Rege, O Maria Pilgrimage: Sing and Walk

“The Christian pilgrimage must be accompanied with song, with manifestations of joy”. This is a good summary of the pilgrimage that the sisters from the Benelux region of the Province of Northern Europe, Maria Puerta de la Aurora, made in the first week of August. The trip was inspired when we heard that the pilgrimage in France would no longer be possible, and it was to be a preparation for the renewal of our Marian vow on the 8th of September.

In the original plan, we were going to walk from the Marian basilica of Maria Sterre der Zee (Mary, Star of the Sea) in Maastricht, the Netherlands to the cathedral of Maria Consolatrix Afflictorum (Mary, Help of the Afflicted) in Luxemburg. Along the way we would pass through the sanctuary of Banneux in Belgium where Our Lady appeared, thus covering the three participating countries of mission—the Benelux region.

It seems that God spared us by not making the original plan possible because of covid restrictions—because we were not in any way ready for the 143 kilometer trip through the hills and mountains! In the end, we walked 126 kilometers over 5 days through the flat southern part of the Netherlands from Maastricht to the cathedral of Den Bosch where the Zoete Moeder (Sweet Mother) is venerated.

As preparation (spiritual—not physical!) for the pilgrimage, we watched the conference from Fr. Miguel Fuentes about the role of the pilgrimage in the foundation of Europe ( It is a part of Catholic culture to travel and to offer the difficulties of the journey in order to remind ourselves that we are pilgrims here on earth, struggling and striving forward, until we reach our heavenly home. Europe in particular has been evangelized by the culture of the great pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, Rome, the Holy Land. In August, a small part of the Netherlands was evangelized by a small group of sisters walking in the heat, with a statue of Our Lady of Lujan on a makeshift backpack, praying the Rosary…and singing!

Our earthly pilgrimage must be accompanied by song—not only because it manifests joy, but because it eases the burden, it keeps the soul elevated to the heavenly things, it separates us from the difficulty of the present sacrifice and makes it bearable and even enjoyable! We were not physically prepared for so much walking—our life has been fairly sedentary, especially in the covid time. We were not really prepared for temperatures above 30 degrees C (a normal summer day in the Netherlands is 25 degrees C). And so, what did we do?…We prayed…and sang!

We walked through the South of The Netherlands and we found numerous Marian chapels along the way…what was more surprising was to see how well kept they were. And we sang at every chapel. It was incredible to see the reaction of the many people we met who appreciated what we were doing. One woman who saw us walking on the street began to sing the song to Maria Sterre der Zee along with us. She caught up to us later to ask for prayers for her sick husband. A pig farmer not only allowed us to take a well-needed break on his property, but he gave us ice cream and coffee. A man watering his plants with a hose took pity upon our hot faces and offered to sprinkle us with water.

We walked through large cities, small towns, in wooded areas and along the highway—thirteen sisters with backpacks and walking sticks, praying the Rosary or listening to meditations about Marian devotion, and people saw us, saw Mary and thought of God. We had conversations with people who struggled with the Church, people who think that Buddhist meditation is the same as Christian, we were stopped by two reporters of local newspapers who wanted to report what had passed through their town to their residents, and we entered the homes of many generous people who let this strange group use their restrooms and fill water bottles. And we sang as we walked.

We were helped not only along the way, but also from a team of three sisters who did the logistics for us. They drove us to our starting point each day (the ending point from the day before) and picked us up at the end of the day. They brought us lunch (so that we wouldn’t have to carry more weight) and made us dinner. And on the last evening we sang with them.

On the last day, we approached the city of Den Bosch with great joy…our pilgrimage was ending, the goal was in site! We saw the cathedral when we were still relatively far away and we prayed the last set of mysteries as we drew closer. We sang the Salve Regina in the streets of a city that once chose a poor statue of Mary in place of a rich ornate one to venerate as their “Sweet Mother”. The simple statue has since been clothed with different ornate mantels, but the sweet smile on the face of Our Lady gives an indication of why she was chosen as the Mother of Den Bosch. In the cathedral, tired after the days of pilgrimage, we sang one last song to end our pilgrimage before the image of our heavenly Mother.

The five days of journey were a great grace for each one of us who participated, and we hope also for those we carried on our long list of intentions and for those whom we met along the way. A pilgrimage allows one to renounce oneself and die in many ways. It allows us to “to take a step, one more step” in the constant process of our conversion. And it allows us to sing!

Returning Love for Love

We know from the Catechism of the Catholic Church that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Son of Mary, True God and True Man. The Catechism also says, “At the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. This He did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us’”[1].  Notice how the Most Holy Eucharist is called “the Sacrament of love”! In each tabernacle throughout the world, Jesus remains a prisoner simply because He loves us. What does Jesus do in the tabernacle? He waits for us, He hopes that we will come to see Him, speak with Him, confide to Him our joys, sorrows, worries, and burdens. He desires to be our Best Friend with whom we share everything! In the gospel of St. Mathew, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you souls”. (Matt 11:28-29) His Heart is overflowing with grace and mercy for each of us. He is there in the tabernacle, waiting eagerly to pour them out upon the souls that come to Him.

However, very often Jesus is left alone. He is treated as a dead object or only as a symbol. He comes to our hearts in Holy Communion, wanting to fill them with gifts and graces, but we often don’t even think of Him at the moment of receiving Him, very little does anyone tell Him that they love Him and really mean it, and many don’t even take care to purify their souls from sin in the sacrament of confession in preparation for His coming. And what hurts Him the most, is that many people are afraid of Him, afraid to approach Him, afraid of showing Him their sins and weaknesses, afraid of what He’ll ask for or “take away from them”.

