Monday, 18 January 2021

NEW BOOK RELEASE ON AMAZON: WALK WITH JESUS TO AVOID DEVIL THE DESTROYER

 A new book is being launched on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback versions. 

 Title: Beware of Devil the destroyer

Log into www.amazon.com

Link:

https://www.amazon.com/WALK-JESUS-AVOID-DEVIL-DESTROYER-ebook/dp/B08SJDZZVS/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=walk+with+jesus+to+avoid+devil+the+destroyer&qid=1611569873&sr=8-1

Sunday, 10 January 2021

‘Allah’ of Islam is a pagan moon god, not God the Father in Bible

  There’s considerable misconception among people that Allah of Islam and God the Father in the Holy Bible are the same person. It is not true. The Allah of Islam is the moon idol or god of ancient pagan Arabia.

 True, the literal meaning of Allah is God, but it’s an invented god by a tribe in the Middle East Asia region nearly 1400 years ago. History books say that there were around 360 gods in the Arabian region around Israel – mainly in Mecca, the birth place of Muhammed Nabi. The chief god was supposed to be the Allah. During the period of Muhammed Nabi and his followers in the early 600 AD, they destroyed all other 360 idol gods and retained only the chief god Allah – or the moon god.

 Nabi and followers plundered, looted and killed to spread the concept of moon god or Allah in the following centuries. They are believed to be descendants of Ismail, the son of Abraham from the maid of his wife Sarah.

While Yahweh or Jehovah is the personal name of the God of the Bible, "Allah" is the personal name of the moon god

 During 500-600 AD, pagan Arabians worshipped their moon god Allah. They prayed while bowing toward K'abah (the house of Allah) in Mecca that has a meteorite (a rock from space) several times a day. They visited it once a year, and walked around it several times during their visit.

 Muslims pray bowing toward the K'abah (right) in Mecca five times a day. About two million Muslims visit Mecca every year and walk around the K'abah (the black cube, which is 40 feet tall). The Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts at the sighting of a new crescent moon.

 Yes, Muslims worship crescent moon in the name of Allah. You can see crescent moon perched atop mosques across the world.

 Muslims insist that "Allah" means al + ilah (the god) who is same as the God of the Bible -- not the moon god of pagan Mecca. They even point out that Arabic Christian Bibles use "Allah" to refer to God.

 However, the "Allah" in the Arabic Christian Bibles is literally "the God" and does refer to the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Quran is distortion of facts.

 If the Muslims insist that what the they are worshipping is real God, then why are bowing down to a meteorite five times a day and start their holy month -- or Ramadan -- on the crescent moon? Why they are putting crescent moon atop their mosques and homes? If the "Allah" they are worshipping is genuinely the God of the Bible, then they should worship Him as the Bible instructs. They should accept Jesus as Son of God.

 But they don’t do it. Muslims reject the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They reject the fact that Jesus resurrected on the third day. They contend that Jesus is just a prophet.

 Nabi’s followers took chapters from the Old Testament, added more stuff into it and twisted facts. This was done to create a false impression of credibility and authenticity to their misdemeanours and moon god. They created Quran which has several lies and full of misinformation. Quran was created by Nabi’s followers over 600 years after the death of Jesus Christ. The verses in Quran are misleading and the god that they are worshipping is a moon idol.

The Quran and Muslims have always rejected the divinity of Jesus and refused to accept Him as the Son of God or God himself who came to the world for the salvation of humankind. This falsity is being spread by Satan through Islam. This started from the time of Muhammed Nabi who spread the falsehood that Allah (who they claim to be almighty God) appeared to him in a dream and conveyed the teachings that eventually appeared as Quran. This is the biggest fraud in the history of mankind.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

THE BIGGEST FRAUD ON THE EARTH

 There has been a systematic effort, of late, by Muslims across the world to falsely dub and highlight Jesus Christ as just a prophet and a human being. The Quran and Muslims have always rejected the divinity of Jesus and refused to accept Him as the Son of God or God himself who came to the world for the salvation of humankind. This falsity is being spread by Satan through Islam.

 The falsification of truth started from the time of Muhammed Nabi who spread the falsehood that Allah (who they claim to be almighty God) appeared to him in a dream and conveyed the teachings that eventually appeared as Quran. This is the biggest fraud in the history of mankind.

 Nabi’s so-called dream, Quran, the barbaric teachings and the Islam are the biggest misconception that the world has ever seen. It’s clearly the work of Satan who is angry with the resurrection of Jesus Christ and salvation of mankind. Satan is trying to throw seeds of confusion and misunderstanding through Islam, Nabi and the modern Islam theologians.

 Of late, Islamists have stepped up efforts to denigrate the divinity of Jesus Christ across the world – from India, France, Iran to several countries. The idea of Islamists is to spread the Islam falsehood and destroy Christianity. Church is silent except for some lone voices like Rev Fr Michael Panachikkal who has been calling the bluffs of Islamists and their merchants of mendacity, canard and fabrication.

 Islamists can’t digest the resurrection of Jesus and the reality that He is God. If they accept it, then the foundation or base of Muslim religion will collapse. So they continue with their canards and mendacity of Christianity and Jesus Christ.

  The so-called Allah of Nabi and Muslims is not the God the Father mentioned in the Bible. The entire Quran is a grossly twisted fraud work of Nabi, parts of which were taken from the Holy Bible. The verses were twisted and some outrageous and barbaric verses to suit Nabi’s whims and fancies were added.

  Look at some Muslim nations. There’s no permission to set up a Christian church in some Muslim countries and no public services are allowed. You can’t take the Bible to those countries. Sadly, retribution to sins and sinful activities are also barbaric in those countries.

 In short, falsehood spread by Islamists is the biggest fraud on the earth. Islamists are trying to project the so-called religion as something genuine and original. This is a big smokescreen to deceive people. Islam is a big trap created by Satan. The systematic efforts of Islamists to portray Jesus Christ as a human being and reject resurrection and divinity is aimed at torpedoing God’s plan for salvation.

 Muslim brethren must realise that Jesus Christ is God himself who came to this world for the salvation of humankind. They should not get into the trap of Satan. Hope they will understand and accept Jesus Christ as the saviour, healer and God one day. They will, on the day of judgement.

 

 

Friday, 25 December 2020

CHRISTMAS DAY MUSINGS

 Why was the much-awaited Messiah born in a manger? Jesus Christ could have come in any manner as nothing was impossible for God. Why did Jesus come to this world in this manner. Even the poorest of the poor could have afforded a better birth in those times.

