NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local diocese, 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, Ministry Administrator

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Holy Relic Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 11/24/2012

Tonight's prayer meeting at the Gruber home felt like Christmas!  When we arrived, our host and prayer-leader - Dre' - surprised us by generously gifting each of us with a Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin (bottom-left).  It was beautiful, yet sad at the same time, with all it lovely pictures depicting Our Lady's sorrows!
... so to change things up a bit, instead of praying the traditional Rosary this month, Dre' lead us in praying our new rosaries to console the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which had been pierced so painfully by seven sorrowful events that were reflective of the cruelty of mankind towards her Divine Son.  A couple of us were moved to tears during the prayer.  Even the statue of the Rosa Mystica on the home shrine appeared to take on a deeply saddened expression while the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows was in progress.  It only resumed it's normal expression - with its faint smile - once all our prayers were over.  As confirmation, another person also reported seeing the same changes in the statue's features.
What others also found very touching tonight was the life of the Spanish founder, Bl. Maria Carmen of the Child Jesus, who was this month's featured Saint (and relic) at the meeting.  She was a valiant woman who, through the grace of God, patiently endured an abusive husband for twenty years before he was converted through her devout example.  After his death, Maria Carmen founded the congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for orphans and the poor in her community; she died in 1899 with a solid reputation for sanctity and was beatified in May 2007.  We prayed for the Blessed's intercession for all our prayer intentions and asked the Lord for her speedy Canonization.
We again closed the evening with a delicous meal and a bottle of wine shared among us... and topped things off with lively conversation and some heartfelt faith-sharing about our personal experiences of God.  I left the Gruber home filled with a deep sense of the Lord's peace and also very grateful  to Him and our dear Blessed Mother for another great night spent with the both of them... with Bl. Maria Carmen... and with my wonderful spiritual family in Christ.
A couple of prayer group members smiling
brightly after a night of intense prayer and
a wonderful meal of soup and salad.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dear Blessed Mother, why do you weep? (UPDATED 01/2023)

"The thought of the loss
of so many souls is the cause
of my sadness."

~ Words of Our Lady at Akita,
Japan (1973)

An acquaintance from Canada once emailed me with a question: Why does Mary cry tears?  Why does she cry tears of blood? [referring to weeping Marian statues]  At first thought the answer seemed simple enough - Mary is very sad and the statues are being used by God as instruments to reflect the Blessed Mother's sorrowful sentiments.  But as I pondered more about it, I realized that there's much more to the phenomenon than meets the eye - there are actually layers of prophetic messages that are related to specific circumstances surrounding a weeping image; the type of tears the image sheds (regular tears, blood, or oil); or even the type of statue that's weeping.

To cite an excellent example... a credible report of a weeping statue occurred in 1972, with the world-famous International Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima in America (left) that was witnessed by large crowds to weep human tears in Louisiana.  A few years later in 1978, the same statue again cried... but in the second occurrence, it did so in Las Vegas, Nevada.  How significant that this statue - a tangible representative of the Fatima Message of Conversion, Prayer, and Sacrifice - has traveled the entire United States only to weep so copiously in two areas in our country that are well-known for unrestrained hedonism: New Orleans with its notorious Mardi Gras is in Louisiana, and we all know that Las Vegas capitalizes on the fact that it's popularly nicknamed the "Sin City".  The locations in these two separate incidents were definitely prophetic factors as to why Our Lady shed tears.

In regards to the type of tears, the sight of a statue weeping normal, watery tears must be impressive enough and effectively conveys a sense of sadness, and perhaps even profound frustration... but to see bright red liquid streaming from a statue's eyes must be downright upsetting and probably a little frightening.  Surely, bloody tears bear a much greater weight compared to normal tears... and I believe they express something much more serious - a terrible pain in Our Lady's Immaculate Heart due mainly to the fact that she knows what self-imposed chastisements are headed our way, but hardly anyone is paying her messages - or more importantly, her Divine Son - any serious attention.  This brings to mind what was shared with me years ago by an elderly lady-friend from the island of Maui (now deceased) who was a reputed mystic/visionary.  Her name was "Christina" and we became quite close friends, and I personally believed she was the real deal.

I visited with Christina in her home four times, and during my last visit with her in 1998, she confided to me and my friends that the Blessed Mother had recently appeared to her in a manner that was personally distressing to the seer.  Our Lady was weeping quietly, which up to that time my visionary-friend had never seen her do... so she asked her the reason behind the tears and Mary responded: "Christina, you need to pray... and tell others to pray more."

