Saint John Vianney and the Miracle of the Bread

May 6, 2019

It was a time of Miracles for Saint John Vianney

As with gifts of the Holy Spirit, which do not necessarily constitute sanctity but are gifts, so it is with the granting of Miracles. They are gifts freely given by the Lord, signs of holiness, but not necessarily holiness of the person or persons receiving or experiencing them. The few Miracles we wish to share in this segment are different from the ones required

The Miracle of the Bread

for the canonization of a candidate for Sainthood. These have been recorded as taking place during the Curé’s lifetime. Those required and accepted by the Church were those obtained after his death through his intercession.

There was the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Flour. Once, at La Providence, there was not enough flour to bake even an oven full of bread. The mill couldn’t grind the wheat that had been sent over. There was just enough flour to bake three loaves of bread. When they had seen there was not enough flour to feed all the girls in the school, they went to the Curé. He told them to use the little they had. They took the small amount of flour they had, and began to knead it. The trough filled, overflowing with dough as on days when they had a large sack of flour. Had the Curé prayed? Did he ask the Lord to multiply the loaves as He had, on the Mount of the Beatitudes? It is definite that a Miracle was granted by the Lord for the Curé’s spiritual children. Was it by his intercession? What do you believe?

Then there was the Miracle of the Wine. One day, the Curé came to his people, advising them a full cask of wine had split and the contents had spilled onto the sand floor. Sure enough, when they investigated, the cask was empty. They tried to retrieve whatever they could of the clearest wine from the sand. They were barely able to collect two little pails of clear wine. They poured what little they had into a cask which was nearly empty. To their amazement, they kept drawing from the cask for days, till there was nothing left!

Beside the now empty cask was another cask of wine, half full. They decided to pour the 50 liters of wine from the half full cask, to the empty one beside it, which had a capacity to hold 200 liters of wine. Jokingly, one of the women teased, “See if the cask is full!” Imagine the look on her face when the other woman replied, “It is! Look, I can touch the wine with my finger!”

When the Curé had mentioned the cask was empty and they should see about it, wasn’t he, like Mother Mary before him, really speaking to Jesus! And then, turning to the women, wasn’t he really saying, like Mary before him, “Do whatever He tells you!” And our Jesus Who never tires of feeding us, Who is always available to answer our needs, responded and gave him and us, a Miracle! In the Lord’s Humility, He acted as He has always done, through one of His children’s faith and petition.

As we read the lives of the Saints, the words of Scripture come alive. If the Lord cares for the lilies in the field, as He does, what will He not do, if we ask in His Name? Why do we question, wasting time on worry, where we will live, what we will eat, what we will wear? The Lord of all, knows our hearts and He answers us!

When people came to the Curé sharing all the Miracles and phenomena occurring in the Parish, he always pointed to God and the intercession of the Saints, especially his Saint Philomena. In an effort to draw people away from praising him, he would give credit to this little know early Christian martyr. Through him, this heretofore unknown Saint became so popular throughout France, many parents chose Philomena as a Baptismal name for their little girls. All the pilgrims would not be fooled. They insisted, if the Miracles were from the intercession of St. Philomena, it was because the Curé had asked her. He persisted,

“I do not work miracles! I am only a poor ignorant man who once tended sheep…Turn to St. Philomena. I have never asked for anything through her without receiving it.”

And this was and is, the kind of leaven the Lord can and will work with. How do we know the authenticity of a Saint while he or she is still on the earth? Well, the Curé, St. John Vianney, placed no importance on Miracles bringing about bodily Curés unless they aided in great measure to the conversion, the transformation of souls.

In speaking of Miracles, we must agree with his biographers before us, the greatest single Miracle of Ars was the living out, day by day, of who he was, John Mary Vianney, Curé, holy priest and shepherd.

The Curé’s Spirituality

The Curé followed the example and teachings of the Early Fathers of the Desert and that of Saint Sulpice. In that of the Fathers of the Desert, he not only derived inspiration from their teachings, he followed them to the letter, often quoting them verbatim.

The Curé had many friends but he had enemies as well, who were always trying to discredit him. Those who loved him, wanted him to answer his accusers, to defend himself. In response, he told 36

this story, from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers:

“One day a Saint commanded one of his monks: `Go to the cemetery and say insulting things to the dead.’ The monk obeyed and when he returned the Saint commanded him: `What did they answer?’ `Nothing.’ `Well then return and praise them.’ The monk obeyed once more and came back. `Did they answer you this time?’ `Still nothing’ `Well then,’ answered the Saint, `whether people insult you or praise you, do the same as the dead.’”

Another time, making reference to the lukewarm, those who just go through the motions, mouthing prayers, attending Mass, distracted by the world and its attractions rather than centering on Him, without Whom there would be no world no less its beauty, he again used teachings from the Sayings of the Fathers:

“Flies do not settle on boiling water. They fall into cold or tepid water.”

He was warning: Unless when you are on fire: you continue to stoke up the fire with spiritual reading, attend Holy Mass daily, receive the Sacrament of Penance often, fast, practice abstinence, make use of the crosses handed to you each day of your life; unless you become a contemplative in action making every thought, every action, every step, every beat of your heart in adoration of the Lord and His Sacred Wounds, you will become as tepid or cold as the stagnant water flies like to habitat.

Father Vianney was not one who lived in the past, the good old days. True, he was influenced by the lives of the Saints before him, using forms of their spirituality and wisdom to more closely portray Jesus Christ in our midst. But he was a man for all seasons. He tried to walk boldly in the footsteps of the Desert Fathers while accepting and using the available gifts of the Church of the nineteenth century.

These two spiritualities were closely fused into the man-priest that made up Father John Mary Vianney: one from the ancients and the other from the Church of his day. He loved this Church on the move. He revered this Church which stood on the foundation of centuries of faithfulness and martyrdom. Right from his days in the Seminary and with Father Balley, strength was formed within him which would last and sustain him throughout his entire priesthood. He had Jesus as the center of his life and the Blessed Mother as his mother and intercessor.

