Sunday, August 30, 2009

The final battle

Have we ever felt that in ourselves and in the cosmic order, there is raging battle? To do good and to avoid evil? But do we not feel that somehow in the times we are living in right now, the battle is so great? When the Church and her teachings have come under severe attacks? When being a faithful follower Christ means being left out and marked as out of tune, politically incorrect?
But what is we indeed are living the time when the final battle is to be waged? We take a look at the Marian apparitions of the past and search for the clues for this final battle that we are part and parcel of.

I. Guadalupe
Why would the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing to a Native American of the recently conquered Aztec empire, and speaking to him in the native Nahuatl language, call herself “of Guadalupe”, a Spanish name?
Some believe that Our Lady used the Aztec Nahuatl word of coatlaxopeuh which is pronounced "quatlasupe" and sounds remarkably like the Spanish word Guadalupe. Coa meaning serpent, tla being the noun ending which can be interpreted as "the", while xopeuh means to crush or stamp out. So Our Lady must have called herself the one "who crushes the serpent."
We must sadly remember that the Aztec priest class executed annually at least 50,000 inhabitans of the land, men, women and children, in human sacrifices to their gods. In 1487, just in a single four-day long ceremony for the dedication of a new temple in Tenochtitlan, some 80,000 captives were killed in human sacrifice. The same practices, which in most cases included the cannibalism of the victims’ limbs, were common also in earlier Mesoamerican cultures, with widespread Olmec, Toltec and Maya human sacrificing rituals.
An almost universal symbol of that religion was the serpent. The temples were richly decorated with snakes. Human sacrifices were heralded by the prolonged beating of huge drums made of the skins of huge snakes, which could be heard two miles away. Nowhere else in human history had Satan, the ancient serpent, so formalized his worship with so many of his own actual symbols.
Certainly, in this case She crushed the serpent, and few years later millions of the natives converted to Christianity.

II. Fatima: Queen of Peace, Lady of the Rosary
During World War I, when millions were killing each other, on 05 May 1917, the Holy Father, Benedict XV, added the title Regina Pacis. Over Vatican Radio, he read his message, begged God for the restoration of peace and implored Our Lady to obtain peace for the world.
Barely eight days later, Our Lord sends His Mother to three children bringing with her the Peace Plan from Heaven. Peace that comes not simply from the cessation of armed conflicts nor from the strong subduing the weak nor from the defeated submitting to the victor, but from prayer, from reparation, from the true devotion to Mary.
At Fatima, Our Lady warned that wars are punishment from God for sin. She said that many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray for them, and that many souls perish more because of the sins of the flesh.
For peace to be obtained, she asked for the Consecration to Her Immaculate Heart, the consecration of Russia and also the consecration of ourselves. In fact, Our Lady told Sor Lucia that she would stay longer on earth because through her, God wishes to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
If at Guadalupe, innocent lives were sacrificed to the false gods, in Europe during the time of the Fatima apparitions, millions of innocent lives were sacrificed at the altars of the wrong notion of nationalism and sovereignty. At Fatima itself, Our Lady forewarned that a greater war would ensue if her requests are left unheeded.
"When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father," said the message. There was special mention of Russia, which was about to turn atheistic. The Virgin asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart to prevent a dangerous future. "If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace," the Blessed Mother prophesied. "If not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated."

III. Lipa Carmel 1948: “What I ask here is the same that I request at Fatima”
World War I in Europe would not end in the 1920’s, it would continue on. Just as Our Lady told Sor Lucia that once she sees a strange light illuminating the skies, it will be the sign the greater war would have begun. And indeed there was the very strange Aurora Borealis in 1938, and came later the invasion of Hitler of neighboring Austria and started World War II.
At the Pacific, it was imperial Japan that subdued its neighbors including the Philippines. Hundreds of thousands died. There were many killing fields, among these the vacant lot in Lipa City in Batangas. After the war, no one wanted to build anything at that vacant lot. It became instead the Carmelite Monastery where Our Lady would transform it from a place of death to a shrine of light and life.
In the 1920’s there lived a Cardinal in Belgium who was devoted to Our Lady, especially under the title, Mediatrix of All Graces. During his time, there was a recently beatified Blessed Louis Marie Grignon di Montfort whose love for Mary was so known. Cardinal Mercier decided to promote both devotions. In fact, to his thinking, through the canonization of Blessed Louis, the definition of the dogma of Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces would be ushered in.
There were a number of theological objections to the possible dogma of the universal mediation of Mary for the obtaining of all graces. The Pope then, Benedict XV, in accession to the requests of Cardinal Mercier decided to institute the Feast of Mary Mediatrix of Grace, set on the date May 31st.
Cardinal Mercier died in 1926 without seeing neither the definition of the dogma of Mary Mediatrix of All Graces nor the canonization of Blessed Louis Marie Grignon di Montfort. He died uttering over and over again Mary Mediatrix, Mary Mediatrix.
In 1947, Blessed Louis Marie Grignon di Montfort was canonized. And less than a year, in the far away island of the Philippines, Our Lady appears and identifies herself as Mary, Mediatrix of All-Grace.

