Orthodox Church of Mother of God Derjavnaya

Russian

Mr.Charles Mercieca, Ph.D., the book "Marian Apparitions: Meaning and Purpose".

 Marian Apparitions: Meaning and Purpose

Mr.Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.

Professor of History and Philosophy Alabama A&M University.
Executive Vice President International Association of Educators for World Peace NGO,
United Nations (ECOSOC), UNDPI, UNICEF, UNCED & UNESCO.

 

I

1. Marian Apparitions: Meaning and Purpose

During the past 150 years there seems to have been more apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the world than the previous eighteen hundred years or so. As narrated by Ricardo Montalban in the videotape: Marian Apparitions of the 20th Century, there is a message of urgency which God wants to communicate to us and He chose the Blessed Mother for this mission. This means that we cannot take Mary’s messages lightly.

 

Purpose of Marian Apparitions

Such Marian messages affect our lives very deeply. They are meant to enlighten us to enable us avoid catastrophes that await us and, thereby, to put ourselves on the right track in moving forward toward a hopeful future. The Blessed Virgin Mary has been designated by God to be the spiritual mother of all human beings without exception. Like she stated in Medjugorje in former Yugoslavia, she is the mother of all those who know her and of all those who do not know her. She is the mother of those who accept her and of those who reject her and she loves all of her children dearly.

Her requests are very simple. In order for us to secure happiness and prosperity we need to resort to repentance, prayer, conversion, fasting, and reconciliation. Is the world on the verge of self-destruction? Can we do anything to avoid catastrophes that are awaiting us? Several religious people made plenty of studies and investigations on the messages given us by the Blessed Virgin Mary. Among others we find the following religious people: Rev.Rene Laurentin, Rev.Stefano Gobbi, Rev.Michael McDonagh, and Rev.George Kosicki. These happen to be priests whose zeal led them to consume their time and energy to enable us realize and understand the messages of the Blessed Mother.

Although the Blessed Virgin has been claimed to have appeared thousands of times in many countries during the 20th century alone, those that have been verified to be thoroughly genuine are enlisted as follows: Fatima in Portugal, Garabandal in Spain, Medjugorje in former Yugoslavia, Betania in Venezuela, Grushevo in former Soviet Ukraine, Zeitun in Egypt, Banneau and Beauraing in Belgium, Akita in Japan, Kibeho in central Africa, and Naju in South Korea. Those who may be interested in having a clear understanding of the meaning and purpose of Marian Apparitions may write to secure a copy of the videotape:

"Marian Apparitions of the 20th Century: A Message of Urgency". It may be obtained from: Marian Communications, Ltd., P.0. Box 8, Lima, Pennsylvania 19037, USA.

 

Viewing God as He Exists in Reality

Since the beginning of recorded history, some 6,000 years ago, human beings have developed a somewhat distorted concept of God who was often presented as a powerful king ready to reward us when we do things right and prompt to punish us when we do things wrong. God has been presented to us as a Lord who is somewhat picky, as one who tries always to find what is wrong with us to whip us and to set us straight. The heaven-hell concept evolved on viewing God as a righteous judge that means business. Now such a concept of God eventually evolved and developed needs to be studied thoroughly.

When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees He was quick to tell them: The God you preach is a God of revenge advocating the eye for an eye and the tooth for a tooth. The God I know is a God of mercy who when stricken on one cheek He will turn His face to be truck on the other cheek. The God I know is a God of love and compassion who is forgiving. The Blessed Mother confirmed this to us in Medjugorje when She assured the six visionaries saying: "There was ever a case when God sent anyone to hell. If it depends on Him everyone, even the most wicked, will be saved. Those who go to hell go there because they make their own choice and God simply respects their choice against His own will. And while in hell they continuously curse and blaspheme God and blame Him for everything that ever went wrong. Minute per minute they tell God individually: "I hate you and l never want to be with you ever."

It is certainly encouraging to know from the Blessed Mother with assurance the kind of Blessed Father we have in heaven. We need to feel very fortunate to have such a lovable Mother who comes to us to enable us to form the proper concept of God as She knows Him and as Jesus always knew Him. In view of such a reality, we need to divest and to dehypnotize ourselves from any erroneous concept of God we have had so far. It is unimportant for us to try to find out how such a distorted concept of God developed in us. What is important is that we know that God is the kind of lovable and merciful Father described to us by the Blessed Mother in her apparitions especially of recent decades. It would be a wonderful experience for us all if we were to develop the habit of communicating with the Blessed Mother on a daily basis in some way or another.

 

2. Blessed Mother as God’s Right Arm

There has never been one case in the history of the entire human race where a nation had a king, an emperor, a president or a prime minister who was expected to do everything conceivable himself. On the contrary, each one of them was surrounded by ministers or secretaries or counselors all of whom were assigned a specific job to help the head of state run the nation smoothly. In His divine plan of creation God willed to function that way as well. His angels and saints are not there merely as an ornament. They serve as God’s extended arm to help implement effectively God’s divine plans.

Just as a head of state always has someone whom he views as his right arm and who is, at the same time, especially close to his heart. God happens to have also someone similar too. He has someone whom He views as His right arm and whom He loves and respects tremendously. This someone is His Blessed Mother commonly known as the Virgin Mary. She has been viewed by millions as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her numerous apparitions on earth have always had one purpose: to convey to us God’s adorable messages which are meant to put us always on the path to eternal happiness and peace. Those whom the Blessed Mother selected as an instrument to communicate God’s messages to the world are very fortunate. In every apparition the Blessed Mother seems to have some unique message to convey.

