My husband has been doing a lot of thinking about the Great Schism. (for protestants unfamiliar with the term, it means the Big Moment when the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church split)
This schism is a deep wound in Christianity, and as such a serious topic, but it seems no one really has the answers. At the end of the day, it is easy to see both sides of the issue and to wonder what to do and how to help. It's easy to understand why my husband laments over it. But I told him today, the only thing I know to say about it is: "Yes, you are right. It's a terrible tragedy. All I know is that 'Mary took all these things and kept them in her heart.'"
As a member of Our Lady's Order of Carmel, I am experiencing firsthand what it is like to be under the protection of her mantle. He is uncovering disturbing effects of moments in Church History that are potentially cataclysmic in their resulting discord. But all I can do is what I am doing... to contemplate the Truth present in the Face of God, and love Him and love my neighbor. To pray.
Meanwhile, my devotion to Fatima has revived in me so many emotions and spiritual "lessons" I've learned over my years as a Christian- even my years as a Mary-loathing protestant.
They seem to circle me as I meditate on the message of Fatima, but among other things, it's as if Our Lady, through Fatima, has set fire to those areas which God has always built that were particular to the ministry He wanted me to delve into... spiritual particularities that no one around me have ever really shared (except, of course, my husband.)
Among other things, she has revived my commitment to spiritual warfare, and through her I have come to understand that Satan's plan is far more simple-- and disturbing-- than we had could have imagined. She has taught me to recognize the Enemy in my physical world. She has taught me to hold fast to the sacraments, to her Son, and in particular to His presence in the Eucharist. She has taught me to love and to trust God. She has reminded me that I have a special calling as a woman, and revived in me my strong desire to pray, to live a hidden life, to sacrifice and to headcover in accordance with scripture and dress modestly, not of this world.
She has reminded me that through that I have a particular ministry to women that are otherwise unreachable by any Christian standard- in particular women who are rooted in the culture of the Land for which Wayne and I yearn: the Holy Land. She has revived in me a love of the mediterranean and middle eastern culture I grew up around and the ability to-- through memories, cooking, language and cultural knowledge-- be able to reach out and connect with women who have absolutely no reason to connect with Christ in me otherwise. She has revived my journalistic intregue with the "heart" of the world-- Jerusalem.
Through Fatima, I have come to appreciate my own call to Carmel, to understand the redemptive power of suffering, to love contemplative prayer, to see why my husband and I share both a zeal for missions, a zeal for a strong, monastic, spiritual family, and a total distaste for "the things of this world." She has helped me to see the glory of our seemingly perpetual poverty and to uncover blessings where I thought curses might have lain. Above all, she has taught me WHY she is referred to as the "Terror of Demons." Through Fatima, she has demonstrated a complete dismantling of each distinct earthly demonic system set up in order to destroy the Church. Each "enemy" is named and we are told how to destroy it-- through penance, suffering, offering, prayer.
Fatima makes me pray more and more, in particular it gives me such a deep understanding of the need for my scapular and my rosary.
And still, I hesitate to write this all because I know that my protestant readers may be scandalized.
My intention is not to scandalize you, dear readers. It is to honor my Mother in Heaven, the blessed virgin who leads me to a deeper, more profound, more intimate relationship with her Son, Jesus Christ. Through Her and with her I contemplate His Glory daily in the Holy Rosary, and because of it my soul sees so much more than it has ever seen before. Fatima is truly the key, but it is only the beginning. Would that the world would understand how little time we have left to worry about Lost, or American Idol, or tax breaks, or Senators, or pedicures, or mortgages, or education. The time we have is so short.
As I, at the leading of my husband, began to cover my head full time again this week, I recognized that it was no accident that at last months' Carmel I had been given the gift of listening to one of Fatima's experts, Fr Andrew Apostoli, discussing at great lengths the very issues which have been totally occupying my prayer these days.... freemasonry, communism, and Islam, and "Heaven's peace plan" through Our Lady, and how devotion to the Eucharist could teach us to participate. This set in motion my great love of Islamic people and my great hatred of the Islamic religion, an irony that- believe me- does not escape me. God gave me plenty of spiritual food to meditate on with regards to my desire to love the Muslim people, to live as they do in total abandonment to God, to leave behind those things of this world which are such devastating products of our western ignorance of the Soul. While Freemasonry and Communism give me the total heeby jeebies and always have, they are not areas in which I "know" much. These are the realms of my husband, who has been both and who, as such would understand the mentality and know how to pray, which walls to break down and which walls to build up in his evangelism. Me? I know Islam. I love everything about muslim culture. And because of that great love I am able to connect in ways that he (my husband) can not.