From the spirituality of Saint Sulpice, he developed an acute awareness of his Lord in the Holy Eucharist. From this 7th century Saint, he learned, the one perfect Adorer of His Father was Jesus, the Eternal priest, in the Eucharist.

The burning love Father Vianney had for the Savior was manifested as he prepared for the Sacred Celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy. But although the Eucharistic Liturgy was the high point of his Mass, he carefully balanced the Liturgy of the Word with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

He could feel his Savior’s presence in the Tabernacle, so he took every opportunity to adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament. His Presence brought tears to the Curé’s eyes. This passion he felt for the Lord was no on-again off-again affair. Speaking of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, he said:

“If we had a lively faith, we would certainly be able to see Him in the Blessed Sacrament. There are priests who see Him every day during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

Many who saw the Curé during the Mass, believed he was speaking of himself as one of those priests, but the Curé would never have admitted that, never wanting attention brought to himself. He would have considered this consolation. He not only did not seek consolation, he distrusted it:

“When we have no consolations, we serve God for God’s own sake. When we have them, we are in danger of serving Him for ourselves.”

 

More about Saint John Vianney

 


How Bob and Penny Lord Introduced the Miracles of the Eucharist to Mother Angelica

May 5, 2019

My brothers and sisters, we are in a time of great sorrow; we are in a time of great joy. Our church is at its most exciting juncture in its history. We are on the threshold of a new millennium, the third Millennium. We’re into the twenty-first century. That is awesome. We can see great advances for the Church and the world.

We have an opportunity, through the gift of communications, to reach out and touch 7 billion people. It can be done; Jesus has given us the means to do it. It is up to us. That ís the Good News.

The world is in the most depraved state in its history. Never have we known of such wholesale evil being accepted as an alternate life style. All the things we have held sacred, for the thousands of years of our existence, are being taken away from us. We’re being told that what has always been right is now wrong; what has been against the laws of our land and our church are now good and proper and legal, and we have to support them with our money and our lives. That’s the bad news.

But we, the Body of Christ, have been through this before, or at least the near equivalent of it. Our history is one of the pendulum swinging to the far left, then to the far right, and back to the middle. But sadly, the middle doesn’t last that long. It is just a short-lived rest stop on the way to the next big swing. Over the centuries, the world has been going down the tubes, and we have survived.

We’ve been hit in every century, with every possible piece of ammunition possible, by every monster imaginable, with the surety that this time, with this weapon, we would be destroyed, and we’re still here.

We’ve got a major job to do, especially now when many whom we had always counted on to be our allies, our friends, are quickly turning out to be our enemies. We’ve got to save this world; we’ve got to turn it around, and give Jesus a new world, and a new people; the world He died for, and the people He lived for. How do we do it?

What weapons do we have that can compare to the great evil machines that have been created in this century, Satan’s last century, his last stand?

We have the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the most powerful Weapon ever given mankind. We find ourselves in the front lines of the battle. Eight years ago, we wrote a book entitled, “This Is My Body, This Is My Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist”

At that time, we thought we were simply writing an exciting account of how God loves us, and the wondrous gifts He bestows on those who love Him. Most of the Miracles, we wrote about in that first book, occurred to renew the faith of priests who had lost their belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. We never thought, we were defending the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. We never thought the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist had to be defended. But little by little, we began to receive phone calls and letters from dear people, sharing war stories about how the Eucharist was being disrespected in their Churches, how the importance of the Eucharist was being belittled in some areas, and downright denied in others.
In the 1970’s while on Pilgrimage to the Shrines of Italy, Bob and Penny Lord,
visited the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi in Siena, Italy.
Inside the Church they discovered one of the Blessed Sacrament Miracles – The Miracle of the Eucharist of Siena.
At that time they met the custodian of the Miracle, Father Antonio Giannini.
He immediately began to give them a lot of information about
Blessed Sacrament Miracles and other Eucharist stories all over Europe.
It turns out that Father Antonio was the foremost authority on Miracles of the Eucharist in the world.
He even wrote a book about them so years earlier and sold only a few copies.
A few years later after giving much information to Bob and Penny, he asked them the question,
“When are you going to write your book?”
At that time Bob and Penny were directing Pilgrimages
and had no intention to write a book, nor had they ever written one.
Sister Briege McKenna purchased a copy of Bob and Penny Lord’s book Blessed Sacrament Miracles titled “Miracles of the Eucharist” and give it to a supporter in Europe.
That supporter was also a supporter of Mother Angelica, Foundress of EWTN Eternal Word Television Global Television Network.
He subsequently gave that book to Mother Angelica.
She read it and contacted Bob and Penny Lord and did an interview on her station and at the end of that interview, Mother invited Bob and Penny Lord to do a Series on Miracles of the Eucharist, which was the first series for both.

That was the beginning of the Catholic Church in America being exposed to the Miracles of the Eucharist

We appeared on Mother Angelica Live in December 1986, and shared about the Miracles of the Eucharist. The reaction from the viewing audience was so strong, we began receiving phone calls from all over the country, all affirming us and our message, and many complaining about lack of reverence for the Eucharist.

Since that time, 1986, we have traveled all over the world, sharing the power of Jesus in the Eucharist, as well as the strength we receive from the Eucharist. We found that there was a great hunger in the people to hear about Jesus in the Eucharist, and the Miracles.

We wrote a second book, “The Many Faces of Mary, a love story”. The people loved it, but no matter where we went, people wanted to hear about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. For years, no matter what we wrote, or what we talked about, the subject always came back to Miracles of the Eucharist. We went to Monterrey, Mexico, and gave a huge rally to two thousand people in English, while Luz Elena translated into Spanish.

We went to Germany, to the Ramstein Air Force Base. They all wanted to hear about Miracles of the Eucharist. We made a television series for EWTN. It was very well received. Our first book was so overwhelmingly accepted, we thought it wasn’t necessary to write another book on Miracles of the Eucharist.

