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A Little Help from Pope St. Pius X

The following is an unpublished article by Neil McCaffrey II (d. 1994, seen above right) on the power of an encyclical by Pope St. Pius X (above left.)  I am good friends with Neil McCaffrey III, who kindly gave me copies of many of the treasures of his father’s writings.  Below, you will find that most of the italicized words belong to  Pope St. Pius X. 

Breathes there a beleaguered Catholic today who hasn’t had recourse to Pius X’s epochal encyclical on Modernism? Pascendi Gregis was issued in 1907 – and I suggest that there isn’t a papal document extant that is more contemporary, or more consoling. It is directed against the Modernists who had surfaced in the Pope’s day – and their heirs all around us today.

Perhaps you’ve put off reading it because you find the mock-Ciceronian prose of latter-day papal documents impenetrable. Not to worry. Pius X writes directly, bluntly, sometimes with a bite that will make you blink. Hardly a page passes that you won’t want to mark, maybe memorize.  To give you a sense of what’s in store, let me offer a handful of quotable passages. But I offer them with one caveat: for everyone here, there are literally a dozen more, just as choice in the encyclical. In fact, you’ll undoubtedly find at least a dozen that you like better than my own favorites.

Before quoting some of the Saint’s own words, let me cite parts of the encyclical wherein he quotes from other popes and councils. First, from a decree of Vatican I:

…that sense of the sacred dogma is to be perpetually retained which our Holy Mother the church has once declared, nor is this sense ever to be abandoned on the plea or pretext of a more profound comprehension of the truth.

He quotes from Singulari Nos, that neglected 1834 encyclical of Gregory XVI:

A lamentable spectacle is that presented by the aberrations of human reason when it yields to the spirit of novelty, when against the warning of the Apostle it seeks to know beyond what it is meant to know and when, relying too much on itself, it thinks it can find the truth outside the Catholic Church, wherein truth is found without the faintest shadow of error.

To condemn those who sneer at the church of yesterday and genuflect before the spirit of change, he cites the condemnations of two general councils, including Nicea II:

For Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the second Council of Nicea where it condemns those who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind…or to endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church… 

As befits the head of a Church grounded in tradition, Pius X often invokes his predecessors. But most of the encyclical is original with him. Does this passage strike you as dated?

It remains for us now to say a few words about the Modernist as reformer. From all that has preceded, it is abundantly clear how great and how eager is the passion of such men for innovation. In all Catholicism there is absolutely nothing on which [Modernism] does not fasten. They wish philosophy to be reformed, especially in the ecclesiastical seminaries. They wish the scholastic philosophy to be relegated to the history of philosophy and to be classed among obsolete systems, and the young men to be taught modern philosophy which alone is said to be true and suited to the times in which we live….Dogmas and their evolution, they affirm, are to be harmonized with science and history. In the Catechism no dogmas are to be inserted except those that have been reformed and are within the capacity of the people.

Regarding worship, they say, the number of external devotions is to be reduced, and steps must be taken to prevent their further increase….They cry out that ecclesiastical government requires to be reformed in all its branches, but especially in its disciplinary and dogmatic departments. They insist that both outwardly and inwardly it must brought into harmony with the modern conscience, which now wholly tends toward democracy; a share in ecclesiastical government should therefore be given to the lower ranks of the clergy, and even to the laity, and authority which is too much concentrated, should be decentralized.   The Roman Congregations, and especially the Index and the Holy Office, must be likewise modified.

The Pope calls Modernism “the synthesis of all heresies,” then goes on to analyze why people succumb to it. He finds three reasons, but one stands out:

It is pride which exercises over the soul incomparably greater power to blind it and lead it into error, and pride sits in Modernism as in its own house, finding sustenance everywhere in its doctrines and lurking in its every aspect. It is pride which fills Modernists with that self-assurance which puffs them up with that vainglory which allows them to regard themselves as the sole possessors of knowledge, and makes them say, elated and inflated with presumption, We are not as the rest of men, and which, lest they should seem as other men, leads them to embrace and to devise novelties even of the most absurd kind.

What must the hierarchy do when they confront this spirit? The Pope addresses the bishops of his day in impassioned words; how many of their successors are now heeding them?

It will be your first duty to resist such victims of pride, to employ them only in the lowest and obscurest offices. The higher they try to rise, the lower let them be placed, so that the lowliness of their position may limit their power of causing damage. Examine your young clerics most carefully…when you find the spirit of pride among them, reject them for the priesthood without compunction. Would to God that this had always been done with the vigilance and constancy that were required!

It is worth noting that the papal Saint made no exceptions for a shortage of priests, or any other reason. No, his order is delivered in the imperative, with no hedging: “reject them without compunction.” Period. We can be sure that Pius was not indifferent to shortages of priests; but he was a saint, not a clerical bureaucrat. He understood that God is not thwarted by (temporary) shortages.

The Pope pauses to note the hatred that Modernists pour on the orthodox. Anyone who has seen today’s breed in action will have to conclude that nothing has changed:

There is little reason to wonder that the Modernists vent all their bitterness and hatred on Catholics who zealously fight the battles of the Church. There is no species of insult which they do not heap upon them, but their usual course is to charge them with ignorance or obstinacy. When an adversary rises up against them with an erudition and force that render him redoubtable, they seek to make a conspiracy of silence around him to nullify the effects of his attack. This policy towards Catholics is the more invidious in that they laud with an admiration that knows no bounds the writers who range themselves on their side, hailing their works (which exude novelty on every page) with a chorus of applause.

For them the scholarship of a writer is in direct proportion to the recklessness of his attacks on antiquity, and of his efforts to undermine tradition and the ecclesiastical magisterium. When one of their number falls under the condemnation of the Church the rest of them, to the disgust of good Catholics, gather round him, loudly and publicly applaud him, and hold him up in veneration as almost a martyr for truth. The young, excited and confused by all this clamor of praise and abuse, some of them afraid of being branded as ignorant, others ambitious to rank among the learned, and both classes goaded internally by curiosity and pride, not unfrequently surrender and given themselves up to Modernism….

What efforts do they not make to win new recruits! They seize upon professorships in the seminaries and universities, and gradually make of them chairs of pestilence. In sermons from the pulpit they disseminate their doctrines, although possibly in utterances which are veiled. In congresses they express their teachings more openly. In their social gatherings they introduce them and commend them to others. Under their own names and under pseudonyms they publish numbers of books, newspapers, reviews…It is also a subject of grief to us that many others who, while they certainly do not go so far as the former, have yet been so infected by breathing a poisoned atmosphere as to think, speak, and write with a degree of laxity which ill becomes a Catholic. They are to be found among the laity, and in the ranks of the clergy, and they are not wanting even in the last place where one might expect to meet them, in religious communities. If they treat of biblical questions, it is upon Modernist principles; if they write history, they carefully, and with ill-concealed satisfaction, appear to cast a stain upon the Church.

Under the sway of certain a priori conceptions they destroy as far as they can the pious traditions of the people, and bring into disrespect certain relics highly venerable from their antiquity. They are possessed by the empty desire of having their names upon the lips of the public, and they know they would never succeed in this were they to say only what has always been said by all men. Meanwhile it may be that they have persuaded themselves that in all this they are really serving God and the Church. In reality they only offend both, less perhaps by their works in themselves that in all this they are really serving God and the Church. In reality they only offend both, less perhaps by their works in themselves than by the spirit in which they write, and by the encouragement they thus give to the aims of the Modernists.

