Although Rome was once the capital of a vast empire that extended even into what is today England, Scotland and Ireland, it is today the capital of Italy. What really gives Rome its importance even to the worldly, is the fact that Rome is synonymous with the Roman Catholic Church. One seldom, if ever, hears it said: "I am going to the Vatican" when referring to a trip to the center of the Roman Catholic Church. One hears: "I am going to Rome." For a Catholic to say `Rome' is to say `Vatican City.'
The diocese of Rome is the diocese of the successor of St. Peter, and for this reason whoever is elected Bishop of Rome is, by that fact, the Roman Pontiff, or, as commonly called: the Supreme Pontiff. Actually, the correct term for a Pope is `Vicar.' A Pope is not above Jesus Christ Who is the proper `Supreme Pontiff.' The Pope is the Vicar of Jesus Christ.
A legitimate Pope is like an agent with regard to his principal. Or, like a guardian with respect to the parents of a child. A legal guardian is not the biological parent of the child, in stands in loco parentis. In the same way, a legitimate Pope serves the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ in a visible manner, fulfilling the commands of the invisible head, Jesus Christ.
The church of Rome is the `Mother Church' - the pattern for all other churches to follow in matters of faith and morals and discipline. The reason for this lies in the fact that the Vicar of Jesus Christ is the head of that church and it is to him that the particular charisma of infallibility in matters of faith and morals is given by the Holy Ghost.
The Tiber flows through the city of Rome north to south. On the east bank are found most of the ancient ruins of classical Rome. During the 16th century, Pope Sixtus V started the modernization of the area east of the Via del Corso. The Vatican and Lateran palaces were built here. Here also were built the many squares, fountains, and statutes for which Rome is famous.
On the west bank of the Tiber are located Vatican City and the many places still showing forth their medieval charm.
My interest was centered more on the Vatican and St. Peter's in particular. For, it was in St. Peter's that my companion and I preached our loudest silent sermons. The opportunities to meet pilgrims and tourists from all over the world were greatest in St. Peter's basilica. After all, St. Peter's is our church. It has been taken over by the Modernist heretics, chief of whom resides in the Vatican palace. Every opportunity was used to speak to people visiting the basilica. Even the guards and guides were moved to see something quite unusual: a Franciscan Bishop in the garb of his Order without the least compromise with the world. You see, for the most part, even those clergymen residing in the Vatican have adopted the ways of the Americans.
From our first day in Rome, we drove to Assisi. We wanted to see where the infamous `ecumenical' meeting of all religions was held. At Assisi, we visited the great basilica where the earthly remains of St. Francis are kept. We prayed before his tomb and wondered at his outrage by turning that which is so Catholic into something that is so un-Catholic. While kneeling before his tomb, it was impossible not to think of the glaring difference between the Catholic spirit of St. Francis and the spirit of religious indifference that permeates the atmosphere there, where he once walked.
One could hardly imagine that here, on these very narrow streets and alley ways, St. Francis walked barefooted, begging his food from door to door.
It was a cold, windy day when we walked the hilly street to the Basilica of St. Francis which the Conventual Friars built and maintain. The structure is truly an imposing one as it sits on the top of a mountain. From there, we drove a few miles down the narrow streets to the main highway and to where the Portiuncula chapel was located. This was where St. Francis prayed often and this is where the Franciscan Order was born, so to speak. The Portiunucla - the little portion of heaven dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels. How symbolic: here, in Italy, is where St. Francis started his evangelical revolution that changed the face of the world of his time. Now, one of his spiritual sons - an outcast like himself, spat upon and vilified - comes from the `Portiuncula' of the twentieth century located in Greece, New York, to pay filial homage to the Founder of the Franciscan Order. From one abandoned chapel smaller than an ordinary garage came the great Franciscan Order. Today, in the time of the Great Apostasy, when every Order and Congregation has followed the Apocalyptic Beast from the East, there comes a solitary Friar from another stable - the Portiuncula located in North America.