Immediately, Christina was given a vision of a great disaster that would one day hit the United States and, which would also impact the Hawaiian islands.  At that same moment, the Holy Mother's tears became blood, that dripped down her pale cheeks and fell upon her pure white dress causing dark red stains.  The seer admitted that when she saw the Virgin's regular tears, her heart was filled with sorrow and compassion... but when she saw them transformed into blood, she was terrified; Christina knew it was a dire warning that Our Lady was communicating and emphasizing to her, and she was deeply troubled by the experience.

A drawing based on one of Christina's
apparitions of the Blessed Virgin.

To this day I have never forgotten the somber expression that was reflected on Christina's face as she mentally relived her vision while relaying it to our small group; the look of anguish was evident... but there was also a glimmer of hope as she encouraged us to keep praying the Holy Rosary.  Clearly, the Virgin's tears of blood mean something much, much more serious.  I drew the image of the weeping Madonna that's seen above, based on my personal recollection of Christina's description of Our Lady's sorrowful appearance to her.  I find my own drawing somewhat disturbing so I can just imagine what Christina felt when she saw the apparition in person.

In contrast, while tears of water and blood express sorrow and pain, effusions of fragrant oil (in this writer's humble opinion) are a blessed gift from God especially meant for the healing and spiritual encouragement of the Faithful.  In Sacred Scriptures, the use of blessed oil was a method of consecrating something for a holy purpose, as well as being used as a healing agent:

"Is anyone among you sick?  Let him
call for the elders of the church, and
let them pray over him, anointing him
with oil in the name of the Lord."

~ James 5:14

There are dozens of statues, icons, and other images in the world today that are exuding oil with healing properties.  Three credible examples are the many weeping images associated with the late-mystic - Audrey Marie Santo (aka "Little Audrey") and the ongoing, Orthodox-approved weeping icon of Our Lady of Soufeniah in Syria, owned by the visionary, Myrna Nazour.  Incidentally, both women were Stigmatized with the marks of Christ's wounds.

The oil-weeping icon of Our Lady
of Soufanieh in Syria. Countless cures
have been attributed to the oil from
this Church-approved miracle.

And closer to home for this author is the "Hawaiian Myrrh-Streaming Theotokos of Iveron".  It's a contemporary icon of the Madonna and Child housed in a small Russian Orthodox Church in Kailua (Oahu), that's been regularly oozing a fragrant oil-like substance since October 2007.  Officially declared a miracle by the Russian Orthodox Church, the Iveron Icon tours regularly and its myrrh has effected many cures.... and being that it's local, I've seen this icon many times - in-person and up close - so can also personally testify to its unexplainable weeping, as well as, the humble character of the priest who owns and serves as its custodian.  Seeing it and smelling its incredible aroma of roses never gets old for me.  Lucky I live Hawaii! 

The oil-dripping Theotokos of Iveron
Icon, filmed during one of my many visits
to it (note the large streaks on the icon
and glass covering caused by the myrrh).

Moving right along... even the type of image is highly significant when it comes to the weeping statue phenomenon; again, I cite Fatima.  Our Lady's appearances in Fatima are arguably the most important of all approved Marian Apparitions, given the global scope of the messages; the miracle of the "dancing sun" witnessed by thousands; and the prophecies that have since been accurately fulfilled.

During my early years of research, many of the statues that have wept were representations of Our Lady of Fatima.  Undoubtedly, the Lord and his Holy Mother are making an important statement: heed the messages that were given at Fatima! ... but in the past 30 years, there has been another type of Marian statue that has been gaining ground in the area of inexplicable tears and mystical phenomena - the Rosa Mystica!


Statues of Our Lady of Fatima
that have wept in different parts of the
world.  The one filmed below recently
occurred in Fiji in early 2019.

The sheer number of Rosa Mystica statues reportedly weeping around the globe cannot be ignored.  To date, in my estimation, there have been 140+ such images that have wept or are currently shedding tears of water and/or blood (plus manifesting Escarchas!) in churches and in private homes around the world.  Truly, the Lord is also trying to draw peoples' hearts to the messages that his holy mother delivered at Montichiari/Fontanelle - important messages that expanded on the Fatima theme and lamented fallen away clergy and religious, while also calling for prayers for holy vocations.  Only now are we realizing the full prophetic impact of Our Lady's words in the Rosa Mystica revelations - the Church and the world are in urgent need of worthy priests and nuns... and vocations to the consecrated life have drastically decreased in the last few decades.