We truly believed we had gotten the Lord’s point across, the importance and power of Our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. We thought we could move on to other areas in our Faith. How simple that was of us. What is more important than the Eucharist? (The Holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Section 1323 The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” Section 1324 – Pg. 334 Catechism of the Catholic Church)

We were appearing on Mother Angelica Live with Fr. Harold Cohen. He made a statement which shocked us to the core. He spoke about a Gallup Poll which had been taken among practicing Catholic people. It was reported in the Wanderer, a Catholic weekly newspaper, to which we all subscribe. The subject of the poll was the Eucharist. There were multiple choice questions, but they all boiled down to one question, which was, “Do you believe you are receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus when you receive Holy Communion?” I believe 1,500 young Catholics took part in the poll. We’re not sure what cross-section of the Catholic population this covered, or their ages. But bottom line, the response was that only 30% of practicing Catholics believed that Jesus was truly present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Sacred Species. We were completely dismayed.

Remember now, we had written the book, “This Is My Body, This Is My Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist” in 1986. We made a television series of the same name for EWTN, which had been showing since 1987. EWTN reaches 35 million homes in the United States, Canada and Mexico. We have been going all over the world, the United States, Europe and Mexico, giving talks, Retreats, and Days of Recollection on the Eucharist and Miracles of the Eucharist. We have been leading Pilgrimages to the Shrines of the Miracles of the Eucharist. We could not believe that after all of that, only 30% of our practicing Catholic population believed in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This really depressed us.

We shared our disappointment and depression with Father Cohen that evening after the program. We told him we felt like we had accomplished nothing in the years we had been out on the road, proclaiming the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. He’s was saint of a man. He smiled that beautiful New Orleans smile of his, and said, “Just think what the percentages would have been, had you not been out there, promoting the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. You’ve made a real dent. You’ve put a spotlight on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. But your work is not over. It is only just begun.”

Penny has always had a burning desire to write a second book on the mighty gifts the Lord has given us down through the ages, through Miracles of the Eucharist. If there was ever any doubt as to the necessity of writing more about the Eucharist, Fr. Cohen’s statement about the Gallup poll has eliminated any of that. Then, to really get our attention, the Lord hit us with a 4×4.

We were at the Basilica of St. Francis in Siena, talking to Fr. Antonio Giannini, our mentor, the Franciscan priest who had given us so much information on the Miracles of the Eucharist, and directed us to so many places to visit and write about in our first book. He has been very proud of us, and of the American people, for embracing the Miracles of the Eucharist. On this particular meeting, he looked at us very seriously, and said, ìYou know, you haven’t written about all the Miracles of the Eucharist. There are still many important Miracles, you haven’t covered.

Then he brought us over to his files. This was reminiscent of how we had worked together in 1982 through 1985, gathering material, comparing notes. We knew what we were in for, even before we began. “But Father,” we said, in our best Italian, “we have written about Miracles of the Eucharist. We have to write about other things. We’re writing about heresies of the church right now (Scandal of the Cross and its Triumph). We want to write about the Martyrs of the Church, and our Popes.

He gave us that look, he gives us. You really have to be there to experience the look. Then he said those words which cut us to the heart, “Is anything more important than the Miracles of the Eucharist?”

We were finished and we knew it. There’s no way you can come up against a statement like that. And so we began putting together all our research material which we had worked on since we wrote our first book, “This Is My Body, This Is My Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist.”

When we went back to Siena last year, we showed him our progress. He had an urgency that we had never seen before. “There’s not much time. You must get the book written now. Don’t let anything distract you.” We were with Fr. Giannini again this last summer. We told him what we were doing, that our sequel, the book containing all the Miracles of the Eucharist, we had not written about previously, would be out this Fall. He smiled his beautiful smile. He knew that if we said we would do it, we would get the job done. And so here we are. We really believe the Lord is speaking to us.

We can see that the urgency is greater than ever to bring His message, about His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, to the people. The Eucharist is many things to us. Our Lord Jesus gives us strength and power in the Eucharist. It’s what holds the Church together. A Catholic historian of the early Church made a profound statement. He said the Church would not have lasted 100 years after the death of Jesus, had it not been for the Eucharist. Jesus gives us Himself in the Eucharist, not for Him but for us.“I will be with you always, until the end of the world.”

We wanted to show how the Lord battles the evil one every step of the way, and one of His most powerful weapons has always been the Eucharist. Nothing is coincidental. The Lord has a reason for everything. When we share with you all the facets of the Miracles, the time frame, the lack of belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, problems in the world, problems within the Church, all the elements trying to destroy the Church from within and without, and blot out the name of Jesus all over the world, you will understand, as we have come to understand, what the Lord had in mind when He gave us the mandate to write this second book. Our meeting with Fr. Cohen last year, and the very sad results of the polls, regarding the lack of belief of practicing Catholics in the Real Presence of the Eucharist, were just one more indicator from the Lord in a very loud and clear Voice, that there is still much work to do with regard to the Real Presence of Our dear Lord Jesus. It is the ultimate weapon; the ultimate ammunition. In the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, we are told that the Eucharist is the “source and summit of Christian life”.

Jesus is gathering an army of believers, and Defenders of the Faith. We pray you gather strength from this book to boldly go forth and put on your armor of God to defend the Church, and possibly the greatest strength the Lord has given us, Our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist.

We pray it touches you the way the Miracles of the Eucharist we have written about have touched us. Come with us now; live the message of Jesus in the Eucharist. As the Mexican Martyrs of the 1920’s and 1930’s cried out before they were executed for the Faith, “Viva Cristo Rey y la Virgen de Guadalupe”, which translates to “Long live Christ the King, and Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

Can we do less?

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Marian Apparitions of Our Lady

May 4, 2019

Bob and Penny Lord wrote this about Marian Apparitions of Our Lady just before they wrote the book Many Faces of Mary.

 

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My relationship with Mary is a very personal one.  She is my first love.  I can talk to Mary.  I can count on her.  I have been in love with her for as long as I can remember.  It’s been an on again, off again romance with us, not on her part, but on mine.  She’s constant.  She has always “been”.  When I’ve broken away from her, wrapped myself up in the glamour of the world, she stood by.  When I thought I had outgrown her, didn’t need her anymore, she waited.  I always came back.  She was always there.

