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Saturday, June 24, 2017

36 Years of Apparitions: Are We Living Our Mother's Call to Prayer and Conversion While There is Still Time?

What if Jesus has been reaching out to save us through the heart of Mary, his Mother?



What if Jesus has sent his Mother to us every day – for a period of time longer than the years He lived on earth?

What if, amazingly, God sent His Mother 36 years ago to save us; and He has never stopped sending her to us, because we so desperately need to know Him and His mother’s love for us (in this world so lost in the darkness of sin and death and acts as if God doesn’t exist)?

If this is all true, how are we to respond to these extraordinary events?
Should they mean something to us?
Should the messages that are being given impact our lives?

In Medjugorje, it is reported that Our Lady first appeared on the feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, June 24, 1981 – covering and uncovering the Infant Jesus in Her arms from a nearby hilltop. This hill was largely inaccessible to the people who lived in the villages nearby – especially to young mothers and their infants -- due to the thorn bushes and rocks that covered it.

It wasn’t until the following day that she spoke to the children and thus, June 25, 1981 became the official first day of apparitions.
In that visit, Mary told the children:
“I wish to be with you to convert and to reconcile the whole world."

As she called us in Fatima, could she not be calling us again through Medjugorje? Could Mary, like John the Baptist did so long ago, Mary comes as a voice calling out in the wilderness, “Prepare the Way of the Lord!”?

Pope Saint John Paul II thought so. He likened Mary’s call in Fatima to John the Baptist’s call for conversion, saying:
"Can the Mother, who . . .desires everyone's salvation, keep silence on what undermines the very basis of their salvation? No, she cannot.
So, while the message of Our Lady of Fatima is a motherly one, it is also strong and decisive. It sounds severe. It sounds like John the Baptist speaking on the banks of the Jordan. It invites to repentance. It gives a warning. It calls to prayer. It recommends the Rosary.
The message is addressed to every human being. . . The heart of the Blessed Mother . . . calls us. She not only calls us to be converted; she calls us to accept her motherly help to return to the source of redemption."

Not only did St. John Paul liken Mary’s call to John the Baptist, but he also recognized a connection between the Fatima apparitions and those of Medjugorje, and said to Bishop Paolo Hnilica in 1984:
"Medjugorje is the fulfillment and continuation of Fatima!"
He understood that Our Lady was coming in Medjugorje to continue her prophetic work in the world, to save us from war and self-destruction. 

Our Lady, herself, also spoke of continuing her work begun in Fatima in Medjugorje, in her message of August 25, 1991:
"Dear Children! Today also I invite you to prayer, now as never before when my plan has begun to be realized. Satan is strong and wants to sweep away my plans of peace and joy and make you think that my Son is not strong in His decisions. Therefore, I call all of you, dear children, to pray and fast still more firmly. I invite you to self-renunciation for nine days so that, with your help, everything that I desire to realize through the secrets I began in Fatima, may be fulfilled. I call you, dear children, to now grasp the importance of my coming and the seriousness of the situation. I want to save all souls and present them to God. Therefore, let us pray that everything I have begun be fully realized. Thank you for having responded to my call."

In light of this, let us listen to an account of the first words of Our Lady, according to one of the visionaries, Ivan:

“My dear children, I am with you. I am your Mother. Do not be afraid of anything. I will protect you. I will help you. I will guide you.”

 “I am the Queen of Peace, and I have come my dear children, because my Son has sent me to help you.  My dear children, peace, peace and only peace. My dear children, there must be peace. Peace must reign on this earth. My dear children, peace must reign between God and man and among people. My dear children, this world and this humanity is finding itself in a great danger and there is a threat that it will destroy itself.”

Ivan says, “Our Lady’s greatest desire is peace.” In order for us to have peace, she asked us to decide daily and to persist in accepting the words of Christ and the Gospel.
“To live this way we will grow in holiness!”

Ivan continues:
“We are enrolled in school of peace, love and prayer. I wish to be a good student. I wish to complete the homework assignment on a daily basis.

What are the most important things is our Mother calling us to?
There are 8 Messages she is inviting us to live:
Peace
Conversion
Returning to God
Prayer of the Heart
Penance and Fasting
Strong Faith
Love
Forgiveness
Eucharist
Confession
Hope

Our Lady is leading us through these messages.
She speaks of them simply so we can better understand and live them.

How necessary peace is to today’s tired world… tired families… tired young people… tired Church.
“My dear children, you are the Church. You are my lungs of the Church. You are my living Church. If you are strong, then the Church will be strong.  If you are weak, then the Church will be weak. There is no living Church without living families.”

That is why every living family must be a living Church – a family where prayer happens and the sacramental life is being lived out. We have to bring prayer back in our families.
That is why Our Mother is coming to us…She points out what is not good and leads us on the path to good. She wishes to encourage us, and comfort us – she wishes to offer us a divine cure for us and for all our pain. She wishes to heal our wounds, to bind our wounds with such great love and motherly tenderness --to lead us to her Son.

