Our Lady of Good Success
And God’s Secret Designs of Victory
“I am the Queen of Victories and the Mother of Good Success.” – Our Lady speaking to Mariana de Jesus Torres, Feb 2, 1594)
“On the contrary, it is the hour to sing victory, for the day of triumph is near – just as My cruel and ignominious death preceded the moment of My Resurrection.” (Our Lord’s words to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres on Feb 2, 1634, concerning the era of chaos in the Church beginning in the mid-Twentieth Century)
Three questions hover behind the present crisis in the Church – questions which, in my estimation, have never been adequately addressed. This article will constitute my attempt to do so.
The first question is: “Why is all this happening?”
Vatican Council I teaches; “That which the Prince of Shepherds and great shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ our Lord, established in the person of the Blessed Apostle Peter to secure the perpetual welfare and lasting good of the Church, must, by the same institution, necessarily remain ,strong>unceasingly in the Church…”; further, that Peter “lives, presides and judges to this day, always in his successors the Bishops of the Holy See of Rome…”; and finally, that this same Blessed Peter, “abiding in the rock’s strength which he received, has not abandoned the direction of the Church”. To claim that the Holy Spirit plays no part in Papal elections is, from any Catholic perspective, certainly an absurd position. Why, then, has God apparently “given us over” to a series of Popes who appear to be the inverse of Pontiffs such as Pius X and Leo XIII, who were providential gifts to the Church in times of great crisis?
The second question: How can this situation possibly be remedied? With a hierarchy, and especially the College of Cardinals, dominated by those severely infected with Modernist thinking, how can we possibly expect a reversal in the Papacy in the near future? Possibly even more significant, Our Lady of Fatima said in 1917 that the chastisements she predicted were punishments for a world then in the process of giving itself over to sin, and that these chastisements could be avoided only through amendment and reparation. The world has since moved at a geometric pace towards a destiny directly opposed to Our Lady’s requests. How are we to expect a world increasingly immersed in impurity and heresy ever to receive the mercy of God’s extraordinary intervention?
The third question: What are we – especially the laity – supposed to do?
It is my conclusion, after careful study, that the answer to these questions are to be found in the Apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres (1563-1635), a Conceptionist religious in Quito, Ecuador. Her life, and the divine favors she received, are thoroughly documented and preserved in the archives of the Order of Religious of the Immaculate Conception of Mary Most Holy (a branch of the Franciscan Family, founded by Saint Beatrice de Silva in Toledo, Spain in 1484) in Quito.
This article is based on analysis of a two-volume work titled The Admirable Life of Mother Mariana, written by Fr. Manuel Sousa Pereira, and published in the year 1790 (translated into English by Marian T. Horvat in 1999 – all quotations from this work will be referenced in this article simply by volume and page number). Fr. Pereira was himself the subject of a supernatural visitation from Mother Mariana, which led him from a military life in the Spanish Army to the religious life and priesthood of the Franciscan Order, and finally to Quito, Ecuador where he was given full access to the Convent’s archives and to all of the earlier, extensive works written by Franciscan priests and confessors who were witnesses to these extraordinary events. I would suggest the reader obtain this work.
Recent decades have, of course, seen the propagation of many false apparitions and alleged supernatural messages. It is necessary here, therefore, to first dismiss any such fears in regard to the Apparitions of Our Lady of Good success. For this purpose, I quote Marian Horvat in her foreword to Fr. Pereira’s work:
“The devotion to Our Lady of Good Success has been approved by the Bishops of Quito since February 2, 1611, when the 8th Bishop of Quito, Salvador de Ribera (1607-1612) blessed the miraculous statue and formally installed Our Lady of Good Success in the Abbess’ chair of the Convent. Every February 2 for the last 394 years, the Convent and the people of Quito have celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Good Success with the full approval of the ecclesiastical authority. In 1991, the Archbishop of Quito petitioned Rome for a canonical coronation of Our Lady of Good Success as Queen of Quito, a ceremony that took place on February 2, 1991. The same year, the Church of the Conceptionist Convent was declared an Archdiocesan Marian Sanctuary.
“….After examining extensive data on her life, Archbishop of Quito Antonio J. Gonzales issued an episcopal decree on August 8, 1986 to initiate her [Mother Mariana’s] Cause of Beatification. He named Msgr. Luis Cadena y Almeida as postulator for the cause and established an ecclesiastical tribunal to begin the first phase of the process. This decree affirmed that Mother Mariana had practiced all the virtues to a heroic degree, and was distinguished for her devotions to the Passion of Christ, the Holy Eucharist, and the Mother of God. It also acknowledged her supernatural gifts and charismas during her lifetime.
“Since then, Msgr. Cadena y Almeida has compiled an impressive arsenal of documentation, testimonies, and works – many of which he published with ecclesiastical approval – that demonstrate the sanctity of life of Mother Mariana and the truth of the prophecies she received.”
One other point needs mentioning in this Introduction. As will be demonstrated in the following analysis, these Apparitions bear a special relevance to the crisis in the Church and the world in the 20th Century and beyond. In fact, Our Lady specifically told Mother Mariana that they would not become widely known outside of Ecuador until the 20th Century. World-wide ignorance concerning Our Lady of Quito, and the passing of centuries before the ecclesiastical promotion of the cause for beatification and canonization of Mother Mariana, are therefore integral to the prophecies of the Apparitions themselves.
An Initial Perspective
During the past couple of decades, the life of Mother Mariana and the Apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success have received significant attention outside of Ecuador. Most of this has focused on the dramatic prophecies concerning the heresies, and the terrible sins of impurity and blasphemy, which would rage within both the Church and the world during the Twentieth Century.
It is my belief, however, that the supernatural message of these Apparitions penetrates much deeper – to what Our Lady tells Mother Mariana are the “secret designs” (vol. I, p.140) of God’s providential will in allowing all of this to occur. They reveal, in other words, the means by which Victory over Satan will be achieved in the very midst of that darkest hour when Satan appears to have triumphed over Christ’s Catholic Church and all seems lost– “On the contrary, it is the hour to sing victory, for the day of triumph is near – just as My cruel and ignominious death preceded the moment of My Resurrection.” (Vol. II, p. 142).
Even more than offering us absolute assurance of Victory, and thus a firm foundation in the midst of our current situation which carries so many temptations towards extreme and ruinous reactions, the life of Mother Mariana reveals to us what we are to do, and how we are to act, in the face of this crisis which has shaken the faith of so many traditional Catholics in Christ’s Church.
When I first encountered these apparitions over a decade ago, I was first put off somewhat by the word “Success.” Our modern usage of this word is almost exclusively limited to secular pursuits – everything from financial success to the hopeful fruits of a fishing expedition. It is only recently that I discovered that this word, in the context of these Apparitions, refers specifically to childbirth. We still speak of a “successful” pregnancy and birth.
With this understanding of the word “success” fixed firmly in our minds, we further need to understand why Our Lady of Good Success chose to identify herself with the double Feast which is celebrated on February 2 – the Feast of the Purification and the Feast of the Presentation.
The Presentation celebrates the coming of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, into His Temple. It is, in fact, the premier Feast of Light. Traditionally called Candlemass, it signifies the “success” and triumph of the Incarnation, has been traditionally celebrated with triumphal candlelight processions, and is the liturgical day designated for the blessing of candles.
The Purification is the Feast of Our Lady considered to be the oldest Marian liturgical Feast in the Church (having its beginnings in the liturgical life of the Church in Jerusalem) which, while exteriorly signifying an act which fulfilled the prescription of the Old Law, interiorly represents a whole new reality. The purification of the Old Law was in consequence of original sin and the pain and “sorrow” which now accompanied all childbirth. Mary, conceived without sin, was free from this sorrow. The Purification of the New Testament is to be identified with the interior sorrow and suffering of Mary and the Church which was to be undergone in order to usher Christ’s Light into His Temple the Church, and from there into the world. It is, in other words, the Feast of Mary and the Church at the Foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ:
“And thy own soul, a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.”
Our Lady of Good Success is therefore to be identified with the Triumph of Christ through the suffering of Mary and purification of the Church. It offers the absolute assurance of that Triumph. And, with its abundance of fulfilled prophecies concerning events occurring during the 17th-20th centuries, and which heavily focus on the crisis of the 20th Century (now obviously also continuing into the 21st – about which Our Lady said nothing), it offers incontestable proof regarding the objective, exterior reality of Our Lady’s appearances (and also appearances of Our Lord, St. Francis, St. Ignatius, the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, and others). It therefore constitutes the succinct refutation and absolute defeat of Modernist subjectivism and Immanentism (the reduction of supernatural realities to interior impulses), especially as evidenced in Pope Benedict’s view of the Fatima Apparitions which I analyzed in my article The Modernist Deconstruction of Fatima. It also presents us with certain, prophetical assurance that the present sorrow and purification of the Church, seemingly now overwhelmed and redolent with darkness and the stench of heresy and moral filth, is an integral part of God’s providential care and love for the Church, and that soon this “labor of sorrow” will issue forth in the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady of Good Success is also therefore appropriately identified with Our Lady of Fatima, destined to be liberated from the prison to which the Modernists have consigned her.
The Beginning: An Apocalyptic Vision
The life of Mother Mariana is an epic, dense with the miraculous. It cannot be my purpose here to offer anything approaching a comprehensive biography. For this, I refer the reader to Fr. Pereira’s work. My purpose here, rather, is to focus on certain events in her life which I believe reveal what Our Lady refers to as the “secret designs” of God for our times, which in turn will lead to the Triumph of Christ and Our Lady over Satan’s current massive intrusion into the Church.
It is also extremely important to understand that the revelations and prophecies which Mother Mariana received involve complex relationships between several “worlds” – the interior life of Mother Mariana (and others); the interior world of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception; the Church and Nation of Ecuador; the World as a whole; and, finally, the Universal Church. We shall see, in subsequent analysis, some of the aspects of this complexity. Understanding the spiritual relationships which exist between these various worlds is absolutely essential to understanding the Apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success. At the same time we must beware of making false equations between these worlds when it comes to applying particular prophecies. We shall see an example of such falsification in the “use” which members of the SSPX (including Archbishop Lefebvre) have made of these messages.
Mariana’s life as a religious of the Order of Religious of the Immaculate Conception of Mary Most Holy (a branch of the Franciscan Family, founded by St. Beatrice da Silva in 1484) begins at the age of 13 with her journey by ship from Spain to Ecuador in the company of her aunt, Mother Maria de Jesus Taboada, and four other Conceptionist nuns (all of whom also were recipients of supernatural visitations). Shortly after embarking, they suffered a tempest of unimaginable fury which began to sink the ship. Mother Maria and Mariana then saw a serpent with seven heads which was stirring up the sea and attempting to sink the ship. Mother Maria prayed to God this humble prayer: “Thou knowest my God, that it is not by my own will that I go to make this foundation, but rather, in obedience to my Lord King. If it is Thy will that the Order of the Immaculate Conception be founded in this Colony, make the darkness dissipate and this tempest subside.” God immediately answered this prayer, the tempest subsided, and both Mother Maria and Mariana heard a terrible voice that said, “I shall not permit the foundation. I shall not permit that it go forward. I shall not permit it to endure until the end of time, and I shall persecute it unceasingly.” (I, 28).
During all of this, Mariana had fallen into a deathlike stupor, in which she experienced the following vision which she later related to her aunt:
“I do not know in what world I was, my mother, but there I saw a horrible, writhing creature… . It was a serpent, larger than the sea. I also saw a Lady of incomparable beauty, clothed in the sun and crowned with stars, carrying a beautiful Child in her arms. Over the heart of this lady was a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament. In one of her hands she carried a large cross of gold, which at its end took the shape of a lance. With this she subdued the enormous serpent with its two-edged tongue. The Lady, who wielded the cross with the help of the Blessed Sacrament and the hand of the Child, struck the head of the serpent with such force that it was slashed to pieces. At that moment, this monstrous serpent cried out that it would not permit the foundation of the Order of the Immaculate Conception.” (I, 28-29)
This incident, and Mariana’s vision which accompanied it, is redolent with images and themes which concern the apocalyptic struggle of the Universal Church with Satan. Such things as the Serpent with seven heads, the Lady “clothed in the Sun and crowned with stars” are straight out of chapter 12 of St. John’s Apocalypse. And, of course, the fact that all of this takes place on a ship cannot fail to suggest that we are here ultimately dealing with the “Bark of Peter”, and thus with the Universal Church. The fact, in the context of all this imagery concerning the Universal Church, that the threat of the Serpent is specifically directed at the foundation of the Conceptionists in Quito serves to indicate that the life of Mother Mariana, her visions and accompanying prophecies, while specifically relating to the nation of Ecuador and to the Conceptionist Convent in Quito, are intimately related to the future of the whole Church.
Mother Mariana was, of course, a special Victim Soul chosen by God as a work of mercy for the Church. As such, the Rule which she lived and for which her whole life was a contest, the spiritual favors which she received, and the extraordinary crosses which she experienced, were not the ordinary way of the laity. And yet all of these things involve principles of the spiritual life which are fully applicable to all of Christ’s faithful followers.
Even a cursory reading of Fr. Pereira’s biography cannot but convey the truth that at the heart of the contest between Satan and God over the Conceptionist Convent in Quito is the Franciscan-Conceptionist Rule. All through the centuries of the Convent’s history, the temporary conquests of Satan would consist in accomplishing the relaxation of this Rule, and the eventual taking away of the governance of the Franciscan Friars’ over the Convent. The triumph of Our Lady is always depicted as the return to integral living of this Rule, and the eventual return of the Franciscans to governance.