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska was a polish nun who lived in the 20th century and whom Jesus named secretary of His mercy and to whom He entrusted the message of Divine Mercy for the whole world. To her Jesus complained sorrowfully, “The flames of mercy are burning Me-clamoring to be spent; I want to keep pouring them out upon souls; souls just don’t want to believe in My goodness”[2]. And again, “The flames of mercy are burning Me. I desire to pour them out upon human souls. Oh, what pain they cause Me when they do not want to accept them! My daughter…tell aching mankind to snuggle close to My merciful Heart, and I will fill it with peace. Tell [all people] …that I am Love and Mercy itself. When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself but radiates them to other souls”[3].

The Eucharist is first and foremost the Sacrament of Love-Divine Love! All the Love of God who became Incarnate, was crucified, and died for us is contained in the Eucharist! He offers us this love continually. But He is treated so coldly and with much carelessness in the Most Holy Sacrament. Can it be that Love Itself is not loved?!

How can we grow in love for our dear Jesus in the Eucharist? Here are some suggestions: firstly, we should receive Him as often as possible, while being first in the state of grace and preparing our hearts to receive Him by the sacrament of confession. Jesus longs to come into our souls. We should not be afraid to receive Him. Secondly, we should visit Him in the tabernacle as often as we can, even if it’s just for a few minutes to tell Him that we love Him and to thank Him for remaining there for us. Thirdly, we should treat others with charity and kindness, because the Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love and the fount of charity, and this love cannot remain unfruitful but rather must pour itself out upon others through us.

Perhaps some do not know how to make a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament or are not sure what they should say. We can tell Him anything and everything! We can thank Him for the blessings He continually gives us, share with Him what happens to us or to those whom we love, confide the secrets of our hearts to Him, and ask Him for our needs and those of others. But sometimes words aren’t necessary when we are before Christ in the Eucharist. There is a story told about St. John Vianney, an 19th century French priest who spent most of his priestly ministry in a small village named Ars. One day, St. John Vianney entered the church only to find an older man simply sitting in the pew looking at the tabernacle. He didn’t have any prayer book nor did it seem that he was saying any sort of prayer with his lips. This happened for the next few days until St. John Vianney became very curious as to what this man was doing in the church. One day he asked him, “What do you do when you come to the church and sit here in the pew?” The man answered, “I look at Jesus, and He looks at me.” What a wonderful example of prayer! This man, who perhaps did not even know how to read or write was practicing a very high form of prayer by simply “looking at Him” and letting himself be looked at by Christ, and in this way the great love of God for this man and this man’s love for God were communicated, heart to heart. Sometimes words are not necessary to pray. We can simply gaze at the Sacramental Jesus and let Him gaze at us. When we love someone, sometimes that is all that is needed to express a deep and understanding love. When we are silent before the tabernacle, we will be more able to listen and hear His voice, not with our ears, but with our hearts. It is good to speak with Jesus, but we also need to listen when He speaks to us.

May Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, help us to return the great love we receive from our Jesus in the tabernacle, who waits for us with His Pierced Heart open wide for us, ready to embrace us at the very moment we come to Him with trust. May she, who was the very first tabernacle in history teach us to love Jesus as she did.

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1323

[2] Kowalska, F. (2011). Diary of St. Faustina. Stockbridge: Marian Press. (1987), 177

[3] Op.cit., 1074

Christian Joy

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Phil 4:4) is the exhortation of Saint Paul for the Christians of Philippi to remind them that their “commonwealth is in heaven” (3:20) and that they must lead a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27), “in humility” not looking only to their own interests, but also to the interest of others. (cf. 2:3-4). The Apostle writes about joy while he is in chains, and those who will receive his letter have adversaries, are suffering and fighting the same battle as Paul (Cf. 1:28-30) and need watch out for the Judaizers (Cf. 3:2-3).

For Christians, joy is not the result of a easy life without difficulties or a change of circumstances or mood, but a profound and constant attitude that is born of faith in Christ: “We know and believe the love God has for us.” (1 John 4:16). The goal of the Christian message transmitted to us is communion with God so that “our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:4).

God desires that all men are happy, He created us for eternal life, starting on earth through grace and reaching its consummation in heaven where man is united with God forever: “Although man can forget God or reject Him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and joy”[1]. That’s why the message of the Gospel is an invitation to all men to enter in this joy that is communion with Christ: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew”[2]. Indeed, the Gospels describe many encounters with Christ, source of our happiness: John the Baptist leaped from joy in Saint Elizabeth’s womb when he felt the presence of the Incarnated Word (Cf. Luke 1:41); the shepherds received the announcement of “good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord”(Luke 2:10-11); When the Wise Men saw the star that lead to the King of Jews “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matt 2:10); the joy of the paralytic, blind, leprous and all others that were cured by Jesus; the joy of the widow of Nain to see her son resurrected.(Cf. Luke 7:15-16); the joy of Zacchaeus overflows into a banquet and a deep conversion (Cf. Luke 19:6-8); the joy of the Good Thief, in the middle of his physical sufferings in the cross, knowing that he would be with Jesus in His Kingdom on the same day (Cf. Luke 23:42-43); and finally the joy of Mary Magdalene, the disciples of Emmaus and the Apostles when they saw Christ Resurrected. The only encounter of the rich young man with Jesus does not end with joy, because he did not use his freedom to follow the Master: “but when he heard this he became sad, for he was very rich”. (Luke 18:23).


Nature of Joy

Joy is a passion produced by an encounter with something that we love, a feeling or sensation of pleasure that is not only sensible but is accompanied by rationality. Saint Thomas Aquinas explains in his treatment of the passions in the Summa Theologica: “For we take delight both in those things which we desire naturally, when we get them, and in those things which we desire as a result of reason. But we do not speak of joy except when delight follows reason; and so we do not ascribe joy to irrational animals, but only delight”[3]. When asked if joy was a virtue, Saint Thomas answers that joy doesn’t appear in theological, moral or intellectual virtues, “hence joy is not a virtue distinct from charity, but an act, or effect, of charity: for which reason it is numbered among the Fruits… (Gal 5:22)”[4]. Indeed, Christian joy is a consequence of possessing God by Faith and Charity, the fruit of living all the virtues.