Pius understood that it wasn’t enough for a pontiff to instruct and even exhort. (What, after all, would we say of a parent who periodically quoted the tenets of the moral law to his children, pleaded for their obedience, but refused ever to discipline them?) The Pope knew that words weren’t enough. He must act. Pius X did just that; and I think we may see in his determination one mark of that heroic sanctity that earned him the saint’s crown. He certainly laid it on the line to the bishops:

We exhort and abjure you to see to it, in this most grave matter, that no one shall be in a position to say that you have been, in the slightest degree, wanting in vigilance, zeal, or firmness.

Plain enough? Yet the Pope doesn’t stop there. He has a program. He acts. He “strictly ordains that scholastic philosophy be made the basis of the sacred sciences”; and, following Leo XIII and indeed the whole of Catholic tradition, all the arts and sciences are to “serve [theology] and want upon it after the manner of handmaidens.”
But that’s still not all. This saintly Pope understands that there must be sanctions aimed at those who rebel against Catholic teaching – sanctions that…are to be kept in view whenever there is a question of choosing directors and professors for seminaries and Catholic universities.

Anyone who in any way is found to be tainted with Modernism is to be excluded without compunction from these offices, whether of government or of teaching, and those who already occupy them are to be removed. The same policy is to be adopted towards those who openly or secretly lend countenance to Modernism either by extolling the Modernists and excusing their culpable conduct, or by carping at scholasticism and the Fathers and the magisterium of the Church, or by refusing obedience to ecclesiastical authority in any of its depositaries; and towards those who show a love of novelty in history, archaeology, biblical exegesis; and finally towards those who neglect the sacred sciences or appear to prefer the secular to them. In all this question of studies, Venerable Brethren, you cannot be too watchful or too constant…Equal diligence and severity are to be used in examining and selecting candidates for Holy Orders. Far, far from the clergy be the love of novelty!

Next come a series of papal edits that give liberals the shakes. What would their soul brothers in the American Civil Liberties Union make of all this?

It is also the duty of the Bishops to prevent the writings of Modernists, or whatever savors of Modernism or promotes it, from being read when they have been published, and to hinder their publication when they have not. No books or papers or periodicals whatever of this kind are to be permitted to seminarists or university students. The injury to them would be not less than that which is caused by immoral reading – nay, it would be greater, for such writings poison Christian life at its very fount. The same decision is to be taken concerning the writings of some Catholics, who, though not evilly disposed themselves, are ill-instructed in theological studies and imbued with modern philosophy, and strive to make this harmonize with the faith, and, as they say, to turn it to the profit of the faith. The name and reputation of these authors cause them to be read without suspicion, and they are, therefore, all the more dangerous in gradually preparing the way for Modernism…We order that you do everything in your power to drive out of your dioceses, even by solemn interdict, any pernicious books that may be in circulation there.

But isn’t all that hopelessly out of date? What would enlightened types say if they saw bishops behaving that way? The Pope, it seems, had anticipated the public relations problem – or what the spiritual writers used to call the temptation to human respect:

We will…that the Bishops, putting aside all fear and the prudence of the flesh, and despising the clamor of evil men, shall – gently by all means, but firmly – each do his own part in this work…Let no Bishop think that he fulfills this duty by denouncing to us one or two books, while a great many others of the same kind are being published and circulated. Nor are you to be deterred by the fact that a book has obtained elsewhere the permission which is commonly call the Imprimatur, both because this may be merely simulated, and because it may have been granted through carelessness or too much indulgence or excessive trust placed in the author, which last has perhaps sometimes happened in the religious orders.

Finally, leaving nothing to chance, local option, ecumenism, or public relations, the Pope spells out still more specifically the steps that must be taken to defend Catholic doctrine and protect the faithful. Again he addresses the hierarchy, and again he doesn’t hesitate to give them their marching orders:

Of what avail, Venerable Brethren, would be all our commands and prescriptions if they be not dutifully and firmly carried out?…We decree, therefore, that in every diocese a council of this kind, which we are pleased to name the “Council of Vigilance,” be instituted without delay….They shall watch most carefully for every trace and sign of Modernism both in publications and in teaching, and to keep it from the clergy and the young they shall take all prudent, prompt and efficacious measures. Let them combat novelties of words, remembering the admonitions of Leo XIII: It is impossible to approve in Catholic publications a style inspired by unsound novelty which seems to deride the piety of the faithful and dwells on the introduction of a new order of Christian life, on new directions in the Church, on new aspirations of the modern soul, on a new social vocation of the clergy, on a new Christian civilization, and on many other things of the same kind. 

Does this give you the flavor? It does; but it’s only a taste. To get the full impact of a Pope who speaks – and acts – as one having authority; who cares nothing about his reputation among the worldly, and everything about the souls of his flock, you must read the whole, great document.

Read it now.

—Neil McCaffrey Sr.

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.

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:
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!
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 editor.

Fulton Sheen’s Little Heroine

The only person to reach more people for Christ on television than Billy Graham was a Catholic bishop named Archbishop Fulton Sheen from Illinois, later bishop in New York. Every Tuesday night, starting in the 1950s, up to 10 million Americans from all faiths tuned in to his TV Show, Life Is Worth Living. Not only Catholics, but many older Jewish people fondly remember tuning in to his Tuesday evening show about God.

Venerable Fulton Sheen also traveled the world and raised millions of dollars for foreign missions in poor countries. He is credited with converting the following to the Catholic Faith: Agnostic writer Heywood Broun, politician Clare Boothe Luce, automaker Henry Ford II, Communist writer Louis F. Budenz, Communist organizer Bella Dodd, theatrical designer Jo Mielziner, violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler, and actress Virginia Mayo.

Now a “Venerable” in the Catholic Church, Ven. Sheen is two moves away from canonization. He will, please God, move from Venerable Fulton Sheen to Blessed Fulton Sheen to finally St. Fulton Sheen.

Who was his hero? Who inspired such holiness? Who inspired him to remain in prayer for the millions of people that he reached for Christ? The answer is: An unnamed Chinese girl.

The following has been on many websites.  The original author is unknown, but the account is verifiable in the life, the words and the annals of Venerable Fulton Sheen.

A couple of months before his death, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen was interviewed on national television. One of the questions was this: “Bishop Sheen, you have inspired millions of people all over the world. Who inspired you? Was it a Pope?”

Bishop Sheen responded that it was not a Pope, a cardinal, another bishop, or even a priest or a nun. It was a little Chinese girl of eleven years of age. He explained that when the Communists took over China, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory near the Church. After they locked him up in his own house, the priest was horrified to look out of his window and see the Communists proceed into the Church, where they went into the sanctuary and broke into the tabernacle. In an act of hateful desecration, they took the ciborium and threw it on the floor with all of the Sacred Hosts spilling out. The priest knew exactly the number of Hosts in the ciborium: thirty-two.

When the Communists left, they either did not notice, or didn’t pay any attention to a small girl praying in the back of the Church who saw everything that had happened. That night the little girl came back.

Slipping past the guard at the priest’s house, she went inside the Church. There she made a holy hour of prayer, an act of love to make up for the act of hatred. After her holy hour she went into the sanctuary, knelt down, bent over and with her tongue received Jesus in Holy Communion, since (at that time) it was not permissible for laymen to touch the Sacred Host with their hands.

The little girl continued to come back each night to make her holy hour and receive Jesus in Holy Communion on her tongue. On the thirty-second night, after she had consumed the last and thirty-second host, she accidentally made a noise and woke the guard who was sleeping. He ran after her, caught her, and beat her to death with the butt of his rifle.

This act of heroic martyrdom was witnessed by the priest as he watched grief-stricken from his bedroom window.