Upon first examination, the lay reader might find this repeated insistence upon following the Rule “to the letter, to the letter, to the letter; without comment, without comment, without comment” (I, p. 183 – these are also St. Francis words from his >em>Testament, written shortly before his death) to be irrelevant, and even annoying, in regard to his own state of life. After all, the lay person has no such religious “Rule” to follow. In recent decades there has in fact been extensive spiritual warfare conducted against the general concept of “rules.” Somehow, it has come to be widely believed that such insistence on “rules” is Pharisaical, and leads to a denial of what is alleged to be Christ’s universal love and mercy. Pope Francis’ repeated denigration of “small-minded rules” in the context of his de-emphasizing the necessity of always preaching Catholic truths concerning such things as abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptives, and his statement that “”the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives” (all of this to be found in his interview with Antonio Spadaro) has profoundly served to solemnly bless this attitude in the spiritual orientation of vast numbers of Catholics. It is arguably the most destructive error of our time.
The Rule of a religious is simply a particular application of a spiritual principle which in its general form is applicable to all Catholics in all states of life: God’s mercy and love can only be received and made fruitful through obedience to God’s “Rules”. Such Rules encompass everything from specific doctrinal truths in the domain of faith and morals, to the prescriptions necessary to be obedient to the precepts governing one’s own particular state of life. And, as we shall see, it also governs our relationship to the hierarchical Divine Constitution of the Church. The concept of God’s “Rule” is therefore essentially synonymous with Truth – both the universal truths which apply to all men, and also the particular truths which govern individual states of life. There can be no supernatural mercy or love present where there is denial of, and disobedience to, God’s Truth. In all this, there is a profound and interconnected relationship which exists between the religious and lay states of life. There can be no movement from curse to blessing, no being “enfolded” within Christ’s merciful Heart, unless there is first a conversion to God’s “Rule”. This is the very essence of the Gospel.
But living the Truth of God is not only necessary for individual salvation, but also constitutes the very “Light” of Christ shining through the Church – a Light which is absolutely necessary for the conversion and salvation of all those who now live outside of Christ’s Truth and the Church. In speaking of God’s Rule as precisely this “light” which turns others to the worship of the true God, Christ says:
“You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid….So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am come not to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:14-19).
It is precisely this light of Truth and God’s Rule which has been so darkened and obscured in the Catholic Church, especially since Vatican Council II. The well-documented facts that over 90% of American Catholics now believe in contraception, over 50% believe in abortion, and over 70% do not believe in Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist are just three examples of a vast sea of defections from God’s Rule. And, as documented in my articles The Descent Into Darkness: Pope Francis and the Deconstruction of the Human Heart and I Know Not the Man – Pope Francis: The Natural Child of Pope Benedict XVI, it is the Light of Catholic Truth about which Pope Francis is purposefully silent in order to engage in a “missionary activity” which pursues dialogue and inclusion rather than conversion, and which seeks to feed the body while profoundly neglecting the soul.
For those traditional Catholics, on the other hand who see that the Church itself must be first purified and return to the living of God’s Rule if there is to be any hope whatsoever of effecting the salvation of those without, Pope Francis reserves his most contemptuous condemnations: “self-absorbed”, “narcissistic”, “Pelagian”. Traditional Catholics are, as seen through his frequent condemnations of them, his worst enemies, as also would be Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres. Her whole life was dedicated to that internal combat within herself, her convent and Church, which sought the living of the purity of God’s Rule. It was upon this, she knew with absolute surety, that her own salvation, that of her Convent, and the whole world depended. Seen from Pope Francis’s perspective, her whole life was one of continuous, profound, narcissistic “self-absorption”. What Francis appears totally incapable of understanding, however, is that such a life is really a matter of total absorption in Christ, and commitment to that charity towards all others which can only be realized through the purity of the living of the Gospel.
It is worthy of note that probably the most effective tool in the campaign to bypass this fundamental Catholic truth that conversion is absolutely necessary in order to receive God’s Mercy and possess His Sanctifying Grace, has been the replacement of widespread devotion to Our Lady of Fatima and the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Sr. Faustina’s Divine Mercy Devotion. It is absolutely integral to Our Lady of Fatima’s messages that unless mankind converts and does penance and reparation, severe chastisements, and not mercy, are to be expected. This is most aptly symbolized by the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus images, which depict Christ and Our Lady’s merciful Hearts pierced with the thorns of man’s sins. Sr. Faustina’s image of the Divine Mercy, on the other hand shows no visible heart, pierced with thorns – nothing that in any ways depicts a sorrowful and offended Christ – and the rays of grace and mercy descend universally from Christ’s chest over the entire earth.
In the Nine-Day Novena to The Divine Mercy, there is absolutely no mention of the necessity of conversion, penance, or reparation, even for those who are grave sinners, atheists or who have separated themselves from Christ’s Church, Each of these categories of people are described as being already “enfolded” in the most compassionate Heart of Jesus. The language of the Novena is all about “drawing” and “enfolding.” This embodies a concept of Christ’s mercy which is not only directly contrary to the traditional Catholic understanding of God – His requirement of purity of heart in order to “see” God and merit access to His Kingdom – but is also in profound contradiction to the most fundamental Catholic concept of what it means to be converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It would seem no matter for wonder, therefore, that the Diary of Sr. Faustina was placed on the Index of Prohibited Books by Pope Pius XII, or that these alleged revelations were twice condemned by the Holy Office during the Pontificate of John the XXIII.
The Secret Designs of God
“Oh! The ignorance of the learned and the folly of mortals who do not recognize the secret designs of God in His works!” (I, 140)
The words of Our Lady quoted above are part of the apparition of Our Lady to Mother Mariana which occurred on Jan 16, 1599.
The key to understanding these “secret designs” lies, I believe, in deeper penetration into the Mystery of the Cross as it applies to the present battle between Christ’s Mystical Body and Satan – a battle in which we are all now immersed.
The Christian life has always consisted in following Jesus by way of the Cross. We are all familiar with many of the facets of this Way – the necessity of being faithful to the rigors of our daily duty, acceptance of both mental and physical sufferings, self-denial, penance, acts and prayers of reparation, suffering persecution, and even martyrdom. All of these things pose no great mystery to the Christian mind. The first five of these are logical consequences of original and personal sin. The last two are fully to be expected in the face of a world which has rejected Christ and His Church. None of this does violence to a rational understanding of our Faith and its consequences.
But there is a deeper mystery to the Cross which the life of Mother Mariana, and the Apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success, reveals, and which does indeed do violence to our minds. It consists in the fact that God willed not only that at one specific moment in time His Son should be made Infinite Victim for our salvation, but that at another point in time the Church should undergo a profound Victimhood which would reduce it to a state in which, in imitation of Christ:
“…there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightlines, that we should be desirous of him. Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:2-3).
It is this period of history, I believe, in which we are now immersed. And further, in accord with the messages of Our Lady of Good Success, what is most “secret” about this Victimhood is that it will prove enormously meritorious for the application of Christ’s salvation to a world confronted with what will appear to be the conclusive victory of Satan.
Not a Normal Cycle of Church History
Any serious and discerning student of the history of the Catholic Church is bound to encounter what appears to be a cyclic nature to that history. Periods of great blessing and grace are followed by what appear to be equally great periods of crisis and apparent chastisement. Possibly the most obvious and historically documented example is that which occurred in the 13th and 14th centuries. The age which has often been called “The Greatest of Centuries” – that which witnessed the lives and teachings of Saints Dominic, Francis, Thomas, etc. – was followed by the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy, the Great Western Schism, and a descent into all the intellectual and moral perversions of the Renaissance. Such cycles appear to be a “normal” consequence of original sin. God’s gifts are received partially, eventually compromised and betrayed, and chastisement and crisis follow.
It might be alleged that something similar happened during the past 165 years, ranging from the Papacy of Pope Pius IX through Vatican Council II and its aftermath. Through approximately 110 years of that period the Church experienced what were great Popes and momentous accomplishments in a great many facets of Church life and teaching: the definitions of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption: the definition of Papal Infallibility (and the other magnificent teachings of Vatican Council I); the Syllabus of Errors issued by Pius IX; the radiant teachings of Pope Leo XIII on the Social Kingship of Christ, and his renewal of Thomism; the brilliant defenses of Pope Pius X against Modernism, and his purifications of the liturgy; Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno, Quas Primas, and Moratalium Animos<.em>, Casti Connubii etc. And along with this, of course, went tremendous growth of the Church in all sorts of realms: vocations to the priesthood and religious life, establishment of educational and charitable institutions, work in the missions, defense of the family and the dignity of the working man, etc. All of this appeared as a great bulwark, virtually impossible for the enemy to compromise or destroy. And yet, almost unbelievably, a vast number of these teachings and accomplishments have been either destroyed or severely enfeebled in the 55 years since the end of Vatican Council II.
It has been standard rhetoric among both liberals and Neo-Conservatives that what has ensued since the Second Vatican Council is typical of all post-Conciliar periods – a period of confusion, usually lasting about 30 years, a necessary “shaking up” in order to make some sort of adjustment. After this period of “adjustment”, a great renewal can be expected. Such an explanation was given to me 34 years ago by the priest who brought me into the Church – a man who considered himself a Thomist. Such an explanation is characteristic of the “cyclic” historical analysis which I have offered above.
But these people are wrong. What has happened during the past 55 years has been a profoundly unique phenomenon in the 2,000 year history of the Church. As Pope Pius X taught in Pascendi, with Modernism we are witnessing “arts entirely new”…”striving to destroy the “vital energy” of the Church” which seek “utterly to subvert the very Kingdom of Christ.” It is this Modernism which we have seen become firmly established in the very center and heart of the Church – in recent Popes and much of the hierarchy.
I think that the Pius X’s term “vital energy” is pivotal to understanding the uniqueness of our present situation. Previous crises caused enormous damage and wreaked havoc in the Church, but they reached nowhere near as deep into the “vital energy” of the Church as does the present assault of Satan. The early Christological Heresies (including Arianism), for instance, assaulted the intellectual realm of our faith in Christ, causing great confusion and damage. The Great Western Schism ripped into Christian unity with the doubts and disputes revolving around Papal claimants. The Protestant revolt drew away half of Europe from the Church with radical defections from a multitude of Catholic beliefs and practices. Yet none of these approaches the debilitating passion which the Church now suffers.
Possibly, this uniqueness of our present crisis is best illustrated by what has been called Pope Francis’ “Ten Commandments for Happiness”, which he stated in an interview with the Argentine magazine Viva. The first of these has been translated as “Live and Let Live” – a premier, colloquial expression of relativism and indifference. But the ninth “commandment” is much more explicit: “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you’, No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing.”
This ninth “commandment” of Pope Francis is a brutal attack upon the heart of the Gospel. Proselytism is of course the attempt to convert others to Christ and His Mystical Body, the Church. Its aim is to bring others to a conversion to all the Truths of Christ in order for them to be liberated from darkness, sin, and destructive error. Christ’s last words in the Gospel of Matthew to His Disciples contained the instruction: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations…” Paul summarizes our Gospel mission in the following words:
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty to God unto the pulling down of fortifications, destroying counsels, and every understanding unto the obedience of Christ…”
The Church and the Gospel are not primarily about “attraction” through dialogue, but rather about Truth. It is Truth which is the Life of Christ, and therefore the light of souls. It is this Truth that must be the primary form of “attraction” for souls: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32). As analyzed in my two articles on Pope Francis (Pope Francis and the Deconstruction of the Human Heart, and “I Know Not the Man: Pope Francis, the Natural Child of Pope Benedict XVI), it is this that is being denied in the “Dialogue, but do not Proselytyze” Gospel of recent Popes. No Pope before Vatican Council II ever did this. All the Popes since Vatican Council II have done so to one extent or another. Pope Francis is now doing it in a way that is more explicit than any of his predecessors, and the world and the “faithful” are largely relishing it. The vital energy of the Catholic spirit is being rapidly siphoned from virtually every vessel of Christ’s Mystical Body.
As I have discussed in other articles, Satan would now appear to have a Master Plan which seeks not only triumph over individual souls, and even whole nations or peoples, but over human nature itself. He has set himself to the task of totally corrupting the human mind and heart at a level which, in terms of the integral being and nature of man himself, is ontologically “previous” to the Faith, previous to the Gospel – a state of universal corruption of culture which will make it impossible not only for any man to believe in God, but even to desire Him.
While it is true that both Faith and the Gospel are totally gratuitous gifts of God, it is also true that the reception and acceptance of these Gifts is dependent upon a human nature, created in the image of God, which is capable of responding to these Gifts. Man possesses a “law written in his heart” which should respond naturally to God’s law: he possesses an intellect which, as St. Thomas points out, should “naturally” respond to God’s Truth because the “light” of this intellect derives from the life of Christ ((John 1:4). But it is also true that these natural faculties of man can be so corrupted (but not completely destroyed) as to make it virtually impossible for man to correspond with, or naturally respond to, God’s grace.
It was, of course, always possible in the past for Satan to cause this sort of corruption in individual souls, or even in larger groups of souls. However, he had to wait until the twentieth century in order for conditions to be ripe for the production of an almost universal corruption of human nature.
As analyzed in my previous writings, this universal corruption has been made possible through a global culture which is profoundly prostituted in all areas of life to the domination of atheistic, reductive science over its intellectual life, the moral consequences of such reduction, and the control of usury and international finance over all the institutions of society – especially the Media, the entertainment industry, and virtually all educational institutions. It is precisely this control and centralization of the power of money which makes possible the saturation of hedonism and moral perversion into every facet of modern cultures.
It is this state of “universal corruption” of human life in the twentieth century which is the subject of a significant number of prophecies of Our Lady of Good Success. They cover all the major facets of modern man’s rejection of God’s rule in regard to both belief and action.
But these prophesied “corruptions” constitute only a portion of the messages which Mother Mariana received, and do not at all reach to the depths of meaning and significance of her life. The purpose of these Apparitions, and Mother Mariana’s life, is not primarily to show us how Satan works, but to reveal how he is to be defeated.