This is what truly counts in life: the spirit; for, the flesh profits nothing. The spirit of St. Francis does not abide in Assisi any more. His earthly ashes cannot flee this place, but his spirit is not bound by walls. Like our Lord in the tabernacle of heretics and schismatics: He is physically bound there because of His promise; but, He withholds His grace from those who keep Him prisoner.
Next, Dr. Tardugno and I drove to Cortona. Cortona is famous for two people of two different extremes: Fr. Elias of Cortona who nearly destroyed the Franciscan Order when he was made the Minister General. Brother Elias started out well, but finished badly.
The next great figure from Cortona is Saint Margaret, also known as the `Franciscan Magdalene.' It is St. Margaret who occupied our attention at that time and Brother Elias received extremely little concern on our part - if any.
In a little book, so typically modest and brief, written by the missionary Bishop, Most Rev. Ange-Marie Hiral, O.F.M., we get a good insight into the spirituality of this great penitent saint. Having read the book entitled The Revelations of Margaret of Cortona, I was moved to visit her earthly resting place where she is encased in a glass casket under the main altar in the cathedral of Cortona.
In a world steeped in sensuality, the devil does his utmost to keep sinners enslaved to him through the flesh. Consequently, the example of such a great sinner as Margaret would serve as a positive guide to leave their sinful lives and follow our Lord.
Besides all this, there is among the revelations made by our Lord to St. Margaret one that touches upon our present situation of the Great Apostasy.
This is very important, it seems to me, because these revelations made to St. Margaret in the thirteenth century are coming true despite anyone's desire to the contrary.. The history of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ is that of one great battle between Heaven and Hell. The Sacred Scriptures warn us that a terrible conflict will take place just before the end of the world. Our Lord revealed to His servant Margaret that in the last days the Friars Minor will be called to fight against the Anti-Christ. He said: "Tell the Friars Minor to hold themselves ready to withstand his malice, for he will cause them many afflictions. But let My Order have courage. I will be with it."
It should be obvious that this message given to Margaret even before her death was meant to be transmitted spiritually to those Friars who shall not have drowned the Order in the cesspool of Modernism. For, those Friars who join the ranks of the myriad of heretical Religious of all Orders and Congregations cannot be meant to be the courageous fighters against Anti-Christ. They have already given up the fight and are now resting in the cool shade of the Anti-Christ's shadow. This revelation can only mean to apply to our times, that is, in this eve of the twenty-first century.
Our Lord continues: "A great tribulation will be aroused in the world against the Church by a demon sent by Lucifer. This demon, who has never come out of hell since the day when he was cast into it, will go around the world trying to prepare the way for the Anti-Christ, of whom he will be the forerunner. The persecution will be so great that many religious will leave their order and nuns will abandon their convents. The Friars Minor themselves will be sorely tried at that time. But they must have confidence in Me. I will protect them, and I will give special help to their Order. They must know that I have given more graces to them than to all the others. Let them therefore prepare themselves for tribulations, in which they will acquire further points of resemblance to Me. My love for them is so great that I would like to make their life conform entirely with Mine."
"Know that just as people criticized My miracles and My teaching, so they will dare to criticize the Friars Minor, your Fathers. But just as, despite the accusations of My critics, I did not give up My good works, so let the Friars in turn not cease performing the good works that they do in Me, on account of those who slander them."
"My enemies have increased in number in order to tempt My people. The Friars Minor, to whom I have given the nets of My preaching, are the shields of souls."
These are the words spoken to His servant Margaret of Cortona. Although they are the substance of private revelations made over 800 years' ago, it seems that they are being realized in our day. It is this motive and divine providence that took me to Italy in the month of January of this year, 1997. It was to kneel before the incorrupt body of St. Margaret of Cortona and physically see the instrument of God's providence who has heard these unusual words. What is even more startling to me is that this little work by Bishop Hiral, O.F.M. was completely unknown to me. It fell into my hands by a strange working of His providence.