Our bond is unique.  I’ve never heard anyone speak of their feelings for her in the same way that I do.  But I wonder if the truth is that others do feel as I do towards her, but just don’t know how to say it.  Or possibly they are afraid to say the words “I love You.  I have always loved you.”  I’ve spoken to many people who have a special devotion to Mary.  I’ve looked at their eyes as they speak of her, and what she means to them.

They say with their mouths, things like “I have a strong devotion to Mary”, and “I always pray to Mary”, or “She has never let me down”.  But their eyes betray their words.  There’s a cloudiness in their expressions, a wetness in their eyes that tells of a much deeper emotion than their lips proclaim.  I wonder if they wouldn’t rather blurt out, “I deeply love Mary.  I always have.  I put her on a pedestal, not the way you would a holy person, or a saint, but like that perfect woman whom you’ve found, and will love forever”.  I want to shout it from the rooftops.  “I LOVE HER!!  I’M IN LOVE WITH MARY!!”  So, instead, I write a book.

Mary has guided me and protected me all my life, from the time my mother carried me in her womb.  My mother, a good Irish Catholic girl, used to tell everyone that she had a dream while she was pregnant with me.  In that dream, she found herself walking through a haze, towards a great light off in the distance.  She was drawn to it.  Though she had no sensation of walking, she got closer and closer to the source of the light.    She could make out the figure of a woman holding a child.  The haze lifted.  She recognized Mary standing in front of her, holding what she assumed to be the Christ Child.   The child was beautiful and radiant, but not as brilliant as Our Lady.  My mother recalled that she thought this was unusual.  Her belief was that Jesus would outshine everyone.  The splendor of His Presence would overcome even the aura of His Mother.

She awoke from her dream puzzled as to why Our Lady would appear to her, holding the Baby Jesus, and why the aura surrounding Mary was greater than that of the child.  She assumed the vision was a sign from Heaven that my birth would be a successful and healthy one.  My mother went on to complete her pregnancy, and I was born a robust and healthy handful.  Her attention was diverted to welcoming and taking care of the new member of the family.  She forgot about the dream.

In her story of this dream, mother recounted that something uncanny happened as I grew into my third month.  She had the strange feeling that she knew me, as though from another time, another place.  I looked so familiar to her. She racked her brain for days, trying to unravel the mystery.  Then one night she had the same dream again.  Only this time, she understood why the child had not outshone Mary.  The child in the dream, the same child Mary had held months before, was not the baby Jesus.  It was me.

Mary said to my mother “He is mine.  Take care of him”.

My mother kept faithful to the charge she had been given as well as she could for as long as she could.  She was the victim of an alcoholic husband, my father.  She suffered greatly, trying to salvage her marriage, and at the same time, take care of two young boys.  The Great Depression ended.  The war years came.  There was plenty of money around for defense workers.  But while other people amassed fortunes during the war, or at least little nest eggs for the future, my father spent all his money on liquor and friends.  Neither my mother, my brother nor I ever saw “Happy Days are Here Again”.  Babies, we found ourselves going to every bar on the waterfront in Brooklyn, near the defense plants and shipyards, on payday, trying frantically to find my father to get a little money before it was all gone.

By the time the war was over, my mother was a beaten woman, without any self worth.  Her youth and innocence had been stolen from her.  The one chance my parents had at making something out of their lives, had been wasted.  It was now behind them.  The balloon of the big war money had burst.  My father went back to the meager existence of struggling to make ends meet.  My mother finally gave in to my father;  she, too, became an alcoholic.  They lived out their lives in misery and disappointment.

I don’t mean to speak harshly of my parents.  They were good people.  I loved them very much.  I’m sure they are both very happy and at peace with Jesus and Mary in the Kingdom.  They were just victims.  We know about victims.  We see our children, victims, falling dead every day from the satan of drugs.  We’ve lost almost a whole generation.  In my parents’ time, it was the satan of alcohol.  They were victims of the Roaring 20’s, the Flapper Days.  Alcoholism was the socially acceptable behavior.  They were completely overwhelmed by the culture of the anti- Christ prevalent in their day.  When the great chastisement of the Depression overtook them, they were already addicts.

My mother was not able to fulfill the mandate Mary had given her.  Mary, my lady, had to take over personally.  She had plans for me from the very beginning.  When I was very young, I felt the compelling desire to spend my life wrapped in the warm, protective cloak of Mary in the Church.  I remember once, at age 11 or 12, wanting to go to Mass every morning during Advent at a local cloistered Monastery in the Bronx.  The masses were celebrated at 6:45 a.m.  That meant I had to wake myself at 6 a.m. because my father, who was the first to rise, didn’t get up until 6:45 a.m.

In those days, we didn’t use expressions like “Filled with the Holy Spirit”.  I just had a thought.  Everybody else had a thought too.  They thought I was crazy.  I couldn’t explain why I wanted to do it.  I just did.  It was very cold when I left the house at 6:20 to go to the Monastery.  I’ll never forget the gusts of cold winter air hitting my face, penetrating through my winter coat to my clothes, to my skin, as I opened the front door of my house each morning.  At the beginning, right after Thanksgiving, it was cold.  By the time Christmas eve approached, it was bitter.  There were days of freezing rain, and days of gentle snowfall.  But all the mornings gave me great peace, walking in the pre-dawn hours, just Jesus, Mary and me.  I believe that year, 1946 or 1947, was the most beautiful Christmas I have ever experienced.  I never felt so fulfilled at Mass.  I can still recall the fragrance of burning candles and incense.  From that time, churches have always had a special aroma for me.  The voices of the nuns chanting their morning prayers still echo in the recesses of my mind.

Until I began to write this book, I never realized how much an 11 year old has a need for tranquility, for belonging.  I was so at home in that Monastery.  I didn’t want to go back out to the cold world.  I was in my mother’s womb, warm and protected.  My mother was Mary.