Weeping Rosa Mystica statues
from around the globe.  They are
the most prolific weeping images
reported in the world today.


In conclusion, when dealing with alleged mystical phenomena, I cannot emphasize enough the need for much prayer and discernment.  As seen in the many photos in this blog, the phenomenon of weeping images is real and it has increased in recent years... but this blog isn't intended to endorse all purported weeping images as genuine, as obviously, there have been hoaxes perpetrated in this regard.  The Church is always the best guide in weeding out true miracles from false ones...  and there have actually been a handful of weeping statues in modern times that were granted full approval by local Bishops after careful discernment and investigation.

The few Catholic cases that were officially recognized as authentic miracles are enough to merit our attention to Our Lady's unceasing call for Conversion, Prayer, and Penance... and also Peace and Reconcilation among all peoples.  For us to disregard these obvious signs would simply be irresponsible, as well as ungrateful towards God and our Blessed Mother for their extraordinary expression of concern for us.

We are now living in precarious times and the manner in which we respond will be critical to our future.  So please, please carefully reflect on what you've seen and read in this blog - Heaven is clearly trying to get our attention.  Pray about it then act accordingly.

Three Church-approved miracles
(left to right): Our Lady of Civitavecchia
(Italy, 1995), Our Lady of Akita (Japan,
1973), and Our Lady of Syracuse
(Italy, 1953).

 * * * * * * * * * * * *

"I tell you," he replied,"if
they [his followers] keep quiet,
the stones will cry out."

~ Words of Our Lord,
Luke 19:40

Saturday, November 3, 2012

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony's Church, 11/3/2012

A fellow parishioner venerating Our Lady's
statue and the Sacred Relics on the altar.
This month's First Saturday Rosary for Peace was just beautiful!  Our prayer was totally dedicated to the dearly departed, as we invoked the Divine Mercy of God and the intercession of Our Lady and the Saints on their behalf.  Among our extended spiritual family of regular participants, there were also many new people in the pews; most of them from neighboring parishes who I'd like to think had come on a "mini-pilgrimage" to pray and venerate the Sacred Relics that were present with us in the Day Chapel.
A few parishioners and visitors awaiting
the start of the First Saturday Rosary in St.
Anthony's Day Chapel.
Our Saint of the Month was Bl. Miguel Pro - a Priest-Martyr - whose Memorial is celebrated by the Jesuits and the country of Mexico on November 23rd.  I shared about his courageous ministry in the face of government persecution, his heroic death, and presented a 2nd Class Relic of a wood fragment from his original coffin.  One of the newbies - a young Hispanic woman who was present with her two little daughters - seemed particularly touched by the entire prayer meeting and she informed me that she'd be returning next month.  What a blessing!
The Saint of the Month - Bl. Miguel Pro -
was represented by his relic (left), and the
Blessed Mother, by her relic (right).
After the Rosary ended we all disbursed to attend the vigil Mass in the main church where even more tangible graces awaited.  A friend of mine drew my attention to a sweet, but subtle, fragrance of flowers that seemed to come and go... and which filled our nostrils with a refreshingly cool sensation in the midst of the warm, muggy weather. I'm not sure if anyone else noticed the scent, but because we both experienced it before in various religious settings, we recognized it as a confirmation of Our Lady's presence among us. 
The next First Saturday Rosary for Peace will be prayed on December  1st, beginning at 4:25pm with the sharing of the December Saint of the Month and his/her respective relic.  All are welcomed to participate.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

Praying for Our Dearly Departed...

“It is therefore a holy and wholesome
thought to pray for the dead, that they
may be loosed from sins.

~ 2 Maccabees, 12:46

Today, November 2nd, Holy Mother Church celebrates ALL the blessed souls who have passed on to Eternity.  One of my favorite personal devotions concerns the “Poor (or Holy) Souls”; souls who’ve died in God’s grace but must await their entrance into Heaven because of the spiritual effects of un-atoned sins.  The Poor Souls are purified in the fire of God’s Divine Love and languish in a spiritual state known as “Purgatory”.  As they can no longer help themselves through prayer, penance, and good works, the Church encourages us to assist them by offering prayers and sacrifices on their behalf to lessen their time of purification.

It has been speculated, and even confirmed by many Catholic mystics, that the Poor Souls are very aware of their spiritual benefactors and gratefully intercede for those who assisted with their release from Purgatory.  They can be powerful advocates particularly at the hour of death, as there have been many reports of how these purified souls have appeared to their benefactors in the final moments of life both to comfort them during the death process, and to afterwards escort them into Paradise.  One such example was related in the life of Bl. Ana of the Angels (d. 1686), a Dominican nun from Peru, who had a profound devotion to the Poor Souls... and who in her final illness, was gifted by God with a joyous vision of the thousands of souls awaiting her arrival in Paradise; souls who through her fervent prayers, were released from Purgatory. 