Joy is one of the fruits of the action of the Holy Spirit in the soul, that consists substantially in identifying ourselves with Christ and calling God Abba, Father: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” (Rom 8:14). “Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence.”[5]

This Christian joy is born from knowing that we are children of God. Saint Josemaría Escrivá used the expression “a joyful affirmation” to underline the deep happiness that comes with discovering yourself as a child of God: “Cheerfulness is a necessary consequence of our divine filiation, of knowing that our Father God loves us with a love of predilection, that he welcomes us, helps us and forgive us” (The Forge, n. 332). Also, joy feeds on the fulfilment of God’s Will: “Accepting the will of God wholeheartedly is a sure way of finding joy and peace” (The Way, n. 758). God’s Will can be in some moments very painful and enigmatic, but those who live by Faith intuit that it is always the best, because “we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). This is what Saint Thomas More experienced when he wrote to his daughter Margaret from his prison in the Tower of London: “therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.”[6] Saint Josemaría Escrivá said: “For I verily trust in the goodness of God, seem it never so evil to this world, it shall indeed in another even though he may send me suffering. He loves me tenderly, even while wounding me. (…) And I, who also wish to fulfil the most Holy Will of God, following in the footsteps of the Master, can I complain if I too meet sufferings as my travelling companion? It will be a sure sign of my sonship, because God is treating me as he treated his own Divine Son”. (The Way of the Cross, First Station n. 1).

Joy is, thus, compatible with painful circumstances, difficulties and adversities. Since Sainthood consists in an identification with Christ, the Cross is inevitable in Christian life. Even more, Saint Josemaría says that “Joy (…) has its roots in the shape of the Cross”. (The Forge, n. 28).



One early Christian writer says that “for every cheerful man worketh good, and thinketh good, and despiseth sadness; but the sad man is always committing sin”.[7] Since joy is the effect of charity, the hearts of those who seek closeness with God and respond to the call of holiness will consequently overflow with peace and joy: “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). “Christians are ordinary people, but their hearts overflow with the joy that comes when we set out to fulfil, with the constant help of grace, the Will of the Father.” (Friends of God, n. 93).

Always happy to make others happy”.


Translated from:


[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 30

[2] Pope Francis, Evangelii gaudium, n. 1

[3] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 31, a. 3.

[4] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 28, a. 4.

[5] Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 30


[7] El Pastor de Hermas, Mand X, 3, 2-3 (ed. J.J. Ayán Calvo, Madrid 1995, p. 161).


Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit

In 2020, the Solemnity of Pentecost lands on May 31st, the day we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation. This draws our attention to the interesting parallel of these two celebrations.

After all, we call Mary the Spouse of the Holy Spirit[1]. Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit already at the Incarnation[2] and she followed His promptings to bring Christ to others just as quickly[3] as Peter would do on Pentecost[4]. Just as Mary’s greeting cleansed John in his mother’s womb and brought the Holy Spirit on Elizabeth herself[5], Peter’s words brought many to desire baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit[6].

The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. As God, He has been acting to fulfil His designs since the beginning of time. We can find references to the Holy Spirit starting from the first pages of scripture: in creation[7], speaking through the prophets[8], revealing Christ to the world[9], and leading the early Church[10]. At this time in history, the Holy Spirit’s mission is to guide and sanctify us to build up the Kingdom[11].

The disciples had to learn from Jesus about the Holy Spirit and the role He would play in their lives. At the Last Supper He told them, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.[12]

So, Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will always be here for us who obey His commandments. The first proof of this is in His Mother. Mary, in her purity, always listened to the Holy Spirit and followed His inspirations without hesitation. Therefore, we must take her as our example for being attentive to the Holy Spirit’s inspirations, for discerning the spirits and for readiness in carrying out what we have heard.

First, in order to be attentive to the motions of the Holy Spirit like Mary, we must be pure. This means we have to get rid of everything in our lives that keep us away from God. It will be impossible for us to hear Him speak to us if we are distracted with many other things[13] because He speaks in peace and quiet[14].

Second, we must discern the spirits, in other words be able to tell when we hear the Holy Spirit as opposed to our human thoughts or even the motions of the evil spirit. To do this we must be prudent just like Mary was. After all, she “considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be[15]” because God’s Spirit always leads us to greater things, better than comfort or self-glorification.

Third, we must be ready to do whatever it is He tells us to do[16]! Even though the Spirit might pry us out of our comfort zone sometimes, the fruits of living in docility to the Holy Spirit is well worth the effort. Not only that, the Holy Spirit Himself will be our helper by giving us His gifts[17].

So, let us ask this wonderful Mother of ours, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to help us every day to imitate her relationship with the Holy Spirit and live the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control[18].

In Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

Sr. Mary of the Holy Family

[1] Cf. Litany to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

[2] Cf. Luke 1:35

[3] Cf. Luke 1:39

[4] Cf. Acts 2:4, 14ff

[5] Cf. Luke 1:41

[6] Cf. Acts 2:37-38

[7] Cf. Genesis 1:2

[8] Ex: Cf. Nehemiah 9:29-31

[9] Ex: Cf. Matthew 3:16-17

[10] Ex: Cf. Acts 16:6

[11] Cf. 1 Corinthians 12

[12] John 14:15-17

[13] Cf. Luke 10:41

[14] CF. 1 Kings 19:11-13

[15] Luke 1:29

[16] Cf. John 2:5

[17] The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord.