For quite a time now, the Virgin Mary has been appearing in Hiroshima on the 13th of each month for a number of reasons. In the first place, she wants to express her gratitude to the Christian community there for demonstrating a special love toward her through the daily recitation of the holy rosary, through the retention of the Tridentine mass, and through the holy lives of the priests and sisters conducting the spiritual services along with all the laity that participates in such God-inspired spiritual functions. This is the Marian Church of Hiroshima in Japan (MCHJ) whose objective is to implement God’s messages as conveyed to us by the Blessed Mother.

The Marian Church of Hiroshima in Japan is an instrument in the hands of the Blessed Mother through which She is trying to reach the whole world. Through this instrument, the Blessed Mother revealed to us her concern about the priests and the faithful, her love for all people without exception, and her phenomenal devotion to her divine Son and God’s service.

 

Enlightenment Through God’s Messages

God wants to guide us through His priests who need to be a living example to the faithful in prayer and meditation as well as in fasting and complete dedication to God’s service. The Blessed Mother expects the priests to reach a certain height of spirituality through the practice of such virtues as humility, meekness, patience, and perseverance. On June 13, 1997 the Blessed Mother made the following statement in Hiroshima relative to the kind of priests we need to have in the third millennium and beyond. She said: It is not enough for priest’s to be fathers of people. They need to be mothers as well. Without the exercise of such a motherhood the priestly life is defective.

On this same day, the Blessed Mother talked to us about the kind of concept we should develop of God. God is pure love and mercy. He loves us infinitely not only when we love Him but also when we ignore Him or turn against Him. He wants to see us always happy even when we do not deserve it. He wants to give us everything we need both in this life and in the next. Regardless of how great our transgressions may be, with an act of contrition, God will shower on us all of His heavenly blessings with perfect forgiveness in a way that every blemish will disappear from our soul. This has been verified millions of times over the past several centuries. Look what happened to St.Disma and St. Paul who were both great sinners. It took these two great spiritual heroes an act of perfect contrition to have their soul transformed overnight.

As a loving Father, God wants to give us only what is good for us. When things go wrong, that means we have done something that caused such an unfortunate experience because God gave us a free will which has made us responsible and accountable for our individual and collective actions. From the Marian Church of Hiroshima in Japan we learn that in anything that goes right in our life and in the world we need to thank God for His mercy, love and kindness. When anything goes wrong we need to find ways how to amend and we need to communicate with God, like a dear Father of ours, in prayer and meditation asking Him for enlightenment, strength, and courage to do whatever He expects of us for His greater glory.

 

3. Immaculate Conception in focus

St. Thomas Aquinas, who is considered a theological genius, stated that, while he could see how the Blessed Virgin Mary was born without the original sin, he could not understand how it could be possible for the Blessed Mother to be have been conceived without the original sin. Many outstanding theologians have agreed with him. However, Franciscan theologian, John Scotus, saw with crystal clarity that the Blessed Mother was not only born without the stain of original sin, but she was also conceived that way as well.

In view of his conviction, John Scotus wrote a thesis in defense of Mary’s Immaculate Conception to prove that he was right. This thesis served as a basis for Pope Pius IX to declare the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1859. His thesis was based on three simple statements which ran as follows:

I) Deus potuit — God could do it,

2) Deus voluit — God wanted to do it, and

3) Deus fecit — God made it happen.

Let us examine these three statements carefully.

I) Deus potuit — God could do it. For God nothing is impossible especially when it comes to the spiritual realm. Just as he created the angels out of nothing. He could create a specially prepared woman that was spiritually perfect in an eminent way as to fit to be the mother of His divine Son. He chose to create such a spiritually holy woman through the cooperation provided him by a saintly God-fearing couple whose names were Joachim and Anne, the eventual parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

2) Deus voluit — God wanted to do it. From the numerous dialogues God revealed to have had in the Old Testament, we find out that God is very sensitive. He is the source of life and He does not expect us to put anyone else above Him, which would be blasphemy. If He could choose a mother for His divine Son, He would surely choose for Him the very best woman that He, in His omnipotence, could possibly devise. That is what He wanted and would not settle for anything else.

3) Deus fecit — God made it happen. Once God wanted the Mother of His divine Son to be the most Holy next to Him, He proceeded to make it happen. God would not tolerate, as John Scotus well pointed out, the Mother of His divine Son to be under the spiritual dominion of the devil not even for one split second. In virtue of Jesus, Mary was to become the Mother of God who represents holiness itself. Confronted with such a reality, God had no alternative except to make this holy and perfect woman a reflection of God’s holiness and perfection.

