He has counseled a man in a local jail who had been on suicide watch twice because he believed he had no future.
Listened to the tears of a grandmother who needed reassurance as she struggled to help her drug-addicted grandson.
Consoled a family whose child died from an overdose.
As a priest and the founder of the Birmingham area Cenacolo Community for those with addictions, retired Birmingham Bishop Robert Baker has “been there” for thousands of people for more than 20 years. And because he himself has had to face the death from cancer of not one, but two of his brothers, he well understands why many of those he has counseled ask the question: “Why Lord?”
That was the impetus behind his new book, “Prayers of Desperation: A Questioner’s Prayer for Answers in our Darkest Moments,” http://bit.ly/3ESgtkh.
“The Bible tells you that you can take that dilemma and that struggle to God,” he says. “’How will I come out of this situation? Where are You when I need You?’ When all is said and done, that may be the best prayer I can ever utter. Psychologists make a lot of money, but Jesus wants us to bring those problems to him too. We want to allow Him, in faith, to answer.”
What does that last sentence mean? How do we allow God to answer us in faith?
The Bible itself is full of questions that people asked Jesus. The Bishop points out that the prophet Zachariah and the Blessed Mother asked the Archangel Gabriel the exact same question, but only one asked in faith. As you may recall, when Gabriel appeared to the elderly Zachariah and told him that his elderly wife would conceive a child, he asked “How can that be?” Bishop Baker says Zachariah asked this question because he was doubting that the Lord could make this happen. That’s not asking in faith. However, when Gabriel told Mary she would conceive and bear the Son of God, her “how can it be?” question was directed at understanding how she, a woman who had been vowed to virginity, could become pregnant. What was the Lord asking her to do?
The Bishop says Mary essentially said, as we all need to say: “I believe in you Lord. I don’t know how this is going to be answered, but I bring this to you.”
All the Lord asks of us, even in the darkest of nights, is that we bring Him our questions, trusting that He will answer them in His time and in His perfect way. Bishop Baker’s book was written to show us how to turn our questions into prayers. He tackles six questions: Why, Lord?; How, Lord?; When, Lord?; What, Lord?; Where, Lord; and Who, Lord?
To those who feel they can’t ask the Lord such questions the Bishop writes this:
“To some people, questioning God suggests a lack of faith; when they have questions for God, no matter what the problem or dilemma causing the question, they wonder if that means that they don’t believe in God anymore. These reflections attempt to point out just the contrary: it’s failing to ask God a question when one is dealing with a difficulty in life that may reflect a lack of faith. Jesus makes it clear that ‘for everyone who asks, receives, and everyone who searches, finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luke 11:10).
If you’re one of those people who worries about asking such a question or who would like some examples of how to do this in faith, pick up a copy of Bishop Baker’s “Prayers of Desperation,” available now from EWTN Religious Catalogue, http://bit.ly/3ESgtkh.
As Bishop Baker tells us in the preface of his book: “[I]t is my intention to help you give voice to the questions you have for God in prayer – from a perspective of faith.”
You may think you know all there is to know about Our Lady’s famous appearances to a peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France in 1858. But unless you’re a scholar who has gone back to the earliest sources concerning the 18 apparitions, as Writer/Director/Producer Stefano Mazzeo did to craft this EWTN original docudrama, you are going to be surprised, inspired, and completely riveted by this compelling account of one of the greatest Marian apparitions in the history of the world.
This two-hour EWTN original docudrama, filmed on location in France and England, airs 3:30 p.m. ET, Thursday, Dec. 8.
Before he began his research into the story that would become “The Message of Lourdes,” Mazzeo said he felt he knew a fair amount about the apparitions. After all, he had visited Lourdes, read various accounts of the apparitions, been surprised by some of the strange online theories about what “really” happened at Lourdes, and watched many excellent films on the apparitions. Those films included the big budget Hollywood film of the 1940s, known to audiences worldwide as “The Song of Bernadette.” While the latter was a very well-done and interesting film, Mazzeo said the filmmakers “took a few liberties with the truth,” implying a romantic relationship between Bernadette and another character, “which never happened.” Mazzeo’s challenge was to take all the information he uncovered and still make it entertaining.
The result is nothing short of stupendous! In addition to all of the superb acting in this film, Mazzeo was able to tuck in a lot of information by having the actor who portrays Father Dominque Peyramale – the Catholic priest who was in Lourdes at the time Bernadette Soubirous received her apparitions and who was extremely skeptical in the beginning of the apparitions – make short comments on the story as it unfolds.
“He tells the story in the past tense, but you can see his character development,” Mazzeo said. “He was cruel to Bernadette when the message first came out. He was angry with her for involving him. The Church had just gone through the French Revolution 50 years before. The persecution was finished, and he didn’t want something that couldn’t be verified making the skeptics turn on the Church again. He thought she was making it up. The public prosecutor, the police commissioner, the mayor, her priest, and even her parents were against her. Modern France was industrializing. They didn’t want Lourdes to be seen as a parochial medieval place. But because Bernadette was so pure, so innocent, so truthful, she won everyone over.”
As viewers will see, Mazzeo was also able to include short but important comments from the most important people in Lourdes at the time this was filmed. The lineup includes the Bishop of Lourdes, the Rector of the Shrine at Lourdes, the doctor who verified the miracles, and the promoter general of the rosary for the Dominican order since the rosary is such an integral part of the apparitions. The result, coupled with superb acting, especially by the lead actress, and stunning cinematography, is a cinematic tour de force that should not be missed.
What most surprised Mazzeo?
“What I didn’t know was that there were demonic attacks during the apparitions,” Mazzeo said. “No one has mentioned this. Our Lady silenced the demons with just one look. She hardly moved her head and it all stopped. She frightened them all away.”
Mazzeo also discovered that the 18 apparitions line up with the Rosary’s Joyful Mysteries (Apparitions 1-7), Sorrowful Mysteries (Apparitions 8-11), and Glorious Mysteries (Apparitions 12-18). While Bernadette had mystical conversations with Our Lady that no one could hear most of the time, occasionally they could.
“Only 10 sentences are recorded,” Mazzeo said. “Our Lady doesn’t actually say all that much, but what she says is so fundamentally important that it’s really stunning.”
Mazzeo hopes all who view the film will be inspired.
