Welcome family to our e-Newsletter.
Christmas 2012 Online Issue #14
Pope Pius XI
Saint John Eudes
Saint Francis and the First Creche
Brother Joseph's Article
Our Lady of Banneux
When God Wants Something Done
It is a special gift for us to be able to share with you our Christmas Good Newsletter for 2012. As we write Christmas, once again, suddenly, the word comes to life! Do we, as Christians, know what we are saying; know what we are proclaiming, when we wish all whom we meet, a Merry Christmas! It is the story of the beginnings of our Church, the gift of Life and Promise! Our Savior was born, to live for us, to die for us, that we could live for all eternity! The word Christmas, when it is separated in two brings to our world Christ, Who was born for us and Christ, Who died for us, and mas (Mass), where during each and every Mass we attend, we become aware of the price He paid that we would be free!
In some way, we feel we Catholics have let Jesus down this year. We can’t get into specifics; you know what we mean. But we would like to pray for forgiveness.
(1) Lord, please forgive us for the many times we decided to turn our Country and our Church over to others, and then closed our eyes when we discovered their hearts and visions were not as they had promised.
(2) Lord we are heartily sorry for having offended You, (a) when we stood silently by when Your existence has been denied, (b) when by our silence we gave the world the impression we were in accord with those who maligned and vilified You.
We know it is most probably the worst period of our Christian History, we are sharing with you but, as Penny’s father always warned: “History always repeats itself!” We cannot help what keeps gnawing at our conscience, coming to our minds: Our hearts bring us back to Jerusalem. Jesus is standing before Pilate, His Skin hanging, painfully separated from His Body, one of the signs of the merciless beating He received bound to the pillar. As was the custom, during the Passover, the Romans granted permission to the Jews to choose the release of a prisoner. Pontius Pilate went out again to the Jews:
“Speaking for myself, I find no case against this man. Recall your custom whereby I release someone to you at Passover time. Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “We want Barabbas, (the insurrectionist) not this one!”
“Whom do you choose?” Those words ring in my ears! These were the same people who saw Jesus healing; those who had hung on His every word. We go to:
John 37, 38: Despite His many signs performed in their presence, they refused to believe in Him. This was to fulfill the word of the prophet Isaiah:
“Lord, who has believed what has reached our ears?
To whom has the might of the Lord been revealed?”
John 39: The reason they could not believe was that, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
“He has blinded their eyes,
and numbed their hearts
lest they see or comprehend,
or have a change of heart:
and I should heal them.’
Isaiah uttered these words because He had seen Jesus’ glory, and it was of Him he spoke.
There were many, even among the Sanhedrin, who believed in Him, but they refused to admit it because of the Pharisees, for fear they might be ejected from the synagogue. They preferred the praise of men to the glory of God.
Why are we silent?
We interviewed a young man who was showing us around the concentration camp in Dachau. He said he had questioned his grandparents, on how they could have allowed this cruelty, these deaths and torture of men, women and children. He said they only bent their heads down and wept.
What will we answer when, one day, those who come after us, ask us how we could have kept silent when millions of innocent babies were killed and governments spit on the face of Jesus?
This is our Church and this is our Country!
This Christmas, shout it from the rooftops:
Jesus Christ is Lord!!
We love you! God bless you!
It was because of a census and taxes that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem.
The central government of the Roman Empire was having deficit problems like us today and called for a worldwide census so that they could tax each individual so much per person.
Everyone was ordered to go to their ancestral areas and register for the census. In the thick of this Joseph and Mary set out for Bethlehem, since they were descendents of David. Mary gave birth to the Savior of the world in a cave near the city. We all know that account and think about it every Christmas. Rome had their plan but God had a better plan.
It is interesting that many civilizations have risen and fallen since then but the Roman Catholic faith has persisted.
The Roman Empire crumbled under its own weight of corruption and evil and to this day Saints Peter and Paul are about the two most famous people that Rome remembers.
Centuries later the Moors from Africa and later Spain tried to destroy our Faith and failed, even though they succeeded in having Spain under their influence for over 700 years.
Mongolians attacked Europe from the East century after century and ravaged Eastern Europe and parts of Germany many times but still the Faith remained.
Napoleon put in prison any Clergy that would not swear allegiance to him as Emperor and sent the Catholic Church underground in the 19th Century. He too could not get enough tax revenue and sold the central part of America to the USA in 1803.
Later in the 19th century Bismarck of Germany tried to destroy the Catholic Faith in Germany and parts of France and stopped abruptly in January 1871 at Pontmain France. (DVD on Pontmain Pg 18)
Then came the 20th century with a whole new list of anti Catholic - anti Church rulers like Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao and all the rest. But they did not destroy the Catholic Church.
God has a plan and He works His plan. Man tries to prevent God's plan but God simply makes an adjustment or two and moves on with His plan.
Rulers and leaders have tried to stop and shut down the Catholic Faith for over 2000 years and yes they may force whole countries to practice their Faith underground and may persecute and do many things to stop us but God remains in charge and is always victorious.
Man has a plan but God has a better plan.
This Christmas season let us remember how much our ancestors have suffered to have our Catholic Faith endure.
Let us remember that with God all things are possible.
When Jesus came to us the first time we were having tax problems and looks like when He returns we will still be having tax problems.
This present age of darkness will once again be overcome by the light of Christ. God will show us how to overcome the Culture of Darkness with the Culture of Light.
St. John Eudes
Founder of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary
Family, we are so excited to bring you St. John Eudes, a Super Saint, founder of the Eudists, the Order of Our Lady of Charity, and the Congregation of Jesus and Mary. He was born in Ri, a little hamlet in central Normandy in western France, on November 14, 1601. His family was very Catholic, and very strict. Before his birth, they walked eighteen miles from their village to a little shrine in Les Tourailles, where there is a devotion to Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Recovery. This shrine has been a very special place of pilgrimage for the people of Normandy for centuries. There have been very few times when a petition to Our Lady at this Shrine has been denied. So his mother and father, good strong Catholic stock, went to the little church and prayed for a strong, healthy, good Catholic boy. Their prayer was, “Give us a child, and we will offer him to the Mother of God.” After they had returned home for a few months, John’s mother, Martha could feel the child in her womb. They realized that this was a gift from Our Lady. So they made another pilgrimage to Les Tourailles, again eighteen miles each way by foot, to thank Our Lady and renew their promise that they would give back to her the child she had given them.
