Saturday, September 23, 2017

Van Gogh's Hurricane Swirls

      While tracking hurricanes Jose and Maria this September of 2017, I came across a wonderful weather map site, featuring dynamic, in-motion maps for multiple parameters, such as wind gusts, temperature, clouds, waves, precipitation and so on. I was struck by a resemblance of the wind speed map to certain paintings I had seen, but initially could not make the connection. Could it be Picasso or Kandinsky?  Finally I realized that it was Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night that I was reminded of as I looked at the weather map. Not only are there colorful swirls, but also short white strokes or stipples defining both the stars and the hurricanes.  See for yourself.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Padre Pio's Tribute to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

Translated in English for the first time, with permission, from the Italian of the fourth book of the Letters of Padre Pio; see at bottom for details.

     Great events merit great commemorations; we see that this constantly occurs. The anniversary of the coronation of a prince is celebrated, that of an important victory, and unfortunately sometimes dates are remembered that are tragic for the Church, the memory of which cannot do other than further sadden the hearts of humble Catholics. But for the most affectionate children, the most beautiful dates are those which record the triumphs and glories of their Mother. We Catholics who venerate in Most Holy Mary the most tender and affectionate of Mothers that one can speak of, can do no less than rejoice on that day sacred to the memory of her greatest victory, that is, her Assumption into Heaven and her Coronation as Queen of the angels and of all the saints. Therefore let us pause here somewhat to consider the power and the glory of Most Holy Mary assumed into Heaven, to better arouse our devotion and confidence towards her.
Dormition; Fra Angelico
     After the Ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven, Mary was continually on fire with a most intense desire to be reunited to Him. And Oh! The burning sighs, the pitiful moans that she addressed to Him constantly, that He would call her to Himself. Without her divine Son, it seemed that she found herself in a most hard exile. Those years in which she had to be separated from Him were for her a most slow and painful martyrdom, a martyrdom of love that consumed her little by little. But behold, finally the longed-for hour arrived, and Mary heard the voice of her beloved, which called her from on high. “Come sister, my delight, my spouse, come! [cf. Cant. 4, 8ff.] Come O beloved of my heart, the time of your groans on earth is finished; come O spouse, and receive from the Father, from the Son, and from the Holy Spirit the crown that has been prepared for you in Heaven!”

      This loving invitation was manifested to Most Holy Mary by means of the burning love that made her desire ever more ardently to see her Son and be united to Him. Her heart told her that her longings were finally to be satisfied, and totally happy she prepared herself to leave this earth. Already it seemed she could hear the angelic harmonies coming towards her. However, her heart was torn between her divine Son who was in Heaven, and her other adopted sons still on earth – the apostles. As a tender Mother, she wished to bless them before departing this world. God, in order to render her passage completely blissful, wanted to satisfy her desire - and in a short time the apostles, who were dispersed in various parts of the world in order to preach the Gospel, were carried by invisible hands to the humble house of Mary. She was greatly pleased by their arrival, and revealed to them that she was soon to be united with her son Jesus.
      The apostles, upon hearing that Mary would soon leave them, reacted like children who stood to become orphans, and they burst forth in sorrowful lamentations. She took steps to console them, assuring them that she would not completely abandon them, but would continue to assist and help them from Heaven. They did not leave her alone even for a moment, and Mary in response to the sighs that they were raising up to Heaven, braided wise counsels with words of comfort as she addressed the desolated apostles. 
Assumption; Fra Angelico
      The divine love in the heart of Mary burned with such great intensity, that it could no longer be contained within a mortal creature. And so the blessed soul of Mary, as a tied dove that had broken its bonds, separated itself from her holy body, and flew into the bosom of her beloved. But Jesus who ruled in Heaven with His most holy Humanity, which He had taken from the womb of the Virgin, desired that His Mother, not only with her soul but also with her body, be reunited with him and share fully in His glory. And this was truly just and right. Her body which was never for an instant the slave of the demon or of sin, should rightly never be subject to corruption. 
      Now what tongue can fittingly describe the triumphant entrance of Mary into Heaven? If the celebrations that are prepared here down below arouse such admiration and great enthusiasm as to move and attract the thoughts of so many people, what can possibly be said of the triumphs prepared by God Himself for His very own Mother? Saint Anselm affirms that the Redeemer wished to ascend into Heaven before His Mother not only to prepare a throne worthy of her Queenship, but also to render more triumphant and glorious her entrance into Heaven, to arrive there and encounter Himself along with all the angels and the blessed of Paradise. Thus, Saint Peter Damian does not hesitate to affirm that the Assumption of Mary into Heaven was more glorious than the Ascension of Jesus Christ, since only the angels came to greet Him, but with Most Holy Mary, not only the angels came to meet her, but also the saints and at the head of all, that same Jesus Christ.
Coronation; Fra Angelico
      Mary shook off the sleep of death which had deprived her of the angelic melodies. The celestial spirits burst open the tomb which had received her body; her divine Son stretched forth His hand, and Mary followed Him, all majestic and bright like the rising sun. Sweetly and calmly she rose from the earth, up towards the clouds and the celestial spheres, to the boundaries of the home of the Blessed. The gates of Heaven opened and the Mother of God entered in. As soon as the saints in Heaven saw her arrayed in the splendor of her beauty, with great festivity and joy they surrounded her, greeting her and honoring her with lofty titles. Offering their homage by prostrating themselves at her feet, by mutual consent they proclaimed her as their Queen. The heavenly celebration was joined by the Most Holy Trinity; the Father welcomed her as His favored one, inviting her to partake of His power. 

