Thunderclouds of Mary

This is actually one of my most hope-filled posts, but follow me down the bad rabbit hole of humanism for a minute before we come rocketing up to the glory of God: Most conservative pundits say that the world is now worse than previous centuries. However, most professors of world history at American and European universities teach that (except for modern wars) we now live in a world much safer, thanks to medicine, secularism and globalism. Of course, I would want to point the latter group to the millions of yearly abortions, but the Western academy will not accept that the unborn constitute an actual genocide of slaughtered human beings.

However, every once in awhile, even the liberal academy releases evidence that things are now worse now than ever in world history. The United-Nations-affiliate International Labor Organization released statistics in 2017 that there are now 40 million people in modern slavery and 152 million in child labour around the world: “The new estimates also show that women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, accounting almost 29 million, or 71 per cent of the overall total. Women represent 99 per cent of the victims of forced labour in the commercial sex industry and 84 per cent of forced marriages.” Notice that the trans-Atlantic slave trade of the 18th century had enslaved between 6 million and 7 million black slaves from Africa. 1

But the Apostle Paul writes: “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”—Romans 5:20b
St. John of the Cross writes: “The Lord has always revealed to mortals the treasures of His wisdom and spirit, but now that the face of evil bares itself more and more, so does the Lord bare His treasures more.”—Dichas, #1

So, two things have been on my mind incessantly the past year as I see world history “circling the drain” (as people in EMS would rather irreverently describe deteriorating patients.)

First, I see great global hope of Christians uniting.  (Remember I have never been accused of being an optimist on this topic, so follow me closely here.)  This is because I think constantly of a mysterious, short 20-page prophetic fiction written in 1900 by the elusive Russian named Vladimir Soloviev. He called his short work Antichrist, and I linked it here on my Evernote if you want to take the 25 minutes to read it. I highly highly suggest you read it. In this short and striking tale of the future, the final global persecutor of the few remaining good Catholics, good Orthodox and good Protestants accidentally becomes the one to unite all Christians. Yes, you read that correctly: God uses the final antichrist to unite all Christians into one fold. The few remaining final Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants become one under the final Peter in this hauntingly beautiful apocalyptic tale.

Secondly, I think constantly of St. Louis De Montfort who wrote, “Mary scarcely appeared in the first coming of Christ. … But in the second coming of Jesus Christ, Mary must be known and openly revealed by the Holy Spirit so that Jesus may be known, loved and served through her.”

St. Louis De Montfort prophesies that the true apostles of the latter times will look like this:

Towards the end of the world … Almighty God and His holy Mother are to raise up saints who will surpass in holiness most other saints as much as the cedars of Lebanon tower above little shrubs.

These great souls filled with grace and zeal will be chosen to oppose the enemies of God who are raging on all sides. They will be exceptionally devoted to the Blessed Virgin. Illumined by her light, strengthened by her spirit, supported by her arms, sheltered under her protection, they will fight with one hand and build with the other.

With one hand they will give battle, overthrowing and crushing heretics and their heresies, schismatics and their schisms, idolaters and their idolatries, sinners and their wickedness. With the other hand they will build the temple of the true Solomon and the mystical city of God, namely, the Blessed Virgin. …

They will be like thunderclouds flying through the air at the slightest breath of the Holy Spirit. Attached to nothing, surprised at nothing, they will shower down the rain of God’s word and of eternal life. They will thunder against sin; they will storm against the world; they will strike down the devil and his followers and for life and for death, they will pierce through and through with the two-edged sword of God’s word all those against whom they are sent by Almighty God.

They will be true apostles of the latter times to whom the Lord of Hosts will give eloquence and strength to work wonders and carry off glorious spoils from His enemies. They will sleep without gold or silver and, more important still, without concern in the midst of other priests, ecclesiastics and clerics. Yet they will have the silver wings of the dove enabling them to go wherever the Holy Spirit calls them, filled as they are, with the resolve to seek the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Wherever they preach, they will leave behind them nothing but the gold of love, which is the fulfillment of the whole law.

They will have the two-edged sword of the Word of God in their mouths and the bloodstained standard of the Cross on their shoulders. They will carry the crucifix in their right hand and the Rosary in their left, and the holy names of Jesus and Mary on their heart.

2

  1. “Though it is impossible to give accurate figures, some historians have estimated that 6 to 7 million black slaves were imported to the New World during the 18th century alone, depriving the African continent of some of its healthiest and ablest men and women.”—history.com   

  2. The final quote was taken from St. Louis De Montfort’s True Devotion #56-59. The images I chose for this post are both pictures I took on Good Friday above the altar at St. Maron Church in Jacksonville, FL. This is a Maronite-Rite (Lebanese) Catholic Church in union with Rome.

What Exactly is the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary?

On 13 October 1884, Pope Leo XIII entered a trance after finishing Mass in the Vatican and he saw Jesus and Satan talking:

Satan: “I can destroy Your Church.”
Our Lord: “You can? Then go ahead and do so.”
Satan: “To do so, I need more time and more power.”
Our Lord: “How much time? How much power?”
Satan: “75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.”
Our Lord: “You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will.”

Pope Leo XIII then went to compose his prayer to St. Michael to be prayed after Masses everywhere.

Fast forward 33 years to 1917 when the Mother of God would have monthly apparitions to simple shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal.  To these children, Mary revealed warnings about World War II and the future of the Catholic Church.  Besides these prophesies coming true, the children were also vindicated when 70,000 onlookers (including atheists) saw the sun zig-zagging and diving to the earth:

Even secular press admitted this “sun miracle” took place. It  was probably the most spectacular miracle in the history of the world, at least since the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What is the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary?

Several months before that miracle, Mary spoke to those same children of the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart in regards to Russia and the entire future of the world and the Catholic Church.  She said:

“If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” 1

I have only recently been convinced how much Communism has already influenced the United States in our American social policies (sex-education) to our social habits (women in the work place) to the intolerance of Christianity in the academy (all the while Russia slowly crawls back to her own Christian roots.) But what does it mean that “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph“? This is only my theory but I believe there are only two possibilities for this triumph period of peace, and they are indeed mutually exclusive:

1) The end of the world.
or
2) The transition from this turbulent fifth age of the Church into the sixth and peaceful age of the Church.

The second admittedly sounds strange, and we will get to that later. But let’s start with evidence for the first via a Vatican-approved apparition of Mary. The Mother of God appeared to some children in Africa throughout the 1980s, warning them about heaven and hell, as well as a coming genocide to Rwanda (which ended up coming true in 1994.) One of the visionaries of Our Lady of Kibeho said this about Our Lady’s warnings:

“Because she loves us so much, she wants us to have more faith in God. During Advent we should reflect upon the return of Jesus. She told me that her Son will return to Earth soon, and that our souls must be prepared for His arrival. The world is in a very bad way…”—Visionary at Kibeho, Rwanda

This sounds like Christ is returning soon! Furthermore, it seems that many of the criteria for Christ’s second coming found in Matthew 24 have been fulfilled. 2

However, there is more evidence for the second theory, namely that the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is not going to be the end of the world, but rather a new era of peace coming upon the Church and the whole world.  This is already found in the writings of Ven. Bartholomew Holzhauser, a 17th century founder of a religious community who conglomerated the teaching of many saints and prophets. Much evidence points to the fact that we (now in the 21st century) are at the end of that tumultuous fifth age of the Church coming quickly into the sixth age of an “era of peace.”  Notice how similar this is to what Mary said at Fatima regarding a “period of peace.”  In fact, many canonized saints and ancient prophets conglomerated in this book prophesy that the sixth age of Church history will include two figures known as “The Holy Pope” and “The Great Catholic Monarch.”  (I preached on these two expected men in the second half of a podcast here.) 3

Even before the death of the last Apostle, already the Catholic Church was facing several antichrists (See 1 John 2:18.) However, the final antichrist will not come until the seventh age of the Church, concurrent with several global happenings I podcasted about here, all proved from the Bible and the Catechism, not private revelation.  Again, notice that we are only in the fifth age of the Church, and these events will be found in the seventh age of the Church, so the final antichrist is probably not in power yet anywhere in the world.

Still, our current age of Church history also has plenty of trouble, and Our Lady of Akita gave astonishingly clear warnings of the future to Sr. Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa in as late as 1973:

“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…The Church will be full of those who accept compromises….”—Our Lady of Akita, 13 October 1973

Notice that date of 13 October: 13 October is the date of Pope Leo XIII’s vision of Jesus and Satan.  13 October is the date of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.  13 October is the date of one of the main apparitions of Our Lady of Akita!  Our Lady of Akita also spoke of a coming chastisement if we do not repent:

“As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests.”—Our Lady of Akita. 4

Besides the days of Acts of the Apostles, I would argue that these are the most exciting times of Church history in which to live as a Catholic! We will either get to see Christ’s second return, or, more likely, the ushering in of a great Catholic era of [relative] world peace and a restoration of all things Catholic, albeit through a great chastisement. Yes, Our Lady of Good Success promised this “complete restoration” of the Catholic Church sometime after the 20th century. So, I believe this is the transition from the fifth age of the Church to the peaceful sixth age of the Church via a global chastisement. Perhaps the most important line of Fatima is:

The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

We know this will happen, so our goal as simple Catholics remains the same to expedite this: To stay in sanctifying grace. This is nearly guaranteed in a relationship with Jesus Christ, a deep prayer life, frequent confession and the daily Rosary. Yes, Our Lady of Akita warned us for tough times, even a fiery chastisement, but we were made for a time like this! God did not make a mistake in which time period He placed you. We have already been given the boldness, courage and fortitude to remain with Jesus and Mary so that Russia may be converted and so that your children (or at least your grandchildren) will see that “period of peace granted to the world.” I write of these private revelations not to scare you but to show that whereas the earth seems to be in a free-fall, the Blessed Trinity is actually in total control of modern world history and modern Church history. We can neither stop the punishment for sins nor stop the coming Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, but I believe we can expedite both by our prayers and penance in sacrificial love. Yes, it all now depends on you and your Rosary beads…more than any players in modern world history.


  1. This quote comes from Louis Kondor, S.V.D. (Ed.) Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words (Fatima: Postulation Centre, 1976), p. 162. Although this blog post is not about whether Russia was adequately consecrated or not, it is interesting to note what Fr. Gabriele Amorth said about this. Before his death last year, he was the chief exorcist of Rome (and before that) a trusted man of Pope John Paul II. Fr. Amorth said the following about Russia here.

  2. I already know that many people want to say “But we don’t know the day nor the hour!” Yes, I know Christ says that. But just because we don’t know the “day nor the hour” of Christ’s return does not mean that we won’t know the year! Not that I claim to have any idea when that year actually is, but Jesus never would have given us so many clues in Matthew 24 if we were supposed to be totally in the dark on eschatological events. Remember also that Christ’s indication in the Gospels of the coming the destruction of the Temple (70 AD) was enough to get all the early Jewish-Christian converts out of Jerusalem to the hills before its destruction.  The temple is a microcosm of the cosmos, and the cosmos will also burn one day,  so it would make sense why Christ would give us the clues of Matthew 24 regarding his return. Even CNN admits we have had more earthquakes than ever before in history. Notice how many of these are taking place.: As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your ycoming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.  And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.  And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

  3. Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser (17th Century)
    The fifth period of the Church, which began circa 1520, will end with the arrival of the holy Pope and of the powerful Monarch who is called “Help From God” because he will restore everything. The fifth period is one of affliction, desolation, humiliation, and poverty for the Church. Jesus Christ will purify His people through cruel wars, famines, plagues, epidemics, and other horrible calamities. He will also afflict and weaken the Latin Church with many heresies. It is a period of defections, calamities and exterminations. Those Christians who survive the sword, plague and famines, will be few on earth. During this period, many men will abuse of the freedom of conscience conceded to them. It is of such men that Jude the Apostle spoke when he said, “These men blaspheme whatever they do not understand; and they corrupt whatever they know naturally as irrational animals do.” They will ridicule Christian simplicity; they will call it folly and nonsense, but they will have the highest regard for advanced knowledge, and for the skill by which the axioms of law, the precepts of morality, the Holy Canons and religious dogmas are clouded by senseless questions and elaborate arguments. These are the evil times, a century full of dangers and calamities. Heresy is everywhere, and the followers of heresy are in power almost everywhere. but God will permit a great evil against His Church: Heretics and tyrants will come suddenly and unexpectedly; they will break into the Church. They will enter Italy and lay Rome waste; they will burn down churches and destroy everything.

