Welcome family to our e-Newsletter.
Summer Fall 2011 Online Issue #9
Summer - Fall 2011
Bob and Penny Lord
Jesus loves His Mother so much. She, on the other hand, loves us so much; she always comes to us, to help us, to guide us, to plead with us, to plead for us.
We have one complaint, however. She picks the most out of the way places to visit us. If it’s not a high mountain place, like La Salette, where you take your life in your hands to get up there, it’s a village in the middle of nowhere, where there are no decent roads as in the instance of Fatima, and no directions, as at Pontmain, France.
Pontmain is not even a town, but a village. It’s not on the map. No one in the United States talks about it, because no one knows where it is. Yet, it’s a very special place, very out of the way, but so wonderfully out of the way that it remains untouched. In those days before Google Maps and GPS systems, there was no reason why we were able to find this place, except that Our Lady had determined that she wanted us to go there, so that we could spread her message at Pontmain to the world.
Pontmain is a small village on the borderline between the Normandy and Brittany sections of France. It is very small, situated between Fougeres and Mont St. Michel, which is on the Normandy Coast. In the winter, there are cold, howling winds, bringing icy weather to the entire area.
The winter of 1871 was such a time. January was an especially brutal time for man and beast. Those who could avoid it did not venture out into the weather. But unfortunately, not everybody could stay at home.
France was engaged in a war with the infamous Bismarck, and his mighty Prussian troops. The little people, the common folk, flocked to their churches, to the shrines of the Rue du Bac, La Salette, and Lourdes. They prayed, fearful that it was too little too late, but hopeful, knowing that Our Lady was a merciful Mother, that their prayers would not fall on deaf ears. Rosaries, Stations of the Cross, confessions, fasting, communions, all were offered up to their Heavenly Mother in a desperate plea for help.
We can just picture in our mind’s eye, millions of angels carrying all these prayers and offerings up from the earth and laying them at the feet of their Queen. They had to run out of room in Heaven for all the prayers and petitions offered up. At one point, Mary’s beautiful eyes might have looked out over the land she had tried so hard to protect, that she had loved so much. We can imagine a sadness coming over her sparkling eyes. Perhaps a tear slipped down her velvety cheek, and descended to the earth; when it landed, an explosion of energy lit up the entire sky. It happened on January 11, 1871. Scientists called it an Aurora Borealis. The faithful called it Mary to the Rescue.
Many of the young men of Pontmain had answered the call to duty. They were somewhere in the war zone, but no one knew where, or how they were. Stories of the massacres the French were suffering at the hands of their enemies, found their way back to the town. In addition, the Prussian troops had gotten to Laval, a town extremely close to Pontmain.
On the evening of January 17, the men of the Barbedette family were working in their barn. Dinner would be ready soon, but they wanted to get finished with their chores before going inside. It had begun to snow lightly, not like the other days. The winds had died down. The pure white powder fell gently, as if it had come directly from Heaven. Monsieur Barbedette, known as Bierot, his sons Eugene 12 years old, and Joseph, aged 10, were all working side by side. It was about 6 in the evening. In the recesses of their minds was concern over the third Barbedette son, Auguste, who was away fighting the war. The father felt that by working, he could take his mind off his fears; but it was not happening. Not an especially religious man, he found himself praying his rosary under his breath. A neighbor woman, Jean Detais, came by with rumors about the war situation, and possible news about the son Auguste.
Eugene could not get over how gently the snow had fallen outside. He couldn’t hear a sound. There was not the slightest breeze blowing, much less the Gail storm winds that had buffeted the area earlier that day. He walked to the door of the barn. He didn’t want to hear any bad news about Auguste. He thought that by walking away from it, by not listening to Jean Detais, he could prevent it from happening. The night cold air was refreshing. He looked outside. The snow had stopped. He remarked to himself how unusual it was that the sky was so full of stars, though there was no moon that night. He looked around him. He was immediately frozen to the spot.
Above neighbor Augustin Guidecog’s house, about twenty five feet in the air, a beautiful lady was suspended in the air, her arms outstretched. She was looking at him, and smiling. He had never seen anything like her in his life. Her eyes gleamed like stars. Her teeth were pearl white. They sparkled as she smiled at him. To the 12 year old Eugene, she was a lady, but she appeared to be about 18 to 20 years old. She wore blue, but dark blue, darker than the sky. Her dress was long and loose; her sleeves flowed, and on her collar was a band of gold. There was a black veil on her head, topped by a gold cap which resembled a crown. A thin red band ran across the cap. She wore blue slippers tied with gold ribbons.
The neighbor woman noticed the boy standing in a daze at the door. He was staring up into the sky. She went over to him to see what the matter was. He asked her to look up in the sky and tell him what she saw.
“I see nothing.” she answered.