Translated in English with permission, from the Italian of the fourth book of the Letters of Padre Pio, Epistolario IV, pp 1123-1126, Edizioni Padre Pio da Pietrelcina, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, 2002. This is my personal translation and is not to be considered official. The Friary is currently working on an English translation for book IV. 

Fra Angelico (1395 - 1455):  Dormition, Assumption, Coronation

View my books on Padre Pio, Mary, and others...

Friday, July 14, 2017

What God is by Nature, Mary is by Grace

My new book, What God is by Nature, Mary is by Grace; the Greatness of the Blessed Virgin as Revealed to Luisa Piccarreta, is now available.

                                   Link for Print Edition;    Link for Kindle ebook Edition. 

What God is by Nature, Mary is by Grace is a compendium of the teachings on the Blessed Virgin Mary found in the pages of Luisa Piccarreta's Book of Heaven. The Book of Heaven is a 36 volume collection of her writings on the Divine Will, as revealed by the Lord and by His Mother. The current book is a detailed narrative report and description of over 250 dated entries about Mary contained in Luisa's opus. 
This is my fourth book on the writings of Luisa Piccarreta. The first three presented overviews of the first 21 volumes of her revelations. This book is more than an overview, and concentrates solely on the teachings about the Blessed Virgin Mary's life on earth and in heaven as lived in the Divine Will. Luisa's writings reveal the hitherto unknown extent of the true greatness, height and sublimity of the life of the Mother of God. 
This is a good faith sharing of my work on this very difficult and abstruse topic, based on the best available English translations of her work, and is not intended to be considered authorized, official, or definitive. Any eventual publication of a Church-approved English translation of her works should not affect the meaning or sense of the present book. 
The source references to the entries from Luisa's 36 volume Book of Heaven are given after each use, and indicate the volume number and the date of the entry. 
The Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta was a twentieth century mystic from southern Italy (1865-1947). She spent over 60 years of her life confined to bed, essentially subsisting only on the Holy Eucharist. She was a victim soul, who experienced intense sufferings, as well as visits and revelations from Jesus and Mary. For a time her spiritual advisor was St. Annibale di Francia, instrumental in obtaining Church approval for the first 19 volumes of Luisa's work, until his death. Her writings center on the importance of the Divine Will in the life of Christians, and the coming of the Kingdom of the Divine Will, as foretold in the Lord's prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,on earth at it is in heaven.” Her Cause for Beatification and subsequent Canonization is being considered by the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints. 

