NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu. ~ Peter

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Places of Prayer & Wonder in the Philippines

I just returned from an extended vacation in the Philippines, where I not only had the pleasure of spending time with relatives I hadn't seen in decades, but I was also able to visit three special places of prayer. All three were in the province of Batangas and my experiences at each place will stick with me for the rest of my life!

+ LIPA: Carmel Monastery & Church of Mary the Mediatrix of All Grace

The magnificent Carmel Church of Lipa in Batangas.

Here, at this Carmelite monastery complex, the Blessed Virgin appeared at least 15 times in 1948 to a then-postulant named, Sr. Teresita Castillo - Mary called herself the Mediatrix of All Grace.

Me, in the side-chapel of the Mediatrix of All Grace.
The statue pictured was seen to move in 1948.

Our Lady came as a woman of incomparable beauty; garbed in a simple white robe and veil; holding a golden rosary; emitting a floral fragrance and standing on a small pillow-like cloud.  The bulk of the apparitions occurred near a vine in the monastery's garden where the main message of Lipa was received by Sr. Teresita on September 16th, 1948:

"Pray, my child. The people do not heed my words. Tell my daughters (the other nuns) that there will be persecutions, unrest, and bloodshed in your country.  The enemy of the Church will try to destroy the faith which Jesus established and died for.  The Church will suffer much.

Pray for the conversion of sinners throughout the world. Pray for those who rejected me and those who do not believe and trust me.  Spread the meaning of the Rosary, because this will be the instrument for peace throughout the world.  Tell the people that the Rosary must be said with devotion.

Propagate the devotion of my Immaculate Heart. Do penance for priests and nuns. But be not afraid, for the love of my Son will soften the hardest of hearts and my motherly love will be their strength to crush the enemies of God.

What I ask here is the same I asked at Fatima."

At the shrine complex, one is able to look down a prayer
balcony into the cloistered monastery's garden where most of the apparitions took place.

At the time of the apparitions many signs were witnessed by the nuns and countless pilgrims to the monastery:  the sun danced; the statue carved to represent the apparition came to life; cures occurred; and rose petals imprinted with holy images materialized out of thin air to "rain" down upon the people.

A closer view of the lovely miraculous statue (left) and a 28" replica statue I treated myself to from the shrine's gift store (right). 

I left this hallowed place imbued with its holiness and spiritual power; a major highlight of my vacation.

"Do not fear my daughter, He who loves above all things has sent me."

- Words of Our Lady to Sr. Teresita, 1948 

+ MONTE MARIA: Shrine & Statue of the Mother of All Asia 

Our Lady's statue towers above Monte Maria and
the Church of the Santo Nino on the same mountain.

Approximately an hour's drive away from Lipa is the Shrine of the Mother of All Asia, which features a 322 feet high statue of Our Lady. It's supposed to be the tallest statue of the Holy Mother, to-date, in the world... and it stands atop a mountain-side called Monte Maria ("Mary's Mountain"), facing a breathtaking view of Batangas Bay.


Scenes from Monte Maria and a great panoramic view
of Batangas Bay down below...

Although the exterior of the Marian tower appears completed, the interior is still under construction so I wasn't able to climb to the top of the monument.  However, a finished chapel exists within the base of the statue where Mass is regularly offered.

More information about this impressive shrine can be found here.

+ The "MOUNTAIN OF SALVATION": Prayer Garden & Hermitage of the Mother of Love, Peace, & Joy

Scenes from the Shrine of the Mother of Love,
Peace, & Joy at Monte Maria.

On Monte Maria but a short walking distance away is another site of alleged heavenly visitations - a place of prayer connected to the purported Filipina visionary/stigmatic, Emma de Guzman, from New Jersey, USA.  Emma co-founded the La Pieta International Prayer Group and has the tacit support of several bishops in the USA and Philippines.  In fact, the hermitage complex was constructed under the approval and oversight of the local bishop of Lipa.

"I desire this place where I visit my children to be a Garden of Prayer.  This place will bring you peace in your heart, because I am with you in prayer as well as the saints and angels."

- Words of Our Lady to Emma, 12/2018

Although Emma claimed experiencing mystical charism since 1991, she only first saw the Blessed Virgin on Monte Maria in December 2015.  Our Lady supposedly appears to Emma under the title of Mother of Love, Peace, and Joy; dressed in a white gown with a golden-colored sash and veil.