Eugene looked at her incredulously. How could she not see a lady suspended in air. It was the most unusual sight he had ever seen, and she couldn’t see it. He called his father and brother to look up at the sky. Bierot could not see anything, but young Joseph’s expression turned to joy as he looked up above Guidecog’s barn.
“I see a beautiful lady”. he exclaimed. He proceeded to describe the scene in detail, just as Eugene had seen it.
The father, Bierot, ordered the boys back into the barn to finish their work. He told Jean Detais, the neighbor, not to mention what they had said to anyone. She promised that she would not. The boys returned to the barn. Bierot took one last look before he closed the barn door. What could it be that they had seen? There was nothing unusual in the sky. The stars were brighter than he remembered seeing them before, but that was probably because the wind had blown all the clouds away.
The spark of a thought kept gnawing away at the back of his mind. He had been working with the boys all day. Their behavior had been normal. They hadn’t acted silly. As a matter of fact, there had been a serious tone to the day. They were all worried about the well-being of Auguste. It would have been out of character for them to take a sudden turn to silliness, as he had first attributed their claim about a lady in the sky. Then, he thought, they didn’t see the lady at the same time. First Eugene saw her, and then Joseph. They both described her in the same way. Bierot took one last look in the sky, shrugged his shoulder, and went back to work.
The boys could not get the beautiful lady out of their minds. Her gaze warmed them, as if she had covered them with her mantle. The eyes, those cobalt blue eyes that pierced them, the sparkling teeth, the delicate features of her face, formed an indelible impression on their mind. They worked quickly, which was not like them at all. When they had finished their work, they raced each other to the barn door. They pushed it open, and looked out. She was still there. She was still smiling at them. She was radiant.
Bierot called his wife; maybe she would see something. This was driving him crazy. Mrs. Barbedette came to the barn door. She looked up, but saw nothing. Her husband was somewhat relieved. However, as a precaution, just in case it was a vision from Heaven, they all knelt down to say five Pater Nosters and five Ave Marias. Then they went into the house for supper.
The boys wolfed their food down, so that they could run back outside to see if the Lady was still there. As soon as the last mouthful had been finished, they ran outside the door again. She was still there. The mother asked them to describe how tall she was.
“She’s about the same size as Sister Vitaline.”
This gave the mother an inspiration. She called the nun, asked her to look up into the sky, to see if she could see anything. Sr. Vitaline could not. The boys were becoming frustrated.
“How can you not see it?” Eugene cried out. “She is so brilliant. Can you see a triangle of bright stars?”
Everyone agreed that they could see three bright stars, which they had never seen before, and never saw again, except for that night.
“Well, the top of the triangle is where her head is, and the two stars at the bottom are at a level with her shoulders. Can you see that?”
No one but Eugene and Joseph could see the lady.
Mrs. Barbedette had heard the stories which had made their way up from the south of France about the two children from La Salette, and the little girl at Lourdes, who had claimed to have seen the Blessed Virgin. Perhaps this was the same, and only children could see the apparition. She took the nun with her, and together, they went back to Sr. Vitaline’s school.
There were three children there. The nun asked them to come along with her and Mrs. Barbedette, to see if they could make out anything unusual in the sky. As they walked towards the home of the Barbedette’s, one of the children, Francoise Richer, age 11, pointed up into the sky.
“There’s something very bright above Monsieur Guidecog’s barn”, she exclaimed. Mrs. Barbedette and the nun looked at each other.
As they got closer, both Francoise and a younger girl, Jean-Marie Lebosse, age 9, cried out, “Oh, the beautiful lady, with the blue dress and the golden stars”. No one had said anything to these two. They had no idea of what they were supposed to be looking for. They had not spoken to the Barbedette boys as yet. But they saw the same thing that Eugene and Joseph had seen. The third child, however, saw nothing.
Word of the event spread through the little village rapidly. Soon, just about every resident of Pontmain was at the Barbedette barn, looking up into the clear winter sky, praying for a glimpse of the Lady.
She became enclosed in a blue, almond shaped frame, from which protruded four candles, two at the level of her neck, and two at the level of her knees. On her heart, a tiny red cross appeared.
The gathering took on the semblance of organization as the local priest, Fr. Guerin came upon the scene. The children reported that the expression on the face of the Lady had fallen into sadness. The priest ordered everyone on their knees in prayer. They began to recite the Rosary, the favorite prayer of Mary. The first of 5 changes began to take place.
As she listened to the earnest prayers of the people for peace, and for the safe return of their children, the visionaries saw her begin to swell in size. She grew to almost double her original size. The triangle of stars grew with her, but the rest of the stars made way for the magnificent visitor, queen of all the stars in the heavens. Some of the stars became enmeshed in her gown, while others positioned themselves at her feet.
A Sister Marie-Edouard, who was well known as a leader, began to lead the people in singing the Magnificat. The children shouted out as a new development took place. A banner formed at the feet of the Lady, between her and the top of the barn. It was about the size of the roof of the barn, and as they sang, a word was formed on the top of the banner. It was MAIS, which means “BUT”. As the hymn came to the end, the sentence was formed.