When Bishop Sheen heard the story he was so inspired that he promised God he would make a holy hour of prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament every day of his life. If this frail, little child could give testimony and witness to the world concerning the real and wonderful Presence of her Savior in the Blessed Sacrament, then the Bishop was absolutely bound by all that was right and true, to do the same. His sole desire from then on was to bring the world to the burning Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

The little girl showed the Bishop what true courage and zeal really is; how faith could overcome all fear, how true love for Jesus in the Eucharist must transcend life itself. What is hidden in the Sacred Host is the glory of His love. The sun in the sky is symbolic of the Son of God in the Blessed Sacrament. This is why most monstrances are in the form of a sunburst. As the sun is the natural source of all energy, the Blessed Sacrament is the supernatural source of all grace and love.

Carta Abierta a Un Sacerdote

Una pareja católica escribió una carta anónima a su pastor y a cada sacerdote.  Ellos asisten a la Missa de forma ordinaria en la zona oeste de los E.U.  Son buenos amigos míos desde hace 10 años.  Me pidieron que lo publique en mi blog.  

Estoy muy agradecido que haya dedicado su vida a ser nuestro padre espiritual. Estoy agradecido por los regalos que nos ha puesto a disposición en los sacramentos. Sabemos que usted trabaja incansablemente para mantener todo equilibrado y funcionando sin problemas. Por eso estamos agradecidos. Debemos ser sinceros y divulgar nuestras preocupaciones y frustraciones: hemos escuchado más acerca de la comunidad LGBTQ y la aceptación de eso más de lo que hemos escuchado sobre nuestro propio matrimonio.
Padre, luchamos con la comunicación, luchamos con la infertilidad, luchamos con el perdón por la infidelidad, luchamos con las finanzas, luchamos contra la anticoncepción y la planificación familiar natural, luchamos con los suegros, luchamos con mucho y aún así nos sentimos tan solos.
Por favor Padre, denos algo de esperanza y aliento; díganos qué debemos hacer. Por favor que su respuesta no sea “usted puede obtener un decreto de nulidad.” No queremos disolver nuestro matrimonio.  Solo necesitamos que nos ayude a aceptar que el sacrificio y el sufrimiento son parte del matrimonio. La mayoría de nosotros no hemos escuchado sobre cuál es el plan de Dios para el matrimonio. Sin embargo, nos hemos enterado sobre el debate actual sobre lo que constituye un matrimonio sacramental.
Nos sentimos abandonados y relegados a tratar de resolverlo por nuestra cuenta. Mientras luchamos por vivir el plan de Dios, estamos agobiados con lo que la sociedad nos dice. La cultura grita su mensaje, pero el silencio de la Iglesia es a veces más fuerte que los gritos.
Ayúdenos Padre, porque no sabemos qué hacer.
Amor y bendiciones,
Sus hijos e hijas

  1. Mi sugerencia es que todos los niños lean este libro con sus padres.  Lo siento, pero no se encuentra en español.—Padre Peregrino

Open Letter to a Priest

A Catholic married couple with children wrote an anonymous letter to their parish priest, to every priest. They attend the ordinary Mass in English out West. They have been good friends of mine for almost a decade, and they asked me to publish it here.

Open Letter to our spiritual Fathers
Dear Fr. ___________,
I am so very thankful that you have given your life to be our spiritual father. I am grateful for the gifts you make available to us in the sacraments. We know you work tirelessly to keep everything balanced and running smoothly. For that, we are thankful.  But we have to be honest and share our concerns and frustrations:  We have heard more about the LGBTQ community and the acceptance of that more than we have ever heard about our own marriage.
Father, we struggle with communication, we struggle with infertility, we struggle with forgiveness over infidelity, we struggle with finances, we struggle with contraception and Natural Family Planning, we struggle with in-laws, we struggle with so much and yet feel so alone.
Please Father, give us some hope and encouragement; let us know what we are supposed to do. Please don’t have your answer be “you can get an annulment.”  We don’t want to get out of our marriage; we just need you to let us know that sacrifice and suffering are part of marriage. Most of us have not heard what God’s plan for marriage is, yet we have heard that everyone is arguing about what constitutes a sacramental marriage.
It feels like we have been abandoned and left to figure it out in our own. As we strive to live God’s plan, we are burdened with what the society tells us. The culture screams its message, but the silence of the Church is at times louder than the screams.
Help us Father—for we know not what to do.
Love and blessings,
Your Sons and Daughters

  1. I, Padre Peregrino, want to take a brief moment to answer this family and all families who might be reading this couple’s challenging letter for us priests to step up and help you.  The best advice I can give you is to immediately purchase a book called Good Pictures Bad Pictures. It is a children’s book that teaches children between 5 and 10 years of age how to avoid pornography and/or teach the child to turn-off accidentally-found pornography as soon as possible, all the while keeping the book PG-rated, perhaps even G-rated. Most pious families reading this footnote would think that 5 years old is way too young for a talk on how to avoid pornography.  However, the truth is that the authors have had to make the same book for ages 3 years old to 6 years old called Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. Most traditional families reading this footnote might also think that  this is a good idea for other families. If you think this, you are absolutely wrong.  Your kids are getting into pornography by the age of 10 at the  very, very latest. Unless you are living in a forest without a single electronic device, your kids are in danger from the age of 3 years old, even in the most pious families. Even if you are in a forest, diabolical forces somehow get a device into the hands of very small kids to get addicted to porn in a preternatural and inexplicable way. This book, Good Pictures Bad Pictures, is first about how to teach your children to avoid porn, but secondly how they can respond in one second to shut down any device where the child finds inappropriate pictures. Again, if you think this is a good idea for other families but not yours, then you are the family most at risk. Any priest will tell you that this plague has reached pandemic proportions. Good priests will tell you that even families who go to the Latin Mass are by no means immune. In some sense, traditional families are the most prey to this pandemic, because pious children find porn almost as quickly as any child from a secular family, but the difference is that Catholic kids are better at hiding their shame, yes, even from the age of 3.   Get this book, because even families with “porn proof” computers have kids who are not “porn-proof.”   Your children are always smarter than your firewall.  If you are a Dad who uses porn—even occasionally—know this:  You are allowing real-live demons to enter your family’s home, the same demons that mysteriously draw your 5 and 10 year olds to start looking at porn. If you think this is an exaggeration, please read my blog post called Why You Should Stop Confessing Pornography.

Same Sex Attraction: Bearing the Beams of Love

I asked a close friend to write about his experience with same-sex attraction.   His life reflects a poem by William Blake:

And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love,
And these black bodies and this sun-burnt face.
—The Little Black Boy

Each of us has different set of beams of love to bear, so I’m sure that you’ll find his life an inspiration.—Padre Peregrino

By CJ:

I am a child of a God. I am a traditional Roman Catholic. I am a traditional Roman Catholic, a child of God who has same-sex attraction.

I have known that I was different since I was young. Ironically, while these confusing feelings were just entering my life, I had discovered the pearl of great price – I had discovered Jesus Christ. I wish I could say that, having discovered Christ, God has removed same-sex attraction and made me “normal.” He has not. This is neither a testimony about someone who experienced such profound healing that he struggles no more.  But neither is it the story of the one who tried religion, failed, and rushed into the lifestyle. I am a child of God who has same-sex attraction and desires not necessarily healing but holiness. True and lasting healing will only come in eternity; but holiness starts here on earth.

True and lasting healing will come only in eternity; but holiness starts here on earth.

I have accepted the fact that this will be a struggle I have for the rest of my life. But this struggle for chastity is no different than the personal struggle that you may be dealing with in your life. The choice is before us every day – will I choose Christ and His love or will I choose that which is counterfeit? It is easy to make my struggle my primary identity, but I see it as only one aspect of my life. It does not define me.