From the prayer garden one can see the Mother of All Asia statue in the distance, higher up Monte Maria. 

More apparitions of Mary and various saints occurred on Monte Maria each time Emma visited the site on September 8th (Feast of Mary's Nativity) and December 8th (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) during subsequent years. As a result of these events, a pilgrimage developed at the site with the primary focus being a large Pieta monument and a fenced-in shrine marking the exact spot where the Virgin appears.

This is where the Madonna allegedly appears to Emma.  The Saints who often accompany her are represented by statues: the Little Flower, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Maddalena dei Pazzi, St. John the Apostle, St. Peregrine Laziosi, & St. Faustina.

My overall personal impression of the Mountain of Salvation shrine was positive - I felt deep peace while praying there, and because of the local church's support for Emma, I left the site with an attitude of cautious openness to the events allegedly taking place there.

“You are my garden, dear children. I want you all to make my garden beautiful.  Pray and have peace in your hearts. Chaos is everywhere. The Church is being attacked and priests are being persecuted; some because of their own mistakes.  Please pray for them.”

- Words of Our Lady to Emma, 12/2018

For those interested in learning more about Emma de Guzman, the La Pieta Prayer Group, and this beautiful place of pilgrimage, click here.

If you ever find yourself in the Philippines, I highly recommend visits to these special places of prayer and devotion in Batangas.  From Manila to Lipa, it's only about a 2-hour drive but it'll be well-worth your time.  You will be blessed.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

A Soul Rises Up

I recently had another curious experience that I need to write about because it has to do with the Holy Souls; I couldn't pass up another opportunity to encourage devotion to them.

So, as most of us cradle-Catholics know, November is the month when we pay extra-special attention to the deceased.  On the first day of this month we honored all the inhabitants of Heaven on All Saints Day... and, on the day after, we celebrated All Souls Day praying for the dead in the hope that, any who are saved but undergoing painful purgatory, will be relieved by our prayer (especially loved ones).  Still, there are devout people out there who continue this beautiful spiritual discipline all throughout November as a special devotion.

I highly recommend having devotion to the Poor Souls to all who will read this post because praying for them benefits us, as well... and not just in a manner that's spiritually meritorious in the Lord's eyes.  Let me elaborate...

For me, I pray for the Souls in Purgatory, daily, by offering at least one Divine Mercy Chaplet on their behalf and my Holy Communions. In particular, I pray for the souls of my ancestors and present-time relatives who've passed on.  I sense that as the piles of "residue" of my ancestors' sins are "burned" away, there's a measure of healing that's also entering into the lives of their descendants... who would be us.  It's all part of the interesting concept of "generational healing" of family sins and curses that's coming into the limelight within the Church.

Pleading the Precious Blood of Christ upon
the Poor Souls is particularly effective.

Anyhow, I've been seriously fascinated with the idea of healing my family tree for a few years now and it has added a whole other dimension to my own devotion to the Poor Souls.  I not only just pray for them but I now also pray to the Lord to extend their purification to myself and my living relatives... and I've noticed positive differences in my own life and the lives of my siblings.  It's true.

Now going back to the original topic of praying for the deceased during November, something strange happened that prompted the title of today's blog.  I'm currently on a trip taking lots of photos and, while reviewing pics on my cellphone, I came across a single image I don't recall taking... and I'm puzzled as to how it got in my phone.  It's quite striking, actually, because there appears to be a ghostly figure in it.  See for yourself in the photo below.

After praying to discern the meaning behind the photo, the strong impression that came to me was that it was an extraordinary confirmation - a little sign from God - of a soul of one of my ancestors rising out of his/her purgation.  The soul is clearly discernible as a human form, floating upwards towards a brilliant light, which happens to be at the very center of a large white cross.  The imagery is highly appropriate, wouldn't you agree?

Whatever the case, the photo gave me much joy after initial goosebumps.  I was happy a soul is now free of its purification and on its way to be in the loving presence of God.  Thank you, Lord!

So please pray for the Holy Souls, too, and not just during November... and try asking for extended purification upon yourself and your living family members.  You'll start to see positive results happening in your own lives.

Grant unto them, O
Lord, eternal rest and let
perpetual light shine upon
them. May they rest in
peace.  Amen.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

When a Rosary turns gold, it's time to take the prayer more SERIOUSLY!