Hence, God was the only one who masterminded the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

 

Dogma of the Immaculate Conception

In some of her apparitions, when the Blessed Mother was asked who she was, she did not hesitate to reply: I am the Immaculate Conception. The traditional saying of the Roman Catholic Church runs as follows: Roma locuta est, causa finita est — Rome spoke, the cause (for further discussion) is ended. One of the problems Protestants have had with the Roman Catholic Church lies with the dogma of papal infallibility. This dogma has been very much misunderstood and misinterpreted. When the Pope speaks, he never speaks dogmatically unless he does so ex cathedra, that is, unless he pronounces a statement from the throne of St. Peter. Before the Pope makes such a statement, he appoints a commission to make a study of the issue involved. In this study the commission must find out as to whether or not Christians have always believed in that doctrine, which is being considered for dogma, every year without interruption going back to the time of the apostles. If a gap in history is found when Christians did not express belief in such a doctrine, then the Pope will not proceed to declare a doctrine as dogma. Moreover, the investigation and study made by the Pope’s commission, may usually take somewhere between 70 to 100 years. This means that the Pope declares a doctrine to be a dogma on an average of once every 100 years.

In the 19th century the Pope declared only one dogma, that of the Immaculate Conception in 1859. In the 20th century the Pope declared also one dogma, that of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1950. It took the Pope a long period of 91 years of continued investigation and study before he pronounced another dogma. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception has been a source of inspiration for everyone who is fully devoted to the understanding of God’s holiness, mercy, and love He has exercised for us since the beginning of times.

 

4. Presence of the Blessed Virgin in Our Hearts

Since the beginning of times, God had His mind set on the Blessed Virgin Mary. The moment the devil deceived Adam and Eve and had them driven out of the Garden of Eden, God admonished the devil that He would send a woman whose seed will crush his seed. This woman, in God’s mind, was our Blessed Mother.

 

Blessed Virgin’s Total Immersion in God

Our Blessed Mother has dwelt in the heart of God from all eternity. We learn from the Bible that God created the human being on His own image. Of course, since God is a spiritual being such an image could not refer to our body structure. It could only refer to our soul which is merely spiritual by nature. Our heart symbolizes the seat of love which comes directly from our living soul. This explains why it is highly appropriate for our Blessed Mother to be permanently present in our heart. Her only objective is to instill in us genuine love for God the Father, our Creator, for God the Son, our Redeemer, and for God the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier. This is the same God of Abraham revealed to us in the Bible. It is a Triune God who presents Himself mysteriously as three persons but, at the same time, as one absolute God.

Since the Blessed Virgin is the only created being that has been allowed to intermingle with the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity, she is the only one that is capable to teach us genuine love for God. After all, this Blessed Mother is the daughter of God the Father, the mother of God the Son, and the spouse of God the Holy Spirit. She knows how to love God more than all the angels and the saints taken together.

In other words, she is the right person to teach us how to love God as deeply as He Himself loves us. And because the heart symbolizes love, the Blessed Mother’s presence in our heart is a sine qua non necessity. In fact, the Blessed Mother is in the heart of every human being without exception, even though many human beings tend to suffocate Mary’s voice inside their own heart and act like the Blessed Mother was not there.

The presence of the Blessed Mother in our hearts is a great gift which God gives us as to make sure that He had done everything He could on His part to give us that joy and happiness which everyone yearns to have.

 

Mary’s Role in Helping Her Children

On her part, the Blessed Mother makes sure that we are surrounded by all angels needed to help us in all of our needs. She has taken the initiative thousands of times to visit us in person every century. She still appears to us, even nowadays, in various global areas. And her presence is witnessed not only by a few visionaries but also, at times, by all those who happen to be present in the place where she chooses to appear. One visionary of the Virgin Mary said recently: "Our Blessed Mother is so beautiful, so kind, so adorable, so lovable that I wish all people in the world would see her. They will be surprised to see and realize what a wonderful mother they have".

If we really want to feel Mary’s presence in our hearts, we have in the first place to communicate to her our concerns and our desires. Like a good Mother, she listens to what we have to say and then she proceeds to dialogue with us in a way that we may fully well comprehend. If one does not know what to say to the Blessed Mother, one may recite the holy rosary which has been recommended by the Blessed Mother herself in a number of instances. In recent centuries, ascetics tell us that the holy rosary is very powerful. Through its devout recitation we may secure from God virtually everything we ask for. We may communicate effectively with the Blessed Mother not only through prayer but also through fasting, silence, contemplation and meditation.

In fact, through the power of silence, contemplation and meditation we may penetrate Mary’s heart same way as the angels do. The Blessed Mother want us to be with her and her Divine Son now and forever and she will do all in her power to see this happen. If this desire of our Blessed Mother is not fulfilled, it is because we resist her adamantly and systematically to the end. Her purpose in being united with us through her presence in our heart is to make sure we do love God the Father, we do respect her Son Jesus, and we do accept the inspirations of the Holy Spirit .How can God demonstrate His phenomenal love toward us more than He ever did? He gave us a guardian angel from the moment of conception to look after us minute per minute. He sacrificed the life of His only one and beloved Son for our salvation, and He let us share with Jesus the motherhood of the Blessed Virgin who has now taken full possession of our heart!

 

II

5. What Should We Expect From God

If we want to explore what should we expect from God, we need to ask a little child between the ages of five and seven the following question: "What should you expect from your father?" The simple answer that such a child gives us will be virtually identical to what we eventually expect from God.

