Chapter 21

Chair of Peter – Rome, Italy

Chapter 20

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (Jn 14:6-7).

The Chair

Quodam cathedra Petri, unus est, de coelo – “One Chair of Peter, one true font of baptism.”  The chair of a bishop is known as a cathedra; however, it refers only to the occupant, not the furniture.

Chair of a bishop

The bishop of Rome is the pope and the cathedra in St. Peter’s Basilica was once used by the popes. When the pope pronounces a dogma Ex Cathedra – [with authority] – from the chair of Peter, it becomes an infallible Church teaching and is infallible binding upon all believers.

Pope John Paul II once recalled how, as a young seminarian, he “read and reread many times and with great spiritual profit” some writings of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort. Known as the Apostle of the End Times, St. Louis is also called a prophet of the Age of Mary.

His classic document True Devotion to Mary, written eight years prior to his death in 1716, was thrown into a chest along with other documents. Later, about 1789, the chest was buried in a field to avoid destruction by the armies of the French Revolution.

Then, in 1842, just 12 years after Our Lady began her mission for the salvation of the world, his classic document was discovered and published. On page xxii, he wrote: “Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them.” St. Louis de Montfort also stated: “In these latter times Mary must shine forth more than ever in mercy, power and grace…”

Pope John Paul II expressed his personal consecration to Mary based on the spiritual approach of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort and the Mariology in his works. As a result, he made the consecration of de Montfort early in his life; it became a keystone of his vocation as a priest. As pope, John Paul II declared to Mary: “Totus tuus ego sum!” It became his apostolic motto.

According to his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, he borrowed the motto from the Marian consecration prayer found in the same book. The complete text of the prayer translated from Latin is: “I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart.” In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, the pontiff further explained the meaning of those words.

From 1143 to 1963, the papal tiara was solemnly placed on the pope’s head during a papal coronation. The crossed keys symbolize the keys of Simon Peter. The keys are gold and silver to represent the power of loosing and binding. Each ring of the tiara signifies a specific state in our journey from this world to the next: the Church Militant are those on earth; the Church Suffering are those in Purgatory; the Church Triumphant are those in Heaven. In an act of humility, Paul VI sold it and donated the proceeds to charity.

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La Salette, like Fatima and many of the other apparitions of Mary, has its own apocalyptic depictions. Both children reluctantly penned their secrets for the edification of the Holy Father. They told of the chastisements that would be visited upon a sinful world.

La Salette

The secrets of La Salette, given to Melanie and Maximum, were hand carried to Rome by two priests who gave the sealed envelopes to Pope Pius IX on July 18, 1851. Reading the contents, he said: “If we do not pray we shall all perish!” What did the popes throughout history have to say regarding those apparitions, specifically those of Our Lady of La Salette?

Pius IX: “In this place, Mary, the loving Mother appeared manifesting her pain for the moral evil caused by humanity. Her tears help us to understand the seriousness of sin and the rejection of God, and at the same time it is a manifestation of the passionate fidelity that her Son has for each person, even though His redemptive love is marked by the wounds of treason and abandonment by man. The Shrine of La Salette is of great authority and is destined to have a future. I love this devotion and shall be glad to see it spread.” 

Leo XIII: “With all my heart, I bless La Salette and everything that pertains to La Salette.”

Pius X: gave his most copious blessings to La Salette.

Benedict XV: “The devotion of Our Lady of La Salette ought to spread, for it is a devotion that goes straight to the heart.”

Pius XI: “Our Lady of La Salette is to you a kind Providence.”

Pius XII: “It can be easily understood that your Religious Family should particularly take to heart the Centenary celebration of the blessed afternoon, the 19th of September, 1846, when the Madonna in Tears came to adjure her children to enter resolutely the path of conversion to her Divine Son, and of reparation for so many sins that offend the August and Eternal Majesty.

“Very willingly do we direct our desires and encouragement to the dear Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, in the easy confidence that the Most Holy Virgin will, in return, be glad to obtain for them a great abundance of graces and consolation for the fruitfulness of their ministry, now so varied and reaching to the most distant fields of the Apostolate.”

John Paul II: “The message of La Salette was given to two young shepherds in a period of great suffering. People were scourged by famine. Indifference or hostility toward the Gospel message worsened. As she appeared, bearing upon her breast the likeness of her crucified Son, Our Lady showed herself to be associated to the work of salvation, experiencing compassion for her children.