My acceptance of my cross is not one that I embrace simply because it is a cross. A friend of mine recently said to me – I don’t know if it was an attempt to identify with my struggles – that she loved suffering. I recoiled from that statement. I did not ask for this cross. However, I embrace my cross because Christ calls me to pick up my cross and follow Him. I embrace my cross not out of self-pity but because I have experienced His love.

In Bishop Robert Barron’s new series, Catholicism: Pivotal Players, one learns that before St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata, he prayed for two things – that he would experience the full passion and death of his Savior and, most importantly, that he would feel within himself the love that Christ had to do this major act of sacrifice. St. Francis did not morbidly ask for suffering alone; the joy in his suffering was only because of his union with Christ, and only because of Christ’s love.

A number of years ago, I had gone to a charismatic renewal conference. Although I had gone to Confession, I still beat myself up for the sins that I repented of but in the deepest recesses of my heart, I sincerely believed that God could not forgive me of such sins tied in with my struggles. After reception of Holy Communion, I calmly walked back to my seat and thoughts of past sins rushed through my mind. I cried out to the Lord, asking why, at this most sacred moment, my mind was reminding me of the worse things I had ever done. And He spoke in a still small voice. With each passing scene, I heard “And I loved you even then.” Tears welled up within me, and I truly believe I experienced the gift of tears. Christ loved me in the midst of my sin (Romans 5:8). I often think of Our Lord’s relationship with St. Peter, and how Jesus saw through the sin of Peter’s life to call Him time and again to the greatness to which he was called. Peter definitely did not change overnight, but he proved his love in the end.

For those who have same-sex attraction, there is an ever persistent fear that one will never experience love if one seeks to obey the Church’s teaching. Love in our much confused society is almost always identified with sexual expression, and yet even the Catechism says that sexuality is an expression of a person’s totality of love, including that of friendship. (CCC 2332 1). Human persons were not created for sex per se, but they were created for love and to love rightly. St. Augustine, that prodigal son who cried out that the Lord would grant Him chastity but just not yet, also said: “Set love in order in me.” (City of God XV.22) Those who authentically embrace chastity do so because they have experienced true love, and are encouraged to love others rightly.

As the years have passed, I have become more open about my struggles with same-sex attraction with close friends, most of whom are actively involved in the Faith. Whereas before the very mention of my struggle would cause me to tear up, it instead has provided an opportunity for my friends to show me authentic love. In truth, it was revelation of my struggles to Padre that has eventually led to writing this article. And, perhaps with a touch of divine humor and irony, I find myself often talking about same-sex attraction and helping others, without necessarily revealing my own struggles with this cross.

A good friend of mine who came out of the lifestyle and is now living a full and chaste life told me that the beginning of his conversion was when someone else he knew was gay told him it was possible to be chaste. That brief witness would eventually lead to his conversion back to the Catholic Church. He is a now a young man in his 20s living for Christ.

Please know that if you are someone who has same-sex attraction, I am praying for you – not that we necessarily be “healed” (though God is certainly capable of this) but that we would encounter authentic and transformative Love in Jesus Christ, and through His Church strive to live holiness in chastity. All I ask is that you would pray for me as well. God loves us so much, but He loves us too much to leave us where we are at.

  1. “Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.”

Transfiguration and the Song of Songs

Written by one of my spiritual directees who entered women’s religious life.

The Song of Songs illustrates the journey of the Bride, a journey toward love. A journey involves a process, a traveling toward something which one desires but has not yet attained. Highly susceptible to losing his way on a long journey, a pilgrim often encounters numerous and varied obstacles. The Bride in the Song of Songs is no exception. One’s first outlook on the Song of Songs may circulate around the book as brimming over with vibrant images and profound expressions between two lovers. Although this description definitely defines the Song of Songs, it does not include every aspect of this unique book of scripture. The Beloved’s incessant tones of love reach out to a struggling and wounded Bride who displays throughout the book her journey from exile to restoration, hurt to healing, infidelity to consummation. The Bride is far from perfect and her journey toward complete union with the Beloved is a journey that each Christian embarks upon. It is a passage from brokenness to healing, a healing brought about by Christ Himself. As Christ invited Peter, James, and John up the mountain to behold His transfigured glory, so he calls to the Bride in the Song of Songs to come and allow Him to transform her wounds. This invitation revealed in these passages of scripture urges each Christian to respond to the love that Christ desires to give. The Song of Songs and the mystery of the Transfiguration manifest the transforming power of Christ who alone can guide the Christian through the obstacles encountered on the journey of life.

The first poem in the Song of Songs depicts the suffering of the Bride. “I am black but lovely, daughters of Jerusalem…Take no notice of my swarthiness, it is the sun that has burned me. My mother’s sons turned their anger on me, they made me look after their vineyards. Had I only looked after my own!” The Bride laments her condition. Scarred at the hands of others she has neglected the garden of her heart. However, her sorrow clings to a belief that beauty still breathes under the smoke of suffering and sin. The gaze of the Bridegroom penetrates through her swarthiness to reveal her beauty. She knows that she has not completely lost her beauty but it is beyond her power to recover it. He alone can reveal the beauty that is marred by sin. “Since her darkened face does not repulse the one she loves and does not prevent her from being loved, how could she not be beautiful, beautiful because she is loved, simply beautiful because he looks at her?”1  It is his gaze that transforms her. Her darkened condition impels him to gaze upon her because he desires to draw forth the beauty within her. Christ desires to transfigure all those who are darkened by sin. The journey of love begins with a realization of sinfulness. All people, wounded by original sin, can relate to the condition of the Bride in this first poem of the Song of Songs. Although this passage points to the darkness of sin it also proclaims a message of hope as the Bride argues, “I am black but lovely!” She implants in the sinner the courage to admit his sinfulness but to not dwell in it but to cling to the hope that he is beautiful because of the One who loves him. In the Gospel account of the Transfiguration, Christ invited Peter, James, and John up the mountain. Unaware of the impending event, they followed His invitation and consequently beheld his glory. The fear of one’s sinful condition could paralyze one from going up the mountain, but the step of faith in following the Beloved results in receiving his transfiguring gaze. “All powerful and transfiguring look of the beloved! What is essential is to remain in this look. Therefore it is impossible to despise and depreciate oneself because one cannot see oneself anymore but through the loving and transfiguring look.”2 As one lifts his eyes from his darkened condition to gaze on the Beloved and be gazed upon by Him, the beauty of the Christian soul is revealed and is illumined by the light of that powerful gaze.

The Beloved invites all to come into his gaze! He sees the darkened condition of the Bride and “…he comes leaping on the mountains, bounding over the hills.”  He makes the initiative toward the Bride. Despising any quiet gesture, he bounds toward her with the giddiness and excitement of a young lover. Nonetheless, his love is no shallow emotion but a transfiguring gift that he wishes to bestow upon her if she will respond to him. “See where he stands behind our wall. He looks in at the window, he peers through the lattice.”  He can hardly contain himself so eager is he to bestow love and healing. He repeatedly invites, “Come then, my love, my lovely one come.”  Perceiving the beauty of the Bride as he peers in her window, he desires to draw her forth so he can first show her that she is beautiful and then unite Himself with her. She must respond and come out of herself in order to receive His gift. “My dove, hiding in the clefts of the rock, in the coverts of the cliff, show me your face.”  In the mystery of the Transfiguration Christ reveals his glory, but to be transformed by it one must gaze upon it. If Peter, James, and John had not followed him up the mountain they would not have witnessed his Transfiguration. Likewise, the Bride is invited by the Bridegroom to come out of herself so that he can transfigure her. This is the same call each Christian receives from Christ. “A very ancient mystical tradition has always seen in the cracks of the rock the new retreat where the Bride must now dwell, passing from her poor refuge within herself, where she had been hiding, to this very deep cave in the body of Christ, our ‘rock’ (1 Cor 10:4), which is the wound in his Heart (Jn 19:34).”3 Sin builds a cave around the heart. Often one finds security in this cave, consequently avoiding the cave which is the Heart of Christ where true security is found. The cruelty of a sword impelled by sin reveals the ultimate refuge for the sinner himself, the pierced Heart of Christ. Christ’s invitation to dwell in His Sacred Heart entails a big release of all other securities. One cannot dwell in two caves at the same time.