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I thought I had a vocation to the priesthood.  I never fantasized being a priest, wearing priestly clothes or doing priestly things.  I envisioned myself in the Presence.  I was not sure what Presence.  Mary was there.  The colorful saints, whose lives I had read, or had been read to me, were there.  Jesus was very much there.  That little monastery on Baretto Street in the Bronx was there.  It was the hub.  I believe that more than a vocation to the priesthood, I had an overpowering desire for relationship with people I was deeply in love with.  I had never met them personally or physically.  But they were all there, around me, speaking to me, touching me, loving me.  And at the head was Mary, the indescribably beautiful Mary.

There is an expression used by the young people today, “Get into the Real World”.  The confusion lies in determining what is the Real World and what is Fantasy.  At age 14, I thought the real world was the world of girls, drinking and partying.  That had been the world of my father.  That world was calling me.  My biological system had gone through the trauma of puberty, and with it my value system.  Physical and emotional discoveries overpowered me.  In addition, I broke out in pimples all over my face.  As I grew into my teen age years, the distorted glamour of evil pulled me away from my true love.  Eventually, it drew me away completely.  The images I thought to be real, I learned in later years were fantasy, unreal.  The only reality was the love I had embraced as a child, then walked away from completely as a young man.

There’s a wise saying, “The 35 year old man has to live with the decisions made by the 18 year old”.  Our whole lives are determined by the mistakes we make as young people.  That should have been my fate.  But my Lady didn’t let it happen.  She had too much work for me to do.  She was willing to wait for me until I finally grew up.

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Every now and then, Mary showed herself very strongly in strange ways, in strange places.  For example, I worked at Radio City Music Hall as an usher during my high school days.  I had become romantically involved with the girls in the Corps de Ballet, and the Rockettes.  They were all older than I; but as long as I was willing to adopt their way of life, they accepted me.  Although I was going to a Catholic High School, I had all but forgotten about Mary and the Saints.  They didn’t fit into my new life style.  At about that time, somehow, a book came my way.  It was called THE SONG OF BERNADETTE.  It dealt with the apparitions of Mary to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes in the year 1858.  Here I was, completely lost in this beautiful book on Mary and Bernadette.  I was a contradiction, sitting in the Employee’s Cafeteria of Radio City Music Hall with all my new found show business friends, older girls and guys whose values had nothing at all to do with Mary or anything Marian.  I still have that book from 1952.  The cover is gone, as are the first 7 or 8 pages.  But it is a very special book to me.

The pull from Mary was strong, very strong, but not strong enough.  For a few months, I was renewed in my love for her and Our Lord Jesus, but then I began to backslide.  Soon the transition was complete.  I was back to my old ways.  I had left her behind.  Every now and then, she came back into my consciousness.  But I conveniently pushed her out of my mind.  Even during my time in the service, I was stationed in France, not 200 miles away from Lourdes, but I never went to visit her at her shrine.  Paris was 600 miles away, yet I went there every chance I had.  But when I was in Paris, I never visited the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal, or the Church of Our Lady of the Victories.

SEPTEMBER 23, 1957.  Dates are very important.  Jesus used numbers as symbols during His Ministry.  In the history of the Church, many important events occurred on September 23.  Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968.  The first Eucharistic Congress in Abruzzi was held on September 23, 1921.  I met Ernest Hemingway in the Yankee Stadium and got him to autograph one of his books on September 23, 1957.  But the most important thing about September 23 is it is the day my Penny was born.  And September 23, 1957 was the day Mary chose to place Penny in my path.

We refer at this time to St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, Chapter 8, Verses 28-30.  We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his decree.  Those whom He foreknew He predestined to share the image of His Son, that the Son might be the first- born  of many brothers.  Those He predestined, He likewise called; those He called He also justified; and those He justified, He in turn glorified.

I believe very strongly that God has planned out the lives of every soul He has created.  While we have to say “Yes” in the same way that Mary said “Yes” in order for God to work in our lives, I believe that He has orchestrated a beautiful life for all of us, if we just get out of the way.  I believe that God has had a plan for me since before I was born.  I believe that Penny and I were chosen for each other from the beginning of time to be husband and wife.  I believe that Mary came to me in the form of Penny, to be the instrument to bring me back to the Lord, and to give myself to Him through Mary in full time Ministry.  These are things I believe.  I know for a fact that Penny was given to me for my salvation.

In the early days of our marriage, Penny and I spent most of our time struggling to survive, much like any average married couple.  Our Lord Jesus had to take last place, and with it, my Mary.  But they waited.  They knew what work we had to do, and they allowed us all the normal desires that young married couples have, a good job, beautiful children, a house, cars, money.

We worked hard.  We have always been achievers.  It was almost as if we had a check list.  First we achieved the children, then the house, the cars, and finally the money.  When we had achieved everything we wanted, we lost our 19 year old son, our precious boy, to an overdose of drugs.  He was a victim of that world.  Instead of blaming ourselves for allowing a society to exist that could destroy our children, while we were busy achieving, we blamed God.  Doesn’t everybody?

Still, Jesus and Mary waited.  They gave us four years to mourn, to turn off God, Church, and each other.  Then, on January 1, 1975, The Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, the first day of the Holy Year, they hit us over the head with a two by four.  We will never forget it.  It was a typical New Year’s Day.  We had stayed at home.  Our daughter Cheryl, (now Sister Clare) had come over for dinner with our grandson, Rob, and a Jewish friend.  The conversation centered around important matters, the Football games that day.  We had dinner.  After it was over, and everyone had left, I took the table cloth out to the patio to shake it out.  Again, I HAD A THOUGHT.

We hadn’t been to Mass on Sunday for four years.  My thought was, I’d like to go to Mass every day from now on.  First I called the local church, where we had never attended Mass, to find out what the schedule was.  Then I went in to the family room where Penny was watching television.  I said, “Honey, how would you like to go to Mass every day from now on?”

Her reaction was normal.  She was completely shocked.  But she had a thought.  “For many years he went to Mass on Sunday for me.  I owe it to him, for whatever reason he has, to support him in this.”  The first day we entered the church, I had a feeling that I can’t describe, except to say I had come home.  The warmth I had felt as a child in the Monastery in the Bronx at daily Mass had returned.  Penny said my eyes gleamed with love for Our Dear Lord in the Eucharist, and everything that the Church represented.  She was afraid for a time that I was going to divorce her to become a priest.