  4. These are not crackpot apparitions or backwater trad tales. After eight years of investigations, Bishop John Shojiro Ito, Bishop of Niigata, Japan, recognized “the supernatural character of a series of mysterious events concerning the statue of the Holy Mother Mary” and authorized “throughout the entire diocese, the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita, while awaiting that the Holy See publishes definitive judgment on this matter.”—EWTN. EWTN also remarks on the veracity of the apparitions of Our Lady of Akita: “Despite claims that Cardinal Ratzinger gave definitive approval to Akita in 1988, no ecclesiastical decree appears to exist, as certainly would in such a case. However, some individuals, such as former Ambassador of the Phillipines to the Holy See, Mr. Howard Dee, have stated that they were given private assurances by Cardinal Ratzinger of the authenticity of Akita. In any case, in keeping with the current norms, given the absence of a repudiation of Bp. Ito’s decision by his successors, or by higher authority, the events of Akita continue to have ecclesiastical approval.”

    Another key line of Our Lady of Akita regarding this chastisement is this:

    “In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him forming a cohort of victim souls. Prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father’s anger. I desire this also from your community…that it love poverty, that it sanctify itself and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and outrages of so many men.”—Our Lady of Akita.

Prayer of Praise and Offering of Love for the Life of the World

Blessed are You, Magnificent Holy Father of Gentleness and Majesty. Nothing compares to you, the Holy, Almighty One of Israel. Thank you Father for your power—You to whom all things in heaven, on earth and under the earth, do bow and obey. I now see that You alone are worthy, O God. I praise you and worship you with holy hands, night and day in the temple with Simeon. Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, how sweet are you to me who cries “God alone!” Kyrie Eleison. I adore you profoundly in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, all aflame with the Holy Spirit. I pierced the meek and mild heart of your Son Jesus by my many sins. I repent heartily of my sins and those of the whole world. Victorious Lion of Judah, as your child, I ask you for these fruits of the Resurrection: Trust, purity, peace and wonder. Tenderly may our charity cover a multitude of sins of rage and fear growing in the world today, present in the darkness of my heart, too. Heal this land, for we know not what we do. Jesus, Your Church shows that Love is the Triumph of the cross when the world thinks it has won. Let us lose ourselves for Love, ever more sincerely and joyfully, even with growing persecutions against your littlest ones. I adore you Jesus, Adonai, my Lord and my God! Let every cell in my body speak of your wounds—once in your pain and tears—now in the Eucharistic host silent as a lamb before its shearers, forgotten, dropped and sacrileged these nights. I offer you my life with yours. I give you everything and I thank you for everything. I want to bring many souls to you. I want to love you recklessly. I want to be free and lose myself fumbling after Love. Please turn my rights, blaming and rage into gift and levity. O radiant Holy Spirit let me drown in the silent torrent of your love. Your lightnings light up the world. The earth sees and trembles. Please bless my Memory and my memories; purify my imagination. One word from You will disperse a million demons and restore the wasted years. So, I give my life for your glory in the renewal of the Liturgy, and the rescue of all lives on earth, in purgatory and for the unborn, the frozen and the trafficked. Deliver us, and atone for our sins, for Your Name’s sake! Mary Immaculata, my Mother, you are so beautiful and strong. Help me to keep and to remember. Cover me in your smile so that my justice may become God’s mercy. Let this, your prince’s prayer remain in our heart today, so we may worship the Living God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with many angels, numbering myriads of myriads, today and forever, crying: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how untraceable His paths! Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.  Amen.

Two Modern Myths of Ancient Church History

Myth 1: Catholic means universal, as in what all Catholics believe in the 21st century.  

Truth:  Catholic is that which is believed everywhere, always and by all.

Many people believe that the term “Catholic” means universal in Latin. This is true, but the Greek root of this word is even older:

As you can see, Catholic means “according to the whole.” By whole, that means everything in the Bible and oral tradition (2 Thess 2:15.) It means the fullness of the truth. The modern myth is that “Catholic” means universal—but only today. The problem with this definition is that it falls short of the original Patristic definitions of Catholic. The fifth century monk St. Vincent of Lérins taught: “Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believedeverywhere, always, by all (quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.)”—St. Vincent of Lérins, Commonitorium 4. Thus, Catholic doesn’t mean that quasi-deposit of the faith which is believed universally in an isolated époque of history, but rather the common teaching of the Popes and Fathers and saints of the 2nd century and the 8th century and the 13th century and the 17th century, and every century of the Magisterium.

Myth 2: Church History is like a pendulum that swings back and forth between conservative and liberal.

Truth:  Church history is politically unstable, but dogmatically quite stable, except for two unique doctrinal crises in Church history.  Even in these periods, the Magisterium remains untouched.

I graduated from a Jesuit high school and a Jesuit University and then I had another several years of Jesuit spiritual direction in seminary. I owe the Jesuits a lot, at least the true sons of Ignatius.  But one of those false-sons of Ignatius tuaght us at some point in high-school that Church history is like a pendulum that swung back and forth between “conservative” and “liberal.”

For perhaps a decade, I promoted this odd teaching.

But as I started reading Church history, I never found a century when the pendulum went to “the left.” I found that St. Ignatius of Antioch (1st century) taught the same thing about salvation outside the Church as St. Alphonsus Liguori (18th century) as St. Theresa of Avila (16th century) as, yes, even every liberal’s favorite mascot, St. Francis of Assisi. Before that, I would happily remind people in my high-school days that “St. Francis of Assisi said that we should preach the Gospel always; use words if necessary.”

Well, then I found out that St. Francis of Assisi believed words to be so necessary to the preaching of the Gospel for the salvation of Muslims that he actually went to Muslim lands to preach to the Sultan the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church:

Thus, there was no pendulum swing to “the left” as we had been taught. It was always on the right, with every saint teaching that “No one comes to the Father except through me.”—John 14:6. In other words, if everyone’s favorite ecumenical mascot St. Francis of Assisi wrote “woe to those who die in mortal sin,” then there are no saints of the left-leaning pendulum. If St. Therese of Lisieux fasted as a child from not only food, but also water to save the criminal Pranzini as he approached the gallows, then who are all these Methodist-sounding saints before, say, 1950? When, before our odd modern times did the pendulum swing to the left? Was it in the 8th century? Or the 16th century? Who are these mysterious ecumenical saints of the 2nd century or the 13th century or the 18th century? Who are the saints of the pendulum leaning left and away from traditional Catholicism? I never found any. Write me if you do.

The only explanation is that we don’t have a pendulum swing. We have solid and normal and beautiful Catholicism for 20 centuries, all except the Arian crisis and the current modernist crisis.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan names the crises of the Church here including:
1) The Arian heresy, about which I podcasted here yesterday.
2) The Dark Century of the Roman Mafia
3) The Great Western Schism
4) Today’s Anthropocentric Crisis that Bp. Athanasius describes as “doctrinal, moral and tremendous liturgical anarchy.”

Notice that there have been four great crises in Church History, but see that exclusively number two and number three refer mostly to politics of the Church, not much doctrine. But the first crisis (the Arian crisis) and today’s crisis (the anthropocentric crisis) is doctrinal first. That means that essentially, these are about the only times in history when nearly all Catholics have almost globally and entirely diverted from Catholic Deposit of the Faith on matters “doctrinal, moral and liturgical” as His Excellency has pointed out. Indeed, we have a pretty unbroken tradition of what was taught always and at all times in an Apostolic manner, except for two unique crises when dogmatic relativism ruled even the hierarchy.

It is no wonder that our liturgy is so different from every single century, either.

The most recent shocker of this new mis-narrative in Catholic Church history is that certain modernists now belabor orthodox Catholics for being “Pelagians” for simply taking the Gospel seriously, while simultaneously teaching that a “good” atheist can go to heaven by his deeds. That is the true definition of Pelagianism, for the Bible and the Church have always taught that a man can not be saved by his good works, without the blood of Jesus Christ. 1

So, put it all together, and you can see that there is no pendulum swing. Catholicism was Catholicism in every century ubique, semper, et ab omnibus except the 4th century and the 20th century. St. Athanasius taught in that first crisis that the only way back to the source is to see what Christ and the Apostles taught in unbroken Magisterial authority in faith and morals, unbroken in a straight stream (with only slight diversions of style and discipline) for every century before his own.

Mary, the destroyer of all heresies, will lead us back to Her Son Jesus, and the beliefs of her dear and earliest Christians.


  1. The Most Precious Blood of our redemption can be applied via perfect contrition in an extraordinary way through faith and love without baptism, like that which was given to the thief at the foot of the cross, but the ordinary way of salvation is the free gift of baptism, “for it is baptism that now saves you.”—1 Peter 3:21 and the works necessary for salvation described extremely clearly in Matthew 25.

Fathers: Protect Your Children Spiritually

What is Transferred in the Generational Line

One of the most amazing things about the God of the New and Old Testament is how He deals with families. Although women are frequently holier than their husbands, God has chosen—already found in the first book of the Bible—the generational blessing to be transferred from the husband through the boys of his family and so on.

Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.—Genesis 27:38

We long for our father’s blessing, but we often only receive his negligence or bad habits. Nowadays, there is a lot of talk these days about generational curses, and these do indeed exist, but we have to be careful about falling overboard into generational fatalism. At one point in the history of Israel, God gets so fed up with the Hebrew “daddy-wound” excuse that He prohibits this parable from being spoke all over Israel: The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.

What this means is that God prohibited the excuse, “I sinned because my Dad sinned.” It’s like:  My Dad ate bad grapes, so I can’t get my act together. In modern terms, it would be “I’m an alcoholic because my Dad is an alcoholic.” or “I’m addicted to porn because my Dad abused me.” Although there is a high correlation for both of these evils that I do not mean to mock, we must also remember that God prohibits excuses, for God has given to every man a free-will to begin a new family with fresh responsibility:

The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.—Ezekiel 18:1-4. 1

The reason we can not use a pious “daddy wound” excuse for our sins is because the grace we receive from God in the sacraments is infinitely more powerful than our physical, fallen bloodline. The grace and peace coming through the Precious Blood of Jesus is more powerful than the sins of the bloodline of the Maranzano family or the Mangano family or your family or my family. This is why God prohibits the ancient “daddy wound” excuse of the fathers eating sour grapes as it somehow transfers to the kids.  2

Although only original sin (not actual sins) transfers down a bloodline, the propensity for sins can indeed transfer down a bloodline, especially when mortal sins are committed under the roof of your children (and yes, pornography and drunkenness are both mortal sins.) This is where I am going to admonish the men reading this blog post to double-down in their vigilance against curses (that come primarily from their own sins) and blessings (literal blessings upon their children) to leave a legacy in their families today. I am going to give five battle-goals in this post.

Why should our vigilance be doubled?

Good Catholic parents keep telling me about their good children who are more frequently showing a propensity for same-sex attraction, transgender feelings, children making strange noises (yes, I know most kids make odd noises, but I mean preternaturally strange noises) as well as a highly-unusual propensity for finding pornography. Even relatively sheltered kids are doing sexual dances without ever having been taught. How is this possible?

It is either through learned behavior via the five-senses or through some type of cultural osmosis or even by demons that come into the home. I had written in an earlier blog post against pornography that a man must not use pornography unless he wants demons to invade his home. I realize this is a rather show-stopping claim, but every exorcist I know will back me up on this claim. Thus, I stick by this original claim.