MAIS, PRIEZ MES ENFANTS - BUT PRAY, MY CHIILDREN
The children called out the sentence as it appeared. A shout of joy was sounded among the people. They began to pray the Litany of Mary. Another sentence appeared.
DIEU VOUS EXAUCERA EN PEU DE TEMPS - GOD WILL SOON ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS
As the children read out this sentence, the people began to weep tears of joy. It is Mary. She’s there to help them. Praise Jesus! He allowed her to come again. As the assemblage wept and praised God and His magnificent mother, the Lady began laughing. The children shouted, “Look, she’s laughing.....Look, she’s laughing!!” Soon, the people were affected by the laughter of the Lady. Everyone laughed with her.
They began to sing another hymn to Our Lady. Under the first sentence, a much larger letter began to be formed. It came to them in three stages. The first was
MON FILS - MY SON
It stayed like this until they began to sing the Salve Regina, at which point the next two words were formed.
SE LAISSE - ALLOWS HIMSELF
At the very end of the Salve Regina, the last word of the sentence was formed.
TOUCHER - TO BE TOUCHED
The entire sentence was
Mon Fils Se Laisse Toucher - My Son Allows Himself To Be Touched
Another translation of the sentence is
MY SON IS WILLING TO HEAR YOU
In a small village in the middle of nowhere, at the very darkest hour, Mary, the giving Mary, the loving Mary, began a precedent which has stayed with us from that time until this. We can change His mind through His Mother. Tribulation and chastisement can be lessened, minimized, and very possibly done away with, through the intercession of the beautiful Lady who was given to us at the foot of the Cross.
At a given point, the group began to pray the evening prayers. It was about 8:30 at night. A large white veil appeared at the feet of Our Lady. Slowly, it ascended, covering her as it climbed up. Within a short time, it covered all of her except her face. It stopped for a beat, as she looked down at her children with so much love. Then it moved up over her face. to her crown, where it stopped. The crown could be seen for a moment, and then, it, too, vanished. It was 9 o’clock. She had been with them for three hours.
There was an entry made in the log of the Prussian Army for January 18, 1871. They had entered Laval, a short distance from Pontmain. The army was ordered to stop their advance, turn around and return to Paris. There was no reason given; the order was executed. The troops left the area. Within ten days, the war was over. An armistice was signed. All the soldiers from the little village of Pontmain were returned unharmed. The swift action of the Lord in honor of the request of His Mother, was realized.
Of all Our Lady’s apparitions, this one is our favorite, in that the Message is one of Great Hope, of Mercy. This is the Mary we know, the Mary of Hope. This is the Jesus we know, the One who wants to be touched, who wants to change His mind. My Son Allows Himself To Be Touched
[What you have read is a condensed version of the Chapter on Our Lady of Pontmain in Bob and Penny Lord’s book, The Many Faces of Mary Book I. For ordering information click here]
Family, we were blessed this Spring to be invited to speak at a Conference for Women of Faith in Franklin, TN, a suburb of Nashville. It was one of the most awe-inspiring days we have ever spent. It was attended by over 800 Catholic Women of Faith. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and were indeed sisters-in-faith.
Before we began our talk, we had to share with them a women’s conference we attended in Metairie, Louisiana some years ago with Fr. Harold Cohen (God rest his soul). It was a Magnificat Women’s Breakfast, which was attended by over 450 sisters-in-Christ, again joined at the hip spiritually. They supported each other in prayer, in love, in uplifting each other.
Prior to this happening in Franklin, Tennessee, we thought nothing would ever top that experience. But we must share that this day, April 2, 2011, was a topper. It was not only because of the amount of women present, but their hunger to be fed spiritually, to bond, to be sisters with everyone else there, and be filled with the love of Jesus under the mantle of the Catholic Church.
It was held in a church, St. Philip, in Franklin. This was a perfect venue for this conference. There was enough room for everyone to be seated comfortably. There was a chapel, which had devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, exposed. It was constantly filled, with people coming and going, but spending a good deal of time with Our Lord Jesus. It was as if one of the talks filled them so much, they had to go and talk it over with Jesus, or ask in petition for a gift, or thank Him for one received, after having realized how blessed they were.
Sheri Isham is the founder and president of the Catholic Women’s Conference. It was her dream, after having attended Christian Conferences for women in the past, to bring together Catholic Sisters who wanted to share the love of Jesus, as she writes on her home page, “to rejoice, to reflect and to be inspired.” She began it five years ago, and has each year successfully been able to bring together a thousand or more women to spend this day together.