And so on November 14, 1601, John was born all the things his parents asked for, and more. He was a very spiritual boy. His parents loved him dearly, but they did not project the love of Church or of the Faith openly. John had to find his spiritual nourishment in Church. There were times his mother would worry about him, not knowing where he was. She could always find him in Church, praying, much like another Super Saint we know, Dominic Savio. The priest in his town had no desire to teach the children the Faith, but John’s parents found a school in a nearby village where the priest was eager to have John in his school which helped John in his spiritual journey.
John took the gospel literally. At nine years old, he turned the other cheek when a classmate slapped him in the face. At twelve, he was receiving Holy Communion every month, which was unusual for a young boy. He took the vow of chastity when he was a teenager, offering himself to the Lord. He excelled at school in his little village, but his father felt the need for more intense spiritual training under the Jesuits in Caen, the nearest big city, about 30 miles from his home. John had a great desire to enter the priesthood from his early years. He lived a very spiritual life in Caen. He joined the Sodality of Our Lady in 1618. He received great graces from that association. His parents did not agree with his choice for the priesthood.
But John was firm in his decision. And although they didn’t agree with him, they allowed him to follow his vocation. He went to the theological seminary in Caen. However, the candidates for the priesthood there were just about what his father had said they would be; only looking for a job and security. A neighbor woman had learned about a very well-known priest in Paris, a Father Pčre de Bčrulle, who had begun the Oratory of Jesus in Paris. This dear woman traveled the 170 miles to receive spiritual direction from this holy man. She shared with young John about her experience with Fr. de Bčrulle. He was filled with a great desire to go to Paris to become part of the Oratory. He asked the advice of the Jesuits, who had trained him in Caen before he entered the seminary. They suggested he go to Paris and investigate the Oratory. He asked his father for permission. It was not granted. He decided he would go anyway, with or without his father’s permission. After much prayer and discernment, John's father gave his blessing to the boy, who then headed for Paris and the Oratory.
John joined the Oratory on the feast of the Annunciation, March 25 in 1623. He was under the tutelage of Fr. de Bčrulle. He was ordained on December 20, 1625, and celebrated his first Mass in the Oratoire de Louvres on Christmas Day in 1625. He followed the mandate which had been approved by Pope Paul V in 1613. “The Oratory has for its first and principal purpose to tend wholeheartedly towards the perfection of the priestly state; to have a special devotion to Our Lord Jesus Christ, eternal high priest and source of priesthood in the Church…the fathers may perform all the functions and all the works truly and essentially belonging to the priestly state.”
Fr. John’s time in Paris was invigorating and robust. During his lifetime, he preached three missions in that city, at St. Sulpice, at St. Germain de Pres and at Place Quinze Vingts, which, though very large, was too small to accommodate all who came to hear him speak. These missions were very successful. He filled the hearts of those who listened to him. Great conversions came about. He worked among the poor, feeding them spiritually as well as physically. He was a powerful speaker. In one of his biographies, by Paul Milcent, St. John is described as “having a powerful speaking voice, a glance, extremely powerful preaching, and an appearance that took hold of souls and laid them open to God irresistibly.”
About a year after his ordination, while he was in Paris, the plague broke out all over France. He went to his superior, Fr. Bčrulle, and pleaded “I have received a letter from my father. He tells me that all around the city of Argentan, which is but a few miles from where he lives, there has broken out the plague. The dying die; the living flee, and the priests too often follow the living. I beg that I be allowed to go there and behave like a true priest.” His superior replied “To end the plague?’ Fr. John responded “To save the souls of the dying.” At first, Fr. de Bčrulle refused to give him permission. He finally gave in. He made Fr. Eudes the head of the Oratory at Caen.
Our Saint walked on foot from Paris to Argentan, a distance of about 170 miles. It took three months. Along the way, he helped victims as much as possible. He gave the last rites to victims of the plague and buried them. He would carry Our Lord in the Eucharist in a little box around his neck to give to those to whom he administered Extreme Unction. It was one long sick-call for him, never-ending. At his home in Ri, he lived in a barrel in the middle of a field, so as not to affect his brothers with the plague. But three of them were stricken with the plague, and so he ministered to them in Ri, before returning to Argentan to continue his work with the sick and dying. By the grace of God, the cold weather came, and the plague ended. Fr. Eudes wrote to Fr. de Bčrulle, who by now was a Cardinal, and asked his instructions. His reply was to preach missions, which Fr. Eudes did for the rest of his life.
It was as if the Cardinal’s instructions to preach missions opened an explosion of the Holy Spirit in Fr. John. This was what he was born to do, preach the love of God to everyone who would listen. At first, this was not an easy task because of years of apathy which had taken over the Catholics of his area of Normandy, France. We have to realize that when John was a young man, people only went to Communion at Easter time, if that. Confession was unheard of. So you can see that Fr. John had his work cut out for him.
However, Fr. Eudes and his missionary priests became so well known that when they arrived at a village to give a mission, they were greeted as Voices from Heaven. The entire population of a village would come out to hear them. But it was like they were teaching children who knew nothing about the Faith. It had been so many years since the Word of God had been proclaimed with passion to the people that their hearts would beat when John Eudes and his missionaries came to town. The missions would last for months at a time, sermon after sermon, priests hearing confessions and giving absolutions. The Celebration of the Eucharist was the highlight of every day, with the entire town turning out. Stores were closed. Everyone came to the mission. He was so filled with the Holy Spirit that his fellow Oratorians proclaimed him as the superior of the Caen community, and the Archbishop of Rouen made him director of all Missionary activities in Normandy.
St. John was brilliant enough to realize that all that he and his missionaries had given to the people would not stay with them. For one thing, it was just too much for them to absorb. St. John realized that he had to give them something to hold onto. So he began writing little books on the Faith. Remember Mother Angelica’s Mini Books? Well, this was a 17th century version of the same. One of his first and most popular was “The Kingdom of Jesus.” This was not only a how-to book for those whom he had taught; it was also an introduction to the Faith to those who had not come to his missions. It all worked.
