|by David Martin|
greatest pleasure to the Father is to watch the sacrifices of the senses being
trial and suffering, knowing that the road in this way will lead directly to the
Lent is a time for almsgiving
"Beauty of beauties! The fulfillment of every desire that man could conceive."
IS A TIME TO FOCUS on our baptismal calling, that we might revive and be
renewed in that calling in the time to come. Our calling as Christians is that
we do “penance for the remission of sins.” (Luke 3:3) That is, we are called to
have compunction where we afflict ourselves and painfully detest our sins, so
that we can return to God with a renewed and liberated heart.
The Apostle Peter says that the Lord is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance.” (2 Peter 3:9) That is, we should weep with contrition and “sin no more.” (John 5:14) This is the sacrifice that pleases God most. “A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 50:19)
Hence a life of penance and sacrifice is what keeps us on the straight and narrow and bonds us to Christ, so that we can be “a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation.” (1 Peter 2:9) The entire church is called to be one with Christ, our High Priest, who chose to take suffering upon Himself for our instruction and redemption. And what did the Captain say to His crew? “Whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
If the standard of the cross has been the victory of the saints, worldly enticement has been our downfall. Deo Gratias, Our Lady today has come to us at Bayside to restore to us the right and shining way.
What She asks of all is that we live lives of penance, sacrifice, and prayer. She said on April 10, 1976, “You must all follow My Son in the coming days before His crucifixion anewed—renewed, by doing much penance and sacrifice.” (April 10, 1976) Our Lady also told Veronica, “My words must be summed up, My child, with the three words of direction: prayer, atonement, sacrifice.” (October 6, 1973)
With the Warning and Great Chastisement fast approaching our world, our Lenten observance assumes a special importance. Our Lady said on October 1, 1983, “There is only one recourse to hold back the flames, My child, that you have viewed: that is an outpouring to Heaven of penance and prayer and sacrifice.” She said on Christmas Eve 1975, “Can you not pray and do penance to hold back the darkness?”
At Bayside Our Lady says, “You must cleanse your souls of all sin, mortal and venial.” (December 24, 1973) Again She says, “What manner of evil is being set now upon mankind that compels him to lose his soul by rejecting the Sacraments, by no longer confessing to his confessor, but coming to receive My Son in sacrifice while his soul is degraded by sin of mortal nature!” (September 7, 1976)
Our Lady grieves, saying, “No consideration for your next life is given by Our errant children upon earth.” (May 30, 1981) Heaven knows all too well that Purgatory awaits those who don’t use their time on earth to cleanse their souls of worldly attachment, so Lent is the appropriate time to renew our commitment to be purged of earthly fools-gold and focus on the true gold of Heaven.
After all, we are being watched and evaluated at every instance of our life. When we die, the only thing God looks at is our soul, not our money, rank, acclaim, health, popularity, intelligence, academic skills, degrees, honors, or otherwise. When we stand before God we will be stripped of all these so that our soul is laid bare before him, placed under the divine X-ray as it were, so that if there remain any stigma of sin––any envy, anger, pride, ingratitude, self-admiration, stubbornness, coldness, untruthfulness, unkindness, self-love, indecent aspirations, or love of the flesh––then these blotches will need to be rubbed out and burned off in the furnace of Purgatory.
SINS OF THE FLESH
But will all have the chance to enter Purgatory? Our Lady said on June 18, 1974, “The people of the world and the nations now degrade themselves in debauchery, fornication, and all sins of the flesh. More souls, My child, are going into hell because of these sins of the flesh… Nakedness, impurity of heart, reaching in to the corruption of the souls.”
Our Lady says, “Make many sacrifices. The greatest pleasure to the Father is to watch the sacrifices of the senses being made by mankind." (June 15, 1974) Among other things, Our Lady here is speaking of corporal sensuality, especially the forbidden pleasures of the flesh which “send more souls to Hell.” (October 2, 1970) When, through examination of conscience, we make a sincere effort to purge sensuality from our being so that we can live for God without the meddling of sin, this pleases the Father much.
But such examination will bring heartfelt sorrow in that it forces us to see our pride as God sees it. However, a true Christian will efface himself and detest his pride for the Kingdom. This penance of heart that comes through contrition is part of what Our Lady meant on April 10, 1976: “The sacrifice that pleases the Eternal Father most is penance of the individual in his spirit.”
To keep our Lenten observance genuine, it’s important that we keep our works before God in secret, “that thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who sees in secret will repay thee.” (Matt. 6:4) After all, showing off humility is not humble.
When Jesus in the Gospel tells us not to groan and disfigure our faces when we fast so that people can see we are fasting, it carries over to mean that our personal woes, sufferings, and almsgiving should likewise remain hidden from the view of others. As Jesus told the people, “Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)
Our Lady told Veronica on November 20, 1974, “You will, My child, be less concerned with the opinions of others. Your human nature is evident, for all man must rid himself of self-pride.” Again on March 15, 1978, Jesus said, “It is only pride and the need for more virtue of humility that will make you concerned of the opinion of mere man.”
Lent then is a time to give up our self-pride which hardens us against the mercy of God from on High. With this, it is a time for almsgiving, and what better alms can we give than to assist Our Lady in reaching the world with Her Message in these last days? As Roman Catholics this is our duty!
Jesus told Sister Lucy of Fatima, “The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My law. This is the penance that I now seek and require.”
The keeping of God’s law then is always the truest sacrifice. “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) What good does it do a man to give up candy for Lent while living with his girlfriend at the same time? Better that he give up his girlfriend and enjoy his candy. Or a woman who gives up snacks but works for Planned Parenthood? Better that she quit her job and enjoy her snacks. Such a sacrifice would bring rewards, but hypocritical fasts never pan out.
In the Christian life it is inevitable that one will be tempted to deny Christ for personal gain, whether it’s higher pay, a higher position, etc. Our Lady cries tears of sorrow that “many have sold their souls to get to the head.” (November 20, 1975) Jesus says, “Do not set yourself to win the treasures of your world, for you will forfeit then the treasures of Heaven.” (November 20, 1974)
If people only knew that this rule of penance and sacrifice was given for our eternal bliss and happiness! Our Lady said, “Know now that the future after the cleansing will be glorious, far more glorious than your human mind could ever conceive. Beauty of beauties! Emotion superb! The fulfillment of every desire that man could conceive on earth will be yours in the Kingdom. Is this, My children, what you will discard for the few short earthly years given to you, as you run about aimlessly seeking the pleasures of your world?” (March 18, 1973)
On November 20, 1979, Our Lord reminds us that our eternal reward must be earned. “There is a price, My child, to pay for Heaven. This price We ask of all is suffering, the way of the cross.” In addition, He gave us this encouragement: “Accept all trial and suffering, knowing that the road in this way will lead directly to the Kingdom of Heaven."
During this Lenten season let us resolve to fast from the world, the flesh, and from anything or anyone that hampers our progress in the light as latter-day disciples. We were purchased at a great price by the Blood of Christ, not so we could slight Him with worldly preferences, but that we might sacrifice all to gain Him. This is the sacrifice God wants. In the words of St. Paul: “I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)