But now, I am realizing something more scary: Even men who are successfully avoiding pornography and other mortal sins are finding their very young children get into sexual dancing and perverted experiments with themselves or other strange things. Some of this is the common effect of original sin that is only avoided in the childhood accounts of canonized saints.  But nowadays, some of these unusual perversions are because the fathers of families are not providing the full gamut of protection prayers and blessings that their children need against the most perverse and pro-death culture in the history of the world. Indeed, refraining from pornography is only the beginning of keeping many demons out of the home. But from what many good Catholic families are now reporting to me, I see: It is not enough.

I want to give my top five suggestions for how men can begin to provide spiritual protection for their families.

Five-Point Battle Plan:

1. Pray at least Five Decades of Daily Rosary with your family. You can no longer afford to say “We try for one decade at night but we have little kids who are too unruly.” Fine. Put the little ones to bed and say the five decades with the kids who can stay awake. Or, if none can stay awake, go to your bed and get on your knees with your wife at your side, and pray five decades of the Rosary with her. Or, perhaps you are waiting for her to lead the family? Men, you must take the initiative of spiritual warfare here, or you will lose. No exagerration here with what I’m coming against even in good Catholic families. You can’t afford to call me an extremist anymore with the preternatural proof I have of what is going on in even sheltered Catholic families. With the current spiritual and cultural war, you can not afford to spiritually lead your family without the minimum of 5 decades of the Rosary a day.

2. Auxilium Christianorum: The exorcist Fr. Ripperger has put together an international team of tens of thousands of lay men and women and priests. They are now praying basic prayers of spiritual protection over their families and over each other from afar. (One laywoman told me that there are now hundreds of thousands of people signed up!) The goal of Auxilium Christianorum is to provide prayers for the members – priests, laity, family and friends – so that they are not adversely affected by the demonic. Because men have the greatest gift of spiritual authority and protection in their families, I suggest as many men as possible enroll in this venture, provided they meet these few requirements. These are the willing ones, the spiritually vigilant warriors who want to fight to get their families to heaven. Auxilium Christianorum has an excellent FAQ here that you should read before signing up.

3. Praise God for His goodness together as a family! This is first because praise is God’s due and secondly because it is our salvation to praise God and thirdly because it unites our families to thank God but as a distant fourth: Praise is exorcismal against Satan. Satan and his legion of demons can not stand a family that praises God. Satan got especially angry at St. Faustina for writing about His goodness: “Do not write about the goodness of God! He is just!”—Satan to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy Diary 1338.

4. Praise your wife and children.  By “praise” I do not mean “praise” in the same way as number three above, for the above refers to “latria” in the sense of adoration due only to God. By praise of your family, I mean encouragement and compliments. At least, let your encouragements be as frequent as your corrections.

5. Bless your wife and your children. This is the blessing that is transferred inter-generationally for as many generations as will exist from your progeny until the second coming of Jesus Christ. Imagine this blessing passing through your son, to his son, to your grandson, to the point of leaving a dynastic legacy. Satan can not do this, because his only legacy is de-creation. A humble man becomes God-like by simply blessing his children before they go to bed. This blessing is not to make them feel good (although it will make them feel more protected than living in a fortress!) or encouraged (although it will make them feel like the son or daughter of a warrior!) but because the multi-generational blessing that a father can give his son is real. A blessing is efficacious, meaning it will change world history, as we see in Aaron’s blessing in the Old Testament:

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.
“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”—Numbers 6:22-27

If you’re not good at making up spontaneous prayers, just memorize and pray the bold above, every night upon your wife and children. 3

We long to be blessed by our fathers, to be protected by our fathers, to be praised by our fathers. This is done through blessings, encouragements and protection prayers. Men, I admonish you to begin one or even all of the above five today.


  1. All of Ezekiel 18 is worth reading: The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.  “If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord God. “If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things (though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.  “Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity. “Yet you say, Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die. “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

  2. A friend wrote me an email after reading this article tonight and it read:   “As a veterinarian, I can tell you that wounds that are licked fester and become extremely gross.”  I had never thought of licking wounds this way!

  3. There is a modern myth among conservative Catholics that only a priest can bless people. This is simply not the tradition of the Church. You can find St. Catherine of Siena blessing people. You can find biological fathers blessing their family in all ancient rites of the Catholic Church (Roman, Byzantine, Armenian, Greek, Russian, etc.) To be sure, there are some unique things about a priest’s blessing. First, only a priest carries with him the whole blessing of the Church behind him. Secondly, it is probably best that only the priest bless with his whole arm “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (although I think some non-priestly saints did this occasionally, too.) But certainly, every father of a family can bless his wife and children by tracing the sign of the cross on her forehead as he says the above prayer, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” Every mother can bless her children in a similar way, but she can not bless her husband this way. This is not to say that she is not holier than him. She probably is holier than her husband! But God established the blessing to go down the latter of spiritual authority, not holiness. This is also why a holy layman should not bless a rotten priest. The layman’s prayers for the priest will be more powerful than vice versa, but we must respect the authority given in a blessing. Finally, I want to give one more reason why you should not be afraid of blessing your children: Satanists and witches have absolutely no qualms about cursing strangers (especially those with big families) with their diabolical hexes, curses and voodoo. Families should not live in fear of these people. Why? Because the curses of Satanists upon children are not as powerful as the blessings that parents bring into their children’s lives…provided the parents are actually blessing their children before bed. Again, just trace the sign of the cross on their forehead as they go to bed and bless them in spontaneous prayer or the above Aaronic blessing.

Where is the Ark of the Covenant?

About 1700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, so he was brought from Israel to Egypt. But due to Joseph’s supernatural ability to interpret Pharaoh’s prophetic dreams, the Pharaoh raised him to Prime Minister of Egypt:  Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”—Gen 41:39-41.

Notice that this happens in the first book in the Bible, Genesis. Soon, Joseph’s entire family arrives in Egypt, and things went well for the Jews…for awhile. The next book of the Bible (Exodus) quickly tells us in the first chapter: Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.—Exodus 1:8. The Egyptians then enslave the Jews for 430 years, all out of fear for their procreation (as all pagans are always preternaturally afraid of breeders of the true religion.)

Then, around 1200 BC, Moses led millions of Jews out of slavery to modern day Israel. His route is seen in this map here:

Sorry for the poor graphics above, but the two most important mountains in the life of Moses are Mount Sinai and Mount Nebo.  Mount Sinai is in the south of the map and Mount Nebo towards the Northeast.  Mount Sinai is where Moses obtained the 10 Commandments from God Himself. Mount Nebo is where Moses died and was buried.  Between these two mountains, millions of Jews followed the Levites who carried the Ark of the Covenant for forty years.   The Ark of the Covenant contained and still contains (somewhere in the world) the manna that God gave the Jews in the wilderness as well as the 10 commandments as well as Aaron’s rod which budded.

The end of Moses’ life is found in Exodus 34:  Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho…And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.—Ex 34:1,4-5. So Moses dies on Mount Nebo, within view of the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey, but was not allowed to enter. 1

We will return to Nebo, but for now, lets switch gears and talk about the current location of the Ark of the Covenant.

Steven Spielberg placed the Ark in his movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, in Egypt:

Spielberg would have been more historical to place the Ark in Ethiopia, since the Ethiopian Orthodox actually claim to this day that the Ark of the Covenant is located at their very own St. Mary of Zion Church in Axum.  In fact,  Smithsonian Magazine did a story on this.

But Catholics have a book of the Bible that Steven Spielberg did not know about:  Maccabees.  Our Catholic Bible actually tells us where to find the Ark of the Covenant today:  On Mount Nebo  (Before going further, if you doubt that Maccabees is canonical and inspired by God, please read yesterday’s blog post proving the canonicity of the Catholic Bible above and beyond the newer, cut-up Protestant Bible.)

Now we return to Mount Nebo:  About 1050 years after the death of Moses and 150 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, a Jewish-Greek author wrote Maccabees in Greek under inspiration by the Holy Spirit around 150 BC.  In it, he describes where to find the Ark of the Covenant. It turns out that the prophet Jeremiah hid it on Mount Nebo around 600 BC! The Bible tells us in 2 Maccabees:

It is also found in the records, that Jeremiah the prophet commanded them that were carried away to take of the fire, as it hath been signified: And how that the prophet, having given them the law, charged them not to forget the commandments of the Lord, and that they should not err in their minds, when they see images of silver and gold, with their ornaments. And with other such speeches exhorted he them, that the law should not depart from their hearts. It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain, where Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God. [Mt. Nebo] And when Jeremiah came thither, he found an hollow cave, wherein he laid the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door. And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but they could not find it. Which when Jeremiah perceived, he blamed them, saying, ‘As for that place, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather His people again together, and receive them unto mercy. Then shall the Lord shew them these things, and the glory of the Lord shall appear, and the cloud also, as it was shewed under Moses, and as when Solomon desired that the place might be honourably sanctified.’—2 Macc 2:1-8

Notice that the author (around 150 BC) is describing something spoken by the prophet Jeremiah (who died around 600 BC.)  The Maccabean author shows that although Jeremiah revealed that the Ark of the Covenant is buried somewhere on Mount Nebo, we are not to know exactly where it is.  In fact, future generations will not know exactly where it is until “God gathers His people again and receives them into mercy.”—2 Macc 2:7. Although this could be anytime in the New Covenant (after the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ) we have no evidence that the Ark has been discovered, unless the Ethiopians provide some evidence (which they haven’t, and won’t, because their tradition is to not show the goods.)

However, I believe that if we look at the Greek of 2 Macc 2:7, we will find something very interesting:  ἄγνωστος ὁ τόπος ἔσται, ἕως ἂν συναγάγῃ ὁ Θεὸς ἐπισυναγωγὴν τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ ἵλεως γένηται· καὶ ὀφθήσεται ἡ δόξα τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ ἡ νεφέλη.—2 Macc 2:7-8.

I will transliterate this Greek as best as I can with the underlining coordinated to the above underlining:  Unknown the place will be until God synagogues the synagogue of the people and becomes mercy and the glory of the Lord is shown in the cloud.  Notice that this is a play on words, namely, that the noun “synagogue” (meaning a gathering) can being used as a verb, “gathering.” So, the location of the Ark of the Covenant is not going to happen until God “gathers the gathering” or “synagogues the synagogue” (!!!)

What could this possibly mean?  I believe this is a reference to the end of the world, when God will gather the Jews into the Catholic Church.  

The first proof we have of this is through St. Paul:  For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, (lest you should be wise in your own conceits), that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in. And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: There shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.—Romans 11:25-26. St. Paul certainly did not mean that every Jew will go to heaven, but that Israel will have her eyes opened to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and that there will be a massive influx of Jews into the Catholic Church at the end of time.  This new Catechism of the Catholic Church also holds this:

The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.” St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles,” will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all.”CCC 674

Thus, the Ark of the Covenant is still located on Mount Nebo near the Dead Sea and Jericho but the specific location will probably not be revealed until near the end of the world. 

As the prophet Jeremiah promised in the Bible: As for that place, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather His people again together, and receive them unto mercy.—2 Macc 2:7

Eschatologically, remember: Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant as she carried the law of love in her heart as well as the bread from heaven, Jesus Christ (John 6). Remember: The Ark of the Covenant is always considered in typology to be the pre-eminent type or symbol of Mary in the Old Testament because her visit to Elizabeth (Luke 1) reflecting the rejoicing of King David when the Ark of the Lord came to Him (2 Sam 6-7)  Remember:  Mary is the exemplar of the Church—she to whom the Church is striving to be in heaven at the end of time.  Remember: Mary’s body in heaven but entirely genetically Jewish, making her the full daughter of Zion in the heavenly Jerusalem.

