Whatever curious and interesting subject strikes my fancy, be it silly or serious, gets posted for your reading pleasure.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Fatima - A Botched Attempt at being a 'Real Pilgrim'!

Fatima, the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun ~ Our pilgrimage did not go as planned, here's the story!

Many of my loyal followers are aware that I am now a blow-in local of this sacred place. After years of having the grace of living in Fatima and watching all the pilgrims walk in from all over for the major feast days of May and October 13th with blistered feet, coming as far away as the shrine of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, my mother and I looked at each other one year and said, “Gee, we only live a few kilometres outside the Sanctuary and right within the parish, and we haven't done “The Walk'? What's the matter with us?” 

Locals do it each May, so a few years ago my mother and I decided to be 'real pilgrims' and walk into Fatima. Getting our sun hats, pilgrim staffs, reflector jackets and getting all geared up, taking our time, not going too slow, or too fast, we started very early in the morning and made it within two hours, in plenty of time for the Rosary Procession and Mass. We did it! And we weren't too tuckered out! We were so chuffed with ourselves walking several miles in! However, when one of the locals heard of our accomplishment they said: “Two hours? From your village? Pfft! We can do it in one!”

What a balloon popper!

Never mind, we were so chuffed Mom wanted to do it again someday....

So of course, this year, the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, she was getting us all motivated to get up early and grab our pilgrim staffs again. The day before was so hot, no clouds in the sky, the vigil night was warm, so, we expected a great day to go walking, when lo and behold...

A wet, foggy morning like an October morning in Cork, Ireland greeted us! It was beautiful to see the mists settling in on the pine, holm oak and eucalyptus groves, blanketing the village and the surrounding hilly countryside, but brrrrr! What a switch from hot to cold! Well, we started out, and the fog got thicker....

“Ooogh! My arthritis, I can't walk! I'll never make it!”

We didn't make it past the village church.

“Oh no! Okay, you sit at the church, I'll walk back and get the car.”

Of course, now I turn 180º and start speed-walking back home...what pilgrims we are!

Our Blessed mother must have a sense of humour because a lady in the village was now at her front door smiled and wished me a 'good morning', but seeing me in my pilgrim gear, reflector jacket and staff in hand, she then looked utterly perplexed and didn't know what to say next. I could hear the wheels turning:

“Where's she off to? She's going the wrong way!”

Sigh! The story of my life! I just had to laugh, but I was so miffed. News travels fast in these little villages, and it would soon spread that the “Two Irlandeses never made it past the village.”

Humble pie. LOL!

I was so bummed out, I was looking forward to the walk, now, I was feeling like a failure as a 'real pilgrim'. I picked Mom up, and of course, she was disappointed too, but ever encouraging in her Unsinkable Molly Brown tone said:

“Nevermind, Our Lady knows our intentions, we got as far as the church, and because we wanted to go through with it, she'll carry us the rest of the way, don't worry.”

Of course, on top of 'Pilgrim Failure Syndrome', after picking Mom up I am getting a bit stressed- the one good thing about 'The Walk', you never have to worry about parking. But now...?

It's still early, almost 9 AM-ish, but not early enough before the parking spaces on such a big day as October 13th are all gone, especially for the 100th anniversary.  Expect them to be snapped up, vanished! 

However, I stepped on it a bit, there was still hope! Oh Angel of Parking, don't leave us down now! Sure enough, I got in just as the cops were getting ready to set up their traffic points, and I got the last space on the Little Shepherds roundabout, FREE parking IN town, and within walking distance Mom could handle. That's a miracle on a day like today!

“See? Our Lady and the Angel of Parking took care of us again.” 

So true, Mom.

Living in Fatima as a local, you would think it's easy to get in for the feast days -- nope. Not always. We learned the hard way one year in June 2007 when the traffic was INSANE and the National Guards had all the roads closed, we just had to turn away from Fatima. That was a sad day. However, since I've been praying to the Angel of Parking, he's never left us down for really important things like today.

 I owe the Angel of Parking so many candles, it's not funny!

(Images: the candles of Fatima.  You have to be careful!  The place gets so hot, the wax can suddenly blaze up and set them all on fire!  Sometimes instead of lighting your votive candle, you end up tossing it into the flames like a votive pyre!)

So, we made it it time for the Rosary and Mass, the Sanctuary with the fog as literally thick as potato soup . The TV cameras may have made it look lighter and brighter, but believe me, it must have been digital enhancement because as the statue of Our Lady was carried in procession from the Chapel of Apparitions to the main altar, the other side of the Sanctuary could barely be seen at times, the Holy Rosary basilica was disappearing in and out of a thick misty blanket!

Gradually, the sun came out until all the fog was burned off, by mid-day it was once again clear, bright, getting hot, and not a cloud in the sky. When the day turned out like this, it's hard to imagine the pours of rain the pilgrims walked through 100 years ago, but we've been here through storms like that here, and whew! After living ten years in Ireland we discovered the rain there can't hold a candle to what happens here at times, the Portuguese tropical downpours go sideways, and whirls with the wind, you can get soaked right up to the knees as the rain splashes up and soaks you through and through. Brollys aren't much of a help!

