Why All Souls Are Not Created Equal in Grace

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Jesus Explains to Saint Thérèse Why All Souls Are Not Created Equal in Grace

Thérèse often pondered the fact that there is such a disparity between souls, some of whom are blessed to live their whole lives as great saints, while others are deeply flawed and continuously fall along their journey. She wondered how the smaller, flawed souls could be assured of Heaven, since they were much weaker than the greater souls. This saint, who believed herself to be one of the deeply flawed souls, prayed fervently to be enlightened on the subject, and described her enlightenment in her autobiography: “[Jesus] opened the book of nature before me, and I saw that every flower He has created has a beauty of its own, that the splendor of the rose and the lily’s whiteness do not deprive the violet of its scent nor make less ravishing the daisy’s charm. I saw that if every little flower wished to be a rose, Nature would lose her spring adornments, and the fields would no longer be enameled with their varied flowers. “So it is in the world of souls, the living garden of the Lord. It pleases Him to create great saints, who may be compared with the lilies or the rose, but He has also created little ones, who must be content to be daisies or violets, nestling at His feet to delight His eyes when He should choose to look at them. The happier they are to be as He wills, the more perfect they are. “I saw something further: that Our Lord’s love shines out just as much through a little soul who yields completely to His Grace as it does through the greatest. True love is shown in self-abasement, and if everyone were like the saintly doctors who adorn the Church, it would seem that God had not far enough to stoop when He came to them … What delights Him is the simplicity of these flowers of the field, and by stooping so low to them, He shows how infinitely great He is. Just as the sun shines equally on the cedar and the little flower, so the Divine Sun shines equally on everyone, great and small.
Thus, though Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is one of the roses of Our Lord’s garden, her encouragement for all souls, especially the least, is of the greatest value to those of us who despair that we will never rise above our own lowliness. On the contrary, St. Thérèse teaches us that we should not dwell on our faults and imperfections, but instead recognize and rejoice in our smallness, for this condition will surely get us to Heaven if we persevere.

St.Bonaventure~Seraphic Doctor

I'm so happy you're my dad!

 

Next to God we owe a debt of gratitude to St Francis for the great Doctor of the Church and minister general of the Franciscan order, Saint Bonaventure.

Saint Bonaventure was born at Bagnorea in the Papal States in 1221, and was given the name John in baptism. As a child of four years he became seriously ill and was given up by the physicians. Then his mother hastened to St Francis, who was preaching in the vicinity just then, and begged him to come and heal her child. The saint acceded to her request; he prayed over the child, and immediately he was cured. St Francis is said then to have uttered the prophetic words: “O buona ventura – O blessed things to come!” For that reason the child was called Bonaventure.

Endowed with most remarkable gifts of nature and grace and reared in the fear of God, Saint Bonaventure entered the Order of St Francis as a young man. Completing his year of probation with honor, he continued his studies under the great Alexander of Hales. The latter did not know what he should admire most, the talent or the virtues of the young religious. He used to say it appeared that Adam had not sinned in this young man.

During his student years, Saint Bonaventure devoted many an hour to the contemplation of Christ’s suffering and he was a zealous client of our Blessed Lady. It is reported that once when Bonaventure abstained from Holy Communion for several days from a sense of humility, an angel placed the consecrated Host on his tongue. After his ordination to the priesthood he devoted himself with extraordinary zeal to the salvation of souls.

Due to his extensive and profound knowledge, Saint Bonaventure was appointed professor of theology at the University of Paris at the early age of 27. Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas, of the Order of St Dominic, at that time shed the greatest luster on that institution. Garson, the great chancellor, remarked that the University of Paris had perhaps never had a greater teacher than Bonaventure. He grasped theology with his heart as well as with his mind, and it shed its radiance on his conduct as well as his words.

Saint Thomas Aquinas once visited Saint Bonaventure while he was engaged in writing the life of St Francis. He found Saint Bonaventure raised in ecstasy above the earth. Reverently he withdrew, saying to his companion: “Let us leave a saint to write about a saint.”

On another occasion St Thomas asked St Bonaventure from which books he obtained his unparalleled knowledge. Saint Bonaventure pointed to the crucifix as his library.

In 1257, when Blessed John of Parma resigned the office of minister general, Saint Bonaventure was unanimously chosen, at the recommendation of Blessed John, to fill this position. He governed the order for 18 years, and regulated everything that pertained to convent life and the external activity of the friars with such circumspection and prudence that he has quite generally been considered the second founder of the order.

Both by word and deed he defended the order against great and learned opponents. Franciscan convents had already been established in all parts of the world; Saint Bonaventure divided them now into provinces. He also composed ordinances for the faithful observance of the rule which formed the basis for all future constitutions of the order. At the same time he patiently gave audience to the simplest brother and sometimes performed some of the lowliest duties in the convent. He prescribed that the Angelus bell be rung daily in all Franciscan churches. This beautiful custom soon spread throughout the Catholic world.