[18] Cf. Galatians 5:22

Only charity will save the world

“Only charity will save the world.[1]

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the canonization of St. Luigi Orione, also known as Don Orione. St. Luigi was an Italian priest who lived during the first half of the 20th century. He was a disciple of St. John Bosco, who dedicated himself to works of charity. He began what is known as the “little Cottolengo’s,” which are homes for the abandoned, disabled and all those who suffer. St. John Paul II spoke of him at his canonization as “a man who gave himself entirely for the cause of Christ and his Kingdom. Physical and moral sufferings, fatigue, difficulty, misunderstandings and all kinds of obstacles characterized his apostolic ministry.[2]” The heart of his charity was “without limits because it was opened wide by the charity of Christ.[3]” St. Luigi would often say amidst his work with the poor “perfect joy can only be found in perfect dedication of oneself to God and man, and to all mankind.[4]” “You must not ask a person where he is from, whether he has a faith or a name but if he feels a pain![5]

Jesus teaches us in the Gospel of Matthew “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). This gospel message resounds in the life and works of Don Orione as it has in so many of the lives of the Saints. It challenges us to seek Christ in all we meet. Mother Teresa said “I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself; this is hungry Jesus; I must feed Him. This is sick Jesus. I must wash Him and tend to Him. I serve because I love Jesus.”

This brings us to mediate upon the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The seven-spiritual works of mercy are: to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to admonish sinners, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive offences, to comfort the afflicted, and to pray for the living and the dead. While the seven-corporal works of mercy are: to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to visit the sick, to give alms to the poor, and to bury the dead.[6] Pope Francis said during a general audience, “These works of mercy are the features of the face of Jesus Christ, who takes care of his littlest brethren in order to bring the tenderness and closeness of God to each of them. May the Holy Spirit help us; may the Holy Spirit kindle within us the desire to live this way of life: at least once a day, at least! Let us again learn the corporal and spiritual works of mercy by heart, and ask the Lord to help us put them into practice every day, and in those moments where we see Jesus in a person who is in need.[7]

As we’ve just read, the Holy Father encourages us to do one work of mercy a day. At first glance, that may seem very difficult or overwhelming but “for God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26). We do not have to seek very far to “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).  We can all begin by practicing mercy with those closest to us, by small simple gestures remembering the words of St. Therese of the child Jesus “nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.” We can also apply Mother Teresa’s words “We cannot do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Finally, I would like to share with you the words that Jesus spoke to St. Faustina when he revealed to her His Divine Mercy and gave her some instructions about His Mercy. He said “I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbour: the first by deed, the second by word, the third by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy. If a soul does not exercise mercy somehow or other, it will not obtain My mercy on the day of judgment. Oh, if only souls knew how to gather eternal treasure for themselves, they would not be judged, for they would forestall My judgment with their mercy[8]

As we are edified by the works of mercy undertaken by St. Luigi Orione, let ask Our Lady the grace to “do good always, to all, evil to none[9]”. May we “Seek the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.[10]

M. Mary Our Lady of Ostrabrama, SSVM.

[1] St. Luigi Orione, Writings, 62,13.

[2] John Paul II, Homily canonization of St. Luigi Orione.  16 May 2004

[3] St. Luigi Orione, Writings, 102,32.

[4] Ibid. 62,13.

[5] St. Luigi Orione

[6] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2447.

[7] Pope Francis, General Audience, 12 October 2016.

[8] St. Faustina’s Diary of Divine Mercy, 1317.

[9] St. Luigi Orione’s motto

[10] Mother Teresa



in the light of Saint John Paul II

On this day when the Church celebrates Saint Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, we want to refer to a central aspect of her spirituality and doctrine, the total consecration to Mary in maternal slavery of love as taught by the saint in his work Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin nº 55:

«God in these times wishes his Blessed Mother to be more known, loved and honoured than

she has ever been. This will certainly come about if the elect, by the grace and light of the Holy Spirit, adopt the interior and perfect practice of the devotion which I shall later unfold. Then they will clearly see that beautiful Star of the Sea, as much as faith allows. Under her guidance they will perceive the splendours of this Queen and will consecrate themselves entirely to her service as subjects and slaves of love».


Therefore, with the grace and light of the Holy Spirit, we must strive to enter and penetrate the interior and perfect practice of this devotion to Mary. To deepen the importance of the colossal and prophetic work of Saint Louis Marie, I would like to follow the teachings and example of Saint John Paul the Great, father of our Religious Family, because we are on the centennial of his birth and because in his life and pontificate we find a perfect synthesis of this ideal and a clear and finished example of a “Marianized” life, totally centered on Mary. His pontificate, in fact, was framed, among other things, by great Marian milestones: highlighted by his motto and shield with the words Totus tuus Maria, by the event that miraculously saved the life of the Pontiff from the death attack on the 13th of May 1981, memory of Our Lady of Fatima, as well as for the jubilee of the two thousand years of the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of Mary.

The testimony of St. John Paul II on St. Louis of Montfort

For me, St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort is a significant person of reference who has enlightened me at important moments in life. When I was working as a clandestine seminarian at the Solvay factory in Kraków, my spiritual director advised me to meditate on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Many times and with great spiritual profit I read and reread this precious little ascetical book with the blue, soda-stained cover. By relating the Mother of Christ to the Trinitarian mystery, Montfort helped me to understand that the Virgin belongs to the plan of salvation, by the Father’s will, as the Mother of the incarnate Word, who was conceived by her through the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary’s every intervention in the work of the regeneration of the faithful is not in competition with Christ, but derives from him and is at his service. Mary’s action in the plan of salvation is always Christocentric, that is, it is directly related to a mediation that takes place in Christ. I then realized that I could not exclude the Mother of the Lord from my life without disregarding the will of God-the-Trinity, who wanted to “begin and complete” the great mysteries of salvation history with the responsible and faithful collaboration of the humble Handmaid of Nazareth[1].

