Paschal Lamb of God looks worse than all the paschal lambs offered in the temple during her stay there. Having observed her Divine Son’s suffering and Passion, she became conscious of the incomplete, uncompensatory worth of all the expiatory holocausts sacrificed through the centuries to offer reparation to our offended Creator. The Divine salvific plan would take only the holocaust of her beloved Son, The Man-God, to tear down the solid, impenetrable wall that Adam’s sin has placed between God and man, Heaven and Earth; and open up the gate to God’s kingdom to mankind again. When He breathed His last breath and gave up His soul, she felt like her soul went with Him from this earth. Her exemplary faith and hope in God’s mercy and love for Him, carries her through on this most horrible hour.
This sword was thrust into her heart as many times as the nails were hammered through the hands and feet of Jesus in His crucifixion.
6. The Taking Down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross.
They did not break His legs because He is already dead. But what is that centurion doing with that spear? No! He is thrusting it into His side. What horrible, brutal savagery and lack of respect for the dead! Blood and water burst forth from His opened side! The Divine blood, the Eucharistic drink and refreshment of souls spills earthward! For the first time and maybe the only time, the heavenly water of life, coming from God Himself, which was promised by God through the prophets to purify mankind of its sins, gushes forth physically and in view of the witnesses of the Crucifixion! The centurion was drenched with this emulsion of Divine Unction from head to toe. The Divine Unction only Christ could give immediately shows its miraculous, curative and conversion powers. Half-blind since birth, he shouted, “I can see!” He immediately knelt and acknowledged Jesus’ Divinity and begs for forgiveness for his atrocious acts before the dead body of Jesus. He was immediately converted (later in his life, Longinus, the centurion would die a martyr’s death for the Man-God he pierced!)
The Blessed Virgin Mary, our grieving
mother saw all the miracle of the centurion’s conversion and future
martyrdom. And the perfect masterpiece
of God’s creation – the pure Virgin Mother of God, was drenched too! She received this blood and water not because
she needed it for herself but her to dispose of for our salvation, literally
and figuratively. With the help of the
other disciples around the Cross, they collected all of the Divine Unction in
flasks and wiped off the remainder with linen.
This reminded her of her clean-up work in the temple after each
holocaust offering. Tears flowed freely
from her reddened eyes, trying to look up to her Son, The Holocaust. Then while they were removing the nails from
Jesus’ hands, His body slipped downward towards His mother. She with help of the other disciples caught
Him in her arms and laid His dead body on her lap. Her human nature briefly surfaced and almost
decrying the 33 years of sorrowful burden she had carried, climaxed by this
almost unbearable Passion she went through with her Son, she cried to herself,
“If I had only known!?” But catching herself and remembering that she agreed to
be the mother of the Paschal Lamb of God together with the sorrows and
suffering that go with this responsibility, she immediately whispered, “But Thy
will be done, my Lord and my God! Thy will be done!” Thus, with her Son’s statement in
Such docile obedience is what pleases our Eternal Father. Let’s follow Jesus and Mary in this prime example of child-like obedience that we may gain God’s love and mercy. This sword of inconsolable grief rent her heart to pieces.
7. The Burial of Jesus.
After lovingly cleaning Jesus’ dead body,
they wrapped Him with new linen together with a hundred pounds of herbs and
aloes. They laid Him in the new tomb and
closed the opening with a big rock. She
knows through the scriptures and by Jesus telling her, that He would rise from
the dead on the third day. But how could
she wait for another three days after seeing all the brutality and savagery He
had to take to complete His mission. She
reminded herself of that day in
JESUS CHRIST, THE LORD OF PARDON and HIS LOVE FOR US
To you grown up children, would you be so obedient to your father and still love him if he delivers you to excruciating atrocities and a painful slow death? Would you also love and forgive your tormentors? Jesus obeyed His Father voluntarily and with total submission: "Therefore doth The Father love me: because I lay down My life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it away from Me: but I lay it down Myself, and I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of My Father." (John 10:17, 18). Due to His great love for us, He became the willing Sacrificial Lamb. He was willing to suffer and die for us; that the gates of heaven may be opened and that we may share eternal glory with Him, Our Father, The Holy Ghost and our Blessed Mother. WHAT A SACRIFICE! WHAT GREAT LOVE HE HAS FOR US! Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13). You are my friends, if you do the things that I command you. (John 15:14).