No worries about that today though. Mass was not overpacked like we expected, the plaza was full, but we've seen it more packed than it was today. We had enough space without feeling claustrophobic. However, the 'Cattle Drive for Communion' still took place, people not being reverential when going up to receive Communion, crushing you up against the rails, and then pushing you out of the way. Reverence seems to get tossed to the side, and this in the land where the Angel of Peace taught the Three Shepherd Children a prayer to atone for the sacrileges, outrages and indifference against the Blessed Sacrament! 

Were there any noticeable differences from the May 13th Mass of this year? Only that the pictures of the Two seers, Francisco and Jacinta were now taken down off the Basilica. We also got a live televised message from Pope Francis today, short, sweet, to the point, “Don't be afraid, say your Rosary and stick close to Our Lady!” Sadly, the 'Druid Monstrance' was still used for Benediction, and of course, the 'Brown Black Cube Altar' was still in use with that horrible excuse for a crucifix behind it.  You can read more about the May 13th 2017 celebrations by clicking here, pictures included:

However, it was a blessed thing to be on such sacred ground for the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun. 

Afterwards, we sprinted for lunch, getting in just before the after-Mass rush, another blessing! If you're not booked into a hotel for the feast days, you have to scramble for a place to eat before they get chockablocked!

After a rather noisy lunch, (the Portuguese can get noisy like the Spanish!) we meandered on down the street, and bumped into a colourful pilgrim group from Africa: the ladies had specially printed royal blue dresses with images of Our Lady of Fatima complete with royal blue head dresses to match, they were just eye-catching, so we stopped and talked with them. Mom and I just love the print dresses from Africa, they are so colourful and we told the ladies their country should export these printed cottons! We would love them! The Portuguese seem to dress in dour colours a lot of the time. So, a chat started up, the ladies were from Gambia, and they were taught by good old fashion Irish nuns, and after telling us a little about themselves, they had a blast hearing Mom talk about her school day tales...it's wonderful. You get to meet so many people from all over the world in Fatima, and this is the first time we met a group from Gambia!

And so, out come my leaflets about the approved stigmatist and prophet Marie-Julie Jahenny, now another corner of the world will soon hear of her prophecies. God is good! You can find out more about her here:

Of course, we couldn't stay chatting and left the ladies join their pilgrim group while we went off for  coffee and a pastry, and enjoying the rest of the beautiful sunny afternoon, watching all the pilgrims coming to and from the Way of the Cross out in Aljustrel, the guards busy blowing their whistles and directing traffic around the roundabout and trying to keep the hoards of pilgrims from getting mowed down by the buses.

So, our 'true pilgrimage' on foot didn't quite go as planned, but we made it!

Deo Gratias!

Friday, 29 September 2017

The Feast Day of an Angelic Champion

September 29 is the feast day held in honour St. Michael, the Confessor of God's Infinite Divinity, and the Champion of Heaven and the Church.

I cannot let this time pass without another blog post in his honour, and he has never failed to answer one of my prayers!

As Tradition states, he received his name right after the creation of the angels when Lucifer rebelled against the Creator and declared himself to be like unto God. While the rebellious seraph-turned-devil was busy stirring up rebels for his cause, an Archangel came forward from the lower choirs, he was not even a seraph like Lucifer, or a blazing cherub. “Who is like unto God?” became his battle cry as he mustered the loyal angels. Together they drove out Lucifer renamed Satan and all the other evil rebels from Heaven.

As a reward, God raised up Michael - “Who is Like unto God”- and made him Prince over all the Angels, and as we know from Scripture and Tradition he is one of the Seven that stand before the Throne of the Almighty.

Tradition also holds that one of St. Michael's duties is to lead the souls of the recently departed to their Particular Judgement before God, and he has also been given the task of weighing every good and evil deed in the Eternal Scales to see if that soul is fit for Heaven or Hell. He himself confirmed this to the approved mystic Marie-Julie Jahenny (1850-1941) in addition to revelations about his other roles in Heaven: he also conducts the Angelic choirs and the angelic symphonies, so in fact, he is the Angel of Music when you think about it. He also revealed some other interesting details, Heaven has books and Rosaries!

You can find out more about that interesting apparition, click here: Conversation with St. Michael, Prince of the Angels

In another revelation to Marie-Julie Jahenny, he declared that after God, the power granted to him is very great, and that if we knew the extent of this power, we would not be slack in offering our prayers to him and asking for protection. (Hint hint!) No wonder! The demons never sleep, and we need all the protection we can get.

He also revealed to Marie-Julie other fantastic revelations about the future of France and the Church, which will affect the whole world: he will be there to protect the Great Catholic Monarch when he arrives to restore the absolute monarchy, and with his flaming sword will root out everything the Freemasons had tried to accomplish in their efforts to destroy both Church and monarchies, also warning of the chastisements that will take place before then as a warning. You can find more here: Revelations of St. Michael to Marie-Julie Jahenny.