“I think it’s important to listen to poor and lowly people like Bernadette,” he said. “She was very faith-filled, very devout, and very orthodox. That’s why Our Lady appeared to Bernadette. Although she was un-catechized, she had an instinctive orthodoxy. She knew what the faith was all about. She often said if Our Lady could have found a more ignorant person than she, she would have appeared to her. Yet Bernadette was not ignorant. She was intelligent, yet she had a poor mind for memorization, for study. Our Lady knew Bernadette’s innocence, natural orthodoxy, inner beauty, and purity made her the right one to convey the message.”
If you want to know what really happened at Lourdes, if you want to immerse yourself in the messages Our Lady conveyed during her 18 apparitions, you will definitely want to tune in or record the world premiere of “The Message of Lourdes” at 3:30 p.m. ET, Thursday, Dec. 8.
Fun Side Note: While all of the music in this film is original, don’t miss the song that plays during the ending credits. Mazzeo wrote the lyrics, in which he tried to sum up the whole message of Lourdes. He says viewers will hear only two of the four verses. However, he has partnered with a composer, who did a stunning job on all of the music in the film, and he is hoping to put out a music video of this final song complete with all four verses.
BOOK PICK: ‘Walking the Way of the Cross for Caregivers: How to Cope Practically, Emotionally and Spiritually When a Loved One Has a Serious Illness’
Walking the Way of the Cross for Caregivers
How to Cope Practically, Emotionally and Spiritually When a Loved One Has a Serious Illness
By Michelle Laque Johnson
Maria Teresa Publishers, 2022
237 pages, $15.95
To order: EWTNRC.com or (800) 854-6316 (Item: 91400)
Life is easy when the news is good — but oh, when storms arise, our faith in God needs to hold us up. Aside from the usual human ups and downs, there is our health and that of our loved ones. When all is well, we tend to deflect this topic — don’t bring me down, at least not yet, while it’s not something to worry about.
I get it. But I also get the beauty of Walking the Way of the Cross for Caregivers by Michelle Laque Johnson. I only wish I could add a neon sign above the title to shout, “This is for you now, not later!”
Why now? Because it’s a good read — and a spiritual one, with practical advice, resources and prayers for an intimate walk with Jesus. Certainly, this can be a lifesaver and a comfort for caregivers.
But the personal story of Johnson’s care of her husband, Stu, who fought cancer for eight years, is an engaging and dramatic love story, with glimpses inside EWTN, where Johnson began working in the middle of the journey.
Johnson, director of communications for EWTN, has already navigated the course of a caretaker, so her advice is strong and calming. In every chapter she opens with a Scripture verse, shares part of her journey and offers a “Lesson Learned,” such as,
“Make the decision to walk with God throughout this illness. When you lose your peace, renew that commitment. You will never be sorry.”
Each chapter ends with a prayer and some reflection questions to make things personal. In between chapters is one of the Stations of the Cross, with deep meaning for someone carrying the cross of a loved one.
Throughout the book, Johnson is a sister in Christ, holding readers’ hands. “Let me state this unequivocally: DO NOT LET ANYONE TAKE AWAY YOUR HOPE,” she directs firmly — and often doubles down on it.
She cites the example of doctors who treated Stu’s death as imminent when the couple still had eight more years of life together. “Doctors are not God,” says Johnson. She gives reasons for hope, regardless of the situation, and points out all the good that comes through having hope, such as exploring different courses of treatment, making better choices, enjoying a better quality of life, finding a greater purpose in life and being more fun to be around.
Understanding what it’s like to shoulder so much, Johnson warns of trying to go it alone without reaching out for help — especially by seeking support from others and turning to faith and prayer.
Johnson also reveals how to go about getting second and third opinions and how to distinguish a good hospital from a bad one, as well as how to handle well-meaning family and friends who inadvertently can add to your burden or take on too much of it. Sharing her own experience, she encourages caregivers to carefully evaluate each situation and speak up when necessary, while also being gracious so as not to hurt feelings or lose the support that can still help.
One unique aspect of being a caregiver is nurturing yourself spiritually, Johnson explains. It’s easy to tell someone to deepen their faith, but she shows readers what that can look like. In the chapter on “How to Put on the Armor of God,” Johnson suggests befriending one’s guardian angel, praying a Morning Offering, praying novenas and spiritual warfare prayers to keep up spiritual strength, journaling, frequenting the sacraments, using sacramentals and making time for good spiritual reading.
In the chapter on “Making the Best of Hard Times,” Johnson writes, “Working together to defeat a common enemy — your loved one’s illness — can forge an even stronger bond with your loved one. That’s just one more potential blessing in the hard times.”
Practical advice is included on things that might seem mundane, like paperwork and coordinating medicine, and a primer on preparing for the funeral and the final moments of life is surely a Godsend for those facing life without a loved one on this side of the veil.
Movingly, Johnson also shares her last moments with her husband. “How am I supposed to do this? How am I supposed to watch my husband die?” she cried out to Our Lord.
When she surrendered her husband to God and asked for Stu’s heart to turn completely to him, “so that he can receive the highest degree of glory possible,” Johnson witnessed the grace pour out upon him as he prepared for a Mass that would be offered in his room.
An epilogue and appendix, “Thirteen Saints to Walk With in Hard Times,” and a final list of resources finishes Johnson’s lived experience of support.
This book took Johnson eight years to write, giving her time to reflect and organize so as to share what she learned and walk closely alongside those traveling the same path.
And now, as life goes on, Johnson shares how the experience has increased her awareness of the needs of others.
“And you will, too,” she encourages. “It’s not knowledge we would ever have sought but it is a gift that you and I were given as a result of our loved one’s illness and/or death.”
She closes by expressing her firm Christian hope of meeting the book’s readers and her dear husband on the other side, where God “will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4).
You’ve seen the headlines: Girls from teens to a 5-year-old, assaulted in a school bathroom by a boy who identifies as female. Female inmates, who were forced to share a cell with a man identifying as female, now pregnant. Young female athletes denied scholarships and their chance for Olympic glory because they were “bested” by a man identifying as female.
“When I go around and speak…people…say: ‘What happened? How did this happen so fast?’ …[H]ow [did] we move from [a so-called transgender] moment to [transgender] movement?’”