The format was simple. We began with Mass celebrated by the Bishop of Nashville, David Choby, who gave an inspired talk to the women. He was followed by Bob and Penny Lord, (us). Originally, we were asked to speak about the Miracles of the Eucharist, but shortly before we went to Nashville for the Conference, we were asked by the coordinating team to give our own testimony, which can be very heavy, considering all the things that have made up the fabric of our lives. It’s been awhile since we’ve given that talk, but we could see that our journey through the valleys and high places in our lives was exactly what many of the sisters at the Conference needed to hear. So, for us, it was a great experience. There were other great speakers, and a concert. All in all, it was a special day.
If there were one thing we came away with from this Conference, more than anything else, it was the sense of prayer. There was more focus on prayer than anything else, although there was a great deal of camaraderie and fellowship among the participants. The Rosary was prayed; Divine Mercy was chanted; there was Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament; there was the Sacrifice of the Mass and the celebration of the Eucharist. It was all there. I would recommend to anyone within a hundred miles of Nashville Tennessee, to take advantage of this Conference next year. We love you!
Saint Rose of Viterbo
This is the story of a Saint and a Sinner. This story, another part of our 2000 year journey as a Church and a people of God, is about Rose who was raised to Sainthood and Frederick the sinner who God would use to raise her to that height of piety and virtue which forms a Saint.
A rose will bloom in the desert
For the second time Frederick II was excommunicated; he retaliated by attacking the Papal States, and this is where Rose of Viterbo came in. In 1240, Frederick II decided to occupy Viterbo! The Lord always with us, in time of need, sent into this world of hopelessness and helplessness, a baby! A few years before the frightening entry of Frederick II into the sweet, serene village of Viterbo, there was an entry that would inflame the populace with new courage and hope, a child was born! Little Rose, who was named when she was baptized, would let out a cry that would grow and grow until it awakened the people to a new consciousness that they could make a difference.
Her parents were not of noble birth, but had instead the gifts needed by a future Saint, holiness, virtue, piety, humility and charity. From her earliest years, Rose showed an alive, unending, overflowing love for the Church, for Jesus, the Blessed Mother, the Angels and the Saints. When she was just eight years old, she had a vision of the Blessed Mother in which Mother Mary told Rose she would be clothed in the habit of St. Francis. She was not to become a cloistered Nun, but a tertiary, part of the third order, remaining at home, giving witness to her family and neighbors by word and action of Jesus in her life.
She became ill. But the Lord having too much for her to do, she soon recovered and donned the habit of the lay penitents of St. Francis. When she began, to contemplate Jesus’ suffering, and how wounded He was by the ingratitude of His children, Rose went to the people of Viterbo preaching in the streets, knocking on doors, going from house to house, berating her neighbors for their complacency and apathy toward the freedom they had lost at the hands of Frederick II.
She told them they could be free; all they had to do was overthrow the Ghibelline garrison. She was all of age twelve! But her age did not deter the populace from listening, their hearts on fire! It had been so long since anyone had spoken of the beauty of Italy, of the promise the Lord made to His children not to leave them orphans. She told them they were not born to be slaves, but free! They listened! And miracles came about! Everywhere she went, she was greeted warmly; citizens having heard of her and the marvels surrounding her speechmaking, gathered to hear the Good News! Men who no longer had the will to get up in the morning were plowing their land, once more; after all, it was their land, little Rose had said so. And so, new life came into the ancient village of Viterbo.
Crowds began to gather; her father became nervous; soon, the authorities would hear of her and they would all be punished. What was wrong with her; after all, they had food on their table! He scolded; he pleaded; he berated her; he cajoled her; finally, she leaving him no recourse, he threatened to beat her if she did not stay home and cease her preaching. Rose replied, “If Jesus could be beaten for me, I can be beaten for Him. I do what He has told me to do, and I must not disobey Him.”
Father and daughter seemed at loggerheads, when the local parish priest intervened; he urged her father to cease restraining Rose from doing her Divinely appointed duty. He withdrew his objections and Rose was free to preach; and preach she did, tirelessly rising early in the morning, retiring late at night, as if one driven, knowing time was short. This sounds like the urgency Jesus had with three short years to reach the children of God. This sounds like the time of Jesus; it sounds like today, with the few speaking out, the John Baptists of our day crying out in the desert, Repent and be saved! And the many.....?
She was free to preach for two years! Standing on the street corners of the town, crowds gathering, clamoring for more, her voice crying out, theirs joining in, they were a people to be reckoned with, she was uniting them, rallying support for the Pope and the Church. They took up the cry, Defend the Pontiff’s cause! Then, some villagers who had sold their souls to the Emperor for land and position became alarmed and began clamoring for her execution as an enemy of the Empire.
The mayor of the town would hear nothing of it, protesting the girl was innocent. He had a few reasons for his defense of Rose; he was a fair and just man, but also a prudent and wise man. He feared for his life, for by this time, Rose had become a little Joan of Arc. The townspeople had been resigned to the carnage of their existence; Rose brought them reason for hope and rejoicing. There was a light at the end of the dark tunnel they had been journeying through, and the mayor pitied anyone trying to put out that light.