Responding to this profound invitation, the Bride leaves her cave to receive the love of the Bridegroom. “Awake, north wind, come, wind of the south! Breathe over my garden to spread its sweet smell around. Let my Beloved come into his garden, let him taste its rarest fruits.” His invitation is irresistible. “The Bride can say at the same time ‘my garden’ and ‘his garden’, for it is the same. She belongs to herself because she belongs completely to him. The more she is his, the more she is herself. All her desire from then on is to yield to his presence in total self-surrender.” 4 He awakens the beauty within her and stirs up her desire for love, for union with Him who will fulfill her every longing and transfigure her wounds. His loving presence gives birth to a deep joy within her as she invites him to penetrate the neglected garden of her heart. Recognizing him as the source of her own beauty, she discovers herself more fully through her union with him. She has invited him into her garden to water it, renew it, and make it fruitful. United with Supreme Love, her happiness knows no bounds. It seems that what should follow is that they “lived happily ever after,” but the Bride is weak.

The ensuing passage of the Song of Songs reveals the reality of wounded human nature. The Bridegroom is once more outside, knocking to be let in. He has withstood the night and cold, waiting patiently for her to let him in, but she replies, “I have taken off my tunic, am I to put it on again? I have washed my feet, am I to dirty them again?”  What befell her initial response of acceptance and delight? Laziness has replaced her fervor. Allowing physical comforts to obstruct her Beloved, the Bride reveals the shallowness of human love and its inclination toward lesser goods. All Christians desire union with God but become easily distracted by obstacles on the journey that impede their prompt response in following the voice of the Beloved. How often does one proclaim His undivided love but the next moment refuse to rise from the couch to spend time with the Beloved! In the Transfiguration account, the Father proclaims, “This is my Beloved Son, listen to Him.”  Although sleepy, the disciples forced themselves to stay awake in order to witness the profound mystery of His transfigured appearance and the wisdom of His conversation with Moses and Elijah. The voice of the Beloved may be quiet within one’s soul, and it becomes harder to hear the more one is immersed in comforts and distractions. Christ does not force Himself into any soul but waits for the soul to make the decision to come out of itself in order to belong fully to the Beloved and listen to His voice. However, the Bride delayed to let Him in, and she lost Him! “I opened to my Beloved, but he had turned his back and gone!” Realizing her extreme folly and unfaithfulness, she runs out to find him. The reality of the treasure she had lost by her hesitation impacts her fully and her laziness transforms into intense activity as she runs without abandon through the streets seeking Him. The grace of repentance spurs her to search for Him, and her inquiry concerning Him actually serves as a means for evangelization. She asks the daughters of Jerusalem, “Have you seen Him who my heart loves?” She begins to describe Him as “fresh and ruddy,” accenting his brilliance in contrast to her darkness. “In fact, we have, in his face, the union of sah (white) of the light—as is said about the clothing of Jesus during the transfiguration…with red, crimson (adom) , which is the color of love.” 5 Certainly as she describes him, her desire for him only heightens, her repentance deepens and her search for him intensifies. Now the daughters of Jerusalem desire to know him too! Ironically, brokenness and sin can become the means to leading not only oneself but also others to the Lord. The Christian must not despair over his infidelity but use it as a catalyst for deeper union and participation in the mission of the Beloved. The Lord delights in the soul that seeks Him.

The Bride discovers that “the one she was looking for was nowhere else but in her own heart…the Bridegroom, during all the time that his friend was calling him and running after him in desolation, had not run away to the end of the world. He silently retreated to the heart of his love.”6 Burdened by the dispossession of the Beloved, one must simply peer within his heart to discover that He has been there all along. The fear of separation subsides in front of the realization that Christ’s fidelity does not mirror the measure of the soul’s fidelity. St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy contains this message of hope: “If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny Himself.”  It is not the frantic running through the streets of Jerusalem that reveals his presence but the quiet epiphany that the Bride experiences within herself. No infidelity outweighs the love of Christ. He remains, although perhaps hidden, until the soul discovers the silent presence of the Lord within and chooses to enter into that quiet place of reunion. The Transfiguration occurred on a mountain, apart from the busyness of the city. The apostles spent every day with Jesus, but it was only in the silence and solitude of Mount Tabor where he was transfigured before them. The Bride’s reclusion of self-absorption disappears as she absorbs herself in the recesses of His heart. “Today she wants to be totally his, as he is hers. ‘I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine’ can therefore appear as the exact and fervent response, in the terms of the renewed covenant, to the horrible formula of divorce that had once been uttered.”7 Repenting of her infidelity, she returns to his embrace, awakened by his merciful presence and unremitting love. Like the Apostles on Mount Tabor, she experiences the transfiguration of God. What follows from this awesome encounter?

The event of the Transfiguration is a mystery of faith. “By His transfiguration, Jesus strengthens His disciples’ faith, revealing a trace of the glory His body will have after the Resurrection. He wants them to realize that His passion will not be the end but rather the route He will take to reach His glorification.” 8  Having experienced His glory, they must follow Him down the mountain and participate in his ministry and experience his Passion. This depicts the reality of a transfigured life. If the Christian can say with the Bride, “My Beloved is Mine, and I am His,” can he also say with the Bridegroom, “I will climb the palm tree…I will seize the clusters of dates”?  The Bridegroom’s desire to climb the palm tree prefigures the Crucifixion where Christ mounted the cross9 for the salvation of the world. The Apostles followed in the footsteps of Christ. Transfiguration demands action. A soul truly united with Christ must live his transfigured existence by embracing the suffering that comes from union with the Beloved. Marriage involves an immense joy but also sacrifice. The union of the Bride with her Bridegroom calls for a continual affirmation of love that will withstand through all trials. The soul truly converted must ask himself, “Am I willing to not only bask in the light of His transfiguring glory but to embrace anything that will come as I follow Christ?” The converted soul has been called forth from the clefts of the rock to become one with Christ. Although still possessing one’s weak human nature, grace perfects this nature to enable one to live a supernatural life. The journey of the pilgrim Christian involves a daily assent to living a transfigured life. Fear of falling through weakness is replaced by a deep faith in the constancy and mercy of the one who transfigures and never grows weary of guiding the pilgrim along the journey to complete Beatitude.