See the "finger Rosary" pictured above?  It used to be a silver-gray color for the 3+ years I've had it.  I'm sure many of you understand what I'm describing because these types of small metal rosaries are common.  The fact is - at about 2:30AM this morning it was silver-ish with green patina due to long-time exposure to Hawaii's salty air.  Then, after using it to pray at about 7:30AM, I was surprised to find it mysteriously changed to a golden color between my fingers, in the brief span of about 15 minutes!  That was more than 10 hours ago...  and I'm still in awe.

An image from the internet showing what my
finger Rosary originally looked like when I first got
(compare the 
color with the above photo).

I decided to post about it because I know there's an important, underlying message behind it - not just for me, but for everyone else out there.   And the message is very simple - this was Our Lady's way of reaffirming the IMMENSE VALUE OF THE ROSARY DEVOTION - PRECIOUS, AS SYMBOLIZED BY GOLD.  IT NEEDS TO BE TAKEN MORE SERIOUSLY AND PRAYED WITH FREQUENCY.  NOW, IN THESE PRESENT TIMES.

If one researches approved Marian apparitions in these modern times, the Rosary has figured prominently in Our Lady's appearance and/or her message:

     +  Lourdes, France (1858)
            Our Lady appeared as the "Immaculate Conception" with a Rosary
            hanging from her wrist.

     +  Fatima, Portugal (1917) 
            The Holy Virgin appeared as the "Lady of the Rosary", while also
            carrying Rosary from her wrist.  Among other things, she once said
            said at Fatima:

                 "Pray the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and the end of 
                 the war (WWI)."

     +  Banneux, Belgium (1933)
            Mary appeared dressed almost identical to her apparitions in Lourdes,
            including carrying her trademark Rosary with her.

     +  Heede, Germany (1937 - 1940)
            Our Lady appeared as the "Queen of the Universe" and the "Queen of the
            Poor Souls".   She once said at Heede:

                 "Be good and resigned to the will of God. Pray often, especially the Rosary."

     +  Akita, Japan (1973 - 1981)
            The Blessed Mother spoke to a humble nun and, among other things, said:

                 "The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the sign
                 left by My Son.  Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the
                 Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops, and priests."

     +  Cuapa, Nicaragua (1980)
            Our Lady appeared on 6 occasions to a middle-aged sacristan and once said
            the following words to him about the Rosary, among other things:

                 "Pray, pray, my son, the Rosary for all the world.  Tell believers and non-
                 believers that the world is threatened by grave dangers.  I ask the Lord to
                 appease His justice, but, if you don't change, you will hasten the arrival of
                 the Third World War."

     +  San Nicolas, Argentina (1983 to 1990)
            Our Heavenly Mother again appeared on earth as Our Lady of the Rosary to
            a local housewife and mother.  She spoke many, many messages and, among
            them, she once said in a straight-forward manner:

                 "The weapon that has the greatest influence on evil is to say the Rosary."

Taking these 150+ years of apparitions as a whole, it's obvious the Blessed Virgin has been emphasizing the Rosary during her visits to earth.  At some of these holy sites, too, many others have experienced their Rosaries changing to a gold color.  It's also clear Our Lady is warning us about the troubled times we're now living in... and the worse that's still to come (e.g. World War III, per Cuapa?).  The devil is certainly on the prowl, spreading his darkness and seeking to destroy whoever he can.

Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas,
pray for us.

So I tell people all the time the Rosary is an important devotion because it's a Christ-centered prayer that binds us closer to Jesus; through the 20 Rosary Meditations, Jesus shares the story of His life with us in order to help us deepen our personal relationship with Him and with His beloved Mother, too.  In this way, our spiritual/mental/emotional union with Christ is cultivated and grows; thus, His Light brightens in our souls, repelling the darkness of the devil that's pervading today's society... and even within the Church, itself.  If we don't want to be devoured by the encroaching evil, we have to stay as close as possible to Jesus - there's no other solution than Him.

So let's take up our Rosaries and pray them frequently, if not daily, as Our Lady requests; for the various intentions she requests... and for the sake of deeper union with Jesus.  If we only recognized the full value of the Rosary we'd be beyond amazed and more grateful to Our Lady for this precious devotion.  As I can personally testify today - the Rosary Prayer is GOLDEN!

+ To learn about Our Lady's 15 Promises to those devoted to the Rosary, click here. +