What was the wisest course? Banish Rose and her parents from the village. And so he ordered them escorted out of town! The little family settled in Soriano; and it was there that Rose prophesied, announcing to all, the forthcoming death of Frederick II looming in the near future. He died in Apulia, on the thirteenth of that month. The papal party was reinstated in Viterbo; the citizens of Viterbo were slaves no more; free, at last.
Their little heroine was also now free, to return to her beloved village; but not before she was to go through a test by fire, truly fire! A citizen of Soriano, loyal to the Emperor and the royal Hohenstaufen family, threatened Rose with burning to death at the stake, if she did not renounce the Pope; Rose responded by asking her to be quick about it, thanking her for the privilege of dying a martyr’s death for the Faith. Having completely confounded her adversary, she not only disarmed her, she won her over for Christ and His vicar, the Pope.
Rose returned to her parents’ home. There she died on March 6th, 1252. She was seventeen years old. They buried her in the Church of Santa Maria in Podio. But six years later, her body was transferred to the Church of the Convent of Saint Mary of the Roses, just as she had prophesied! Although this church was burned down in 1357, her body was intact and is preserved miraculously till this day, incorrupt. Each year her body is carried in solemn procession through the streets of Viterbo. As with many Saints of the past, the faithful proclaimed Rose Saint before the official canonization, because of the virtuous life she shared with them when she was alive and because of the miracles, the Lord gave them, through her intercession, before and after she died.
This excerpt is from Bob and Penny Lord's dvd, "Saint Rose of Viterbo"
Family, we usually sign off our programs, articles, and chapters in our books with, We love you! And very often we sign off this column that way! But we are so filled with love for you, and from you in your letters, it is difficult to keep from saying over and over again, We love you!
Today, as we write about our Popes down through the 2000 plus years of the history of our beloved Church, we find ourselves praising God for the gifts He has left us in our Princes of our Church. We realize how very intertwined the world’s history has been with the history of our Church.
Lately, we hear over and over again, the words of the First Amendment - “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …”
That has been interpreted incorrectly as separation of church and state. So let us clear up something which has been distorted to mean Church is not to interfere with the governing of our country. Rather our founding fathers never meant the restriction of religion, in matters of our country, but that of restrictions of the government in the matters of religion. To quote George Washington, first president of the United States “True religion affords to government its surest support.” And then John Adams, second president of the United States “Religion and virtue are the only foundations…of republicanism and of all free governments.”
There has been a concerted bombardment of attacks down through the annals of our Faith and that of all members of Christianity, to wipe out the Name of Jesus in our lives, in our history.
At a National Day of Prayer breakfast on February 3, 1994, Mother Teresa told the Congress of the United States, “…if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?” and “..Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”
What does God have to do to get our attention?
We are the only country that I know of that has been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of our Mother Mary, Jesus’ Mother. We are the only country founded under God! We hear on Television that our country is a leader in the world. It is said, when fault has to be made, “As goes the United States, so goes the world.” We see the deadly, destructive agenda of men and women who would rob us of our inalienable rights, the greatest of which being the right to believe in God.
From the very beginning of our country, just a little country at that time, where immigrants fled to have religious freedom, to believe in the one true God, they went through hell, suffering unbelievable deprivations to live in a land where they were free to worship! Our courts covet our First Amendment rights for the protection of pornographers, but not for our freedom of religion.
What do we say to them now!!
We want to share a thought we had about three years ago, when we saw the complexion of our country changing, the god of money and selfishness stealthily choking our nation of all moral values we and our ancestors treasured. One day, frustrated by the blaringly apparent, insidious agenda of chasing God out of the mainstream of our life, we turned to the Old Testiment, when Moses came down from the mountain and found Aaron and the rest of the Israelites worshiping a golden calf. We didn’t know when or how it would come to pass, but we knew it could be the way our Lord would try to reach His children.
What golden calf? Well, it’s not a calf but a bull! We must ask ourselves, have we been worshipping the stock market with its bull? You say you do not invest in the stock market. Well, I don’t know about you, but it seems this mania of spending money faster than we could earn it, buying houses that we could not afford, the biggest, most expensive cars trading them in for the next year’s model has taken over our society.
I really cannot share the blame, not because of my thrifty nature, but because I am a dispression baby and I saw how hard it was for my parents to bring in enough money to feed us children. Dinner time, they always passed on eating meat, saying they’d had a big lunch. I thought they did not like meat as they always put potatoes or pasta, crowded with vegetables on their plates at dinner. But years later when times got better, and their plates took on a different raiment of color and assortment, I realized they had sacrificed for us children. Till today I have a problem throwing out leftovers we have failed to use fast enough.