The Dynamics of Saving that which is Lost
Hell: A Celestial Gift
As I have mentioned, the life of Mother Mariana is rightly seen as a contest – a War between Our Lady and Satan – over souls. This war is to be seen as involving very specific causative relationships between a series of interconnecting worlds – Mother Mariana herself, the Conceptionist Convent in Quito, the nation of Ecuador, the world, and the universal Church. As we shall see, it is precisely in the nature of this causation that the “secret designs” of God are to be uncovered.
The fundamental conflict within the Conceptionist Convent itself was (and always would be, according to Our Lady) that which is waged between Observant and Non-Observant sisters. From an exterior perspective, and during the life of Mother Mariana, this took the form of a group of sisters, led by an arch-conspirator known as “the Captain”, conspiring to destroy Mother Mariana and “relax” the Rule in the name of a false mercy (this mirrors what happened to the Order which St. Francis founded – see my article St. Francis of Assisi: They Pretended to Love You So That They Might Leave You. From a much more profound, interior perspective, this effort at “relaxation” is to be seen as due to the domination of Satan over the Captain and the non-observant sisters (there are very graphic passages describing this state of “possession”) in his campaign to destroy the entire Franciscan Charism received from God through St. Francis, and which was transmitted by St. Beatrice de Silva to her Conceptionist Order. And, from a universal perspective, this particular contest between Mother Mariana and Satan is a microcosm of the conflict that will take place in the 20th Century between the Church and Satan, and which will be won by the same interior means which accomplished not only the defeat of Satan’s plans for the destruction of the Conceptionist Convent, but the conversion and salvation of the Captain herself. It is within the dynamics of this conversion, as we shall see, that the secret designs of God for the Triumph of Our Lady lie.
The conspiratorial activities of the Captain and her fellow non-observant sisters attained its first major victory in the elimination of the Franciscan Friars from governance of the Convent. In the words of Fr. Pereira:
“They strove to put the Convent under the Bishop of Quito, and no longer the Franciscans, who led them in the right direction according to the spirit of the conventual life. This faction [of sisters] caused the Friars Minor to unwillingly make the decision to leave the government of the Conceptionist Convent.” (I, 97).
All of this had previously been prophesied to both Mother Maria and Mother Mariana. As we shall see, the return of the Franciscans to governance is prophesied to occur only after several centuries, and to coincide with a “golden area” (I, 98) which will ensue after Our Lady’s Triumph over Satan and his massive dominion over souls in the Twentieth Century.
One night, shortly before the separation of the Franciscans, and in preparation for what was to come, Our Lord spoke the following words to Mother Mariana from the Sacrarium:
”For the time will come when the devils will try to demolish this Convent, availing themselves of both good and evil persons to achieve that end. But they will not succeed so long as the spirit of sacrifice remains. To maintain it, interior victims are needed.” (I, 101).
Mother Mariana (along with the other Observant sisters to a lesser extent) was to become this victim.
The conspiratorial activities of the Captain won over the Bishop of Quito, Luis Lopez de Solis (Mariana’s Prelate from 1594-1606).
The Bishop ordered Mother Mariana imprisoned in the Convent prison. This was to occur four times due to conspiratorial activities of the Captain and the lack of discernment by the Bishop. In order to document the nature of the lies which were the cause of these injustices, Fr. Pereira quotes from a letter to the bishop written by the non-observant sisters at the time of the second imprisonment:
“Mother Mariana de Jesus breaks the silence whenever she desires. She does not assist at Community prayers. She privately indulges herself and her friends with extra food. The Convent is conspiring with the Franciscan friars, with whom she converses into the late hours of the night. Furthermore, Mother Mariana is striving to overthrow the jurisdiction of Your Illustrious Lordship. We beg you to imprison her.”
It is impossible in an article such as this to do justice to the complexity of the conflict that raged within the Convent during this period. At one point there were 25 observant sisters in the prison including the four remaining Founding Spanish Mothers (Mother Maria had passed to Heaven). The prison became a heaven of prayer, charity, and miraculous visitations. As seen in visions by Mother Maria and the other Founding Mothers, numerous devils raged throughout the rest of the Convent, wreaking terrible havoc among the sisters. I again refer the reader to Fr. Pereira’s book in order to do this subject justice.
The key to understanding the victimhood of Mother Mariana (and the other observant sisters) is to be found in the appearance of Our Lord to Mother Mariana just previous to her fourth imprisonment. Fr. Pereira describes it in the following paragraphs:
“Clearly this innocent lamb would have been freed if she had chosen to defend herself and allowed Mother Valenzuela, the Vicar Abbess, and the others to support her cause. At that very moment, however, God had manifested to her that, if violence was used, the souls of all those non-observant sisters would be lost. She was also given to understand that this humiliation was necessary in order to save the Convent founded by her holy aunt, the other Founding Mothers and herself, as well as to save the souls of the non-observant sisters.
“At this moment, she saw Our Lord Jesus Christ, tied and handcuffed by the barbarous Jews after the betrayal of Judas. She saw Him unjustly accused and calumniated in the tribunals of the iniquitous pontiffs, treated with great cruelty and ignominy. At the same time, she saw what was passing within His Divine Heart: His sentiments of loving magnanimity toward His very persecutors, His heroism in offering His sorrowful Passion for so many ungrateful souls, and His profound sorrow over the perdition of such souls and ingratitude of His ministers and spouses throughout the course of the centuries until the end of the world. She saw how the Divine Master suffered His interior and exterior Passion.
“Turning toward her, He said with loving tenderness, ‘My spouse, do not leave Me alone in such great bitterness and sorrow. If you truly love Me, I ask that you do not leave Me, but accompany Me during your days on earth. Know that this generous sacrifice will germinate the seed of this Convent so beloved of My heart, so that it will have victim souls of suffering and sorrow throughout time. These souls, under My gaze, will live in the practice of the most sublime perfection, being the columns of your Community and deflectors to deter My divine anger in the ill-fated times that the Church will see on this soil. Let us go, then, to your seclusion, for there I desire to speak alone with you and make you a participant of my sorrows.” (I, 163-64).
I ask the reader at this point to pause and consider. The subject with which we are here concerned – how God exercises His “secret designs” of mercy in the face of increasing rejection of His “Rule of Life” (from the perspective of the larger “world” we might consider that these events occurred within 90 years of Luther’s initial rebellion against the Divine Order, and therefore in the midst of that first great wave of attacks against Catholic Civilization) – is not simply a matter of justice. If mere justice had been chosen as the means and the goal, several consequences were inevitable: 1) the souls of all the non-observant sisters would have been lost; 2) the true, spiritual “seed” of the Convent would not have been “germinated”; 3) and future victim souls, required in order to deflect divine anger in the “ill-fated times to come” through which the Church will pass, would not exist.
We are here dealing with a deep mystery concerning God’s employment of human beings and human history in the accomplishment of His ultimate victory. As often repeated throughout Fr. Pereira’s work, and as possibly best encapsulated in the words of Mother Mariana concerning the future of her Convent, “The unfaithful ones will carve the crowns for the latter [saints]”, and these in turn will form spiritual “seeds” necessary for Our Lady’s Victory. The basic principle of God’s “Secret Designs” might thus be stated: God’s promise of Our Lady’s Triumph (and thus the Church’s) will be fulfilled through the formation of souls who, with the graces which make this possible, will live a profound victimhood in imitation of Christ – a victimhood which they will suffer at the hands of both good and evil persons.
This spiritual dynamic – involving what Our Lady called “the secret designs of God in His works”– is applicable not only on the scale of Mother Mariana’s Convent of the Immaculate Conception in Quito, Ecuador, but also to those “other worlds” (the nation of Ecuador, the entire world, and the world of the universal Church) which I have mentioned. And just as we are obliged to believe that the life of a religious, while constituting a certain state of “perfection”, is yet also a model for the laity in all the basic principles of the spiritual life, so the role which the laity must play in Our Lady’s Triumph, if they are to be proven faithful followers of Christ, must also mirror these principles. We shall explore this subject after we examine the prophecies concerning the Twentieth Century.
To continue with our story:
The Bishop finally realized the terrible imprudence he had exercised, freed Mother Mariana from prison for the last time, and imprisoned the Captain and other rebellious sisters. It is on this occasion that Our Lord appeared to Mother Mariana and detailed His “Secret Designs” of Mercy. At this point (beginning with the Bishop’s ordering the Captain to be taken to prison), in order to do justice to this mystery, I offer a series of passages from Fr. Pereira” account:
“The unhappy captain trembled in anger and shame because, for a proud soul like this, humiliation deals a mortal blow and inconsolable suffering.
“In fact, unknown to the Bishop and other sisters, something extraordinary was taking place while this poor sister was speaking to the Prelate. For as she [the Captain] rose to propose herself as Abbess, Mother Mariana saw that she was surrounded by monkeys emitting fire from their mouths, eyes, and noses. These flames passed to the leader’s heart and the hearts of her non-observant companions. To the measure that this fire overpowered their hearts, the passions of anger and envy seethed in them against the Abbess [Mother Mariana] and the Spanish Mothers, extinguishing the fire of the love of God. Further, she saw that these souls, empty of good works, were weighted down by many sins, bearing grave consequences for eternity.
“Mother Mariana saw that this poor captain would not be saved, nor would many of her followers who had been led astray by her bad example….What this sister said about the letter of the law killing and the spirit giving life is not in conformance with any of the Rules of monastic institutions, because the eternal life of a religious person depends upon the literal observance of the Rule. We have a practical example of this from our Father Saint Francis, to whom God Himself directed these words concerning the practice of the Rule: ‘To the letter, to the letter, to the letter; without comment, without comment, without comment.’
“The sophistic reasoning of this poor sister revealed her bad spirit and total lack of virtue.
“Let us continue, however, with the vision of Mother Mariana. She saw that the captain, along with various of her followers, would not be saved because of the blatantly relaxed life they were leading. The divine graces that pour torrentially on good religious in their cloisters were transformed into venom for these deplorable creatures, blinding their souls despite the vibrant light around them and making them die of thirst despite the fountain of living water in their midst.
“She saw how they would fall from one abyss to another the rest of their lives, at times placing the Convent at risk and leading yet other religious sisters astray by their bad example. For the infernal serpent was using them as subtle instruments to carry out his plan to destroy the work of God and of Mary Immaculate in the foundation and preservation of this Convent.
“The soul of this charitable spouse of Jesus grieved to see this series of disasters for her beloved Convent, for which she was disposed to give her life should it be necessary. She was also willing to offer her life to prevent the loss of the souls of the religious, her sisters, who had cost the Divine Redeemer so dearly. Tears ran down her cheeks, and her fervent and silent prayer rose up to Heaven like the smoke of an exquisite incense burning in the temple of her pure heart and in the thurible of her profound humility.
“Then, Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Mother Mariana as He was in the Garden of Olives, kneeling in mournful, ardent prayer. She was given to understand the most bitter sorrow that overpowered His Sacred Heart in those moments when, feeling the tedium of life, He said, ‘My Father, if it be possible to take from Me this bitter chalice, do so…but not My will, but Thine be done.’ She saw that the greatest interior torments of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were the ingratitude and indifference of those souls who, chosen among millions to be His spouses and ministers, abandoned Him in the most absolute solitude. This, despite the fact that He would live under the same roof with His spouses and descend into the hands of His priests at the simple call of their voices at the most solemn moment of the Consecration of the Holy Host and Chalice.
“Mother Mariana then heard the Beloved of her soul exclaim in His sorrowful agony, ‘Alas, I look for those who might console Me, and I find none. I created sons, and they ignore and despise Me! And you, my spouse, what will you do for Me, since I have done so much for you? Oh! How much these religious souls have cost Me! – Snatch them from the throat of the infernal wolf! How it pains me to lose them!’
“Immediately, the heroic Conceptionist responded: ‘My Beloved, what dost Thou desire? What dost Thou request of me? Until now Thou hast denied me nothing, and I am resolved to never deny Thee anything – even to my last breath. Tell me, my goodness: Dost thou desire that I live and die in prison, in absolute isolation from creatures, abandoned by all, suffering double what I have endured until now in those times when I have been Thy faithful companion?….I willingly accept. I do so not in an impulse of momentary fervor, but with mature reflection upon what is being asked of me. Here I am before Thee. I will release my guilty sister and remain to suffer for her….My nature withdraws in horror, but my spirit is ready for the sacrifice, relying as it does on the fire of Thy ardent love, which inflames my weak heart.’
“Our Lord responded, ‘It is not your life, nor your health, nor imprisonment that I desire of you, My beloved Mariana, Rather, I ask that you suffer for the period of five consecutive years the punishments of hell that the soul of this poor sister would have suffered for all eternity. I have chosen five years in memory of the five Wounds impressed on My body during My sorrowful Passion. Understand, My daughter, that during those five years, I will absent Myself from your earthly eyes and deprive your spirit of every consolation and relief amid your suffering, for it will be similar to what the soul of your poor sister would have endured in the obscure prison of Hell. Be certain that interiorly I will be with you, fortifying you, for otherwise neither you nor the holiest of mortals could tolerate such suffering for even a minute. I ask you, do you agree to my request?
“Then the Divine Master showed her those five years, which seemed not a handful of years to Mother Mariana, but an eternity. Her body quivered even to the bones, and she felt her heart compress so tightly that she would have died from the violence of her pain if God, prodigious in His grace and mercy, had not miraculously preserved her life.” (I, 182-185).
Mother Mariana’s five-year term of expiation in Hell was not to take place until after the first death of the Captain. During the time remaining to her on this earth, the Captain did everything possible to make life miserable for Mother Mariana, and all those who cared for her with angelic charity. She was exorcised of two horrible looking devils by Mother Mariana. She spit her medicine out at her nurses and threw her filth at Mother Mariana. Finally, she became fatally ill with pneumonia. Again, from Fr. Pereira:
“Her face was pale, distorted in terror and agonizing despair. Her short hair stood on end and her eyes seemed to jump out of their sockets. She screamed and writhed, calling out, ‘It is too late for me now. I cannot love or pardon her. I want to save myself, but, in my present state, I cannot. If those black creatures would only go away!’”