 

Child’s Simplistic Answer

This will probably be the child’s reply:

"From my father I expect that he loves me and that he takes care of me everyday. I expect that he keeps on feeding me until l grow up, find a job and be able to support myself. At that time, l will be in a position to help my father with all of his needs including giving him money when he happens to need it. l expect my father to take good care of my health and my education. l expect my father to be good not only to me but also to my brothers and sisters. Above all, I expect my father to love my mother more than anything on earth. Besides, I expect my father to entertain me every now and then and to make me feel happy. Last but not least, I expect my father to be always good and that he never changes his mind when it comes to looking after my own welfare".

 

Well, God is our heavenly Father not figuratively but literally. Without Him we would not be here today. He provided us with the kind of parents we have or we have had to make our existence possible, and thus enable us to share with Him the joys of heaven for all eternity. At the same time, Jesus assured us that if we ask our heavenly Father for bread. He will not give us rocks. God will give us just what we need, what we ask for. And to emphasize His message to us relative to our heavenly Father’s care for us, Jesus went on saying: Verily l say to you, ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you. On another occasion Jesus stated: Verily l say to you, whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name. He will give it to you. In order to underline the importance of such important message, Jesus added: Verily I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words shall not pass away.

The prayer that Jesus taught us, commonly known as The Our Father, contains everything we should expect from God. This prayer runs as follows: "Our Father, Who are in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen."

 

God’s Projection as Father

This prayer reveals our complete love and trust in God whom we address simply by the beautiful words: Our Father. When we consider that Jesus Himself taught us that God is our Father, we cannot take this lightly. It is an honor, an inspiration, an excitement, and an encouragement for us to realize that the Master of the Universe is our own Father. Besides, this prayer that Jesus taught us reveals God’s closeness to us. It also reveals our confidence in God’s ability to provide us with our daily means of nourishment. 

Of course, a legitimate question that my be raised here is this: What is it that we should not expect from God? We should not expect God to be a magician, who will do anything with a flip of the finger to fix the mess that we choose to create. Quite a few people ask: Why is it God does not stop this war or that war immediately so that many lives may be saved? Well, in the first place God did not start this war or that war. We started the war against God’s will and God has simply respected our choice against His own will. Once we proceed with our erroneous choice we will have to suffer the consequences that follow. There is nothing surprising in this. When we tell our children not to play in the middle of the street because they may be hit by a car, if they disregard what we tell them and then they are hit by a car, they will have to suffer the consequences. This is only common sense. That is what is meant when we say that God is not to be viewed as a magician.

In view of what has been stated, it is very clear that we should expect from God everything that we should expect from a good father. We should expect from God everything that little children would expect from their father at home. Needless to say. God being so omnipotent and so powerful, is always ready to give us more than we anticipate and than we expect. His gifts are given us in abundance. I recall once a good woman was asked: What is it that you expect from God? She replied promptly: "Nothing! Absolutely nothing! I have everything I need. God has been very good to me. He always provided me abundantly, giving me much more than I expect and deserve".

 

6. Escape to Egypt: God’s Intervention

We are all familiar with the proverb: Man proposes and God disposes. We are also all familiar with that scriptural statement: The judgment of God is very different from the judgment of man. Here we have Herod, a mighty king who had the power to do whatever he wanted for the better or the worse, planning and plotting the assassination of the promised Messiah while still a little child. This devious king used any trick he could possibly device to get what he wanted, namely, the elimination of Jesus from the surface of our planet.

 

Herod’s Plan Thwarted

When Herod’s plan was on the verge of succeeding. God immediately intervened and through an angel God let Joseph know that he should take his wife and child and escape into Egypt without hesitation. And we know the rest of the story. Herod ordered the massacre of all male children in Bethlehem below the age of two in order to make sure that the promised Messiah would be among them. But he was wrong. Anyone that tries to tamper with God’s divine plans will never succeed under no circumstance whatsoever.

From this episode we need to learn one big lesson. When God is on our side, we are always safe, no matter what the dangers that surround us may be. God guards us and protects us through his angels and saints. In the Old Testament God used his angels to help us very often. Following the New Testament God tended to use our saints to protect us and to have us provided with most of our necessities. When the angels and saints come to us to help us we should view that as God’s intervention to rescue us from the troubles or problems we face or experience. Just as St. Joseph was inspired through an angel to escape to Egypt, we are often inspired through our guardian angels to escape from a variety of instances that might have led us to destruction spiritually or physically or both.

Only God knows how many times, since the day we were born, we have been protected and saved from danger. We should take this for granted and we should always be thankful to God for all the gifts. He gave us since we were born, gifts that we recognize because we are aware of them, and gifts which we do not recognize because we have never been aware of them.

At times we look back in life and we wish we did things differently, we wish we could have taken a different job, we wish we lived in some other city or country, we wish we married someone else, we wish we had more or less children or none at all. In other words, at times we may have hopeless day-dreams over our past life in the sense that there is nothing now that we could do since we cannot reverse the clock of history. What we should keep in mind is that the alternative to what we have experienced might have been worse. Ascetics tell us, in this regard, that if our life were different it probably might have been worse in a way that we may never understand because of our limited vision.

 

Manifestation of God’s Love

In the Gregorian chant we find the verse which starts with the words: Ubi est amor Deus ibi est — Where there is love there is God. When things go right in our lifetime, we may be assured that God was there with us and that, at the same time, we put no obstacles to God in His effort to help us. When things go wrong we may be assured that God was there with us to help us and one of two things might have happened. We, or those around us, might have created obstacles which prevented God from helping us the way He planned. Let us keep in mindhere that God gave us the liberum arbitrium — the free will, to act always as we please, independently of God, if we may say so. If we resist Him, He will respect our resistance regardless of whether He likes it or not.