There are some interesting theories about St. Michael being the Angel of Peace of Fatima, Portugal. After living in Portugal for many years now, I've discovered by talking to the locals that St. Michael was always traditionally venerated as the Guardian Angel of the country. One story I've heard is the miraculous apparition of the “red sword and wing” in the sky during the medieval period as the Christian soldiers were driving the Muslims out of the country, which led to the founding of “St. Michael's Order of the Wing” by the King of the time.

I've tried looking up details online, but nothing is appearing in English on this, however, since this comes from the mouth of monarchists whom I've met who belong to this chivalric Order, I'm going to assume it's true, eventhough I can't seem to find any dates connected with this apparition of the great red angelic wing and sword in the sky. This may have happened when the knights helped to retake the town of Santarém from the Moors on May 8, 1147. From a source I found it says a feast of St. Michael fell on this day, but sadly, no mention of any apparition! However, you will find St. Michael represented in many churches holding a shield with the emblem of Portugal, and of interest, the Red Wing is featured on the emblems of the revived order currently under the leadership of Dom Duarte, Duke of Braganza, pretender to the throne of Portugal.


Left: Cross of the Order of St. Michael of the Wing.

Right: Grand Cross of the Order

Notice the red wing in the emblems.

I cannot help but note this story of the Order's founding also has an interesting connection to the later visions of Fatima. Sr. Lucia says that in one of the visions she saw the Holy Father leading people to a great rugged cross through a destroyed city and a field of war with soldiers shooting and killing many in the procession. Overhead an angel appeared holding out his flaming sword ready to strike the earth, the flames of which were stopped by Our Lady's splendour, he then cried out “Penance! Penance! Penance!”, obviously a warning before the world is struck with great chastisements and wars, which seems very close to the warnings St. Michael gives to Marie-Julie Jahenny, who was shown his flaming sword:

I see that the battle will begin between Saint Michael and Hell, between good and evil.... Mary Immaculate watches over us, what have we to fear?” (Ecstasy date September 29, 1877).

There is an interesting story that has circulated stating that on the day the Angel of Peace gave the three children of Fatima Holy Communion, a consecrated Host and chalice went missing in a church while a festa was happening, (either the church was dedicated to St. Michael, or, the festa at the church that day was held in his honour, perhaps both! Forgive me for being fuzzy on the details). However, the chalice was later returned, but the Host was still missing. Some see this as confirmation St. Michael indeed is the Angel of Peace of Fatima.

(Site of the Apparition of the Angel of Peace where
 he brought the children Holy Communion in Aljustrel, Fatima, Portugal.)

Of course, there is another fascinating modern-day apparition of St. Michael, which allegedly happened during the Korean War, the story of which was spread after a letter written by a young Marine named Michael (of all things) to his mother in 1950 caught the attention of a Navy Chaplain, Fr. Walter Muddy, who tracked down the marine and verified the details of the letter, including the battle fought, etc. The chaplain then publicly read the letter aloud in 1951 before a crowd of 5,000 Marines at the Navla base in San Diego, California. Since then the letter has been published and spread like wildfire ever since:

Dear Mom,

I wouldn't dare write this letter to anyone but you because no one else would believe it. Maybe even you will find it hard but I have got to tell somebody.

First off, I am in a hospital. Now don't worry, ya hear me, don't worry. I was wounded but I am okay you understand. Okay. The doctor says that I will be up and around in a month. But that is not what I want to tell you.

Remember when I joined the Marines last year; remember when I left, how you told me to say a prayer to St. Michael every day. You really didn't have to tell me that. Ever since I can remember you always told me to pray to St. Michael the Archangel. You even named me after him. Well I always have.

When I got to Korea, I prayed even harder. Remember the prayer that you taught me?

"Michael, Michael of the morning fresh crop of Heaven adorning," you know the rest of it.

(Note: it is believed this is the prayer said by the Marine):

Michael, Michael of the morning,
Fresh chord of Heaven adorning,
Keep me safe today,
And in time of temptation
Drive the devil away. Amen.

Well I said it everyday. Sometimes when I was marching or sometimes resting. But always before I went to sleep. I even got some of the other fellas to say it.

Well, one day I was with an advance detail way up over the front lines. We were scouting for the Commies. I was plodding along in the bitter cold, my breath was like cigar smoke.

I thought I knew every guy in the patrol, when along side of me comes another Marine I never met before. He was bigger than any other Marine I'd ever seen. He must have been 6' 4" and built in proportion. It gave me a feeling of security to have such a body near.

Anyway, there we were trudging along. The rest of the patrol spread out. Just to start a conversation I said, "Cold ain't it." And then I laughed. Here I was with a good chance of getting killed any minute and I am talking about the weather.

My companion seemed to understand. I heard him laugh softly. I looked at him,

"I have never seen you before, I thought I knew every man in the outfit."

"I just joined at the last minute", he replied. "The name is Michael." 
"Is that so," I said surprised. "That is my name too."

"I know," he said and then went on, "Michael, Michael of the morning . . ."

I was too amazed to say anything for a minute. How did he know my name, and a prayer that you had taught me? Then I smiled to myself, every guy in the outfit knew about me. Hadn't I taught the prayer to anybody who would listen. Why now and then, they even referred to me as St. Michael.