 What message does that give us in this Christmas season? This is to make himself available to everyone -- the poor and the rich alike.
 Are the poor getting Jesus? Are they getting a chance to know Him and follow Him? Church -- there are many divisions-- is largely institutionalised now. Poor are being sidelined.
 Poor people can relate to him… ohhh Jesus was born in such a poor environment. He was also poor like you and me. The rich can relate to Him in another way --- here’s the king of kings. The saviour of mankind. Even three kings, who were actually gentiles, visited him soon after the birth.
 That said, evangelization has taken the back seat. For Roman Catholic church and Eastern churches, church services have become institutionalised and largely mechanical. Protestant churches are in thousands, that too with thousands of interpretations. Many people who were born as Christians don't follow Jesus Christ any longer. They say they have no religion. That's the case in many European countries. The result is that magnificent church buildings are either lying closed or auctioned off as the church is unable to afford the cost of maintenance.      
 Jesus tells us: you should seek poor people… who are homeless and hungry… and those who are usually despised and overlooked and those who cannot repay you. However, we, the church, are not doing it. Church is unable to keep the flock in union with Christ. 
 In this Christmas season we can watch ourselves and if necessary, change ourselves to be more like Christ. It's time to bring everybody -- both poor and rich -- to Jesus Christ. Salvations is through Him alone. Christmas is an occasion to remember this vital fact.   
 

Monday, 21 December 2020

TEN TRUTHS ABOUT A LIAR

  Satan’s Achilles’s heel: hubris. Satan contends with the Son of God, is overpowered, and is ultimately defeated at the cross (Col 2:15). It’s a classic bait-and-switch. Because of his pride, Satan never sees it coming. He lacks omniscience. Pride is his most highlighted characteristic. Satan is smart, but he’s stupid and a loser. While the storyline of Scripture is silent on the precise time of Satan’s personal rebellion and from where his motivation stems, it is quite clear on his nature—he was blinded by pride.

After working through the proper exegetical and biblical-theological motions, we now have a sturdier foundation upon which to establish a few implications that help us to discern the person and activity of Satan:

1.    Satan is not omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, nor eternal.

There was a time when Satan was not. In contrast, there was never a ‘time’ when the Son of God was not, i.e. the Son is eternal. Satan is created and contingent just as humans are (Col 1:16-17). In Job 1:6, the Lord asked Satan, “Where have you come from?” to which he responded, “From roaming through the earth.” He is physically positioned in the universe. He is not omnipresent and, thus, is unlikely to be personally tempting individual Christians. In Matthew 4 and Job 1-2, he fails to know the future and his potency is shown to be limited by God.

2.    Satan exercises his otherworldly dominion by way of a hierarchical, geographical, and militaristic strategy.

In Matthew 4, Satan legitimately offers Jesus the kingdoms of the world. These kingdoms seem to have a geographical and governmental nature. This offer is textually grounded in Deuteronomy 32 and Psalm 82. But through the cross, Jesus took back the authority forfeited in Adam (Col 2:14-15). Therefore, in Matthew 28:18, Jesus states that all authority has been given to Him. In John 12:31 we’re told Satan is the “ruler of this world,” which rings of realm and region. Then, there is that peculiar reference to the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” in Daniel 10:13, 20. This dark prince opposes the angel Gabriel and the angelic prince Michael. It’s hierarchical. Experientially, this rings true. The nature of spiritual warfare varies depending on the continent and culture (North America, Asia, Africa, etc.). Satan leads a hierarchy of demons (Mt 12:24), a divergent and highly capable army, which implies he is leading an otherworldly ‘outfit’ that personally tempts persons (Col 2:15, 1 Pt 5:8-9) depending on the sinful sensibilities of a given culture.

3.    Satan can manipulate matter, weather systems, and bacterial life.

We see in Job 1 that Satan is able to manipulate matter and weather patterns and, in Job 2:8, he infects Job with a skin disease. His purpose is to afflict Job, and for our machinations, we note he is capable of feats not afforded to humans.

4.    Satan can influence and sway legal proceedings and governmental structures.

 In Revelation 2:10, Jesus states that Satan is in the process of influencing Smyrna’s legal proceedings by throwing a collection of Christians into prison. Likewise, in Job 1:17, he manipulates the Chaldeans, encouraging them to steal Job’s livestock. Though we are not told how he exerts his influence, we surmise he is the agent of these activities.

5.    Satan aggressively seeks to trap 
individual Christians.

 1 Timothy 3:7 says he seeks to trap elders. He is spoken of as a federal head type of figure. His minions study individuals and then seek to tempt and twist them in accordance with particularized patterns of sin. They cater and concoct a seemingly irresistible elixir of poison just for you. Television, social media, fast food, biology, age, and gender are all thrown into the recipe.

6.    Satan is more skilled at deception than any other created being.

 John 8:44 says his nature is to lie. If his mouth is moving, he is lying. He is the original liar and, therefore, the father of lies. Every lie was and is birthed in him. However, deception is all he has in his arsenal against Christians. As Colossians 2:15 teaches, this side of Calvary, Satan can accuse, but he knows—and his rebel realm know—that he has been reduced to utter fragility at the cross.

7.    Satan is able to kill Christians.

 He is able to kill you physically (Job 1-2), but not eternally (Rom 8). In Job 2, when Satan goes a second time to the LORD in the divine courtroom, he asks permission to kill Job, but God denies his request. I take that to mean Satan could have killed him, but God would not allow it. Everything Satan does comes crashing down on his own head, eventually crushing his skull (Gn 3:15) unto the glory of the Son of God and for the Christian’s good.

8.    Satan is the Lord’s lackey for the Christian’s holiness.

 In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul says his thorn is “a messenger of Satan,” and yet the Lord kindly uses the thorn (against Paul’s will!) to produce sanctification and spiritual power in Paul’s ministry. How kind of the Lord to give Paul his thorn! Satan plays the pawn in God’s economy, and the thorn stays against Paul’s will. Thus, Satan is ever-regulated by Romans 8 and, therefore, is providentially powerless to wound Christians in any resurrected or eternal sense. Neither Satan nor death, neither “angels nor rulers … nor powers … will be able to separate us from the love of God” (Rm 8:38).

9.    Satan will be thrown into hell in the end.

 Satan can and surely has read Matthew 25:41, which states he will ultimately be thrown into hell. That is what I mean by “Satan is so smart, he’s stupid.” This is his end, yet he rages against all “born of God” (1 Jn 3:9). He lies. He accuses the brethren (Rv 12:10). But he cannot succeed in bringing a guilty sentence upon the Christian anymore (Col 2:14).