On the other hand, when things go wrong we might have done everything that was perfectly pleasing to God from the outset. If God foresaw that in granting us what we have asked for in good faith was going to be harmful to us in the long range, then He would choose to give us something else instead. So, by having God on our side we always have everything to win and nothing to loose. God was on the side of the Holy Family of Nazareth. After all, this was God’s own family. God took care of such a family even when such a family was not aware of the danger that was being faced. Another big lesson we need to learn here is this. When God intervenes, no questions need to be asked. In fact, Joseph woke up and without hesitation took his wife and child away to Egypt. This was a difficult task when we consider we had here a poor family with few belongings. Everything was left behind them and they just left for a foreign land merely because in God’s wisdom it was for their greater benefit in the long run.

When we feel we are comfortable and happy in a location, we may not necessarily be safe in the long range. Regardless of what happens to us, we must always trust that God is there with us loving us, guiding us, and leading us forward in His own mysterious ways.

 

7. Why God Permits Bad Things to Happen

Theologians tell us that in dealing with human beings, God adopts the following three principles:

1. Deus vult tantum bonum — God wants only good,

2. Deus non vult malum — God does not want evil, and

3. Deus permittit malum propter bonum — God permits bad things to happen as to derive plenty of good afterwards.

 

Analysis of God’s Three Principles

Once we examine and analyze these three principles, we will be in a position to understand why God permits bad things to happen. Let us discuss each one of them separately:

 

1. Deus vult tantum bonum — God wants only good.

By His very nature God is goodness itself. In God goodness is not only a noun but a verb at the same time. God is the essence of good and this explains why everything that emanates directly from God is good and it could not be otherwise. It was through His infinite goodness that God felt compelled to create heaven, earth and the entire universe as a matter of fact. What is of most significance to us is that God centered all of His attention on human beings who literally absorbed His mind from all eternity. After all His Divine Son and His Blessed Mother were projected from all eternity to become an integral part of humanity in time, which took place eventually some 2,000 years ago.

 

2. Dens non vult malum — God does not want evil: It is quite logical that if God wants only good. He certainly does not want evil in any way whatsoever. God cannot want evil because this negative element constitutes for Him a contradiction. After all, evil is the absence of good and since God is goodness itself which in Him is both noun and verb, it follows that for God to want evil He must be wanting to cease to exist, which is a heresy to say the least and a metaphysical impossibility to say the most. In view of this, we may fully understand and realize why God cannot want evil under any circumstance one may possibly devise or imagine. The question raised here takes us to the next topic.

 

3. Deus permittit malum propter bonum — God permits bad things to happen as to derive plenty of good afterwards: What does this mean? Is it possible that God, in His infinite wisdom and power, will have to use bad means for purpose of promoting good things? Does the end justify the means for God? Well, not quite so. In the first place, we need to understand the kind of properties God willed to give human beings and the kind of relation He wanted to establish with them.

 

Why Bad Things Do Happen

From the very beginning of creation, God wanted human beings to be free. He wanted them to adore Him through genuine love and respect — not out of compulsion but out of their own free accord. Of course, in making this decision, God knew He was taking a risk, the risk that human beings may choose by their free will to disregard God’s commandments, thereby showing disrespect and lack of love toward their Creator. In fact, that is precisely what happened, to the extent that in the Holy Scriptures one of the prophets told us that at one time God regretted to have created humans.

Once human beings use their freedom, commonly known as the liberum arbitrium, to goof and to create a mess, how is such goofing and mess going to be repaired? Only God Himself, through His infinite mercy, can step in to straighten all bad things that humans devise and promote. After human beings choose deliberately to commit bad things. God takes the opportunity to make humans realize the mess they got into out of their own free choice. He let them suffer the consequences of their miscalculated wrong actions, not as a punishment but merely as a natural result of their misconduct. Then, like a good and merciful Father, He takes the opportunity to show them alternative ways of behavior that may be exercised under similar circumstances.

This approach of God inspires wisdom and He reveals to be the greatest educator of all times. Very often we hear people speaking of the problem of suffering and tend to attribute its source to God. The problem of suffering does not emanate from God. It is a natural result of the actions we choose to perform either individually or collectively. Although God, as a loving Father, does not want to see bad things happen to us, in no way whatsoever, yet, He does allow them to happen as a result of the gift of the liberum arbitirium He gave us. God created us not as slaves or puppets of His, but as free and independent people, as sovereigns of our own destiny. He wanted us to make decisions for ourselves in the hope that we do everything right in accordance to the principles found in the divine positive law and the natural law.

 

8. Mystical Suffering

Anything that deals with mysticism deals with spirituality. In fact, mysticism is described as communion with God which stems from a knowledge of divine essence that may be attained independently of the senses or processes of reason through intuition or insight. Hence, those who have had insights or visions was the result of a spiritual union with the divinity.

 

Nature of Mystical Suffering

Mysticism is best understood through the teachings or doctrines of the mystics of the caliber of Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Bonaventure, St. Theresa of Avila and numerous others. Mystics are presumed to have had direct communication with God and to have gamed knowledge of spiritual things beyond the natural faculties of our earthly life. Their statements need to be taken for granted because they are difficult to explain in light of human reason.