Put this all together and you have the obvious conclusion that: Mary is to be the Mother of the Jewish people at the end of the world, when she is to be revealed as the new Ark of the Covenant as well as the mother of the Eucharist and the true daughter of Zion and the Jewish people.   God will then “synagogue His synagogue” of Jews as they recognize Jesus Christ as God, friend, Savior and Messiah, and the original Ark of the Covenant will be found on Mount Nebo with the 10 Commandments, Aaron’s sprouted rod and even the manna from heaven.

Or…the Ethiopians already have it:


St. Mary of Zion Church in Axum, Ethiopia.


  1. My friend took the main picture of this blog post way up at the top at Mount Nebo.  Although that is desert, it should be noted that Jerusalem, just a short drive West of Nebo, looks more like Napa Valley in California.  I do not know why so many mindless American Bible movies film the life of Jesus in modern-day deserts, like Morocco or Wyoming when they should be filming in rural northern California if they wanted to be accurate.

Why is the Protestant Bible Missing Several Books?

This is by Joel Peters.  It is taken from Twenty One Reasons to Reject Sola Scriptura.

One historical fact which proves extremely convenient for the Protestant is the fact that the canon of the Bible – the authoritative list of exactly which books are part of inspired Scripture – was not settled and fixed until the end of the 4th century. Until that time, there was much disagreement over which Biblical writings were considered inspired and Apostolic in origin. The Biblical canon varied from place to place: Some lists contained books that were later defined as non-canonical, while other lists failed to include books which were later defined as canonical. For example, there were Early Christian writings which were considered by some to be inspired and Apostolic and which were actually read in Christian public worship, but which were later omitted from the New Testament canon. These include The Shepherd of Hermas, The Epistle of Barnabas, and The Didache, among others. 1

It was not until the Synod of Rome (382) and the Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397) that we find a definitive list of canonical books being drawn up, and each of these Councils acknowledged the very same list of books. 2 From this point on, there is in practice no dispute about the canon of the Bible, the only exception being the so-called Protestant Reformers, who entered upon the scene in 1517, an unbelievable 11 centuries later. Once again, there are two fundamental questions for which one cannot provide answers that are consonant with Sola Scriptura: A) Who or what served as the final Christian authority up to the time that the New Testament’s canon was identified? B) And if there was a final authority that the Protestant recognizes before the establishment of the canon, on what basis did that authority cease being final once the Bible’s canon was established?

Much to their chagrin, Protestants are actually guilty of violating their own doctrine. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura prohibits anyone from adding to or deleting from the Bible, but Protestants have, in fact, deleted seven entire books from the Old Testament, as well as portions of two others. The books in question, which are wrongly termed “the Apocrypha” (“not authentic”) by Protestants, are called the “deuterocanonical” (“second canon”) books by Catholics: they are Tobias (Tobit), Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (or Sirach), and Baruch. Portions of Daniel and Esther are also missing.

In defense of their deficient Old Testament canon, Protestants invariably present one or more of the following arguments: 1) the shorter, Pharisaic (or Palestinian) canon 3 of the Old Testament was accepted by Christ and His Apostles, as they never quoted from the deuterocanonical books; 2) the Old Testament was closed by the time of Christ, and it was the shorter canon; 3) the Jews themselves accepted the shorter, Pharisaic canon at the Council of Jamnia (or Javneh) in 90 A.D.; and 4) the deuterocanonical books contain unscriptural material.

Each of the [above] arguments is wholly flawed.  [Here is why]:

1) Regarding the claim that Christ and His Apostles accepted the shorter, Pharisaic canon, an examination of the New Testament’s quotation of the Old Testament will demonstrate its fallacy. The New Testament quotes the Old Testament about 350 times, and in approximately 300 of those instances (86%), the quotation is taken from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament in widespread use at the time of Christ. The Septuagint contained the dueterocanonical books. It is therefore unreasonable and presumptuous to say that Christ and His Apostles accepted the shorter Old Testament canon, as the clear majority of the time they used an Old Testament version which did contain the seven books in question.

Or, take the case of Saint Paul, whose missionary journeys and letters were directed to Hellenistic regions outside of Palestine. It has been noted, for example, that his sermon at Antioch in Pisidia “presupposed a thorough acquaintance among his hearers with the Septuagint” and that once a Christian community had been founded, the content of his letters to its members” breathed the Septuagint. 4 Obviously, Saint Paul was supporting the longer canon of the Old Testament by his routine appeal to the Septuagint.

Moreover, it is erroneous to say either that the deutero-canonical books were never quoted by Christ 5 and His apostles or that such citation is a prerequisite for a book’s inclusion in the Biblical canon. According to one list, the deutero-canonical books are cited or alluded to in the New Testament not less than 150 times! 6 In addition, there are Old Testament books, such as Ecclesiastes, Esther and Abdias (Obadiah), which are not quoted by Christ or the Apostles, but which are nonetheless included in the Old Testament canon (both Catholic and Protestant). Obviously, then, citation by Christ or the Apostles does not singlehandedly determine canonicity.

2) Regarding the claim that Christ and the Apostles worked with a closed Old Testament canon – which Protestants maintain was the shorter canon – the historical evidence undermines the allegation. First, there was no entity known as the Palestinian canon, for there were actually three canons in use in Palestine at that time, 7 in addition to the Septuagint canon. And second, the evidence demonstrates that “Judaism in the last two centuries B.C. and in the first century A.D. was by no means uniform in its understanding of which of its writings were considered sacred. There were many views both inside and outside of Israel in the first centuries B.C. and A.D. on which writings were deemed sacred.” 8

3) Using the Council of Jamnia in support of a shorter canon is manifestly problematic for the following reasons: a) The decisions of a Jewish council which was held more than 50 years after the Resurrection of Christ are in no way binding on the Christian community, just as the ritual laws of Judaism (e.g., the prohibition against eating pork) are not binding on Christians. b) It is questionable whether or not the council made final decisions about the Old Testament canon of Scripture, since “the list of books acknowledged to ‘defile the hands’ continued to vary within Judaism itself up through the 4th century A.D.” 9 c) The council was, to some extent, a polemic directed specifically against the “sect” of Christianity, and its tone, therefore, was inherently opposed to Christianity. These Jews most likely accepted the shorter Pharisaic canon precisely because the early Christians accepted the longer Septuagint canon. d) The decisions of this council represented the judgment of just one branch of Pharisaic Judaism within Palestine and not of Judaism as a whole.

4) Lastly, for Protestants to aver that the duetero-canonical books contain unscriptural material is decidedly a case of unwarranted dogmatism. This conclusion was reached simply because the so-called Reformers, who were clearly antagonistic toward the Catholic Church, approached the Bible with an a priori notion that it teaches “Reformed” (Protestant) doctrine. They discarded the deutero-canonical books because in certain instances these books contain decidedly Catholic doctrine, as in the case of 2 Maccabees 12:42-46, which clearly supports the doctrine of prayers for the dead and hence of Purgatory: It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.—2 Macc 12:46. Luther, in fact, wanted to discard also the New Testament books of Revelation and James, the latter of which he termed an “epistle of straw” and which he felt had “nothing evangelical about it” 10 – no doubt because it clearly states that we are saved by faith and works (cf. James 2:14-26), in contrast to Luther’s erroneous “faith alone” doctrine. Luther was ultimately persuaded by his friends to retain these books.

In addition to the above is the fact of historical testimony and continuity regarding the canon of the Bible. While we have seen that there were disputes regarding the Biblical canon, two considerations are nonetheless true: 1) the deuterocanonical books were certainly used by Christians from the 1st century onward, beginning with Our Lord and His disciples, and 2) once the issue of the canon was settled in the 4th century, we see no change in Christian practice regarding the canon from that point onward. In practice, the only challenge to and disregard of these two realities occurs when the so-called Reformers arrive on the scene in the 16th century and decide that they can simply trash an 11-centuries-long continuity regarding the canon’s formal existence and a nearly 15-centuries-long continuity regarding its practical existence.

The fact that any individual would come along and single-handedly alter such a continuity regarding so central an issue as which books comprise the Bible should give the sincere follower of Christ serious pause. Such a follower is compelled to ask, “By whose authority does this individual make such a major change?” Both history and Luther’s own writings show that Luther’s actions were based on nothing but his own personal say-so. Surely such an “authority” falls grossly short of that which is needed for the canonical change he espoused, especially considering that he process of identifying the Bible’s canon was guided by the Holy Spirit, took centuries, and involved some of the greatest minds in Christianity as well as several Church Councils. More disturbing still is the fact that the other so-called Reformers – and Protestants ever since – have followed suit by accepting Luther’s changed canon, yet all the while they claim to honor the Bible and insist that nothing can be added to or deleted from it.—Joel Peters


  1. Henry G. Graham, Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1911; Rockford, IL: TAN, 1977, 17th printing), pp. 34-35.

  2. “This list is the same as the list given in the Church’s final, definitive, explicit, infallible declaration as to which books are to be included in the Bible, which was made by the Council of Trent, Session IV, in 1546. Earlier lists of canonical books were the list in the “Decretal of Gelasius,” which was issued by authority of Pope Damasus in 382, and the canon of Pope Saint Innocent I, which was sent to a Frankish bishop in 405. Neither document was intended to be an infallible statement binding the whole Church, but both documents include the same 73 books as the list of Trent some 11 centuries later.”—The Catholic Encyclopedia [New York: The Encyclopedia Press, 1913], Vol. 3, p. 272).

  3. The Pharisaic canon, which was used by Jews in Palestine, did not contain the deuterocanonical books. The Septuagint or Alexandrian canon, which was used largely by Jews living in the Dispersion (i.e., Hellenistic regions outside of Palestine), did contain the deuterocanonical books.

  4. W. H. C. Frend [Protestant author], The Rise of Christianity (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1984), pp. 99-100.

  5. For some examples, compare the following passages: Matt. 6:14-15 with Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 28:2; Matt. 6:7 with Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 7:15(14); Matt. 7:12 with Tobit (Tobias) 4:16(15); Luke 12:18-20 with Sirach 11:19 (Ecclus. 11:19-20); Acts 10:34 with Ecclus. 35:15 (Sirach 35:12); Acts 10:26 with Wisdom 7:1; and Matt. 8:11 with Baruch 4:37

  6. Lee Martin McDonald [Protestant author], The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, Appendix A (Nashville, TN: The Parthenon Press, 1988). (Listing entitled “New Testament Citations and Allusions to Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal Writings,” adapted from The Text of the New Testament, by Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, two well-known Biblical scholars.)

  7. They include a) the Qumran canon, which we know of from the Dead Sea Scrolls, b) the Pharisaic canon, and c) the Sadducees/Samaritan canon, which included only the Torah (the first books of the Old Testament)

  8. 42. Lee Martin McDonald [Protestant author], The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, Appendix A (Nashville, TN: The Parthenon Press, 1988). (Listing entitled “New Testament Citations and Allusions to Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal Writings,” adapted from The Text of the New Testament, by Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, two well-known Biblical scholars.) p. 53

  9. Lee Martin McDonald [Protestant author], The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, Appendix A (Nashville, TN: The Parthenon Press, 1988). (Listing entitled “New Testament Citations and Allusions to Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal Writings,” adapted from The Text of the New Testament, by Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, two well-known Biblical scholars.) p. 60

  10. Hartmann Grisar, S.J., Martin Luther: His Life and Work (B. Herder, 1930; Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1961), p. 426.

Modesty Part II: Theology

Nota Bene: My last blog post showed that modesty is actually a means of cultural empowerment for women, not a means of making them overly-subservient. Ladies, if you’re going to have thin-skin reading the still-binding modesty-norms of the Catholic Church, please re-read part I to understand that this blog is not about oppression but freedom (cf Gal 5:1)

One summer evening, a couple years before I knew I would ever live in Florida, I was passing through the city of St. Augustine, south of Jacksonville. That evening, I went in to pray at North America’s first Cathedral. It is stunningly beautiful.