Table of Contents
A Prodigy of Grace, Beauty and Sanctity
Her Littleness
All Creation Celebrates Her Conception
Her Test
Daughter of the Light
The Divine Heiress
Mediatrix of all Graces
Nourishes the Good Acts of Creatures
Mother and Queen of the Divine Will
All Are Conceived in Her Heart
Excesses of the Divine Love
She Was Conceived in Everything
Her Birth
Hail Full of Grace!
The Two Kingdoms
Her Faithfulness
The Incarnation of Jesus
Jesus Living in the Womb of His Mother
The Nativity
Mary's Universal Motherhood
Bringing up Jesus
Truly Inseparable from Jesus
Mary and the Eucharist
Her Sorrowful Heart
Terror of all Hell
Her Sufferings and the Passion of Jesus
Her Assumption into Heaven
Her Life in the Divine Will - I
Her Life in the Divine Will - II

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Those Short-sighted minds who reject Luisa Piccarreta

On those Short-sighted individuals and critics who reject Luisa Piccarreta's Divine Will teachings.

Their greatest difficulties and most serious doubts occur because Luisa Piccarreta is called to a unique and special mission – to live in the Divine Will and make it known. But the Lord would not have composed a prayer asking that “Thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven” if it already existed on earth. It says “come,” and He would not have composed this prayer unless He wanted to obtain its effects. In order to reach this, could He not choose a woman to confound the infernal serpent, as He had chosen His mother to effect the Redemption?

This was the reason for all the Lord's preparations, visits, graces and communications to Luisa Piccarreta. But it raises doubts and difficulties, and simply sounds bad, when people read that among so many great saints in the history of the Church, none except for Jesus and Mary, have lived in the Kingdom of the Divine Will. Then they read that He is placing Luisa near the Sovereign Queen so that she can imitate the way Mary lived in the Divine Will. He places Luisa in Mary's hands, so that she can be guided and assisted by her, to be a copy that resembles her. That Luisa might imitate Mary in everything seems so absurd to them, and in a sinister manner they make it sound as if Luisa was to become another Mary. But the Lord wants Luisa similar to her, in the way that He wants souls dear to Him to be similar to Him, but this does not mean to become God like He is. He does not say Luisa is like the Celestial Queen, but similar to her. 

But time will reveal everything, and just as they can't deny that the Virgin of Nazareth is the Mother of Jesus, so will they not be able to deny that Luisa has been elected for the sole purpose of making the Divine Will known. Through her He will obtain that “Thy Kingdom come” will have its fulfillment. Creatures are instruments in the Lord's hands, and He does not look at who they might be, but whether they can fulfill His highest designs. In due time, He makes use of the doubters and their difficulties to confound and humiliate them.

From their way of thinking, it shows that they have only considered the person of Luisa, and have not calculated what the Divine Will can accomplish. It knows how to operate, and if it decides to work in one creature in order to fulfill its greatest designs in the midst of humanity, it lets no one dictate to it the conditions – who that person can be, nor the time, nor the way, nor the place. Rather, the Divine Will acts in an absolute way. Nor does it pay attention to certain short-sighted critics, who are not able to elevate their minds to the divine and supernatural order. Nor can they bow their forehead before the incomprehensible works of their Creator. While they want to reason with their own human reason, they lose the divine reason, and remain confounded and incredulous.

But who am I to judge such critics as being short-sighted? Who do I think I am to say that they are incapable of raising their minds to the supernatural order? Well, it is not I who make these statements, but they were made by the Lord Himself. The above paragraphs are a paraphrase of what Jesus told Luisa, as reported in her books of revelations, Volume 29, on May 19, 1931. 

 View my Luisa Piccarreta books and others HERE 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Saucepan Vegetable Beef Hash

 An Exclusive Original Recipe

This recipe originated many years ago when I was attending Rutgers in New Brunswick, N.J., living in an off-campus apartment. For me at the time it was an inexpensive and easy way to whip up a nutritional meal. I shared the place with three other students, one of whom had his own cooking quirks.  He would save all of the grease left over when he fried bacon, and used these "Hog Drippings" to grease the pan for burgers and such.  Do people still do this?