10. Satan is resistible.

James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” He will flee from you, Christian. Resist him. If Christians resist temptation, hold firm the promise of resurrection, and do not give in, do not accept the enemy’s lies, and do not give into his accusations—Satan will eventually depart. He is limited. He is finite. He will eventually move on to easier prey.

 

CONCLUSION

My aim in this essay was to use the person of Satan as a test case. Rarely do scholars pull down the walls of their respective domains to set exegesis, biblical theology, and dogmatics in motion in a singular treatment. In the final analysis, we are not told precisely how or why Satan does certain things, but when we analyze the pertinent texts and take into account all of the data, we see what he does and what he is capable of. The Christian, then, is broken over the plight of the unregenerate, properly sobered, and bolstered that Jesus so decisively routed Satan at Calvary.

--- Sam Bierig

 

Monday, 2 November 2020

NOVEMBER 2: ALL SOULS DAY

 
 All Souls Day is a special day earmarked for honoring and praying for the dead. The day is primarily celebrated in the Catholic Church, some Eastern Orthodox Churches and a few other denominations of Christianity. The Anglican church is the largest protestant church to celebrate the holy day. Most protestant denominations do not recognize the holiday and disagree with the theology behind it.
 According to Catholic belief, the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice. The intermediate option is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still in a state of lesser (venial) sin, must go.
In short, purgatory is the place where souls can be cleansed and perfected before they enter into heaven. There is scriptural basis for this belief. The primary reference is in 2 Maccabees, 12:26 and 12:32. "Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out... Thus made atonement for the dead that they might be free from sin."
 Consistent with these teachings and traditions, Catholics believe that through the prayers of the faithful on Earth, the dead are cleansed of their sins so they may enter into heaven.
  A large section of protestant churches oppose the concept of purgatory and praying for the dead. Martin Luther argued with the monk, Johan Tetzel, over the sale of indulgences. Indulgences were sold as spiritual pardons to the poor and applied to the souls of the dead (or the living) to get people into heaven. The abuse of indulgences and the blatant, sometimes fraudulent practice of selling indulgences for money, led to Luther's protest.
 Around 470 years ago, when Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, he omitted the seven books of the canon which refer to prayers for the dead. He then introduced the heretical belief that people are simply saved, or not, and argued that there is no need to pray for the dead to get them into heaven.
 The Church reeled from Luther's accusation, and reformed its practice of selling indulgences. However, it reemphasized the Biblical and traditional practice of praying for the departed and the importance of such prayers.
-- With inputs from www.catholic.org

Saturday, 31 October 2020

NOVEMBER 1: ALL SAINTS DAY

What is All Saints Day?
 November 1st is All Saints Day, the day Christians remember saints.
All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows' Day, or Hallowmas, is a Christian celebration in honor of all the saints from Christian history. It is observed on November 1st by the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, and other Protestant denominations. The Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic churches observe All Saints Day on the first Sunday following Pentecost. 
 Why do Christians celebrate All Saints Day? The Christian festival of All Saints Day comes from a conviction that there is a spiritual connection between those in Heaven and on Earth.  
 In Catholic tradition, the holiday honors all those who have passed on to the Kingdom of Heaven. It's the day of remembrance of saints. In fact, most of the saints suffered for the sake of Lord Jesus Christ. Christianity spread across the world due to the martyrdom of saints in the first 15 centuries. Church declared them saints because they lived a saintly life and shed blood for Jesus Christ.
 We are all supposed to become saints like many of our famous saints. That will assure us a place in heaven. But it's not an easy task to follow in the footsteps of saints. It's a rough and narrow road full of dangerous curves and gutters.
 God calls a "saint" anyone who trusts in Christ alone for salvation. We destroy that holy relationship and trust by our sins. We lose our salvation when we follow the path of Satan and his minions. The first and foremost thing to become a saint is to throw out Satan and his evil ideas from our life. Satan is the king of liar. He comes to destroy and kill.
  Then follow the path and plan of Jesus Christ. Get the help of Holy Spirit to remain united with Jesus. Remember the words of Jesus: "I am the way, the truth and the life." Believe in Jesus. Trust in Him. For everlasting life.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Pope warns against aggressive nationalism in third encyclical, Fratelli Tutti

Letter addressed to whole of Catholic church urges nations to work towards a just world

 Pope Francis has warned against “myopic, extremist, resentful and aggressive nationalism” in some countries, and a “growing loss of the sense of history” in a major document outlining his view of the world. 

Fratelli Tutti – the third encyclical, a pastoral letter addressed to the whole of the Catholic church, of his papacy – was published on Sunday, the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, amid global uncertainty and anxiety over the Covid-19 pandemic and rising populism. 

 In the 45,000-word document, the pope urges nations to work towards a just and fraternal world based on common membership of the human family. He expands on familiar themes in his teachings, including opposition to war, the death penalty, slavery, trafficking, inequality and poverty; concerns about alienation, isolation and social media; and support for migrants fleeing violence and seeking a better life.

 Pope Francis had begun writing the encyclical when the pandemic “unexpectedly erupted”. But, he says, the crisis has reinforced his belief that political and economic institutions must be reformed to address the needs of those most harmed by it. The global health emergency has demonstrated that “no one can face life in isolation” and that the “magic theories” of market capitalism have failed. 

 “Aside from the differing ways that various countries responded to the crisis, their inability to work together became quite evident,” Francis writes. “Anyone who thinks that the only lesson to be learned was the need to improve what we were already doing, or to refine existing systems and regulations, is denying reality. 

 “The fragility of world systems in the face of the pandemic has demonstrated that not everything can be resolved by market freedom. It is imperative to have a proactive economic policy directed at ‘promoting an economy that favours productive diversity and business creativity’ and makes it possible for jobs to be created, and not cut.”

 Francis says a “certain regression” has taken place in today’s world. He notes the rise of “myopic, extremist, resentful and aggressive nationalism” in some countries, and “new forms of selfishness and a loss of the social sense”.

  The leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics says “we are more alone than ever” in a world of “limitless consumerism” and “empty individualism” where there is a “growing loss of the sense of history” and a “kind of deconstructionism”. “Hyperbole, extremism and polarisation” have become political tools in many countries, he writes, without “healthy debates” and long-term plans but rather “slick marketing techniques aimed at discrediting others”. 

 He notes that “we are growing ever more distant from one another” and that voices “raised in defence of the environment are silenced and ridiculed”. Addressing digital culture, he criticises campaigns of “hatred and destruction” and says technology is removing people from reality. Fraternity depends on “authentic encounters”.