  1. Arminjon, Blaise S. J. The Cantata of Love, Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 1988, 90.

  2. Arminjon, Blaise S. J. The Cantata of Love, Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 1988, 91.

  3. Arminjon, Blaise S. J. The Cantata of Love, Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 1988, 176.

  4. Arminjon, Blaise S. J. The Cantata of Love, Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 1988, 228.

  5. Arminjon, Blaise S. J. The Cantata of Love, Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 1988, 258.

  6. Arminjon, Blaise S. J. The Cantata of Love, Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 1988, 272.

  7. Arminjon, Blaise S. J. The Cantata of Love, Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 1988, 275.

  8.  The Navarre Bible, Saint Luke’s Gospel, Four Courts Press: Dublin, Ireland, 1988, 126.

  9. Arminjon, Blaise S. J. The Cantata of Love, Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 1988, 325.

Testimonio De Gloria Polo


La Dra. Gloria Polo y su sobrino se apresuraban bajo la lluvia compartiendo un pequeño paraguas…. De repente les cae un rayo. “Nos dejó carbonizados; mi sobrino fallece allí”. A ella le destruye el cuerpo…

“Me quema de forma espantosa todo mi cuerpo, por fuera y por dentro. Esto que ven aquí, este cuerpo reconstruido, es misericordia de nuestro Señor. (El rayo) me carboniza, me deja sin senos, prácticamente se me desaparece toda mi carne y mis costillas; el vientre, las piernas… sale el rayo por el pie derecho, se me carboniza el hígado, se me queman los riñones, los pulmones”.

Según su testimonio, ella era una mujer dominada por la mentalidad del mundo, “Católica dietética”.

Tuvo la experiencia de la muerte: terminó ese descenso por entre todos esos túneles y llego a una parte plana desesperada, esa voluntad de hierro que decía que tenía, es que a mi nada me quedaba grande, no me servía de nada. Porque yo quería subir e igual estaba ahí, y veo como en el piso se abre una boca grandísima y siento un vacío impresionante en mi cuerpo, un abismo al fondo inenarrable, porque lo más espantoso de ese hueco era que no se sentía ni un poco del amor de Dios, ni una gota de esperanza y ese hueco tiene como unas chupas y me halan y yo grito aterrorizada….

Y en ese dolor empiezo a gritar “¿quién se equivocó?”. Miren yo tan santa. Jamás he robado yo nunca he matado, yo le daba mercados a los pobres, yo sacaba muelas gratis a los que necesitaban. ¿Yo que hago aquí? Yo iba a misa los domingos, a pesar de que me consideraba atea nunca falté, si en mi vida falté cinco veces a misa fue mucho. Yo era alma que siempre iba a misa. Y yo que hago aquí. Yo soy católica, por favor yo soy católica sáquenme de aquí. Cuando yo estoy gritando que soy católica, veo una lucecita y miren una luz en esas tinieblas es el máximo regalo que puede recibir uno. Veo unas escaleras encima de ese hueco, veo a mi papé, que había fallecido cinco años atrás, casi a ras del hueco, un poquito de luz tenía y cuatro escalones más arriba veo a mi mamá, con mucha más luz y en esa posición como de oración…

Y empiezo a gritar de nuevo:” ¡por favor, miren, sáquenme de aquí, que soy católica!,” ¿pero quién se equivocó?” ¡Por favor, sáquenme de aquí! Y cuando yo estoy gritando esta segunda vez, se escucha una voz, es una voz dulce, es una voz que cuando la escucho se estremece toda mi alma, y todo se inundó de amor y de paz, y todas esas criaturas salieron despavoridas, porque ellas, no resisten el amor, ni la paz y hay paz para mi, me dice esa voz tan preciosa: “muy bien, y si tú eres católica dime los mandamientos de la ley de Dios”. Y que rajada tan horrible, ¿oyeron? yo sabía que eran diez pero de ahí en adelante ¡nada!…

…Ni siquiera la mínima expresión de amor con tu Señor. ¿Ser agradecida?, ¡jamás! Ni siquiera abría los ojos ¡Señor, gracias por este día que me has dado, gracias por mi salud, por la vida de mis hijos, por que tengo un techo, pobrecitos los que no tienen techos, ni comida Señor….!! Nada. ¡Desagradecidísima! y fuera de eso, pusiste tan debajo a tu Señor, que creías más en Mercurio y Venus para la suerte, andabas pegada a la astrología diciendo que los astros manejaron tu vida. Empezaste a andar en todas las doctrinas que te ofrecía el mundo, empezaste a creer que simplemente morías y volvías a empezar. ¡Y te olvidaste de la Gracia! De que tú habías costado un precio de sangre a tu Señor.

Me hacen un examen de los Diez Mandamientos. Me muestran que yo decía que adoraba, que amaba a Dios. Con mis palabras; y adora a Satanás. Porque en mi consultorio llegaba una señora a hacer riegos, y yo decía: “Yo no creo en eso” pero échelos por sí las moscas”! Y empezaba a echar ella rieguitos para la buena suerte.

… y me decía el Señor “nunca pensaste… ¡pobrecitos Señor los enfermos! Dame la gracia de ir allá a acompañarlos en su soledad. Los niños que no tienen mama, los huerfanitos, cuantos niños sufriendo Señor.”……..mi corazón de piedra……. ¡Total! En el examen de los diez mandamientos no pasé ni medio.

…Por ejemplo yo di muchos mercados a gente necesitada pero daba no por amor, daba por mi imagen, porque como era muy rico que todo mundo me viera la gracia, y como era de rico manipularle la necesidad a la gente.

…Y vean hermanos aprendí que las palabras no se las lleva el viento, cuando mi mamá se me ponía muy terca le decía: “mamá, sabes qué, ¡que me parta un rayo si te estoy diciendo mentiras!”, y la palabra se fue en el tiempo, pero miren por misericordia de Dios estoy aquí, porque en realidad el rayo entró y me atravesó prácticamente en dos partes y me quemó.

…Mostraban cómo nunca fui agradecida con el Señor, y también me mostraban lo que yo decía cuando me daba pereza ir a misa: “pero mamá, si Dios está en todas partes qué necesidad tengo de ir allá. Claro me era muy cómodo decir eso; y la voz me repetía que yo tenía al Señor veinticuatro horas en el día pendiente de mi, y yo no rezaba ni un poquito o un domingo a darle gracias al Señor, mostrarle cuán grande era mi agradecimiento y mi amor por El, y me quedaba grande, pero lo peor del caso, es que esa entrada a la iglesia era el restaurante de mi alma, me dediqué a cuidar mi cuerpo, me volví esclava, y se me olvidó un pequeño detalle, tenía un alma y jamás cuidé de ella, nunca la alimenté con la Palabra de Dios porque yo muy cómodamente decía que el que lee la palabra de Dios se volvía loco.

…Cuando llegamos al quinto mandamiento el Señor me mostraba que yo era una asesina espantosa y que cometí lo peor y lo más abominable ante los ojos del Señor, el aborto. Miren es que el poder que me dio el dinero me sirvió para financiar varios abortos porque yo decía: “la mujer tiene derecho a escoger cuando quiere quedar embarazada o no”. Miré en el libro de la vida y me dolió tanto cuando vi a una niña de catorce años abortando. Yo le había enseñado, porque saben que cuando uno tiene veneno nada bueno queda, y todo a lo que se acerca se daña.

…Unas niñas, tres sobrinas mías y la novia de un sobrino abortaron, las dejaban ir a mi casa porque yo era la de plata, la que las invitaba las que les hablaba de moda, de glamour, y de cómo exhibir su cuerpo, y mi hermana me las mandaba allá. Miren cómo las prostituí, prostituí menores que fue otro pecado espantoso después del aborto, porque yo les decía a esas niñas: “no sean bobitas mijitas es que sus mamás les hablan de virginidad y de castidad porque están pasadas de moda, ellas hablan de una Biblia de hace dos mil años, y los curas no se han querido modernizar, ellas hablan de lo que decía el Papa, pero ese Papa está pasado de moda.