We were poor, as most of our neighbors were; but I never felt poor! My father was out of work six years; my father, with a college education was one of the first to be laid off. Always partners, Mama went to work in a sweat shop, being paid pitifully little for piece work. I remember at the end of the Depression, going to visit my mother, for the first time, at the factory where she worked. I could hardly keep from crying! My mother and father never cried, never argued, never complained, blaming the government for the state of affairs. We and our neighbors never marched, except to honor our Lord and/or His Mother. Our summers were suffocatingly hot; (there was no air conditioning in those days) we and our neighbors sat on our porches, singing until the wee hours when it cooled down, following the passion and joy of the mandolins and the banjos plucking away.
We were poor; but no one spoke of it, or better yet complained. We were considered a minority – we were of Itallian descent. O.K. we worked harder, our parents insisted we go to school and earn honorary diplomas. We felt we had to work harder to be part of this great society’s family. And we did! Why do I tell you of our time during the depression? So that anyone who thinks they can rob us of the freedoms we worked and scraped and suffered for, it aint gonna happen(brooklyneze).
We, Christians and Jews alike who grew up side by side, may look fat and contented like so many fat cows; but we are all turning to God and not only welcoming Him back, we are worshipping Him as He deserves. Each evening after we say our evening prayers, we find ourselves begging our Father in Heaven to forgive us our sins and give us back our Nation founded under God. Do not let godless elements who have taken over our state and federal government take away your freedoms. Fight for what you believe in. Vote them out of office. Pray to God to give us good, moral people to bring our country back to where we were when it all began. God bless you. We love you!
Family, we must be the most blessed servants of the Lord on this earth. He allows us to experience the most beautiful and uplifting miracles. We returned to Louisiana last week, where we experienced Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos. I use the term “Experience” because we have never had the gift of seeing the power of the following this Blessed has been given by Our Lord Jesus. His story is fascinating, but even more fascinating is being eyewitnesses to a following of thousands of faithful believers, taking part in a three-times-a-year Mass and Healing Ceremony. You had to be there to believe how loved this priest is.
For the Healing Service, which took place after the Mass ended, there were anywhere from 1500 to 2000 people, waiting on line to be blessed. There were eight priests in four aisles, blessing the people who waited up to an hour to receive this special gift. And this for a priest whose life was snuffed out by Yellow Fever after being on assignment in New Orleans for only 11 months. He has a following the likes of which you have rarely seen. Hundreds of people give testimony of healings and conversions coming about through the intercession of Blessed Seelos.
But who is this Francis Xavier Seelos, and why is there such a great devotion to him? There are those who had called him a living saint during his lifetime. Very few people could have anything but great admiration and love for him. He was born in Fussen, Germany in 1819. It was obvious to all around him, parents and clergy alike, that this was a special child, destined to do great things for God and for the Church.
He always wanted the religious life. He was not always sure how he wanted to serve. As a teenager, he walked for 50 hours from his home town to Einseidlen, Switzerland to ask to join the Benedictines there. He was refused admission, only because he was too young. But the truth is that God had big plans for him in the New World. He had either a vision or an inner locution from Our Lady, after which he pledged to give his life to evangelizing as a missionary in the New World.
He became a member of the Redemptorist Order, and came to the United States. Being a country boy from Bavaria, he was not very happy when he arrived in the United States in 1843, due a great deal to the anti-Catholic feelings prevalent in the United States at that time. We’re told that in his little village of Fussen, Bavaria, all but 20 people were Catholic. So this was a great culture shock for him, but he wrote to his family that he had made this decision and would live up to it. He spent the next 24 years ministering to the people of the United States.
He was ordained a priest in Baltimore on December 22, 1844. He was transferred to the old St. Philomena’s church in Pittsburgh. At first, his ministry was to Catholics in western Pennsylvania. There were only 21 German-speaking priests for 45,000 German Catholics. Eventually, through the direction of St. John Neumann, who was his first pastor in Pittsburgh, he and other German-speaking priests ministered to German-speaking immigrants. He went from associate pastor, to pastor, to the rector of the seminary, to the head of the Redemptorists, back to his first love, Missionary work.
During the Civil War, years 1862-1865, he and a few other priests went up and down the middle part of our country giving missions and retreats, dodging bullets and dealing with the barbaric behavior of the soldiers on both sides of the conflict. He appealed to President Lincoln to release the priests and seminarians from active duty in the service. He and another priest met with the President, and asked that the Priests and the Seminarians be made Chaplains, rather than fighting men. President Lincoln was very cordial, but could not guarantee that this could be done. However, none of the students were drafted.
His work in the diocese of Pittsburgh was so commendable, the outgoing Bishop, Michael O’Connor, recommended Fr. Seelos to be ordained bishop, and pastor to the faithful in Pittsburgh. Fr. Seelos wrote to Pope Paul IX, begging him to choose another for the task. He was relieved when another priest was chosen to replace the outgoing bishop. His commitment to Our Lady was as a Missionary. He never forgot that. And no matter what tasks his superiors gave him, even becoming the Provincial of the Redemptorists for a time, he always came back to his two great loves, Missionary work and Confession. For three years prior to his transfer to his last parish in New Orleans, Louisiana, he was in charge of the Redemptorist Mission Band. He and a group of other priests would travel all over the middle states, including Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. He not only considered mission work to be important, he wrote to his sister in 1863, “It is properly the work in the vineyard of the Lord; it is entirely apostolic work.”