St. John was a mover and shaker. He was aware of this from the time he entered the Oratory under Fr. de Bčrulle. He developed from his mentor a great love and admiration for the priesthood. This is why when he and his group would give missions in different locations; he would gather together the local priests and teach them what it was to be a real priest of God. He and his missionaries were actually teaching priests the Faith. He grieved for them and for the fact that there did not exist in France a seminary for secular priests. The Lord gave him the inspiration to form communities under the banner of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and of Mary. He proposed to create an order of priests, and a community of nuns. But when he asked approval from his superior in Paris, who was no longer Fr. de Bčrulle, it was denied. The superior was somewhat intimidated by St. John and all that he had accomplished.
The Lord used an unlikely source, Cardinal Richelieu, who was ruler of France in the name of King Louis XIII. He had heard of Fr. John and his missionaries from his niece, and called him to Paris. There he told him he wanted to create seminaries for secular priests all over France, and wanted Fr. John to establish one in Caen. There was only one problem. His new superior in the Oratory had refused to give John permission to do this. At the suggestion of Cardinal Richelieu, Fr. John sorrowfully severed his relationship with the Oratory, in 1643, twenty years after he had joined it.
This was when the Congregation of Jesus and Mary was founded.
This excerpt is from the mini-book and DVD on
St. John Eudes. To order go http://bobandpennylord.com
We’re often asked how we know which Saints or Marian Shrines, to choose. By the Grace of God, we have close to one hundred of them, with many well-known and others new wonderful discoveries, to make programs shown on EWTN and to write about. It’s really exciting how the Lord will place a Saint in our path; and if we do not immediately respond, He will continue to tap us on the shoulder, to remind us of what He wants, even though His nudge may come sometimes years apart.
St. John Eudes is one of those Saints.
We had forgotten the name of the church our great grandson was baptized in, until Bob remembered it was St. John Eudes in Northtridge California! And not only that but Bob recalled we had had our Legion of Mary curia meetings in that church. But it wasn’t until the Lord used one of our adopted priest sons that we got the message loud and clear! One day, Fr. Phil arrived with a statue of St. John Eudes.
This poor statue had been abused (badly nicked with chips of paint gone and long forgotten). Well Father and Brother Joseph got some plaster and paint and after working endless hours, the statue looked new!! O.K., so where to find a home for St. Eudes? You guessed it, right across from Luz Elena’s office, where we pass it seems like at least a hundred times a day. All I can say is that that statue gave us no peace until we contacted the Mother House of St. John Eudes in Paris. We received all the information we needed. Coupled with the encouragement and financial support from our Production Angels we were set to begin our journey.
Who said the Catholic Church is dead in France??
We got off the plane in Paris, and our journey truly began. Our focus was to take as much video on the life of the Saint as possible. We judged that Paris, where he was ordained and gave many missions, and Caen, where he founded his religious order, and built a seminary would be the highlights. Then there was a small town north of Caen called Douvres-la-Deliverande, which is where St. John brought his little band of missionaries on March 25, 1643 to consecrate them to the Miraculous Image of Our Lady there. And what we considered of lesser importance was the little village of Ri where he was born, and the church of Our Lady of Recovery in Les Tourailles some 18 miles away from Ri where his mother and father walked on foot to plead with Our Lady for a child, and then when John’s mother became pregnant and the child was born, they returned to give thanks.
Naturally, it didn’t work out the way we expected. In Paris, we got wonderful information at the Mother House and the church of Oratoire de Louvre, where he was ordained. Then we went to Saint Sulpice and studied the underground church which existed in the 17th century. Caen was a little disappointment as most of the places of the Saint, including the beautiful seminary he built and was buried in, had been destroyed during the Normandy invasion of 1944.
But we have to say that the greatest reception we received, was from his home town of Ri. We got lost on the way there, and were two hours late, but when we arrived at the church there was a contingency of townspeople who were waiting for us in the rain. The inside of the church is a shrine to St. John Eudes, with so much beautiful material there to use in our program. The people were so cooperative, and showed us everything in the church. They even had a special luncheon prepared for us at a local bed and breakfast. Then they escorted us to Les Tourailles, to the Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Recovery. This is no local shrine! People from all over France come here in petition to Our Lady and then in thanksgiving. The walls are covered with plaques of thanksgiving. It is a magnificent Shrine. All in all, we got more than we expected. We are working on the television program right now, and it should be shown on EWTN in the Spring.
A little extra promotion here. We will be bringing pilgrims to these shrines next year. Check our website for the Pilgrimage to Belgium and France in September 2013. Sign up Now!!
Hello, Family, and welcome. We’re so excited about this chapter. We know we’ve said that before, but you are in for a journey which the Lord has had us going on for over 25 years. Sometimes, God’s Will is so obvious, if we’re not careful, we miss it altogether. Maybe because it’s right there in front of our noses, we don’t see it. We’re so busy looking out there, somewhere, for the big picture, we neglect what’s right here.
A perfect case in point is the way the Lord has been putting Miracles of the Child Jesus in front of us. As we have journeyed through the lives of the Saints, we’ve found great devotion to the Child Jesus. Each Saint has had a particular devotion to the Child Jesus. In Europe, especially Italy, there is hardly a Monastery or Convent where you will not find a statue of the Infant Jesus or the Child Jesus. As we have traveled throughout the world, visiting the Shrines of the Saints, we have seen glass display cases upon display cases housing resplendently dressed statues of the Baby Jesus or the Child Jesus. And in many of these shrines, there is a history of how the Child Jesus appeared to this Saint, or was held in the arms of that Saint, or cured a famine, and on and on. And yet it never occurred to us that the Lord wanted us to write about Miracles of the Child Jesus.
Each country calls the Baby Jesus by its own unique name. In many countries, the Baby is a local version of the Infant of Prague; in Italy Bambino Gesu or Santo Bambino; in Hispanic countries like Spain, Colombia, the Philippines, and Mexico the Baby is called Santo Nińo or Divino Nińo.