The speaker is Mary Rice Hasson, JD, host of EWTN’s important new mini-series: “The Transgender Movement: What Catholics Need to Know,” which premieres 5:30 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, Oct. 24-28, with an encore at 2:30 a.m. the following day. A lot of networks say they air must-see TV. If you want to understand not only how this happened but what you can do about it, you absolutely MUST SEE this series – and share the information with everyone you know, both in person and on social media.
Hasson knows whereof she speaks! She is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and one of three co-founders of the Center’s important Person and Identity Project. She realized what was happening almost 10 years ago. Clearly not one to stand on the sidelines, Hasson immediately began working with the Vatican to sponsor a symposium, provide resources, and credential experts “who would have a firm grip on what was happening and how to communicate the truth of the Church’s teaching” on gender issues. Watch EWTN’s series to get an understanding of all that is happening, and then go to www.personandidentity.com for a plethora of incredible resources. This website, which supplies medical, public policy, and legal resources, links to networks you can join, and a lot more. The resource is for parents (https://personandidentity.com/parents/), schools (https://personandidentity.com/schools/), churches (https://personandidentity.com/churches/), the medical community (https://personandidentity.com/medical/), and other interested persons who want to understand what is happening and, most importantly, how to deal with it.
Episode 1 provides a cultural overview of the Transgender Movement and it is an eye opener. Hasson’s guest is Dr. Ryan Anderson, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and the author of “When Harry Became Sally.” He had a front row seat to what was happening as he dealt with LGBT organizations and their fight for “marriage equality.”
“The ‘T’ was always like the silent partner,” he said. “For 20 years, we had a debate about what they called marriage equality. When they got [Supreme Court Justice] Anthony Kennedy first to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, then to strike down state marriage laws in 2015… those organizations didn’t declare victory and shut down.”
That’s because it wasn’t just about getting a piece of paper from the government, Anderson said. It was about “cultural normalization and acceptance of same-sex marriage.” So that’s when you began hearing about Catholic Adoption Agencies forced to shut down if they wouldn’t allow same sex couples to adopt; the evangelical baker who forced to shut down because he wouldn’t bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, etc.
In fact, it was back in 2016 when the Obama Administration started imposing many of the transgender mandates, and the word “sex” in Title IX was formally redefined to mean ‘gender identity’ in May, 2016.
And now? Now you hear, “Catholic President Biden saying, ‘Transgender rights are the human rights issue of our generation,” Anderson says. “This is not a grassroots phenomenon. This is very much grass tops; not even grass tops, this is very much like the activist organizations imposing this top down.”
If you’re confused about the meaning of gender identity, Anderson says it’s “the concept that the body does not determine one’s identity, and that your identity with respect to gender is somehow determined by something else.” The definition of that “something else” has evolved. Anderson says “the…contemporary version is that gender is a spectrum; you could identify as gender fluid, gender ambidextrous, so it’s not longer just transgender, which suggests we’re retaining the binary…[so] you identify as the other sex. Now we’re doing away with the…entire concept of male and female.”
All of this is only a sample of what is presented in Episode 1 – which also talks about how the young are being targeted – and there are four more episodes to follow. Interestingly, it’s not just Catholics and other Christians who are concerned about this.
Says Hasson: “This issue has fractured the typical right/left divisions, and instead you’re having people come together around reality.”
In 2018, Anderson said he invited the first lesbian reinstated to the U.S. military after ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was lifted to speak at the Heritage Foundation. Her opening line was something like: “’I can’t believe I’m about to say this but thank you to the Heritage Foundation for providing me with what no center-left group would, which is a platform.’ And she made the point that her being a lesbian never harmed another person, never interfered with the normal biological development of a minor, never took away privacy rights or equality rights or safety of any other person. But what’s going on with the transgender phenomenon, when you let a man into a women’s private facility, when you block the puberty of a child, when you let a man compete against actual women?”
Said Hasson: “I’m tremendously grateful to EWTN for making this possible because this information is so needed; people are hungry for guidance on where they can go and how to help their families.”
Find out what you NEED to know and help others do the same when EWTN premieres: The Transgender Movement: What Catholics Need to Know,” beginning 5:30 p.m. ET, Monday, Oct. 24.
Cathedral in Pompeii, Italy, one of many sites visited in “Explore With the Miracle Hunter: Pompeii.”
Much like the Ukrainian people of our own time, where cities and towns are facing a Russian invasion, the people in the little town of Pontmain, France faced an advancing army as the Franco-Prussian war of 1871 raged. They were terrified. But suddenly, the Virgin Mary, while simultaneously making herself visible to a group of children in Pontmain, appeared in the sky adorned in a robe filled with glowing stars. The Prussian Army made the decision not to advance – they said a woman in the sky was blocking the way! – and the war soon ended.
“Next to the Battle of Lepanto, this is one of the most famous cases of the Virgin Mary miraculously interceding in war,” says “Miracle Hunter” Michael O’Neill, who is the executive producer and host of EWTN’s new series “Explore with the Miracle Hunter.” This popular show, which chronicles miracles around the world with impressive dramatizations, has now been made into a weekly EWTN series with new episodes and a regular time slot. The story of Our Lady’s appearance in Pontmain, France is just one of the many “Explore” episodes viewers can look forward to seeing at 6 p.m. ET, Saturdays, with an encore at 6:30 a.m. ET, Wednesdays.
Find out about the Eurcharistic miracle that took place in Lanciano, Italy, (above) when EWTN airs “Explore With the Miracle Hunter: Lanciano.”
“When we think about miracles, we all imagine how they may have happened, what that would have looked like,” O’Neill said. “These episodes bring those moments to life with some spectacular recreations, paired with some beautiful cinematic footage of these locations. Because of everything going on in the world right now, this is a great way for people to see the world without leaving their homes — and it will hopefully encourage people to travel to these sites in the near future.”
This coming week, tune in to see the astounding miracle at Lanciano, Italy, in which an unbelieving monk had his doubts turned around during the consecration of the Mass, when the Eucharist transformed into real flesh and the wine into real blood. This will be followed the next week by an episode on the famed visions of Jesus Christ at Paray-Le-Monial, where Catholics were blessed with the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and “Explore Naples,” which is one of O’Neill’s favorite episodes.
An image from “Explore with the Miracle Hunter: Assisi,” where St Francis has a vision and receives the stigmata.