Neither of us spoke for a time and then he broke the silence. "We are going to have some trouble up ahead."

He must have been in fine physical shape or he was breathing so lightly I couldn't see his breath. Mine poured out in great clouds. There was no smile on his face now. Trouble ahead, I thought to myself, well with the Commies all around us, that is no great revelation.

Snow began to fall in great thick globs. In a brief moment the whole countryside was blotted out. And I was marching in a white fog of wet sticky particles. My companion disappeared.

"Michael, " I shouted in sudden alarm.

I felt his hand on my arm, his voice was rich and strong, "This will stop shortly."

His prophecy proved to be correct. In a few minutes the snow stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sun was a hard shining disc. I looked back for the rest of the patrol, there was no one in sight. We lost them in that heavy fall of snow. I looked ahead as we came over a little rise.

Mom, my heart stopped. There were seven of them. Seven Commies in their padded pants and jackets and their funny hats. Only there wasn't anything funny about them now. Seven rifles were aimed at us.

"Down Michael, " I screamed and hit the frozen earth.

I heard those rifles fire almost as one. I heard the bullets. There was Michael still standing. 
Mom, those guys couldn't have missed, not at that range. I expected to see him literally blown to bits.

But there he stood, making no effort to fire himself. He was paralyzed with fear. It happens sometimes, Mom, even to the bravest. He was like a bird fascinated by a snake.

At least, that was what I thought then. I jumped up to pull him down and that was when I got mine. I felt a sudden flame in my chest. I often wondered what it felt like to be hit, now I know.

I remember feeling strong arms about me, arms that laid me ever so gently on a pillow of snow. I opened my eyes, for one last look. I was dying. Maybe I was even dead, I remember thinking well, this is not so bad.

Maybe I was looking into the sun. Maybe I was in shock. But it seemed I saw Michael standing erect again only this time his face was shining with a terrible splendor.

As I say, maybe it was the sun in my eyes, but he seemed to change as I watched him. He grew bigger, his arms stretched out wide, maybe it was the snow falling again, but there was a brightness around him like the wings of an Angel. In his hand was a sword. A sword that flashed with a million lights.

Well, that is the last thing I remember until the rest of the fellas came up and found me. I do not know how much time had passed. Now and then I had but a moment's rest from the pain and fever. I remember telling them of the enemy just ahead.

"Where is Michael," I asked.

I saw them look at one another. "Where's who?" asked one. "Michael, Michael that big Marine I was walking with just before the snow squall hit us."

"Kid," said the sergeant, "You weren't walking with anyone. I had my eyes on you the whole time. You were getting too far out. I was just going to call you in when you disappeared in the snow."

He looked at me, curiously. "How did you do it kid?"

"How'd I do what?" I asked half angry despite my wound. "This marine named Michael and I were just . . ."

"Son, " said the sergeant kindly, "I picked this outfit myself and there just ain't another Michael in it. You are the only Mike in it."

He paused for a minute, "Just how did you do it kid? We heard shots. There hasn't been a shot fired from your rifle. And there isn't a bit of lead in them seven bodies over the hill there."

I didn't say anything, what could I say. I could only look open-mouthed with amazement. It was then the sergeant spoke again, "Kid," he said gently, "everyone of those seven Commies was killed by a sword stroke."

That is all I can tell you Mom. As I say, it may have been the sun in my eyes, it may have been the cold or the pain. But that is what happened.

Love, Michael”

Look how this young man was rewarded for honouring his name-saint each day and praying for protection!

Again, as St. Michael said to Marie-Julie Jahenny September 29, 1877: "After God, I am your protector and your support. Have recourse to me. If you knew my power, you would be more eager to address your prayers to me each day."

Of course, I could not end this blog without including one of my favourite poems written in his honour by G.K. Chesterton and fist published in 1929. It is a brilliant tribute to Heaven's Champion, the opining lines of which are reminiscent of the prayer that saved the young Marine:

Michael of the Morning,
Michael of the Army of the Lord,
Stiffen thou the hand upon the still sword, Michael,
Folded and shut upon the sheathed sword, Michael,
Under the fullness of the white robes falling,
Gird us with the secret of the sword.

When the world cracked because of a sneer in Heaven,
Leaving out for all time a scar upon the sky,
Thou didst rise up against the Horror in the highest,
Dragging down the highest that looked down on the Most High:
Rending from the seventh heaven the hell of exaltation
Down the seven heavens till the dark seas burn:
Thou that in thunder threwest down the Dragon
Knowest in what silence the Serpent can return.

Down through the universe the vast night falling
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Morning!)
Far down the universe the deep calms calling
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Sword!)
Bid us not forget in the baths of all forgetfulness,
In the sigh long drawn from the frenzy and the fretfulness
In the huge holy sempiternal silence
In the beginning was the Word.

When from the deeps of dying God astounded
Angels and devils who do all but die
Seeing Him fallen where thou couldst not follow,
Seeing Him mounted where thou couldst not fly,
Hand on the hilt, thou hast halted all thy legions
Waiting the Tetelestai and the acclaim,
Swords that salute Him dead and everlasting
God beyond God and greater than His Name.