This journey to Italy and the Franciscan holy places was a joy and a sorrow. It was a joy because I physically knelt before the relics of St. Francis, my beloved Father whose son I am not worthy to be; and secondly, to prayerfully gaze upon a despised saint whom God had chosen to encourage souls facing the great battle against the Anti-Christ's forerunner seated in the Vatican. It was an overwhelming sorrow because I knew that in the very heart of Catholicism where I stood, reigned a hierarchy of Modernist heretics. Indeed, the heart-rending truth was that the Chair of Peter was usurped by the forerunner of the Antichrist. As the Blessed Mother said at LaSalette in 1864: Rome has lost the faith. It has become the seat of the Antichrist! Pagans from the Orient come to gawk at the once-holy and majestic Basilica of St. Peter. It is become as our enemies predicted: Nothing more than a museum of what once was! Merulana where once loyal and Catholic Minister Generals of the Order of Friars Minor resided and had their offices. Now, I must feel sorrow for those who were once my confreres in that Order which I embraced with all my heart and soul so many years ago; for which I was sent by the last true Minister General, Fr. Augustine Sepinski, OFM, to South Korea to establish the Order there. Now, only heretics occupy those buildings. I was deeply saddened to think that I can no longer take pride in those whom I would have embraced as confreres, but now must avoid because they have become the enemies of Jesus Christ and His Mystical Body. I know what Joseph felt like when his own brothers sold him into slavery and sent him to a foreign land. It all reminded me of that decisive day when I bade farewell to my former confreres in Toronto, Canada, and said: "Goodbye. If I do not see you again in this life, I will see you again on Judgment Day." One former Provincial had threatened earlier: "If you try to leave us, we will destroy you!" I left them with their heresies, and they tried to destroy me. Some of them are now dead, and I am not yet destroyed. Others must live out their aging lives as traitors to their faith and their vocation, like helpless puppets in the hands of heretics, to live and die in dishonor. They have sought the honor of men without regard to God. Better to be despised by men, and honored by God.
Beyond the natural beauty of Italy and the gigantic, impressive spiritual monuments spread all over this once-blessed country, the greatest gift and grace was to meet with my spiritual confreres: St. Francis and St. Margaret. And to leave them with their holy words and example branded in my mind and heart.
This is why I went to Italy. This is what I bring back to every sincere and dedicated member of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Woe to those who despise the Friars Minor because they have been chosen by God to be the faithful `Davids' in the Church challenging the Goliaths of the Anti-Christ and his forerunner, Karl Wojtyla alias John-Paul II.
There are many false prophets that have gone out into the world, both on the right and on the left. It is only this little flock of Friars Minor that has remained in the middle, avoiding both heretical and schismatic extremes.
For your kind patience and edification, permit me to leave you with these arresting thoughts expressed by Jesus to St. Margaret:
St. Margaret asked Our Lord why He referred to the Franciscan Order as `the Garden of My Love.' She said: "And why, Lord, do you call the Order of Friars Minor `the Garden of Love'? Have you not other gardens in which charity flourishes as beautifully?"
Our Lord answered: "No, I find nowhere else in the world such a beautiful school of divine love. I have given this Order, and I give you the children of this Order as your teachers. You will find among them apostles whom I shall make understand the graces that I wish to grant to you."
To each and every reader of The Seraph, I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks for so many years of faithful support in the name of the few Friars Minor who labor with me to fulfill God's purposes. May the graces merited by St. Francis of Assisi and St. Margaret of Cortona be your reward. In particular, I would entrust to your generous prayers the intentions of Dr. Lance Tardugno of Rome, New York, who served as divine providence's instrument to bring me to Rome, to Assisi and to Cortona - places where I was able to pray before the tombs of St. Pius X, Pope Pius XII, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Margaret of Corona. My last prayer in St. Peter's Basilica was before the tomb of Pope St. Pius X who one threatened to replace the lavish living Bishops of France with Franciscan Bishops accustomed to living in poverty.
May you see in spirit, all that I have seen with my earthly eyes.
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