“My dear children, today more than ever before, the world and humanity is going through its greatest crisis. The greatest crisis is when you are distant from God, you become distant from prayer. My dear children this world and its humanity have wished to go into the future without God. They wish to go alone. But know my dear children, this world is not able to offer you peace. The peace that this world is able to offer you will soon disappoint you, because peace is of God and is of Him alone.”

Peace comes only if there is living faith and prayer.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGZZziXk9Ek

How can we summarize 36 years of supernatural experiences and events? It seems impossible.

But, perhaps, it is as simple as saying that Mary comes to us as our Mother, again and again, tirelessly, as only a Mother can -- in order to call us to conversion "for the last time" (as she said once in her messages).  

This constant theme of the urgent need to convert is evidenced in our Mother’s most recent messages:

"Dear children! The Most High has permitted me to call you anew to conversion. Little children, open your hearts to the grace to which you are all called. Be witnesses of peace and love in this peaceless world. Your life here on earth is passing. Pray that through prayer you may yearn for Heaven and the things of Heaven and your hearts will see everything differently. You are not alone; I am with you and intercede before my Son Jesus for you. Thank you for having responded to my call." May 25, 1017

She even said in her latest message that we must "be ready. This time is a turning point":
“Dear children, as in the other places where I have come to you, also here I am calling you to prayer. Pray for those who do not know my Son, for those who have not come to know the love of God, against sin, for the consecrated – for those whom my Son called to have love and the spirit of strength for you, for the Church.
Pray to my Son, and the love which you experience from His nearness will give you the strength to make you ready for the works of love which you will do in His name. My children, be ready. This time is a turning point. That is why I am calling you anew to faith and hope.
I am showing you the way by which you need to go, and those are the words of the Gospel. Apostles of my love, the world is in such need of your arms raised towards Heaven, towards my Son, towards the Heavenly Father. Much humility and purity of heart are needed.
Have trust in my Son and know that you can always be better. My motherly heart desires for you, apostles of my love, to be little lights of the world, to illuminate there where darkness wants to begin to reign, to show the true way by your prayer and love, to save souls. I am with you. Thank you.” June 2, 2017

Why would Mary come to us daily for nearly 40 years?

Is it because Our Lady wants to save all souls and present them to God?
This task has been given her by the Father.

And why does she comes daily, asking us again and again to pray, to confess, to go to Mass and adore, to forgive, to read Scripture, to fast...?  
Could it be that she needs us to pray, to fast, to sacrifice and to believe as she needed the three shepherds of Fatima before us -- in order to save so many souls that are falling into hell, because there is no one to fast and pray for them?

Could it be that this is an extraordinary time of grace and a gift from God, Who loves us beyond our capacity to understand and Who will do anything to save us? 

If so, are we living Our Mother's messages of repentance, fasting and prayer in this time of grace, while there is still time?

Points to Consider regarding Pope Francis’ Comments on Medjugorje by Dr. Mark Miravalle:

The Ruini Report : Church Approval of First Apparitions in Medjugorje: http://www.medjugorje.org/wordpress/archives/178

The Papal Envoy, Archbishop’s Hoser’s, remarks on Medjugorje: http://www.medjugorje.org/wordpress/archives/169


Thursday, February 23, 2017

How I Came to Know and Love St. Polycarp - His Life and Martyrdom




First of all, what a name! Polycarp can literally be translated as "many fish" (as poly means “many” and carp means “fish”). Perhaps Polycarp obtained this name because of his great desire to be a "fisher of men" in order to save many souls. 

On this feast of St. Polycarp, I wanted to share with you a little about this amazing man and how I came to know and love St. Polycarp through my study of St. John the Apostle. 

 (I wrote my Master’s thesis in defense of St. John as the Beloved Disciple. I wrote this defense in response to the modern historical critics who have tried not only to discredit St. John’s designation as Jesus’ Beloved Disciple and so subsequently, all history pertaining to the same -- which, if their faulty reasoning and scholarship is accepted, effectively erases St. John’s place in the history of the early Church, and ultimately casts doubt on the authenticity and authority of his Gospel, Epistles and the Book of Revelation.)

In my study, I found a treasure in the early Church Fathers, one of whom was St. Polycarp. I came to cherish these men who fell so in love with Christ that they devoted their entire lives to Him.  Although never knowing Christ personally, they came to know and love Jesus through the eyewitness testimonies of the apostles.

In doing my research, I came across accounts and writings of St. Polycarp who was taught by St. John the Apostle, the Evangelist and Beloved Disciple himself.