Travel with O’Neill to the Neapolitan basilica which houses the blood of St. Januarius in a special container known as an ampoule. Most years, the dried blood liquefies on the saint’s feast day. But in the rare years when the blood does not liquefy, disastrous things have happened: Mt. Vesuvius erupts, earthquakes happen, the economy collapses, or, most recently, the city faces a worldwide pandemic.
“Every year on Sept. 19, they have a special feast day Mass with the bishop and they bring out this relic,” O’Neill said, who traveled to the site and filmed the event in 2019. “The basilica and the streets are packed with people. The bishop will hold up the ampoule and, if the blood liquefies, the cheer is so loud it’s like a winning touchdown at a football game! It’s a portent of a good year for Naples.”
See the story of the origins of the Miraculous Medal come to life in “Explore with the Miracle Hunter: Paris.”
O’Neill is also partial to “Explore: Rome,” in which he tells the story of Alphonse Ratisbonne, a wealthy French businessman who was challenged by friends during a visit to Rome to wear a Miraculous Medal and say the Memorare for seven days. This Jewish atheist not only ended up experiencing a vision of the Virgin Mary but also instantaneously converted to Catholicism and was infused with knowledge of the Catholic faith, later becoming a priest and founding the Order of Our Lady of Sion devoted to the conversion of Jews. And that’s not the half of it!
Other “Explore with the Miracle Hunter” episodes will include visits to Beauraing, in which the Virgin with the Golden Heart appeared numerous times, urging the people of Belgium to pray; Pompeii, in which Our Lady of the Rosary won the heart of Blessed Bartolo Longo, who at that time was a satanic priest; and Trefontane, site of the beheading of St. Paul and the apparition of Our Lady of Revelation, which O’Neill says may be the most interesting of all!
“Explore with the Miracle Hunter” Host Michael O’Neill.
As the war rages in Ukraine, viewers can take comfort in these miraculous stories, particularly the story of the Vatican-recognized apparitions at Pontmain, France. So tune in this Saturday at 6 p.m. ET on EWTN. And meantime, consider asking Our Lady of Pontmain to intercede for the people of Ukraine – and the world.
Viewers who want to know what life is really like after a Communist invasion need look no further than EWTN’s brand new film, “To Believe,” which was produced by EWTN Ukraine in Kyiv, a city which is now under assault after Thursday’s invasion by Russia. Written by Ukrainians and filmed in Ukraine, the film is subtitled, but the acting is so good viewers barely need the subtitles to understand the plot. The movie premieres 10 p.m. ET, Saturday, Feb. 26, with encores at 10 p.m. ET, Sunday, Feb. 27, and 3 a.m. ET, Tuesday, March 1.
This outstanding hour-long film presents the true story of Father Sebastian Sabudzinski and the families in his small Catholic parish during the Communist persecution. As the film opens, viewers see a round-up of priests marching through a forest where they are given one last chance to renounce their faith. When there are no takers, all are shot to death by a firing squad. But the story really begins in 1953 when a man, who had been taken from his family as a young boy and interned in a concentration camp for 30 years, returns home to his family. The film then flashes back to 1921 and the events that led to the man’s internment.
“This film is based on actual events and the stories of real people,” we read in the opening credits. “It is dedicated to all those who have preserved their faith during the long night of Communism.”
The film will bring many viewers to tears as they experience the emotional turmoil of those who were traumatized by the Soviets during the persecution. This should come as no surprise because many Ukrainians were either alive during Soviet persecution or are descendants of the persecuted.
Viewers will hear Communist propaganda just as those who lived it heard it. There was propaganda before the repression, where people were assured that the Communists would bring in a new world where no one would be rich or poor; all would be fair. And there was propaganda at the concentration camp, where songs about the glory of the Soviet Union were blasted out over a loud speaker even as the inmates were told they no longer had a name, but a number; they no longer had a voice, but had to obey every command quickly and silently.
Viewers will also experience the repression of people sent to Siberia for attending a prayer service, wearing a medal, or owning a Bible – and the agony of those who did not know if their loved one was alive or dead, or where they had been taken. Ukrainian Catholics risked their lives to save religious objects from their churches and to hide religious objects, even as their oppressors dug up the ground around their homes to ensure no such objects were present.
All of this takes place even before the story of Father Sebastian Sabudzinski is introduced.
How did the Ukrainian people survive? Viewers will see that even as those holding a prayer service at a cemetery are either killed or sent to Siberia, “faith and love for God were stronger than fear.”
Don’t miss this incredible film, which was set to premiere in June, but moved up to February due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Editor’s Note: The blog post below was written in 2013. We republish it now because it provides a window into the former Soviet Union’s historic persecution of Christians in the not so distant past. That window opens after a few paragraphs about the beginnings of EWTN Ukraine and our colleagues, who are now in imminent danger due to the Russian invasion. Please pray for them.
EWTN President and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw traveled to Ukraine last week for meetings about EWTN’s Ukrainian-language television channel.
Michael arrived in Kyiv the same day as Father Diego Sáez Martín OMI, the new Director of the Catholic Media Centre, where EWTN is broadcast. In fact, the two men were introduced to the staff of the Centre at the same time! The permanent staff consists of three priests and three religious sisters and four lay people. The rest of the staff are all volunteers.
The Catholic Media Centre, which was launched in 2004 at the invitation of the head of the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference, is located in a church that is still under construction. EWTN Ukraine launched on Dec. 8, 2011. The Centre receives EWTN’s European feed via satellite, downlinks it, and provides Ukrainian translation. The channel is then sent via fiber optics to Volia, the leading Ukrainian cable television company. EWTN Ukraine now reaches 21 towns and cities. Believe it or not, the staff translates all of EWTN’s live shows and papal events into Ukrainian!
“They are also hoping to translate our live shows into Russian as well,” said Michael, “since a significant portion of the population prefers to speak Russian because of the Soviet era!”
To say everyone works extremely hard is an understatement. In fact, the three Oblate of Mary Immaculate priests often work 18 hours a day! On weekends, the priests preach about EWTN in the parishes. They are grateful beyond measure to EWTN for helping them bring the Ukrainian Church back to life.
On the set of EWTN Ukraine with EWTN President & CEO Michael P. Warsaw (center), Catholic Media Center Director Fr. Diego Saez Martin OMI (left of center), EWTN Marketing Director Ian Murray (right of center), and staff.