Mary, a unique gift from God

St. John Paul II says: «Throughout its history, the People of God has experienced this gift of the crucified Jesus: the gift of his Mother. Mary Most Holy is truly our Mother who accompanies us on our pilgrimage of faith, hope and charity towards an ever more intense union with Christ, the one Saviour and Mediator of salvation (cf. Constitution Lumen Gentium, nn. 60, 62). As is well known, my episcopal coat of arms symbolically illustrates the Gospel text quoted above; the motto Totus tuus is inspired by the teaching of St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort (cf. Gift and Mystery, pp. 42-43; Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 15). These two words express total belonging to Jesus through Mary: “Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt”, St Louis Marie wrote, and he translates his words: “I am all yours, and all that I have is yours, O most loving Jesus, through Mary, your most holy Mother” (Treatise on True Devotion, n. 233). This Saint’s teaching has had a profound influence on the Marian devotion of many of the faithful and on my own life. It is a lived teaching of outstanding ascetic and mystical depth, expressed in a lively and passionate style that makes frequent use of images and symbols. However, the considerable development of Marian theology since St Louis Marie’s time is largely due to the crucial contribution made by the Second Vatican Council. The Montfort teaching, therefore, which has retained its essential validity should be reread and reinterpreted today in the light of the Council»[2].

The slavery of Jesus and Mary, basis of our Marian slavery

St. John Paul II teaches that with his incarnation the Word of God became a slave, since he assumed the form of a slave by becoming a man to save us. Upon receiving the announcement that the Word was to become incarnate in her womb, his Mother, Mary Most Holy, in turn became slave to God and to this divine plan of redemption. It is this design of God’s mercy and this free association and cooperation to the mystery of redemption, which gives Mary an exclusive place in the redemption of the human race as Coredemptrix. She is the first to assume the way of life that the Son of God chose to save us, because just as He became obedient to the plan of salvation until death on the Cross, so she, in turn, becomes a slave of God and cooperates with the whole of her being to the plan of redemption. Therefore, we too, for our part, want to cooperate with God’s plan for the salvation of men, especially those of our time, with our total dedication or slavery to Jesus Christ, through Mary. In this way, we put our ideal in responding with total love to the immense love of the Son of God and of his Mother in the work of the incarnation and redemption. At the foot of the Cross, we were made children of Mary, and there our destiny was associated with the mystery of Redemption at Calvary, our total incorporation into Christ through Mary. (Cf. S. John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, 5).


Mary and the Mystery of the Trinity [3]

«Trinitarian spirituality in communion with Mary:  an aspect which is characteristic of Montfort’s teaching. He does not, in fact, offer a theology without influence on practical life, nor a Christianity “by proxy” without the personal acceptance of the commitments stemming from Baptism. On the contrary, he invites us to an intensely lived spirituality; he encourages us to make a free and conscious gift of ourselves to Christ and, through him, to the Holy Spirit and to the Father. In this light, we understand how reference to Mary makes the renewal of our baptismal promises perfect, since Mary is indeed the creature “most conformed to Jesus Christ” (True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, n. 120).

Yes, the whole Christocentric and Marian spirituality taught by Montfort flows from the Trinity and leads back to it. In this connection, we are struck by his insistence on the action of the three divine Persons in Mary’s regard. God the Father “gave his Only-begotten Son to the world only through Mary” and “wishes to have children through Mary until the end of the world” (ibid., nn. 16, 29). God the Son “became man for our salvation but only in Mary and through Mary” and “wishes to form himself and, so to speak, incarnate himself every day in his members through his dear Mother” (ibid., nn. 16, 31). God the Holy Spirit “has communicated his unspeakable gifts to Mary, his faithful Spouse” and “wishes to form elect for himself in her and through her” (ibid., nn. 25, 34). […]

By repeating “Totus tuus” to her every day and living in harmony with her, we can attain an experience of the Father in confidence and boundless love (cf. ibid., nn. 169, 215), docility to the Spirit (cf. ibid., n. 258) and transformation of self into the likeness of Christ (cf. ibid., nn. 218-221)».

Mary and the Mystery of the Incarnation “Ad Iesum per Mariam”[4]

St Louis Marie contemplates all the mysteries, starting from the Incarnation which was brought about at the moment of the Annunciation. Thus, in the Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Mary appears as “the true terrestrial paradise of the New Adam”, the “virginal and immaculate earth” of which he was formed (n. 261). (…)”All our perfection”, St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort writes, “consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ; and therefore, the most perfect of all devotions is, without any doubt, that which most perfectly conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ. Now, Mary being the most conformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ, it follows that, of all devotions, that which most consecrates and conforms the soul to Our Lord is devotion to his holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus” (Treatise on True Devotion, n. 120).

Holiness and theological life: Slavery of love[5]

In Montfort spirituality, the dynamism of charity is expressed in particular by the symbol of the slavery of love to Jesus, after the example and with the motherly help of Mary. It is a matter of full communion in the kenosis of Christ, communion lived with Mary, intimately present in the mysteries of the life of her Son. “There is nothing among Christians which makes us more absolutely belong to Jesus Christ and his holy Mother than the slavery of the will, according to the example of Jesus Christ himself, who took on the status of a servant for love of us” – formam servi accipiens – “and also according to the example of the holy Virgin who called herself the servant and handmaid of the Lord (Lk 1: 38). The Apostle refers to himself as “the slave of Christ’ (servus Christi) as though the title were an honour. Christians are often so called in the Holy Scriptures” (cf. Treatise on True Devotion, n. 72). […]The slavery of love should therefore be interpreted in light of the wonderful exchange between God and humanity in the mystery of the incarnate Word. It is a true exchange of love between God and his creature in the reciprocity of total self-giving.