Human suffering may be understood properly when we try to understand the mystical element behind it. Hence, mystical suffering becomes noble and readily accepted when viewed from a supernatural aspect. This type of suffering deals with the direct anguish and pain of the soul. In a way, it is much more crucial and disintegrating than the mere physical suffering of the body. Bodily suffering may be relieved through a variety of medications. In human terms, there is no medication available to relieve mystical suffering. While bodily suffering usually takes place beyond our choice, mystical suffering is generally felt through our own personal choice. In mystical suffering we seek deliberately to alleviate God’s anguish and pain which results from our systematic ingratitude and negligence.

This is due to the fact that we are moved by pity toward our dear and most beloved Father. This explains why we take the initiative to share in God’s anguish and pain. As far as our relationship with God is concerned, mystical suffering becomes for us a spiritual agony comparable to that of a mother who watches her beloved child suffer helplessly. In mystical suffering, we yearn helplessly to save God from his anguish and pain. We really wish to do something constructive by undertaking God’s suffering on God’s behalf.

Unlike the physical pain we experience, mystical suffering always produces a feeling of heavenly joy, of genuine satisfaction, of self-pride and consolation. Each time we do something for our heavenly Father, He will not hesitate to repay us back abundantly. At time, He goes even out of His way and perform miracles in our best interest.

 

God’s Gratitude Toward Mystics

Let us imagine that someone went out of his/her way and even risked his/her life to save one of our beloved ones, say, a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, or a very close friend. What is our feeling toward such a person? Will it be one of indifference? Do we tend to ignore him/her? On the contrary, we will view such a person as an angel sent from heaven to save our beloved one and we feel deeply grateful as a result. In God’s eyes, our mystical suffering compels Him to view us as angels who went to His rescue to save Him from the anguish and pain He receives from His beloved earthly children. These sad feelings which God experiences usually emanate through the people’s deliberate violations of God’s commandments.

Mystical suffering by its very nature purifies the soul like fire. It makes our spirit clean and beautiful. It enables us to straighten our priorities of life along the same lines that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would have set them. This way we would attach more importance to spirituality than to the material aspects of life. Mystical suffering enables us to become mystics in the strict sense of the word. Above all, mystical suffering elevates our heart and mind to a higher level of existence. Once more, let us keep in mind that this type of suffering does not come to us in a way that we have no control over it. This type of suffering is deliberately and voluntarily procured by us out of genuine and phenomenally deep love for our heavenly Father. In itself, mystical suffering may be viewed as a mystery since we cannot explain it and understand it in human terms.

In view of what has been stated, we can realize the importance of mystical suffering which serves to initiate a genuine and lasting friendship with our heavenly Father. It also serves to invoke from our heavenly Father all of His rich blessings and numerous spiritual gifts. Last but not least, we need to keep in mind that mystical suffering is a spiritual gift which God gives to selected few. He may either give it to us through His own accord or in answer to our prayers. After all Jesus made it very clear when He said to us: Ask and you shall receive. When we proceed to ask God for the gift of mystical suffering. He will not hesitate to grant us this spiritual gift which guarantees our sanctity in life and our eternal salvation afterwards.

 

9. How to Deal with Spiritual Anguish

Different people have different experiences which may stem from diversity in culture, philosophy, religion, and environment, among several other possibilities. However, no one is immune from undergoing the experience of spiritual anguish at some time or another. Regardless of how good or bad a person may be, spiritual anguish is bound to play a good role during our lifetime.

 

Source of Spiritual Anguish

The source of spiritual anguish may be traced to remorse of conscience for something wrongly done. This leads to repentance which is bound to improve a person’s spiritual life. It may be traced to pity or anxiety we may feel for those who suffer and are considerably less fortunate than we are. And it may also originate from a sense of responsibility we have for ourselves and for others. Briefly stated, people of all ages share in common this unique experience of spiritual anguish. Jesus Himself experienced it in the temple at the age of twelve when He told His mother He was concerned with His Father’s business. He expressed it during His public life, especially when he felt distressed with the stubbornness of the Pharisees. Above all, He felt it in His agony during the last moments of His life on the cross.

The Blessed Virgin Mary often experienced spiritual anguish from the moment Angel Gabriel announced to her that She was becoming the Mother of the Messiah. Her flight to Egypt with her spouse St. Joseph when Herod was seeking the death of her child was saturated with spiritual anguish. And the period of her Divine Son’s three last years of His lifetime which ended with His crucifiction on the cross was literally packed with spiritual anguish.

Spiritual anguish is not a pleasant experience to have, since we tend to have a feeling of sadness at a time when our soul yearns for solace and consolation. But spiritual anguish is very important because it enables us to purify our soul and mind from every sort of spiritual pollution and thus it enable us to become more pleasing to God.

Since the beginning of times. God revealed to us His spiritual anguish when Adam and Eve lost God’s grace through the original sin and when Cain killed Abel, the first recorded crime in the history of the human race. God went through a period of spiritual anguish when people became so sinful that He had to send a deluge to clean our planet from the awful immoral environment that was developed.