In spite of all the duties of this important position, the saint still found time to preach and to write books of great learning and holy unction. He had steadfastly declined all ecclesiastical distinctions. In 1273, however, Pope Gregory X obliged him to accept the bishopric of Albano and the dignity of the Cardinalate. The pope himself consecrated him bishop and then entrusted him with the direction of the Council of Lyons.

To the great satisfaction of the pope and the fathers of the Council, the schismatic Greeks also attended the Council of Lyons. At their arrival Bonaventure delivered an address, which he opened with the text: “Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high: and look about towards the east, and behold thy children gathered together from the rising to the setting sun.” (Bar. 5:5). Due to his efforts, the Orientals were reunited to the Church of Rome.

Worn out by the heavy strain, he fell ill after the third session. The end came very rapidly; the pope himself administered extreme unction. With his eyes directed toward the crucifix, Bonaventure died during the night between the 14th and 15th of July, 1274. Seldom if ever was there a grander funeral. The pope and all the members of the Council attended.

Pope Sixtus IV canonized Saint Bonaventure in 1482. Sixtus V gave him the title of Doctor of the Church in 1587. He is called the Seraphic Doctor because of the ardent love which marks his writings.

*from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm.

 

Morning Meditation

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🌞Morning Meditation☀️

Comparison

“When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors,they said to his disciples,Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners?When Jesus heard this,he said to them,Those who are well have no need of a physician;but those who are sick;I have come to call not the righteous but sinners”
~Mark 2:16-17

Soul:But when I compare myself to others,I feel so inferior,so hopelessly imperfect and sinful.God cant possibly want to “call” me,

“Dont give too much importance to what the enemy and your imagination suggests to you…

“Do you know what religion is?It is the academy of perfection in which each soul must learn to allow itself to be handled,planned and smoothed by the divine Spirit,when he also acts as a doctor of our souls so that,having been well planned and smoothed,they can be united and joined to the will of God.

“Religion is a hospital for the spiritually ill who wish to be cured,and in order to acheive this,they submit themselves to…some probing,surgical instruments,fire,and all the pains of medicine”

~St.Padre Pio~

 

How merciful you are,Lord to go to all this trouble to save me.I submit myself, now and forever,to the fire of your divine medicine.Amen.

Morning Meditation

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🌞Morning Meditation☀️

Christmas All Year

“When they saw that the star had stopped,they were overwhelmed with joy.On entering the house,they saw the child with Mary his mother;and they knelt down and paid him homage.Then,opening their treasure chests,they offered him gifts of gold,frankencense and myrrh”
~Matthew 2:10-11

Soul:I’d Like to stay with Mary beside her Son’s crib,but except during each Christmas season,I dont experience the Christ child’s presence

“Our Lord loves you,and he loves you tenderly.And if he dosent always let you feel the sweetness of this love,he does this in order to render you more despicable and humble in your own eyes.You should not fail,however,for this reason,to turn to his goodness with every confidence.Because what was his purpose in taking on this loving condition of a child,if not to provoke our loving him with confidence,and to lovingly confide in him?

“Stay very close to the crib of this most beautiful child…Have a great love for this heavenly child,respectful in the familiarity you will gain with him through prayer,and totally delighted in the joy of feeling the holy aspirations and effects of belonging totally to him”

~St.Padre Pio~

Lord,lead me each day to a closer relationship with you,and help me to appreciate your coming among us as a little child.Amen.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati~Patron of Youth

 

Hey, Pops! (6)

He was born in Turin into a wealthy family, who owned a newspaper called La Stampa. Though an average student, Frassati was known among his peers for his devotion and piety.

He was dedicated to works of social action, charity, prayer and community. He was involved with Catholic youth and student groups, the Apostleship of Prayer, Catholic Action, and was a third order Dominican. He would often say, “Charity is not enough; we need social reform.” He helped establish a newspaper entitled Momento, whose principles were based on Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical: Rerum Novarum.

Despite his family’s enormous wealth and power, Frassati’s father was austere and never gave his children too much spending money. Frassati, however, donated most or all of his money to people he saw as more “needy” than him, and as a result he became accustomed to giving his train-fare to the poor and running back home or riding in third class.

Despite the many organizations to which Frassati belonged, he was not a passive “joiner”; records show that he was active and involved in each, fulfilling all the duties of membership. He was strongly anti-fascist and did nothing to hide his political views.

Participating in a Church-organized demonstration in Rome, he withstood police violence and rallied the other young people by grabbing the banner which the police had knocked out of someone else’s hands. He held it even higher while using the pole to ward off their blows. When the demonstrators were arrested by the police, he refused special treatment that he might have received because of his father’s political position, preferring to stay with his friends. One night a group of fascists broke into his family’s home to attack him and his father, but Frassati beat them off single-handedly chasing them down the street.

Frassati died in 1925 of poliomyelitis. His family expected Turin’s elite and political figures to come to offer their condolences and attend the funeral; they naturally expected to find many of his friends there as well. They were surprised, however, to find the streets of the city lined with thousands of mourners as the cortege passed by. Poor people from the city petitioned the Archbishop of Turin to begin the cause for canonization. The process was opened in 1932 and he was beatified on 20 May 1990. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati’s feast day is 4 July.