Although the number of Catholics in Ukraine is small – estimates range from 0.6% to 2% for the Latin Rite and 5.3% to 8% for the Greek Rite –Michael says the miracle is that the Church has survived at all. To understand why, you only have to hear the story of Father Pavlo Vyshkovskyy, Provincial Superior of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Ukraine. Father Pavlo founded the “media community” which does much of its work through the Catholic Media Centre, and also publishes a magazine and EWTN’s Ukrainian website, www.ewtn.org.ua. Father Pavlo was the first director of the Centre and, although he recently became the Superior of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Ukraine, he still tracks everything at the Centre on a daily basis. Michael shakes his head as he recalls this priest’s remarkable story.
“As a boy during the Soviet era, [Pavlo] went to Midnight Mass. Because of this ‘crime,’ he was declared an enemy of the state. Teachers stripped him of everything but his shirt and he had to walk and eventually crawl 5 km home in the middle of winter. He ended up in the hospital for eight months and lost the hearing in one ear — but he survived. He grew up to be a priest with a serious motivation for spreading the Gospel!”
Michael brought back a DVD of Father Pavlo’s account of the Soviet destruction of the Church in Ukraine. It is devastating. You can understand why this priest was willing to suffer as he did while only a young boy. His own grandfather was beaten and buried alive by Soviet soldiers because of his faith. Parishioners defending his parish church were given the choice to deny their faith. When they did not, they were hung by their ears around the church. He says more than 45,000 bishops and priests were murdered: crucified in prison cells, thrown into steam engine boilers, and frozen to death, and most of the churches were blown up. Says Fr. Pavlo: “The Church in Ukraine passed the maturity exam.”
You may think this all happened in the distant past, but Michael said Fr. Pavlo is only 38-years-old.
Michael had a chance to see – up close and personal – what happens when the citizens of a country lose the fundamental right to openly practice their religion. During the Soviet era, gorgeous cathedrals in Kyiv were taken over by the government and turned into everything from tractor repair shops and stables to atheism museums and concert halls. Although the Soviet Union has fallen, these houses of worship in Kyiv have not been returned to the diocese. Even today, the Diocese of Kyiv has to purchase seats in its former churches every Sunday for the congregation.
While in Ukraine, Michael had the opportunity to meet Archbishop Petro Malchuk OFM, Latin Rite Archbishop for the Diocese of Kyiv-Zhytomyr. He is the first Catholic bishop allowed to reside in Kyiv in 350 years! Archbishop Malchuk’s office is in the bell tower of the Cathedral. To reach it, one must ascend a rickety spiral staircase to a room with a desk, computer and a phone. The Bishop has no staff.
Michael also had the opportunity to meet with His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. He normally resides in Kyiv, but was in Lviv at the time of Michael’s visit. Unlike Kyiv, which was almost totally destroyed during World War II, many of the beautiful churches in Lviv were not destroyed and are still maintained by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. While that is a significant advantage, both the Latin Rite and the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches face the challenge of rebuilding relatively small congregations.
But how can the Church rebuild after such devastation? In the “I Love Jesus” DVD that Michael was given, Fr. Pavlo tells the story of his days as a young seminarian. He desperately wanted to meet Pope John Paul II.
Fortunately, his order had a contest. The seminarian who learned the most about the Oblate of Mary Immaculate’s founder would be sent to Rome for the canonization. Fr. Pavlo won.
However, Fr. Pavlo is very tall, so he was placed at the very back of the crowd being greeted by the Pope after the canonization. Fr. Pavlo saw he would have no chance to touch the Pope, much less converse with him – so he prayed to Jesus. When the Pope got to his group, he suddenly stopped and said, “Is there anybody from the East here?” Fr. Pavlo was pushed forward. The Pope said to him: “I give you my blessing to revive the Church in Ukraine.”
Fr. Pavlo will have help. As Michael was told time and time again during his trip, EWTN is the primary method for spreading the Gospel in a country where many of the people who are left don’t even know who Jesus Christ is! What an honor – and what a responsibility!
“In Ukraine, the Catholic Church is a small church in a nation that has overwhelmingly had its religious essence taken away by successive governments,” Michael said. “It can happen all too easily. We thank God for inspiring our viewers to make the donations that allow this kind of worldwide evangelization to take place.”
Father Paul Denizot welcomes visitors to the Basilica at the Shrine of Montligeon in the Normandy region of France.
Are you mourning a loved one who died recently – or years ago? Are you devastated because you could not be with your loved one when they died because of the pandemic? Are you in despair because you failed to apologize or thank someone who has died?
If so, you are not alone. Mourners with concerns like the above – and a lot more – represent just a few of the many pilgrims Father Paul Denizot and his translator/assistant Martine Courvosier minister to each year at the Shrine of Our Lady of Montligeon in the Normandy region of France. The 130-year old basilica is a world center of prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory and a place of healing for millions – and the good news is that you don’t have to travel to France to get the benefits. (Watch “EWTN Live” with Father Paul and Martine, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXVYll-coDk&t=3s)
Overview of Our Catholic Faith on Death
“On earth we suffer [when a loved one dies]; that’s normal. We can’t touch or hear them,” says Father Paul. “But the relationship of love is not ended by death. [As Lumen Gentium 49 says], the relationship between the dead and the living is ongoing. The relationship can grow beyond death. This bond of love goes on. We can pray for them and they pray for us. When we [join] them [in heaven], it will be as if we never lost them. That’s the Catholic faith.”
Father Paul says that’s why Louis and Zéli Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, were canonized together. “Even if they’re not married in heaven, this communion, this proximity, this bond of love goes on after death.”
Don’t take that for granted. A group of Protestants who came to the Shrine told Father Paul that they found mourning difficult because after the funeral, their faith teaches them there is nothing more they can do for them. They are either in heaven or hell and, in either case, they cannot speak to them.
Says Father: “It’s more human, I think, to know that we can do something for them; that the relationship is not ended. They are still close to us [through] prayer and the Eucharist. The link between [us and the Holy Souls} is this love of God, this Communion.”
Famous statue of Our Lady of Montligeon inside the Shrine Basilica of the same name in La Chapelle-Montligeon, France. Our Lady of Montligeon, pray for the souls in Purgatory.
In fact, our Church says the Holy Souls are never closer to us than we participate in the Mass.