 

Contending with Spiritual Anguish

To this day, God and His entirely heavenly court undergo a constant feeling of spiritual anguish because of so many iniquities people demonstrate toward each other in struggles and wars everywhere. The natural question to raise here is this: If spiritual anguish is something which we do not really like to experience but, at the same time, it is something which we cannot avoid, then how can we deal with it?

In the first place, we need to accept it the way it is, as an intrinsic part of our life time and learn how to live with it. After all, spiritual anguish is not that bad for it is a very effective instrument to bring us closer to God and His Blessed Mother. Also, spiritual anguish always results in a feeling of spiritual solace and consolation afterwards. When the soul suffers in spiritual anguish, our Lord and His Blessed Mother watch us with mercy and compassion. Our spiritual anguish serves as an excuse for God and His Blessed Mother to send us numerous angels to entertain us and to wait on us, same way as Jesus experienced when He went through a great spiritual anguish in the desert.

We need to view spiritual anguish as a blessing in disguise. It is the key to our spiritual success through the inspiration we constantly receive as a result. It compels us to elevate our mind to God and to dialogue with Him about our needs and the needs of all of His children around the globe. It makes our repentance become more spontaneous, more consoling, and more desired.

Besides, it enables us to become more humble in our approach to our fellow brethren. This explains why we should accept spiritual anguish as a heavenly gift to seal our spiritual life with God’s Spirit on a perpetual basis.

Last but not least, we seem to succeed spiritually in life in proportion to the spiritual anguish we do experience on a periodical basis. Like fire, spiritual anguish purifies and enlightens. It purifies the soul so as to merit fully eternal life and it enlightens the mind so as to be capable of selecting right from wrong in all of our actions on a daily basis.

 

III

  10. Roman Catholic Church and Its Role for World Unity

One of the most respected and perhaps the most spiritually influential person at this stage of history is the Pope who heads the largest religion on earth: the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, many attribute the collapse of communism to the dynamic leadership and guide of Pope John Paul II.

 

Influence of the Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church is so well organized that there is hardly any nation, including islands found everywhere, without the presence of the Roman Catholic Church. It is the only religious entity that is officially represented at the United Nations and that function with the privileges of a fully established nation. In fact many nations, including the United States have official representatives at the Vatican, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. In turn the Vatican has its ambassadors in many nations who are recognized officially in no lesser way than ambassadors from other nations. When the head of the Roman Catholic Church speaks, the whole world listens. When the head of the Roman Catholic Church travels, he receives more press coverage and arouses more enthusiasm in the people of the nations he visits than a similar visit performed by the president of the United States or any other country.

In view of this, it is very obvious that the Roman Catholic Church is in a good position to assume leadership in the promotion of world unity. Such unity would be not only among Christians but also among all people of various religions and cultures. The Roman Catholic Church in general has been blessed with unique leaders who are conspicuous for their intelligence and for their ability to communicate with people in a number of languages. For example, Pope john Paul II gives his talks in the language of the people of the nation he visit. If he happens not to know the language, his prepared talk is translated into that particular language and transliterated in a script he can read, usually using the Roman letters. So far, he read his speeches all over the world in 47 languages. This method of direct communication in a language people understand has proven to exert great influence on the faithful everywhere.

Because of its linguistic ability and its religious and cultural understanding of people all over the world, the Roman Catholic Church has the responsibility to provide the world with needed guidelines for unity and peace. In this regard, the Vatican has established various congregations or committees whose task is to unify the whole world in peace and harmony, in progress and prosperity, as well as in fairness and justice.

 

Global Leadership in Operation

When it comes to violations of vital issues, the Roman Catholic Church is the first to speak out loud and clear in defense of those affected by such issues. When the war in the middle east and Bosnia started, the Pope was the first to be heard condemning such a war that disrupted the harmony between people. When refuges fled to nearby countries for their personal safety, the Roman Catholic Church was the first one to warn such nearby nations of their obligation to receive and treat fairly such refugees. When people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America were faced with starvation, the Roman Catholic Church was the first to advocate the rest of the world to step in and help these unfortunate people. And when things go wrong in the world, no matter what the nature of these things may be, people everywhere expect the Pope to provide leadership and guidience for the solution of problem encountered.

Under the guidance o Pope John XXIII God seems to have selected the Roman Catholic Church to play a vital role for world unity. This Pope has asked Catholics to stop trying to convert Protestants to Catholicism because, he said, Protestants are going to heaven just the same. He also advocated the study of various religions to explore how God is leading them to Him and to respect such divine lead. In other words, this saintly Pope transformed the Roman Catholic Church into an institution that proved itself to be enough mature to assume the mission of world unity in spirit.

The Roman Catholic Church of today is not the same as it used to be in the early part of the 20th century. It is a divinely transformed church with a role to bring the whole world together in peace and harmony, in progress and prosperity, as well as in fairness and justice, as stated earlier. The Roman Catholic Church of today views all people as children of God who are destined to reach God in their own way according to their culture, spiritual orientation, and environmental upbringing.

  In view of what has been stated, we may fully understand why several years ago the well known Protestant Baptist preacher, Rev. Billy Gram, exhorted Protestants to listen to the Pope and to follow what he says because he said, the Pope is the spiritual leader of the whole human race. All this is an indication that the Roman Catholic Church’s role for world unity cannot be taken lightly. To this end, it is the responsibility of all religious groups to be cooperative.