“Mother Mariana held her in her arms, praying to the Divine Majesty that He would not permit this soul to be seized from her arms and carried into Hell. Reminding Him of her offer, she again renewed it. As she prayed, the sick sister began to have strong convulsions, her body shaking violently. Her death agony began, which lasted for two painful days. Finally, she gave a cry, opened her eyes and mouth, which was expelling foam, and her body fell limp.”
The Captain had died impenitent, but Mother Mariana continued to hold her in her arms. When the other Founding Mothers tried to persuade her to relinquish her hold on the body, Mother Mariana said to them:
“My sisters and Mothers, do not forget so quickly the offer that was accepted to save her soul. Pray to God for her. Now she is standing before the judgment seat of God and realizing all the evil for which she was responsible. She will return to life and amend her life. Do not be frightened and remain calm.”
Mother Mariana’s prophesy was fulfilled. Breath and life returned, and “with her eyes streaming with tears”, the recovered sister “reported that she was returning from eternity, that she had become a better person, and that she understood who Mother Mariana was.” (I, 225-27). In the years which remained to her, she lived the life of a humble and docile religious, with great devotion to Mother Mariana. She was to live through the entire five years of Mother Mariana’s sojourn in Hell, and died with Mother Mariana at her side
Five Years in Hell
Within a year of the election of Mother Valenzuela as Abbess (after the imprisonment of the Captain), Our Lord again appeared to Mother Mariana and informed her that it was time for her to begin her five years of suffering in Hell, which she had accepted with heroic charity in order to save the soul of her fellow religious. He told her that this Hell would begin after her having received absolution and Holy Communion the following day. Only the words of Fr. Pereira can somewhat do justice to what then ensued for the next 5 years.
“After the Sacramental Species had been consumed, Mother Mariana felt a sorrow so intense that it seemed to wrench her heart violently from her breast. At that moment, she became completely insensible to her God. She felt a tedium toward Him, and even more, she experienced a type of hatred and despair that did not permit the least ray of hope.
“She tried to reflect upon the heroic sacrifice that she had made to save the soul of her sister. However, instead of receiving relief, she felt fury, despair, and a total suspicion with regard to God….She reminded herself of all the sublime mysteries of Christ on earth and of His Virgin Mother, pure and immaculate from her conception, but these thoughts were only a perpetual source of unending rage and despair. She still felt herself to be a daughter of the Immaculate Conception – but now, a condemned one.
“The notion of the five years vanished from her mind, and she could only forsee from then on an eternity of affliction. She wanted to encourage herself by thinking that some day this Hell would end, but she heard rough, terrible voices taunting her without any order, saying: ‘Eternity! Eternity! Forever! Forever! In Hell, the Redemption has no meaning. Oh! Religious who squandered the time given to you on earth, who wasted countless graces, you deserve the unspeakable torments and horrible sufferings of the punishment of perdition.’
The Torments of the Five Senses:
“The terrible chastisements of the senses fell upon Mariana. Her body would feel a fiery heat, as if it were a living coal that burned without being consumed. Then, following this extreme heat, she would experience a coldness impossible to express or describe, more intense than if she were buried under a mound of snow. Her breathing was constricted by the immense pain caused at times by fire, and at times by the frigid cold.
“Before her eyes appeared horrible infernal visions. Her ears were tormented by the appalling blasphemies made by the condemned souls and devils. Repugnant odors permeated her sense of smell, worse and more intense than if she were surrounded by the filth of all mankind. Her sense of touch was tormented, and she felt as if she were lying on a hard bed, hard with the hardness of Hell, a bed lined with sharp nails that penetrated to her very depths. Her palate was tortured by a horrible taste, worse than anything she had ever experienced. In addition, the devils forced her to swallow molten hot sulfur and dealt her strong, harsh blows that drove her mad and incited her to fury, despair, and blasphemy.
“In the face of these unspeakable trials, she never opened her lips to say the least word whatsoever to her Community about the sufferings transpiring in her soul. Only the Franciscan friar who directed her knew of them.
The Rejection of God:
“During these long years of her trial, her memory was afflicted by the remembrance of graces received from the loving goodness of God and Mary Most Holy, Whom she seemed to have lost forever. It was especially painful for her to think of the grace of the religious vocation and the joys of conventual life. For while she had suffered many hardships in her religious life, these now seemed like veritable pleasures to her, for then at least she could love her God, and this was denied to her in her present condition.
“Her mind understood perfectly and with the greatest clarity who God and Mary Most Holy were, and she recognized the existence of Heaven and the eternal delight of the blessed who inhabited it. But hopeless, she felt that it was absolutely unattainable for her. Her will was no longer free to do either evil or good, as it was in her mortal life, for she was a prisoner suffering the rigor of Divine Justice. She wanted to have recourse to mercy, but from the depths of her tormented soul, she heard voices that echoed through her being, ‘It’s too late for you. Everything is over. Now the only thing that remains for you is eternal punishment. The avenging justice weighs over you. Hell…for all Eternity!’
“‘Oh! Unfortunate time given to me,’ she would say to herself. ‘Now I see how I strayed from the pathway of truth.’
“Mother Mariana took upon herself the guilt of all the sins of her sister, suffering as if they were her own sins. These sins tormented her with their weight and their memory. She entertained not the least hope of relief and even less of pardon, for she saw God unhappy and irritated with her. Mary Most Holy, as well as her Founder Mother and all her celestial friends, showed themselves completely indifferent to her cries.
“She was convinced that this punishment was just, for the sins of the sister for whom she was expiating were numerous. She no longer had any memory of how she was a favored soul beloved by God, or that she was suffering for a span of five years in an heroic sacrifice to save a sister’s soul. All this was lost to her memory, and only the conviction that she was condemned forever lived in her. These dark, dismal shadows that were in her spirit, constituted the worst part of her Hell.
“She wanted to love God and raise her spirit to Him, but she felt repelled by Him. When she thought of God and His infinite beauty that had been lost to her forever, she fell into an anguished despair so great that she wanted to end her very existence. The thought that the soul is immortal filled her with fury and despair, for such a suffering is incomprehensible and inexplicable. In short, for this suffering creature, there was not the least consolation, the least respite to her sorrow, or the least type of physical or moral relief.
All creatures without exception became for her sources of great torment. The attentions and kindnesses of her Abbess and the Community only augmented her suffering. She considered herself interiorly abandoned and irremediably lost, living and breathing in an atmosphere of hatred. (I, 231-33).
And, Fr. Pereira adds:
“This holy creature suffered all these torments – and unspeakable others – every minute of the day and night, in all times and places. At the same time, throughout these years of harsh expiation, she appeared to all around her as a model of sweetness, humility, and meekness in her exact observance of the Rule. She was for her fellow religious a mirror: Looking at her, they could see a faithful and exemplary model to imitate.”
Mother Mariana would certainly seem to have been the greatest of these victim souls in the history of the Conceptionist Convent in Quito, but it is integral to the secret designs of God that she is by no means the only one. Specific instances of other such victim souls are revealed in Mother Mariana’s (and also Mother Maria’s) revelations. Following is just one example
One day before Mariana’s profession at the age of 16, she fell into a deathlike stupor and received a visitation from Our Lord. Upon returning to consciousness, Mother Maria asked her what had transpired:
“’My Mother’, she replied, ‘Our Lord has promised to receive me as His spouse. I was given to understand the difficult times through which our Order will pass. However, throughout the course of time, in this Convent there will be holy religious and, at all times, hidden and unknown souls, who by their sacrifices and sufferings will sustain the Community.
“‘But there will also be ungrateful and false religious who will be unfaithful and will leave the Convent. Every fifty years Our Lord will purge the Community, separating the chaff from the good wheat. At the end of the 19th century, a religious will suffer from a kind of leprosy, and once again, sanctity will return to this Convent. She will end her days in a place set aside for those dying of this disease. I saw the immense glory she will have in Heaven.
“As long as sacrifices and sufferings are made in this Convent, it will not disappear.’” (I, 35).
Such are the “secret designs of God in His works”. Such are the means by which Our Lady’s Triumph will be achieved.
The Twentieth Century
The Church of the Twentieth Century is a subject which runs through the entire life and history of Mother Mariana. It intertwines with many of her prophecies, it is connected with her purpose as a victim soul; and it intimately relates to the entire purpose of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success. It can fairly be said that all which constitutes the immediate life of Mother Mariana and of the Convent in Quito during these years of the latter part of the 16th and first part of the 17th centuries is therefore also intimately connected to, and directed towards, the situation of the Church and the world in the Twentieth Century (and clearly now extending into the Twenty-first).
The first prophecy recorded by Fr. Pereira concerning the Twentieth Century essentially says it all (except for the specifics). It dates to the year 1581, during Mariana’s second year of postulancy, and is found early in Fr. Pereira’s biography, on pages 47-49 of Volume I:
“This holy religious [Mariana] suffered insults and persecutions from her sisters without ever opening her lips to justify herself or protest. Only at the foot of the Tabernacle did she confide her secret sorrows to her Beloved.
“One day, after a particularly bitter incident with one of her sister, which Mother Mariana suffered in silence, she went to the feet of Jesus Christ, communicating to Him her torment and begging Him for fortitude.
“He replied to her, ‘On the day when I betrothed Myself to you, I carefully tested your will. Your sufferings are reaching their apex.’
“To this, the innocent virgin responded, ‘My Lord, my will is ready, but the flesh is weak…’
“Our Lord returned, ‘Strength will not be wanting to you, as nothing is lacking to the soul who has recourse to Me.’
“At that moment, she heard an overwhelming sound, and saw that the whole Church had become immersed in darkness, as from dust and smoke. Fearful that the building would collapse and uncertain what had happened, for she had not felt the tremors of an earthquake, she asked herself, ‘What is this?’
“Examining her conscience, she could find no fault for which she could accuse herself. Nonetheless, in her profound humility, she believed that she must be guilty of something that was causing this disorder.
“In the darkness of the Church, Mother Mariana looked up and saw the main altar very clearly as if it were illuminated by full day. Suddenly, before this humble, kneeling virgin, the Tabernacle opened, and Christ Himself emerged, suffering as He had at Golgotha. The Blessed Virgin, shedding tears of pearls, along with Saint John and Mary Magdalene, were at His feet.
“The suffering Christ, still without the wound in His Side, began His death agony.
“Seeing this, the humble virgin, believing herself to be at fault, prostrated herself on the ground with her arms extended in the form of a cross, exclaiming, ‘Lord, I am the guilty one. Punish me and pardon your people.’
“‘Her Guardian Angel made her rise, saying, ‘No, you are not to blame. Arise and approach, for God desires to reveal to you a great secret.’
“She arose, and seeing the tears of the Most Holy Virgin, she addressed her, saying, ‘My Lady, am I to blame for thy sadness?’
“She replied, ‘No, it is not you, but the criminal world.’
“Then, as Our Lord agonized, she heard the voice of the Eternal Father saying, ‘This punishment will be for the 20th century.’
“Then she saw three swords over the head of Christ. On each was written, ‘I shall punish heresy, blasphemy, and impurity.’ Then she was given to understand all that would take place in that century.
“The Holy Virgin continued, ‘My daughter, will you sacrifice yourself for the people of this time?’
“Mother Mariana replied, ‘I am willing.’
“Immediately, the swords moved away from the agonizing Christ and buried themselves in the heart of Mother Mariana, who fell dead from the violence of the pain.”
Mother Marian was pronounced dead by the doctor, and all attempts by the Franciscan friars to arouse her failed. Fr. Pereira does not tell us the length of time that she was dead, but we might presume it to have been similar to a second mystical death which occurred in September of 1689 when, according to Fr. Pereira’s account, and in imitation of Christ, she was dead from 3:30 PM, Friday, until 3 AM Sunday morning when she experienced resurrection.
Mother Mariana at this point became a victim soul for the Twentieth century – “My daughter, will you sacrifice yourself for the people of this time?” The evil swords of heresy, blasphemy, and impurity which were to overwhelm the people of this century were the cause of her death.
In her mystical death, Mother Mariana presented herself before the judgment seat of God. Finding no fault in her, God said to her, “Come, beloved of My Father, receive the crown that We have prepared for you since the beginning of the world…” She prostrated herself before the Throne of the Most Blessed Trinity and, according to Fr. Pereira, “was given to understand something of that ineffable mystery.”
Our Lord presented her with two crowns: “one of immortal glory of indescribable beauty; the other of white lilies surrounded by thorns”, and asked her to choose. Mother Mariana understood that if she chose the first, she would remain in Heaven; if she chose the second, she would return to suffer in the world. At the same time she was given to know all the Conceptionist religious who would inhabit her Convent down through the centuries. She knew their names, the offices they would exercise, the graces that they would receive, and their correspondence or non-correspondence with these graces. She saw that the Franciscans would be removed from the governance of her Community.
She was torn between the two crowns offered her. At this point Our Lady approached her, and said:
“My daughter, I left the glories of Heaven and descended to earth to protect my children. I desire that you imitate me in this and return to life, for your life is most necessary for the Order of my Conceptionists. Woe to the Colony in the 20th century! If, in Ecuador already so guilty, there are not souls who by their lives of immolation and sacrifice will appease Divine Justice, fire will rain from Heaven, consuming its inhabitants and purifying the soil of Quito. Until the end of time, one of these sacrificial souls will inhabit this, my Convent, and, imitating you, will appease Divine Justice.”