After a third and final "push" from God to begin to pray for God's peace on the Muslim people (and believe me, here in the south, and in a military town, you need a SERIOUS shove to even TOUCH "the muslim issue" because there is a LOT of anger and distrust from both sides around here) via "coincidental" encounters, I told God, today... Yes, God. I will pray. And I will be open to whatever it is that you want me to do.
The first thing that connected for me was that my husband asked me to dress, essentially, like a muslim: to cover my head and dress TRULY modestly, not wasting time on such vanities as big makeup sessions and hair curling episodes. This totally caught me off guard, but it was something that spoke to my heart. Before I met him, that was something God had already begun in me. This was later confirmed by two "coincidental" encounters with covered muslim women who warmed up to me immediately BECAUSE I was "different."
It occurred to me that unlike Christians (most Christians, anyways) Muslims were willing to be truly distinct from society-- to dress COMPLETELY differently, to stop whatever they were doing and pray regularly, to abstain from "fun" and "harmless" activities the rest of us weren't willing to abstain from all for a false God! Shame on us that we would not do the same for the One True God, for the love of the Holy Trinity!!
The second thing that was impressed upon me was to pull out my Azan Clock and to begin to pray in reparation for the sins committed against Christ's Church by Islam. Muslims pray at virtually identical times during the day as monks and nuns who pray liturgy of the hours, so I felt compelled to, when the muslim "call to prayer" began ringing through my phone, get up and pray, no matter how inconvenient and unpleasant getting up in the night to pray might be. I sometimes do that anyways, so it made sense. No sooner had I decided to do that than I came across this article. I share it with you so that you, like me, might come to see that I am not totally crazy-- but rather that I am, indeed, hearing from God with regards to the choices my family makes. But I also share it because if you are like me, and you care about people, it will make you weep. Just weep!!! God's love for the world-- even those who hate him--- is AMAZING.
I thank God for Our Lady, through whom His grace is distributed so well. I don't know how I ever lived without her!
OUR LADY AND ISLAM: HEAVEN’S PEACE PLAN
Fr Ladis J. Cizik, Blue Army National Executive Director
Islam is an Arabic word that can be defined as "to make peace." Islam is the religion founded by Mohammed, which considers the Koran as its holy book. In addition, Islam accepts the New Testament of the Christians and the Old Testament of the Jews as Divinely inspired works. Followers of Islam are known as Muslims (also: Moors, Turks, and Moslems) and, just as Jews and Christians, believe in only one God. Yet, over the centuries, Muslims have engaged in tremendous wars with Christians and Jews. It would seem that there is little hope for peace. However, Heaven's Peace Plan, involving Our Lady, is evidenced at Fatima, Portugal as well as other places around the world.
The Moors once occupied Portugal. The village of Fatima was given the Islamic name of the well-loved Princess of the nearby Castle of Ourem. She died at an early age after marrying the Count of Ourem and converting to Catholicism. Baptized with the Christian name of Oureana, she was named at birth "Fatima," like many other Moslem girls, in honor of the daughter of Mohammed. Of his daughter, Fatima, the founder of Islam, Mohammed, said: "She has the highest place in heaven after the Virgin Mary."
It is a fact that Moslems from various nations, especially from the Middle East, make so many pilgrimages to Our Lady of Fatima's Shrine in Portugal that Portuguese officials have expressed concern. The combination of an Islamic name and Islamic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a great attraction to Moslems. God is writing straight with crooked lines, as we will see. Fatima is a part of Heaven's Peace Plan. It is hope for the world.
In the Koran, the holy name of the Blessed Virgin Mary is mentioned no less than thirty times. No other woman's name is even mentioned, not even that of Mohammed's daughter, Fatima. Among men, only Abraham, Moses, and Noah are mentioned more times than Our Lady. In the Koran, Our Blessed Mother is described as "Virgin, ever Virgin." The Islamic belief in the virginity of Mary puts to shame the heretical beliefs of those who call themselves Christian, while denying the perpetual virginity of Mary. Make no mistake about it, there is a very special relationship between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Moslems!
The Holy Land
The Holy Land has been a real battleground between the Islamic peoples and Christianity over the centuries. Evidence of this are the numerous churches and basilicas that have been built by the Church, destroyed by, the Moslems, rebuilt by Catholic Crusaders, leveled again by the followers of Islam, and so on over the course of history. However, there is one remarkable exception: the Basilica of Saint Anne in Jerusalem.
The Crusaders built this church and named it in honor of the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Crypt of St. Anne's Basilica, a statue of the Infant Mary is venerated on what is believed to be the exact spot where Our Lady was born. Their great reverence for Our Lady precluded the Moslems from destroying her birthplace. The foundation for Heaven's Peace Plan at Fatima, Portugal, can be found in the Land of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
As the Moslems swept through Spain in the 8th century, a great religious treasure was buried for safe-keeping in the earth, high in the Estremadura Mountains. It was a much venerated statue of Our Lady holding the Divine Child Jesus that was a gift of Pope Gregory the Great to Bishop Leander of Seville. After the overthrow of Moorish occupation, the image was uncovered in the year 1326, subsequent to a vision of Our Lady to a humble shepherd by the name of Gil. Our Lady's very special statue was enshrined in a nearby Franciscan Monastery next to the "Wolf River."