 

11. Ways of Dialogue Between the Mother of God Church
and the Russian Orthodox Church

Dialogue between two persons or two groups never hurts. Through dialogue we have a meeting of the minds that are capable to do great things in the best interest of everyone concerned.

 

Russian Orthodox Church in Perspective

Before we understand ways of dialogue that may take place between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Mother of God Church, we need to have a clear concept of the historical development of these two churches. The Russian Orthodox Church represents the dominant and traditional religion of Russia. It is rich in liturgy and it has been blessed with some of the most beautiful cathedrals and churches in the world. The Czars of this great country belonged to this highly reverend church which makes the Blessed Virgin Mary the center of religious devotion. Unfortunately, this noble church had to suffer great persecution under the tyranny of seventy years of communism which almost killed its spirit.

When the communists assassinated Czar Nicholas II and his beautiful wife Empress Alexandra, along with their wonderful children, the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church were faced with a dilemma. Either they resist communism and have all the churches confiscated by the government and closed down, or they simply cooperate with the communist regime to the best they can in the hope of keeping some the churches open. The Russian Orthodox Church leaders chose the latter one in good faith. However, KGB agents of the Russian communist government, representing satanic forces, infiltrated the hierarchy of this holy and noble church. Such agents were sent to study in the seminary so that afterwards they may be ordained and be given control of the entire church. The communist target was the patriarchate which was abused and paralyzed for all practical purposes. Although some of the churches were left open, only the elderly attended such holy temples. The communist regime succeeded to reduce these beautiful cathedrals .and churches into empty elaborated tombs.

  A segment of the traditional Russian Orthodox Church went underground and remained there till the end of the communist era. When this noble and holy church resurrected it came out as the Catholic Orthodox Church of Russia (or Mother of God Church), to distinguish it from the operative Russian Orthodox Church. While retaining the beautiful traditional liturgy this resurrected Catholic Orthodox Church adapted itself to the present spiritual needs of people. Thus, a lot of vitality was introduced in the liturgical function during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

 

Emergence of the Mother of God Church

In view of what has been stated, the Mother of God Church emerged as the new image of the Russian orthodoxy following the downfall of the communist era. This providential church has been also referred to as the Catholic Orthodox Church of Russia. Although not officially affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church, it is an integral part of it in spirit. In its religious liturgical functions, the Mother of God Church adheres to traditional Russian Orthodox Church religious functions. At the same time, it uses improved approaches to a liturgical celebration that meets the needs of our fast changing time.

In view of this, a healthy dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Mother of God Church is of paramount importance. The steps for a permanent dialogue may he outlined as follows:

I) Immediate recognition of the difficulties the Christian faith went through under the communist regime of Russia.

2) Expressed open understanding of the Russian Orthodox Church for choosing the apparent lesser of two evils, namely, its decision to keep churches open for worship at the cost of cooperating with the KGB agents.

3) Expressed admiration for the Catholic Orthodox Church of Russia for its courage to denounce communism in the open and go underground as a consequence.

4) Establishment of a common ground of mutual understanding for purpose of initiating a lasting dialogue that will enable to bring the clergy of these two churches together in spirit.

5) Acceptance of the diversity of the liturgical function between the two churches with a positive attitude, and

6) Mutual acceptance of the celebration of the Holy Eucharistic liturgical service.

The Russian Orthodox Church and the Mother of God Church have many things in common. They both inherited Christianity from the same source, some 1,000 years ago. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist reveals the same basic type of liturgy. The faithful of the two religious groups are all Russian people who share a common historical background. All of this is bound to make a healthy dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Mother of God Church fully possible because such a dialogue was the expressed wish of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje during the decade of the eighties".

(Mr.Charles Mercieca, Ph.D., "Marian Apparitions: Meaning and Purpose", M., New Holy Russia, 1997.)

 

*   *   *

 

Content

I

1. Marian Apparitions: Meaning and Purpose

Purpose of Marian Apparitions
Viewing God as He Exists in Reality

2. Blessed Mother as God’s Right Arm

Enlightenment Through God’s Messages

3. Immaculate Conception in focus

Dogma of the Immaculate Conception

4. Presence of the Blessed Virgin in Our Hearts

Blessed Virgin’s Total Immersion in God
Mary’s Role in Helping Her Children

II

5. What Should We Expect From God

Child’s Simplistic Answer
God’s Projection as Father

6. Escape to Egypt: God’s Intervention

Herod’s Plan Thwarted
Manifestation of God’s Love

7. Why God Permits Bad Things to Happen

Analysis of God’s Three Principles
Why Bad Things Do Happen

8. Mystical Suffering

Nature of Mystical Suffering
God’s Gratitude Toward Mystics

9. How to Deal with Spiritual Anguish

Source of Spiritual Anguish
Contending with Spiritual Anguish

III

10. Roman Catholic Church and Its Role for World Unity

Influence of the Roman Catholic Church
Global Leadership in Operation

11. Ways of Dialogue Between the Mother of God Church and the Russian Orthodox Church

Russian Orthodox Church in Perspective
Emergence of the Mother of God Church

 


(c) All rights reserved. Mr.Charles Mercieca, Ph.D., 1997. (c) Orthodox Church of Mother of God Derjavnaya, 1999. New Holy Russia. Fr. Iliya Popov.

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