IV. The First and the Final Battle: The Woman and the Serpent (Gen 3:15 and Rev.12)
In Sacred Scripture, in the very first book of Genesis, Our Lord promised a Woman who would have that enmity, that battle against the serpent. That Woman who would bear a fruit and that fruit that would crush the head of the serpent.
In the very last book of the Bible, that same Woman reappears, again bearing a fruit in her womb. The Woman, in fact, was about to give birth. The dragon, the serpent of the Genesis, was about to slay her and her child. Michael the Archangel then appears, defeats Satan and chains him in hell. That was the Final Battle. Satan is defeated.

St. Louis, in his book True Devotion to Mary, prophesies:
But what will they be like, these servants, these slaves, these children of Mary?
They will be ministers of the Lord, who, like a flaming fire, will enkindle everywhere the fires of divine love. They will become, in Mary’s powerful hands, like sharp arrows, with which she will transfix her enemies. (TD, 56)
They will be like thunder-clouds flying through the air at the slightest breath of the Holy Spirit. Attached to nothing, surprised at nothing, troubled at nothing, they will shower down the rain of God’s word and of eternal life. They will thunder against sin, they will storm against the world, they will strike down the devil and his followers and for life and for death, they will pierce through and through with the two-edged sword of God’s word all those against whom they are sent by Almighty God. (TD, 57)

We are part of this Army of Our Lady. We are at war. All those consecrated to Mary forms part of her army, and through this army, Our Lady will defeat Satan.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Assumpta est Maria

The month of August marks the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15) and the Feast of the Queenship of Mary (August 22). The latter intentionally celebrated seven days after the Assumption to mark an octave of celebration.
We have heard it often now, it used to be seldom in the past, that many who are supposed to be better educated than us (for they hold so many degrees in theology, philosophy, or what have you) questioning so many traditional teachings of the Church, or at the very least, “re-reading,” re-defining the Church’s teachings. And even to the extent of questioning the historicity of the Resurrection of Christ.
I find this entry in the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia very educating:
Catholics do not admit that, as is sometimes alleged, dogmas are the arbitrary creations of ecclesiastical authority, that they are multiplied at will, that they are devices for keeping the ignorant in subjection, that they are obstacles to conversions. Some of these are points of controversy which cannot be settled without reference to more fundamental questions. Dogmatic definitions would be arbitrary if there were no Divinely instituted infallible teaching office in the Church; but if, as Catholics maintain, God has established in His Church an infallible office, dogmatic definitions cannot be considered arbitrary. The same Divine Providence which preserves the Church from error will preserve her from inordinate multiplication of dogmas. She cannot define arbitrarily. We need only observe the life of the Church or of the Roman pontiffs to see that dogmas are not multiplied inordinately. And as dogmatic definitions are but the authentic interpretation and declaration of the meaning of Divine revelation, they cannot be considered devices for keeping the ignorant in subjection, or reasonable obstacles to conversions, on the contrary, the authoritative definition of truth and condemnation of error, are powerful arguments leading to the Church those who seek the truth earnestly.
Oops. Probably I sounded very technical here. And yet, we do need to realize that the not so-called educated are wise. We can only turn to the Gospel and hear the Lord telling his listeners that many truths have been hidden from learned and have been revealed to mere children.
And among the dogmas always incurring the criticism of non-Catholics are the Marian dogmas. Among these, of course, is the dogma of the Assumption. But lest we forget, the Church defines dogmas not in relation to their acceptability to other religions nor to the general public but the Church proclaims them as such because they are objective truths.
Hence, the Church proclaims certain truths as dogmas of Faith not because of whim and caprice of some or of many but that basing herself on the Revealed Truth which is Sacred Scripture and on Sacred Tradition, she is able to define dogmas definitively.
Regarding the day, year, and manner of Our Lady's death, nothing certain is known. The earliest known literary reference to the Assumption is found in the Greek work De Obitu S. Dominae. Catholic faith, however, has always derived our knowledge of the mystery from Apostolic Tradition. Epiphanius (d. 403) acknowledged that he knew nothing definite about it. The dates assigned for it vary between three and fifteen years after Christ's Ascension. Two cities claim to be the place of her departure: Jerusalem and Ephesus. Common consent favors Jerusalem, where her tomb is shown; but some argue in favor of Ephesus. The first six centuries did not know of the tomb of Mary at Jerusalem (The Catholic Encyclopedia).
By promulgating the Bull Munificentissimus Deus, 1 November, 1950, Pope Pius XII declared infallibly that the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a dogma of the Catholic Faith.