“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)
The Mystery of the Presentation actually involves two mysteries: the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple. It is this double Mystery to which the whole purpose of the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church effort is most intimately and directly related. And it is for the purpose of a deeper penetration of our minds and hearts into the meaning of this Mystery, and its special application to the situation in which we now find ourselves in both the Church and the modern world, that this long article is directed.
From the very beginning of this effort we have been very much inclined to discuss the apparitions of Our Lady of Good Success of the Purification, whose Feast Day is Feb 2. These apparitions relate directly to the purification of the Church, and especially the purification of the Church after the profound decay in Christian life and civilization that occurred in the 20th Century (and is still largely with us).We avoided doing so in preparation for the first Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church event only because the time was short, and knowledge of these apparitions among the faithful, while growing rather rapidly, was only partial. We propose here to remedy this situation.
For those faithful Catholics who are at all aware of the present situation both in the Church and the world, certain rather desperate questions present themselves.
The first is quite simple:, “Why is all this happening?”
The second question is: “How can this situation possibly be remedied?” With a hierarchy, and especially the College of Cardinals, increasingly 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 is equally simple: What are we – especially the laity – supposed to do?
It is our 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. It is suggested that the reader obtain this work, which is available from The Apostolate of Our Lady of Good Success: https://www.ourladyofgoodsuccess.com/collections/books
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. The following is from the 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.
We must realize, 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 faithful Catholics in Christ’s Church.
We might be tempted to be somewhat” put off” by the word Success in Our Lady’s title. 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 therefore extremely important to understand 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 Candlemas, 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.” (Luke 2: 35).
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), which have characterized much of the treatment of Fatima in recent years. 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 had consigned her. We see strong evidence of this “release” just within the past couple of years with all the events, rosary crusades, and renewed interest in the messages of Our Lady of Fatima which have emerged out of the 100th Anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions in 1917.
The Beginning: An Apocalyptic Vision
The life of Mother Mariana is an epic, dense with the miraculous. It cannot be our purpose here to offer anything approaching a comprehensive biography. For this, the reader is referred to Fr. Pereira’s work. Our purpose here, rather, is to focus on certain events in her life which 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.
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 conveys the truth that at the heart of the contest between Satan and God over the Conceptionist Convent in Quito is the Franciscan-Conceptionist Rule. Throughout its 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 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. Mary’s presenting herself in the Temple for purification 40 days after the birth of Jesus was a perfect example of such obedience. 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 it is such absolutely vital Truths about the Catholic Faith about which Pope Francis is purposefully silent (or de-emphasizes) 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 apparently 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 God’s Rule
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 in a 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 sightliness, 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 in which we now appear to be 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, 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 30-50 years, a necessary “shaking up” in order to make some sort of adjustment.. 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 – not only in vast numbers of the laity, but also in much of the hierarchy.
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 conversion through the preaching of the Truth of Christ. It is Truth which is the Life of Christ, and therefore the light of souls. To deny souls this “light” in the name of a false unity, mercy and charity actually amounts to a hatred of souls. And this is what is being expressed through a false ecumenism and inclusiveness towards religions, systems of thought, and moral practices which are objectively evil. Pope Francis is now engaged in this effort 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.
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. 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 already 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). 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 would eventually 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 in Quito, 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 era” (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. The reader is again asked to read 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).
We 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 we 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, the following passages from Fr. Pereira’s account are here offered:
“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 sisters, 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 – from 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.
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, luke-warmness, etc. somehow end up cooperating with Satan. 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 and “inclusiveness” in the Name of Christ, have acquiesced to the agenda of those who embrace a “silence” towards the hard truths of Christ’s teaching – ranging from theological dogmas such as transubstantiation or the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation, to the Church’s immutable teachings condemning abortion, homosexuality, the reception of Holy Communion by those who have civilly divorced and remarried, and the practice of contraception.
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 present crisis within the Church 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, we considered 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; and increasingly embraced materialism, hedonism, impurity, 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 lives, obedience to God’s commandments, and living the Beatitudes. Equally essential, however, is “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, we turn to the life of Mother Mariana in order to understand the fundamental principles involved in this love.
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).
Many Catholics who have a deep love for the Church, and truly want to follow Christ in all things, are now having a great deal of difficulty with the concept of “full obedience” to a Pope who is doing what Francis is doing. Unquestionably, he is promoting pastoral policies which include legitimizing the reception of Holy Communion for at least some of those who have been divorced and remarried, and an inclusiveness within the Church for those who are engaged in grave mortal sins such as homosexuality or contraception. In addition, he has also promoted such concepts as the equality of the issue of immigration with that of abortion, the non-existence of Hell, and the denial of the necessity for conversion to the Catholic Faith for those who are outside her fold. And all during his five-year Papacy, he has issued strong condemnations against those Catholics who place adherence to God’s “Rules” in the way of implementing his program for a false mercy. No faithful Catholic can possibly believe that to “follow” Pope Francis in such practices and beliefs is a requirement for reigning with Our Lady in Heaven. We cannot, therefore, believe that the “full obedience” to the Vicar of Christ spoken of by Our Lady extends to such aberrant policies and statements.