I recall from my own childhood, my paternal grandmother giving my parents such a statue in a beautifully ornamented glass case. It was a great honor. She would make the most beautiful gowns for the Child Jesus. I didn’t know the significance of the changing of the outfits, at the time. Visiting friends’ homes in Italy was like a flashback to my childhood. It just brought all these traditions back. In almost every home we have visited, there was invariably such a statue grandly attired, in a glass enclosed case, proudly displayed for all to see and venerate.
Our first encounter with the Infant of Prague was when we first came back to the Church. Hungry to know anything and everything we could about our Faith, we routinely gravitated toward Catholic Book and Gift Shops. And it was like a magical wonderland, what with all the beautiful statues and paintings of Jesus and Mary, prayer cards of the Angels and the Saints. The store owners were so happy to see us. We would buy the store out if we could. This one day, we spotted a regal statue of the Child Jesus, elegantly dressed in a beautiful gown, wearing a golden crown. Without asking the store owner the story of the statue, we bought it and brought it to its new home. It has always occupied a place of honor in our home, but we didn’t know why, other than it was an image of the Child Jesus, the Infant of Prague. It was not till years later that we discovered the significance of the statue.
We were told its title, but little else. Then in our next sojourn to a Catholic Shop, we spotted dresses in various colors. Now we asked why the different colors and discovered the different outfits were for the different liturgical seasons in the Church Calendar. Oh, we had to have those. So, we began dressing our statue, and that was that. We didn’t know anything else, but that we should change the clothes to conform with the different liturgical seasons and so we did - blindly.
Then one day one of our Priest sons, whom we spiritually adopted, came into our chapel in Louisiana and upon seeing the statue commented, “Oh, I see you have the Infant of Prague. I guess you know that as long as you give a place of honor to the Infant of Prague, you will want for nothing.” Our mouths dropped. We hadn’t known anything about the promise, as we didn’t know the story of the Infant of Prague. We just knew this was Jesus as a Child, and we honored Him because we loved Him. Again we didn’t ask our priest where that tradition came from. We just kept on doing what we were doing - loving the Child Jesus. We still have that same statue of the Infant of Prague in our chapel, now in Morrilton, Arkansas, in a prominent place, with the beautiful outfits being changed with each liturgical season.
However, we did walk around with a little smile on our faces. We would never want for anything. That sounds pretty good. Of course, we interpreted it somewhat differently than it may have meant to be translated. We thought we would never have any financial problems. The promise was, “You will want for nothing.” Not necessarily, “You’re gonna have a big Cadillac Car,” but “you’ll have a means of transportation.” You see the difference?
The Plot Thickens
Then one day, we told Mother Angelica that we were going to Mexico and asked what she would like us to bring back. She became really excited, and replied, she would like a statue of Santo Nińo de Atocha. Again, knowing little or nothing about this statue or its story, we said Yes! In Mexico City, we went to this grand store in the Zócalo (near the Cathedral), which carried some of the most beautiful statues we have ever seen. Sure enough, they had not one Santo Nińo de Atocha but two such statues. And when we asked the significance of the statue, we were told it was of the Child Jesus. Only this statue was quite different from the Infant of Prague, at our home, in that the Child Jesus was sitting, not standing; He was wearing a hat with plumes, not a golden crown; and He was not holding a globe of the world (as the Infant of Prague did); He was holding a basket in one Hand and a flask in the other. We chose the most beautiful statue and had it carefully wrapped. You can be assured we did not let that statue out of our sight.
When we arrived in the United States, we brought it directly to Mother Angelica. After carefully unwrapping it, she took the statue in her arms and began to rock the image of the Child Jesus called Santo Nińo de Atocha. That night, when she went on the Mother Angelica Live show, there was the Santo Nińo de Atocha, at the table right next to her chair. First, she introduced Santo Nińo to the audience, both live and television audience. Then, during the program, from time to time, she would pick up the statue and rock with it. Then, after the program, we went into her office, and she shared with us the story of Santo Nińo de Atocha.
Needless to say, the next December when we visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe for her Feast Day, we went back to that store and bought a Santo Nińo for ourselves (not quite as beautiful as Mother’s but we love Him).
As we have so often said, “When the Lord wants something done...” What else should happen in our walk towards the Child Jesus, but Mother Angelica brings Divino Nińo of Bogota, Colombia into our lives. All of a sudden, it became clear the Lord wanted us to write about devotion to the Child Jesus and the Miracles that have taken place through His intercession.
The Lord got through to us, much in the same way that He put in our paths His desire for us to share Miracles of the Cross. Everywhere we turned, we were exposed to something which had to do with Miracles of the Cross, a Miracle, a Saint, the Origin of the True Cross and on and on. Now, having finished that book, and being in the middle of producing a television series on Miracles of the Cross, we find we are being led in the direction of the Holy Child Jesus.
This is an Excerpt from Miracles of the Child Jesus
For ordering information go to http://bobandpennylord.com
Our Lady of Banneux
Twelve days after Our Lady with the Golden Heart said “Goodbye” to the five children in Beauraing, Belgium, she made her presence felt again in Banneux, Belgium, some fifty miles to the northeast. Mariette Beco, an 11 year old girl, saw a beautiful young lady, dressed in white, standing above the ground outside her house. It begins again.
OR DOES IT CONTINUE?
Mariette Beco’s background and personality could be considered at best to be coarse, or basic. At 11 years old, the eldest of seven children, she was not intelligent, yet she was not stupid. She was a very outspoken girl, to the point of being offensive. But it was not intentional; this was the way she was. She had no inkling or sensitivity for spirituality, or for religion. She had no interest in her religious training; therefore, she did very badly in Catechism Class. She had stopped going for First Holy Communion instructions.
She was a product of her environment, which was, in a word, hopeless. Her father was an unemployed wire maker. He had a house, so we can assume that in better days, he had been a successful worker. But this was the time of the Depression. Nobody was successful. We don’t know for sure that he blamed God for his predicament, only that he had no use for God or the Church. He was born a Catholic, but that was a long time ago. He hadn’t been near a church for years. Julian Beco couldn’t care less that his eldest daughter had given up her religious training. His attitude infected the household. There was nothing in the house of a religious nature. His wife, Louise, followed his lead, for whatever reason. Traditionally, the wife and mother is the member of the family who encourages attendance at Mass, reception of the sacraments, and religious training. If the mother is not active in fostering these virtues, they usually are missing in the home.