In the writings of St Louis Marie we find the same accent on the faith lived by the Mother of Jesus in her journey from the Incarnation to the Cross, a faith in which Mary is the model and type of the Church. St Louis Marie expresses this with a range of nuances, when in his letter he expounds on the “marvellous effects” of perfect Marian devotion: “The more, then, that you gain the favour of that august Princess and faithful Virgin, the more will you act by pure faith; a pure faith which will put you above all sensible consolations and extraordinary favours; a lively faith animated by charity, which will enable you to perform all your actions from the motive of pure love; a faith firm and immovable as a rock, through which you will rest quiet and constant in the midst of storms and hurricanes; a faith active and piercing, which like a mysterious skeleton key, will give you entrance into all the mysteries of Jesus, the ultimate goal of man, and into the heart of God himself” (cf. Treatise on True Devotion, n. 214).

The Holy Spirit invites Mary to reproduce her own virtues in the elect, extending in them the roots of her “invincible faith” and “firm hope” (cf. Treatise on True Devotion, n. 34). In the antiphon Salve Regina, the Church calls the Mother of God “our Hope”. The same term is used by St Louis Marie who took it from a text of St John Damascene, who applies to Mary the biblical symbol of the anchor (cf. Hom I in Dorm. B.V.M., 14: PG 96, 719): “”We fasten our souls'”, he says, “”to your hope, as to an abiding anchor’. It is to her that the saints who have saved themselves have been the most attached and have done their best to attach others, in order to persevere in virtue. Happy, then, a thousand times happy, are the Christians who are now fastened faithfully and entirely to her, as to a firm anchor!” (Treatise on True Devotion, n. 175). Through the devotion to Mary, Jesus himself “enlarges the heart with firm confidence in God, making it look upon him as a Father” (ibid., n. 169).


Let us ask through the intercession of Saint Louis Maria Grignon de Montfort and Saint John Paul II, the grace to grow in our love and service to the Blessed Virgin so that by this easier, shorter and safer path, we come to contemplate Jesus, the blessed fruit of Mary.


Sister Maria de Montserrat


[2] Letter of John Paul II to the Montfort Religious Family, Vatican December 8, 2003;

[3] St. Johan Paul II, Address to the participants in the 8th mariological colloquium, n.1 (13/10/2000)

[4] Letter of John Paul II to the Montfort Religious Family, 8/12/2003, nn.2, 4.

[5] Letter of John Paul II to the Montfort Religious Family, 8/12/2003, nn.6-8.

We’ve Founded In Belgium!

Dear Religious Family;
We want to share with you the exciting news of the foundation of the first SSVM community in Belgium, which officially took place in the context of the solemn Mass celebrated on February 10. Although this is the first foundation of our Institute in this country, it’s not the first foundation of the Religious Family.  For more than 10 years, our Third Order members have been present here.  Founding in Belgium is not like founding in a distant and unknown land, but in place where our Family is already present.  For years, the members of our Third Order have prayed and offered sacrifices so that the sisters might found here.

On February 7–first Friday of the month, dedicated to the Sacred Heart– we, M. Porta Coeli (Provincial Superior) and Sisters Mãe de Deus, Am Kreuz, Fleur du Carmel, and Reina del Paraíso, left Holland heading towards Velzeke, a small town south of Gent, a well-known Belgian city.  Awaiting us there was the rector of the convent of the “Grauwzusters Penitenten” (the name literally means Gray Penitent Sisters), an order founded in the 14th century which lived according to the Third Order of Saint Francis. The present convent dates back to the same year of foundation of the Grauwzusters and has maintained its status as a home to religious, which has housed many who have consecrated their lives to penance, prayer, and care for the sick.  Later, the Grauwzuster would found a hospital which continues to function today as a psychiatric hospital.


A Foundation of the Whole Province

Saturday, February 8, we spent “investigating” our new home, where it’s quite easy to get lost due to the number of rooms and hallways. Little by little, we began the preparations for the Holy Mass and celebration of the foundation that would take place on Monday, February 10, the feast of Saint Scholastica.

On Sunday, February 9, in spite of a big storm that hit several countries in Northern Europe (BENELUX: Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg), the sisters of our province on mission in Holland and in Luxembourg traveled with great sacrifice to Velzeke to help with the organization of the feast and the foundation, so important for our Province and for the entire Religious Family. We’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of the sisters of the Province “Nuestra Señora Puerta de la Aurora,” who have all truly collaborated in this foundation, be it by their prayers, by the practical organization of the feast (choir for the Holy Mass, decorations, cooking, serving, fogón, etc.), or by assisting with the daily needs of the sisters in the newfound community. Also present for the foundation were the members of the Third Order in Belgium and the IVE Priests on mission in Holland.

After the Holy Mass, the particular intention for which the contemplatives will pray was announced: that the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary might reign in society by means of the apostolate and the sanctification of the laity, especially for the members of our Third Order.  The patroness of the contemplative community is St. Lutgard (1182-1246), a Belgian Cistercian nun, known for being one of the first mystics to have exchanged hearts with Our Lord. The patron of the apostolic community is the great missionary of the Sacred Hearts Father Damien of Molokai (1840 – 1889), who is also Belgian.
May Saint Lutgard and Father Damien of Molokai intercede for this foundation so that this new presence of the Servidoras in Belgium may be a channel through which God pours forth an abundance of graces upon souls.

Please keep us in your prayers! ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
¡Viva La Mission!