Round us and over us the cold thoughts creeping
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the battle-cry!)
Round us and under us the thronged world sleeping
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Charge!)
Guard us the Word; the trysting and the trusting
Edge upon the honour and the blade unrusting
Fine as the hair and tauter than the harpstring
Ready as when it rang upon the targe.

He that giveth peace unto us; not as the world giveth:
He that giveth law unto us; not as the scribes:
Shall he be softened for the softening of the cities
Patient in usury; delicate in bribes?
They that come to quiet us, saying the sword is broken,
Break man with famine, fetter them with gold,
Sell them as sheep; and He shall know the selling
For He was more than murdered. He was sold.

Michael, Michael: Michael of the Mustering,
Michael of the marching on the mountains of the Lord,
Marshal the world and purge of rot and riot
Rule through the world till all the world be quiet:
Only establish when the world is broken
What is unbroken is the Word.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Your "Mona Lisa" Quote - Author, Explain Yourself!

Everyone once in awhile someone sends me a question about my work, which is all part of being an author.  

However, I also get pleas for assistance, asking me what did I mean by such-and-such a quote?  "I'm writing an essay, or dissertation, would appreciate your additional comments  or an explanation why you wrote that!"

And yes, it is obvious they have not read the book the quote has come from, or they wouldn't need to ask me why a quote is in the book and what it means, or what page it is on.  Some people even say so!  "Sorry, I haven't read your book, I would LOVE to read it someday, but if you could help me with this quote, and if you could tell me the page number it's on..."

Oh well. Because I'm trying to be a good person and not flip out when someone is asking me to do their research for them, especially as I recall what it was like being a student with the insane pressure of numerous final exams bearing down like a hammer on an anvil, I sometimes give an answer.  (I know, I know, I shouldn't), but here goes, the latest e-mail I received was a request to please explain the "Mona Lisa" quote in "Brushstrokes of a Gadfly".

Here is my response:
Dear John / Jane Doe,

The book is a Kunstlerroman novel depicting an artist's coming of age and as such features a Masters student, how she makes her way in the world after she has graduated from an exclusive arts humanities and college in New Jersey State. 
As part of the graduation ceremonies and traditions there is a special art competition sponsored by the famous Sirrac Gallery of Fifth Avenue that awards an enviable exhibition opportunity to the Masters student whom the judges deem has rendered exceptional work in representing the subject or theme chosen for the competition each year by the gallery.

Katherine Walsingham, the main character of the novel, is disappointed in how her entry is received, while what she deems to be 'insipid' and 'predictable' has been given the greatest honours. To add injury to insult, her work for the contest is ripped to shreds by an infamous art critic of New York known as the “Art Hacker” who has been known to make or break careers, which is just intolerable! Since she has the mind of a 'Socratic gadfly', she questions everything that 'The Establishment' and 'The Gatekeepers' hail as 'fine art', especially modern art, which can be ugly and quite atrocious in her view, while dramatic and beautiful works are relegated to the side or completely ignored.

After seeing the review, (which throws her whole family into a tizzy, it's that controversial), Katherine questions how people such as the college professors, modern gallery owners, and critics like the “Art Hacker” are allowed to dictate what is the epitome of 'fine art' and what should be considered famous or not, and in the process has also questioned why the “Mona Lisa” of all art works holds power over people.

I shall gave some of the text before and after the quote so you can see the context, beginning with her younger brother Stephen, or 'Steves' as he's called, the brainy genius of the family who doesn't quite take art very seriously but more of a slacker's hobby that might make an income once in awhile, (which also peeves Katherine sometimes). He thinks the scathing review misinterpreting her work in a foul light is actually a good thing!

* Beginning of excerpt *

Let me see that article. Hmm, pretty good review, I think.”

“Steves! It’s not funny! How could you call it a good review? It’s horrible!”

“Now, sis, you shouldn’t have chosen art for a career if you can’t take the criticism, it’s part of the territory. Look, if you give a speech to fifty people in a room, they will repeat what they heard, not what you said. Art is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone will have their own interpretation. The review is good from the standpoint you have received some great publicity. Bad publicity is good publicity, after all.”

“Everyone is so upset, and I don’t want my work misinterpreted to this extent. I may not agree with everything that happens in the world, but I am not an anarchist or a religion-basher! Perhaps I should write a letter to the editor explaining the true symbolism, and make sure from now on I add a commentary to my works somehow … .”

Their mother nodded in agreement with this last suggestion.

“I wouldn’t, sis.”

“Why not?” the ladies chimed. Steves sighed with impatience.

“Well, you take away the thrill of discovery. If you explain everything for everyone, nobody will want to look further and study the work. It’s the unknown that draws people. Remember what you told us about the Mona Lisa, if da Vinci revealed why and how he painted it, would they still be gaping at it today, trying to figure it out?”