Frassati was called Man of Eight Beatitudes by Pope John Paul II, who beatified him on 20 May 1990.

Frassati is the Patron Saint of Bishop McGuinness High School in Oklahoma, where Frassati’s family blessed the school in his spirit.

 

Quotes of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

“The higher we go, the better we shall hear the voice of Christ.”

“I urge you with all the strength of my soul to approach the Eucharist Table as often as possible. Feed on this Bread of the Angels from which you will draw the strength to fight inner struggles.”

“Jesus is with me. I have nothing to fear.”

“By drawing closer to the poor, little by little we become their confidants and counselors in the worst moments of this earthly pilgrimage. We can give them the comforting words of faith and often we succeed, not by our own merit, in putting on the right road people who have strayed without meaning to.”

“To live without faith, without a heritage to defend, without battling constantly for truth, is not to live but to ‘get along’; we must never just ‘get along.’”

“Modern society is drowning in the sorrows of human passions and it is distancing itself from every ideal of love and peace. Catholics, we and you, must bring the breath of goodness that can only spring from faith in Christ.”

“You ask me whether I am in good spirits. How could I not be, so long as my trust in God gives me strength. We must always be cheerful. Sadness should be banished from all Christian souls. For suffering is a far different thing from sadness, which is the worst disease of all. It is almost always caused by lack of Faith. But the purpose for which we have been created shows us the path along which we should go, perhaps strewn with many thorns, but not a sad path. Even in the midst of intense suffering it is one of joy.”

“God gives us health so that we may serve the sick.”

“Suffering that is nourished by the flame of faith becomes something beautiful, because it tempers the soul to deal with suffering.”

“Foolish is he who follows the pleasures of this world, because these are always fleeting and bring much pain. The only true pleasure is that which comes to us through faith.”

 

St.Thomas~The Doubter

To my #1 fan, (4)

 

St. Thomas was born a Jew and was called to be one of the twelve Apostles. His birth and death dates are unknown, but his feast day is celebrated July 3. He lived before the formal establishment of the Catholic Church but is recognized as the patron saint of architects.

He was a dedicated but impetuous follower of Christ. When Jesus said He was returning to Judea to visit His sick friend Lazarus, Thomas immediately exhorted the other Apostles to accompany Him on the trip which involved certain danger and possible death because of the mounting hostility of the authorities.

At the Last Supper, when Christ told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them to which they also might come because they knew both the place and the way, Thomas pleaded that they did not understand and received the beautiful assurance that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

St. Thomas is best known for his role in verifying the Resurrection of his Master. Thomas’ unwillingness to believe that the other Apostles had seen their risen Lord on the first Easter Sunday earned him the title of “doubting Thomas.”

Eight days later, on Christ’s second apparition, Thomas was gently rebuked for his skepticism and furnished with the evidence he had demanded – seeing in Christ’s hands the point of the nails. Thomas even put his fingers in the nail holes and his hand into Christ’s side. After verifying the wounds were true, St. Thomas became convinced of the reality of the Resurrection and exclaimed, “My Lord and My God,” thus making a public Profession of Faith in the Divinity of Jesus.

St. Thomas is also mentioned as being present at another Resurrection appearance of Jesus – at Lake Tiberias, when a miraculous catch of fish occurred.

This is all that we know about St. Thomas from the New Testament. Tradition says that at the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost this saint was sent to evangelize to the Parthians, Medes, and Persians. He ultimately reached India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.”

According to tradition, Thomas was killed in an accident when a fowler shot at a peacock and struck Thomas instead. Following his death, some of his relics were taken to Edessa while the rest were kept in what is now known as India. They can still be found within the San Thome Basilica in Chennai, Mylapore, India.

The relics taken to Edessa were moved in 1258 to Italy, where they can be found in the Cathedral of St. Thomas the Apostle in Ortona, Italy. However, it is believed that Saint Thomas’ skull rests in the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian on the Greek Island Patmos.

In art, Saint Thomas is commonly depicted as a young man holding a scroll, or as a young adult touching the resurrected Christ’s wounds.

Saint Thomas was mentioned in several texts, including one document called The Passing of Mary, which claims then-apostle Thomas was the only one to witness the Assumption of Mary into heaven, while the other apostles were transported to Jerusalem to witness her death.

While the other apostles were with Mary, Thomas was left in India until after her first burial, when he was transported to her tomb and he saw her bodily assumption into heaven, when her girdle was left behind.

In versions of the story, the other apostles doubted Thomas’ words until Mary’s tomb was discovered to be empty with the exception of her girdle. Thomas and the girdle were often depicted in medieval and early Renaissance art.

Morning Meditation

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🌞 Morning Meditation 🌝

God the Night Watchman

After a succession of hot, sultry days in the summer, we sense there must be a storm before the come back again.