A prayer book with a handprint of a soul
from Purgatory singed into its pages (kept
in the "Purgatory Museum", Rome).

Furthermore, the lives and stories of many other Saints and Blesseds abound with accounts of their personal encounters with the Poor Souls.  One such Saint - St. Lydwina of Schiedam (d. 1433) - was often conducted by her guardian angel into the depths of Purgatory where she saw suffering souls immersed in fire, who begged her for prayers.  The Saint also witnessed the Blessed Virgin frequently visiting the Poor Souls on special Feast Days, accompanied by many angels, to comfort them and to free those who were ready for Heaven. Other Saints who had similar contact with the Poor Souls, or have visited Purgatory, have included St. Catherine of Genoa (d. 1510), St. Catherine de Ricci (d. 1590), St. Faustina Kowalska (d. 1938), St. Juan Macias (d. 1645), St. Lutgardis (d. 1246), St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (d. 1690), St. Maria Maddalena de Pazzi (d. 1607), St. Nicholas of Tolentino (d. 1305), St. Padre Pio (d. 1968), and St. Therese Couderc (d. 1885), just to name a few.

For details on the Church’s ancient teachings on Purgatory, check out the online Catholic Encyclopedia and other resources readily available on the internet. Interestingly, if you google "Purgatory and Judaism", you'll also find that the concept of purification in the afterlife goes way beyond Catholicism... it was even a belief by the original chosen people of God - the Jews - since Biblical times!

How to Best Help the Poor Souls

Listed below are just a few ways that the average layperson can assist in alleviating the sufferings of the Poor Souls:

1.  First, and foremost, attend Masses on their behalf and/or have Masses offered for their relief/release.

2.  Pray for them using traditional Prayers for the Dead (see below), the Holy Rosary, or offer the Stations of the Cross... and sprinkle Holy Water frequently with the intent of granting the Poor Souls relief.

3.  Perform charitable works on their behalf (e.g. visit a sick person, give to charity, or perform volunteer work).

4.  Offer sacrifices or voluntary penances, big or small, on their behalf (fasting is especially effective).

5.  Last, but certainly not the least, encourage others to pray for them.

Maria Simma, a Modern Mystic & Helper of the Poor Souls

Maria Simma (left photo, d. 2004) was an Austrian lay-mystic who had a God-given mission to aid the Poor Souls through her prayers and self-sacrifice. She had frequent contact with the souls in Purgatory, who came to her unexpectedly, and only through the Lord’s permission (not through occult means, like seances).  Maria was also allowed to visit Purgatory and described it as having three levels; the bottom was close to Hell and filled with fire, while the upper-most level was a place of gloom where souls awaited the end of their purification and their imminent entrance into Heaven.  As disconcerting as her description of Purgatory may seem to some, Maria once made this enlightening comment during an interview:

“No soul would want to come back from Purgatory to the earth. They have knowledge which is infinitely beyond ours. They just could not decide to return to the darkness of the earth. Here we see the difference from the suffering that we know on earth. In Purgatory, even if the pain of the soul is just terrible, there is the certitude of living forever with God. It’s an unshakeable certitude. The joy is greater than the pain. There is nothing on earth which could make them want to live here again, where one is never sure of anything.”

My Mom’s Personal Experience

Before ending this post, please allow me  to share a true story that happened to my mother concerning my father (right photo) who died from cancer in October, 2008.  My mother was missing him terribly after he passed away (they were married for 59 years!) and in early 2009 she called me (from California) to share about an experience she had one morning.  My mom relayed that she awoke to see my father standing near her bed surrounded by a soft glow of light.  She told me that she recognized him, but added that he looked much younger as though he was still in his prime years... and he was smiling lovingly at her.  My mom asked him if he was OK, to which my dad replied:

“Yes... you don't have to worry about me.
Peter (me) sent in the paper and I'm doing
good.” [my best English translation from
the Filipino Tagalog dialect]

My mom said that my father then held up a small piece of paper that he had in his hand, but she didn’t understand what it meant nor could she see clearly what the writing on it said.  Soon afterwards, he faded from view, leaving my mom with a deep sense of peace and closure in regards to his death.