That was the beginning.  We have never missed the gift of the Eucharist one day from that time to this.  We’ve given ourselves up to full time ministry. We don’t earn the kind of money we were used to.  We don’t have the freedom to go anywhere, or do anything we want anymore. But the places we are not free to visit, we don’t want to visit; and the things we cannot have, we don’t want.  We have come home. LORD, IT IS GOOD FOR US TO BE HERE.

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The Miraculous Holy House of Loreto

May 4, 2019

The Miraculous Holy House of Loreto

Our Lady of Loreto

St. Francis of Assisi went to the Holy Land, in 1220, to convert the Saracens or die trying.  During his time there, he went to Nazareth and spent time at the Holy House, where the Annunciation took place, where the Holy Family lived from the time they returned from Egypt until Jesus began His public Ministry.  Francis spent much time, praying there.  We believe the Holy Family spoke to him in the little House; because when he came back to Italy, he went out on the road, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom.

One of the first places he went to was a little town of no accord, north of Assisi, off the Adriatic Sea, about thirty miles inland from Ancona.  The town was called Loreto.  Francis told his brothers to begin preaching there.  They looked around and protested, saying the town was too small and the area too remote.  Francis prophesied “Someday this place will be known as the holiest place on earth.”

Seventy four years later, the Holy House of Nazareth arrived in Loreto.  Had Mother Mary spoken to St. Francis about this move when he was in Nazareth, before the Crusaders had lost the battle, and had been expelled from the Holy Land?  He knew something!  Was this one of the many things our Holy Family shared with this, one of their favorite sons?

Our Lord Jesus loves His Mother Mary.  He watches out for Her, and protects everything on earth that had anything to do with Her time here.  And so it was, in the year 1291, when the Saracens (Moslems) decided to vent their venom and hate against Christ, and all things Christian.  The Crusades were over.  The Christians had been defeated and run out of the Holy Land.  By destroying every holy place in Palestine, the Moslems thought they could eliminate every sign or vestige of Jesus’ existence in history.

St. Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother, had made churches of all the holy places in Jesus’ life.  It was as if the Saracens believed, if they took away these outward signs of Jesus, they could wipe away that Love that beats in each and every person’s heart, that longing to be more, to love and be loved more.  We wonder, were the Saracens the ones who really wanted to destroy man’s hope, or could it be it was the fallen angels who know all too well the needs and desires of the human heart?

The Saracens went on a rampage.  There would not be a stone left upon a stone on any of the holy places.  If there were no longer any Shrines where Jesus was born, where He grew up, where He taught, where He healed and called man to new life in His Father, where He died for us, where He rose giving us eternal hope that we, too, would rise, then man would forget he has a Savior, and have no reason to live.  Satan was having a field day.  He could see the last remnants of Christianity destroyed in this Holy Land.

The Saracens descended on Bethlehem.  They went to the church built over the spot where Christ was born.  They would level it!  But when they approached the building, they believed to be where He was born, they saw a mosaic outside depicting three Arab kings (the three wise men).  This could not be the place of Jesus’ birth, they thought.  This is a mosque, dedicated to Arab kings of the past.  So they left this place, and continued looking for the birthplace of Jesus.  Our Lord had used the Angels to form a shield around the church, which blocked the minds and senses of the Saracens.  He would not allow this place, where His Mother had given birth to Him, to be desecrated.

Our Lady of Loreto inside the Holy House of Loreto

At about the same time, hordes of Saracens rode, for all they were worth, their horses covered with foam of white lather as they strained to go beyond their limit, towards Nazareth.  They would destroy the house of Mary.  Never again would Christians celebrate the Annunciation, there.  Never again would they be reminded of the Jewish Virgin’s yes that helped to redeem the world.  It was well known that Jesus’ Apostles and disciples began celebrating Mass in the Holy House of Nazareth soon after Jesus’ death.  It was a Shrine from the earliest days of Christianity.  This was an important place for the Saracens to destroy.  This is where it had all begun.

We believe the Lord uses His Angels to do the extraordinary.  He has great power, and He has given the Angels some of His power that they might glorify His Name, and help us in our walk toward Him.  While we agree that God formed nature, and adheres to the rules He has set up for nature, we also believe God can do anything He wants, whenever He wants.  We contend it’s wrong for humans to put God into a box, placing earthly limitations on what He can and cannot do.

If God, in His majesty, wants to set aside the laws of Nature, and give Angels bodies with wings, and superhuman strength to pick up large objects, like houses, and transport them at the speed of light anywhere He chooses, we say Yes, Lord, praise You Lord, thank You Lord.  Jesus tells us, “I assure you, if you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would be able to say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,’ and it would move.  Nothing would be impossible for you.” (Mt17:20)

Do I believe God can move mountains, and with faith I can?  Yes, because He told me so.  Do I believe God, through His Angels, lifted up the Holy House and moved it out of Nazareth to protect it from the hatred of His enemies?  Yes, because I have seen it.  Do I believe God can move men’s hearts?  Now, I shout yes from the mountain tops because through prayer, I have experienced it.

We believe there has always been a legion of Angels protecting the house of the Annunciation.  Here, Gabriel appeared to Mary, and the Holy Family lived until Jesus began His public ministry.  We believe Gabriel never left this place.  But now, when danger seemed so imminent, we can visualize an army of Angels racing down from Heaven, their wings glistening in the sun, Michael joining Gabriel, his red cape whirling around him.  The sky was filled with Angels, from one end of the horizon to the other.  The earth shook with the vibrations of their wings.  They swooped down and formed a barricade around the house.  The Angels were here, and they meant business!

Our Lord had good reason to call forth His Angels.  The Basilica, built over the Holy House, had been destroyed twice before by the Arabs, once as long ago as 1090 A.D.  For some unknown reason, they had never disturbed the crypt (lower church), where the Holy House and the grotto were located.  The Crusaders rebuilt the Basilica shortly after they arrived in Nazareth.  Acts of sacrilege by the Moslems, were a major reason the Crusades began in the first place; for it was right after the atrocity to the Basilica of the Annunciation that the Holy War began.