“During the Mass the proximity [with our loved ones] is very strong,” Father said. “All of heaven and all of purgatory are close to us. [Those in Purgatory] are suffering, but they are in grace too. They need purification to see God, but they live in love; there’s not just suffering, but joy too. They know they are saved.”
Those of us who are left behind may be sad, but for a Catholic there is this hope, this joy, that we will see our loved ones again – and we have a beautiful and important job to do, which is to pray for our beloved deceased.
The Catholic Faith teaches that our relationships with loved ones continue after death and into the afterlife. Prayers for the dead are very important!
“We put them in the hands of the Lord,” says Father Paul. “That’s a great consolation. We put them in the hands of our Mother. We all need a mother; that’s a gift that Jesus gave us. She protects us.”
Father reminds us: “God is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the Living because all of the Holy Souls in Purgatory live in and for Him.”
NEVER TOO LATE
All of this helps explain why it’s never too late to beg pardon or to say thanks to loved ones, as Father Paul reminds us was made clear in Pope Benedict’s encyclical Spes Salvi (“In hope, we are saved”).
That’s why the Shrine offers visitors – to the Shrine itself or to the Shrine website – an opportunity to fill out thank you and/or forgive me cards, which are placed at the feet of the famous statue of Our Lady of Montligeon, Libertrix (of Deliverance).
Father Paul says he himself writes up one or more of these cards every year on the anniversary of his own father’s death – and at other times as well. People say things like: “You weren’t kind in this or that moment. I forgive you” and/or “I remember this beautiful moment. Thank you!”
Remembering good and bad moments is common to everyone, but it’s especially important to those who were unable to be with their loved ones when they died or who were estranged from a loved one. But, as Father says, it’s never too late!
The peaceful French countryside in Normandy, which surrounds the Shrine of Our Lady of Montligeon. The area, which saw horrific fighting during World War II, is now an oasis of prayer.
Mourning/Grieving Sessions at the Shrine
The Shrine holds seven mourning sessions each year which are facilitated by the priests and sisters stationed at the Shrine.
Often, the visit starts with a 1 hour listening session with a priest, which gives mourners the opportunity to unload their emotions.
“We just listen,” Father said. “This place is dedicated to holy Mary, adoration, and the rosary. Everyone can find some kind of answers to their questions [about] the way they feel. When you love someone [who has died], it’s like someone cut off a part of your body.”
The Shrine offers mourners a place to talk to the priests and nuns, but also to others who have experienced a similar loss. Mourners at the Shrine often walk “The Way of Resurrection,” which helps them “open to hope.” (Download the leaflet, https://bit.ly/WayOfResurrection.
Says Father: “They talk together. They pray together. At the end of some stations, there are smiles. They come with very dark, sad faces, and three days later, we can hear them laughing, take coffee, and speaking about their husbands.”
Another inspiring look at the Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Montligeon in Spring.
Stories of the Shrine’s Pilgrim Mourners
Father Paul shared examples of the kinds of pilgrims who come to the Shrine for healing.
One woman, who was mourning the loss of her 14-year-old daughter, came to the Shrine to rail against the priests; in this particular case, Father Paul. One of the brothers at the Shrine had once counseled him to let pilgrims like this woman go on their way. But an older priest advised him differently, saying that the anger of some pilgrims is not directed against the priest himself. “You are just an instrument of God. You have to be the punching bag.”
Says Father Paul: “It’s not against me she needs to express her anger, it’s against the Lord, against death.” Father Paul says that angry woman just needed someone to whom she could express her anger and her heartbreak. She is now a friend.
Another couple who lost two daughters during a terrorist attack in Paris have been coming to the Shrine for six years. Although they never really practiced their faith, that is changing.
“There is anger; they are still suffering, but there is hope. [At the Shrine], they can speak with other parents who lost their children.”
And then there are the atheists. One widow who attended Mass at the Shrine every day she was there, nevertheless told everyone who would listen that she didn’t believe in God. At the end of the week, Father Paul asked the woman why she came to Montligeon. She said, “You Christians are the only ones who speak about death and hope – and your God died. You celebrate the death of your God in the Eucharist.”
Says Father: “It’s an incredible thing that God should die [and rise from the dead]; it’s a revolution!” It’s the splendor of the Catholic faith and something many cradle Catholics take for granted!
Sanctuaire Notre-Dame de Montligeon
And then, there is the story of a man who was working at his Paris office when his wife, who had gotten a jumpstart on a vacation with their children, called to tell him that their son had died in a swimming pool accident.
“All the hours he traveled from his work to try to join [his family] were terrible,” Father said. “He was alone on the train during the holidays. Everybody was happy and he was crying. He told me three things helped him.
“First, a priest told him, ‘You have a wife and other children. You have to live and to pray. It was a strong thing to say, but it helped. Second, he was walking a thin blade between hope and despair and he told me, ‘I chose hope.’ Third, [a line from the Bible:] ‘Jesus wept.’ That was a consolation.”
Father Paul’s own father died just before he became rector at the Shrine. Before that time, he wanted to be a parish priest so he wasn’t particularly happy about the assignment. But after losing his own father, on the Feast of Our Lady of Montligeon, he realized the importance of his vocation and his work at the Shrine, which is obviously where he was meant to be. This wonderful priest now radiates peace and joy in his assignment.
A look at the inside of the magnificent Basilica of Our Lady of Montligeon.
Why We Sometimes Mourn A Death Years After It Occurred
In modern times, people expect those who have experienced a death to move on relatively quickly. Martine, Father’s assistant, said that even though she hardly knew her diocesan bishop, she grew fond of him because of his devotion to the Blessed Mother. When she learned he had been reassigned, she shocked herself by breaking down in tears. She couldn’t understand why she was so upset.
But Martine had lost her father at age 17 and a brother a few years ago, and more recently had mourned when her 25-year-old sister-in-law lost her nine-month-old child. Someone at the Shrine helped Martine realize that she hadn’t fully grieved these losses.
“I couldn’t allow myself to show my grief,” she said. “it’s crazy it took all this time. New bereavements reveal older bereavements.”
Father Paul agreed. He recalled comforting a mourner whose husband had died, but it was her father who she ended up speaking about extensively during her husband’s funeral. “All our bereavements revive our previous griefs.”
Father Paul Denizot, Shrine Rector, says his own father died on the Feast of Our Lady of Montligeon. He took that as a sign that this was where the Lord wanted him to be.