Later, I came outside the Cathedral to find the small city humming with life and history. Like most downtown Cathedrals, there were quite a few homeless men. I’ve learned that most of these conversations are short, due to mental illness and drug abuse. However, that evening in front of the Cathedral, I met a homeless man I will never forget. I do not remember his name, but he was very much like a living prophet Jeremiah. He was quietly preaching against the abuses of the Church the past 100 years. In fact, he was a white rapper about 50 years old! He rapped in rhyme about bishops, about changes, about God, about dogma—all with a surgical ecclesiastical precision the world over.

I began listening for real proper nouns and real dogmas and I realized he was very accurate. This odd rapping-prophet was on a very different level from most homeless schizophrenics. He was rhyming the truth of the current Catholic Church crisis. I listened to him for about an hour and then I asked him a question. I said: “100 years ago, why did the Mother of God and other saints prophesy about coming fashions of immodesty instead of the coming scourage of abortion? Isn’t abortion much worse than immodesty?” I can not put his answer into rhyme as well as he did, but he answered something like this: “Immodesty leads to pornography. Pornography leads to contraception. Contraception leads to abortion.”

This is the brilliant answer that I have been thinking about for years.

My question to this homeless man is of course founded on what Mary said in a private revelation in 1917:

“Fashions will arise which will greatly offend God.”—Our Lady of Fatima to Jacinta Marto

About 15 years after Mary appeared in Fatima,  the Vatican under Pope Pius XI gave very specific advice about this:

“We recall that a dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat, which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows, and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knee. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper. Let parents keep their daughters away from public gymnastic games and contests; but, if their daughters are compelled to attend such exhibitions, let them see to it that they are fully and modestly dressed. Let them never permit their daughters to don immodest garb.”—Cardinal-Vicar of Pope Pius XI, Cardinal Pompilj, 24 September 1928 1

Notice that Cardinal is not writing about Church attire, but daily attire.  The Vatican is stating what the Church always held as necessary for the salvation for Christian women everywhere (not just in Europe! not just in Church!) but everywhere outside the home from the earliest days of Catholic Christianity (yes, think Mary and Mary Magdalene.)

Padre Pio heard about 2 million confessions in his lifetime, but around 1967 he started rejecting many women from going to his confessional. Padre Pio’s brother Franciscans were forced by him to put up a sign that read:

By Padre Pio’s explicit wish, women must enter the confessional wearing skirts AT LEAST 8 INCHES BELOW THE KNEE. It is forbidden to borrow longer dresses in church and to wear them to confession.

Again, many people would say that this was specific to an old Italian man’s culture. My response is simple: Would God crown a saint like Pio with a crazy view of human nature? With an outdated view of human nature? Let’s remember God gave him the gifts of reading hearts, raising the dead, the stigmata, healings before and after his death and more or less all the miracles found Acts of the Apostles. Was he just wildly scruplulous? No, Pio knew God and Pio knew fallen human nature.

Padre Pio would neither let women nor men enter his confessional in short-sleeves.

I know these norms sound extreme even to decent Catholic women today, and I know that there will be two main objections to this blog post holding 1930s specific-standards for daily female attire.

I suspect the two major objections will be:

1) Modesty changes according to time and place, even within the Catholic Church.
2)
A grave sin is not a mortal sin if I don’t know it to be. Anyway, it’s not my fault if men lust after me.

We’ll jump right in…

Objection 1: Modesty changes according to time and place, even within the Catholic Church.

Answer: “There always exists an absolute norm to be preserved.”—Pope Pius XII

Most Catholic women who read my blog actually believe that contraception is a mortal sin. However, the average young female reader here believes that the only immodesty worse than hers—is only the one who wears less clothing!  But the average neo-conservative is pretty good on the Church’s teaching on contraception, so let’s consider what she would say.  If she were in a friendly debate with a non-Catholic, she would rightly state the medical facts about birth control and only then move on to the theological reality. Perhaps she might say add something like this: “And the Church’s teaching can’t change on contraception because human nature doesn’t change on reproduction.”

And this would be a perfect answer!

However, why can’t we apply this to modesty? Logically, the only conclusion to opposing contraception would be to maintain the Church’s teaching on modesty, too: “The Church’s teaching can’t change on modesty because fallen human nature does not change in regards to lust.”

Look ladies, none of this really comes down to what a Pope said. It all comes down to what Jesus Christ said:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.—Mt 5:27-29

Ladies, this means if you cause a man to lust after you by how you dress, then you have committed a mortal sin by helping him to commit a mortal sin in his mind.  If men or women die in unconfessed mortal sin, they go to hell.   (Vice versa for the two previous sentences, of course.)

Objection 2: A grave sin is not a mortal sin if I don’t know it to be. Anyway, it’s not my fault if men lust after me.

Before Gloria Polo’s soul came back to her body in 1995, but after she was condemned to hell in 1995, she realized that although she thought she was a good Catholic, she never understood what her mode of dress did to the minds of men.  She recounts one reason she was sentenced to hell in her near death experience before Jesus in His mercy gave her another chance at life:

As a matter of fact, after matrimony, I never even gave a kiss to another, only to my husband. But the Lord showed me that I exhibited too much of my body, when I went around with my breasts exposed, with skintight leggings, with the clothes that I used… I thought that men looked at me simply to admire me… But the Lord showed me how they sinned with me, because we are not dealing with admiration, as I believed, but with provocation, and they were provoked, due to me. I committed adultery for having exhibited my body. I did not understand the male sensibility. I believed that they thought like me, that looking at me they would say: ‘What a nice body!’ Instead they sinned, due to my fault. Never was I unfaithful for having thrown myself into the arms of a man, but it was as if I was a prostitute in spirit.”

Now me (Fr. Dave) writing again:  Notice that Gloria Polo is not writing about Church attire, but daily attire.  Most good Catholic men do want to end their sins of pornography.  Most good Catholic women do not want to end their sins of immodesty.   Why not?  I believe it is because most Catholic women of America project their own mindset of admiration of clothing into the male mind that sees it only as provocation of clothing.  Ladies, you must understand that almost all men in the world (except the extremely pure and the extremely perverse) see your legs as flashing arrows to pleasure, not “smooth and cute” like you do.

Should men see it this way?  Of course not.  But the Holy Spirit writes through the Apostle Paul:  “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”—Gal 6:2.  What this means is that for men to get women to heaven, men must compensate for women’s weaknesses of concupiscence (usually emotional instability…not sorry for the stereotypes!) and women must compensate for men’s weaknesses of concupiscence (usually lust…but something tells me I don’t need to apologize for this stereotype, do I ladies?)  So we all need get over it and fight to get one another to heaven without explaining how the other gender “should be” in a perfect world that does not exist until we get our bodies back in heaven.

It should be noted that the Canadian bishops issued this statement for men in terms of modesty in 1946 in this footnote here: 2

Now, for the more insidious, amateur theologians who like to play every loophole that comes from the phrase “full knowledge and full consent of the will,” I ask you to notice that Gloria Polo’s modern story (containing the approbation of the current bishops of South America) repeatedly shows that we are indeed responsible for what we could have known…but choose to ignore under pretext of “conscience.”

The mistaken theological notion today that something is not a mortal sin only because of ignornace is only tenable if you have invincible ignorance (meaning there was no way you could have known the truth.) Vincible ignorance, on the other hand, means that you could have known the Catholic truth, but you were too lazy to do your research.

Furthermore, the pop-theology line “it’s a mortal sin only if you know it to be” is a new theological invention of the past 50 years that I would challenge any reader to find me in any Pope or doctor of the Church before 1950 and send me an email with it. You simply won’t find it. The Church has indeed taught there are mitigating factors to culpability, but mitigated culpability does not transmit sanctifying grace! Let me write that again: Mitigated culpability does not transmit sanctyfing grace necessary for salvation. (Salvation comes only from faith in Jesus Christ leading to baptism and the other sacraments, as well as the good works found in Matthew 25 which are necessary for heaven, too.)

That God does not respect our consciences on modesty is seen in this closing story of St. Frances of Rome:

“In the life of Saint Frances of Rome, we read of a vision of hell which was granted her, and which lasted for four hours.  God willed to show her, in the fires of hell, certain ladies whom she had known in Roman society.  For what sins had these souls been damned? 

“They had been damned:
1) For guilty desires, even though these had not been put into act.
2) For indecent styles of dress, which were the fashion of the day, and which had been a cause of seduction and of sin.
3) For dances considered inoffensive by the world.

Notice that the women of Rome were not condemned for their Church dresses, but their daily dresses that they wore “as the fashion of the day” in the 15th century!


  1. “Young women and women dressed immodestly are to be debarred from Holy Communion and from acting as sponsors at the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation; further, if the offense be extreme, they may even be forbidden to enter the Church.”—Donato Cardinal Sbaretti,Prefect of Cong. of Council, Rome, 12 January 1930.

  2. “Man himself does not escape from the inclination of exhibiting his flesh: some go in public, stripped to the waist, or in very tight pants or in very scanty bathing suits. They thus commit offenses against the virtue of modesty. They may also be an occasion of sin (in thought or desire) for our neighbor.”—Canadian Bishops’ statement in May of 1946. Tight pants in 1946? Good thing those went out of style.

Modesty Part I: Sociology

Before jumping into the tough topic of modesty, I want to set the stage in a sociological manner. Let’s consider romance in any culture, be it Catholic or pagan. It is universally accepted in every culture’s romance that the person least-invested in the relationship is the one with the most control. Imagine two 20 year olds approaching engagement in any civilized country today or two hundred years ago. It is always the one who is least “in-love” who controls the advance of this relationshiop. The one most in-love (be it the man or the woman) wants to get married. The lover less “in-love” maintains the veto power in moving forward, meaning this person actually has more power in the relationship, despite (because!) of the lessened emotions encountering the other. This is as true for those who maintain their virginity in engagement as much as for those who had sex on their first date.

The only exception to the above conclusions would probably be those marriages created in distress or those marriages where one of the spouses finally despaired of finding a “better” spouse and simply had “to settle” for someone. In fact, this minor power-struggle is true even in non-sexual, platonic friendships of the same-gender: The person who is more “cool” is usually the one who comes up with excuses not to spend so time with the more “geeky” or needy person…at least until the latter gets tired of being a puppy-dog in the relationship, and takes off. But it is generally accepted that the least-invested person has more control.

Now, lets bring this to the sexual level, but not the level of modesty, yet. Barring rape, women have had most of the sexual control in any heterosexual relationship in any civilized country a hundred years ago on any continent. This is because of their lower libidos. This is not true all the time, but in my experience as a priest giving spiritual direction to individuals and couples, this is true 95% of the time. The 5% of the exceptions of women with extremely high libidos often struggle with compulsive sexual behaviors, secondary to sexual abuse in their childhood. But barring rape, it is the woman who is the gatekeeper of sexuality in most relationships in all civilized cultures, and even true in most pagan cultures that reject rape at (at-least!) the legal level. Her lessened libido means heightened self-control and subsquently a reduced investment in the physical side of intimacy. (I realize that many people want their priests to avoid all generalizations because of the rare cases in life, but  hard cases neither make good law nor good spiritual direction from priests, so I’m going to give advice on 95% of how the world works here.)

Because woman is less sexually-invested, she has more control of men in the sexual realms. But this is a two-edged sword: Because man is less emotionally-invested, he is subsequently more in control of women in the emotional realm, especially when he wants something (read: sex.) Yes, there’s occasionally some exceptions to the above two sentences, but of the hundreds or thousands of relationships I’ve watched grow or fail as a priest, I would say this is true in 97% of all relationships. Let me write it again: Because man is less emotionally-invested, he is more in control of women in emotions. Because woman is less sexually-invested, she has more control of men in sexuality. This is true in sinful fornicating relationships as well as  (to a lesser degree) healthy Catholic marriages.

Now, if you don’t grant me the above premises, you can stop reading now. But if you grant me all the above premises, then this conclusion is true: Every civilized Catholic culture in history automatically gave women more power than men in the sexual realm.   I realize how different that is from what we heard in our University history courses.  But much of my life is a rewiring of my brain that imbibed false history.  I’m not saying that Catholic men in the 19th century never raped Catholic women. But barring rape, women have had most of the power in the sexual realm, precisely because of man’s more severe difficulty in controlling himself. (Many feminist departments have happily flaunted this fact!)