Anyway, here are the ingredients for the vegetable beef hash.  You can eat it stand-alone since it has four vegetables along with the meat. I guarantee you will love it!

Utensils: One large sauce pan, one large, strong stirring spoon

One pound of lean ground beef
One large yellow onion
Two small potatoes 
One 15 ounce can of sweet peas
Half of a 4 ounce can of mushrooms
5-6 tablespoons of light Olive Oil

Chop the onions and get them started in the saucepan on low heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil.
Quarter and nuke the potatoes for a few minutes in microwave to soften them up.
Chop the potatoes and add them to the saucepan.
Add the sweet peas with all the juice from the can.
Add the mushrooms, and turn up the burner flame to medium.
Stir the mix.
Add the lean ground beef. Get it mixed in with everything else.  Make a nice "hash."

Continue stirring until all the meat has browned.
Lower the heat and stir occasionally so nothing sticks to the pan.
The fun part: You should be able to push everything to the sides of the pan to make a funnel, and there should be liquid at the bottom of the funnel.  Else add some more olive oil. 

It should be ready in about 25 minutes.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Padre Pio and the Easter Eggs

      This story appeared in one of the early issues of the magazine "The Voice of Padre Pio," published by St. Pio's Friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.  I began looking through my older copies of this magazine after learning that someone had inadvertently thrown away the entire set of them starting from the first issue, that belonged to my friend and Padre Pio author Jeanette Salerno.  I found this gem of an article that related a few charming and mysterious little "miracles" involving Padre Pio, two of which appear below.  They are presented here with the permission of the current editor of the "Voice" magazine.

"Personal Experiences - Padre Pio and Our Easter Eggs;"  by Miss Margherita Hamilton as told to Fr. John Schug, Capuchin.

      Nothing very spectacular ever happened to me, but what happened was surely very strange.  The second time I visited San Giovanni Rotondo was many years ago, right before Easter.  At the time there was only one hotel, and no rooms were available there, so we had to stay in a boarding house.  
     It was a terrible, terrible place.  Everything was dirty.  We didn't even dare open our luggage.  We didn't sleep in the bed.  We put a big blanket on top of the bed and slept on it.  We never unpacked our things. 
     Clarice said: "I want to take something out."
     But I told her: "Don't you dare take anything out in this filth and grease, because bugs will be running around in five minutes."  So she didn't open anything. 
     The next morning was Easter Sunday.  We have a custom that the first thing we eat on Easter Day is blessed hard boiled eggs.  I had been doing that all my life.  But on this Easter Day, I grumbled and kept saying: "This will be the first time in my life I won't be able to eat blessed eggs on Easter Day, because we had to stop in this filthy place, and we won't even have the Easter eggs tomorrow morning."
     We got up at 4:00 to go to Mass at 5:00.  Mass was beautiful.  When we left the church, we were very happy.  I had on a big coat, because it was still cold.  Suddenly, as we walked, I felt something in my pocket.  I said: "What's this?  There was nothing in my pocket when I went to church."
     I reached into my pocket and found two boiled eggs.  I said the Clarice: "You put them there."
     She said: "I didn't bring any eggs, so there's no way I could have put them in your pocket."
     The same afternoon we found two good rooms elsewhere, and we moved our suitcases and boxes.  I opened my valise and found two little packages which my maid Pasqualina had prepared.  One package had six sandwiches, and the other had four eggs.  But the strange thing was that the parcel was all tied up with a ribbon, and there had been six eggs in it.  But only four eggs were left.  The other two were eggs which Padre Pio had blessed and put in my pocket.  Nobody could have taken two eggs out of a tied box without opening the parcel.  

