This text is the complete version of the pamphlet WHAT IS MARY LIKE?
“Now having met together; they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth’.
As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight. They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near them and they said, ‘Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.’
So from the Mount of Olives, as it is called, they went back to Jerusalem, a short distance away, no more than a sabbath walk; and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying; there were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James. All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”
WHAT IS MARY LIKE?
CHRIST’S HOLY MOTHER MARY.
One evening at Mass, in Holy Communion, I was able to tell Christ Our Lord that I’d finished a piece of writing which He had asked me to do, about the spiritual life. But straightaway, He asked me to do something else for Him: to produce a new booklet. It was to be called What is Mary like?, and would be a companion-booklet to What is Jesus like? - which I had already had printed.
Then Christ explained that it should consist mainly of chapter eleven of Falling in Love: my spiritual autobiography, which was also written in response to His invitation. He showed me that if I’m willing to share that good news about Our Lady, and also the description of her, I would make a booklet which other people would find very helpful. It would help people to see how marvellously kind she is - and how beautiful in every way; and it would also show what an important place she should hold in our spiritual lives.
I was glad to do what He asked, because I’ve learned that we really have a spiritual mother in Heaven. She loves us. We need her powerful prayers; and we can be sure that she is full of loving concern for us.
Christ is our Incarnate God, whereas Mary is a creature like ourselves. Yet she was chosen not just to bear Christ in her womb, but to be his first model of perfection in His childhood; and so He wants us to be close to her as well as close to Himself. He wants us to learn from her. We can be sure that she will always ‘steer’ us towards Christ, as we grow in faith and hope and love; and Christ always leads us, in the Spirit, to the Father: our Origin and Eternal Home.
FAITH IN CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH.
When I was a child, I knew nothing about devotion to Our Lady, who is now called ‘Mother of the Church’ - as well as having numerous other lovely titles. It was through finding the Catholic Church when I was a young adult that I came to understand not just the dual nature of Christ, and our need of His graces, but also the important role of Our Lady in the Church’s history, and in the individual lives of Catholic Christians. So before I introduce the chapter I wrote five years ago about Our Lady I’d better offer these few pages about how I first ‘found’ her Divine son.
In this section, from the Preface to Falling in Love, I explain how I became determined to put Christ at the centre of my life; and it tells why I was eventually led by Christ to undertake a special mission, and why, in 1990, I was in great need of special encouragement and help.
EARLY IGNORANCE OF CATHOLICISM.
“Many years ago, as a young adult, I thought that I was looking for God. I didn’t realise that He is infinitely kind and had already been ‘searching’ for me, so to speak, in my darkened heart and mind. He had been drawing me towards Himself, by His grace. I began to practice again what I believed were the essentials of the Christian faith, as it had been taught to me in childhood in my Anglican home.
… I turned in prayer to God, at twenty-one years old … at last whole-heartedly acknowledging my dependence on Him … Resolving to pray regularly, I began to behave as well as I thought a Christian ought to behave, trying to be more charitable and - through my struggles - becoming aware of my many faults.
I met many difficulties. I was not only ill for a long time but was lonely, and afraid. One night, I called out to Jesus, and I asked for help, with more faith than I knew I possessed; and suddenly He was with me. He had responded, in Love. He came to me instantly. I didn’t see Him with my bodily eyes but with the eyes of my soul. I saw Him standing beside me; and I was dazzled by His blazing Glory! … I saw years of selfishness exposed in the brilliance of that burning radiance, and so I turned away, appalled, but wholly repentant of every failing, and determined to do what was necessary to ‘put things right’ with God. My faith was obscure and inarticulate, but nothing could have kept me from reparation, penance, prayer and thanksgiving.
Soon afterwards, I discovered the existence and the sure teachings of the Catholic Church … then, after much study and prayer, I asked if I could be received … I entered into full Communion on February 22nd, 1968, on the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, in Manchester, in the church of the Holy Name. Amidst the pain and loneliness of that time, I was honoured by the extraordinary, invisible presence of Our Blessed Lady, suddenly made known to me on the day of my First Holy Communion, in a church full of strangers. I didn’t know what had happened, and soon forgot about it, as I plunged determinedly into regular and silent prayer at home, no matter how busy I was each day. I marked the hours by simple prayers, whether the ‘Our Father’ or the Rosary; also, I prayed the psalms from a small Breviary, every lunch-time when my first baby was sleeping; and I recited the “Jesus Prayer” whenever possible, devotedly and silently, from morning until night, for the next twenty years.
After many years of gruelling work, and struggle and failure, with illness, too, and other trials, and - throughout - utter darkness in prayer, I was near despair, but was unwilling to turn away from God. I was a failure in more than one sense, and was ashamed of setting a bad example; but, thanks to God’s grace, I didn’t give up prayer; nor did I lose hope. I struggled to be faithful in the darkness, not realising that Christ was waiting at the bottom of the pit.