Pope Francis’s new encyclical is a papal warning about a world going backward

 ROME — Humankind, Pope Francis says, is in the midst of a worrying regression. People are intensely polarized. Their debates, absent real listening, seem to have devolved into a "permanent state of disagreement and confrontation." In some countries, leaders are using a "strategy of ridicule" and relentless criticism, spreading despair as a way to "dominate and gain control."

 Amid all that, the pope says, the notion of a kinder, more respecting world “sounds like madness.”

 But with the release Sunday of his third encyclical, a book-length paper that feels like something from a bygone time, Francis makes an uncynical case for how people can reverse course. The document amounts to a papal stand against tribalism, xenophobia, and the dangers of the social media age. It also marks a test for Francis in the eighth year of his papacy, at a time when his message has become familiar, and is often overshadowed by the louder voices he warns about.

 The coronavirus has put a near-halt to the public events that had become Francis’s hallmark. The pope began writing the encyclical, called “Fratelli Tutti,” or “Brothers All,” before the pandemic. But he argues that the world’s response to the crisis shows the depth of humanity’s mistrust and fractures.

 “For all our hyper-connectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all,” he writes.

 For Americans, certain passages will likely read as a warning against Trump-style politics. Those sentiments come as little surprise to anybody who has listened to the pope’s remarks over the years — with frequent denunciations of populism and wall-building — but the paper argues in more details about how the style can exacerbate divisions and lead to other societal breakdowns.

 “Things that until a few years ago could not be said by anyone without risking the loss of universal respect can now be said with impunity, and in the crudest of terms, even by some political figures,” Francis writes.

 He adds that there are “huge economic interests” operating in the digital world, capable of manipulation and subverting “the democratic process.”

 The way many platforms work often ends up favoring encounters between persons who think alike, shielding them from debate,” Francis writes. “These closed circuits facilitate the spread of fake news and false information, fomenting prejudice and hate.”

 Francis’s prescriptions range from the policy-based to the spiritual. He describes steps he says countries should take to more adeptly integrate migrants. He says businesses should direct themselves to eliminate poverty, “especially through the creation of diversified work opportunities.” He says people born into privilege must remember that others — the poor, the disabled — need a “proactive state” more than they do.

 Other ideas are more fundamental, and deal with listening to the points of view of others.

 “Other cultures are not ‘enemies’ from which we need to protect ourselves, but differing reflections of the inexhaustible richness of human life,” Francis writes.

 He includes a critique of consumerism, “empty individualism,” and the free market. Even the right to private property, he says, should be secondary to the common good.

 “This is a legacy document,” said Monsignor Kevin Irwin, a research professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, who wrote an introduction to the English edition of the encyclical. “I think this pope is a big-picture guy and he wants to make sure that this is perceived to be the Catholic Church at its best, being welcoming and inviting.” The document is not just for Catholics, Francis says, but for all people of “good will.”

 The pope’s previous encyclical, Laudato Si’, addressed responsibility for the environment, climate change and development. His first, Lumen fidei — The Light of Faith — released in 2013, months after he became pope, was written mostly by Benedict XVI, with only a few changes.

 “[Fratelli Tutti] surely is the most political encyclical,” said Monsignor Domenico Pompili, the bishop of Rieti and head of the Italian bishops’ commission for culture and social communication. “One of its clearest critiques is against politics as a sort of marketing with shortsighted goals. It’s aiming to medium-to-long goals, politics as a vision.”

 In the lead-up to Laudato Si’ in 2015, the church held a splashy multimedia rollout in a Vatican hall for journalists and other church officials. This time, the process was far more subdued. Francis traveled on Saturday to Assisi, the Italian hill town that is the birthplace of St. Francis, to sign the document at the saint’s tomb. Only a few dozen people were allowed to attend. The pope, who was not seen wearing a mask, traveled to Assisi by car. It was his first trip outside of Rome since the start of the pandemic.

  Even before the coronavirus, Francis no longer attracted the fanfare seen in the early years of his papacy. Abuse scandals have bruised his reputation, and there is less novelty about his reform plans for the church. But the pandemic has added to the challenge, keeping the pope mostly confined inside the city-state, where in March he groused that he felt “caged.”

 Francis’s year has had some indelible moments — especially a solitary ceremony he held in a rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square — but the virus has denied the pontiff many of his reliable paths for outreach. The Vatican has put on hold all of Francis’s overseas trips, and with it, the news conferences he typically holds aboard the papal plane. In 2019, Francis visited 11 countries and spent a month on the road, often in places on the Catholic periphery that he thought had been overlooked for too long.

  “Removed from the people, he’s like a fish out of water,” said one Vatican official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share his frank comments on the pope. “Basically, Pope Francis is still in that cage to this day.”

 Austen Ivereigh, a Francis biographer, said it’s clear the pope had planned to release this encyclical before the pandemic, and it is not his response to the year’s tumult.

 “But one might say that the covid crisis has made his message more urgent and relevant,” Ivereigh said. He noted that Francis makes reference to the virus in several passages. “In journalism, we’d say it is pegged to the crisis rather than a response to it.”

 Francis does not touch on any of Catholicism’s touchiest issues, such as roles for women and LGBT members inside the church, and though he talks generally about forms of abuse, he does not mention the sex crimes committed by Catholic clerics against minors. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior analyst at the Religion News Service, wrote that the paper “is not a quick read that can be used for partisan bickering.”

 Reese noted that many elements of the paper will be familiar to those who have followed Francis’s papacy closely, and the pope widely incorporates material from past speeches.


Sunday, 4 October 2020

St. Faustina: The apostle of Divine Mercy

 October 5 is the feast day of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, the  apostle of Divine Mercy and one of the most popular and well-known saints of the Church.

 Through her, the Lord Jesus communicates to the world the great message of God's mercy and reveals the pattern of Christian perfection based on trust in God and on the attitude of mercy toward one's neighbors.
 Sister Faustina was born on August 25, 1905 in Glogowiec, Poland of a poor and religious family of peasants, the third of 10 children. She was baptized with the name Helena in the parish church of Swinice Warckie. From a very tender age she stood out because of her love of prayer, work, obedience, and also her sensitivity to the poor. At the age of seven she had already felt the first stirrings of a religious vocation.

 Helen made her first Holy Communion at the age of nine, which was very profound moment in her awareness of the presence of the Divine Guest within her soul. She attended school for three years. After finishing school, she wanted to enter the convent, but her parents would not give her permission. Being of age at 16, Helen left home and went to work as a housekeeper in Aleksandr√≥w, Lodi, and Ostr√≥wek in order to find the means of supporting herself and of helping her parents.