However, pornography and the oral contraceptive have completely changed this. Pornography has allowed man to have virtual sex on demand with any woman or girl he wants at any time. (And yes, there are interpersonal effects of this. Just study how many porn stars were once sex-slaves, often taken as young as 13 years old at the beginning of their enslavement, in even first world countries.) Furthermore, the Pill has been made for man’s sexual advance, not woman’s. Think about it: The man can now have unchecked sex with any woman he wants with no responsibility of pregnancy. One hundred years ago, he had to answer for his towering libido with the weight of whether fornication was worth it or not. But now the Pill allows man to sleep with any woman he wants with no consideration of consequences. (Ever googled how many STDs women can get than man can not get? It’s not pretty, and the Pill doesn’t stop any of them.) Man has all the sexual power now, because “the Pill” has made a nation of blow-up dolls who need only be manipulated emotionally to get them to bed. (Cows require more flirting from bulls than the average woman on the Pill in a bar, and it’s not because of her libido, for that is tanked by the Pill itself at the pharmacological level.  It’s because of the emotions of desperation that come from a pro-man sexual world that is new since the sexual-revolution.)

Yes, Western nations have tipped the culture to accomodate to man’s sex addictions as much any Muslim country, but in a different way. Sadly, Western men have tricked Western women into thinking that they have more control than their Eastern counterparts found walking in a burqa through Saudi Arabia. But porn is illegal in Saudi Arabia.  In the West, porn and the Pill have made it just as much a man’s world of sexuality as those Muslim countries, but in a way that has equally tricked women into thinking they are in control. (I consider Islam to be literallly a Satanic religion because of how it treats women and allows for rape of girls, so I’m not promoting Islam.  I say “equally” because I am always amazed at the brainwashing of the Muslim women in burqas who on get on YouTube defending Islam as a religion that does not trash women…  But let’s admit it: This is as insane as Western educators who say “the Pill” does not trash women, too.)

Now we get to modesty. If you will grant me the above premises of sexual and emotional control for women and men respectively in the West, then my conclusion on modesty is obvious: The last sexual frontier for a woman in the West to re-gain control over a sex-obsessed culture is her own modesty.  Immodesty is not her control over man, like women are taught in every commercial and every mall. Even those legs are for man’s delight.  Rather, modesty-alone will return to the gender having more self-control (women) the necessary power of sexuality usurped by men via porn and birth control.

For now, all you need to see is that this conclusion will serve as our future premise:  Total modesty is the only way left for an individual woman in the West to regain control of her own sexuality and add control to an out-of-control-culture’s sexism favoring men. 

St. Mary of Egypt

The near-death-experience and conversion of Gloria Polo has been read and heard by millions, both in person and on many websites. In fact, I believe it to be the greatest account of God’s forgiveness and transformative mercy in any modern person’s life.

Here I’m sharing what I believe to be the greatest ancient account of God’s forgiveness and transformative mercy. It is about a female sex-addict become a canonized saint, St. Mary of Egypt, and it is my favorite short biography of any saint outside the Bible. The following events are promised to be true by its author, St. Zosima. His account takes place in the 4th century, in the deserts of both Egypt and Jordan…


The Life of Our Holy Mother, St Mary of Egypt
By St Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, 4th century

“It is good to hide the secret of a king, but it is glorious to reveal and preach the works of God.” (Tobit 12:7) So said the Archangel Raphael to Tobit when he performed the wonderful healing of his blindness.

Actually, not to keep the secret of a king is perilous and a terrible risk, but to be silent about the works of God is a great loss for the soul. And I (says St. Saphronius), in writing the life of St. Mary of Egypt, am afraid to hide the works of God by silence. Remembering the misfortune threatened to the servant who hid his God-given talent in the earth (Mat. 25:18-25), I am bound to pass on the holy account that has reached me. And let no one think (continues St. Saphronius) that I have had the audacity to write untruth or doubt this great marvel –may I never lie about holy things! If there do happen to be people who, after reading this record, do not believe it, may the Lord have mercy on them because, reflecting on the weakness of human nature, they consider impossible these wonderful things accomplished by holy people. But now we must begin to tell this most amazing story, which has taken place in our generation.

There was a certain elder in one of the monasteries of Palestine, a priest of the holy life and speech, who from childhood had been brought up in monastic ways and customs. This elder’s name was Zosimas. He had been through the whole course of the ascetic life and in everything he adhered to the rule once given to him by his tutors as regard spiritual labours. he had also added a good deal himself whilst labouring to subject his flesh to the will of the spirit. And he had not failed in his aim. He was so renowned for his spiritual life that many came to him from neighboring monasteries and some even from afar. While doing all this, he never ceased to study the Divine Scriptures. Whether resting, standing, working or eating food (if the scraps he nibbled could be called food), he incessantly and constantly had a single aim: always to sing of God, and to practice the teaching of the Divine Scriptures. Zosimas used to relate how, as soon as he was taken from his mother’s breast, he was handed over to the monastery where he went through his training as an ascetic till he reached the age of 53. After that, he began to be tormented with the thought that he was perfect in everything and needed no instruction from anyone, saying to himself mentally, “Is there a monk on earth who can be of use to me and show me a kind of asceticism that I have not accomplished? Is there a man to be found in the desert who has surpassed me?”

Thus thought the elder, when suddenly an angel appeared to him and said:

“Zosimas, valiantly have you struggled, as far as this is within the power of man, valiantly have you gone through the ascetic course. But there is no man who has attained perfection. Before you lie unknown struggles greater than those you have already accomplished. That you may know how many other ways lead to salvation, leave your native land like the renowned patriarch Abraham and go to the monastery by the River Jordan.”
Zosimas did as he was told. he left the monastery in which he had lived from childhood, and went to the River Jordan. At last he reached the community to which God had sent him. Having knocked at the door of the monastery, he told the monk who was the porter who he was; and the porter told the abbot. On being admitted to the abbot’s presence, Zosimas made the usual monastic prostration and prayer. Seeing that he was a monk the abbot asked:
“Where do you come from, brother, and why have you come to us poor old men?”

Zosimas replied:
“There is no need to speak about where I have come from, but I have come, father, seeking spiritual profit, for I have heard great things about your skill in leading souls to God.”

“Brother,” the abbot said to him, “Only God can heal the infirmity of the soul. May He teach you and us His divine ways and guide us. But as it is the love of Christ that has moved you to visit us poor old men, then stay with us, if that is why you have come. May the Good Shepherd Who laid down His life for our salvation fill us all with the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

After this, Zosimas bowed to the abbot, asked for his prayers and blessing, and stayed in the monastery. There he saw elders proficient both in action and the contemplation of God, aflame in spirit, working for the Lord. They sang incessantly, they stood in prayer all night, work was ever in their hands and psalms on their lips. Never an idle word was heard among them, they know nothing about acquiring temporal goods or the cares of life. But they had one desire — to become in body like corpses. Their constant food was the Word of God, and they sustained their bodies on bread and water, as much as their love for God allowed them. Seeing this, Zosimas was greatly edified and prepared for the struggle that lay before him.

Many days passed and the time drew near when all Christians fast and prepare themselves to worship the Divine Passion and Ressurection of Christ. The monastery gates were kept always locked and only opened when one of the community was sent out on some errand. It was a desert place, not only unvisited by people of the world but even unknown to them.

There was a rule in that monastery which was the reason why God brought Zosimas there. At the beginning of the Great Fast [on Forgiveness Sunday] the priest celebrated the holy Liturgy and all partook of the holy body and blood of Christ. After the Liturgy they went to the refectory and would eat a little lenten food.
Then all gathered in church, and after praying earnestly with prostrations, the elders kissed one another and asked forgiveness. And each made a prostration to the abbot and asked his blessing and prayers for the struggle that lay before them. After this, the gates of the monastery were thrown open, and singing, “The Lord is my light and my Savior; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defender of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 26:1) and the rest of that psalm, all went out into the desert and crossed the River Jordan. Only one or two brothers were left in the monastery, not to guard the property (for there was nothing to rob), but so as not to leave the church without Divine Service. Each took with him as much as he could or wanted in the way of food, according to the needs of his body: one would take a little bread, another some figs, another dates or wheat soaked in water. And some took nothing but their own body covered with rags and fed when nature forced them to it on the plants that grew in the desert.

After crossing the Jordan, they all scattered far and wide in different directions. And this was the rule of life they had, and which they all observed — neither to talk to one another, nor to know how each one lived and fasted. If they did happen to catch sight of one another, they went to another part of the country, living alone and always singing to God, and at a definite time eating a very small quantity of food. In this way they spent the whole of the fast and used to return to the monastery a week before the Resurrection of Christ, on Palm Sunday. Each one returned having his own conscience as the witness of his labour, and no one asked another how he had spent his time in the desert. Such were rules of the monastery. Everyone of them whilst in the desert struggled with himself before the Judge of the struggle — God — not seeking to please men and fast before the eyes of all. For what is done for the sake of men, to win praise and honour, is not only useless to the one who does it but sometimes the cause of great punishment.

Zosimas did the same as all. And he went far, far into the desert with a secret hope of finding some father who might be living there and who might be able to satisfy his thirst and longing. And he wandered on tireless, as if hurrying on to some definite place. He had already waled for 20 days and when the 6th hour came he stopped and, turning to the East, he began to sing the sixth Hour and recite the customary prayers. He used to break his journey thus at fixed hours of the day to rest a little, to chant psalms standing and to pray on bent knees.
And as he sang thus without turning his eyes from the heavens, he suddenly saw to the right of the hillock on which he stood the semblance of a human body. At first he was confused thinking he beheld a vision of the devil, and even started with fear. But, having guarded himself with the sign of the Cross and banished all fear, he turned his gaze in that direction and in truth saw some form gliding southwards. It was naked, the skin dark as if burned up by the heat of the sun; the hair on its head was white as a fleece, and not long, falling just below its neck. Zosimas was so overjoyed at beholding a human form that he ran after it in pursuit, but the form fled from him. He followed.

At length, when he was near enough to be heard, he shouted:
“Why do you run from an old man and a sinner? Slave of the True God, wait for me, whoever you are, in God’s name I tell you, for the love of God for Whose sake you are living in the desert.”