Then, one terrible day, I was reminded of the extent both of my sinfulness and God’s holiness. I was appalled by the chasm. That very day, I decided with all the power of my heart to turn to Christ in faith and trust, in every circumstance. I vowed that I would never compromise; I would love my neighbour as Christ had loved me: that is - at any cost. I would do God’s Will at every moment, rather than my own. I would bear sickness patiently, relying on the grace of God; and I’d shoulder all difficulties for His sake, even if interior darkness were to continue for the rest of my life. Also, I resolved, I would never, ever, willingly or deliberately offend against Him or against His love or against His laws again, in the least degree.
After Reconciliation in the local church I went about my work in darkness again, but my heart was at peace as never before. At last, I was willing to let Christ lead me into whatever way of life He had chosen for me. I was content to accept outward and inward changes for His sake, and to walk silently - in the spiritual life - along the bottom of my particular ditch, for as long as He permitted.
TEACHINGS IN PRAYER.
Soon after I had made that resolution I was utterly astonished to find that the habitual darkness of prayer was occasionally lit by great shafts of light. As I shall explain more fully later on, my usual dry, dark, humiliating prayers during Holy Mass or after Holy Communion were frequently “pierced” by an unsought and wordless “knowledge” which explained or unfolded aspects of our Faith.
In this way, every few weeks and then every few days, I was taught much more about God, and about Heaven, then about Christ and His Church, and about grace, prayer, and souls. I learned nothing new; but many truths already known by faith, study, and worship were marvellously given anew and were clarified.
I didn’t choose what I would learn in prayer; but each “teaching” was given suddenly and unexpectedly in the silence of my wordless prayer during or after Mass and Holy Communion. Each was about some aspect of our Catholic faith, usually about the spiritual life, but with frequent stress on God’s Love for us and on our duty to love Him, and to love our neighbour for His sake.
Throughout my years of study, I had learned from the great teachers and writers of the Catholic Church that we’re foolish if we try to cling to experiences of a Person, rather than to the Person Himself; so, although I longed to know God, I neither looked for consolations in prayer, nor hoped for unusual spiritual experiences. I knew that we please Christ most surely when we continue in our usual fervent daily efforts to love Him and our neighbour. I eventually realised, however - despite all my sins and failings - that God sometimes chooses to teach us things in prayer, for His own purposes. Our initial fear and reluctance about paying attention to His ‘showings’ is praiseworthy; but if God Wills to teach us in this way, I have found, He will do so. Nothing but our ill-will or lack of love can stop Him; however, when we have tried to keep to the usual paths in prayer, but have been thwarted, and are puzzled by our experiences, we ought to turn to our advisers in Christ’s Holy Catholic Church.
TRUTHS OF THE CATHOLIC FAITH.
The whole notion that God can teach people in this way was foreign to me, since the early “teachings” - by their simplicity - bore no resemblance to the visions which I’d seen recounted in various spiritual biographies. Also, I was amazed that He should teach a person like myself. But when it became plain that the “teachings-in-prayer” ought to be written down so that others could share them when the time was right, I tried to record in very simple manner what I had learned through Christ about His love for us, about the Most Holy Trinity, about the Incarnation of Our Lord through the Blessed Virgin Mary, and about other truths of the Catholic Faith.
The reader should take for granted that everything explained here in the “teachings” about the Christian faith and about the Christian spiritual life rests upon the sure foundation of the teachings of the Catholic Church as held and preached by her throughout the whole world and in every age. If I had found I was being given a teaching which contradicted any of the truths of our Faith, I would have rejected it with all my power. I would never have recorded anything contrary to the teaching of the Church, since I know that God doesn’t contradict Himself; and so I knew that anyone receiving such ‘teachings’ would be receiving them from another source.
Many of the “teachings” … were strictly private … But I’m duty-bound to share the others, as Christ explained to me quite plainly, in order to strengthen the faith of my brothers and sisters in Christ and to bring others to know and love Christ, and to delight in the Glory of the Holy Trinity.
ENCOURAGEMENT FROM GOD.
Certain of the teachings which have been given to me - whether wordlessly or with words - have been accompanied by an image; and that’s why, during the past ten years, I’ve drawn … pictures which represent aspects of the Truths that I’ve been taught by Christ in this way; also, I’ve written brief accounts of what He has explained on hundreds of occasions, with the words He has used. The greatest of the “Teachings-in-prayer” were wordless and imageless, as I said, and also infrequent, and puzzling at first. None of them can be fully explained or displayed; but God has made His Will plain to me in several ways … so that other people can delight in His encouragement …
It seems to me as though these teachings have been “squeezed” by Christ through the substance of my daily life as water is squeezed through a sponge; and the image I’m using is of the sort of blood-soaked sponge which is used to wipe the face of an exhausted man in the corner of a boxing-ring. Without the pressure of Christ’s urgings towards greater fervour and self-surrender, and without my at times agonised consent, the ‘water’ of His instruction about our spiritual journey couldn’t have ‘poured out’ for so many years, through prayer, into my daily life and so into my notebooks.