 The Lord Jesus chose Sr Maria Faustina as the Apostle and "Secretary" of His Mercy, so that she could tell the world about His great message, which Sr Faustina recorded in a diary she titled Divine Mercy in My Soul. In the Old Covenant He said to her: "I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart." (Diary, 1588)

 In an extraordinary way, Sr. Maria Faustina's work sheds light on the mystery of the Divine Mercy. It delights not only the simple and uneducated people, but also scholars who look upon it as an additional source of theological research. The Diary has been translated into more than 20 languages, including, English, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Castilian, Brazilian, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Swedish, Ukrainian, Dutch and Japanese.
 Sister Maria Faustina, consumed by tuberculosis and by innumerable sufferings which she accepted as a voluntary sacrifice for sinners, died in Krakow at the age of just 33 on October 5, 1938, with a reputation for spiritual maturity and a mystical union with God. The reputation of the holiness of her life grew as did the cult to the Divine Mercy and the graces she obtained from God through her intercession.

 In the years 1965-67, the Investigative Process into her life and heroic virtues was undertaken in Krakow and in the year 1968, the Beatification Process was initiated in Rome. The latter came to an end in December 1992.

 On April 18, 1993 our Holy Father, John Paul II raised St Faustina to the glory of the altars. She was canonized on April 30, 2000. St. Maria Faustina's remains rest at the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki.


Saturday, 15 August 2020

MOTHER MARY: WHEN DID ASSUMPTION HAPPEN? Part - 1

 When did Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus die? Very little is known about it. Holy Bible doesn’t say anything about it.

Part one:

  Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (September 8, 1774 – February 9, 1824), a Roman Catholic nun, experienced visions on the life and passion of Jesus Christ, reputed to be revealed to her by the Blessed Virgin Mary under religious ecstasy.

 The poet Clemens Brentano interviewed her at length and wrote two books based on his notes of her visions. The authenticity of Brentano's writings has been questioned and critics have characterized the books as "conscious elaborations by a poet" and a "well-intentioned fraud" by Brentano.

 Brentano prepared The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the Visions of Anna Catherine Emmerich for publication, but he died in 1842. The book was published posthumously in 1852 in Munich. Catholic priest Father Karl Schmoger edited Brentano's manuscripts and from 1858 to 1880 published the three volumes of The Life of Our Lord. In 1881, a large illustrated edition followed.

 The Vatican does not endorse the authenticity of the books written by Brentano.  However, it views their general message as "an outstanding proclamation of the gospel in service to salvation".

 

Here it begins…..

 On the afternoon of August 14, Catherine Emmerich said to the writer: They are following the Way of the Cross and are preparing the grave of the Mother of God. When she said this, she was already seeing what happened after Mary's death.

 After a pause she continued, marking on her fingers the figures she mentioned: See this number, a stroke I and then a V, does not this make four? Then again V and three strokes, does not that make eight? This is not properly written out; but I see them as separate figures because I do not understand big sums in Roman letters.

  It means that the year 48 after Christ's Birth is the year of the Blessed Virgin's death. Then I see X and III and then two full moons as they are shown in the calendar, that means that the Blessed Virgin died thirteen years and two months after Christ's Ascension into Heaven. This is not the month in which she died -- I think I already saw this vision several months ago. Ah, her death was full of sorrow and full of joy.'

 Yesterday at midday I saw that there was already great grief and mourning in the Blessed Virgin's house. Her maidservant was in the utmost distress, throwing herself on her knees and praying with outstretched arms, sometimes in corners of the house and sometimes outside in front of it. The Blessed Virgin lay still and as though near death in her little cell. She was completely enveloped in a white sleeping coverlet, even her arms being wrapped in it. It was like the one I described when she went to bed in Elizabeth's house at the Visitation.

  The veil over her head was arranged in folds across her forehead; when speaking with men she lowered it over her face. Even her hands were covered except when she was alone. In the last days of her life I never saw her take any nourishment except now and then a spoonful of juice which her maidservant pressed from a bunch of yellow berries like grapes into a bowl near her couch.

  Towards evening the Blessed Virgin realized that her end was approaching and therefore signified her desire, in accordance with Jesus' will, to bless and say farewell to the Apostles, disciples and women who were present.

 Her sleeping cell was opened on all sides, and she sat upright on her couch, shining white as if suffused with light. The Blessed Virgin, after praying, blessed each one by laying her crossed hands on their foreheads. She then, once more, spoke to them all, doing everything that Jesus had commanded her at Bethany. When Peter went up to her, I saw that he had a scroll of writing in his hand. She told John what was to be done with her body, and bade him divide her clothes between her maidservant and another poor girl from the neighborhood who sometimes came to help.

  The Blessed Virgin in saying this pointed to the cupboard standing opposite her sleeping cell, and I saw her maidservant go and open the cupboard and then shut it again. So I saw all the Blessed Virgin's garments and will describe them later. After the Apostles, the disciples who were present approached the Blessed Virgin's couch and received the same blessing.

  The men then went back into the front part of the house and prepared for the service, while the women who were present came up to the Blessed Virgin's couch, knelt down and received her blessing. I saw that one of them bent right down over Mary and was embraced by her.

 In the meantime the altar was set up and the Apostles vested themselves for the service in their long white robes and broad girdles with letters on them. Five of them who assisted in offering the Holy Sacrifice (just as I had seen done when Peter first officiated in the new church at the pool of Bethsaida after the Ascension) put on the big, rich, priestly vestments.

  Peter, who was the celebrant, wore a robe which was very long at the back but did not trail on the ground. There must have been some sort of stiffening round its hem, for I see it standing out all round.

 They were still engaged in putting on their vestments when James the Greater arrived with three companions. He came with Timon the deacon from Spain, and after passing through Rome had met with Eremenzear and still another. The Apostles already present, who were just going up to the altar, greeted him with grave solemnity, telling him in few words to go to the Blessed Virgin.

  He and his companions, after having had their feet washed and after arranging their garments, went in their traveling dress to the Blessed Virgin's room. She gave her blessing first to James alone, and then to his three companions together, after which James went to join in the service. The latter had been going on for some time when Philip arrived from Egypt with a companion. He at once went to the Mother of Our Lord, and wept bitterly as he received her blessing.

 In the meantime Peter had completed the Holy Sacrifice. He had performed the act of consecration, had received the Body of the Lord, and had given Communion to the Apostles and disciples. The Blessed Virgin could not see the altar from her bed, but during the Holy Sacrifice she sat upright on her couch in deep devotion.

  Peter, after he and the other Apostles had received Communion, brought the Blessed Virgin the Blessed Sacrament and administered extreme unction to her. The Apostles accompanied him in a solemn procession. Thaddeus went first with a smoking censer. Peter bore the Blessed Sacrament in the cruciform vessel of which I have spoken, and John followed him, carrying a dish on which rested the Chalice with the Precious blood and some small boxes. The Chalice was small, white, and thick as though of cast metal; its stem was so short that it could only be held with two or three fingers. It had a lid, and was of the same shape as the Chalice at the Last Supper.