What made this story all the more remarkable for me was the fact that my dad had told my mother about a certain piece of paper.  The fact is... after my father passed away, I enrolled his name in a Perpetual Mass program with the Daughters of St. Paul in Honolulu, and had filled-out a slip of paper for the nuns to process the enrollment with their motherhouse in Rome; I offered the Masses for the repose of my dad’s soul but I never told my mother about it so that’s how I knew she wasn’t just dreaming about the whole thing.

Needless to say, I too felt a sense of relief and gratitude knowing that the Masses had benefited my dad’s soul... and the Lord had generously allowed him to visit my mother to reassure us that he was enjoying peace in the afterlife.  Thanks be to God!  [For those interested in reading another personal experience involving the Poor Souls, click here.]

Powerful Prayers

After reading this blog, my hope is that viewers will take just a few moments to recite the prayers below for the benefit of our faithful departed.  Pray not only for family members who have passed on... but also kindly offer the prayers for those who have no one to pray for them.  God will surely be pleased.  We may not see the effects of our prayers now... but who knows?  Perhaps when our own time comes, we too, will have a special welcoming party made up of family and new friends waiting for us in Paradise.

+ A Traditional Prayer for the Deceased
  Grant unto them, O Lord, eternal rest and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace.  Amen.

+ Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great (as revealed to her by Jesus)
  Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus Christ, in union with all the Masses being prayed throughout the world today for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home, and within my family.  Amen.

“If only you knew with what great
longing these holy souls yearn for relief
from their suffering.  Ingratitude has
never entered Heaven.”

~ Words of St. Margaret
Mary Alacoque

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Saint of the Month - November 2012: Blessed Maria Anna Sala

Bl. Maria Anna Sala
An Outstanding Teacher of Virtues
Memorial: November 24th

This Blessed is another example of a religious who quietly attained a high degree of sanctity by simply following the Rule of her Congregation to the letter, as well as consistently practicing the virtues prescribed by Holy Mother Church.

Born on April 21st, 1829, Maria Anna Sala was the fifth daughter of a sincerely devout couple from Brivio, Italy.  In her childhood she was educated in a convent school run by the Sisters of Saint Marcellina and she developed a desire to one day join them.  When she made her wishes known to her parents, they dissuaded her, citing their need for help with their large household.  Maria Anna in the spirit of obedience, gave in to her parents’ entreaties and remained at home to fulfill any family obligations that she felt bound to complete.

In 1848, Maria Anna again asked permission from her family to join the Marcelline Sisters and  was given the approval that she dearly wanted from them.  She was happily received by her former teachers and professed a member of their congregation in September 1852.  The young nun worked as a teaching sister in various convent schools throughout Italy and became noted not just for being an outstanding teacher, but also for being an exemplary religious; she was even nicknamed the “Living Rule“.  Her genuine example of virtue, simplicity, and the dignified manner in which she carried herself favorably impressed all who met her.

Image result for Maria Anna Sala

In 1883, Sr. Maria Anna noticed a growing pain in her throat, which upon examination by a physician, was diagnosed as being a cancer.  The sick nun chose to hide her condition from her peers and students, and while doing so, maintained a peaceful demeanor that masked the pain that she was silently enduring.  All the while Sr. Maria Anna continued to place herself in the hands of God, trusting and praying that all was going according to his Divine Will for her.

The illness slowly progressed, and by early 1891, Sr. Maria Anna could no longer hide the seriousness of her condition.  The cancer was too far spread and her health was failing rapidly.  Many were surprised when they learned that she had been ill for a while, because for the past eight years, she had never complained or given any outward indication of suffering.  She wore a scarf to hide visible signs of her malady.  Sr. Maria Anna died in Milan on November 24th of the same year, greatly mourned by her spiritual sisters and their students.

After her death, Sr. Maria Anna’s close associates continued to call upon her for assistance and guidance… and remarkable favors were obtained through her intercession.  Her Cause for Canonization was officially opened in 1920, which has so far culminated in her Beatification on October 26th, 1980.  Her congregation prayerfully awaits the day when another confirmed miracle will open the door for her Canonization - let us join them in praying for one. 

A Reflection
“Such a man will not be overthrown by evil circumstances. Gods constant care of him will make a deep impression on all who see it. He does not fear bad news, nor live in dread of what may happen. For he is settled in his mind that Yahweh will take care of him.”  ~ Psalm 112:6-8

A Short Prayer
Lord, let not our weaknesses or physical disabilities, stand in the way of us serving you.  Rather, grant us the fortitude we need to continue to be of service to you and to our neighbors.  Amen.