I mention this because Christ has been producing, through my daily life and work, a sort of catechism of the spiritual life. Of course, He has already given us all that we need for salvation; but it’s His wish that we be reminded of various truths about the Holy Mass and about prayer, and about sacrifice and penance, for example; and He longs to remind us of His tremendous love for us. He wants to offer a reminder - from within the life of someone fearful and sinful, whose days have been cluttered with problems and anxieties - that His is a constant and forgiving Love. He admires our weak faith and our pitiful efforts to love Him and to love and serve our neighbour …
I discovered the strength of His love for us, and also the depths to which He has stooped in order to help us. I experienced His tenderness in prayer; and so began my ‘falling-in-love’ with God, as His radiant Light began to shine within my soul. And that’s the reason why I hope so fervently that people will believe in His Love as well as in His scorching purity and His infinite majesty; and we are reminded of this marvellous Love in Holy Scripture, where God says: ‘I have called you by your name; you are Mine!’ (Is 43:1)
It was a marvellous discovery for me, when at last I realised that Christ’s Love for each one of us is personal and tender; and I long for everyone to know it …
Stage by stage, as this work has progressed, Christ has revealed to me further details of His plan. Many people will be helped by the ‘teachings’, Christ has shown me; and others will shun them. My only concern, He says, must be to produce them, obedient to Him, and to leave the results in His hands …
Christ has shown me, on several occasions, what He witnesses today; He sees that many people - even in the Church which He founded - not only disobey His Commandments but mock the teachings of the Church and lead others to do the same. He sees, too, how few have given Him their hearts, entirely, and how few make sacrifices for His sake and for the sake of the Gospel given through Himself and His Apostles. This was true in past ages, and it’s still true, today; but Christ strengthens the faith of His children in ways which He devises, and He has told me that these writings are to play a part in His work of encouragement. Since April 1992, in accordance with His wishes, and longing to comfort and encourage others and to bring them to a renewed friendship with Christ, I’ve been speaking more freely about His teachings, to family and friends and acquaintances. I’ve handed out books of teachings to anyone who has expressed a wish to read them.
In all my own failures, I’ve come to see that Christ understands our human weaknesses. He knows the trials and temptations and agonies of this earthly life. He sees that we, His children, are struggling daily amidst all sorts of things that might lead us away from the practice of our Faith; so He assists, by his grace, everyone who turns to Him; and He forgives every repentant sinner. It’s when we consent wholeheartedly to His action or grace in our hearts, admitting our faults and resolving to love God and our neighbour, that we find that we don’t struggle alone. Christ our Lord guides us; His Holy Spirit strengthens us and leads us towards the Father, in the company of all who belong in the One Body of Christ, which is therefore truly called Christ’s Holy Catholic Church.
That is why I’ve plucked up courage to write the story that Christ wants me to tell, though I couldn’t have undertaken such a task if I hadn’t been sure, first, that it was my duty, and, secondly, that nothing I’d written would contradict the teaching of the Church. Since the Church is guided by Christ now, as in every century, through the Pope and the Bishops, and also through the Bishops’ representatives - our priests, I’ve gone to our priests for advice; and I’ve been reassured about this present path.
By the time I began to make notes about the ‘teachings-in-prayer’, I’d been praying regularly for more than twenty years, attempting to love God and my neighbour no matter what the cost, though failing often. For every ‘teaching’ or extraordinary occurrence mentioned in this Prologue, I’ve left out ten or a hundred episodes of simple prayer or acts of faith. It should be taken for granted that my routine prayers consist of the sort of Catholic devotions which I describe in various writings Like many other people, I pray the “Morning Offering”, centred on the Holy Mass, with acts of faith, hope and charity, and with devotions to Our Blessed Lady and to all the Angels and Saints, as well as Scripture-meditation. My prayer-life has always been very ordinary, based upon vocal and mental prayer and attendance at Holy Mass, whether or not ‘extraordinary’ experiences have also been given to me - for God’s own purposes. It’s true that prayer has become altogether more simplified and joyful in recent times, as I’ve learned to follow God more swiftly and frequently into the prayer of contemplation; yet I hope that I shall never think of entirely discarding the vocal prayers which, at different times of the day or of the week, are so expressive and fruitful. What a wonderful treasury we have in our Catholic prayers: so many long-cherished, safe, good and useful methods of expressing our love for God and our sorrow for sin.
WITH THE ‘EYES OF THE SOUL’.