The sins predicated of the 20th Century pretty much run the entire gamut of human malediction – form heresy, blasphemy and sacrilege against God Himself, to all those sins of human degradation, especially in regard to the virtue of purity, that we have seen raging in recent decades. Our Lady says that during this period, “Satan will reign almost completely by means of the Masonic sects”, and “they will focus principally on the children in order to sustain this general corruption”. She speaks of the “many enormous sacrileges – both public as well as secret – that will occur from profanations of the Holy Eucharist. Often during this epoch the enemies of Jesus Christ, instigated by the Devil, will steal consecrated hosts from the churches so that they might profane the Eucharistic Species.” The Sacrament of Matrimony will be attacked and deeply profaned. There will be almost no virginity left in the world. Priests will deviate from the spirit of their vocation and Satan will corrupt and deprave many of them, scandalizing the Christian people, and making the hatred of bad Catholics and the enemies of the Church fall upon the Church and her priests. Interestingly, all during this period books and learning will proliferate, while the exercise of virtues will fall into decline.
All of the “corruptions” listed above speak of an enormous loss of faith. In the apparition of February 2, 1610 (which contains the most extensive treatment of the sins of the 20th Century), there is a short passage that plunges to the heart of that which differentiates faith from disbelief. In this passage Our Lady speaks specifically of faith in her apparitions, but it is easy to see that her words reach to the depths of the entirety of our Faith:
“A simple, humble faith in the truth of my apparitions to you, my favored child, will be reserved for humble and fervent souls who are docile to the inspirations of grace, for our Heavenly Father communicates His secrets to the simple of heart, and not to those whose hearts are inflated with pride, pretending to know what they do not or infatuated with empty science.”
These words of Our Lady are in total accord with the teaching of Pope St. Pius X in Pascendi dominici gregis that the entire Modernist enterprise is rooted in the subjection of faith to science.
Possibly the most poignant prophesy of Our Lady is the following: “Innocence will almost no longer be found in children, nor modesty in women.” If children no longer possess innocence, then virtually all else, both individually and culturally, must be corrupted. And if women no longer dress modestly, then both motherhood and manhood must be in almost total corruption. (see Vol. II, p. 21 -23 for the most extensive treatment of the sins of the 20th Century).
It is significant that at the end of this enumeration of the sins of the 20th Century (and there is more), Our Lady says, “in this supreme moment of need of the Church, the one who should speak will fall silent.” We will deal with this subject further on.
We see here the interconnection between the “worlds” mentioned earlier: Mother Mariana, the Conceptionist Convent, Quito, and Ecuador. But when Our Lord and His Mother spoke of the sins of heresy, blasphemy, and impurity raging in the Twentieth Century, they were not just speaking of Ecuador, but rather also of the Universal Church, and the whole world of the 20th Century. It was only towards the end of the 20th Century that the Apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success and the life of Mother Mariana were prophesied to become widely known outside of Ecuador. It would therefore appear certain that we are now living in that period of history in which the fruits of Mother Mariana’s victimhood are destined to attain realization in the Universal Church.
It should also be evident that the real purpose of the prophecies concerning the Twentieth Century is not to warn us, but rather, in conjunction with God’s designs in regard to the life of Mother Mariana, to reveal the solution to the present crisis. If the life of Mother Mariana, and the Apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success were not to become known outside of Ecuador until the latter part of the Twentieth Century, at a time when these horrific sins were already reigning over the Church and the world, then such prophecies, if considered only as warnings, would have to be considered as being largely redundant. At best, they would constitute only a self-affirming justification for our being opposed to this state of things – which, of course, is precisely how they are now largely being used.
But it is not enough to be opposed. Nor is the self-justification of traditionalists the purpose of Our Lady’s appearances. The grace which is the Apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success; the grace that was Mother Mariana’s life, and which effected the salvation of the Captain, the “saving” of Ecuador, and the preservation of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception; and the grace which made of her a special Victim Soul for the Twentieth Century – all these were not primarily graces of opposition to evil, but rather the grace of victimhood in pursuit of mercy. And, most astoundingly, it was a victimhood practiced not primarily towards the enemy without, but towards that which occurs within Christ’s Church itself.
Before proceeding to an examination of this absolutely key point, it is first necessary to expose an error very common in the mind of many Traditionalists.
Archbishop Lefebvre and the “Prelate”
In his sermon on the occasion of his illicit episcopal consecrations of four bishops on June 30, 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre made the following statement concerning the apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success to Mother Mariana:
“I excuse myself for continuing this account of the apparition but she speaks of a prelate who will absolutely oppose this wave of apostasy [of the See of Peter] and impiety – saving the priesthood by forming good priests. I do not say that prophecy refers to me. You may draw your own conclusions. I was stupefied when reading these lines but I cannot deny them, since they are recorded and deposited in the archives of this apparition.”
First of all it is clear, despite the Archbishop’s attempt at humility, that he is suggesting that the said prophecy does indeed apply to himself, and that he is giving explicit permission for his followers to draw such a conclusion. The fact is, however, that the only real reason for “stupefaction” here is that if Archbishop Lefebvre had read this prophecy in context, and with any sort of real humility, he should have clearly seen the error of any attempt to identify himself with this prelate.
The specific prophecy to which he refers occurred on February 2, 1634, one year before Mother Mariana death. As she was praying before the Tabernacle, at 3 A.M., the sanctuary light went out, and the altar was shrouded in darkness. Our Lady appeared, relit the light, and told Mariana that the extinguishing of the sanctuary light had many meanings, of which she enumerated five. Her words concerning the “prelate” occur in the fourth, and read as follows:
“Pray insistently without tiring and weep with bitter tears in the secrecy of your heart, imploring our Celestial Father that, for the love of the Eucharistic Heart of My Most Holy Son and His Precious Blood shed with such generosity and by the profound bitterness and sufferings of His cruel Passion and Death, He might take pity on His ministers and bring to an end those ominous times, and send to this Church the Prelate who will restore the spirit of Her priests. My most Holy Son and I will love this favored son with a love of predilection, and we shall gift him with a rare capacity, humility of heart, docility to divine inspirations, the strength to defend the rights of the Church….”(II, 213).
Notice that Our Lady speaks of “this Church”. She is specifically referring to the Church of Ecuador, and therefore of a Bishop of Quito. In the ensuing paragraph, she says, “This then, will be the cause of the cursed Devil taking possession of this land, where he will achieve his victories by means of a foreign and faithless people, so numerous that, like a flack cloud, it will obscure the limpid heavens of the then-Republic consecrated to the Most Sacred Heart of my Divine Son.” Anyone who knows the history of Ecuador knows that Our Lady is here speaking of the eventual separation of this land from Spain, its being made a Republic, and the eventual public consecration of Ecuador to the Sacred heart of Jesus by President Gabriel Garcia Moreno in 1873 (an act which would lead to his martyrdom).
The above-quoted passage is not the only time that Our Lady speaks of this Prelate, this “favored or “beloved” son. Thirty-five years earlier, on January 16. 1599, she spoke the following words to Mother Mariana:
“But a golden era will come for this my Convent. Then a Prelado [prelate], my most beloved son, blessed and prized before God, will understand by divine light the necessity for the daughters of my Immaculate Conception to subject themselves in exact obedience to the Friars Minor for their sanctification and perfection. This Prelate will ask the Vicar of my most Holy Son here on Earth to restore the jurisdiction over this Convent to the Friars Minor. .”
Any contention that this “Prelate” was Archbishop Lefebvre is obviously erroneous. No one could possibly contend that Archbishop Lefebvre petitioned the Pope, and obtained the restoration of Franciscan jurisdiction over the Conceptionist Convent in Quito.
Even more important, we must recognize that the “spirit” of Mother Mariana’s combat in defense of God’s Rule was in direct opposition to that of Archbishop Lefebvre. In the presence of a Church hierarchy gone astray, she was yet profoundly subject in matters of discipline and governance. She obeyed her unjust bishop – even to the extremity of being made a prisoner and being deprived of the Mass, all the other sacraments, and even the right to participate in community prayer and the breviary.
The Enemy Within
As already seen, the victimhood which was the extraordinary grace of Mother Mariana’s life was suffered primarily at the hands of those within the Church. Running parallel to this reality concerning Mother Mariana’s own life is the fact that the prophecies dealing with the Twentieth Century are centered upon a deep betrayal within the Church itself. Even if we consider this prophesied “general corruption” from the perspective of the world in general, such a thing could only have gained ascendancy if this same darkness had come to profoundly obscure the Light of Christ which is the Life of the Church. As such, the cause of the victimhood of both Mother Mariana and the Church in the Twentieth Century is rooted in the spirit and work of Antichrist, about whom St. John writes:
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us.”
While it is true that the Antichrist will be a particular man whose coming is just preliminary to the final judgment, it is also true that the spirit of Antichrist is always alive within the Church in the form of “many antichrists” always seeking to destroy the Truth of Christ. They have indeed “gone out from us”, in the sense of departing from Christ and His “Rule”, but this does not at all mean that they necessarily have departed from the visible Church itself. They may well remain within, while having betrayed Christ.
We must also take into consideration the fact that in addition to this work of those who directly do the work of Antichrist, and therefore might be considered as constituting that category of persons who are true conspirators against Christ’s Mystical Body, we also find in Christ’s Church a vast number of “good” people who through ignorance, venial sin, lukewarmness, etc. somehow end up cooperating with Satan in the persecution of those who in one way or another are victimized for their commitment to Truth and Holiness. Our Lord told Mother Mariana that “the time will come when the devils will try to demolish this Convent, availing themselves of both good and evil persons to achieve that end.” This category of persons (the “good) is aptly illustrated during the present crisis by all those Catholics of good will who, seduced by a call to a false mercy in the Name of Christ, have acquiesced to the agenda of those who promote an “inclusiveness” which embraces a “silence” towards, and “softening” of, the hard truths of Christ’s teachings concerning such doctrines as homosexuality, readmission to Communion for the divorced and remarried, cohabitation outside of the sacrament of marriage, and the practice of contraception.
The Rule of Christ
And The Victimhood of the Entire Church
A Victim Soul like Mother Mariana is an extraordinary work of God. But Christian victimhood itself is not extraordinary, but rather the norm: “And you shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.” (Matthew 10:22).
As already noted, the Rule of Christ encompasses not only all of those doctrinal teachings which are applicable to all Catholics, but also those doctrines and precepts which accord with particular vocations and states of life. And just as Mother Mariana’s victimhood was wholly intertwined with her devotion to, and defense of, the Franciscan Rule of Life, so the victimhood of the laity (and, of course, all those in the hierarchy whose duty is to uphold and defend this vocation) will be inseparably united to the defense of God’s Rule concerning marriage and the family. The recently held Extraordinary Synod on the Family (the first session was held In October, 2014, the second to occur in October, 2015) provides a remarkable opportunity to examine the parameters of this defense of the Faith, and the victimhood which is its necessary consequence. When analyzed in depth, it also reveals the anatomy of Satan’s master-plan to destroy the Catholic Church.
The ongoing Synod on the Family is not directly concerned with pivotal theological doctrines of our Faith. Rather, it is concerned with the moral laws which govern marriage and human sexuality. As such, it might be considered, by some, to involve rules or laws which are not as important as the deeper Mysteries of our Faith. Human laws, after all, are always imperfect and subject to change, and their existence is largely dependent upon human progression down through history. It is therefore quite tempting to transfer our attitudes concerning human laws to the laws of God and to believe that “rigid” insistence upon these laws is “small-minded” and pharisaical, especially when they seem to be at cross-purpose with what we might subjectively consider the demands of God’s mercy. God’s Rules concerning moral laws are therefore, in a sense, much more “fragile” and subject to attack by the enemies of Christ. They provide, so to speak, the “weakest link” in the chain of the Deposit of Faith, the point which Satan may deem most favorable for assault upon Christ’s Magisterium in order to undermine all of Catholic doctrine.
The first session of the Synod on the Family represented just such an attempted invasion. It is therefore worthy of closer examination.
We must begin by firmly establishing the immutable nature of the laws governing marriage. Following is the teaching of pope Pius XI from his encyclical Casti Connubii:
“For each individual marriage, inasmuch as it is a conjugal union of a particular man and woman, arises only from the free consent of each of the spouses; and this free act of the will, by which each party hands over and accepts those rights proper to the state of marriage, is so necessary to constitute true marriage that it cannot be supplied by any human power. This freedom, however, regards only the question whether the contracting parties really wish to enter upon matrimony or to marry this particular person; but the nature of matrimony is entirely independent of the free will of man, so that if one has once contracted matrimony he is thereby subject to its divinely made laws and its essential properties.”
The agenda which seeks to establish the “lesser importance” of God’s laws concerning marriage and human sexuality, and to implement a “pastoral” approach which contradicts these laws, is therefore a profound falsification of the Gospel. God’s immutable “Rules” regarding marriage and sexuality (as contrasted, for instance, with the temporary legal prescription as found in the Old Testament) are not simply forms of legislation, which might later be changed. They represent truths, substantially incorporated in human nature, which image aspects of God’s Nature. As such they deal with Who God is and who man is. To compromise these “Rules” in the name of a false mercy constitutes therefore not only a severe blow to man’s dignity, but a war conducted against the Nature of God.
All of this presupposes that there is a substantial, non-contradictory Nature absolutely integral to Who God is, and also a substantial nature to man who images God. The substantiality of human nature is of course finite, and not to be equated with that of God, but this finitude does not eliminate substantiality. If this concept of substantial nature is diminished in any way; if man’s nature becomes in any way indeterminate, “gradual”, or an evolutionary “work in progress” so to speak, then the entire dogmatic, moral, and sacramental character of our Faith is shattered. If there is no substantial human nature common to all men of all time, there can be no state of original justice in which man was created; there can be no fall from this state of original justice through original sin; there can be no mortal sin, no restoration of original justice, no sanctifying grace, no sacramental system which restores or nourishes this restoration. If there is no substantial nature, in other words, there can be no grace added to that nature which effects redemption. Compromise at this point is bound to undermine belief in the non-contradictory nature of all of Catholic doctrine in the minds and hearts of Catholics.