“Forgive me for God’s sake, but I cannot turn towards you and show you my face, Abba Zosimas. For I am a woman and naked as you see with the uncovered shame of my body. But if you would like to fulfil one wish of a sinful woman, throw me your cloak so that I can cover my body and can turn to you and ask for your blessing.”
Here terror seized Zosimas, for he heard that she called him by name. But he realized that she could not have done so without knowing anything of him if she had not had the power of spiritual insight.
He at once did as he was asked. He took off his old, tattered cloak and threw it to her, turning away as he did so. She picked it up and was able to cover at least a part of her body. The she turned to Zosimas and said:
“Why did you wish, Abba Zosimas, to see a sinful woman? What do you wish to hear or learn from me, you who have not shrunk from such great struggles?” Zosimas threw himself on the ground and asked for her blessing. She likewise bowed down before him. And thus they lay on the ground prostrate asking for each other’s blessing. And one word alone could be heard from both: “Bless me!” After a long while the woman said to Zosimas:
“Abba Zosimas, it is you who must give blessing and pray. You are dignified by the order of priesthood and for many years you have been standing before the holy altar and offering the sacrifice of the Divine Mysteries.”
This flung Zosimas into even greater terror. At length with tears he said to her:
“O mother, filled with the spirit, by your mode of life it is evident that you live with God and have died to the world. The Grace granted to you is apparent — for you have called me by name and recognized that I am a priest, though you have never seen me before. Grace is recognized not by one’s orders, but by gifts of the Spirit, so give me your blessing for God’s sake, for I need your prayers.”
Then, giving way before the wish of the elder, the woman said:
“Blessed is God Who cares for the salvation of men and their souls.”
Zosimas answered:
“Amen.”
And both rose to their feet. Then the woman asked the elder:
“Why have you come, man of God, to me who am so sinful? Why do you wish to see a woman naked and devoid of every virtue? Though I know one thing — the Grace of the Holy Spirit has brought you to render me a service in time. Tell me, father, how are the Christian peoples living? And the kings? How is the Church guided?”
Zosimas said:
“By your prayers, mother, Christ has granted lasting peace to all. But fulfill the unworthy petition of an old man and pray for the whole world and for me who am a sinner, so that my wanderings in the desert may not be fruitless.”
She answered:
“You who are a priest, Abba Zosimas, it is you who must pray for me and for all — for this is your calling. But as we must all be obedient, I will gladly do what you ask.”
And with these words she turned to the East, and raising her eyes to heaven and stretching out her hands, she began to pray in a whisper. One could not hear separate words, so that Zosimas could not understand anything that she said in her prayers. Meanwhile he stood, according to his own word, all in a flutter, looking at the ground without saying a word. And he swore, calling God to witness, that when at length he thought that her prayer was very long, he took his eyes off the ground and saw that she was raised bout a forearm’s distance from the ground and stood praying in the air. When he saw this, even greater terror seized him and he fell on the ground weeping and repeating may times, “Lord have mercy.”
And whilst lying prostrate on the ground he was tempted by a thought: Is it not a spirit, and perhaps her prayer is hypocrisy. But at the very same moment the woman turned round, raised the elder from the ground and said:
“Why do thoughts confuse you, Abba, and tempt you about me, as if I were a spirit and a dissember in prayer? Know, holy father, that I am only a sinful woman, though I am guarded by Holy baptism. And I am no spirit but earth and ashes, and flesh alone.”
And with these words she guarded herself with the sign of the Cross on her forehead, eyes, mouth and breast, saying:
“May God defend us from the evil one and from his designs, for fierce is his struggle against us.”
Hearing and seeing this, the elder fell to the ground and, embracing her feet, he said with tears:
“I beg you, by the Name of Christ our God, Who was born of a Virgin, for Whose sake you have stripped yourself, for Whose sake you have exhausted your flesh, do not hide from your slave, who you are and whence and how you came into this desert. Tell me everything so that the marvellous works of God may become known. A hidden wisdom and a secret treasure — what profit is there in them? Tell me all, I implore you. for not out of vanity or for self-display will you speak but to reveal the truth to me, an unworthy sinner. I believe in God, for whom you live and whom you serve. I believe that He led me into this desert so as to show me His ways in regard to you. It is not in our power to resist the plans of God. If it were not the will of God that you and your life would be known, He would not have allowed be to see you and would not have strengthened me to undertake this journey, one like me who never before dared to leave his cell.”
Much more said Abba Zosimas. But the woman raised him and said:
“I am ashamed, Abba, to speak to you of my disgraceful life, forgive me for God’s sake! But as you have already seen my naked body I shall likewise lay bare before you my work, so that you may know with what shame and obscenity my soul is filled. I was not running away out of vanity, as you thought, for what have I to be proud of — I who was the chosen vessel of the devil? But when I start my story you will run from me, as from a snake, for your ears will not be able to bear the vileness of my actions. But I shall tell you all without hiding anything, only imploring you first of all to pray incessantly for me, so that I may find mercy on the day of Judgment.”
The elder wept and the woman began her story.
“My native land, holy father, was Egypt. Already during the lifetime of my parents, when I was twelve years old, I renounced their love and went to Alexandria. I am ashamed to recall how there I at first ruined my maidenhood and then unrestrainedly and insatiably gave myself up to sensuality. It is more becoming to speak of this briefly, so that you may just know my passion and my lechery. for about seventeen years, forgive me, I lived like that. I was like a fire of public debauch. And it was not for the sake of gain — here I speak the pure truth. Often when they wished to pay me, I refused the money. I acted in this way so as to make as many men as possible to try to obtain me, doing free of charge what gave me pleasure. do not think that I was rich and that was the reason why I did not take money. I lived by begging, often by spinning flax, but I had an insatiable desire and an irrepressible passion for lying in filth. This was life to me. Every kind of abuse of nature I regarded as life.
That is how I lived. Then one summer I saw a large crowd of Lybians and Egyptians running towards the sea. I asked one of them, `Where are these men hurrying to?’ He replied, `They are all going to Jerusalem for the Exaltation of the Precious and Lifegiving Cross, which takes place in a few days.’ I said to him, `Will they take me with them if I wish to go?’ `No one will hinder you if you have money to pay for the journey and for food.’ And I said to him, `To tell you truth, I have no money, neither have I food. But I shall go with them and shall go aboard. And they shall feed me, whether they want to or not. I have a body — they shall take it instead of pay for the journey.’ I was suddenly filled with a desire to go, Abba, to have more lovers who could satisfy my passion. I told you, Abba Zosimas, not to force me to tell you of my disgrace. God is my witness, I am afraid of defiling you and the very air with my words.”
Zosimas, weeping, replied to her:
“Speak on for God’s sake, mother, speak and do not break the thread of such an edifying tale.”
And, resuming her story, she went on:
“That youth, on hearing my shameless words, laughed and went off. While I, throwing away my spinning wheel, ran off towards the sea in the direction which everyone seemed to be taking. and, seeing some young men standing on the shore, about ten or more of them, full of vigour and alert in their movements, I decided that they would do for my purpose (it seemed that some of them were waiting for more travellers whilst others had gone ashore). Shamelessly, as usual, I mixed with the crowd, saying, `Take me with you to the place you are going to; you will not find me superfluous.’ I also added a few more words calling forth general laughter. Seeing my readiness to be shameless, they readily took me aboard the boat. Those who were expected came also, and we set sail at once.
How shall I relate to you what happened after this? Whose tongue can tell, whose ears can take in all that took place on the boat during that voyage! And to all this I frequently forced those miserable youths even against their own will. There is no mentionable or unmentionable depravity of which I was not their teacher. I am amazed, Abba, how the sea stood our licentiousness, how the earth did not open its jaws, and how it was that hell did not swallow me alive, when I had entangled in my net so many souls. But I think God was seeking my repentance. For He does not desire the death of a sinner but magnanimously awaits his return to Him. At last we arrived in Jerusalem. I spent the days before the festival in the town, living the same kind of life, perhaps even worse. I was not content with the youths I had seduced at sea and who had helped be to get to Jerusalem; many others — citizens of the town and foreigners — I also seduced.
The holy day of the Exaltation of the Cross dawned while I was still flying about — hunting for youths. At daybreak I saw that everyone was hurrying to the church, so I ran with the rest. When the hour for the holy elevation approached, I was trying to make my way in with the crowd which was struggling to get through the church doors. I had at last squeezed through with great difficulty almost to the entrance of the temple, from which the lifegiving Tree of the Cross was being shown to the people. But when I trod on the doorstep which everyone passed, I was stopped by some force which prevented my entering. Meanwhile I was brushed aside by the crowd and found myself standing alone in the porch. Thinking that this had happened because of my woman’s weakness, I again began to work my way into the crowd, trying to elbow myself forward. But in vain I struggled. Again my feet trod on the doorstep over which others were entering the church without encountering any obstacle. I alone seemed to remain unaccepted by the church. It was as if there was a detachment of soldiers standing there to oppose my entrance. Once again I was excluded by the same mighty force and again I stood in the porch.
Having repeated my attempt three or four times, at last I felt exhausted and had no more strength to push and to be pushed, so I went aside and stood in a corner of the porch. And only then with great difficulty it began to dawn on me, and I began to understand the reason why I was prevented from being admitted to see the life-giving Cross. The word of salvation gently touched the eyes of my heart and revealed to me that it was my unclean life which barred the entrance to me. I began to weep and lament and beat my breast, and to sigh from the depths of my heart. And so I stood weeping when I saw above me the ikon of the most holy Mother of God. And turning to her my bodily and spiritual eyes I said:
`O Lady, Mother of God, who gave birth in the flesh to God the Word, I know, O how well I know, that it is no honour or praise to thee when one so impure and depraved as I look up to thy ikon, O ever-virgin, who didst keep thy body and soul in purity. Rightly do I inspire hatred and disgust before thy virginal purity. But I have heard that God Who was born of thee became man on purpose to call sinners to repentance. Then help me, for I have no other help. Order the entrance of the church to be opened to me. Allow me to see the venerable Tree on which He Who was born of thee suffered in the flesh and on which He shed His holy Blood for the redemption of sinners and for me, unworthy as I am. Be my faithful witness before thy Son that I will never again defile my body by the impurity of fornication, but as soon as I have seen the Tree of the Cross I will renounce the world and its temptations and will go wherever thou wilt lead me.’
Thus I spoke and as if acquiring some hope in firm faith and feeling some confidence in the mercy of the Mother of God, I left the place where I stood praying. And I went again and mingled with the crowd that was pushing its way into the temple. And no one seemed to thwart me, no one hindered my entering the church. I was possessed with trembling, and was almost in delirium. Having got as far as the doors which I could not reach before — as if the same force which had hindered me cleared the way for me — I now entered without difficulty and found myself within the holy place. And so it was I saw the lifegiving Cross. I saw too the Mysteries of God and how the Lord accepts repentance. Throwing myself on the ground, I worshipped that holy earth and kissed it with trembling. Then I came out of the church and went to her who had promised to be my security, to the place where I had sealed my vow. And bending my knees before the Virgin Mother of God, I addressed to her such words as these:
`O loving Lady, thou hast shown me thy great love for all men. glory to God Who receives the repentance of sinners through thee. What more can I recollect or say, I who am so sinful? It is time for me, O Lady to fulfil my vow, according to thy witness. Now lead me by the hand along the path of repentance!’ And at these words I heard a voice from on high:
`If you cross the Jordan you will find glorious rest.’

Hearing this voice and having faith that it was for me, I cried to the Mother of God:
`O Lady, Lady, do not forsake me!’
With these words I left the porch of the church and set off on my journey. As I was leaving the church a stranger glanced at me and gave me three coins, saying:
`Sister, take these.’
And, taking the money, I bought three loaves and took them with me on my journey, as a blessed gift. I asked the person who sold the bread: `Which is the way to the Jordan?’ I was directed to the city gate which led that way. Running on I passed the gates and still weeping went on my journey. Those I met I asked the way, and after walking for the rest of that day (I think it was nine o’clock when I saw the Cross) I at length reached at sunset the Church of St. John the Baptist which stood on the banks of the Jordan. After praying in the temple, I went down to the Jordan and rinsed my face and hands in its holy waters. I partook of the holy and life-giving Mysteries in the Church of the Forerunner and ate half of one of my loaves. Then, after drinking some water from Jordan, I lay down and passed the night on the ground. In the morning I found a small boat and crossed to the opposite bank. I again prayed to Our Lady to lead me whither she wished. Then I found myself in this desert and since then up to this very day I am estranged from all, keeping away from people and running away from everyone. And I live here clinging to my God Who saves all who turn to Him from faintheartedness and storms.”
Zosimas asked her:
“How many years have gone by since you began to live in this desert?”
She replied:
“Forty-seven years have already gone by, I think, since I left the holy city.”
Zosimas asked:
“But what food do you find?”
The woman said:
“I had two and a half loaves when I crossed the Jordan. Soon they dried up and became hard as rock. Eating a little I gradually finished them after a few years.”
Zosimas asked.
“Can it be that without getting ill you have lived so many years thus, without suffering in any way from such a complete change?”