Mourners come to the Shrine – either virtually or in person – to get a better understanding of their emotions and to heal. They come from every walk of life and with every type of pain, including murder and suicide. How is it possible for the religious and all who work at the Shrine to handle this?
Says Father, “To hear all the evil, the sadness, we can’t do that without prayer. If I don’t pray one or two days, I feel it. Meditation and silence. Without them, I’m like a boat in the storm.”
And that’s the message they pass on to mourners.
“Sometimes people don’t die as we expected. Death can be a struggle. But the Lord is always there – that’s our consolation. Beyond the struggle, beyond the crying, if there is hope, faith, and the matter of God, we can pray for them peacefully.”
The Shrine of Our Lady of Montligeon is a world center of prayer for the holy souls, but you don’t have to go to France to access its services.
Quick Links for Mourners To Access Shrine Services Plus a Video Interview
You don’t have to go to France to take advantage of the Shrine of Our Lady of Montligeon’s many services for the bereaved – although going there is a beautiful thing! Below are links for those who want to make a pilgrimage and five other things you can do in your own hometown.
Fr. Paul-Joseph Buguet, a parish priest in La Chapelle-Montligeon, founded the Expiatory Association for the deliverance of the most neglected souls in Purgatory in 1884. Thanks to its popularity, he was able to build a church dedicated to Our Lady of Deliverance of Holy Souls, which would become the Basilica/Shrine of Our Lady of Montligeon, which has been visited by multiple popes.
Can’t make a trip to France? No problem! Father Paul Denizot, Shrine Rector, says the most important work of the Shrine is prayer. Go to the link below to have a Mass offered, present a prayer petition, or to enroll yourself or a loved one in the Spiritual Fraternity of Our Lady of Montligeon: https://montligeon.org/en/entrust-your-beloved-ones-to-the-prayer-of-the-shrine/. The Spiritual Fraternity offers both the living and the deceased a perpetual enrollment in the five daily Masses offered at the Shrine by five priests, over 30,000 praying associates, and throughout the world by means of 800 Montligeon prayer groups in 45 countries. Click here to join the Fraternity: https://montligeon.org/en/fraternity-enrolment/
With the permission of your pastor, start a “Montligeon Prayer Group.” Groups meet at least once a month in a public place such as a church, hospital, nursing home, hospice, school, seminary, Catholic radio station, etc. Groups pray a rosary for the deceased, participate in a Mass, and, very importantly, offer charitable acts on behalf of the deceased, which help mourners heal. What kinds of charitable acts might a group do? “People have to be inventive,” says Father Paul. “They can support orphans, clean the cemetery, sing at funerals, become a lay server at parish funerals, visit bereaved families, pray a rosary close to the body of the deceased, offer roses to the bereaved – you can’t limit charity.” To find out more about prayer groups, the training offered, and to register, email Nathalie Blondeau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Think you know everything you need to know about the miraculous tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, whose feast day is Dec. 12? EWTN’s newest program “Guadalupe Mysteries,” a visually stunning documentary that includes spectacular recreations and drone footage, will show you in detail that you almost certainly do not!
“My goal was to create the best documentary related to the miraculous phenomenon of the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe that had ever been done in English,” said host and Executive Producer Michael O’Neill of this 16h Century Marian apparition.
“Guadalupe Mysteries” airs 1:30 p.m. ET and 10 p.m. ET, Sunday, Dec. 12. O’Neill’s latest episode of his travel series “Explore with the Miracle Hunter: Guadalupe” also airs on Dec. 12 at 4 a.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. ET, and 8 p.m. ET. That’s not all! Miracle Hunter fans will also want to check out an interview with O’Neill on “EWTN News Nightly” at 6 p.m. ET, Thursday Dec. 9 to talk about the new episode of “They Might be Saints: Blessed Solanus Casey,” which airs 5 p.m. ET, Friday, Dec. 10. Finally, this week, don’t miss “Explore with the Miracle Hunter: Loreto,” which airs at 5:30 p.m. ET, Friday, Dec. 10.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the world’s most visited Marian shrine, holds 50,000 pilgrims.
Many Catholics know the story of Our Lady’s appearance, but the ongoing Guadalupe mysteries involve St. Juan Diego’s miraculous tilma, whose symbolism spoke to the hearts of the native and Spanish population, and converted nine million people in the following decade.
But O’Neill says: “While many people have a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, know some of the stories, and have seen the images, they might not know these mysteries,” O’Neill said. “I wanted to interview the top experts in the world and so we had to fly to Mexico to interview them in Spanish.
“I interviewed top experts on all aspects of the tilma about what those icons and images mean, the star pattern, the figures in the eyes, the topography of Mexico represented in the cloth, the absolute blend of two cultures represented in the art, and a lot more. It’s remarkable that we got to speak to the absolute experts in their fields and to put that all in the film.”
Juan Diego, the young Mexican man to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared, tried to avoid Our Lady before a second apparition because his uncle was dying and he needed to get a priest to hear his confession. Our Lady blocked his way. However, she honored his desire to help his uncle by healing him even as she bade him to visit his bishop yet again to ask that he honor her requests.
O’Neill’s interviewees include people like Msgr. Salvador Martinez Ávila, bishop/rector of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who had never before given an interview to media from the United States; Msgr. Eduardo Chávez, the priest who is the world’s top Guadalupe expert as he runs the Higher Institute of Guadalupan Studies and served as the postulator for visionary Juan Diego’s canonization cause; Don. Fernado Ojeda Llanes, the top scientific researcher of the tilma and Fr. Armando Ruiz, from the Commission of Sacred Art in the Archdiocese of Mexico and one of the top art historians in all of Mexico.
Viewers will learn extraordinary things. For example, Juan Diego’s apparition began when he heard music, which helped draw him up Tepeyac Hill, where the apparition took place. Mathematicians drew a line up the seam running down the middle of the cloth and came up with a mathematical model with 23 vertical lines. The stars and flowers on the tilma were changed into notes. This purely mathematical operation turned out notes that produced a perfect harmony. They tried this with numerous other famous images and nothing similar happened. This beautiful music is played in this documentary.