Similarly,in these days of confusion,there is an intuition of impending catastrophe,a feeling that some immense prenatural disturbance must bring the evil of the world to ruins before we can be set free again.

As DeGoncourt told Berthelot,who had boasted of the future destructiveness of war through physics:”When that day comes,God as a night watchman will come down from Heaven,rattling his keys,saying,Gentlemen!It is closing time!”

~Venerable Fulton J.Sheen~

Justice is a joy to the innocent;but Truth torments the guilty.
~Proverbs 21;15~

St.Phillip Neri~The Saint of Joy


St. Philip Neri was a Christian missionary and founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, a community of Catholic priests and lay brothers.
He was born in Florence on July 21, 1515 as one of four children to Francesco Neri.
From a very young age, Philip was known for being cheerful and obedient. He was affectionately referred to as “good little Phil.” He received his early teachings from friars at the Dominican monastery in Florence, San Marco.
At 18-years-old, Philip went off to live with a wealthy family member in San Germano. He was sent there to assist in – and possibly inherit – the family business. However, soon after his arrival, Philip experienced a mystical vision, which he eventually spoke of as his Christian conversion. This event was an encounter with the Lord and it dramatically changed his life.
He soon lost interest in owning property or participating in business. He felt a call from the Holy Spirit to radically live for and serve the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.
So, Philip set out for Rome.
Once in Rome, Philip was the live-in tutor for a fellow Florentine’s sons. Under Philip’s guidance, the two boys improved in all aspects of life and faith, proving Philip’s special talent with human relationships and in bringing out the best in people.
During his first two years in Rome, Philip spent his time in a solitary life. He also dedicated a lot of time to prayer. He ate very small meals of bread, water and a few vegetables, practicing an ascetical life.
In 1535, Philip began studying theology and philosophy at the Sapienza and at St. Augustine’s monastery. Although he was considered a “promising scholar,” after three years of studies, Philip gave up any thought of ordination. He set out to help the poor people of Rome and to re-evangelize the city. Sadly, Rome had lost its first love and its inhabitants were no longer really living as Christians.
He began talking to people on street corners and in public squares; he made acquaintances in places where people commonly gathered.
Philip, compared to Socrates, had a knack for starting up conversations and leading his listeners to consider a new and better way of life, the Christian Way. He easily caught others’ attention with his warm personality and incredible sense of humor. He encouraged groups of people to gather for discussions, studies, prayer and the enjoyment of music. His customary question was always, “Well, brothers, when shall we begin to do good?”

Losing no time in converting good conversation to good actions, Philip would lead his followers to hospitals to wait on the sick or to the Church, to pray to and encounter Jesus Christ.


In short, Philip was an evangelist. He loved to share the Gospel and help people to find or rediscover their faith in Jesus Christ.
His days were dedicated to helping others, but his nights were set aside for solitude spent praying in the church or in the catacombs beside the Appian Way.
In 1544, on the eve of Pentecost, Philip saw what appeared to be a globe of fire. It is said the fire entered his mouth, causing Philip to feel his heart dilate. Philip was filled with such paroxysms of divine love that caused him to scream out, “Enough, enough, Lord, I can bear no more.” Philip then discovered a swelling over his heart, though it caused him no pain.
In 1548, with the help of his confessor, Father Persiano Rossa, Philip founded a confraternity for poor laymen to meet for spiritual exercises and service of the poor, the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity.
Philip’s appealing nature won him over friends from all societal levels, including that of Ignatius of Loyola, Pius V and Charles Borromeo.
At 34-years-old, Philip had already accomplished so much, but his confessor was determined that his work would be more effective as a priest. Finally convinced, Philip was ordained to the diaconate and then to the priesthood on May 23, 1551.
From there, Philip went to live with Father Rossa and other priests at San Girolamo and carried on his mission, but mostly through the confessional.
Before sun up, until sun down, Philip spent hours sitting and listening to people of all ages. Sometimes Philip broke out informal discussions for those who desired to live a better life. He spoke to them about Jesus, the saints and the martyrs.
Influenced by St. Francis Xavier, Philip thought of going to India to join the foreign mission field, but was dissuaded by his peers because Rome still needed Philip’s ministry and influence.
A large room was built above the church of San Girolamo to tend to Philip’s growing number of pilgrims and other priests were called on to assist him. Philip and the priests were soon called the “Oratorians,” because they would ring a bell to call the faithful in their “oratory.”
The foundation of the Congregation of the Priests of the Oratory would be laid a few years later with members who encouraged others to deepen their faith. Philip’s rule for them was simple – share a common table and to perform spiritual exercises. Philip didn’t want his followers to bind themselves to the life with a vow and he did not want them to denounce their property.