One of his greatest strengths was in the Confessional. He reminds us of Padre Pio and St. Jean Vianney. He would spend hours in the Confessional. He was gentle but firm. He begged the sinners from the pulpit to come to the confessional. He said “O you sinners who have not courage to confess your sins because they are so numerous or so grievous or so shameful. O, come without fear or trembling! I promise to receive you with all mildness; if I do not keep my word, I here publicly give you permission to cast it up to me in the confessional and to charge me with a falsehood.” He chided his fellow priests who did not have compassion for penitents; “The priest who is rough with the people does injury to himself….he sins, at least in ignorance…he scandalizes all who see and hear him…Thousands reject the Church and the Sacraments because they have been badly treated by a priest.”
On September 27, 1866, he began his last journey for the Lord, to New Orleans, Louisiana. As he was traveling on the train to New Orleans, a nun, also traveling to New Orleans, asked him how long he would be stationed in New Orleans. His reply was “I will be there for one year, and then I will die of the Yellow Fever”, which is exactly what happened. He spent just short of 11 months in Louisiana, and on September 17, 1867, he caught the lethal Yellow Fever. He tried to continue with his ministry, but in short order, he was incapacitated, and on October 4, 1867, he died. But his time in New Orleans and the good he did there was enough for the priests and parishioners of St. Mary’s Church to realize they had a Saint among them. The works he did, the kindness towards the people, reaching out to the sick and dying, made them aware they had been given a special gift in Francis Xavier Seelos. His last act before taking to his bed for the last time, was to go to a man, dying of yellow fever, and give him the last rites of the Church. His superiors had recommended against his doing this act of mercy, but Fr. Seelos had promised the man he would minister to him at the end. And so Father Seelos, more dead than alive, performed this last function as a priest, after which he suffered for three weeks in his bed from the dreaded disease, and the Lord finally, kindly took him to his reward.
Work was immediately begun on his Canonization, because everyone knew he was a Saint. And while it was completed and sent to Rome in 1903, for whatever reason, it was not taken up seriously until the end of the 20th century. His burial place was even lost in the church. For a time, they could not even find his tomb in the Church of St. Mary’s in New Orleans, although everyone knew he was buried there. When it was definite that he would be Beatified, the officials of the Church wanted to make a shrine for him. And in the construction process, his original tomb in the Church was uncovered.
A miracle attributed to his intercession took place in 1967, when a local New Orleans woman, Angela Boudreaux, who was diagnosed with a massive malignancy in her liver, was miraculously healed through the intercession of Fr. Seelos. Her doctor testified that there was no hope for her. She immediately went to the Church of St. Mary’s and prayed for the intercession of Fr. Seelos. Within a few weeks of praying to Fr. Seelos, she was completely healed. This miracle was accepted by the Vatican as that needed for his Beatification. Pope John Paul II beatified Francis Xavier Seelos on April 9, 2000. His is a powerful story, one that you should take seriously. As we said at the opening of this article, we are the most blessed, in that we were able to spend a number of days at his shrine, interviewing Fr. Byron Miller, Joyce Bourgeois, and many others involved in the cause for his Canonization.
We’d like to end this brief history of the life of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos with his dying words: “My dear brethren, I never thought it was so sweet to die in the Congregation. I now begin to know what happiness it is to live and die a Redemptorist. Oh, let us all love our vocation and strive to persevere in it. Then all will be right with us.”
Come to our Annual Conference October 14 - 16 and meet Father Miller who will speak and be the main Celebrant at a Healing Mass. Blessing with a relic of Blessed Seelos. Below for full details or click here
We want to pay tribute to a life,
You all know Luz Elena, our daughter. We want to introduce you to her birth mother, Agustina (Milagros or Millie) Sandoval, who passed from this life in June of this year. We sit here and ponder on what to say. How can we share with you the life of this special wife, mother, grandmother and friend. We had a difficult time attempting to eulogize at the cemetery with Millie lying in state, her coffin covered with roses. What was wrong with that picture?
To us it was a very bad, impossible dream. And we couldn’t speak! She can’t be gone! We can still see her sitting, her hands clasped regally, listening, smiling contently as she proudly looked at and listened attentively to her brood of nine adoring children (no. 10 &11 had preceded her to the Father).
Actually her name was Agustina, after St. Augustine, as she was born on his Feast Day. We coined the nickname, Millie, short for Milagros (or Miracle). She insisted till her last day to be called Millie, as she had conquered death at least four times, each time with her little adoring children surrounding her bed, fearful it was the last time. But she had refused to go Home! For you see Millie did not go Home until she felt her children would be able to say goodby.