The Moslems, during their Spanish occupation, had actually named the river. The Islamic term for Wolf River is "Guadalupe" (Guada = River; Lupe = Wolf). Hence, the famous Catholic image in Spain has been known, since the 14th century, by the Islamic name of "Our Lady of Guadalupe."
In the fullness of time, we can be sure that Almighty God knew that the Islamic religion would pose a serious threat to Christianity. God also knew that the Spanish missionaries would face grave resistance in the "new world" from the mighty Aztec Indians. The Aztecs worshipped an evil stone "serpent god" that demanded human sacrifice. It was extremely difficult to win souls for Christ from these bloodthirsty savages. However, with God all things are possible. Our Lady appeared to a humble Aztec Indian convert by the name of Juan Diego in 1531. When asked her name by Juan Diego, at the request of the local bishop, Our Lady's response, in the Aztec language, included the words "te coatlaxopeuh" (pronounced: "te quatlasupe") and meant "one who crushes the head of the stone serpent."
To Juan Diego and his fellow Aztecs, this revelation had great meaning, coupled with the miraculous image of Our Lady standing on top of a "crescent," the symbol of this evil serpent god. A tidal wave of conversions to Catholicism ensued. However, Bishop Zumarraga, who was from Spain, made what was no doubt a "heavenly mistake" that one day may lead to the mass conversion of Moslems. To the Bishop's Spanish ears, Our Lady's Aztec name of "Te Quatlasupe" sounded just like the name of the revered Madonna from Spain with the Islamic name, "Guadalupe." Hence, the bishop named the Mexican Madonna "Our Lady of Guadalupe." It is interesting that the "crescent" is also the symbol for Islam and that America's Shrine to Our Lady has an Islamic name.
Battle of Lepanto
On October 7, 1571, a great victory over the mighty Turkish fleet was won by Catholic naval forces primarily from Spain, Venice, and Genoa under the command of Don Juan of Austria. It was the last battle at sea between "oared" ships, which featured the most powerful navy in the world, a Moslem force with between 12,000 to 15,000 Christian slaves as rowers. The patchwork team of Catholic ships was powered by the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct material disadvantage, the holy pontiff, St. Pope Pius V called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory. We know today that the victory was decisive, prevented the Islamic invasion of Europe, and evidenced the Hand of God working through Our Lady. At the hour of victory, St. Pope Pius V, who was hundreds of miles away at the Vatican, is said to have gotten up from a meeting, went over to a window, and exclaimed with supernatural radiance: "The Christian fleet is victorious!" and shed tears of thanksgiving to God.
What you may not know is that one of three admirals commanding the Catholic forces at Lepanto was Andrea Doria. He carried a small copy of Mexico's Our Lady of Guadalupe into battle. This image is now enshrined in the Church of San Stefano in Aveto, Italy. Not many know that at the Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Spain, one can view a huge warship lantern that was captured from the Moslems in the Battle of Lepanto. In Rome, look up to the ceiling of S. Maria in Aracoeli and behold decorations in gold taken from the Turkish galleys. In the Doges' Palace in Venice, Italy, one can witness a giant Islamic flag that is now a trophy from a vanquished Turkish ship from the Victory. At Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome, close to the tomb of the great St. Pope Pius V, one was once able to view yet another Islamic flag from the Battle, until 1965, when it was returned to Istanbul in an intended friendly token of concord.
At Lepanto, the Victory over the Moslems was won by the faithful praying the Rosary. Even though they had superior numbers, the Turks really were overmatched. Blessed Padre Pio, the Spiritual Father of the Blue Army, said: "The Rosary is the weapon," and how right he was!
The Battle of Lepanto was at first celebrated liturgically as "Our Lady of Victory." Later, the feast of October 7th was renamed "Our Lady of the Rosary" and extended throughout the Universal Church by Pope Clement XI in 1716 (who canonized Pope Pius V in 1712).
And with that we are back to Fatima, Portugal where Our Lady, when asked her name, said: "I am the Lady of the Rosary." At Fatima, Our Lady taught us to pray the Rosary every day. Heaven presented its peace plan at Fatima and truly gave us hope for the world. Conversions were promised at Fatima: the conversion of sinners; the conversion of Russia; and what also appears to be the conversion of Islam. Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
© 2001 The Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, U.S.A., Inc.
September - October 2001, page 6
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