Imagínense mi veneno y les enseñé a las niñas que ellas tenían que disfrutar de su cuerpo pero que tenían que planificar. Yo les enseñé los métodos de planificación “perfecta mujer”, y esa niña de catorce años, la novia de mi sobrino llega un día a mi consultorio (lo vi en El Libro de la Vida), llorando me dice “¡Gloria, soy un bebé y estoy embarazada!”, y yo le dije: “bruta, ¿no le enseñé a planificar?” y entonces me dice: “sí, pero no funcionó”. Entonces miré y el Señor me ponía allí esa niña para que no se hundiera en el abismo, para que no fuera a abortar, porque es que el aborto es una cadena que pesa tanto, que arrastra y pisotea, es un dolor que nunca se acaba, es el vacío de haber sido un asesino. Es lo peor a un hijo. Y saben que fue lo peor de esa niña, que en lugar de yo hablarle del Señor le di plata para que fuera a abortar en un lugar muy bueno para que después no la fueran a perjudicar. Así como ése patrociné varios abortos, cada vez que la sangre de un bebé se derramaba era como un holocausto a Satanás, es un holocausto, al Señor le duele y se estremece cada vez que se mata un bebé porque en el libro de la vida, vi como el alma de nosotros tan pronto como se tocan el espermatozoide y el óvulo se forma una chispa hermosa una luz cogida del sol de Papa Dios, el vientre de una madre tan pronto es fecundado se ilumina con el brillo de esa alma y cuando se aborta esa alma grita y gime de dolor así no tenga ojos ni carne, se escucha ese grito cuando lo están asesinando y el cielo se estremece y en el infierno se escucha otro igual pero de jubilo, de inmediato del infierno se abre unos sellos y salen unas larvas para seguir asediando a la humanidad, y seguir haciéndola esclava de la carne y de todas esas cosas que se ven y se verán cada día peor.

Porque ¿cuántos bebés se matan a diario? Y eso es un triunfo para él. Como será que ese precio de sangre inocente ocasiona un demonio más afuera y me lavan en esa sangre y mi alma blanca se empezó a poner absolutamente oscura. Después de los abortos ya no tuve más convicción de pecado, para mi todo eso estaba bien. Y lo triste también ver cómo en esos pagarés que me tenía el maligno, allí me mostraba todos los bebés que yo había matado también, porque ¿saben qué? Yo planificaba con la T de cobre y fue doloroso ver cuántos bebitos habían sido fecundados y se habían destruido ellos solos, y el grito de ese bebé desgarrándose da las manos de papá Dios. De razón que vivía amargada y mal geniana, haciendo mala cara, frustrada con todos y con mucha depresión. Claro, me había vuelto una maquina de matar bebés.

Y eso me hundió más en el abismo; ¿cómo que no había matado? Y qué decir de cada persona que me cayó gorda, que odiaba, que detestaba. ¡Ahí ya era aún asesina! Porque no sólo con un disparo se mata a una persona, basta con odiarla con hacerle el mal, con tenerle envidia, con eso ya se le mata.

En cuanto al sexto mandamiento de no fornicar yo dije: “no aquí si no me van a levantar ni un amante porque yo toda la vida solamente he tenido un hombre y es mi esposo”. Cuando me muestran que yo cada vez que yo estaba con mis senos descubiertos y mi cuerpo con mis trusas estaba incitando a otros hombres a que me miraran y tuvieran malos pensamientos y los hacía pecar y así fue como entré en adulterio.

Yo les aconsejaba a las mujeres que fueran infieles con sus esposos, les decía: no sean bobas desquítense no los perdonen y más bien divórciense, ya con eso estaba cometiendo un abominable adulterio.

Y me di cuenta que los pecados de la carne son espantosos y son condenatorios así el mundo les diga que son chéveres y que sigamos actuando como animales. Tristemente me solté de la mano del Señor, porque los pecados están en los pensamientos, en el alma y en la acción.

En el séptimo mandamiento de no robar, yo me consideraba honesta; y el Señor me mostraba que mientras que en mi casa desperdiciaba la comida, tanta hambre que padecía todo el mundo y me decía “yo tenía hambre y mira tú lo que hacías con lo que yo te daba, desperdiciabas, yo tenía frío y mira lo que hacías tú, esclavizada con las modas y las apariencias, gastándote mucho dinero en una inyección para estar delgada, esclavizada en el cuerpo en pocas palabras hiciste un Dios de tu cuerpo y me mostraba que yo era culpable de la miseria de mi país y que yo sí tenía que ver con eso. También me mostraba que cada vez que yo hablaba mal de alguien, le robaba la honra y difícil devolvérsela, que hubiera sido más fácil reparar al robarle un billete a una persona porque le habría podido devolver la plata y no robarle el buen nombre a una persona. Le robaba a mis hijos la gracia de una mamá en la casa, tierna, una mamá que les amaba y no la mamá en la calle dejando a los niños solos con el papá televisor, la mamá computadora o con los juegos de video y para calmar mi conciencia les compraba ropa de marca.

…les voy hablar un poquito de no levantar falsos testimonios. Ni mentir, en eso si que fui experta ¿oyeron? porque Satanás se volvió mi papá, porque tú tienes tu papá Dios y a Satanás.

Si Dios es Amor y yo odio ¿quién es mi Papá? no era tan difícil y si Dios me habla del perdón y de amar a los que me hacen daño y yo decía el que me la hace me la paga y hasta allí llegó conmigo, pues ¿quién era mi papá? y si El es la verdad y Satanás es la mentira ¿quién era mi papá? y no hay mentira ni rosada, ni amarillita ni verdecita, todas las mentiras son mentiras, y Satanás es su padre.

Tan terrible fueron los pecados de mi lengua. Que yo veía con mi lengua cuánto daño hacía. Cuando yo chismoseaba, cuando yo me burlaba, le colocaba un apodo a alguien, como sentía esa persona. Cómo le dolía el apodo. Cómo le podía crear complejo de inferioridad a una persona gordita que le andaba diciendo gorda, cómo cuanto mal hacía y cómo la palabra siempre terminaba en una acción.

Cuando me hacen el examen de los 10 mandamientos y de la codicia salieron todos mis males ese deseo loco. Yo pensaba que iba a ser feliz teniendo mucho dinero y se me volvió una obsesión tener dinero. Lástima. Cuando tuve mucho dinero, fue el peor momento que vivió mi alma hasta el punto de querer suicidarme.

…Después de ese examen de los 10 Mandamientos, me muestran “El Libro de la Vida”, hermoso, yo ya quisiera tener palabras para describirles “El Libro de la Vida”, empezó desde la concepción tan pronto se unieron el par de células de mis padres de inmediato, hubo ¡zas! una chispa, una explosión hermosa y se formó una alma, el alma mía cogida de la mano de Papá Dios me encontré un Papá Dios tan hermoso. Tan maravilloso 24 horas al día cuidándome buscándome y lo que yo veía que era castigo. No era más que su amor porque El mira no aquí en mi carne, sino miraba mi alma, y miraba cómo me iba alejando de la salvación, ese “Libro de la Vida”, para terminar les voy a dar un ejemplo de cómo es de hermoso el “Libro de la Vida”.

Yo era muy hipócrita y a la gente le decía a alguien ¡huy! oye como estás de linda, qué vestido tan precioso, cómo se te ve de lindo, y por dentro decía: “huy, qué pinta tan asquerosa, y todavía se cree la reina”. En mis pensamientos. En ese libro se ve igualito lo que yo decía con mi lengua, con una diferencia. Se veían mis pensamientos, y se veía el interior de mi alma. Todas mis mentiras quedaron al rojo vivo, vivas, todo el mundo se dio cuenta. A mi mamá cuántas veces me le volaba porque mi mamá no me dejaba ir para ningún lado. Mami tengo un trabajo en grupo en la biblioteca y mi mamá creía el cuento. Y arrancaba a ver una película de pornografía, o a un bar a tomar cervezas con mis amigas y mi mamá viendo mi vida, nada se escapó.