Philip’s organization was officially approved by Pope Gregory XIII in 1575.
The Congregation was given an ancient church, but Philip made the quick decision to demolish it because the structure was in ruins and the size was not large enough. He had plans of rebuilding on a larger scale. People from all over, including Charles Borromeo and Pope Gregory, contributed financially toward the rebuilding.
By April 1577, the New Church was completed enough for the Congregation of the Oratory to be transferred there, but Philip stayed at San Girolamo for another seven years.
Philip was constantly in a crowd of people; he allowed his followers free access to him and continued hearing confessions and engaging in ministry and prayer.
In the words of one of his biographers, Philip was “all things to all men…. When he was called upon to be merry, he was so; if there was a demand upon his sympathy, he was equally ready…”
Philip was respected and loved throughout Rome; he became a trusted advisor to popes, kings, cardinals and equally as important to the poor.
He whole-heartedly desired the reform of the Catholic Church and worked toward that with a sense of gentleness and friendship, rather than criticism and harshness.
His efforts to reach out to the lay people of Rome and not simply associate with the clergy made him one of the great figures in the Counter Reformation of the Catholic Church. Sadly, the Catholic Church had fallen into clericalism. He soon earned the title, “Apostle of Rome.”
On the Feast of Corpus Christi, May 25, 1595, Philip was told by his physician that he was not healthy. He had not looked well for ten years. Philip realized his time had come to pass on to the Lord. For the remainder of the day, he listened to confessions and saw his visitors as normal.
Before heading off to bed, Philip stated, “Last of all, we must die.”
Around midnight of May 26, 1595, Philip suffered from a hemorrhage and passed away at 80-years-old. His body lays in the New Church, where the Oratorians still serve.


St. Philip Neri was beatified by Pope Paul V on May 11, 1615 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622.
He is the patron saint of Rome, US Special Forces, humor and joy and his feast day is celebrated on May 26.

Quotes of St.Phillip Neri
“If you wish to go to extremes, let it be in sweetness, patience, humility and charity.”

“Bear the cross and do not make the cross bear you.”

“Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if he wants anything of you, He will fit you for the work and give you strength.”

“God in His infinite goodness sometimes sees fit to test our courage and love by depriving us of the things which it seems to us would be advantageous to our souls; and if He finds us earnest in their pursuit, yet humble, tranquil and resigned to do without them if He wishes us to, He will give us more blessings than we should have had in the possession of what we craved.”

“Let me get through today, and I shall not fear tomorrow.”

“There is no purgatory in this world. Nothing but heaven or hell.”

“Sufferings are a kind of paradise to him who suffers them with patience, while they are a hell to him who has no patience.”

“The greatness of our love for God may be tested by the desire we have of suffering for His sake.”

“Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.”

“If we wish to keep peace with our neighbor, we should never remind anyone of his natural defects.”

“It is an old custom with the servants of God always to have some little prayers ready and to be darting them up to heaven frequently during the day, lifting their minds to God out of the filth of this world. He who adopts this plan will get great fruit with little pains.”

‘To be without pity for other men’s falls, is an evident sign that we shall fall ourselves shortly.’

‘Let us be humble and keep ourselves down.’

‘Let us pray God, if He gives us any virtue or any gift, to keep it hidden even from ourselves, that we may preserve our humility, and not take occasion of pride because of it.’ 

“Watch me, O Lord, this day; for, abandoned to myself, I shall surely betray thee.”

St. Philip Neri, in his exhortations to his penitents, used always to say: “My children, if you desire perseverance, be devout to our Blessed Lady.”

“Let us strive after purity of heart, for the Holy Spirit dwells in candid and simple minds.”
Prayer to St. Philip Neri

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice! (Phil. 4:4)

O holy St. Philip Neri, patron saint of joy, you who trusted Scripture’s promise that the Lord is always at hand and that we need not have anxiety about anything, in your compassion heal our worries and sorrows and lift the burdens from our hearts. We come to you as one whose heart swells with abundant love for God and all creation. Hear us, we pray, especially in this need (make your request here). Keep us safe through your loving intercession, and may the joy of the Holy Spirit which filled your heart, St. Philip, transform our lives and bring us peace. Amen.

 

Prayer to Know and Love Jesus by St. Philip Neri

My Lord Jesus, I want to love You but You cannot trust me. If You do not help me, I will never do any good. I do not know You; I look for You but I do not find You. Come to me, O Lord. If I knew You, I would also know myself. If I have never loved You before, I want to love You truly now. I want to do Your will alone; putting no trust in myself, I hope in You, O Lord. Amen.

Our Lady of the Poor~Apparitions of Banneaux,Belgium

“I am the Virgin of the Poor…Believe in Me, I will believe in you!”

Eight apparitions to the young girl Mariette Beco January 15 – March 2, 1933, Belgium.
Approved by the Holy See on August 22, 1949

 

Geographic Location

Belgium is a small country in northern Europe between France and Germany. Banneux Notre-Dame is a poor farm village built around its church. It doesn’t appear on maps. It is dependent on the people of Louveigne and is 25 km from Liege, the capital of the province. The town if ound in a small plateau in the Belgian Ardennes at an altitude of 325 m. It is surrounded by beautiful valleys of Ambleve, Vesdre, and Hoëgne. On the highway between Louveigne and Pepinster, a kilometer from the church, the small Beco house can be found on the left with a small garden in the front. The area is humid and swampy, which is why it is called “La Fagne”, which means ‘mud’. On the other side of the highway, the great Eifel forests begin.