THE AUTHENTIC HERO
Any man who rescues or saves another from fire, death or injury, in real life, is always hailed and regarded as a hero. Look at all the stories of heroism we see on television or read in the newspapers. In the television show, "Rescue 911" and similar shows, the real life heroes, the cops, the fireman, etc., were very much celebrated and their heroic acts very much appreciated. The rescued and the saved often is shown on the shows frequently visiting their rescuers and saviors and showering them with gifts and countless notes and expressions of thanks.
What about the one who saved us from the loss of heaven and from eternal fire? Jesus Himself!? Do we ever remember to give Him sincere, heartfelt and loving gratitude for what He has done for us? Do we really know from what He saved us? Eternity in heaven He opened for us. What did we give Him in return, for this opportunity to gain eternal happiness? Did we ever consider why He was willing to die for us and hang on the cross of ignominy? THE REASON HE IS HANGING ON THE CROSS, IS BECAUSE HE WANTS US TO LOVE HIM! When a person is rescued by a concerned and caring rescuer from certain death or harm, the rescueris appreciated and loved, not only by the rescued but also by all who knows of the rescue. Jesus is the rescuer, we are the rescued; but do we love Him for rescuing us? Those heroes on TV and newspaper get more appreciation than Jesus, Our Lord, who gave up His life for our eternal salvation. Not taking anything from their heroic valor, those "real life" heroes exploits, does not even compare to what Our Lord has done! Jesus Christ, our Lord, should be our hero -- the greatest hero in our lives! He should be our role model together with our Eternal Father. No other person should be hailed as such! (This does not preclude us from having the saints as our models of the proper way of living a life worthy of gaining entrance to the domain of The Lord of Pardon).
For us to love The Lord of Pardon in a manner that pleases Him we have to feel what He went through for loving us. Let us empathize with Jesus. Let us put ourselves in His place. Let us feel the pain of the blows, the kicks, the beatings, the scourgings, the thorny crown, the insults, the spittle and the finality of the lance piercing His chest and His heart; all these He meekly accepted for our salvation. Let us feel the agony and grief of Our Father, The Holy Ghost and Our Blessed Mother as They watch Jesus suffer, from the garden of Olives all the way to Golgotha. Only by knowing and feeling what They endured will we fully realize how offensive and injurious our sins are. No one should wish these atrocities on another person, especially to ourselves nor to our loved ones.
So, if none of us could do all that Our Lord Jesus, His and Our Eternal Father, The Holy Ghost and Our Blessed Mother has done for us, why do we sin? For all the good things Our God has done for us, why can't we love Him and appreciate all that He has done for us? Would we not love The One who takes good care of us and provides for all our needs? Would we not love and cherish The Mother who mediates and works for us, her children, so that the abundance of Gods mercies and graces are always pouring down on us, in spite of our indifference and ingratitude? Is Jesus, His and Our Eternal Father, The Holy Ghost and Our Blessed Mother among our loved ones? If not? WHY NOT?! Consider this: After giving your life, your love, your blessings and your all to a beloved whom you yourself made; and that person totally rejects you and turns his back on you and to add insult to injury: violates all your well-intentioned rules and still goes to your enemy camp, what would you do to that beloved? By considering and contemplating on all of the above, only then can we understand why hell, the place of eternal damnation, was created. The Bible, the Book of Love and Life, has many references to this place of the damned: They that trust in their own strength, and glory in the multitude of their riches, No brother can redeem, nor shall man redeem: he shall not give to God his ransom. They are laid in hell like sheep: death shall feed upon them. And the just shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their help shall decay in hell from their glory. (Psalm 48:7-8, 15).