It was dark, around 7 in the evening, on this freezing night. Mariette sat by the front window of her house, looking into the black of night for some sign of her brother Julien, who was late returning home. As she opened the curtain to look out, she saw a Lady standing in their front yard, surrounded by a bright light. The Lady was short, about five feet tall, and exceptionally beautiful. Mariette had never seen anyone so lovely before. She was not dressed like any of the ladies from the village. She wore a long white gown with a blue sash. One of her feet could be seen. She was barefoot, with just a gold rose in between her toes. In this kind of weather, she should be freezing. Mariette noticed that she stood just above the ground, sort of on a cloud. She didn’t seem to be cold at all.
Mariette had a very logical mind, even at age 11. The scene she saw before her eyes didn’t make sense. It was probably the reflection of the oil lamp. She took the oil lamp from the table, and put it in another room. Then she went back to the window and looked out. The Lady was still there. She resorted to the next natural course of action....she called her mother. Mariette explained what she was looking at, to her mother. Louise Beco responded in a natural way also.
“Rubbish”, she said.
Mariette was a very persistent girl. She described what the Lady looked like. Her mother replied jokingly,
“Perhaps it’s the Blessed Virgin.”
The child was insistent that her mother come over to the window and see for herself. After much persuasion, but feeling very foolish, Louise went over to the window and looked out. She did indeed see something, a white shape, but she couldn’t make out any figures.
“It’s a witch.” she said, and let the curtain fall, blocking the image from Mariette’s eyes. The child opened the curtain again.
“She’s beautiful, mama. She’s smiling at me.” The mother ignored her eldest daughter.
The child noticed that the Lady had a Rosary, hanging from the blue sash. The cross was the same color of gold as the rose between her toes. Mariette went to a drawer, and rummaged through, looking for a Rosary she had found outside on the road. When she found it, she began to pray. The Lady’s lips moved, but she didn’t say anything that Mariette could hear. After a few decades, the Lady raised her hand, and motioned with her finger for Mariette to come outside. The young girl told her mother what the Lady had wanted, and asked permission to go outside.
“Lock the door.” Her mother replied.
By the time Mariette returned to the window, the Lady had disappeared. She could not get the vision out of her mind. She kept going back to the window to see if the beautiful Lady had returned, but she had not. Pretty soon, her brother Julien came home. She told him what had happened while she was waiting for him at the window. His reaction was similar to that of his mother’s, only a little more vocal. His comments ranged from “You’re a fool” to “You’re crazy”.
The next morning, Mariette told her father. His initial response was “Nonsense. You’re crazy.” But his curiosity had been aroused. His reasoning was pure logic, however. She was not the type of child who lied. She had no reason to lie. She never feared repercussion for her words or actions. Also, she never had flights of fantasy. She was a very down to earth girl. After she left for school that morning, Julien asked his wife to show him the exact spot where she had seen the white shape. Then, that evening, he tried various ways to recreate the conditions of the previous night to come up with some logical explanation for what his daughter claimed to see.
He moved the oil lamp in various positions, but the light never shone on the garden, only on the road. He then threw a bucket of water on the spot where his wife and daughter had seen something. After it had frozen over, he tried to get the oil lamp to reflect off the ice, but he was not able to duplicate what Mariette and the mother had seen.
On that same day, Monday, January 16, Mariette told a girl friend at school what had happened. The girl told her she had to tell the priest. Mariette was afraid, but with the encouragement of her friend, the two of them went to the priest’s office. Mariette backed out at the last minute, and ran off. The girl friend told the priest, Fr. Louis Jamin, what Mariette had said. The priest was sure Mariette was influenced by the recent reported apparitions in Beauraing, and paid no attention to it. He cautioned the girl friend, however, not to tell anyone about Mariette’s reported apparition.
For the next two days, Monday and Tuesday, the Lady did not return. However, that one visit had a deep effect on Mariette’s spirituality. She returned to her Catechism class on Wednesday, embracing the material with a renewed enthusiasm. She knew her lesson perfectly. This amazed Fr. Jamin, because Mariette had always been the worst student in the class.
After class, Father asked her why she had run away on Monday without telling him what she had seen. By this time, the child had had time to reflect on the possibility of what had happened. She was not frightened anymore. She spoke very calmly to the priest, telling him exactly what she had seen. He, for his part, did not treat her as a child, or belittle what she claimed. He only told her to pray to Our Lady for guidance.
That night, Wednesday, January 18, was the first time Mariette actually had contact with the Lady. It was cold, well below freezing. The ground outside the house was frozen like rock. Mariette knelt down at around 7 o’clock, and began to pray. Her father watched her from inside. Then, after a time, she opened her arms. The Lady returned like a shooting star, appearing at first very small off in the distance. As she moved through the sky, she became larger, the closer she got to Mariette. She moved silently between two trees and came to a halt in front of the child. A dazzling brilliance emanated from her. Mariette could feel the warmth of it from where she knelt, a distance of about 5 feet from the Lady.
The father came outside, and tried to speak to the child, but she did not seem to hear him. When she opened her arms, Julian Beco realized she was having another apparition. He got on his bicycle, and rode to the town to get the priest. He couldn’t find him, so he asked a practicing Catholic acquaintance to come back to his house. As they approached, they saw Mariette walking away from the house, as if being guided to a particular place.
“Where are you going?” he cried out to her.
“She’s calling me.” the child answered, without stopping.
Mariette knelt a few times on her way, and then went over to a stream. She knelt in front of it. The Lady stood opposite her on the other side.
“Plunge your hands into the water.” Our Lady requested.
After the child had obeyed, Mary spoke again.
“This spring is reserved for me. Goodnight. Au revoir.”
Our Lady rose into the air, and proceeded to return to Heaven. She became smaller and smaller, until finally she disappeared out of sight. Her eyes never left the child the entire time.