“No, I suppose not. That really is the ugliest portrait I’ve seen, the only thing that supposedly makes it famous is the mystery behind it,” Katherine admitted as she remembered her trips to the Louvre and how she shook her head at the poor tourists crowding around to see a jaundiced, eyebrow-less lady that reminded her of tight-lipped Washington on the dollar bill. Surely, they could have chosen a better portrait of the First President for their currency?

“Exactly. Take away the ambiguity, and nobody would pay two cents to see it. Let people try to fathom the meaning of something, and the mystery grows. So let certain misunderstandings and misinterpretations run wild, for there will always be those who want to see the work for themselves, and see it exactly as you intended. The more controversial a work is and talked about, the more famous it becomes.”

“How will I be able to handle the onslaught until they figure it out?” Katherine mused in dismay.” (…)

(End of Excerpt)

Katherine has visited the Louvre several times, and to see an eyebrowless woman that looks like she's suffering from jaundice get all the attention of all the crowding, oogling tourists that walk past all the other masterpieces as though they were only worth a footnote in the annals of Art galls her! Plus, the fact the most common note in their currency, the one dollar bill, has a unflattering portrait of President Washington that looks just like the “Mona Lisa” is another sore point!

 (C'mon, we've all thought about it!) 

(Washington can't even believe it.)

Of course Katherine will still continue on her personal philosophical quest to discover how the elements of “Mystery”, “Beauty” and “Truth” make a masterpiece, and at the same time do her best to battle against the strange paradox of how such 'ugly' pieces of work capture worldwide fame and attention simply because the 'Establishment' has made them famous.

She has some high-minded principles of her own, and the novel explores how she tries to put them into action in the 'real world' when she opens her own gallery and is confronted with 'Art as Business' and 'Art as Investment', paradoxes that clash with the philosophical ideals of 'Beauty' and 'Truth' associated with High Art. Yes, Katherine can be an annoying, but hopefully a lovable idealistic perfectionist, hence she stings like a gadfly. Sometimes, she is successful, other times she finds herself coming down off her high horse as the expression goes. (In the meantime, Life and Romance gets in the way of everything...which is a whole other ball game!)

Get your copy of Brushstrokes of a Gadfly today!

(Also, a sequel to Brushstrokes is in the works, you can find out a little more about it by clicking here.)  Stay tuned...!


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The "Purple" Scapular of Benediction and Protection

I've recently been asked a few questions about the images on the "Purple" Scapular and also on the nature of the graces received through it as featured in the book "We Are Warned: The Prophecies of Marie-Julie Jahenny" and thought it would be a great opportunity to write out a detailed Q and A style post to cover any and all questions for those seeking clarity on the Scapular.

All right, let's begin!

Q: Where did this Scapular come from and is this approved by the Catholic Church?

A:  The Scapular was shown in a vision on August 23, 1878 to the stigmatist and mystic Marie-Julie Jahenny (1850-1941).  The Scapular was shown to her resting on the Immaculate Heart of Mary.   Marie-Julie Jahenny was born on Coyault, but lived in La Fraudais, just a short distance north of Blain in Brittany France.  She was approved about three years before then by her local bishop in 1875, Bishop Fournier, bishop of Nantes.  A mystic does not need approval from the Vatican, a local bishop's approval is recognised as official Church approval.  Therefore, we can safely wear the Purple Scapular as it originated from a supernatural revelation given by an approved mystic.

Q: What's the story of the Scapular?  Why did Heaven reveal this relatively new scapular to the world?

A: It is Scapular was specially designed by Our Lord and Our Lady themselves, Our Lady said: "... for a long time my Son and I have had the desire to make known this scapular of benediction."

 First, to remind the faithful about various details of the Passion and Our Lady's Sorrows so that they may receive their due share of veneration, and second, to protect us during the coming chastisements, for the world is already being cleansed due to its manifold sins and corruption, and it is about to get worse.  Our Lady said: "This first apparition of this scapular will be a new protection for the times of the chastisements."

Q: What are the images / symbols?

A: On the FRONT of the Scapular in Marie-Julie Jahenny's own words:

"It is a large scapular, larger than ordinary scapulars, it is a little larger than the palm of a hand. It is a beautiful purple, almost the colour of violet. Here is what is on it: in the middle, there are the three nails that crucified Our Saviour on the Cross, some are crossed on the others, not exactly in the form of a cross and the point of each nail, there is a drop of red blood. Above the three nails, there is a
type of large sponge that has raised ears, like those of balled oats. The three drops of blood will go to join together and fall into a small chalice painted in red, and the chalice is surrounded with a crown of thorns, and there are three little crosses engraved on the front of the chalice. This is the side of the scapular that is on the mantle of the Holy Virgin."

On the BACK:

"The other side of the scapular represents the Holy Virgin Mary sitting, holding her Adorable Son in her arms, the mouth and the Head of Our Lord rests on the heart of the Holy Virgin. At the lower end of the scapular, at the feet of Our Lord, is an Angel dressed in white, with curly hair, he has a white crown on his head, his belt is red. He has in his hands a white linen with which he wipes the feet of Our Lord. On the side of the Angel, to the right of the scapular, there is engraved a ladder. Behind Our Lord, to the left, the reed of the Passion painted in red, but without a sponge. The tears of the Holy Virgin fall on her breast, to the right, and they stop at the feet of the Angel."