In the Sacred Hearts
The Servidoras in Velzeke, Belgium


Saint Joseph is called the “foster father of Jesus” on earth. He was chosen by God. He was not, as many children say, “the biological father” of Jesus. No. Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary’s womb; this is one of the twelve articles of the Creed. We can also take Saint Joseph as our father. This holy patriarch protects and guides us on our earthly way just as he cared for Jesus, just as he guided him and saved him from the danger of death, so does he also want to protect us. If you pray to Saint Joseph, he helps you to know Jesus better. Saint Joseph teaches us by how he was: a simple man, father of a family, a worker who earned a living with his own hands. He was not a rich man: he was a worker like so many millions in the world. Sacred Scripture tells us that Saint Joseph was an artisan. Many Church Fathers added that he was a carpenter. The Gospel shows us the great and strong personality of Saint Joseph. He was not someone who was frightened easily; on the contrary, he knew how to face problems. He knew how to get out of difficult situations. He traveled to Bethlehem with Mary, who was in the ninth month of pregnancy; a journey of more than 150 km through mountainous terrain. There was no place for them in the inn so Jesus had to be born in a smelly manger. Shortly afterwards, warned by an angel that Herod was looking for Jesus to kill him, the Holy Family had to flee through the desert to Egypt. Saint Joseph protected the Holy Family. Joseph was a man of faith and was obedient to God. You know that Saint Joseph was not afraid to take Mary as his wife. Do we not need this powerful Saint Joseph in times that we live today? Well, I know I do. He is the patron and protector of the Church. Why? You could say that he has been the protector of the Church since the early stage when the ‘Church’ was simply Jesus and Mary. Therefore, since Jesus is the Head of the Church and we are its proud members then Saint Joseph is our protector. Furthermore, he is the protector of all those who consecrate themselves to God in chastity for the sake of Kingdom of Heaven, such as priests and us religious sisters. Saint Joseph is a model and defender of virginal integrity. He is also the patron Saint of workers and artisans and this humble carpenter from Nazareth is considered the patron Saint of the dying, because in his last hour on earth he was accompanied by Jesus and Mary. In the month of March, we pray in a special way to Saint Joseph. In fact, we began praying thirty days before his feast (March 19) and we ask him to support us in all our spiritual and material needs. Thank you, Saint Joseph!

Zuster Sterre

Lent Begins

Every year God gives us the opportunity to recall the great mysteries of our redemption by reliving them in the liturgical celebrations of the Church. Within the cycle of a year… “[the Church] unfolds the whole mystery of Christ,” and by “recalling thus the mysteries of redemption, the Church opens to the faithful the riches of her Lord’s powers and merits, so that these are in some way made present for all time, and the faithful are enabled to lay hold upon them and become filled with saving grace.”[1]

With a special emphasis, the Church prepares the faithful for the joy of the Resurrection at Easter by inviting us to share in the suffering of the Passion during Lent. “The season of Lent has a twofold character: primarily by recalling or preparing for baptism and by penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the word of God and devote themselves to prayer, to celebrate the paschal mystery.”[2] Christ calls to the conversion of heart that allows us to live more deeply our baptismal promises. As the Gospel of Mark so concisely tells us, He calls to “repent, and believe in the gospel.”[3]

The Catechism teaches us that “Christ’s call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, ‘clasping sinners to her bosom, (is) at once holy and always in need of purification, (and) follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.’”[4] “Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, ‘sackcloth and ashes,’ fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.”[5] Therefore it is fitting during this liturgical season to practice the exterior forms of penance that should symbolize and aid the process of interior conversion in order to prepare ourselves for Easter. We are invited to enter more deeply into the central mysteries of our faith through concrete practices of fasting, prayer and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to the other.[6]

“The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice.”[7] During these liturgical periods, we have the opportunity by God’s grace to grow in the “virtue of penance which leads to the detestation of sin as an offence against God.”[8] In the times in which we live, we can ask this grace for ourselves and for all who live far from God’s loving Mercy and are ignorant of the reality of sin and the need for conversion. By living the exterior penances well, we hope to prepare ourselves for the grace of a deeper interior repentance which “is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed.”[9]

“The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart. Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to Him…God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from Him. the human heart is converted by looking upon Him whom our sins have pierced.”[10]

Especially in this season dedicated to looking at the One pierced by our sins, the Church invites us to respond in a corresponding way. “Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defence of justice and right, by the admission of faults to one’s brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness.”[11] Some of the particularly appropriate activities of the season of Lent are spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works). As already mentioned, these actions should be a result of the interior repentance that leads us to detest sins as an offense against the Most Holy One and express this conversion through concrete actions— “a desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of His grace.”[12]

An incredibly efficacious means of aiding this interior conversion and purification is recourse to the sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance. The Code of Canon Law states that “in the sacrament of penance the faithful who confess their sins to a legitimate minister, are sorry for them, and intend to reform themselves obtain from God through the absolution imparted by the same minister forgiveness for the sins they have committed after baptism and, at the same, time are reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by sinning.”[13] This forgiveness and reconciliation is especially necessary for mortal (or grave) sins, which the Church in her Motherly wisdom and care tells us we need to confess at least once a year, to be purified, freed and reconciled to the Divine Spouse. However, it is of great benefit to the soul to confess venial sins, and regularly, in order to purify and sanctify us through the increase of sanctifying grace in our souls, to obtain greater peace, consolation and lights to understand ourselves and the ways of God, and to strengthen the soul in the spiritual combat.

For forty days, the Church invites us to turn more intensely to these penitential practices. Forty is a number rich in symbolism, recalling the forty years of the Israelites in the desert who because of the hardness of their hearts could not enter the Promised Land and of Christ’s example of fasting before the beginning of His public ministry. All that is good, beautiful and true calls for sacrifice, and what greater good is there than the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who has promised us a cross in following Him,[14] will not spar the reward if we are faithful in carrying our cross. That is what Easter teaches us. The better we live this experience of penance and self-denial during Lent, the more deeply we will come to understand the joy of the Resurrection at Easter. And this experience will help us long ever more for the everlasting joy of heaven. May our heavenly Mother, our Lady of Sorrows, grant us through her intercession the grace of a fruitful Lenten season.