“La Salette is a message of hope – a hope sustained by the intercession of her who is the Mother of all peoples…The arm of Mary’s Son will not weigh upon, will not condemn, the people who walk humbly in the pathway of the Lord. Christ will take the outstretched hand into his own and lead to new life the sinner reconciled by the grace of the Cross.

“At La Salette, Mary clearly spoke of the constancy of her prayer for the world: she will never abandon the people created in the image and likeness of God, those to whom it has been given to become children of God. May she lead to her Son all the nations of the earth.”

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Finally, we are at the end of this story. Yet, it is actually just the beginning, as we will see when these events begin to unfold. Mirjana has committed to memory the times of each event Our Lady gave her. She will release each one just prior to its occurrence. Life in this world will necessarily change as they unfold; eventually, the survivors will believe as they did in earlier times.

Since they began in 1830, and continued until the early 1970s, these prophetic future events were for the most part, conditional; that is they depended upon how well we responded to Our Lady’s pleas. Obviously, since we paid little attention to her, we were told in 1973 in Akita, Japan, that these events will occur and they will change many lives.

They were confirmed again in 1981 and are now etched in stone; they cannot be stopped! Yes, they can be mitigated somewhat by our prayers, fasting, and sacrifices; but, as stated so clearly by Mirjana in Medjugorje: “God has had it with us” and retribution is inevitable!

It is sincerely hoped that this manuscript will be the source of encouragement for the present generation, and enlightenment for the next generation – especially those who know so little about Mary, their spiritual mother – and prepare them for the events coming upon us. The time is ever so much closer now! Vicka said the Madonna told her that we should prepare ourselves spiritually and be reconciled in our soul.

We should be prepared for the worst; we should not be afraid to die tomorrow! Our Lady is leaving no stone unturned; she is doing all she can for our conversion during this grace filled period. If we are true believers we will accept death peaceably, knowing we will one day be in Heaven with our Lord. We can be of help to others by our prayers and sacrifices. How we respond to Our Lady’s pleas is a choice that will be put to each one of us!

In her Magnificat, Mary tells us with great humility, “His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him” (Lk 1:50). Holy Scripture reminds us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps 111:10) and, “This is the one whom I approve: the lowly and afflicted man who trembles at my word” (Is 66:2).

Can this holy fear of the Lord eventually help us to love our Creator? Certainly! If all else fails, this fear of the Lord does just that; if love is not there, holy fear of our Creator may be the one element God uses, at least initially, to save the souls of His children.

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We would do well to remember that Our Lady at Fátima did not hesitate to show the children that horrendous vision of Hell about which Lúcia, the eldest of the children, would later say: “This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother who had already prepared us by promising, in the first apparition, to take us to Heaven? Otherwise, I think we would have died of fright.”

Why else would Our Lady have shown that horrible vision and made it available to the public? It was so we could understand that the place called Hell exists, and is the eventual destination of all those who do not follow the laws and statutes of their Creator.

In a similar manner, do we not all live under systems of government wherein the alternative to being a good and productive citizen is to be either abandoned or placed in a cell for an extended period of time, often for life? To prepare for those times – before each one of us is called to that fearful judgment – we are offered mercy by our Creator. Once the soul departs from the body, we are judged by a just Judge and mercy ceases to be a factor.

In the summer of 1934, Christ told St. Faustina, “… before I come as the Just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy. Before the day of justice arrives, there will be given to people a sign in the heavens…” (Diary, 42). He also told St. Faustina that He wanted the image of the Divine Mercy to be “…solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy” (Diary, 49).

Since the year 2000, His Church has celebrated this feast day on the first Sunday after Easter: Mercy Sunday. It is a day on which all temporal punishment due to sins may be forgiven. It begins first with our asking for forgiveness by our reception of the sacrament of Penance, as we should be free of any stain of sin.

However one avails themselves of it, whether it is in a confessional box in church, or on our knees at home, we end it with a prayer: “O, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell; but, most of all, because they offend You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen!”

We know each one of us will eventually die! The Church offers us the sacrament of healing by Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction), often known as the Last Rites. Probably the greatest healing sacrament is Confession, of which there are three rites of Reconciliation.

As a youngster I well remember being taught to: “Get in the box at the back of the church before you get in the box in the front!”” Such was the stern advice proffered by the Jesuits at the Manresa Jesuit Retreat House, just across the Severn River from the US Naval Academy.

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 However, before we reach that threshold we would do well to examine Vicka’s description of the alternatives that await us: “One afternoon I was with Jakov at his home and Our Lady came, telling us that she was going to take us to show us Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.