Let us therefore be grateful to Our Lord Jesus Christ, to His and Our Eternal Father, to The Holy Ghost, and to Our Blessed Virgin Mother. Let us love, adore, and serve God with all our hearts, minds, soul and with all our strength as Jesus commanded: that we may return to Him, with gratitude, the same love He gave us; that we may earn the eternal life in Gods kingdom and avoid the eternal fire. The Lord keepeth all them that love Him: but all the wicked He will destroy. (Psalm 144:20). Also: The Son of Man shall send His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the just shine as the sun, in the kingdom of Their Father. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:41-43).
Let us heed the words of God as noted in the scriptures for His words are the absolute truth. Let us examine our conscience constantly, confess our sins, amend our life and our lifestyles, and live a life of humility and sacrifice in accordance with Gods will. Let us always be prepared to face our Maker at all times. The charm and false beauty of this perditious world coupled with the noise and the din in our environment round about us, has obscured the fact, that our lives will end at anytime and we have to face judgment before the throne of Our Almighty and Just God. And it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this, the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27). Are we keepers (kept in heaven by Our God) or burners (rejected by Him and thrown into eternal fire)? Now is the time to amend our lives and turn to Him, Our Lord of Pardon, before it is too late. For no one knows when our time on this earth will come to an end: And take heed to yourselves, lest perhaps your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly. For as a snare shall come upon all that sit upon the face of the whole earth. Watch ye, therefore, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to come, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:34-36).
Let us then seek His forgiveness and ask Him for the grace of perseverance in leading a holy life till our last breath. Let us not despair nor fear unworthiness in obtaining forgiveness from God. Our loving and all-merciful God is always and ever ready to forgive us -- to grant us pardon, when we are truly sorry for our sins. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity. (1 John 1:9). Our all-knowing God realizes that due to our prideful and sinful nature (which we acquired from our original parents, Adam and Eve), we have the propensity to commit sin. In spite of the painful injury that our sin inflicts on Him, He wants us to know that: His mercy and compassion is boundless, and that no sin is too big for Him not to forgive. [NOTE: There is one unforgivable sin and it is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost "but to him that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven." (Luke 12:10).]
THE TIME OF MERCY
Now is the time to seek Our Lord's Mercy and Pardon. For with mercy, i.e.,more kindness than justice allows, comes the pardon, i.e., the setting free from punishment or the cancellation of punishment justly deserved. What else are we waiting for? We already know the uncertainty of tomorrow and longevity of our lives. Why gamble our eternity? "The Lord is Good and Merciful and He will give me a chance to repent or say The Act of Contrition before I die," so we say. Of course, Our Lord will give you your last chance and you are definitely right! For it is written: "Is it my will that a sinner should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should be converted from his ways, and live? For I desire not the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God, return ye and live." (Ezechiel18:23,32). But do we ever know when the last chance comes for each one of us!? It is very common nowadays to hear or read in the newspapers or see on television, the demise of a person in some unusual accident or happening with this frightening words "died on the spot or "died/killed instantly". Unless one has been living a life in the jungle sans communication with the outside word, without radio, etc., one cannot say that he/she has not heard nor seen nor read of such incidents. When a person we know or is related to us, suffers untimely demise, then this really hits close to our hearts, minds and emotions. SO WHEN OR WHERE WAS THIS PERSONS LAST CHANCE TO ASK FOR MERCY AND FORGIVENESS? Maybe it was in last Sundays sermon or some other incident in that persons life that the exhortation to repent for sins and the amendment of ones perditious lifestyle was given to this person. Maybe it was last week or last month, maybe it was last year. But the message fell on deaf ears. Now, do we still want to gamble with our eternity? Our Lord God Almighty in His Great Mercy and Love wants us to save our souls: "But if the wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment, and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die. I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done: in his justice which he hath wrougth, he shall live. And when the wicked turneth himself away from his wickedness, which he hath wrought, and doeth judgment, and justice: he shall save his soul alive." (Ezechiel 18:21, 22, and 27).