It still doesn’t seem possible that she has left us, at least physically. She and Marcos, her adoring husband, were always such an integral part of our life. If there can be joy in saying goodby to our sister and best friend, it is the warm joyful realization that those two lovers (he died a day after their 65th wedding anniversary) are united praying for all of us. She was a powerful intecessor when she was with us, and we count on her prayers, just as we did when she lived on earth. Our daughter Luz Elena asked how come I did not give an eulogy, as I had for Marcos, who we loved so very much. I am still not able to explain it, but maybe it’s because she still refuses to die! Her presence is with us, and I believe it always will be.
We have asked for a copy of the eulogy her precious son Guillermo gave for his beloved mother:
"I would like to present to you a few characteristics of Mother which have taught me how to live fully the simplicity of life.
There is a saying in Spanish: “Panza llena, Corazon contento”, which in English means: “Full Tummy, Happy Heart”. My mother lived by this motto. Every time one of us children would visit and after the greeting the first thing she would ask is, have you eaten? And even if one would say yes she would still be concerned with feeding us. When she knew relatives or friends were coming to visit she would immediately ask what we were going to offer them. This would be her main interest even more so than if the house was clean. You see for her if you are well fed you needed nothing more to be happy. The simplicity of life.
Mother knows… She would not like to argue. Why? Probably because she recognized there is no need to argue the truth. If you know the truth, then trust that all things take their own place. Be merry as you are truthful.
She also had an uncommon gift of knowing people. She didn’t talk much about them and when she said something it was a powerful one-liner that would quickly indicate she knew the person very well as if she had studied the smallest details of their being. Without being critical she could identify the genuineness of each person. Again, let truth speak for itself and in the truth you will find the beauty of the simplicity of life.
Finally, I will tell you of a very distinguished attribute she had. She was a very strong person. I remember one day not too long ago when we were alone I asked, are you afraid of dying? I expected a yes or no answer but instead she said: “what difference does it make I have to go through it”. No better answer could she had offered me, I even began to think the question was more rhetorical and even inappropriate as truly what difference does it make? On another occasion she shared with me that the only reason she did not want to leave was leaving her children behind. She probably was still concerned for feeding us in more than one way.
Nourishment, truth, and being unafraid are all values that are clearly presented in scripture. Without much complication my Mother applied them to the simplicity of life.
Now that she is gone I ask myself what did she leave me with, what did she teach me? She taught me not to overcomplicate existence and live life fully in its simplicity, unafraid, with a heart full of truth and of course a full tummy too. With these lessons I can go forward and live fully. I commit to living in this fashion as it will honor her and through it will lead me to God as she would have wanted to.
May the Lord’s Face shine upon her."
Lately we have been discussing some observations we have come to realize, based on the events and interactions with people.
1. People are confused
2. Some are scared
3. Some are mad
4. Some have given up
What is the source of all this negativity. We believe this is due to a lack of Faith in God.
Let us refresh some information from the last 50 years. In the 1960's we began to accept that prayer has no place in public life. i.e. (take prayer out of the schools!) See Bob and Penny's article that gives some good information about the real meaning of Separation of Church and State.
In the 1970's we began to accept that Government should dictate moral values, that is bad moral values, like accepting abortion, homosexuality and other as morally ok. Remember at that time the sexual revolution was at full speed.
In the 1980's we continued to pile on more and more actions that were contrary to God's Laws. At about this time many began to say that God was dead and irrelevant. Atheists began to crop up everywhere inflicting their lack of faith on all of us. They even became a recognized religion.
In the 1990's if you were moral and prudent, you were considered weird. The world literally turned upside down. What was formally good was now bad and vice versa. Is it any wonder more and more became confused. We were taught in our schools that there was no absolutes, no God and no right way or wrong way, just a lot of alternatives to choose from. Confusion started to become fear, gathering momentum towards anger and despair.
Now here we are confused, angry and on the edge of giving up. Now what do we do?
It does not get any simpler than this.
WE NOW TURN BACK TO GOD.
Nothing has changed. Read the Old Testament. For thousands of years the chosen people of God would rebel and turn away from Him and soon all sorts of trials and tribulations would befall them.
Then God would raise up a prophet to guide them back to Him and they would repent and immediately, everything would begin to heal and get better.
In our opinion, when we turn away from God, even nature rebels and brings us storms and all kinds of extremes. We see this everywhere today.
God is allowing all this calamity to bring us back Home to Him.
Who are the prophets of our time? Let us name a few.
Saint Maxmilian Kolbe, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Blessed Pope John Paul the Great, Saint Faustina Kowalska, Blessed Mother Teresa and Mother Angelica.
Are we listening to them? Who will have the responsibility of leading the dispersed and lost flock back to God?
We will, you and us. Start today! See page 18 for the road map back to God.