WHEN OUR MOTHER COMES YET AGAIN TO CALL FOR PRAYER AND REPARATION
Rev. Fr. Melvin P. Castro
Chancellor and Secretary to the Bishop of Tarlac
Though officially not yet approved by the Church, a good number of Archbishops and Bishops, a Cardinal even, many priests and religious, and certainly countless lay faithful have expressed their personal conviction on the truth and authenticity of the apparitions of Our Lady in Lipa Carmel in the year 1948.
Let us take a glimpse in the outstanding and miraculous events in the Carmelite Monastery in Lipa City , Batangas which was later to be officially named Carmel of Our Lady, Mary, Mediatrix of All-Grace.
Before Our Lady came to manifest herself, Teresing had to endure terrible encounters with the devil. It was in the end, a mysterious preparation for the coming of the Lady. One would now think, as a hindsight, that it was to be a pattern for the entire Lipa Carmel phenomena: doubts, rejection, persecution, yet in the end, Our Lady’s triumph.
It was on 18 August 1948, that the Lady came first to appear to Teresing in her cell, that is to say, in her room in the Carmelite Monastery. It was to be a series of apparitions and mysterious events that will culminate in Our Lady’s apparition at the vine within the Carmelite Monastery.
Mother Cecilia, of happy memory, Prioress of Lipa Carmel in 1948 had this to say:
“On September 12, Sunday, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, at about five o’clock in the afternoon, a Sister who was taking a walk in the garden suddenly remarked that a vine shook and as there was no wind at all, it attracted her attention. She approached and heard a woman’s gentle voice that said “Fear not, my child. Kiss the ground. Whatever I shall tell you to do, you must do. For fifteen consecutive days come to visit me here in this spot. Eat some grass, my child.” (Author’s Note: Here one cannot but recall the apparitions of Our Lady to St. Bernadette at Lourdes with a similar strange instruction). The Sister did not see anyone, she only heard the voice.”
By the next day, Monday, at five o’clock, the Sister returned to the place. The Lady came again. She was smiling and she said, “Be faithful to come here, be it rain or sunshine,” She said to the Sister. Then the Sister asked her“Beautiful Lady, who are you?” “I am Thy Mother, my little one.” And having said this she vanished.
By Tuesday, the Lady asked that the apparition site be blessed. The next day the Chaplain, Bishop Alfredo Ma. Obviar came to Lipa Carmel to bless the spot. As the Community drew near, the Lady, visible only to the Sister appeared with her arms extended as if to gather all in her maternal embrace. As soon as the Sister knelt before Her, She said “My child, kiss the ground and eat a little grass. Take a piece of paper and pencil and write down what I shall tell you for the Community.”
The following was her message:
(1) My daughters, I ask of you to believe in Me and to keep this a deep secret among yourselves for the time being. (2) Love one another as true sisters. (3) Come often to visit Me. Make this a sacred place and respect it. Gather the petals, my children. I bless you all.
Then the Lady vanished and in the place of the apparition there were rose petals scattered.
On September 16, when Teresing reached the spot the Lady in her usual attitude told her the following; “ I want a statue of mine to be placed here. I want you to describe me to your Chaplain because I want it to be as you see Me … Tell your Mother Prioress to have the rosary recited by the Community here every afternoon during these days. Extend My love to all My daughters. Tell them that I love My daughters in Lipa Carmel, that I shall always be with you all. ” Then blessing her little one she departed.
On the last of the fifteen days, Sunday September 26, the Lady repeated her counsels to her little one: My child you must love and obey your Mother Prioress. Tell your Sisters to love one another as true Sisters, to practice humility and simplicity, the virtues I love most. Tell them to love and obey their superiors and not to forget the things I ask. I shall not ask bigger things from you as you expect because you are My little ones. Do not forget to consecrate yourselves to Me on October 7. Be very good. I am MARY, MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACE. I shall always bless the Community morning and evening. ” Blessing the Sisters she disappeared.
The Community did consecrate themselves to Mary by the said date of October 7 following the spirit of St. Louis Grignon de Monfort. During those extraordinary days, Our Lady singled out a new saint – St. Louis Grignon de Montfort, who was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1947, just a year before the apparition. She made reference to the Marian spirituality that this saint taught in his writings and asked that the nuns consecrate themselves to Her in this manner.
On Friday, November 12, after Mass, Teresing was called to the place of the Apparition and there on the vine was Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace. Her hands joined on her breast in an attitude of prayer. She looked tenderly but sadly on her little one and on the Community that had followed. Then she said: “ People believe not My words. Pray, My child, pray much because of persecution. Pray for priests. What I ask here is exactly what I have asked at Fatima . Tell the penances for those who don’t believe. When people come to pray and ask for graces let them ask directly to Me and not through you. These things may now be revealed. This is My last apparition in this spot. ” Blessing her little one and the Community assembled in the sacred place, Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace, vanished.
Later on, both Bishop Alfredo Versoza and his auxillary bishop Alfredo Ma. Obviar expressed their personals beliefs favorable to the apparitions. However, in 1951, the Philippine Hierarchy, under circumstances still to be known, issued a negative judgment officially declaring the absence of supernatural intervention in the reported extraordinary happenings including the showers of petals at Lipa Carmel.
What followed were the pain and anguish of all those were involved: Teresing, Mother Cecilia, the Carmelite community, the Bishops, and all the devotees. No one spared was from yet another mysterious plan from heaven. After the consolation of the apparitions, another set of trials and purifications.
The image of Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace, which earlier had received the prayers of the faithful at Lipa was ordered withdrawn from public veneration. And soon the messages of Our Lady of Lipa eclipsed into oblivion.
Heaven, however, has better plans in the future.
Monsignor Mariano Gaviola who had been installed as Archbishop of Lipa in 1981 studied the case of apparitions and in July 16, 1992 granted permission to expose once again the image of the Mediatrix of All Grace for public veneration. Then in February 1993, he publicly declared his personal conviction that the events at Lipa are worthy of belief.
The current Archbishop of Lipa, the Most Rev. Ramon Arguelles, also expressed his personal belief in the Lipa apparitions. And a number of priests, religious, and lay alike took all these favorable signs from heaven to work for a National Pilgrimage in honor of Mary, Mediatrix of All-Grace.
The first a small and very simple one was on 12 September 2004. Then, with the Archbishop Ramon Capalla’s support who was then CBCP President, came a truly National Pilgrimage last 12 September 2005 graced by the presence of more than a dozen Bishops, Cardinal Vidal and the future Cardinal Rosales including, more than a hundred priests, and an estimated crowd of 20,000 faithful.
This 12 September 2006, a National Day of Prayer, Reparation, and Consecration, declared both by the CBCP, through the enthusiastic support of the current CBCP President, the Most Rev. Angel Lagdameo and by the Philippine Government, we shall gather once again to implore Christ’s Mercy through Our Lady, Mary, Mediatrix of All-Grace.
That same day, a new Marian organization dedicated totally in heeding Our Lady’s call and message in Lipa Carmel will be launched, the CONFRATERNITY OF MARY, MEDIATRIX OF ALL-GRACE. And other Marian organizations are invited to be part of the National Movement for Mary, Mediatrix of All-Grace, to work for the cause of the eventual approval and official Church recognition of the Lipa Carmel apparitions of 1948.
Writer is Rev. Fr. Melvin P. Castro, Chancellor and Secretary to the Bishop of Tarlac, is also the Founder of the Confraternity of Mary, Mediatrix of All-Grace and the Spiritual Director of the National Movement for Mary, Mediatrix of All-Grace.