There would now seem to be no reasonable doubt that this Synod was carefully sculpted and organized as an effort by Pope Francis to promote a false mercy towards homosexuals, the divorced and remarried, those couples cohabiting outside of sacramental marriage, and those practicing contraception. As such, it has been designed by him to effect an attitude of non-judgmental “inclusiveness” within the Church towards practicing homosexuals, the readmission of at least some divorced and remarried persons to Sacramental Communion, and the acceptance in some cases of the licitness of artificial contraception. As such, this agenda is an act of violence – a grave sin – not only against those personally involved in these disordered relationships and practices, but against the entire Church and all the faithful. Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki (President of the Polish Episcopate) said recently that the teachings proposed for vote by the Synod in the original document, the “Relatio post disceptationem”, represented a clear separation from Pope John Paul II’s teachings in Familiaris Consortio, and that “some of its theses seemed to devastate the magisterium of the Church”.
Before proceeding to an examination of why or how all of this can be happening to Christ’s Church, it would seem necessary to document the validity of some of the conclusions expressed above. Most Catholics, I am sure, possess a rather piecemeal knowledge of the course of events leading to this present crisis, much of it received through the secular media. A more complete history is therefore both appropriate and necessary.
The first one and one-half years of Francis’ Papacy leading up to the Synod were replete with his remarks preparing the way. The secular media has reveled in them, most Catholics are aware of them, and there is no need to repeat them en masse here. Essentially, they are all consequential upon the core concept of Pope Francis’ agenda, which is to be found in the following passage of his letter to Eugenio Scalfari:
“In the second place, you ask me if the thought, according to which no absolute exists and therefore, not even an absolute truth but only a series of relative or subjective truths, is an error or a sin. To begin with, I will not speak, not even to one who believes, of ‘absolute’ truth, in the sense that absolute is what is inconsistent, what is deprived of any relationship. Now truth, according to the Christian faith, is the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, truth is a relationship!”
The “rock” of Francis’ thinking here is that absoluteness is “inconsistent” with relationship, and therefore opposed to the love of God. This is absurd from the standpoint of both traditional Catholic theology and human psychology. If God has a substantial, non-contradictory, and absolute Nature, then love itself proceeds from this Nature. A love which is in any way contradictory to God’s Nature, or to human nature created in His image, is a false love. This is why Jesus declared to Pontius Pilate: “For this was I born, and for this I came into the world: that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice.” (John 18:37). This could not be true if Absolute Truth was not equatable with God’s Being. Nor could God’s Love as expressed in the Incarnation be meaningful or efficacious if man was not created with a substantial human nature which naturally “hears” this truth. (John 18:37).
It is precisely this “substantiality” in relation to both God and man which is being denied, and it is this which has led men like Joseph Ratzinger and Jorge Mario Bergoglio to redefine both God and man as “entirely relationship.” The foundation and root of this error lies entirely in a perceived need to subject the faith to modern reductive science. I have explored this extensively in other articles. I here refer the reader to two of them: “I Know Not the Man”: Pope Francis, the Natural Child of Pope Benedict XVI, and The Quintessential Evolutionist”. As I concluded in the former, nothing is more necessary for effecting a liberation from the current crisis than that a war be conducted against reductive Science in order to liberate the human mind and heart from that darkness which cannot see or hear the voice of Christ.
The denial of substantiality absolutely necessitates capitulation to evolution, not only in the physical realm, but also the spiritual. This is possibly best expressed in a passage from Joseph Ratzinger’s book titled Credo for Today:
“This would then lead to the insight that spirit does not enter the picture as something foreign, as a second substance, in addition to matter: the appearance of spirit, according to the previous discussion, means rather that an advancing movement arrives [in evolutionary development] at the goal that has been set for it….The clay became man at that moment in which a being for the first time was capable of forming, however dimly, the thought ‘God.’ The first ‘thou’ that – however stammeringly – was said by human lips to God marks the moment in which spirit arose in the world. Here the Rubicon of anthropogenesis was crossed.” (p. 46-47).
Such a “stammering Adam” of course could not possess a nature created in “original justice”: he could not be capable of “original sin”. The absoluteness of all the rest of Catholic doctrine then falls like a series of dominos.. There remains only evolution and gradualism.”
But there is an additional consequence of the subjection of the Faith to modern Science. It necessitates denial of the Principle of Non-Contradiction, the most basic principle of all human thought. Again, I have explored this in other articles, especially The Quintessential Evolutionist. As succinctly stated by Joseph Ratzinger, in his book Introduction to Christianity:
“The Jansenist Saint-Cyran once made the thought-provoking remark that faith consists of a series of contradictions held together by grace He thereby expressed in the realm of theology a discovery that today in physics, as the law of complementarity, belongs to the realm of scientific thought. The physicist is becoming increasingly aware today that we cannot embrace given realities – the structure of light, for example, or of matter in general – in one form of experiment and in one form of statement; that, on the contrary, from different sides we glimpse different aspects, which cannot be traced back to each other. We have to take the two together – say, the structure of particle and wave – without being able to find a comprehensive explanation – as a provisional assessment of the whole, which is not accessible to us as a unified whole because of the restrictions implicit in our point of view. What is true here in the physical realm as a result of the limitations in our ability to observe is true to an incomparably greater degree of the spiritual realities of God. Here, too, we can always look from one side and so grasp only one particular aspect, which seems to contradict the other, yet only when combined with it is a pointer to the whole, which we are incapable of stating or grasping. Only by circling round, by looking and describing from different, apparently contrary angles can we succeed in alluding to the truth, which is never visible to us in its totality.” (p.173-74).
Many commentators on the recent synod have expressed bewilderment at the obvious contradictions involved with the positions of Pope Francis, Cardinal Kasper, and others who claim to accept the “immutability” of Catholic doctrine concerning marriage and human sexuality while at the same time proposing pastoral policies of mercy which are in direct contradiction to such immutable dogma. The above-quoted passage from Joseph Ratzinger provides the key. As Henri de Lubac wrote: “paradox exists everywhere in reality, before existing in thought…. Oppositions in thought express the contradiction which is the very stuff of creation.” The Principle of Non-Contradiction has fallen. I especially recommend reading my most recent article, The Synod on the Family, Joseph Ratzinger, and the Destruction of the Catholic Mind, for a deeper analysis of how this has come to pass.
This is also why Pope Francis has largely embraced “silence” about the hard, moral teachings of our Faith (see my article The Descent Into Darkness: Pope Francis and the Deconstruction of the Human Heart). In his letter to Antonio Spadaro, he wrote:
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”
What this entails is that God’s Rule must bow to the alleged demands of God’s mercy. Again, from Francis’ interview with Antonio Spadaro, “But the saving Love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.”
This is why Pope Francis was “silent” about abortion at World Youth Day, despite the fact that 82% of Brazilian youth embrace the use of the morning-after pill. In direct opposition to such statements made by the Pope, Cardinal Burke (in an interview with EWTN) courageously replied: “What could be more essential than the natural moral law?… We can never talk enough about that as long as in our society innocent and defenseless human life are being attacked in the most savage way. I mean it’s literally a massacre of the unborn.” Cardinal Burke has since suffered his own victimhood. He was first relieved of his position in the Congregation for Bishops, and now has been demoted from his Curial position as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (the Vatican’s highest court), and exiled to the purely honorary role as patron of the Knights of Malta.
In light of all this, it is difficult not to see the following three prophecies of Our Lady of Good Success as applying to Pope Francis:
The first occurs in the Apparition of January 21, 1610, at the end of the passage enumerating the sins of the Twentieth Century which we have mentioned above:
“In this supreme moment of need of the Church, the one who should speak will fall silent.” (II,23)
The second is found in the Apparition of February 2, 1610 in which Our Lady, after stating that the miraculous story of the making of her statue would not become known to the general public until the 20th century, says the following:
“During that epoch the Church will find herself attacked by terrible hordes of the Masonic sect, and this poor Ecuadorian land will be agonizing because of the corruption of customs, unbridled luxury, the impious press, and secular education. The vices of impurity, blasphemy, and sacrilege will dominate in this time of depraved desolation, and that one who should speak out will be silent.” (II, 39).
The third, and possibly the most revealing, passage is contained in one of Our Lady’s Apparitions in March of 1634:
“Dire times will come, when those who should justly defend the rights of the Church will be blinded. Without servile fear or human respect [sic?], they will join the enemies of the Church to help them accomplish their designs. Woe to the error of the wise, to he who governs the Church, the Pastor of the flock that My Most holy Son confided into his care. But when they will appear triumphant and when the authority will abuse their power, committing injustices and oppressing the weak, their downfall will be near. Paralyzed, they will fall to the ground. And, happy and triumphant, like a tender child, the Church will rise against and will rest placidly, cradled in the capable arms and maternal heart of my beloved elect son of those times, who if he will render himself docile to the inspirations of grace – one of these being the reading of the great mercies that my Most Holy Son has given to you – we will fill him with graces and very special gifts.” (ii, 158).
We cannot be certain that these passages are meant to refer to Pope Francis, or even to some particular Pope of our time. But such a conjecture would seem to have much merit since they occur in the context of prophecies concerning the corruption of the Universal Church of the 20th Century (now clearly extending into the 21st). Further they would not seem to refer to the local bishop, since Our Lady when doing so in other passages, uses the term “Prelate”. It would, in fact, seem certain that the phrase “to he who governs the Church, the Pastor of the flock that My Most Holy Son confided into his care” must apply to a Pope, the Vicar of Christ.
The position of “silence” in the face of this assault upon Catholic doctrine would be maintained by Pope Francis throughout the actual Synod itself. But behind this silence, which the Pope ostensibly embraced in order to allow total openness and freedom of discussion, lay a carefully sculpted tyranny of preparation and manipulation prepared by the Pope himself. As Cardinal Burke said in his recent interview with the Spanish magazine Vida Nueva, “Everything was controlled and manipulated, if I may say so.”
It began publicly in November, 2013 with the Vatican sending out a questionnaire survey on marriage and family life to all the dioceses in the world, seeking input from the faithful concerning their views on the subjects discussed above. This effectively instilled in the minds of a great number of Catholics the notion that, in the face of the modern world and all its realities and demands, there was indeed a need for change in Catholic belief and practices in these areas, and that the purpose of the coming Synod was to do just that.
The second step consisted of a preparatory Consistory of Cardinals at the end of April, 2014, convoked by the Pope in order to discuss the upcoming Synod. Cardinal Kasper was personally chosen by the Pope to give the inaugural address (which lasted two hours). Under the demands of what he called the “Law of Gradualism”, Cardinal Kasper proposed a “paradigm change” which, in some cases, would allow the demands of mercy to be seen as superior to “sacramental theology” and “mere legalism”. He went into detail especially in regard to the possibility of readmission of the divorced and remarried to sacramental communion.
After this speech, Pope Francis offered the following evaluation”
“esterday, before going to sleep – although I did not do this to put myself to sleep – I read or rather re-read the work of Cardinal Kasper, and I would like to thank him because I found profound theology, and even serene thinking in theology. It is pleasant to read serene theology. And I also found what Saint Ignatius told us about, that ‘sensus Ecclesiae’, love for Mother Church. It did me good and an idea came to me – excuse me, Eminence, if I embarrass you – but the idea is that this is called ‘doing theology on one’s knees.’ Thank you. Thank you.”
After having his “serene theology” refuted by Cardinals Burke, Mueller, Pell, and others (in the book Remaining in the Truth of Christ, published before the Synod), Cardinal Kasper gave an interview to the Italian daily Il Mattino in which he said, “I agreed upon everything with him [Pope Francis]. He was in agreement. What can a cardinal do, except be with Pope? I am not the target, the target is another one.”
The stage was now set for the selection of those who would be in charge of the Synod and who would not only wield authority over its daily proceedings, but also be responsible for writing the documents to be put to the Synod Fathers for vote. As general secretary, the Pope appointed Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, Secretary for the Papal Conclave which elected Pope Francis, the man responsible for sending out the questionnaire survey, and a close ally of the Pope. In May, 2014, he gave an interview to the Belgian newspaper De Standaard in which he stated that it is time to update the Church’s marriage doctrine.
As Special Secretary, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Bruno Forte, a known radical progressive and supporter of “legitimizing” homosexual civil unions. As Relator General, the Pope appointed Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, who would be responsible for the writing and presentation of the “Relatio”, with assistance of persons chosen personally by the Pope for the “Commission for the Message” – including Cardinal Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Archbishop Forte (who, as we shall see, is to play an infamous role), and the Pope’s closest personal theologian and ghostwriter, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, rector of the Catholic University of Buenos Aires, and a conspicuous liberal.
On Monday, October 13, after a week of presentations and discussions, Cardinal Erdo presented the Relatio post disceptationem, the working document which was supposed to embody and faithfully reflect the presentations, discussions, and some sort of consensus of the Synod’s Fathers. The most offensive were the following:
“47. As regards the possibility of partaking [by divorced and remarried persons] of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some argued in favor of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path — under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.
“48. Suggesting limiting themselves to only “spiritual communion” was questioned by more than a few Synodal Fathers: if spiritual communion is possible, why not allow them to partake in the sacrament? As a result a greater theological study was requested starting with the links between the sacrament of marriage and the Eucharist in relation to the Church-sacrament. In the same way, the moral dimension of the problem requires further consideration, listening to and illuminating the consciences of spouses.
50. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
“52. Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority”.
Around 200 journalists were present at Cardinal Erdo’s reading of the Relatio post disceptationem. Newspapers and other media around the world blazed forth headlines that the Catholic Church was changing its teaching on marriage and homosexuality. As Cardinal Napier of South Africa said the day after this fiasco, “The message has gone out that this is what synod is saying, that this is what the Catholic Church is saying. Whatever we say hereafter will seem like we’re doing damage control”.
Cardinal Mueller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who during the previous week had publicly complained several times of censorship in the Synodal proceedings against those who spoke in defense of traditional Catholic doctrine, gave an interview on October 14 in which he called the document “undignified, shameful, completely wrong!”. Cardinal Burke, in Vienna on November 4 for the presentation of the German edition of the book Remaining in the Truth of Chris, said of the Relatio post disceptationem said that it was “one of the saddest documents that I could imagine ever coming from the Church. “Many of us were horrified with this idea that was presented in the report, that there could somehow be good elements in morally sinful acts. This is impossible.”