[1] Constitution from the Vatican Council II about the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), 102.

[2] SC, 109.

[3] Cf. Mk 1:15.

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 1428.

[5] CCC, 1430.

[6] Cf. CCC, 1434.

[7] CCC, 1438.

[8] SC, 109.

[9] CCC, 1431.

[10] CCC, 1432.

[11] CCC, 1435.

[12] CCC, 1431.

[13] CIC, 959.

[14] Cf. Mt 16:24; Mk 8:34; Lk 9:23.

“You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church”

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:13-19)

On this day the Church invites us to celebrate the Cathedra of St. Peter, to meditate on his primacy over the other apostles and to renew, in this way, our filial love for the white figure of the Pope.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Mt 16:16). On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his Church (Mt 16:18; St. Leo the Great, Sermo 4 3: PL 54,150 – 152; 51,1: PL 54, 309B; 62, 2: PL 54, 350-351; 83, 3: PL 54, 431-432).”[1]

“Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;(Mk 3:16; 9:2; Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5.) Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it”(Mt 16:18). Christ, the “living Stone”, (1 Pt 2:4) thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakeable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it (Cf. Lk 22:32).”[2]

“The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock (Cf. Mt 16:18-19; Jn 21:15-17). “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head” (LG 22 #2). This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.”[3]

In the face of this reality, how much love and solicitude in prayer do we owe to the Holy Father!

How many examples have been given to us by the Saints, of sacrifices and prayer for the Vicar of Christ!

They teach us by their words and by the example of their lives the invincible love for the Pope.

Of Saint Jacinta Marto, Sister Lucia recounts: “Love for the Holy Father took such root in Jacinta that whenever she offered a sacrifice to Jesus, she added: ‘And for the Holy Father’. At the end of the Rosary, she always prayed three Hail Marys for the Holy Father.”[4]

From St. John Bosco, we learn of the three white loves: Our Lady, the Eucharist and the Pope.

Padre Pio loved the Pope as Christ on earth, and offered his life for him daily. He would say: “My first thought each day in morning prayer is for the Pope.”

Finally, we would like to bring up the illustrious example of St. Catherine of Siena, whose life was distinguished by a fervent love for the Vicar of Christ and in whose honour we, the SSVM, dedicate this year.

In her various writings one can see her vision of faith with regard to the Holy Father. She firmly believes that the Pope is “the Sweet Christ on earth” and that he holds “the keys to the Blood of Christ”.

Christ Himself revealed it to her in the following way: “Keep in mind, dearest daughter, that in manifesting to you the excellence of His virtue, I will show you more fully the dignity in which I have placed my ministers. It is the key of the blood of my only-begotten Son that opened eternal life, which for a long time was closed by the sin of Adam. But after I gave you my Truth, that is, the Word of my only-begotten Son, who suffered death and a passion, by his death he destroyed your death, bathing you in his blood. So his blood and his death, by virtue of his divine nature united with the human, opened up eternal life. To whom did he leave the keys of this blood? To the glorious apostle St. Peter and to the others who have come and will come after him until the last day of judgment. They have and will have the same authority as Peter. By no fault of theirs is that authority diminished, nor is perfection withheld from the blood or from any sacrament…”[5]

And so she firmly declares: “Whoever disobeys the Christ on earth, who acts on behalf of Christ in heaven, will have no part in the fruit of the blood of the Son of God.”[6]

Therefore, the demand for holiness and devotion that Christ asks for the Pope is very great. This is why St. Catherine, in love, is moved to pray, suffer and sacrifice for the Vicar of Christ and the Church.

This is what the saint prayed: “Open the eyes of your Vicar on earth so that he may not love You for himself, nor himself for himself, but may love You for You and himself for You: for when he loves You for himself, we all suffer, since in him are our life and our death, and he has the charge of gathering us, the sheep that are perishing. If he loves himself for You and loves You for You, we live, because from the Good Shepherd we receive an example of life”.[7]

May the example of our brethren in heaven move us to grow in our regard for the figure of the Holy Father in faith, and to pray and sacrifice effectively for his holiness and for his fidelity to the ministry and office received from the Incarnate Word.

We finish with a quote from our Directory of Spirituality: “We make the teaching of Saint Ignatius of Loyola our own: ‘If we wish to proceed securely in all things, we must hold fast to the following principle: What seems to me white, I will believe black if the hierarchical Church so defines.’ Therefore, being certain that this is the will of Jesus Christ, ‘Let us remain deaf when someone speaks to us disregarding the Pope, or not explicitly in favour of the Pope, and when one is not in favour of the Church’s wholesome and precise doctrine; these are not fruits of the Heavenly Father, but wicked sprouts of heresies that produce murderous fruit.’ Let us always remember ‘that the Pope should be loved in the cross; and whoever does not love him in the cross, does not seriously love him. To be in everything with the Pope means to be in everything with God; to love Jesus Christ and to love the Pope is the same love,’ since ‘to love the Pope, to love the Church, is to love Jesus Christ.’”[8]

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 424.

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 552.

[3] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 881.

[4] Fr. Luis Kondor SVD, Memories of Sister Lucía, vol. I, Secretariado dos Pastorinhos, Fátima (Portugal), 2006, p. 50.

[5] Works of Saint Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, Ed. BAC, Madrid (Spain), 1996, §115, p. 267.

[6] Fr. José Salvador y Conde O.P., Letters of St. Catherine of Siena, Letter 207, Ed. San Esteban, Salamanca (Spain), 1982, p.761

[7] Works of Saint Catherine of Siena, Prayers and Soliloquies, Ed. BAC, Madrid (Spain), 1996, §1, p. 447.

[8] Spirituality Directory of the SSVM, 312.