A well-known opthamologist, who was skeptical of what he heard about a figure that had been detected under magnification in Our Lady’s eyes, was granted access to the original tilma. Photos of the highest possible quality were taken. Enlargements showed not only a bearded man, which is all that had been seen in the past, but 12 other people! The eyes are 5/16 of an inch. As we learn in the film, “No painter on earth could have painted such a precise image according to the laws of optics not known until the 19th Century.”
Drone shot of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
O’Neill said his own devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe came from his mother, who prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe when her own mother fell away from the faith. She was young and planning to be a teacher.
Miracle Hunter Michael O’Neill is host and Executive Producer of “Guadalupe Mysteries.”
The young, would-be teacher prayed: “If you bring my mother back to the faith, I will teach every student I ever teach and any children I ever have about Our Lady of Guadalupe.” O’Neill says the story of his grandmother coming back to the faith led him on the path of studying miracles, which became his career.
“This is one of my favorite programs that I’ve done for EWTN,” O’Neill said. “It really brings things full circle for our family.”
The 10 p.m. ET Nov. 24 premiere of “Kibeho: Listen My Children” will be preceded at 8 a.m. ET by “EWTN Live,” with Immaculée IIlibagiza, who appears prominently in the docudrama. Immaculée is the woman who told the world about the genocide in the 2017 best-selling book, “Left to Tell,” which was later made into a well-known documentary by the same name.
Many have heard of the horrific genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994, when 200,000 Hutus slaughtered 800,000 Tutsis and some moderate Hutus – their own countrymen. But few are aware that Our Lady warned the country about the impending disaster – and how to avoid it – during a series of apparitions to three school girls 12 years earlier. The visions of destruction, torture, and human carnage as well as a river of blood viewed by one of the visionaries were so terrifying that the young girl told Our Lady she was afraid she would never be able to sleep again.
“Kibeho: Listen My Children,” an EWTN Original production, premieres at 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Nov. 24, with encores at 1:30 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 28. (Click here for the trailer: https://bit.ly/KibehoTrailer.
The Nov. 24 premiere will be preceded at 8 a.m. ET by “EWTN Live,” with Immaculée IIlibagiza, who appears prominently in the docudrama. Immaculée is the woman who told the world about the genocide in the 2017 best-selling book, “Left to Tell,” which was later made into a well-known documentary by the same name.
In addition to observations from Immaculée, the docudrama includes footage of the actual Rwandan school girl visionaries, the mental torture they endured by those who did not believe them, the doctors who were charged with determining if they were mentally ill, and church officials who made the final determination.
Immaculée IIlibagizawas instrumental in the design of the statue of Our Lady of Kibeho, which is available exclusively from EWTN Religious Catalogue, https://bit.ly/OurLadyOfKibehoStatue.
Among other things, Our Lady of Kibeho requested that the people of Rwanda pray the Seven Sorrow Rosary, a devotion given to St. Bridget centuries earlier which had largely been forgotten. During the genocide, the sisters at the convent school the visionaries attended prayed this rosary from morning to evening. All survived the bloodbath. (Find meditations on the Seven Sorrows Rosary and more in this little booklet from EWTNRC: https://bit.ly/7SorrowsRosary
Our Lady first appeared to Alphonsine Mumureke, a student at Kibeho High School, on Nov. 28, 1981. She asked Alphonsine to tell people that they needed to convert. But Immaculee tells us that Alphonsine was “regular” girl, not known for her piety so no one believed her. Unfortunately, their unbelief morphed into physical persecution. The young girl begged Our Lady to appear to another girl so she would be believed.
On January 12, 1982, Our Lady answered Alphonsine’s prayer by appearing to Nathalie Mukamazimpaka, a fellow student with a sterling reputation who was known for her piety. Things got somewhat better, but there were still many who did not believe. The worst of the persecutors was a tough girl named Marie Claire Mukangango who received her own apparition on March 2, 1982.
During an apparition with Marie Claire, Our Lady spent much time weeping. She said she was sad because so many did not believe her warnings. It was Marie Claire to whom she gave the visions of “destruction, torture, and savage human carnage.” Those visions were, of course, a preview of the genocide that would tear the country apart a dozen years later. In fact, online accounts of the history of this conflict are eerily prescient of problems that persist in the world today.
Immaculée IIlibagiza on the set of “EWTN Live” with Father Mitch Pacwa to discuss the EWTN original docudrama “Kibeho: Listen My Children.” Few are aware that Our Lady warned Rwanda about the impending genocide – and how to avoid it – during a series of apparitions to three Rwandan school girls 12 years before the tragedy occurred.
Each girl was given specific groups of people for whom to pray, but interestingly it was again Marie Claire who was taken on a trip to the three places about which Catholics so often hear. The first was a place where people were in terrible pain, fighting, and extremely angry. Our Lady told her this place was “for those who will suffer eternally, who will never be forgiven.” She then went to a place where there was little light, and where there was suffering, but less than in the first place, and “where people seemed to be expecting somebody to come and help them.” Finally, she was taken to a place with a beautiful light, brighter than the sun, where she could hear beautiful voices. She was told it was for “those who have light in their heart, the place of those who respect God.”
When Marie Claire asked Our Lady why she had showed her these places, Out Lady said: “I showed you so you know the life that matters most is what is coming after this life on earth. Go and tell everyone. Encourage them to live the right way. Tell them to live without respecting God is the ultimate waste of time. They will regret it bitterly.” Our Lady also said: “You have to tell the people that these places actually exist. To refuse Jesus is to refuse paradise.”
Marie Claire was also the visionary to whom Our Lady taught the Seven Sorrows Rosary, which the docudrama explains in detail. Our Lady said it is important we say this rosary “to help Jesus to save the world.”
Our Lady said to Marie Claire: “Tell the sisters [at the convent school the visionaries attended] that they must love the rosary: the Seven Sorrows Rosary and the traditional rosary. Tell them to say it with their hearts, being conscious of who they are talking to. Tell them to ask for strength to help them accomplish the promises they made to God. Remind them to always show love to each other so that others may take the example from my daughters. Tell them to be a true reflection of my love to everyone that they meet, everywhere they go, imitating my behavior and virtues.”
There is so much more to tell about these apparitions. This is a story no one who cares about eternal life should miss. In fact, in advice that seems equally applicable to us today, we are told in the film that one of Our Lady’s biggest sorrows was that “[f]ew people truly listened to the advice and counsel she had given to her visionaries,”.