The STRAPS and finishing touches:

"I notice that this scapular hangs by two violet straps that pass over each shoulder, and there are three knots on the left shoulder, and two on the right. (...)  The scapular is edged with a red line and the straps are woollen."

Q: What do the images mean?

A: The meaning of the symbols in Our Lady's own words:

 "This scapular, my children, it is supposed to be made on my heart, (i.e with humility and devotion to Her Immaculate Heart) because my heart is the emblem of simplicity and humility, and hence, the colour violet.

The nails that have pierced the feet and the hands of my Son have been little venerated and are venerable, hence my Son, in His Divine Wisdom, has made that these three nails be painted on the front of the scapular.

These three drops of blood and the chalice represent the generous hearts gathering the Blood of my
Divine Son.  (I.e those devoted to the Precious Blood and gathering it for the good of the Church, conversion of sinners, etc.)

The red sponge will represent my Divine Son drinking, in a manner, the sins of His children but His Adorable Mouth refuses."

Our Lord explains the back image:

"My children, very few souls think of wiping the Adorable Wounds of My Feet when the Blood
ran and I would like this representation to be known. They also think so little of the tears shed by My Mother during My Passion; these tears are found at the feet of the Angel that wipes My Sacred Feet. By this scapular, I would like you to think on the ladder, the reed and the nails of My Passion."

Hence, the images of the Angel, the ladders, nails, the reed that held the sponge, etc. are symbolic of this devotion Our Lord wants known, they are not meant to be a literal representation of the Crucifixion scene.

Q: Why do the straps have different knots in them? What does that mean? 

This is one detail not explained in the vision, but apparently, as this Scapular represents the Passion of Our Lord, we are probably expected to think this one out for ourselves.  This is what I've personally speculated:

* 5 knots in total: possibly the Five Wounds of Christ.

* 3 knots over the left shoulder: the number 3 symbolises the Holy Trinity.  According to Marie-Julie's visions, Our Lord carried His Cross on the left shoulder.  Possibly, this is to remind us of that, and, to encourage Devotion to His Forgotten Wound of the Shoulder. (You can read about the NEW promises give to the Shoulder Wound Devotion here.)

Q: Is there a specific prayer or devotion that needs to be said with this Scapular?

A: YES, there are two.   As Our Lady presented the Scapular to Our Lord, He turned to Marie-Julie and said:

“I address you, My victim, and also My victims and My servant, My children of the Cross, I see and I come to give you an idea and profound thought: during My descent from the Cross they handed Me to My mother, this descent, this thought, this devotion is little known.

 I would like by this reproduction on this scapular, that it pass into the hearts of the children of the Cross, and that they salute Me by these three salutations:

I salute You, Jesus crucified, that you grant me life.

I salute You with all the joy of the Angels and the Saints in Your descent from the Cross.

I salute you with the sadness of Your Mother when you reposed on her heart and on her Immaculate lap.

Our Lord also asked that people meditate for at least 2- 3 minutes on His Passion, and to say this following prayer 5 or 7 times, the "Crux Ave" given to Marie-Julie Jahenny in a separate vision:

"O, Crux Ave! Spes unica! Et Verbum caro factum est! O Jesus, vanquisher of death, save us!"

(O hail to the Cross! Our only hope! And the Word was made flesh.)  This must be said in Latin, and you must be "carrying" the Scapular for this prayer.  Wearing it would be best!

 Q: What are the promises and graces attached to the Scapular?

A: From a close reading of the text we see there are various promises and graces depending on whether it is simply possessed, displayed, actually worn, or if you simply desire to be clothed with it.

1)  It must be WORN for these graces: 

Our Lady "This  first apparition of this scapular will be a new protection for the times of the chastisements, of the calamities and the famines.

 All those who are clothed (with it) shall pass under the storms, the tempests and the darkness, they will have light as if it were plain day. Here is the power of this unknown scapular.”

 2) Graces and Promises simply by POSSESSING or CARRYING it. ( i.e have it on your person or reverently displayed in your homes).

This extends to "ALL" for the grace of conversion of sinners and blasphemers as well as for the benefit of faithful believers. (Of course, the best way to 'carry' it, is to wear it, but since the word 'carry' is used, this implies having it on your person might be enough fulfil the requirement for these graces.)

Our Lord: "My children, all souls, all people who possess this scapular, will see their family protected, their home will also be protected, first of all from fires, which will never enter there. 

This scapular will strike down the ungrateful which blaspheme My Name in the home
where it will be displayed
.  If an impious person enters, they will be so completely struck that their conversion will be close. (Hence, it would be a good idea to get an extra one and frame it for display in your home.)

  Our Lord still adds that by reminding an obstinate soul about this scapular at the hours of their demise (i.e., death), they will awaken the Faith in it and a firm belief, (grace of conversion).

 All those who will carry it will be preserved from 1) thunder, from 2) sudden death and from
3) accidents. During chastisements 4) they will be protected.