The Beco Family

Ten miles from Liege, in the plateau hamlet of Banneux. The family was not a pious one. The 15th of January was a Sunday and 11-year-old Mariette, the eldest of the siblings, missed Mass (it seems this was an ordinary occurrence in this family). The Beco family was poor (by Belgian standards) and their 4-room house would later be the cramped quarters for a family of eleven. Mariette Beco was the oldest, born on March 25, 1921 (the feast of the Annuncation coincided that year with Good Friday). At 11 years old, the eldest of seven children, she was not intelligent, yet she was not stupid.  She did very badly in Catechism Class. She had stopped going for First Holy Communion instructions.She was a product of her environment, which was, in a word, hopeless.  Her father was an unemployed wiremaker.  He had no use for God or the Church.  He was born a Catholic, but that was a long time ago.  He hadn’t been near a church for years.  Julian Beco couldn’t care less that his eldest daughter had given up her religious training.  His attitude infected the household.  There was nothing in the house of a religious nature.  His wife, Louise, followed his lead.  God had no place in their home.She wasn’t very devout before her experience with Our Lady. Nevertheless, she had a small image of Our Lady on her nightstand, she kept a rosary she had found, and occasionally prayed it before going to sleep.

The First Apparition – Sunday, January 15, 1933

Our Lady invited the girl, with a gesture of her hand, to come close to Her

The winter of 1933 had turned extremely bitter.  The eerie sounds of the wind wailing through the trees, bending the branches in a contest of strength, created a deafening din inside the  house.  Drafts blew through the open cracks under the doors and in the window frames.  The flames in the fireplace flickered wildly, as they battled the cold winds blowing down the chimney.  It was dark, around 7 in the evening, on this freezing night.  Mariette sat by the front window of her house, looking into the black of night for some sign of her brother Julien, who was late returning home.  As she opened the curtain to look out, she saw a Lady standing in their front yard, surrounded by a bright light.  The Lady was short, about five feet tall, and exceptionally beautiful.  Our Lady of Banneux was not dressed like any of the ladies from the village.  She wore a long white gown with a blue sash.  One of her feet could be seen.  She was barefoot, with just a gold rose in between her toes.  In this kind of weather, she should be freezing.  Mariette noticed that she stood just above the ground, sort of on a cloud.  She didn’t seem to be cold at all.

Now Mariette had a very logical mind, even at age 11.  The scene she saw before her eyes didn’t make sense.  It was probably the reflection of the oil lamp.  She took the oil lamp from the table, and put it in another room.  Then she went back to the window and looked out.  The Lady was still there.  She resorted to the next natural course of action – she called her mother.  Mariette explained what she was looking at.  Louise Beco responded in a natural way also.  “Rubbish”, she said.

Mariette was persistent .  She described Our  Lady of Banneux.  Her mother replied jokingly, “Perhaps it’s the Blessed Virgin.”

The child insisted her mother come over to the window and see for herself.  Feeling very foolish, Louise went over to the window and looked out.  She saw a white shape, but she couldn’t make out any figures.

“It’s a witch.” she said, and let the curtain fall, blocking the image from Mariette’s eyes.  The child opened the curtain again.

“She’s beautiful, Mama.  She’s smiling at me.”  The mother ignored her eldest daughter.

The child noticed that the Our Lady of Banneux had a Rosary, hanging from the blue sash.  The cross was the same color of gold as the rose between her toes.  Mariette went to a drawer, and rummaged through, looking for a Rosary she had found outside on the road.  When she found it, she began to pray.  The Lady’s lips moved, but she didn’t say anything that Mariette could hear.  After a few decades, the Lady raised her hand, and motioned with her finger for Mariette to come outside.  The young girl asked permission to leave the house.

“Lock the door.” Her mother replied.

By the time Mariette returned to the window, the Lady had disappeared.  She kept going back to the window to see if the beautiful Lady had returned, but she had not.  Pretty soon, her brother Julien came home.  She told him what had happened while she was waiting for him at the window.  His reaction was similar to that of his mother’s, only a little more vocal.

His comments ranged from “You’re a fool” to “You’re crazy”.  

The Next Day, School and a Renewed Ardor for Catechism Classes

Monday, January 16, Mariette told a girl friend at school what had happened.  The girl told her she had to tell the priest.  Mariette was afraid, but with the encouragement of her friend, the two of them went to the priest’s office.  Mariette backed out at the last minute, and ran off.  The friend told the priest, Fr. Louis Jamin, what Mariette had said.  The priest was sure Mariette was influenced by the recent reported apparitions in Beauraing, and paid no attention to it.  He cautioned the friend, however, not to tell anyone about Mariette’s reported apparition.