Bishop Athanasius Schneider, in an interview with the Polish magazine Polonia Christiana, possibly put it most forcefully:
“The interim report (Relatio post disceptationem) was clearly a prefabricated text with no reference to the actual statements of the Synod fathers. In the sections on homosexuality, sexuality and “divorced and remarried” with their admittance to the sacraments the text represents a radical neo-pagan ideology. This is the first time in Church history that such a heterodox text was actually published as a document of an official meeting of Catholic bishops under the guidance of a pope, even though the text only had a preliminary character….Such a synod document, even if only preliminary, is a real shame and an indication to the extent the spirit of the anti-Christian world has already penetrated such important levels of the life of the Church. This document will remain for the future generations and for the historians a black mark which has stained the honour of the Apostolic See.”
The response of many of the Synod Fathers to the Relatio post disceptationem on Monday, Oct 13, was furious. There were around 41 interventions strongly critical of the document’s paragraphs on homosexuality, and readmission to communion of the divorced and remarried. In the morning press briefing, Cardinal Erdo sarcastically dismissed his own involvement with the paragraphs on homoxexuality, and pointed to Archbishop Bruno Forte as the author. It is extraordinary that the Relatio post disceptationem (amounting to 6,000 words), which was supposed to reflect the discussions of the Synod Fathers after (post) the close of their discussions on Friday evening (a task which would have required careful study not only of all the oral but also all of the written interventions, and a careful examination of what might be considered the “consensus” on each issue), was not only presented to the Fathers in Italian by Monday morning, but also available in excellent translations in English, French, German, and Spanish. It soon became clear to almost everyone that the document had been prepared beforehand, and simply presented as a fait accompli to be endorsed by the Synod. In other words, the Synod Fathers were confronted with the fact that there had been freedom on the surface, tyranny beneath.
Between Monday and Thursday Morning the Synod Fathers met in groups called “circuli minors” (“circles” in which a common language was spoken) in order to discuss the Relatio post disceptationem and propose changes. On Thursday morning the collective gathering of all the Fathers resumed. Shortly after 9 A.M. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, took the floor and announced that the relations?em> of the “circuli minors” would not be made public – an action which was the exact reverse of what had happened with the presentation of the carefully pre-prepared Relatio post disceptationem. Clearly, the intention was to conceal the enormous amount of dissent present among the Fathers. Matteo Matzuzzi, of the Italian daily newspaper Il Foglio describes the scene thus:
“In other words, only the Relatio post desceptationem, signed by Cardinal Erdo, and written by Abp. Bruno Forte, would have been fed to the press. Against the novelty presented by Baldisseri, rose up Cardinal George Pell, who strongly contested the decision. After him, a long line of Fathers, from the Archbishop of Brussels, Abp. Leonard, to that of Durban, Cardinal Napier, asked for the matter to be at least put to a vote. Even the Secretary of State took the floor. And all in the atmosphere of a stadium, with standing ovation and even some booing. The Pope, seated at the presidency table, looked on, impassive [again, we see the Silence of Francis – although it has been noted that there were frequent exchanges of written notes between the Pope and Cardinal Baldisseri]. At the end, as Cardinal Christopher Schonborn would say some hours later at the press conference, ‘the decision to render public the relations of the circuli was taken by large majority’.”
The final document, the Relatio Synod, proposed to the Synod Fathers for vote the afternoon of October 18, contained paragraphs which represented a severe watering down of the offending passages quoted above from the Relatio post desceptationem. What is essential to realize, however, is that paragraphs 52 and 53 (dealing with readmission of the divorced and re-married to Sacramental Communion) in the Relatio Synodi clearly accepted the validity of the question as to whether the divorced and remarried might be readmitted to Sacramental Communion. Even though they both failed to receive the 2/3 majority necessary for passage (paragraph 52: 104 placet, 74 non-placet; paragraph 53: 112 placet, 64 non-placet), the vote clearly revealed the a very significant majority of the bishops were willing to consider a pastoral practice which would admit those living in mortal sin to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion.
As for the question of “inclusiveness” towards homosexuals, paragraph 55 still endorsed a pastoral position which stated that “men and women with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and gentleness (obviously this statement, while subject to orthodox interpretation and praxis, could also be considered a seed for the “inclusiveness” endorsed by the Relatio post descetationem). It received 118 placet votes, and 62 non-placet.
Clearly, therefore, a large majority of the bishops participating in the Synod are living in a state of mind in which the Principle of Non-Contradiction has been abandoned, accompanied by a rejection of the traditional understanding of such realities as mortal sin and sanctifying grace. Clearly this is an agenda designed and promoted by Satan. And at the center of this agenda, as its principle human architect stands Pope Francis.
It is important to realize at this point that none of the analysis made above amounts to a judgment upon the personal culpability of either bishops or Pope. Virtually the whole “civilized” world has been seduced by the reductive science and evolutionary mentality which is the root cause of this incredible folly. It is perfectly conceivable therefore that some who are extremely effective tools of Satan in this assault upon God’s Rule, are also victims, whose good will towards God, Christ, and His Church is still intact. Only God can judge. As Our Lord said to Mother Mariana, Satan avails himself of both good and evil persons to achieve his ends. The facts remain, however: that what is happening is the work of Satan; that many of the people engaged in this work can be named; and that one of these is the present Pope.
Pope Francis’ Speech at the Close of the Synod
One of the most frequent techniques employed by those who are masters of dialectical, evolutionary change is to falsely claim the possession of a middle ground between extremes. The falsity lies in the fact that the “moderate” ground which they claim to occupy is itself an extreme violation of the Truth.
We see this very clearly in the political realm. In 1950, the “middle of the ground” voter in America was anti-abortion, anti-homosexual- rights, anti gay marriage, etc. On the other hand, the person who was for these so-called “rights” was considered extreme left. This same pro-abortion, pro-homosexual rights person can now claim the political center, and at the same time convince most of the population that the anti-abortion and anti-homosexual- rights person, who once was able to make this same claim of being main-stream, is now a potential right-wing terrorist. Such is the nature of the liberal dialectic which now is in possession of the soul of this country.
Having claimed the middle ground, this same person, especially if he is a politician, must also be able to point to a position on his “extreme” left which he condemns. This is not hard for him to do. He can condemn the positions of all sorts of people who are more radical and revolutionary than himself. He condemns those who use any sort of violence in their pursuit of liberal change. He can claim that he is not really pro-abortion, but rather pro-choice. He condemns those who promote a militant homosexual agenda that extends to violating the free-choice of others, especially children. He can even point to being a moderate in the fact that he might support programs that will reduce the rate of abortion. In other words, he can set up a position to his left which he also condemns vociferously. He is a reasonable, decent “moderate”
Pope Francis’ speech at the end of the Synod is a masterpiece of such dialectical art. He first claimed that “with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “journey together.” This speaks of a unity among the episcopacy participating in the Synod which is simply false – in effect, a lie. The Synod was severely divided between those who affirmed the teaching of the Gospel concerning the Family, and those who denied it.
He then proceeds to affirm that, despite this alleged unity, there were temptations to disunity on the part of extremists which were a threat to this unity. He enumerates several, but in fact they come down to only two temptations, which very much mirror the “right” and “left” which I have explored in the political dialectic above.
The first is that of the “traditionalist”, whose “temptations” are delineated in the following passage:
“- One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.”
The notion that “rigidly” defending the Rule of God in regard to marriage, divorce, and the pre-requisite state of sanctifying grace necessary for receiving Holy Communion amounts to a “temptation”, and that instead we must be open to a “God of surprises” who would contradict this Rule, obviously places Pope Francis in the camp of those who are doing the work of Satan.
It is, however, the second “temptation” which involves the most deceit, for it is here that Pope Francis appears to be condemning the “liberals” – thus appearing to soothe the fears of traditional and conservative Catholics. There are several passages in his speech which condemn this “temptation”, all conveying the same essential message. Here I will quote two, while offering a brief comment after each:
“- The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”
In this passage, Pope Francis might appear to be affirming exactly what the traditional Catholic would claim; that we cannot grant readmission to communion for the divorce and re-married under a pretext of “deceptive mercy”. But that is not at all the case. The reader will remember his praise of the “serene theology” of Cardinal Kasper’s address to the Consistory in February, 2014. Pope Francis’ thinking throughout his speech to the Synod very much reflects Kasper’s views. Cardinal Kasper did not propose the re-admission of all divorced and remarried persons to Holy Communion (which would be equivalent to what Pope Francis calls “deceptive mercy” – or as Cardinal Kasper terms it in the passage immediately below, a “cheapened mercy”), but only those who fulfilled certain conditions or pre-requisites. This position is best expressed in the following passages from Cardinal Kasper’s speech to the Consistory:
“The indissolubility of sacramental marriage and the impossibility of a new marriage during the lifetime of the other partner is part of the tradition of the Church’s binding faith that cannot be abandoned or undone by appealing to a superficial understanding of cheapened mercy….”
We see that here, Cardinal Kasper attempts to claim the position of being in full accord with the Church’s infallible teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. But he then proceeds:
“The question is: This way that stands beyond rigorism and laxity, the way of conversion, which issues forth in the sacrament of mercy, the sacrament of penance, is it also the path that we could follow in the present question?”
“A divorced and remarried person: 1. if he repents of his failure in the first marriage, 2. if he has clarified the obligations of the first marriage, if it is definitively ruled out that he could turn back, 3. if he cannot abandon without further harm the responsibilities taken on with the new civil marriage, 4. if however he is doing the best he can to live out the possibilities of the second marriage on the basis of the faith and to raise his children in the faith, 5. if he has a desire for the sacraments as a source of strength in his situation, should we or can we deny him, after a period of time in a new direction, of “metanoia,” the sacrament of penance and then of communion?’
I have rendered the second quote from Cardinal Kasper’s speech in bold because the thought expressed therein holds the key to understanding Pope Francis’ dialectic as set forth in his speech to the Synod.
On the one hand, the Pope condemns “traditionalists” who are “rigorists” because they would always deny Sacramental Communion to those living in objective mortal sin. In so doing, as I have pointed out, he is condemning the teaching of the Gospel. But in the mind of Pope Francis, as already quoted from his interview with Antonio Spadaro, “the saving Love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.” He has thus set up a “Law of Mercy” which supersedes the Rule of God Himself.
On the other hand, in other passages, he also condemns those whom he labels as progressive and liberals, who would promote a “deceptive” mercy. Apparently, such “liberals” would offer Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried without requiring the bogus (because it does not require turning away from the mortal sin of adultery) “path of conversion” proposed by Cardinal Kasper.
He is thus able to deceptively identify himself as a person who, while claiming to fully accept the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, has yet discovered a way of penance and conversion – a way of mercy – which will readmit the divorced and remarried to Sacramental Communion. In other words, this ”middle ground of mercy” amounts to a flat denial of the objective state of mortal sin in which such persons find themselves, and instead offers a “law of gradualism’ which will supersede the objective moral Rule of God. Such is the “mercy” of both Pope Francis and Cardinal Kasper.
The proof is, as it were, “in the pudding.” Despite the fact that the controversial passages of the Relatio Synodi did not receive the 2/3 majority necessary for passage, Pope Francis has ordered that they be passed on for inclusion in the second part of the Synod on the Family which is scheduled for next October. He has, in other words, personally and specifically intervened in order to insure that the Synod of Bishops will be forced to again consider the establishment of a pastoral practice which would legitimize Eucharistic Sacrilege, thus confirming and blessing those in mortal sin who are guilty of such sacrilege.
I have spent a good deal of space here detailing the satanic attack that is now being made upon the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family by those who are responsible for its defense. This attack from within the Church is of course paralleled by an even more blatant and virulent attack by governments, the secular media, and educational institutions, with the intention to utterly destroy the traditional family. But it is the prostitution of the Pope and many bishops to this agenda (even though this prostitution be only partial), which is fueling the engines of that secular agenda which Satan’s minions may well believe to be the final victory over Christ’s Church. In order to fight the good fight, we must know the enemy. This has been my purpose in detailing the nature of this assault. In order to defeat the enemy, however, we must use the weapons offered and sanctioned by God. It is to this subject we will turn next.
The Secret Designs of God in the Laity
Just as it is right to consider the Crucifixion of Our Lord both as the accomplishment of Satan and, at the same time, the work of God for our salvation, so it is permissible to view the machinations of Pope Francis, Cardinal Kasper, and other co-conspirators at the Synod as the work of Satan, and at the same time a chastisement of God in preparation of victim souls being formed for the Triumph of Our Lady and Christ’s Catholic Church: “For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb 12:6).
That we deserve this chastisement is incontestably true. Earlier, I mentioned the period of approximately 110 years (from Pius IX through Pius XII) in which Catholics were showered with God’s graces, especially through multiple papacies. During that same period, the Catholic faithful, at a geometrically accelerating pace, amalgamated their lives to a culture of reductive scientism and unending scientific-technological progress; bowed their heads to usury and money-speculation (including the stock –market); and increasingly embraced materialism, hedonism, and secularism in almost every area of their lives, including fashion, education and all forms of entertainment and the media. In so doing, they were rejecting every one of the Beatitudes, and preparing the ground for the mockery and scorn to which the Church is now subjected on a massive scale by the world.
The way of return to Our Lord, and therefore also the way which merits God’s victory over Satan, lies in how we respond to this chastisement. It is obvious that the essential basis for this “return” is amendment of our live and a return to living the Beatitudes. Equally essential, however, is that this return requires “understanding with the heart” the nature of the Mystical Body of Christ, and the suffering love which each of us must bear for the Church in its present Passion.
Again, I turn to the life of Mother Mariana in order to understand the fundamental principles involved in this return.