The second time, the Basilica was destroyed, was in 1263.  Again, the crypt was not disturbed, praise God.  But then, the Crusaders were not able to rebuild the Basilica, and the Holy House was left unprotected.  When it was evident the Crusaders had lost the Holy Land in 1291, our Lord Jesus decided that since He could not depend on man to protect this holy place, He would send the Angels.  They would surely defend this Shrine to His Blessed Mother and their Queen.  The Lord gave the Angels a mandate!

“Move the Holy House; take it to a safer place, far from the hatred of My enemies in this land of My birth.  Lift it; lift it high into the air, where they can’t get at it.  Don’t let them see it.”

We can be sure Michael and Gabriel were in charge, supervising the movement of this most holy place, where the Holy Spirit had formed the Savior of the world in the womb of Mary.  In unison, the Angels raised the house from its foundation, and carried it high into the sky, resting it upon clouds which hid it from the earth.  When the Saracens arrived, with hatred in their hearts, craving to pillage and burn, they were astonished.  There was nothing there!  Only the grotto remained.  They left it alone; it had no meaning to them.

The Angels transport Our Lady and the Holy House

The Angels carried the Holy House, high above the mountains and deserts of the Holy Land, across the expansive Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas to Illyria (It’s difficult to give the actual name of the country where the Holy House landed.  We have called it Yugoslavia for years, but there is no more Yugoslavia.  The closest to correct that we can determine would be modern-day Croatia.  Although the pilgrims were given a name which was sort of a conglomeration of Croatians and Slovenians,”Schiavoni.”) On May 10, 1291, it quietly set down in the little hamlet of Tersatto, in Illyria now known as Croatia), far from the battle cries of Palestine. 

It was early in the morning, when the local people discovered, to their great surprise, a house resting on the ground.  There was no foundation under it!  Curious to see what it was, they ventured inside.  They found a stone Altar.  On the Altar was a cedar statue of Mother Mary standing with Her Divine Son in Her arms.  The Infant Jesus had the two first fingers of His Right Hand extended in a blessing, and with His Left Hand, He held a golden sphere representing the world.  Both Mary and Jesus were dressed in robes.  Golden crowns were poised on both Their heads.

The villagers were awestruck, but confused, until a short time later, Our Lady appeared to the local Priest and said,

“Know that the house which has been brought up of late to your land, is the same in which I was born and brought up.  Here, at the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel, I conceived the Creator of all things.  Here the Word of the Eternal Father became Man.  The Altar which was brought with this house was consecrated by Peter, Prince of the Apostles.

“This house has come from Nazareth to your shores by the power of God, of Whom nothing is impossible.  And now, in order that you may bear testimony of all these things, be healed.  Your unexpected and sudden recovery shall confirm the truth of what I have declared to you.”

The Priest, who had suffered for years from an illness, was immediately cured.  He promptly told all the people, and word of this Gift from God, spread throughout the countryside.  Pilgrimages began coming immediately to the Holy House of Nazareth, in Illyria.  God had chosen to bring it to this little village, and the villagers lovingly responded by erecting a modest, quite primitive building over the house, to protect it from the elements.

However, the joy, the Croatians had experienced at having this most precious gift in their midst, was short-lived.  Three years and five months later, on December 10, 1294, the Holy House disappeared overnight from Croatia, never to return.  Saddened by the loss, Nicholas Fangipani, a devout man from Tersatto, built a small church, a replica of the Holy House, on a hill where the original had stood.  He placed an inscription:

“The Holy House of the Blessed Virgin came from Nazareth on the 10th of May, in the year 1291, and left on the 10th of December, 1294.”

The people from Croatia continued venerating Our Lady in their replica church.  So great was their devotion that Pope Urban V sent the people of Tersatto an image of Our Lady in 1367, which was said to have been painted by St. Luke, the Evangelist.

The people from Tersatto, or Fiume, as it was also called, grieved over the loss of the Holy House and the image of Our Lady.  A Franciscan recalled a group coming across to Loreto from Dalmatia as late as the 16th Century.  He wrote: “In one particular group, there were about 500 pilgrims from Tersatto, with their Priests.  They began their procession into the church of the Holy House on their knees, crying and weeping.  As they approached the Holy House, they wailed in their own tongue, `Come back to Fiume (Tersatto) O Mary, come back to Fiume, O Mary O Mary.’  Repeating these words over again, and with bitter tears, they reached the Holy House.  On seeing Her when the doors were opened, their fervour renewed and they began to repeat the same words again, mixed with many tears.  And they went on with their chant as they went round the Holy House on their knees.”

Another eyewitness account of pilgrims from this area, took place in 1784.  “I myself have heard and seen them in great numbers every year kneeling nearly whole summer nights in front of the closed doors of the Shrine of Loreto; not content with having worshipped, kissed and bathed with their tears the walls of Mary’s blessed House all day, and then sung their chants outside, and prayed to Her, weeping to remember them, in such a way that anyone who saw the repetition of that sorrowful scene was moved to devotion and compassion.”

To this day, pilgrims from that area of Croatia, are given special privileges at the Holy House in Loreto, not because of who they are as much as in sympathy for their great loss.

The Angels move the Holy House to Loreto, Italy. Read More


Saint John Bosco’s Dream

January 30, 2019

There is one dream of Don Bosco’s that Bob and Penny Lord used in all our talks, to accentuate the focus of our ministry and what we believe has to be the direction the Church has to take, in order to survive.  He shared this vision with his boys, on May 30, 1862.

Dream of Saint John Bosco

Dream of Saint John Bosco

“A few nights ago I had a dream.  True, dreams are nothing but dreams, but still I’ll tell it to you for your spiritual benefit, just as I would tell you even my sins – only I’m afraid I’d send you scurrying away before the roof fell in.  Try to picture yourselves with me on the seashore, or better still, on an outlying cliff with no other land in sight.  The vast expanse of water is covered with a formidable array of ships in battle formation, prows fitted with sharp, spearlike beaks capable of breaking through any defense.  All are heavily armed with cannons, incendiary  bombs and firearms of all sorts – even books – and are heading toward one stately ship, mightier than them all.  As they close in, they try to ram it, set it afire and cripple it as much as possible.