 A little altar had been set up by the Apostles in the alcove beside the Blessed Virgin's couch. The maidservant had brought a table which she covered with red and white cloths. Lights (I think both tapers and lamps) were burning on it. The Blessed Virgin lay back on her pillows pale and still. Her gaze was directed intently upwards; she said no word to anyone and seemed in a state of perpetual ecstasy. She was radiant with longing; I could feel this longing, which was bearing her upwards -- ah, my heart was longing to ascend with hers to God!

 Peter approached her and gave her extreme unction, much in the way in which it is administered now. From the boxes which John held, he anointed her with holy oil on her face, hands, and feet, and on her side, where there was an opening in her dress so that she was in no way uncovered. While this was being done the Apostles were reciting prayers as if in choir.

 Peter then gave her Holy Communion. She raised herself to receive it, without supporting herself, and then sank back again. The Apostles prayed for a while, and then, raising herself rather less, she received the Chalice from John. As she received the Blessed Sacrament I saw a radiance pass into Mary, who sank back as though in ecstasy, and spoke no more. The Apostles then returned to the altar in the front part of the house in a solemn procession with the sacred vessels and continued the service. St. Philip now also received Holy Communion. Only a few women remained with the Blessed Virgin.

Afterwards I saw the Apostles and disciples once more standing round the Blessed Virgin's bed and praying. Mary's face was radiant with smiles as in her youth. Her eyes were raised towards heaven in holy joy.

  Then I saw a wonderfully moving vision. The ceiling of the Blessed Virgin's room disappeared, the lamp hung in the open air, and I saw through the sky into the heavenly Jerusalem. Two radiant clouds of light sank down, out of which appeared the faces of many angels. Between these clouds a path of light poured down upon Mary, and I saw a shining mountain leading up from her into the heavenly Jerusalem.

  She stretched out her arms towards it in infinite longing, and I saw her body, all wrapped up, rise so high above her couch that one could see right under it.

 I saw her soul leave her body like a little figure of infinitely pure light, soaring with outstretched arms up the shining mountain to heaven. The two angel-choirs in the clouds met beneath her soul and separated it from her holy body, which in the moment of separation sank back on the couch with arms crossed on the breast. 

  My gaze followed her soul and saw it enter the heavenly Jerusalem by that shining path and go up to the throne of the most Holy Trinity.

  I saw many souls coming forward to meet her in joy and reverence; amongst them I recognized many patriarchs, as well as Joachim, Anna, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah and John the Baptist.

 The Blessed Virgin soared through them all to the Throne of God and of her Son, whose wounds shone with a light transcending even the light irradiating His whole Presence. He received her with His Divine Love, and placed in her hands a scepter with a gesture towards the earth as though indicating the power which He gave her.

  Seeing her thus entered into the glory of heaven, I forgot the whole scene round her body on the earth.

 Some of the Apostles, Peter and John for example, must have seen this too, for their faces were raised to heaven, while the others knelt, most of them bowed down low to the earth. Everywhere was light and radiance, as at Christ's Ascension. To my great joy I saw that Mary's soul, as it entered heaven, was followed by a great number of souls released from purgatory; and again today, on the anniversary, I saw many poor souls entering heaven, amongst them some whom I knew. I was given the comforting assurance that every year, on the day of the Blessed Virgin's death, many souls of those who have venerated her receive this reward.

 When I once more looked down to earth, I saw the Blessed Virgin's body lying on the couch. It was shining; her face was radiant; her eyes were closed, and her arms, crossed on her breast. The Apostles, disciples, and women knelt round it praying. As I saw all this there was a beautiful ringing in the air and a movement throughout the whole of nature like the one I had perceived on Christmas night. The Blessed Virgin died after the ninth hour, at the same time as Our Lord.

 The women now laid a covering over the holy body, and the Apostles and disciples betook themselves to the front part of the house. The fire on the hearth was covered, and all the household utensils put aside and covered up. The women wrapped and veiled themselves and, sitting on the ground in the room in front of the house, they began to lament for the dead, kneeling and sitting in turns.

 The men muffled their heads in the piece of stuff which they wore round their necks and held a mourning service. There were always two praying at the head and foot of the holy body. Matthew and Andrew followed the Blessed Virgin's Way of the Cross till the last Station, the cave which represented Christ's sepulcher.

 They had tools with them with which to enlarge the tomb, for it was here that the Blessed Virgin's body was to rest.

 The cave was not as spacious as Christ's and hardly high enough for a man to enter it upright. The floor sank at the entrance, and then one saw the burial-place before one like a narrow altar with the rock-wall projecting over it.

 The two Apostles did a good deal of work in it, and also arranged a door to close the entrance to the tomb. In the burial-place a hollow had been made in the shape of a wrapped-up body, slightly raised at the head. In front of the cave there was a little garden with a wooden fence round it, as there had been in front of Christ's sepulcher. Not far away was the Station of Calvary on a hill. There was no standing cross there, but only one cut into a stone. It must have been half an hour's journey from Mary's house to the tomb.

 Four times did I see the Apostles relieve each other in watching and praying by the holy body. Today I saw a number of women, among whom I remember a daughter of Veronica and the mother of John Mark, coming to prepare the body for burial. They brought with them cloths, as well as spices to embalm the body after the Jewish fashion. They all carried little pots of fresh herbs. The house was closed and they worked by lamplight.

 The Apostles were praying in the front part of the house as though they were in choir. The women took the Blessed Virgin's body from her death-bed in its wrappings, and laid it in a long basket which was so piled up with thick, roughly woven coverings or mats that the body lay high above it. Two women then held a broad cloth stretched above the body, while two others removed the head-covering and wrappings under this cloth, leaving the body clothed only in the long woolen robe. They cut off the Blessed Virgin's beautiful locks of hair to be kept in remembrance of her.

 In the meantime the Apostles had assisted at the Holy Sacrifice offered by Peter and received Communion with him, after which I saw Peter and John, still in great bishops' cloaks, going from the front part of the house to the death chamber.

 John carried a vessel with ointment, and Peter, dipping the finger of his right hand into it, anointed the hands and feet of the Blessed Virgin, praying as he did so.

A transparent handkerchief was folded back from the face, which shone white between the bunches of herbs. They then placed the holy body in the coffin which stood near; it was like a bed or a long basket. It was a kind of board with a low edge and a slightly arched lid.