On February 2, 1634 (the Feast of the Purification and Presentation), Our Lady appeared with the Infant Jesus, and placed Him in the arms of Mother Mariana. Resting in her arms, Our Lord revealed many things to her, including the following:
“I will preserve this beloved Church until the consummation of time. It will be strongly attacked but never conquered. For if men will be lacking, I will send down Legions of Angels from Heaven for its conservation, defense, and triumph. In these ill-fated epochs, I will govern it according to My pleasure and My will by means of My Vicars on earth residing in Rome, the city of the Popes of invincible and intrepid Faith. Those who subject themselves to him, recognizing him as My representative on earth and rendering him full obedience, will be blessed by My Celestial Father and will reign with Me in Heaven.” (II, 143).
Thus, we have two strains of thought in the apparitions to Mother Mariana in regard to the Papacy.
On the one hand, as detailed in quotes offered earlier from the Our Lady’s Apparitions, there are those prophecies concerning what certainly appears to be a Pope who is silent and blinded, and who “will join the enemies of the Church to help them accomplish their designs”.
As I have said, I believe that this prophesied Pope may well be with us now. However, even if Francis is not the particular Pope to which this prophecy applies, what follows is still fully relevant.
On the other hand, we have the words of Our Lord quoted above which require subjection and full obedience to the Pope.
There is possibly no concept which is more foreign to practically everyone in the modern world than that of “full obedience”. Elsewhere in my writings I have mentioned the extraordinary ignorance on the part of most Catholics in regard to the dogma of Papal Primacy in regard to the government and discipline of the Church. As taught by Vatican
“Hence we teach and declare that by the appointment of our Lord the Roman Church possesses a sovereignty of ordinary power over all other Churches, and that this power of jurisdiction of the Roman pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate; to which all, of what¬soever rite and dignity, are bound, by their duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, to submit, not only in matters which belong to faith and morals, but also in those that appertain to the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world; so that the Church of Christ may be one flock under one supreme pastor, through the preservation of unity, both of communion and of profession of the same faith, with the Roman pontiff. This is the teaching of Catholic truth, from which no one can deviate without loss of faith and salvation.”
I have never found an adequate treatment of this doctrine in either a pre or post-Conciliar catechism. There is a reason for this ignorance of such an important doctrine. It lies in a terrible loss of the truly Catholic sense of obedience, and in a correspond¬ing failure to understand the relationship of obedience to the uniquely Catholic concept of charity within the Mystical Body of Christ. The following quotation from one of St. Peter’s Letters will help us to rediscover this relationship:
“Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God’s sake: whether it be to the king as excelling; Or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of the good: For so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not as making liberty a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if for conscience towards God, a man endures sorrows, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if committing sin, and being buffeted for it, you endure? But if doing well you suffer patiently, this is thankworthy before God. For unto this are you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. Who, when he was reviled, did not revile: when he suffered, he threatened not: but delivered himself to him that judged him unjustly.” (1st Pet 2:13-23).
St. Peter instructs us, “For unto this you are called.” Unto what? To submission, to obedience and to even slavery and death. Further, this obedience and patient suffering is to be rendered not only to the just master but also to the “froward” and the unjust. None of this, of course, entails that we are to be obedient where such obedience involves sin. We must obey God rather than men. But this is precisely the issue involved here. It is the will of God that all Catholics be subject to the discipline and government of the reigning Pontiff, even when that government and discipline might be considered unjust.
We need to seriously meditate on the above passage of scripture to understand how foreign it is to our way of thinking. As Americans, we need to understand that our country is founded upon a principle which is almost the perfect negation of Peter’s teaching:
“That to secure these rights (Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness), Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; That whenever any Form of government becomes destructive of these ends it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it . . .” (Declaration of Independence)
The right to reject any act of government or discipline, which we subjectively believe to be unjust, is deeply imbedded in our consciences.
It was not in Christ’s conscience. He was the first to practice this apparently unreasonable obedience, and we must follow and imitate Him if we are to merit salvation. The above passage from St. Peter also explains the reason why we must do so: this patient, obedient, and unearned suffering is “thankworthy before God.” The Greek word translated in the Douay-Rheims Bible as “thankworthy” is none other than “charis” – the word used throughout the New Testament for “grace”. In other words, our obedience, and the suffering which it might entail, is “grace” before God.
It has been a very strong tendency since the Protestant Revolution and the Council of Trent to conceive of our bond with Christ’s Mystical Body almost exclusively in terms of possession of the Catholic Faith. This, of course, corresponds to our submission to the Pope in his Primacy concerning teaching on faith and morals. But, as Paul says in Galatians, what “availeth” unto salvation is “faith that worketh by charity.” (Gal 5:6). As pointed out by the teaching of Vatican I, the means by which faith becomes established in charity is through that bond of unity within Christ’s Mystical Body which is established upon the rock of obedience and submission to the Papal Primacy of Government and Discipline of the Church. This is the path by which Faith becomes incarnated in the life of the Church, and the means by which grace is merited. And this is why rejection of obedience to the Pope is his government and discipline of the Church entails the loss of that grace which is the very life-blood of the Church. Such is the position in which such groups as the SSPX and the Sedevacantists find themselves. They are depriving both themselves and the Church of the grace whereby Our Lady’s Triumph will be achieved.
Mother Mariana’s life is the perfect exemplar of this suffering obedience. She of course accepted the Bishop as the Vicar of Christ’s representative in Quito, and also recognized him as having complete authority over the life of her convent. At his hands, she willing embraced unjust persecution, repeated imprisonment, deprivation of Mass, and exclusion from all facets of the Community life of her Convent, including community prayers. This was “grace before God”.
All this, however, was not “blind obedience”. It is revealing, in this regard, to study her relationship with the Bishop who possessed full authority over her Convent from 1607-1612, Bishop Salvador de Ribera. Bishop Ribera’s reign was characterized by a great deal of harshness and imprudence, and favoritism towards the members of his own family and others of influence. Fr. Pereira tells us that no one mourned his passing. But he also had a strong devotion towards Our Lady and the rosary, and would be ultimately responsible for blessing the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Success, and her enthronement in the Abbess’s chair of the Convent. As detailed by Fr. Pereira, his salvation was intimately connected with the intercession of Mother Mariana.
It was in fact Our Lady herself who instructed Mother Mariana to criticize Bishop Ribera to his face. In her Apparition of January 21, 1610, she said the following:
“Further, tell the governing Bishop – a man of indiscrete zeal who sows dissension and rancor among the clergy and the people – that every Prelate should be the father of all classes of people, taking the party of none, in imitation of the Divine Pastor Jesus Christ Who said, “Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of Heart. All creatures are equal in their souls, and Heaven was created for all those who desire to go there, for my Most Holy Son died on a shameful Cross as Redeemer of all, with the exception of none. Souls condemn themselves of their own will.”
Just and temperate criticism of the errors of members of the hierarchy, especially when these involve the teachings of our Faith, is the right, and can be the responsibility, of any of the members of the Church. It does not, when done rightly, break the unity and charity of the Mystical Body of Christ; and it can even be an obligation of charity. We see this, for instance, in Paul resisting Peter “to the face”, of St. Catherine of Siena’s severe criticisms of such Popes as Gregory XI and Urban VI, and especially in her scathing denunciations of the Cardinals who elected the Antipope Clement VII.
Thus, we see that there is no conflict between what Our Lady speaks of as “full obedience”, on the one hand, and that lucid perception of the truths and realities of our faith which permits, and can even require, criticism of our superiors, including the Pope himself. But we will never find a St. Paul, St. Catherine of Siena, or Mother Mariana proposing the consecration of bishops expressly against a Papal mandate not do so, the forming of what St. Augustine termed “conventicles” independent of the Pope’s jurisdiction, or claiming of the position of Sedevacantism.
What this entails is that the primary form of victimhood which now descends upon the laity, in tandem with their defense of the Faith, is their union with the Church. I have already detailed what this cost Mother Mariana – including deprivation of the right to assist at Mass and receive Holy Communion. There is no telling how far such deprivations can go. There are innumerable gifts which have come to us through Christ and His Church which we have come to assume that we have inalienable rights, but to which we have no absolute right, and which God can will to deprive us of in chastisement for our sins, and in imitation of His own Passion. This can certainly include deprivation of the Traditional Mass, and much else. If we think carefully about all this, we should conclude that everything could conceivably be taken away except the grace of baptism, and the grace of faith. These we can only lose through the exercise of our own free will.
In addition, there is no guarantee that members of the hierarchy, from the Pope on down, cannot embrace philosophical and theological concepts and pastoral practices which profoundly contradict the necessary implications of magisterial doctrine. Such is precisely what is happening with the Synod on the Family. Such also are the disastrous acts of ecumenism engaged in by recent Popes. Interestingly enough, probably the first recorded example of such magisterial contradiction by a Pope was Peter. While having been the first to teach that Christ’s redemptive act was for all men, and that “God is not a respecter of Persons” (Acts 10:34), he yet refused to eat with the Gentiles in Galatia “fearing them who were of the circumcision.” His action was definitely in contradiction to the magisterium, but did not violate the magisterium itself. The Church is now immersed in such contradictions.
All of this can cause us to enter into deep levels of spiritual, intellectual, and emotional deprivation and confusion. It threatens our faith and charity, and presents powerful temptations towards those disastrous excesses to which such movements as the SSPX and Sedevacantism have succumbed.
For those who choose not to abandon the Cross, however, it is within the depths of this suffering that is to be found the grace of victory. As to the possible extent of these sufferings, we need only consider the case of Mother Mariana as a victim soul suffering five years in Hell for the soul of the “Captain”. Even though her sufferings were more intense, and accompanied by extraordinary phenomena (especially in the physical realm), they also speak fully of what is “human” in all of us when the soul is immersed in darkness. She speaks of tedium in all things spiritual, and of being “completely insensible to her God”. Descending even deeper into this darkness, she experienced hatred, fury, “unending rage and despair”, and a “total suspicion with regard to God.” In a Church which has descended from the glories of the past to the prostitution of the present, having to pass through such spiritual, mental, and emotional anguish and confusion is not inconceivable for any one of us.
This is the ultimate test of our faith, and it is where love proves true. Herein lies God’s secret designs of victory.
The Family: A Garden Enclosed
Today, as I write, is the Feast of the Holy Family in the Traditional Liturgy. It is within the Holy Family that the Incarnation began. It is within families that the Incarnation is remembered, nurtured, and brought to fruition in the children of God.
Faithful Catholic families are the catacombs of today’s Church. The catacombs of old protected the Catholic faithful from the pagan world which sought to destroy the Church from without. The faithful families of today protect their members from those who seek to destroy, not only from without, but from within. For those fathers and mothers who possess the faith, love and courage to make it so, the family is a “garden enclosed”, secure from the ravages of the worst of bishops, or even the consequences of a “silent” Pope.
As I have pointed out, the truths concerning marriage and the family are, so to speak, the most fragile of all Catholic doctrines. But the family itself carries within itself the deepest “memory” of the truth and love which constitutes being created in the image of God. When Jesus was questioned about the legitimacy of divorce, he replied, “From the beginning it was not so.” Next to such hidden,victim souls as Mother Mariana, therefore,the truly Catholic family is the great reservoir for spiritual strength and renewal in the Church.
As a Religious, Mother Mariana had no such garden. Her victimhood was always and directly exposed to the good or bad will of her bishop in every facet of her life. It is not so with the family. As Pope John Paul II pointed out in Familiaris Consortio, the divinely established prerogatives of the family, especially in regard to the rearing and education of their children, are “completely inalienable”. (#40).
It is worthwhile to contemplate what would be the situation of the family, if by some almost uniimaginable chastisement, it should be deprived of all the non-inalienable gifts of the Church.
Let us begin with the Mass. There have, in fact, been many times in history when large numbers of the faithful have been deprived of Mass, and such situations almost certainly exist today. We might immediately think of Our Lord’s words in John 6: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life within you.” And therefore we are tempted to ask, “What about these persons who are deprived of the Mass?” The answer is provided by St. Thomas and St. Augustine. In ST, III, Q.3, Thomas proposes the question: “Whether the Eucharist is necessary for salvation?”:
“As St. Augustine says (explaining John 6:54), ‘This food and this drink, namely, of His flesh and blood, He would have us understand the fellowship of His body and members, which is the Church in His predestinated and called, and justified, and glorified, His holy and believing ones.’ Hence, as he says in his epistle to Boniface: ‘No one should entertain the slightest doubt, that then every one of the faithful becomes a partaker of the body and blood of Christ, when in Baptism he is made a member of Christ’s body nor is he deprived of his share in that body and chalice even though he depart from this world in the unity of Christ’s body, before he eats that bread and drinks of that chalice.”
Baptism, of course, is usually administered by a priest. But if such becomes physically or morally impossible, it may be administered by any of the faithful, especially the parents of the child.
As for the Sacrament of Confession, in any situation in which sacramental confession becomes impossible, the act may validly be performed with Perfect Contrition.
Marriage, upon which the Church normally and rightly requires her blessing by a Priest or Deacon, is truly administered by the spouses themselves. When such blessing is not physically or morally possible, the sacrament may be validly administered by the spouses.
In the family, in other words, God established a hidden “consortium” in which all things necessary for our salvation and sanctification are provided in the midst of the darkest hour of the Church. Under darkness, in the heart of the Holy Family, Jesus was born and “advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men”. God chooses what appears to be weak and small in order to triumph.
There is simply no reason to despair, no reason to enter into “conventicles” in direct defiance to the Pope, no justification for sedevacantism. Any one of these choices amounts to, at least implicitly, an assertion that God does not know what He is doing, that God is not trustworthy, or that God has failed. If, on the other hand, we embrace not only the Faith, but also the Charity which has been gifted to us as the particular Cross of these trials prophesied by Mother Mariana for our time, then Our Lady will be our refuge and the way that will lead us to God.
We are surrounded by Beauty. This Beauty, and the joy of contending for the Triumph of God’s Rule, is what we need to communicate to our children.