Before we left we were wondering how long the journey was going to take, whether we would go up, or down, or how many days we would be traveling. But Our Lady just took Jakov’s left hand and my right hand and we went up. We could see the walls just moving aside, giving us enough space to go through. It took us just a moment, and we found ourselves in Heaven.

“Heaven is one huge, endless space. There is a special kind of light that does not exist on earth at all. We saw people dressed in gray, yellow, and pink gowns. They were walking, praying and singing together. We were able to see small angels circling around. There is a special kind of joy in Heaven. I have never experienced anything like that at any other time. Our Lady told us to see how overjoyed [are] the people who were in Heaven.

“Purgatory is also one huge space but we were not able to see people. We could only see darkness: an ashy color. We were able to feel the physical suffering of the people. They were shivering and struggling. Our Lady said we need to pray for those people so that they can get out of Purgatory.

“As for Hell, there is one huge fire in the middle. First, we were shown people in [their] normal condition, before they were caught by that fire. Then, as they are being caught by that fire, they become the shape of animals like they have never been humans before. As they are falling deeper into the fire, they yell against God even more. Our Lady says that for all those who are in Hell it was their choice, their decision to get there.

Our Lady says for all those who are living here on earth who are living against God’s commands, even here they are living in a kind of Hell, so, when they are there they are continuing just the same life as before. Our Lady says that there are so many who live here on the earth who believe that, when this life is finished, everything is finished; but, Our Lady says: ‘If you think so, you are very wrong, because we are just passersby on the earth.’”

Four of the most famous opening lines ever written remain eye openers to this day. The first two, “In the beginning…” (Gn 1:1; Jn 1:1) come from both the Old and the New Testament of the Bible. The third is found in the novel Paul Cliffordopen: “It was a dark and stormy night!” The fourth is taken from A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” In a future time, what lies ahead for us may well be written about in a similar manner; however, that will only be the beginning!

Three years after the end of World War II, General Omar Bradley, cautioned: “We have men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.”

Archbishop Sheen would later write: “Hate today is in the saddle of one of the four horses of the Apocalypse, and love is trampled beneath its thundering hooves.” Suppose that instead of the hatred, anger and betrayal that are so pervasively glorified throughout the media today, we would begin our days filled with love.

A spiritual love that requires us to love our Creator above all things, in adherence to the Commandments He has given us; then, to love all His fellow creatures as ourselves. It would change the world!

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In the movie, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, depicting an English boys school just prior to the beginning of World War II, their day begins with the school song:

“In the morning of my life I shall look to the sunrise.
At a moment in my life when the world is new.
And the blessing I shall ask is that God will grant me,
To be brave and strong and true,
And to fill the world with love my whole life through.”

And ends:

“In the evening of my life I shall look to the sunset,
At a moment in my life when the night is due.
And the question I shall ask only God can answer.
Was I brave and strong and true?
Did I fill the world with love my whole life through?”

That narrow path we’ve been searching for is love! It is the only solution to the world’s problems today. Without love there is nothing, only evil, about which St. John Paul II noted earlier in his life: “The absence of love is nothingness…a place where evil exists.” He added: “Evil destroys itself!”

Yet, to acquire that love we must have faith: faith in a God Who freely bestows it on all His children. St. Bernadette of Lourdes saw and believed; however, without that luxury, we must believe through faith alone that which we cannot see. Faith, once found, is similar to everything else that lives. It must be nurtured, it must be fed and watered daily throughout life, or else it will wither on the vine and die. That spiritual nourishment is prayer: without it, your gift of faith will surely die!

St. Augustine, a brilliant theologian and Doctor of the Church, stated: “Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure; where your treasure is, there is your heart; where your heart is, there is your happiness [love]; to fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him is the greatest adventure; to find Him is the greatest human achievement, as God is the source of all love and life!” “Our hearts are restless, Oh God, until they rest in You!”

Spiritual love affords us both the desire and the strength to perform that which the angel, appearing in the third secret of Fátima, demanded: “Penance, Penance, Penance.” It is the same penance Our Lady has pleaded for in so many of the places she has appeared throughout the world.

We will need the nourishment derived from prayer, sacrifice and penance in order to carry our cross each day, for that is the only way we can accomplish the challenge from Christ: “…If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23).

He adds: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few” (Mt 7:13-14).

This will require both patience and perseverance on our part; yet, sooner then we can imagine, the day will come when we will see the place that, “…eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor 2:9).

Then, we will hear these words from Christ: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt 25:34).

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Appearances of the Mother of God