When Fr. Jamin returned to the rectory, he was advised of Mr. Beco’s excited call. He knew what it was about, and after enlisting the aid of another priest and a friend to join him, he went to the Beco’s home. By the time he reached there, Mariette was in bed asleep, so he spoke to the father. Julian explained all that had happened in the course of almost an hour that the Lady spent with the child. At the end of the interview, the priest asked Mariette’s father if he believed the child’s claim of what she had seen. His response was “Yes, I do, and to show you how deeply I believe, I am coming to Church tomorrow to make a Confession. I would like to receive Communion again. It’ll be the first one I will make since my First Holy Communion as a boy.”
The immediate reaction to Our Lady’s visit to Banneux was powerful. In all the research we’ve done on visits by Our Lady to our troubled world, we’ve never seen such sudden conversions. After the very first visit, the girl was converted. Her father, who had been the dominant force of apathy, or rebellion against the Church, experienced change on the spot. Not in Lourdes, or Fatima, or Beauraing, did the changes come about so quickly. The parents of Bernadette Soubirous and Lucia dos Santos didn’t come around to accepting the apparitions until well after they had ended. Yet, here in Banneux, Our Lady’s power was felt and acted upon immediately.
The priest, Fr. Jamin, held his reserve for some time before he publicly admitted his belief in the Apparition. His was a difficult position. The child in his parish was making claim to a Heavenly visit right on the heels of another claim in the same country in the same month. He knew comparisons would be drawn. He also knew that the eyes of Belgium, and possibly the whole of Europe would be on him, and his behavior. We have to believe that a great factor in his accepting the apparitions was the immediate fruits that surfaced.
The Lady’s visit to Mariette Beco on Thursday, January 19, was of particular importance. She gave the child her title, which is so apropos for the time and the country. She called herself “The Virgin of the Poor.” How well-chosen it was for her to give herself that title. How many poor wretches were there in the world in the winter of 1933? Poor was a multi-faceted term as it applied to the world of 1933. There was the very obvious poverty caused by the devastation of the Great World War, followed closely by the Worldwide Depression. Those who had had were having great difficulty adapting to not having. Those who had never had were feeling the pressure of being totally destitute.
This is an excerpt from The Many Faces of Mary
Family, the traditional Nativity Scene put up with great joy in anticipation of the coming of the Savior is something we do, but we don’t really think about where it came from. We want to tell you the story of St. Francis of Assisi at Greccio one Christmas eve in 1223. We are quoting from Celano’s First Life of St. Francis, as put forth in the Omnibus of Sources.
“Francis’ highest intention, his chief desire, his uppermost purpose was to observe the Holy Gospel in all things and, with perfect vigilance, with all zeal, with all the longing of his mind and his heart, ‘to follow the teaching and footsteps of Our Lord Jesus Christ.’ He would recall Christ’s words through persistent meditation and bring to mind his deeds through the most penetrating consideration. The humility of the Incarnation and the charity of the Passion occupied his memory particularly, to the extent that he wanted to think of hardly anything else.
What he did on the birthday of Our Lord Jesus Christ near the little town called Greccio in the third year before his glorious death should especially be noted and recalled with reverent memory. In that place there was a certain man by the name of John, of good reputation and an even better life, whom blessed Francis loved with a special love, for in the place where he lived he held a noble and honorable position in as much as he had trampled upon the nobility of his birth and pursued nobility of soul.
Blessed Francis sent for this man, as he often did, about fifteen days before the birth of the Lord, and he said to him: ‘If you want us to celebrate the present feast of Our Lord at Greccio, go with haste and diligently prepare what I tell you. For I wish to do something that will recall to memory the little Child who was born in Bethlehem and set before our bodily eyes in some way the inconveniences of His infant needs, how He lay in a manger, how with an ox and an ass standing by, He lay upon the hay where He had been placed.’ When the good and faithful man heard these things, he ran with haste and prepared in that place all the things the saint had told him.
But the day of joy drew near, the time of great rejoicing came. The brothers were called from their various places. Men and women of that neighborhood prepared with glad hearts, according to their means, candles and torches to light up that night that was lighted up all the days and years with its gleaming star. At length the Saint of God came, and finding all things prepared, he saw it and was glad. The manger was prepared, the hay had been brought, the ox and ass were led in. There simplicity was honored, poverty was exalted, humility was commended, and Greccio was made, as it were, a new Bethlehem. The night was lighted up like the day, and it delighted men and beasts. The people came and were filled with new joy over the new mystery. The woods rang with the voices of the crowd and the rocks made answer to their jubilation. The brothers sang, paying their debt of praise to the Lord, and the whole night resounded with their rejoicing. The Saint of God stood before the manger, uttering sighs, overcome with love, and filled with a wonderful happiness. The solemnities of the Mass were celebrated over the manger and the priest experienced a new consolation.
The Saint of God was clothed with the vestments of the deacon, for he was a deacon, and he sang the holy Gospel in a sonorous voice. And his voice was a strong voice, a sweet voice, a clear voice, a sonorous voice, inviting all to the highest rewards. Then he preached to the people standing about, and he spoke charming words concerning the nativity of the poor King and the little town of Bethlehem. Frequently too, when he wished to call Christ Jesus, he would call him simply the Child of Bethlehem, aglow with overflowing love for Him; and speaking the word Bethlehem, his voice was more like the bleating of a sheep. His mouth was filled more with sweet affection that with words. Besides, when he spoke the name Child of Bethlehem, or Jesus, his tongue licked his lips, as it were, relishing and savoring with pleased palate the sweetness of the words.
The gifts of the Almighty were multiplied there, and a wonderful vision was seen by a certain virtuous man. For he saw a little child lying in the manger lifeless, and he saw the holy man of God go up to it and rouse the child as from a deep sleep. This vision was not unfitting, for the Child Jesus had been forgotten in the hearts of many; but by the working of His grace, He was brought to life again through His servant St. Francis and stamped upon their fervent memory. At length the solemn night celebration was brought to a close, and each one returned to his home with holy joy.