… Me pregunta el Señor ¿qué tesoros espirituales traes? Tesoros espirituales y mis manos iban vacías, no llevaba nada mis manos iban absolutamente desocupadas, es cuando me dice de qué te sirve decir que tenías 2 apartamentos, que tenías casas que tenías consultorios. Que te considerabas una profesional con muchísimo éxito. Te pudiste traer el polvo de un ladrillo aquí. Es cuando me dice ¿Qué hiciste con los talentos que yo te di? ¿Talentos? Tenía una misión. La misión de defender el reino del amor. El reino de Dios. Se me había olvidado que tenía alma, muchísimo menos que tenía talentos, que yo, era las manos misericordiosas de Dios. Mucho menos que todo el bien que dejé de hacer le dolió al Señor. Porque ¿saben qué era lo que siempre me preguntaba el Señor? La falta de amor y caridad en el prójimo siempre me preguntaba por el amor, y es cuando me dice:-“Es que tú muerte espiritual… Estaba viva pero muerta. Si hubieran visto que es “muerte espiritual” cómo es un alma que odia. Cómo es un alma espantosamente terrible de amargada y de fastidiosa. Que le hace mal a todo el mundo. Cuando uno está lleno de pecados, y ver mi alma por fuera oliendo muy rico y con buena ropa y mi alma oliendo horrible viviendo en los abismos. Con razón tanta depresión y tanta amargura. Y me dice: “Es que tu muerte espiritual comenzó cuando a ti te dejaron de doler todos tus hermanos”. Era una alerta cuando veías el sufrimiento de tus hermanos: en todas partes. O cuando veías en los medios de comunicación, mataron, secuestraron, desplazaron y tú con la lengua por afuera dices:-” ¡Ay pobrecitos! Qué pecadito”. Pero no te dolían tus hermanos. En el corazón no sentías nada, toda de piedra, el pecado te lo petrificó.

Cuando se cierra mi Libro, ustedes se imaginan la tristeza tan grande mía. Cuán dolor fuera de eso, por haberme portado así con mi Papá Dios, porque a pesar de todos mis pecados, a pesar de toda mi inmundicia y de toda mi indiferencia y de todos mis sentimientos horribles, el Señor siempre hasta el último instante me buscó, siempre me enviaba instrumentos, personas, me hablaba, me gritaba, me quitaba cosas para buscarme, él me busco hasta el último instante.

Escogí a Satanás, ese fue mi papá, y cuando se cerró ese libro, yo veo que en mi mente, estoy de cabeza porque me voy, a un hueco y después de ese hueco se va abrir una puerta. Y allí ya voy, y empecé gritarle a todos los santos que me salvaran, ustedes no tienen idea la cantidad de santos que llegué a saber yo no tenía idea que sabía tantos santos, era tan mala católica, que pensaba que igual me salvaba San Isidro el labrador, que San Francisco de Asís, y cuando se me acabaron todos los santos, el mismo silencio. Sentía un vacío, un dolor tan grande. Diciendo: y todo el mundo allá en la tierra pensando que “tan Santa” esperando que yo me muera para pedirme un milagrito. Y ¡Miren! ¿Para donde me voy?

No, levanto los ojos y me encuentro con los ojos de mi mamá. Y con mucho dolor le grito:- ¡Mami!. Que vergüenza ¡Me condené madre a donde yo voy, no te voy a volver a ver jamás. Y en ese momento a ella le concedieron una gracia muy bella. Estaba inmóvil y le permiten mover sus dos deditos hacia arriba y ella señala allí y saltan de mis ojos dos costras espantosamente dolorosas, esa ceguera espiritual. Salta allí, y veo un momento hermoso. Cuando una paciente me había dicho:- “Mire doctora. Usted es muy materialista y un día lo va a necesitar. Cuando usted esté en eminente peligro, cualquiera que sea, pídale a Jesucristo que la cubra con su sangre que él nunca, nunca la va abandonar. Porque El pagó un precio de su sangre por usted”. Y con esa vergüenza tan grande y ese dolor empecé yo a gritar: – Jesucristo. Señor ten compasión de mí !perdóname, Señor dame una segunda oportunidad! Y ese fue el momento más bello, yo no tengo palabras para describir ese momento, El baja y me saca de ese hueco. Cuando El me recoge, todas esas cosas se botaron al piso. Me levanta y me saca en esa parte planita, y me dice con todo ese amor:- “Vas a volver, vas a tener tú segunda oportunidad (…), pero me dice, pero no por la oración de tu familia. Porque es normal que ellos “oren y clamen por ti, sino por toda la intercesión de todas las personas ajenas a tu carne y a tu sangre que han llorado, han orado y han elevado su corazón con muchísimo amor por ti”.

Y empiezo a ver cómo se prenden un montón de lucecitas que son como llamitas blancas llenas de amor. Y veo a las personas que están orando por mí. Pero había una llama grande, grande que era la que más luz daba. La que más amor daba. Yo miraba quién era esa persona que me amaba tanto. Y me dice el Señor: -“Esa persona que tú ves allí, es una persona que te ama tanto, tanto que ni siquiera te conoce”. Y me mostraba, había visto el recorte en la prensa del día anterior porque bajo al pueblo, bien pobre, era un campesino que vivía al pie de la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Bajó el hombre bien pobrecito. Compró una panela y se la envolvieron en una hoja del “Espectador” del día anterior. Estaba ahí mi fotografía, quemada. Cuando ese hombre ve esa noticia que ni la leyó de corrido se fue para el piso y empieza a llorar con un amor tan grande, y dice:- “Padre. Señor ten compasión de mi hermanita. Señor sálvala, señor mira Señor. Si tú salvas a mi hermanita, yo te prometo que me voy al “Santuario de Buga” y te cumplo una promesa, pero sálvala”.

Imagínense un hombre pobrecito, no estaba renegando ni maldiciendo por qué estaba aguantando hambre, con una capacidad de amor ofrecerse a atravesar todo un país, por alguien, que no conocía. Y me dice el Señor: “Eso es Amor al Prójimo” (…) y cuando me dice esto: vas a volver pero tú no lo vas a repetir 1000 veces. Sino 1000 veces mil. Y hay de aquellos que oyéndote no cambiaron. Porque van a ser juzgados con más severidad. Como lo vas a ser tú en tu segundo regreso. Los ungidos que son sus sacerdotes o cualquiera de ellos, porqué no hay peor sordo que el que no quiere oír, ni peor ciego que el que no quiere ver.

Y esto mis queridos hermanos no es una amenaza, el Señor no necesita amenazarnos, esta es la segunda, oportunidad que ustedes tienen y ¡gracias a Dios que viví lo que yo viví! Porque cuando les abran “El Libro de la Vida” a cada uno, cuando se mueran cada uno de ustedes, vamos a ver este momento igualito, y vamos a vernos tal cual estamos con la diferencia que vamos a ver nuestros pensamientos, y nuestros sentimientos en la presencia de Dios, y lo más hermoso es que cada quien va a ver el Señor en frente de cada uno de nosotros. Otra vez pidiéndonos que nos convirtamos, para que de verdad empecemos a ser nuevas criaturas con El, sin El no podemos.

Que el Señor los bendiga a todos grandemente. La gloria para Dios. La gloria para nuestro señor Jesucristo.

Se encuentra el testimonio completo en su proprio sitio a Gloria Polo.

Full English version can be found here.