“This stately vessel is shielded by a flotilla escort.  Winds and waves are with the enemy.  In the midst of this endless sea, two solid columns, a short distance apart, soar high into the sky: one surmounted by a statue of the Immaculate Virgin at whose feet a large inscription reads: Help of Christians; the other, far loftier and sturdier, supports a Host of proportionate size and bears beneath it the inscription Salvation of believers.

“The flagship commander – the Roman Pontiff – seeing the enemy’s fury and his auxiliary ships’ very grave predicament, summons his captains to a conference.  However, as they discuss their strategy, a furious storm breaks out and they must return to their ships.

“When the storm abates, the Pope again summons his captains as the flagship keeps on its course.  But the storm rages again.  Standing at the helm, the Pope strains every muscle to steer his ship between the two columns from whose summits hang many anchors and strong hooks linked to chains.

“The entire enemy fleet closes in to intercept and sink the flagship at all costs.  They bombard it with everything they have: books and pamphlets, incendiary bombs, firearms, cannons.  The battle rages ever more furious.  Beaked prows ram the flagship again and again, but to no avail, as unscathed and undaunted, it keeps on its course.  At times a formidable ram splinters a gaping hole into its hull, but immediately, a breeze from the two columns instantly seals the gash.

“Meanwhile, enemy cannons blow up, firearms and beaks fall to pieces, ships crack up and sink to the bottom.  In blind fury the enemy takes to hand-to-hand combat, cursing and blaspheming.  Suddenly the Pope falls, seriously wounded, He is instantly helped up, but, struck down a second time, dies.  A shout of victory rises from the enemy and wild rejoicing sweeps their ships.  But no sooner is the Pope dead than another takes his place.  The captains of the auxiliary ships elected him so quickly that the news of the Pope’s death coincides with that of his successor’s election.  The enemy’s self-assurance waned.

“Breaking through all resistance, the new Pope steers the ship safely between the two columns and moors it to the two columns; first, to the one surmounted by the Host and then to the other, topped by the statue of the Virgin.  At this point, something unexpected happens.  The enemy ships panic and disperse, colliding with and scuttling each other.

“Some auxiliary ships which had gallantly fought alongside their flagship are the first to tie up at the two columns.  Many others, which had fearfully kept far away from the fight, stand still, cautiously waiting until the wrecked enemy ships vanish under the waves.  Then, they too head for the two columns, tie up at the swinging hooks and ride safe and tranquil beside their flagship.  A great calm now covers the sea.”

Most of Don Bosco’s dreams were realized during his lifetime.  He made  predictions about the events of the Franco-Prussian war, which were so accurate, it was as if he read a script.  He also predicted the death of Pope Pius IX.  But the dream about the two columns has struck us from the first time we read it, as being more for today’s church, then for the time of Don Bosco.  Could Don Bosco see what would be happening in the Church of today, how we would be floundering so badly in a violent storm, not knowing what to believe, or who to listen to?  Was this dream or vision or prophecy to help us see clearly, what and where our loyalties must be, if we are to save the Church?  We like to think of this vision as being a directive to follow the great strengths of our Church, the Body of Christ, in the Eucharist, the Mother of Christ, through the Vicar of Christ.

After Don Bosco shared his dream, he asked his priests and students to comment on its meaning.  None of them, not the priest, nor the students, said anything at that time, about one Pope being killed and being replaced immediately by another.  Was that a prophecy of an event that took place in our time, when Pope John Paul I died after only 33 days in office, to be replaced immediately by Pope John Paul II?  Or was the Lord telling us through Don Bosco that the Papacy does not depend on a man, but solely on God?  Was that prophecy for Don Bosco’s time, or for a hundred years later?

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Pilgrimage to Ireland

January 29, 2019

Bob & Penny Lord’s Ministry

Journeys of Faith®fatherdarrinmay

Pilgrimage to Ireland

Spiritual Director Father Darrin May

July 22 – August 2, 2019

 

Highlights

shrine2-cc-karenwithak

Our Lady of Knock

St. Oliver Plunkett

Venerable Matt Talbot

St. Brigid of Ireland

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Hill of Tara

Old Mellifont Abbey

Trinity College

Church of Adam & Eve

Kilkenny Castle

Jerpoint Abbey

Holycross Abbey

Rock of Cashel

Gougane Barra

Blarney Castle

Cliffs of Moher

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

Ballintubber Abbey

Kylemore Abbey

Croagh Patrick and more…

Get all the Details 

https://www.journeysoffaith.com/ireland-2019

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Journeys of Faith Italy Pilgrimage


Pilgrimage to Poland

January 29, 2019

Bob & Penny Lord’s Ministry

Journeys of Faith®father tim forget

Pilgrimage to Poland

with Fr. Tim Forget

June 11 – 20, 2019

 

Highlights

Journeys of Faith Italy Pilgrimage

  • Warsaw – Blessed Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko – St. Faustina’s motherhouse

  • Niepokalanow– City of the Immaculata – St. Maxmilian Kolbe

  • Glogowiec – Birthplace of St. Faustina

  • Plock- Convent where St. Faustina had her first vision of Jesus

  • Czestochowa – Shrine of Our Lady of Jasna Gora

  • Auschwitz – the infamous death camp of the Nazis

  • Krakow– Shrine of St. Faustina

  • Wawel Cathedral – where Pope Saint John Paul II was ordained Bishop of Krakow. This is the shrine of St. Stanislaus, patron Saint of Poland – St. Mary’s Church – A very special place for pilgrims. Listen to the silver trumpet of the bugler of St. Mary’s

  • Wadowice – Birthplace of Pope Saint John Paul II

  • Kalwaria – One of Saint John Paul II’s favorite Shrines, the Sanctuary of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, which dates back to 1601

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