The hay that had been placed in the manger was kept, so that the Lord might save the beasts of burden and other animals through it as He multiplied His Holy Mercy. And in truth it so happened that many animals throughout the surrounding region that had various illnesses were freed from their illnesses after eating of this hay. Indeed, even women laboring for a long time in a difficult birth, were delivered safely when some of this hay was placed upon them; and a large number of persons of both sexes of that place, suffering from various illnesses, obtained the health they sought. Later, the place on which the manger had stood was made sacred by a Temple of the Lord, and an altar was built in honor of the most blessed Father Francis over the manger and a church was built, so that where once the animals had eaten the hay, there in the future men would eat unto health of soul and body the flesh of the Lamb without blemish and without spot, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who in highest and ineffable love gave Himself to us, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, eternally glorious, forever and ever. Amen. Alleluia, Alleluia.” Omnibus of Sources – First Life Celano
Family, I think we have lost a great deal of the reverence and love that was exhibited first by St. Francis in Greccio that Christmas Eve, and then magnified by the presence of Jesus in the form of the living baby, as testified by John of Greccio. Miracles abounded after that night when anyone touched the hay of the Holy Manger. Just a little hay from the Manger would bring about cures, help with difficult pregnancies, and heal hearts and souls. But the real miracle was the love which poured out from the people in the neighborhood of Greccio, where there had been no love before, and “overcome with love, and filled with a wonderful happiness.”
How would you like to have that experience this Christmas Eve? Do what St. Francis did. Set up a Crčche in your home, a Nativity Scene if you will. Put it in your front window, where people outside can see it. Make it a Christmas Eve celebration. Get your neighbors to take part in your Christmas Eve celebration. Keep the image of the Baby Jesus out of it until after midnight on that Holy Night. Sing hymns to the Newborn Child, the Savior of Israel, the Savior of the world. We need our Savior, boys and girls. The world is moving in a tailspin not in a good direction. We need a Hero who will stop the downward momentum and bring us up from the black hole we are descending into, and save us from a world without God. You can do it. Just call on Him. Call on Our Lady, the Angels and the Saints, especially St. Francis. Have a Blessed Christmas. We love you!
Is this why the enemy does everything he can to outlaw Nativity scenes with the Lord in His Creche?
Pope Pius XI - The Winds of War
Family, the Lord has given the Church many heroes, some of whom were reluctant heroes. Pope Pius XI could have been considered a reluctant hero. God doesn’t always ask for our credentials before giving us an office of importance. This man, Achille Ratti, was a man of letters. He was a librarian. He loved being a librarian. But if you recall we shared with you in the previous chapter on the life of Pope Benedict XV, how he had a God-given gift of seeing in men that which they might not possibly have seen in themselves. Achille Ratti was one. Pope Benedict had known him for years. He was a librarian in Milan until 1911, when Pope Pius X promoted him to assistant librarian at the Vatican, a plum assignment. Three years later, he was made Prefect of the Vatican Library. In this capacity, he and Pope Benedict had meetings from time to time, and they got to know each other. Pope Benedict saw something in this man, a quality which he knew could be used for the good of the Church.
So, with that in mind, in 1918 he pulled him out of his soft, cushy job as the Vatican Librarian and made him Apostolic Visitor to Poland, which was completely out of his comfort zone. But he said yes, and this “yes” transformed him from a librarian to a major figure in the world stage. It was the beginning of his diplomatic career. In less than six years, he would become Pope. This could be considered God’s sense of humor, however if you consider what he had to deal with in his tenure as Pope from 1922 to 1939, you might wonder. But we believe that God told Pope Benedict XV that this was the man who would bring them through a very difficult period in the history of the Church and of the world and hand the reins over to his successor, Pope Pius XII.
But we are ahead of ourselves. Let’s begin at the beginning with the life of this man who would be a Hero in hard times. Achille Ratti was born in a small town in the province of Milan in 1857. His father owned and operated a silk factory. Young Achille had a vocation to the priesthood from an early age. He was ordained very young, at 22 years old. But his career as a priest was more in the line of academics than parish life. He received doctorate degrees in philosophy, canon law and theology, before he went on to become a professor at the University of Padua. His area of expertise was in ancient manuscripts. But in 1888, he was given the position of Librarian at the Ambrosian library in Milan.
For those who do not know, St. Ambrose was the Archbishop of Milan, and it was in Milan that he baptized St. Augustine, in what are today the caves inside the Cathedral of Milan. Our young priest began to write extensively on the life of St. Charles Borromeo, who is laid to rest in the Cathedral of Milan. So all of this seems very natural. Fr. Achille delved into the works of St. Charles, who was one of the great archbishops of Milan. In 1911, he was asked by Pope St. Pius X to leave his comfortable surroundings in Milan and the job that he was very happy with, to come to Rome to join the Vatican Library staff. Although he was not happy to leave his family and his great job in Milan, he knew that this was a prize position that was being offered to him. There was no way he could refuse it, nor did he want to refuse it. So, he packed up his meager possessions and left Milan for Rome.
The End of the Beginning
Fr. Achille embraced his new position in the Vatican library with great zeal. But with all of that, it was the position of a librarian. He was very happy with his new position, and he was very proficient in his job. After three years, he was promoted to Prefect of the Vatican Library, which says a lot for him. He was just that good at what he did. He saw the change in administration in the Vatican in 1914, when His Holiness, Pope St. Pius X passed on, and was replaced by a new Pope with new ideas and new problems, namely World War I, Pope Benedict XV. Fr. Achille and our new pope came to know each other fairly well during the next difficult three years for Europe and the Papacy. By 1918, the war had ended; Pope Benedict XV had pretty much been excluded from the peace process, but important changes were made to the geography of Europe. Germany’s lands had been taken away from them. One of the countries which was important to the Church was Poland, a state newly restored to existence after the First World War. Pope Benedict had to send one of his people over to Poland to rebuild parishes, schools, orphanages and the priesthood. It was a massive endeavor. It took someone whom Pope Benedict XV felt could do the job. Fr. Achille Ratti was the man. Now Fr. Ratti was very happy in his job as Prefect of the Vatican Library. He did what he felt he had always been trained to do, which made his decision to say yes to Pope Benedict XV, when he asked him to leave the Vatican and go to Poland difficult. He had no real training in diplomatic matters. He never even had a parish as a young priest. But His Holiness said he was the man, and he said “Yes!”