Nor need we do so. Rendering “full obedience” to the Vicar of Christ, when we understand the limits placed upon the powers and prerogatives which Christ bestowed upon the Papacy, is not at all inconsistent with criticism of a Pope’s personal errors in regard to doctrines and their implications, nor is it inconsistent with refusing to follow these errors and policies if they are contrary to the Gospel.
In light of all that is happening in regard to Pope Francis, his silence in relation to Catholic Truth and his agenda of inclusiveness towards living in objective mortal sin, it is difficult not to see the following three prophecies of Our Lady of Good Success as applying to his Papacy:
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, 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. 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.
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”. There is, in fact, an 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 Council I;
“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 whatsoever 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.”
One will likely search in vain for a good treatment of this doctrine in pre or post-Conciliar catechisms. 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 corresponding 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 (1 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 (unless it requires us to sin), 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 willingly 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 (as was the case with Archbishop Lefebvre), 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 now, especially in relation to moral doctrines of our Faith. 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
It was 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 physical catacombs of the early Church 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.
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 unimaginable 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.”
As for the Sacrament of Baptism, it is of course 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, sins (including mortal sins) can be forgiven where there is Perfect Contrition.
Marriage, upon which the Church normally and rightly requires the witness and blessing by a Priest or Deacon, is truly administered by the spouses themselves. When the presence of a priest 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.
“What Are You Doing?”
There is simply no reason to despair, no reason to enter into “conventicles” in direct defiance to the Pope, no necessity to entertain intellectual fantasies about the present Pope having not been validly elected, or to spin sophistries seeking means to declare the Pope deposed of his office. 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 in his promises, or that God has failed. If, on the other hand, we unite ourselves to the Heart of Mary, now pierced with the sword of sorrows and suffering necessary for the purification of the Church and the triumphal re-entry of the Light of Christ into his temple, then our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will not only be our refuge and the way that will lead us to God, but the means by which we also may become true vessels of merciful love and full participants in God’s “secret designs” of mercy for a suffering, sinful world. Unquestionably, the primary means which Our Lady has given us to effect this spiritual childhood in service to Her Triumph is the Rosary.
At Fatima, in preparation for the apparitions of Our Lady, the Angel of Portugal appeared to three small children while they were at rest, and said in a tone of gentle admonition, “What are you doing, you must pray. You must pray a great deal. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you.” The Rosary is not just requested by Mary as a daily “task” in obedience to Our Lady’s request. It needs to become something much more if we are truly to become vessels of mercy in union with the pierced Heart of Mary for the Purification of the Church. St. Louis de Montfort strongly recommended the praying of all fifteen decades of the Traditional Rosary in order for this transformation to take place. Fidelity to this request, whatever efforts or sacrifices it may take, places a demand upon our minds and hearts that we truly take serious both the words that we are saying, and the actual Mysteries themselves. It is the most efficacious way of transforming the Rosary from a daily task or duty (“saying” the Rosary) into a prayer and song in true service to God’s designs of mercy upon the Church and the world. It is here where the message of Fatima is designed to fulfill, as promised by Our Lady of Good Success, “the secret designs of God in his works.”
We are surrounded by the Beauty of our Faith, and of our hearts resting in Mary. This Beauty, and the joy of contending for the Triumph of God’s Rule, even under what might seem the most adverse and hopeless conditions, is what we need to communicate to our children. We may indeed lose much, or all, of the beauty of the exterior aspects of our faith. We need lose none of the Interior. All the Beauty of the universe exists where Jesus, and Mary and her Rosary, truly live within:
The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say: Behold here, or behold there. For lo, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17: 20-21
It is here where Our Lady waits to vastly enrich our total consecration to her and our belief in her Triumph. It may indeed seem severe to suggest that St. Louis de Montfort’s suggestion for a daily 15 decade Rosary was meant for husbands and wives who may feel overwhelmed already with work and the care of their family. And certainly no one is suggesting that it is a sin not to follow his recommendation. But it might also come as a joyful surprise that all of us do indeed waste many moments every day, and that an extra 40 minutes spent seeking refuge and grace within the Heart of Our Lady will enormously add, and not subtract, from our lives.
*Please pray every Rosary to include the intention: For the Purification of the Church, and also consider asking your pastor to offer a Mass for this same expressed intention.