Let us take advantage of this time of mercy (and pardon) In revelations by Our Lord Jesus Christ to Blessed Faustina Kowalska,[v] He said, "Before the Day of Justice, I am sending the Day of Mercy (1588) I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of sinners. But woe to them if they do not recognize this time of My visitation (1160) While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fountain of My mercy (848)Tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near (965) He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice (1146)." WHAT IS JUSTICE? Justice is giving or granting to a person what is his/her due, what he/she deserves. Justice is equality in everything: pay, reward, compensation, etc., but it also includes equality in the meting out of punishment or chastisement. In our social system, a shoplifter may have committed a crime but does a shoplifter deserve the gas chamber? Maybe a six month term or several years for habitual shoplifters would be appropriate. What about a mass murderer getting a six month term in a minimum prison for his crime. Unfair isnt it? SO THE PUNISHMENT MUST EQUAL THE OFFENSE, if there has to be justice, right? The Great Flood destroyed the world during Noah's time. The people and cities of Sodom and Gomorrha were annihilated by fire and brimstone during Abraham's time. WHAT WERE THEIR OFFENSES? Noah's time wickedness, hearts bent on evil: And God seeing that the wickedness of men was great on the earth, and that all the thought of their heart was bent upon evil at all times. (Genesis 6:5). Sodom and Gomorrha guilty of grievous sin, probably homosexuality, because the abominable act of sodomy was derived from the name of one of the cities: And the Lord said: The cry of Sodom and Gomorrha is multiplied, and their sin is become exceedingly grievous. (Genesis 18:20). Our present era seems to be worst compared to those previously punished eras. Since we are talking about justice, the people of those eras would have to cry for one, if our present era gets a chastening equal or lesser than theirs. SO WHEN ONE CRIES FOR JUSTICE, LET HIM REMEMBER IT IS A TWO-EDGED SWORD! Based on the equal justice of God as we have seen above, let us not wait any longer. For when The Lord of Pardon, He, Whom we subjected to all unimaginable atrocities and suffering both physically and spiritually, comes as The Judge, then will we know what He means by " the awful day, the day of justice" Let us then, take advantage of this time of mercy and pardon, NOW!
THE TIME OF JUSTICE
We have already discussed the eternal punishment of Hell. One last word, even in this life, God could turn His back on us and ignore our pleas. St. Alphosus de Liguori[vi] quoted these verses of God's wrath and rejection of a sinner who waited till his last moments to seek God, not realizing that throughout his decadent life, he had exhausted God's mercy and pardon: "Because I called, and you refused: I stretched out My hand, and there was none that regarded. You have despised all My counsel, and have neglected My reprehensions. I also will laugh in your destruction, and will mock when that shall come to you which you feared. When sudden calamity shall fall on you, and destruction, as a tempest, shall be at hand: when tribulation and distress shall come upon you: Then shall they call upon Me, and I will not hear: they shall rise in the morning and shall not find Me: Because they have hated instruction and received not the fear of the Lord, Nor consented to My counsel, but despised all My reproof. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and shall be filled with their own devices. The turning away of little ones shall kill them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them." (Proverbs 1:24-32).
The time of justice could be anytime but sorrowfully could be before we breath our last, when begging or pleading for mercy would be for nought.
St. Alphonsus De Liguori noted that God "will have all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4) but God also wishes us all to labor for our own salvation, at least by adopting the means of overcoming our enemies, of of obeying Him when He calls us to repentance. The noted saint said that sinners hear the calls of God, but they forget them and continue to offend Him. He said that God does not forget them. He numbers the graces which He dispenses, as well as the sins which we commit. That, hence, when the time which God has fixed arrives, God deprives us of His graces, and begins to inflict chastisement. That, when sins reach a certain number, God pardons no more. Those who preach that God is love and is merciful has only told us a partial truth. When they do not preach that God is a renumerator, a just Judge who rewards the just and inflicts punishment on the unrepentant sinner, they have scandalized us and taken us to the road of damnation. St. Alphonsus wrote that "the greater God's patience extended to a sinner, the more severe His vengeance".