He was ordained bishop and made Apostolic Visitor to Poland. While Poland had been given their freedom, they were still strongly under German and Austro-Hungarian control. It was just a matter of time before they would be free of the official control of those governments, but His Holiness wanted to get the Catholic Church firmly entrenched before any other major nation tried to influence these dear people. Bishop Ratti threw himself into the job, sort of receiving on-the-job training on site. The people of Poland welcomed him and treated him well throughout his time there. He had come to make their lives better, and bring them the treasures of our Catholic Church.
He almost got killed in Poland! Well, he put himself on the line. He was made Papal Nuncio in Poland. In 1920, the Bolsheviks initiated an assault against Poland. All the foreign diplomats fled the country. But Bishop Ratti would not leave. He wanted to build a relationship between Poland and the Soviet Union. Now anyone who knows anything about Polish history knows that that would never happen. The only relationship which ever happened between Poland and the Soviet Union was occupation. But he would not accept this. He was willing to die for it. There was something about him that was inside, just waiting to come out. He served the Vatican and Pope Benedict XV well as Apostolic Visitor. However, when things got a little hot for our Papal Nuncio, his leader called him home, saying “I do not need a martyr; I need a diplomat.”
Once back in Italy, possibly as a reward for the work he did in Poland, he was made Archbishop of Milan. Ah, back to his home land again. He was also made Cardinal. His mentor and special friend, Pope Benedict XV made a little joke to him and the other two who had been made Cardinal together. “Well, today I gave you the red hat. But soon it will be white for one of you.” Did our dear selfless unsung hero, Pope Benedict XV have an idea that his work on earth was to come to a close? Only God knows.
Prior to taking over in his new role, he went on retreat to Monte Cassino, a Benedictine Abbey founded by St. Benedict in the Fourth Century, outside of Rome. He also led a pilgrimage to Lourdes with his people from Milan. Prior to being installed as Archbishop of Milan, he went back to his hometown of Desio. The welcome was tumultuous. Now he was ready to get to work. On September 8, 1921, Achille Ratti was enthroned as Archbishop of Milan.
To say that his tenure as Archbishop of Milan was short-lived is an understatement. A little over four months after he had taken up his duties in his home town of Milan, he was called to the Vatican. Our dear Pope Benedict XV had passed to the Father on January 22, 1922. The diagnosis was pneumonia. We wonder if it was not pure exhaustion after having led the Church through World War I and its aftermath.
The Papal Conclave of 1922 was to be the longest in the Twentieth Century. The other two, Pope Pius X and Benedict XV were fairly short. Benedict was voted on the fourth ballot. It took four days. Not so in this next election of the Pope. It took fourteen ballots and five days before Cardinal Ratti was elected Pope. Two questions come to mind. Why did this Conclave take so long? Remember, they didn’t have to be concerned about royal interference as did all the previous conclaves before them, until St. Pius X did away with it. That had been eliminated. Then the next question is why did they take so long in choosing Cardinal Ratti? The answer may very well have been that they didn’t know who he was. Four years before, he was the Vatican Librarian. This was not necessarily the material the Cardinals would look for in electing a Pope. But he was like a bright shining star. From the time Pope Benedict XV let him loose on the world, he just spiraled upwards in ways of popularity. He had achieved much in a very short time. Plus he was very personable. His dear predecessor had been a very shy, withdrawn man. Achille Ratti was outgoing. So, in that sense, he could be a good choice. But they didn’t know his politics. Was he a conservative? Was he liberal? Perhaps that was what took so long. He had not made them aware how he would handle the role they were considering for him. They knew him to be a scholar. That was obvious. He was somewhat pragmatic. That could be a good thing. So after much prayer, five days and fourteen ballots, it was decided that he was the man they wanted to lead the Church into this new decade.
And So It begins
On February 6, 1922, Cardinal Achille Ratti was crowned Pope Pius XI. He immediately went to the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, and blessed the crowd. This was the first time this had been done since Blessed Pope Pius IX became a pope in exile, a self-imposed prisoner in the Vatican in 1870. All his successors honored this policy out of respect for Pius IX, and to indicate they did not agree with the Italian government’s taking away the Papal Lands. However, our new Pope was ushering in a new era. Pope Pius XI renewed the long-forgotten tradition of Urbi et Orbi, (to the city and the world). This would eventually lead up to an agreement with Italy whereby the Popes would not be prisoners of the Vatican anymore.
His pontificate started off with zest. This man who had been a librarian for most of his life came out swinging against all problems in our Church and in the world. He surprised everyone by exhibiting a very outgoing personality. His six years in diplomacy had done him well. He took as his Standard “Christ’s Peace in Christ’s Kingdom.” To that end, he instituted the Feast of Christ the King. He started out by promoting a very definite trend towards Christian education over secular education. Little by little, since the time of the Unification, Christianity had taken a back seat in the classroom. He was about bringing it back to the forefront. He realized the importance of the youth in our Church. He organized youth groups. One of his most important encyclicals in 1929 had to do with Sex Education. Can you imagine at that early date, our Pope was taking a stand on those who would impose standards of education on children?
He condemned contraception in any form. He took on the issue of Christian marriage. Divorce was a very sore subject. It was against the law in Italy, but from the time of the Unification in 1870, many groups were applying pressure to get divorce made into a law. Belgium had enacted a law and France also. But the Church was always able to keep a lid on the divorce situation in Italy. However, a phrase was coined “Divorce Italian Style.” During the period of 1866-1880, on the average of one murder per week took place in Italy, in that one spouse killed another to accomplish divorce. However, initiatives all the way up until 1900 were all shot down.
The Church, through its Opera dei Congressi lay organization had been able to have different parishes sign petitions against divorce, which were then sent to the Parliament. This began in 1874, and continued on until 1904 when Pope St. Pius X dissolved the group. But during those years, divorce was pretty much blocked in Italy by the Opera dei Congressi.
However, there was this movement constantly going on in Italy to legalize divorce. Now, our new Pope Pius XI was very clear in his opposition to divorce. But he was even more adamant about making Christian marriage a focus of his pontificate in an encyclical he wrote in 1930, Casto Connubii, applauding Christian Marriage and family life as the basis for society. He also condemned artificial means of contraception. (P.S. Divorce finally broke through the barriers and became a law in Italy in 1974.)
This is an excerpt from Bob and Penny Lord's book