That all those who will have it and think upon it and love it, will be spared the troubles of soul.

That those who will carry it will be sheltered from any danger as though they already possessed Heaven.

That this scapular, finally, will be as a lightning rod under which the blows of Just and Divine
Wrath will not dwell. 

3) PROTECTING CHURCHES: Displaying it for veneration in a Church will protect that church from impious people and from profanation. 

 4) Simply DESIRING to wear it: Our Lord: "I shall grant great graces to those who desire to be clothed in this Holy Habit." (Graces not named: to the discretion of Our Lord, no doubt depending on the state and spiritual needs of the soul of those who desire the scapular.)

 Q: Can any priest bless it?

A: Yes, any validly ordained Catholic priest may bless it.  Like all sacramentals it must be blessed to receive the graces.

Q: If I need a new one because my old one has worn out, does the new one need to be blessed again?

A: For now, yes.  

Unlike the Brown Scapular, there is no confraternity or religious order yet associated with the Purple Scapular.  Enrolment in a confraternity means the person is blessed with the graces of the order, e.g. a Brown Scapular is a miniature version of the Carmelite habit so a replacement does not need to be blessed, but since the Purple Scapular is not part of an order yet, and has to be blessed as a regular sacramental, it is better to be on the safe side and have your  replacement Purple Scapular blessed. 

No doubt this Scapular will one day be associated with the religious order that will run the promised Sanctuary of the Cross that will be built on the site of Marie-Julie's cottage but until then, get your new one blessed.

Q: If I want to make my own, can I use just any material?

A: The directions are specific, so NO, one must keep to the directions regarding the materials and how it is to be made. 

* The main colour of the background of the Scapular must be violet purple and made of wool. (Our Lord describes this as a 'Holy Habit' and therefore like the Brown Scapular must be of wool.)

 * The main cloth / rectangular parts must be slightly larger than the palm of the hand.

*The straps must be violet purple in colour and made of wool.  The left strap must have three knots that go over the shoulder, the right strap two knots. Therefore, you cannot detach the Scapular from its straps either, let's say, to make it part of what is known as "The Five Fold" Scapular, five of the major Scapulars with one set of straps.   The Purple Scapular has a unique set of straps, and therefore cannot be detached from them.

*The symbols of the Passion on the front must be painted in red, on a dark red flannel panel. The symbols must match the description in the vision.  Our Lady: "I desire that the end of the scapular, be of violet, (the background), but I desire that the nails, the chalice, the sponge and the crown be on a piece of dark red flannel."

*The image of the Pietá must be as close to the description of the vision as much as possible. (however, there is no specification to the matieral this image must be on, so this could be printed or painted on anything, cotton, wool, etc.)

* The Scapular must be edged in red, (although what type of material that edge should be is not specified.)

Q: What if the images fade from wear and tear, especially the painted parts? What do I do?

A:  If they are just faded a bit, like the tiny little crosses on the chalice tend to fade, and you can still make out the image, they are still okay.  However, if you are having trouble seeing what all the symbols are, or they are gone entirely, then it's defintely time to repair them or get a new scapular.

As a judge of how 'faded' they have to be for this to ensure you still receive the Blessings, I suggest using the rule applied to most sacramentals and priest vestments:  for instance, if a set of Rosary beads with a Papal Blessing is missing half its beads, then it's considered not fit for purpose and the blessing is no longer on the set.  If a set of Mass vestments go threadbare and look really worn, then they must be replaced to be fit for the august service of the altar.  So, if the images are really damaged or practically gone on your Purple Scapular, I'd suggest reparing them, or getting a new one.

In fact, prevention is better than cure: cover the squares of your Scapular with clear plastic wrap of some kind if you can to prevent damage happening to the delicate details. 

To repair the paint part in front with the Passion symbols: print off a picture of the Purple Scapular, carefully cut out the symbols with a razor blade and use the print as a stencil, or if you're artistically inclined, do your best to paint them in by hand with a very tiny brush. 

For the back image: you could try taking the image of the Pietá into a place that prints T-shirts, etc, and have them print this on a T-shirt for you.  You can then cut out the image and sew it on to the Purple part of the Scapular if you want a cloth image.  However, there is no stipulation saying this image has to be on cloth.  You could print off a picture of the image (see picture above), have it laminated so it's protected, then sew it onto the purple cloth part. If the lamination is really thick and difficult to sew through, poke some hole in the corners and sew the picture on using a loop stitch.

If the images had to be repaired, or a new strap put on, etc., I'd suggest having your Scapular re-blessed.   

Q: Do you know where I can buy them?

A:  Yes: 

This is the only site I've found online that has them and will ship overseas.  The Scapulars are made in a convent in France, so as they need to be shipped expect them to be pricey, especially as they require more material and are more detailed than most scapulars.  (And no, I make nothing promoting the site, I'm just sharing info!)

So far, that's all the questions I have received or can think of.  

If there is something not answered here, leave your question in the comments and I'll do my best to answer it!

Also, if you have received a miracle or grace through this Scapular, please share it in the comment section below!  


(Find out more about Marie-Julie Jahenny, click here.)