The great saint said that when trials, tribulations, suffering of whatever type whether emotional , mental or physical comes, God is calling and He wants us to turn from our evil ways. He wants us come to Him, according to His ways, and start praying constantly. For by constant prayer, we humble ourselves before the Great Judge and His mercy will be upon us. "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him: and in them that hope in His mercy." (Prov. 146:11) The fear of God, as written by Cannon Ripley,[vii] is 'the filial and reverential fear of the majesty, power and justice of God and of the ease with which we can offend God by sin'. The fear of offending the Great Almighty One Who is our main Benefactor, Provider and Protector. Unless one inculcates in his heart that God is such and all that one has comes from God, it would be very difficult to have this gift of the fear of God. Only by being humble and docile to God's will and Providence will one gain the fear of God. "The fruit of humility is the fear of the Lord, riches and glory and life." (Proverbs 22:4) As noted by the great St. Alphonsus, constant prayer will help us gain God's mercy and favor. A constant prayer so easy to remember and say often is such: "O Lord God Almighty, have mercy on me, forgive my sins, save me from Hell and protect me from all evil". Though one does not know all or most of the Catholic prayers, i.e. The Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, etc., this prayer alone was proven by the author to be a powerful one. In all dangers, trials and tribulation, this short humble prayer brings God's mercy and grace like the gentle, refreshing breeze of a beautiful, bright and lovely day of spring. Such wonderful feeling gives one the confidence that God is right beside him and nothing would disturb him anytime, anywhere. Let us all be ever humble and constant in prayer that God's mercy and pardon will always be with us up to our last breath.
[i]The Last Vision of Fatima Picture, (Could be obtained from) World Apostolate of Fatima, The Blue Army Shrine, 674 Mountain View Road EastAsbury , NJ08802
[ii] The Father Speaks to His Children, (FREE booklets) Casa Pater, USA c/o Marys Call 12400 Olive Street, Kansas City, MO 64146
WEBMASTER'S NOTE: There are those who doubt that this apparition of God the Father on July 1, 1932 is true nor to be believed. They say that God in His infinite perfection is not needing of anything from us especially our love. They also quote the Canons of the Catholic Church, albeit of Vatican II to support their findings. Their intelligence dictates that this apparition do not meet their litmus test of faith.
First of all, why then did God create us in His own image and likeness just so we could "serve, adore and love Him with all our hearts, our strength, mind, body and soul" as taught by Jesus Christ Himself?
Second, why would He have to endure giving up His Only-Begotten Son, Jesus, to an agonizing suffering and death to save us from eternal damnation when He does not need to?
Third, this book has the 'Imprimatur' by Petrus Canisius van Lierde (Vic. Generalis e Vic. Civit. Vaticanae, Roma, die 13 Martii 1989). Also, 10 years after the apparition, in 1942 Bishop A. Caillot of Grenoble, France opened an inquiry into the apparition. After a thorough investigation and interviews with the visionary, Mother Eugenia Elisabetta Ravasio, Bishop Caillot deemed the apparition supernatural and divine. So it befuddles us that someone would even question the apparition as divine and declare it as contrary to Sacred Tradition and Scriptures, and the Canons of the Catholic Church. Which Tradition and Scriptures, and Canons are we talking about? Would that be of Vatican II? Then heresy is the foundation for this analysis of the apparition which categorically makes this analysis heretical too. Would we say more? Again, let us pray that those who write under the title of "Catholic" be guided right by Divine Providence if they meant well. For those who desires to deceive and create chaos, may God protect us from them and take them away from our midst, that they may not lead any more of the faithful astray.
[iii]How to Say The Rosary with St. Louis De Montfort, Montfort Publications, Bay Shore, NY11706
[iv]The Holy Ghost: Our Greatest Friend, He Who Loves Us Best by Fr. Paul OSullivan, O.P. (E.D.M.), TAN Books & Publishers, Rockford, Illinois
[v]Diary, Divine Mercy In My Soul by Blessed Sister M. Faustina Kowalska, Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Stockbridge, Massachusetts
[vi]Preparation for Death, by St. Alphonsus De Liguori, Redemptorist Fathers, Brooklyn, NY
[vii] This is The Faith, Cannon Francis Ripley, TAN Books & Publishers, Rockford, Illinois