 The Apostles, disciples, and all others present then came in to see the beloved face once more before it was covered up. The holy women, after making their farewells, covered the holy face and placed the lid on the coffin, which they fastened round with gray bands at each end and in the middle.

  Then I saw the coffin lifted onto a bier and carried out of the house on the shoulders of Peter and John. They must have changed places, for later on I saw six of the Apostles acting as bearers -- at the head, James the Greater and James the Less; in the center, Bartholomew and Andrew; and behind, Thaddeus and Matthew. There must have been a mat or piece of leather attached to the carrying-poles, for I saw the coffin hanging between them as if in a cradle. Some of the Apostles and disciples went on ahead, others followed with the women. It was already dusk, and four lights were carried on poles round the coffin.

 

 MARY'S AGE.

On the morning of August 13, 1822, Catherine Emmerich said: Last night I had a great vision of the death of the Blessed Virgin, but have completely forgotten it all. On being asked, in the middle of a conversation on everyday matters, how old the Blessed Virgin was when she died, Catherine Emmerich suddenly looked away and said: She reached the age of sixty-four years all but three and twenty days: I have just seen the figure X six times, then I, then V; is not that sixty-four?' (It is remarkable that Catherine Emmerich was not shown numbers with our ordinary Arabic figures, with which she was familiar, but never saw anything but Roman figures in her visions).

WHERE DID MARY LIVE:

 After Christ's Ascension Mary lived for three years on Mount  Sion, for three years in Bethany, and for nine years in Ephesus, whither St. John took her soon after the Jews had set Lazarus and his sisters adrift upon the sea. 

 Mary did not live in Ephesus itself, but in the country near it where several women who were her close friends had settled.  Mary's dwelling was on a hill to the left of the road from Jerusalem some three and a half hours from Ephesus. This hill slopes steeply towards Ephesus; the city as one approaches it from the south-east seems to lie on rising ground immediately before one, but seems to change its place as one draws nearer.  Great avenues lead up to the city, and the ground under the trees is covered with yellow fruit. Narrow paths lead southwards to a hill near the top of which is an uneven plateau, some half-hour's journey in circumference, overgrown, like the hill itself, with wild trees and bushes. It was on this plateau that the Jewish settlers had made their home. It is a very lonely place, but has many fertile and pleasant slopes as well as rock-caves, clean and dry and surrounded by patches of sand. It is wild but not desolate, and scattered about it are a number of trees, pyramid-shaped, with big shady branches below and smooth trunks.

 John had had a house built for the Blessed Virgin before he brought her here. Several Christian families and holy women had already settled here, some in caves in the earth or in the rocks, fitted out with light woodwork to make dwellings, and some in fragile huts or tents. They had come here to escape violent persecution.

 Their dwellings were like hermits' cells, for they used as their refuges what nature offered them. As a rule, they lived at a quarter of an hour's distance from each other. The whole settlement was like a scattered village.

 Mary's house was the only one built of stone. A little way behind it was the summit of the rocky hill from which one could see over the trees and hills to Ephesus and the sea with its many islands. The place is nearer the sea than Ephesus, which must be several hours' journey distant from the coast. The district is lonely and unfrequented. Near here is a castle inhabited by a king who seems to have been deposed. John visited him often and ended by converting him. This place later became a bishop's see. Between the Blessed Virgin's dwelling and Ephesus runs a little stream which winds about in a very singular way.

 MARY'S HOUSE IN EPHESUS.

 Mary's house was built of rectangular stones, rounded or pointed at the back. The windows were high up near the flat roof. The house was divided into two compartments by the hearth in the center of it. The fireplace was on the floor opposite the door; it was sunk into the ground beside a wall which rose in steps on each side of it up to the ceiling. In the centrE of this wall a deep channel, like the half of a chimney, carried the smoke up to escape by an opening in the roof. I saw a sloping copper funnel projecting above the roof over this opening.

The front part of the house was divided from the room behind the fireplace by light movable wicker screens on each side of the hearth. In this front part, the walls of which were rather rough and also blackened by smoke, I saw little cells on both sides, shut in by wicker screens fastened together. If this part of the house was needed as one large room, these screens, which did not nearly reach to the ceiling, were taken apart and put aside. These cells were used as bedrooms for Mary's maidservant and for other women who came to visit her.

To the right and left of the hearth, doors led into the back part of the house, which was darker than the front part and ended in a semicircle or angle. It was neatly and pleasantly arranged; the walls were covered with wickerwork, and the ceiling was vaulted. Its beams were decorated with a mixture of paneling and wickerwork, and ornamented with a pattern of leaves. It was all simple and dignified.

The farthest corner or apse of this room was divided off by a curtain and formed Mary’s oratory. In the center of the wall was a niche in which had been placed a receptacle like a tabernacle, which could be opened and shut by pulling at a string to turn its door. In it stood a cross about the length of a man’s arm in which were inserted two arms rising outwards and upwards, in the form of the letter Y, the shape in which I have always seen Christ’s Cross.

  It had no particular ornamentation, and was more roughly carved than the crosses which come from the Holy Land nowadays. I think that John and Mary must have made it themselves. It was made of different kinds of wood. It was told me that the pale stem of the cross was cypress, the brown arm cedar, and the other arm of yellow palm-wood, while the piece added at the top, with the title, was of smooth yellow olive-wood. This cross was set in a little mound of earth or stone, like Christ’s Cross on Mount Calvary.

 At its foot there lay a piece of parchment with something written on it; Christ’s words, I think. On the cross itself the Figure of Our Lord was roughly outlined, the lines of the carving being rubbed with darker color so as to show the Figure plainly. Mary’s meditation on the different kinds of wood forming the cross were communicated to me, but alas I have forgotten this beautiful lesson. Nor can I for the moment be sure whether Christ’s Cross itself was made of these different kinds of wood, or whether Mary had made this cross in this way only for devotional reasons. It stood between two small vases filled with fresh flowers.

 I also saw a cloth lying beside the cross, and had the impression that it was the one with which the Blessed Virgin had wiped the blood from all the wounds in Our Lord’s holy body after it was taken down from the cross. The reason why I had this impression was that, at the sight of the cloth, I was shown that manifestation of the Blessed Virgin’s motherly love. At the same time I had the feeling that it was the cloth which priests use at Mass, after drinking the Precious Blood, to cleanse the chalice; Mary, in wiping the

 To the right of this oratory, against a niche in the wall, was the sleeping place or cell of the Blessed Virgin. Opposite it, to the left of the oratory, was a cell where her clothes and other belongings were kept. Between these two cells a curtain was hung dividing off the oratory. It was Mary’s custom to sit in front of this curtain when she was working or reading. The sleeping place of the Blessed Virgin was backed by a wall hung with a woven carpet; the side-walls were light screens of bark woven in different-colored woods to make a pattern. The front wall was hung with a carpet, and had a door with two panels, opening inwards. The ceiling of this cell was also of wickerwork rising into a vault from the center of which was suspended a lamp with several arms. Mary’s couch, which was placed against the wall, was a box one and a half feet high and of the breadth and length of a narrow plank.