For the next two days, Monday and Tuesday, the Our Lady of Banneux did not return.  However, that one visit had a deep effect on Mariette’s spirituality.  She returned to her Catechism class on Wednesday, embracing the material with a renewed enthusiasm.  She knew her lesson perfectly.  This amazed Fr. Jamin, because Mariette had always been the worst student in the class.  After class, Father asked her why she had run away on Monday without telling him what she had seen.  By this time, the child had reflected on what had happened.  She was not frightened anymore.  She spoke very calmly, telling the priest exactly what she had seen.  He, for his part, did not treat her as a child, or belittle what she claimed.   He only told her to pray to Our Lady for guidance.

The Second Apparition – Wednesday, January 18, 1933:

“Put your hands in the water. This fountain is reserved for Me. Goodnight. Good bye.”

On January 18, 1933, at 7:00 pm, Mariette left her house in a hurry and ran around the yard, as if pushed by some compelling inner force. Then she fell to her knees and seeemed to enter a state of silent prayer. Her father, Julien, ran after her and found his daughter on her knees, a highly unusual pose in their family.

As at the first time, Mariette saw a “bright ball” fast increasing in size, passing between the pine trees and growing, to finally change into a “woman’s silhouette.” The Virgin was now facing Mariette, just a little more than a yard away, fully clothed with light. Her feet didn’t touch the ground, but rested on a sort of “luminous cloud” ressembling the many representations of Our Lady of the Poor and matching the testimonies of the main Marian apparitions since the beginning of the 19th century.

Mariette wondered how a human being can have precise features and forms, and a solid-looking body, change appearance in such a short time, and go against all the laws of our humanity?

Suddenly, the apparition made a “sign” to Mariette and stepped back to give her time to follow. Julien Beco was worried for his daughter whose behavior was so out of character. He called a neighbor, Michel Charleseche, for assistance and the man came with his 12 year-old son. But none of them saw anything of what Mariette was seeing.

Then she said loudly and with a clear voice: “She is calling me!” The girl rose and ran in the direction of the main road, very fast, as if carried by the wind. Suddenly, Mariette stopped in her tracks and fell to her knees twice, near a spring. She heard outside herself: “Put your hands in the water! This fountain is reserved for Me. Goodnight. Good bye.” The Virgin disappeared a few seconds later, respecting the visual laws of perspective: her silhouette became a ball of light easily avoiding the natural obstacles, then fading away in the horizon.

Around 10:00 pm, Father Jamin went to the Beco’s house. He was surprised by Julien’s account of the story and his declaration to convert, make a general confession and go to Mass!

Third Apparition: Thursday, January 19, 1933:

“I am the Virgin of the Poor”
“This fountain is reserved for all nations to bring comfort to the sick. I will pray for you. Goodbye.”

The next day (January 19, 1933) around the same time, the Virgin appeared again to Mariette, who was surrounded by 17 people. The girl continued to be the only one to ‘see.’ She asked her identity to the Lady, who replied: “I am the Virgin of the Poor.” They then went to the spring together. Mary declared: “This spring is reserved for all the nations, to bring comfort to the sick,” whereas the day before, the apparition had told Mariette that the spring was for her alone.

Just before leaving, she said: “I will pray for you; good bye.” The ball of light, seeming to ‘enclose’ the Virgin, rose over the tree tops and disappeared in the night.

Fourth Apparition: Friday, January 20, 1933:

“I would like a small chapel.”

The next day (January 20) around 6:45 pm, the fourth apparition took place. This one had thirteen witnesses, including Father Jamin and the first two journalists. During this apparition, the Virgin made a request: “I would like a small chapel.” Our Lady imposed her hands on Mariette and traced the sign of the cross over her head. At the end, Mariette lost consciousness.

However, during the following days until February 11, the apparitions stopped. Some made fun of Mariette, calling her “Saint Bernadette.” Despite the intense cold, Mariette continued praying, In these days, only she truly believed that the Virgin of the Poor would return whatever the cost. She would see her again.

Fifth Apparition: Saturday, February 11, 1933

“I come to alleviate sufferings.”

On February 11 (anniversary of the apparitions in Lourdes) at 7:00 pm, when she girl reached the fifth decade of the second set of mysteries, Mary appeared, in all her splendor. Like the other times, Mariette ran with incredible speed to the spring after the Lady, dropped to her knees and dipped the tip of her rosary in the water. “I come to alleviate sufferings,” Mary said to her interiorly. The following day, Mariette received First Communion from Fr. Jamin.

Sixth Apparition: Wednesday, February 15, 1933

“Believe in me and I will believe in you. Pray very much. Goodbye.”

On February 15, the Virgin of the Poor appeared to her for the sixth time. This time Mariette had a question, submitted by Father Jamin, to test the authenticity of the apparitions. The concise, evangelical answer came, leaving no ambiguity: “Believe in me and I will believe in you. Pray very much. Goodbye.” Mariette cried, face against the ground. The Virgin had just confided to her a secret.

Seventh Apparition: Monday, February 20, 1933

“My dear child, pray, pray very much.”