     Giovanna, my very dear friend, was staying with me in my house.  She slept in a big bed near the wall.  There was a little table nearby.  Across the room there was another table, a bit larger.   Giovanna had been ill, so she was in bed most of the time.
     Just outside the bedroom, on the terrace, there was a magnificent rose, really a splendid rose.  We went out onto the terrace to look at it.  The first moment she returned to the house, she said: "Give me that rose."
     I told her: "No, this is the first rose of the arbor, so you can't have this one.  This rose goes to the Madonna, to Mary."
     The next day another rose was open.  I cut it and said: "Giovanna, here is your rose.  You can have this one, because it is the second rose."
     Giovanna said: "All right."   I answered: "It can't have a better destination."
     On the table near the wall there was a color picture of Padre Pio.  I put the rose in a small vase and set the vase on the table.
     In the afternoon, another friend of ours came.  Giovanna still wasn't well.  So we sat on one side of her bed.  The rose was near the portrait of Padre Pio.  Our friend remarked: "Oh, how pale Padre Pio is.  I hope he isn't ill."
     "No," I answered.  "It isn't that he is pale.  He only looks that way because the color of the rose is so strong."
     I walked around the bed and took the rose away.  "Look," I said, "Padre Pio is quite normal."  We all agreed that it was true - that it was the rose that made the color of the picture so weak.  I put the rose back in its place.
     Suddenly my friend cried out: "B. . .b. . . b . . . but..."
     "What's the matter?" I asked.  "What are you saying?"
     She could only stammer: "The . . . the . . . the . . . the. . . the rose!"
     The rose was not there!
     "But I put it there on the table," I said, quite matter-of-factly.
     "Yes," she said, "I know you did."
     Giovanna, too, said: "Yes, you put it there.  Perhaps it has fallen."
     We looked all over for it.  We even got Giovanna out of bed to see if it had fallen on the bed.  But it had disappeared completely.  It was no longer there.  Then Giovanna said: "It seems that Padre Pio has accepted it."
     Almost twenty days later, we went to San Giovanni Rotondo, and Giovanna went straight to Padre Pio.  Whenever she visited him, they always met in the small office of the 'convento.'  He was waiting there for her when she arrived.  He had a red rose in his hand.  He had the rose, the rose, in his hand.
     He said: "Thank you very much for the rose.  I appreciate it very much."
     She answered: "Father, give it back to me."
     He said: "Yes, I'll give it back to you."
     Now Giovanna preserves this rose in her home.

From The Voice of Padre Pio, Vol. V, no. 4, 1975, pp. 10-12.
Please click HERE to contact your closest Padre Pio Information Center to subscribe.

View my Padre Pio books and others HERE.  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Were there two Sister Lucy's?

The Tradition in Action website has published a series of articles investigating the possibility that the Fatima visionary Sister Lucy was at one point replaced by a double, in order to silence her conservative voice, and to further the progressivist agenda of  Vatican II.  One of their articles presents a series of photos comparing historical photos of the "real" Sister Lucy to more recent photos of the alleged "double."

Recently, one of the website's readers sent them an email that mentions a video which purportedly shows a reliable method of comparing the photos of two people to help determine if they are really of the same person.  Like most such approaches, it is not infallible, but it can indicate with high probability if the persons are not the same.

In Tradition In Action's  "People are Commenting" page of February 9, 2017, you can read the email from "G.A." regarding the "eye-tooth" method of determining whether two photographs are of the same person.  The email links to this video on YouTube which explains how to use this method.  Basically, it is based on the distance between the pupils of the eyes of a person, and the distance from the eyes to the tips of the upper teeth.  These features are permanently embedded in the bone structure of the upper face.  Therefore, any adult should always have a constant ratio between the two distances. 

Using the pictures above from their web page on the two Sister Lucy's, I zoomed the page to 170% to get larger pictures.  Then I calculated the following measurements:
The Sister Lucy on the left, 25 mm. between the eyes, and 36 mm. to the tip of the upper teeth.  This gives a ratio of 1.44.
For the Sister Lucy on the right, 30 mm. between the eyes, and 36 mm. to the tip of the upper teeth.  This gives a ratio of 1.2.

Thus, if the premise about the eye-tooth ratio is correct, as reported on the video, then it is almost certain that the two photos are NOT of the same person.

Update 03/31/17.   I tried this with some photos of a young Paul McCartney vs. older; and found no difference in the eye-tooth ratio.