 A covering was stretched on it and fastened to a knob at each of the four corners. The sides of this box were covered with carpets reaching down to the floor and were decorated with tassels and fringes. A round cushion served as pillow, and there was a covering of brownish material with a check pattern. The little house stood near a wood among pyramid-shaped trees with smooth trunks. It was very quiet and solitary. The dwellings of the other families were all scattered about at some distance. The whole settlement was like a village of peasants.

 

 MARY.S MAIDSERVANT AND JOHN THE APOSTLE.

The Blessed Virgin lived here alone, with a younger woman, her maidservant, who fetched what little food they needed. They lived very quietly and in profound peace. There was no man in the house, but sometimes they were visited by an Apostle or disciple on his travels. There was one man whom I saw more often than others going in and out of the house; I always took him to be John, but neither here nor in Jerusalem did he remain permanently near the Blessed Virgin. He came and went in the course of his travels. He did not wear the same dress as in Jesus. time. His garment was very long and hung in folds, and was of a thin grayish-white material. He was very slim and active, his face was long, narrow, and delicate, and on his bare head his long fair hair was parted and brushed back behind his ears. In contrast with the other Apostles, this gave him a womanish, almost girlish appearance.

 Last time he was here I saw Mary becoming ever quieter and more meditative: she took hardly any nourishment. It was as if she were only here in appearance, as if her spirit had already passed beyond and her whole being was far away. In the last weeks before she died I sometimes saw her, weak and aged, being led about the house by her maidservant.

Once I saw John come into the house, looking much older too, and very thin and haggard. As he came in he girt up his long white ample garment in his girdle, then took off this girdle and put on another one, inscribed with letters, which he drew out from under his robe. He put a sort of maniple on his arm and a stole round his neck. The Blessed Virgin came in from her bedchamber completely enveloped in a white robe, and leaning on her maidservant’s arm.

 Her face was white as snow and as though transparent. She seemed to be swaying with intense longing. Since Jesus’ Ascension her whole being seemed to be filled with an ever-increasing yearning which gradually consumed her. John and she went together to the oratory. The Blessed Virgin pulled at the ribbon or strap which turned the tabernacle in the wall to show the cross in it. After they had knelt for a long time in prayer before it, John rose and drew from his breast a metal box. Opening it at one side, he drew from it a wrapping of material of fine wool, and out of this took a little folded cloth of white material. From this he took out the Blessed Sacrament in the form of a small square white particle. After speaking a few solemn words, he gave the Sacrament to the Blessed Virgin. He did not give her a chalice.

 Behind the house, at a little distance up the hill, the Blessed Virgin had made a kind of Way of the Cross. When she was living in Jerusalem, she had never failed, ever since Our Lord’s death, to follow His path to Calvary with tears of compassion. She had paced out and measured all the distances between the Stations of that Via Crucis, and her love for her Son made her unable to live without this constant contemplation of His sufferings.

 Soon after her arrival at her new home I saw her every day climbing part of the way up the hill behind her house to carry out this devotion. At first she went by herself, measuring the number of steps, so often counted by her, which separated the places of Our Lord's different sufferings. At each of these places she put up a stone, or, if there was already a tree there, she made a mark upon it. The way led into a wood, and upon a hill in this wood she had marked the place of Calvary, and the grave of Christ in a little cave in another hill. After she had marked this Way of the Cross with twelve Stations, she went there with her maidservant in quiet meditation: at each Station they sat down and renewed the mystery of its significance in their hearts, praising the Lord for His love with tears of compassion.

 Afterwards she arranged the Stations better, and I saw her inscribing on the stones the meaning of each Station, the number of paces and so forth. I saw, too, that she cleaned out the cave of the Holy Sepulcher and made it a place for prayer. At that time I saw no picture and no fixed cross to designate the Stations, nothing but plain memorial stones with inscriptions, but afterwards, as the result of constant visits and attention, I saw the place becoming increasingly beautiful and easy of approach. After the Blessed Virgin's death I saw this Way of the Cross being visited by Christians, who threw themselves down and kissed the ground.

 MARY TRAVELS FROM EPHESUS TO JERUSALEM.

 After three years' sojourn here Mary had a great longing to see Jerusalem again, and was taken there by John and Peter. Several of the Apostles were, I believe, assembled there: I saw Thomas among them and I think a Council was held at which Mary assisted them with her advice.

 On their arrival at Jerusalem in the dusk of the evening, before they went into the city, I saw them visiting the Mount of Olives, Calvary, the Holy Sepulcher, and all the holy places outside Jerusalem. The Mother of God was so sorrowful and so moved by compassion that she could hardly hold herself upright, and Peter and John had to support her as they led her away.

 She came to Jerusalem from Ephesus once again, eighteen months before her death, and I saw her again visiting the Holy Places with the Apostles at night, wrapped in a veil. She was inexpressibly sorrowful, constantly sighing, O my Son, my Son'. When she came to that door behind the palace where she had met Jesus sinking under the weight of the Cross, she too sank to the ground in a swoon, overcome by agonizing memories, and her companions thought she was dying. They brought her to Sion, to the Cenacle, where she was living in one of the outer buildings.

  Here for several days she was so weak and ill and so often suffered from fainting attacks that her companions again and again thought her end was near and made preparations for her burial. She herself chose a cave in the Mount of Olives, and the Apostles caused a beautiful sepulcher to be prepared here by the hands of a Christian stonemason.

 During this time it was announced more than once that she was dead, and the rumor of her death and burial was spread abroad in Jerusalem and in other places as well. By the time, however, that the sepulcher was ready,  she had recovered and was strong enough to journey back to her home in Ephesus, where she did in fact die eighteen months later.

  The sepulcher prepared for her on the Mount of Olives was always held in honor, and later a church was built over it, and John Damascene (so I heard in the spirit, but who and what was he?)  wrote from hearsay that she had died and been buried in Jerusalem. I expect that the news of her death, burial-place, and assumption into heaven were permitted by God to be indefinite and only a matter of tradition in order that Christianity in its early days should not be in danger of heathen influences then so powerful. The Blessed Virgin might easily have been adored as a goddess.

-- Part 2 to be followed.