The next apparition came on February 20. At the end of the sorrowful mysteries, Mariette, in deep ecstacy,  dropped to her knees heavily, her arms forming a cross. A message accompanied the visual apparition: “My dear child, pray, pray very much.” That night, the vision lasted 7 whole minutes.

Eighth Apparition: Thursday, March 2, 1933

“I am the Mother of the Savior, the Mother of God. Pray very much.”

On March 2, 1933, came the eighth and last apparition. There were only 5 witnesses on that day. At the beginning of the first rosary, it stopped raining — the sky cleared and the stars shone. Suddenly Mariette grew quiet and extended her arms. Our Lady looked more beautiful than ever before in her visits, but she did not smile. Her face was very serious. Perhaps she, too, was sad because this would be her last apparation to Mariette. The Virgin announced: “I am the Mother of the Savior, the Mother of God. Pray very much. Then she imposed her hands on Mariette’s head and blessed her with the sign of the cross. She said, “Adieu – till we meet in God.” And Mariette understood this would be her final appearance to her. Heartbroken, the child bowed to the earth in heart-rending sobs.

Fruits, Conversions, and Miracles

After the first apparition, the girl converted. Her father, who had been a powerful force of apathy and rebellion against the Church, experienced a change of heart. Not even in Lourdes, Fatima or Beauraing did such conversions happen so quickly. The parents of Bernadette Soubirous and Lucia dos Santos did not accept the apparitions until long after they had ended. Nevertheless, here in Banneux, the power of Our Lady was felt and obeyed immediately. The priest, Father Jamin, remained hesitant for some time, before publically admitting his belief in the apparition. His position was difficult. The girl of his parish was declaring a heavenly visitation just after another had been declared in the same country in the same month. He knew that comparisons would arise. He also know that the eyes of Belgium, and possibly of all of Europe would be fixed on him and his behavior. A great factor in his acceptance of the apparitions had to have been the immediate fruits that arose. Almost immediately, miraculous cures occurred. The great number of miracles that occurred were overwhelming that it took the local Church by surprise. During some time, it seemed that the apparitions in Beauraing and Banneux were competing for recognition.

On March 19, 1935, a first investigation committee was put in place, headed by Msgr Leroux, director of the diocesan major seminary. Seventy three people testified under oath. On February 18, 1937, the commission’s work was finished. The whole file (428 pages and 21 documents annex) was transmitted by the diocese of Liege to the archbishop of Brussels-Mechlin, then to Rome.

The war evidently slowed down the process. On January 2, 1942, the Holy See authorized the bishop of Liege, Msgr Louis-Joseph Kerkhofs, to make a definitive judgment: the public cult of Our Lady of Banneux was authorized by the prelate on March 19, 1942.

From June 19, 1942 to February 15, 1944, it took 20 meeting sessions for the members of the new committee to make a pronouncement on the personality of Mariette Beco and on the supernatural origin of the apparitions. Some evoked the “hysterical disposition” of the seer. Other talked about a deception or illusion. According to them Mariette imagined that she saw the Virgin Mary after having read a flier about Lourdes (conserved in the library of the patronage in Banneux). The committee hesitated: “The events of Banneux appear to be neither certain nor even probable” !

But the facts were there, certain and undisputable. In 1945, Msgr Kerkhofs, with the help of Father Rene Rutten (1878-1948) ordered a third and last investigation committee. This time, the conclusions were positive and the supernatural origin officially recognized by the bishop of Liege, on August 22, 1949, sixteen years after the events. On August 14, 1956, Msgr E. Forni, the Apostolic Nuncio to Brussels, solemnly crowned the statue of the Virgin of the Poor.

PRAYER TO THE VIRGIN OF THE POOR

O virgin of the Poor, May you  ever be blessed ! And blessed be He who deigned to send you to us. What you have been and are to us now, you will always be to those who, like us, and better then us, offer their faith and their prayer. You will be all for us, as you revealed yourself at Banneux : Mediatrix of all graces, the Mother of theSaviour, Mother of God. A compassionate and powerfull Mother who loves the poor and all Peaople, who alleviates suffering,  who saves individuals and all humanity, Queen and Mother of all Nations, who came to lead all those who allow themselves to be guided by you, to Jesus the true and only Source of eternal life.Amen.

INVOCATIONS

Blessed Virgin of the Poor, lead us to Jesus, Source of grace. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, save all Nations. Blessed Virgin of the Poor,relieve the Sick. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, alleviate suffering. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, pray for each one of us. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, we believe in you. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, believe in us. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, we will pray hard. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, bless us (+) Blessed Virgin of the Poor, Mother of the Saviour Mother of God, we thank You.

PRAYER

Mary Virgin of the Poor, You lead us to Jesus, source of grace, and you come to alleviate our suffering.
We implore you with confidence: Help us to folow your Son with generosity, and to belong to Him unreservedly.
Help us to welcome the Holy Spirit Who guides and sanctifies us. Obtain us the grace to look like Jesus everyday more, so that our life will glorify the Father and contribute to the salvation of all.Amen