St. Irenaeus wrote about being a disciple of Polycarp, sharing that as a boy he would listen at his feet, as he:

gave of his intercourse with John and with the others who had seen the Lord. And as he remembered their words, and what he heard from them concerning the Lord, and concerning his miracles and his teaching, having received them from eyewitnesses of the 'Word of life,' (1 John 1:1) Polycarp related all things in harmony with the Scriptures.
These things being told me by the mercy of God, I listened to them attentively, noting them down, not on paper, but in my heart. And continually, through God's grace, I recall them faithfully. (E.H.5.20.6 emphasis mine)

Several decades into the second century, what an extraordinary grace for believers in Christ, to be able to sit and listen at the feet of someone who was taught by and knew the apostles! If you were to read the whole letter written above by St. Irenaeus, you would hear him speak of the honor it was to be able to listen at the feet of a disciple of “John and others who had seen the Lord”. So much so, that he was surrounded by people who “attentively listened” and carefully kept his teachings in their hearts.

St. Irenaeus further writes of Polycarp:

But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. (A.H. 3.3.4)

We are blessed to have an eyewitness account of this martyrdom, which was truly amazing! The account is worth reading in its entirety.  But, because of its length, I'll share some highlights:

Now, as Polycarp was entering into the stadium, there came to him a voice from heaven, saying,
“Be strong, and show yourself a man, O Polycarp!”
No one saw who it was that spoke to him; but those of our brethren who were present heard the voice.
… [the proconsul] sought to persuade him to deny [Christ], saying, “Have respect to your old age… “Swear, and I will set you at liberty, reproach Christ.”

Polycarp declared,
“Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”

...Polycarp said, “You threaten me with fire which burns for an hour, and after a little is extinguished, but are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why do you tarry? Bring forth what you will.”

While he spoke these and many other like things, he was filled with confidence and joy, and his countenance was full of grace …when they were about also to fix him with nails [to consume him in the fire], he said,
“Leave me as I am; for He that gives me strength to endure the fire, will also enable me, without your securing me by nails, to remain without moving in the pile.”

They did not nail him then, but simply bound him. And he, placing his hands behind him, and being bound like a distinguished ram [taken] out of a great flock for sacrifice, and prepared to be an acceptable burnt-offering unto God, looked up to heaven, and said,

“O Lord God Almighty, the Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of You, the God of angels and powers, and of every creature, and of the whole race of the righteous who live before you, I give You thanks that You have counted me, worthy of this day and this hour, that I should have a part in the number of Your martyrs, in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and body, through the incorruption [imparted] by the Holy Ghost. Among whom may I be accepted this day before You as a fat and acceptable sacrifice, according as You, the ever-truthful God, have foreordained, have revealed beforehand to me, and now have fulfilled. Wherefore also I praise You for all things, I bless You, I glorify You, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, with whom, to You, and the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen.”




When he had pronounced this amen, and so finished his prayer, those who were appointed for the purpose kindled the fire. And as the flame blazed forth in great fury, we, to whom it was given to witness it, beheld a great miracle, and have been preserved that we might report to others what then took place. For the fire, shaping itself into the form of an arch, like the sail of a ship when filled with the wind, encompassed as by a circle the body of the martyr. And he appeared within not like flesh which is burnt, but as bread that is baked, or as gold and silver glowing in a furnace. Moreover, we perceived such a sweet odour [coming from the pile], as if frankincense or some such precious spices had been smoking there.

At length, when those wicked men perceived that his body could not be consumed by the fire, they commanded an executioner to go near and pierce him through with a dagger. And on his doing this, there came forth a dove, and a great quantity of blood, so that the fire was extinguished; and all the people wondered that there should be such a difference between the unbelievers and the elect, of whom this most admirable Polycarp was one, having in our own times been an apostolic and prophetic teacher, and bishop of the Catholic Church which is in Smyrna. For every word that went out of his mouth either has been or shall yet be accomplished.

O God of wonders, you never cease to astound me!  Help me to witness to you in this age in which so many of your children no longer believe in you. In this time of widespread deception, may the Truth that St. Polycarp's preached, his love of God and his witness unto death encourage and inspire me, so that I may have the courage to live and die for You as well, realizing: "What have we to fear if God is on our side?"

St. Polycarp, pray for us!  Help us to have ever-greater courage and love for Christ. Help us to stand up to the errors and deceptions of our day, so that we, like you, may be willing to give up everything in order to bring Jesus to the world and to help all enter into the heavenly glory that God longs to share with all His Children.  Amen.


       Life Span of the Eyewitnesses of John
Based on Approximate and Commonly Represented Dating (AD)
Numbers on the left are approximate birth date, on the right of line death date

First Person Testimony of Jesus: John the Apostle (highlighted in yellow)
First Person Direct Testimony of John: Widely recognized Disciple of John (red)
Second Person Direct Testimony: Known Disciple of Polycarp (blue)


5-10 Apostle John_______________________________________100
                                  35 Ignatius of Antioch______________________        108
                                                                         69 Polycarp____________________________________                          155
                                                                                                                                                               115 Irenaeus_________________________________                  202
                                                                         

You can read the entire account of his martyrdom here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0102.htm

If you want to get to know more about Polycarp, you can read one of his epistles here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0136.htm

Also, the Epistle to Polycarp from St. Ignatius can be found here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0110.htm

© Janet Moore 2017. All Rights Reserved.