The woman answered:
“You remind me, Zosimas, of what I dare not speak of. For when I recall all the dangers which I overcame, and all the violent thoughts which confused me, I am again afraid that they will take possession of me.”
Zosimas said:
“Do not hide from me anything; speak to me without concealing anything.”
And she said to him:
“Believe me, Abba, seventeen years I passed in this desert fighting wild beasts — mad desires and passions. When I was about to partake of food, I used to begin to regret the meat and fish of which I had so much in Egypt. I regretted also not having wine which I loved so much, for I drank a lot of wine when I lived in the world, while here I had not even water. I used to burn and succumb with thirst. The mad desire for profligate songs also entered me and confused me greatly, edging me on to sing satanic songs which I had learned once. But when such desires entered me I struck myself on the breast and reminded myself of the vow which I had made, when going into the desert. In my thoughts I returned to the ikon of the Mother of God which had received me and to her I cried in prayer. I implored her to chase away the thoughts to which my miserable soul was succumbing. And after weeping for long and beating my breast I used to see light at last which seemed to shine on me from everywhere. And after the violent storm, lasting calm descended.
And how can I tell you about the thoughts which urged me on to fornication, how can I express them to you, Abba? A fire was kindled in my miserable heart which seemed to burn me up completely and to awake in me a thirst for embraces. As soon as this craving came to me, I flung myself on the earth and watered it with my tears, as if I saw before me my witness, who had appeared to me in my disobedience, and who seemed to threaten punishment for the crime. And I did not rise from the ground (sometimes I lay thus prostrate for a day and a night) until a calm and sweet light descended and enlightened me and chased away the thoughts that possessed me. But always I turned to the eyes of my mind to my Protectress, asking her to extend help to one who was sinking fast in the waves of the desert. And I always had her as my Helper and the Accepter of my repentance. And thus I lived for seventeen years amid constant dangers. And since then even till now the Mother of God helps me in everything and leads me as it were by the hand.”
Zosimas asked:
“Can it be that you did not need food and clothing?”
She answered:
“After finishing the loaves I had, of which I spoke, for seventeen years I have fed on herbs and all that can be found in the desert. The clothes I had when I crossed the Jordan became torn and worn out. I suffered greatly from the cold and greatly from the extreme heat. At times the sun burned me up and at other times I shivered from the frost, and frequently falling to the ground I lay without breath and without motion. I struggled with many afflictions and with terrible temptations. But from that time till now the power of God in numerous ways had guarded my sinful soul and my humble body. When I only reflect on the evils from which Our Lord has delivered me I have imperishable food for hope of salvation. I am fed and clothed by the all-powerful Word of God, the Lord of all. For it is not by bread alone that man lives. And those who have stripped off the rags of sin have no refuge, hiding themselves in the clefts of the rocks (Job 24; Heb. 11:38).”
Hearing that she cited words of Scripture, from Moses and Job, Zosimas asked her:
“And so you have read the psalms and other books?”
She smiled at this and said to the elder:
“Believe be, I have not seen a human face ever since I crossed the Jordan, except yours today. I have not seen a beast or a living being ever since I came into the desert. I never learned from books. I have never even heard anyone who sang and read from them. But the Word of God which is alive and active, BY ITSELF teaches a man knowledge. And so this is the end of my tale. But, as I asked you in the beginning, so even now I implore you for the sake of the Incarnate word of God, to pray to the Lord for me who am such a sinner.”
Thus concluding here tale she bowed down before him. And with tears the elder exclaimed:
“Blessed is God Who creates the great and wondrous, the glorious and marvellous without end. Blessed is God Who has shown me how He rewards those who fear Him. Truly, O Lord, Thou dost not forsake those who seek Thee!”
And the woman, not allowing the elder to bow down before her, said:
“I beg you, holy father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our God and Savior, tell no one what you have heard, until God delivers me of this earth. And now depart in peace and again next year you shall see me, and I you, if God will preserve us in His great mercy. But for God’s sake, do as I ask you. Next year during Lent do not cross the Jordan, as is your custom in the monastery.”
Zosimas was amazed to hear that she know the rules of the monastery and could only say:
“Glory to God Who bestows great gifts on those who love Him.”
She continued:
“Remain, Abba, in the monastery. And even if you wish to depart, you will not be to do so. And at sunset of the holy day of the Last supper, put some of the lifegiving Body and Blood of Christ into a holy vessel worthy to hold such Mysteries for me, and bring it. And wait for me on the banks of the Jordan adjoining the inhabited parts of the land, so that I can come and partake of the lifegiving Gifts. For, since the time I communicated in the temple of the Forerunner before crossing the Jordan even to this day I have not approached the Holy Mysteries. And I thirst for them with irrepressible love and longing. And therefore I ask and implore you to grant me my wish, bring me the lifegiving Mysteries at the very hour when Our Lord made His disciples partake of His Divine Supper. Tell John the Abbot of the monastery where you live. Look to yourself and to your brothers, for there is much that needs correction. Only do not say this now, but when God guides you. Pray for me!”
With these words she vanished in the depths of the desert. And Zosimas, falling down on his knees and bowing down to the ground on which she had stood, sent up glory and thanks to God. And, after wandering thorough the desert, he returned to the monastery on the day all the brothers returned.
For the whole year he kept silent, not daring to tell anyone of what he had seen. But he prayed to God to give him another chance of seeing the ascetic’s dear face. And when at length the first Sunday of the Great Fast came, all went out into the desert with the customary prayers and the singing of psalms. Only Zosimas was held back by illness — he lay in a fever. And then he remembered what the saint had said to him: “and even if you wish to depart, you will not be able to do so.”
Many days passed and at last recovering from his illness he remained in the monastery. And when again the monks returned and the day of the Last Supper dawned, he did as he had been ordered, and placing some of the most pure Body and Blood into a small chalice and putting some figs and dates and lentils soaked in water into a small basket, he departed for the desert and reached the banks of the Jordan and sat down to wait for the saint. He waited for a long while and then began to doubt. Then, raising his eyes to heaven, he began to pray:
“Grant me, O Lord, to behold that which Thou hast allowed me to behold once. Do not let me depart in vain, being the burden of my sins.”

And then another thought struck him:
“And what if she does come? There is no boat; how will she cross the Jordan to come to me who am so unworthy?”
And as he was pondering thus he saw the holy woman appear and stand on the other side of the river. Zosimas got up rejoicing and glorifying and thanking God. And again the thought came to him that she could not cross the Jordan. Then he saw that she made the sign of the Cross over the waters of the Jordan (and the night was a moonlight one, as he related afterwards) and then she at once stepped on to the waters and began walking across the surface towards him. And when he wanted to prostrate himself, she cried to him while still walking on the water:
“What are you doing, Abba, you are a priest and carrying the divine Gifts!”
He obeyed her and on reaching the shore she said to the elder:
“Bless, father, bless me!”
He answered her trembling, for a state of confusion had overcome him at the sight of the miracle:
“Truly God did not lie when He promised that when we purify ourselves we shall be like Him. Glory to Thee, Christ our God, Who has shown me through this Thy slave how far away I stand from perfection.”
Here the woman asked him to say the Creed and Our Father. He began, she finished the prayer and according to the custom of that time gave him the kiss of peace on the lips. Having partaken of the Holy Mysteries, she raised her hands to heaven and sighed with tears in her eyes, exclaiming:
“Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, O Lord, according to Thy word; for my eyes have seen Thy salvation.”

Then she said to the elder:
“Forgive me, Abba, for asking you, but fulfil another wish of mine. Go now to the monastery and let God’s grace guard you, and next year come again to the same place where I first met you. Come for God’s sake, for you shall again see me, for such is the will of God.”
He said to her:
“From this day on I would like to follow you and always see your holy face. But now fulfil the one and only wish of an old man and take a little of the food I have brought for you.”
And he showed her the basket, while she just touched the lentils with the tips of her fingers, and taking three grains said that the Holy Spirit guards the substance of the soul unpolluted. Then she said:
“Pray, for God’s sake pray for me and remember a miserable wretch.”
Touching the saint’s feet and asking for her prayers for the Church, the kingdom and himself, he let her depart with tears, while he went off sighing and sorrowful, for he could not hope to vanquish the invincible. Meanwhile she again made the sign of the Cross over the Jordan, and stepped on to the waters and crossed over as before. And the elder returned filled with joy and terror, accusing himself of not having asked the saint her name. But he decided to do so next year.
And when another year had passed, he again went into the desert. He reached the same spot but could see no sign of anyone. So, raising his eyes to heaven as before, he prayed:
“Show me, O Lord, Thy pure treasure, which Thou hast concealed in the desert. Show me, I pray Thee, the angel in the flesh, of which the world is not worthy.”
Then on the opposite bank of the river, her face turned towards the rising sun, he saw the saint lying dead. Her hands were crossed according to custom and her face was turned to the East. Running up he shed tears over the saint’s feet and kissed them, not daring to touch anything else.
For a long time he wept. Then reciting the appointed psalms, he said the burial prayers and thought to himself: “Must I bury the body of a saint? Or will this be contrary to her wishes?” And then he saw words traced on the ground by her head:
“Abba Zosimas, bury on this spot the body of humble Mary. Return to dust that which is dust and pray to the Lord for me, who departed in the month of Fermoutin of Egypt, called April by the Romans, on the first day, on the very night of our Lord’s Passion, after having partaken of the Divine Mysteries.” [St. Mary died in 522 A. D.]
Reading this the elder was glad to know the saint’s name. He understood too that as soon as she had partaken of the Divine Mysteries on the shore of the Jordan she was at once transported to the place where she died. The distance which Zosimas had taken twenty days to cover, Mary had evidently traversed in an hour and had at once surrendered her soul to God.
Then Zosimas thought: “It is time to do as she wished. But how am I to dig a grave with nothing in my hands?”
And then he saw nearby a small piece of wood left by some traveller in the desert. Picking it up he began to dig the ground. But the earth was hard and dry and did not yield to the efforts of the elder. He grew tired and covered with sweat. He sighed from the depths of his soul and lifting up his eyes he saw a big lion standing close to the saint’s body and licking her feet. At the sight of the lion he trembled with fear, especially when he called to mind Mary’s words that she had never seen wild beasts in the desert. But guarding himself with the sign of the cross, the thought came to him that the power of the one lying there would protect him and keep him unharmed. Meanwhile the lion drew nearer to him, expressing affection by every movement.
Zosimas said to the lion:
“The Great One ordered that her body was to be buried. But I am old and have not the strength to dig the grave, for I have no spade and it would take too long to go and get one. So can you carry out the work with your claws? Then we can commit to the earth the mortal temple of the saint.”
While he was still speaking the lion with his front paws began to dig a hole deep enough to bury the body.


Again the elder washed the feet of the saint with his tears and calling on her to pray for all, covered the body with earth in the presence of the lion. It was as it had been, naked and uncovered by anything but the tattered cloak which had been given to her by Zosimas and with which Mary, turning away, had managed to cover part of her body. Then both departed. The lion went off into the depth of the desert like a lamb, while Zosimas returned to the monastery glorifying and blessing Christ our Lord. And on reaching the monastery he told all the brothers about everything, and all marvelled on hearing of God’s miracles. And with fear and love they kept the memory of the saint.
Abbot John, as St. Mary had previously told Abba Zosimas, found a number of things wrong in the monastery and got rid of them with God’s help. And Saint Zosimas died in the same monastery, almost attaining the age of a hundred, and passed to eternal life. The monks kept this story without writing it down and passed it on by word of mouth to one another.
But I (adds Sophronius) as soon as I heard it, wrote it down. Perhaps someone else, better informed, has already written the life of the Saint, but as far as I could, I have recorded everything, putting truth above all else. May God Who works amazing miracles and generously bestows gifts on those who turn to Him with faith, reward those who seek light for themselves in this story, who hear, read and are zealous to write it, and may He grant them the lot of blessed Mary together with all who at different times have pleased God by their pious thoughts and labours.
And let us also give glory to God, the eternal King, that He may grant us too His mercy in the day of judgment for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom belongs all glory, honour, dominion and adoration with the Eternal Father and the Most Holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and always, and throughout all ages. Amen.
The End, and Glory Be to God!
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From The Great Canon—the Work of Saint Andrew of Crete, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY, Internet Medieval Source Book, with minor typographical corrections by the Monachos.net editor.