Although I have written, here and elsewhere, about the degrees and categories of “prayer-in-union”, generally known as “contemplative” prayer, I ought to add something here about the manner of my ‘seeing’ truths in prayer. All that I’ve seen - whether images or persons - has been seen solely with the ‘eyes of the soul’. I have never seen anything before me, with my bodily eyes, except what anyone else would see there, too, in normal life.
I’ve rarely used mental images in my worship of God. I’ve used my imagination when meditating on the Gospels, and also in intercession, as I remember, visually, those for whom I’m praying; but in ‘pure’ praise and adoration I’ve followed the traditional Catholic teaching which recommends a whole-hearted reaching-out of the heart and mind and will towards the God Whom we cannot see, but Whom we approach with confidence because of our union with Christ.
Long ago, I began my determined efforts to brush aside, in prayer, all images and distractions, ruthlessly trying to seek God as He really Is, just as I tried to seek His real Will, without trying to picture the future, amidst the hum-drum tasks of daily life …
It’s best that we try to turn to God in sincere love and repentance, week by week and year by year, following in the footsteps of our spiritual ancestors, and also ‘open’ to the continuing guidance of the Holy Father and of the other Catholic Bishops who are in communion with him …
A SPECIAL MISSION.
When I was being first taught by God in prayer I had no idea of the mission for which He was preparing me; whereas now I know that His plan is to provide encouragement, through this work, to members of the Catholic Church in an era when the Faith is under attack not only from outside but from within, and in a time when the concepts of duty and obedience are widely derided …
Christ has rewarded me for my efforts, Love for love. He includes in His gifts a pure joy for me at the mere sound of His Name. I hear ‘Jesus’, or say it, and can hardly bear the joy which the sound or the thought or the Presence brings to my heart: such a pang as I never expected to feel again, when I was merely enduring everything for Him, sustained in hope and love by dry faith alone. I’ve learned that there’s no music, sound, sight or touch more sweet and beautiful than the silent, invisible and true presence of Christ within the soul; and it’s a marvel to me that this should have happened in the life and soul of someone who has been so reluctant to serve Him. And now, I live in hope that many people will be led to love Christ more fervently, undaunted by transient worries and difficulties, and therefore to love His Holy Will, which is our only lasting happiness. I hope that, despite the evident flaws in my writing, someone will become more interested in God and perhaps will dare to believe that it’s true that God is alive and active - and good.
Everything that I’ve written here was put down in obedience to Christ; and everything contained in these pages is the truth as I see it - though it might not have been explained very well …
JESUS CHRIST, MARY’S SON.
[Through the entire body of ‘teachings’ which Christ has given to me in prayer I’ve been vigorously and marvellously reminded that] Christ, when on earth, revealed more than had ever before been known about God’s Life and God’s nature, and … spoke - as we Christians believe - “with authority”. Because of the revelation given through Christ and His Apostles, we believe in the Father Who created us, in Christ the Son Who redeemed us and in the Holy Spirit Who makes us holy: Three Divine Persons Who are a Trinity-in-unity. They are One God, Whose Life we now share in a marvellous way, because of our baptism.
Jesus Christ, we believe, is the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. He is the Son of God. We say that He ‘descended’ from the Father in Heaven in order to come to earth to take flesh from Our Lady, so that as God-man He could live on earth amongst us, instruct His disciples, die for our sins on the Cross, rise from the dead and ascend to Heaven in glory. Thus, Jesus the Saviour and Redeemer made a Way in which all who believe in Him can follow; and we can follow with confidence, despite our weak nature and life’s difficulties. Even in our own time, Christ is at work. It’s through His Spirit that He guides the one Holy Catholic Church which He founded and of which we can seek membership. Within it, we can follow the Way of the Saints and feed on the Sacred Scriptures. Christ Himself is teaching us through the Holy Father, and also through the Bishops who are in Communion with him. Successors to St. Peter and the Apostles, Our Pope and our other Bishops - as one - preach Christ, preach repentance and salvation, teach us truth, lead us in the Sacred Tradition, and give us Christ’s Divine Life and graces through the Sacraments.
TO LOVE AND SERVE GOD.
As Christ’s Divine Love pours within our hearts and transforms us, it can lead us to a deeper repentance of sin and a greater determination to love and serve God and neighbour. We can prepare for Eternal life where we hope to enjoy, in the presence of the Holy Angels and in the Company of the Saints who have gone before us, the glorious and blissful sight of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - One God, Who is more holy, loving and beautiful than the most fervent heart could ever begin to imagine.
… nothing in our lives is really trivial in His sight, since He loves us and therefore makes our concerns His own. He can’t be repelled by our foolish preoccupations … He wants to encourage weak people to put their trust in Him, and to believe in His undying love for each one of them - whatever their problems and however dreadful or merely tedious the circumstances of their lives … [and these are some of the reasons why, in 1990,] it became plain that … Christ wanted a real, visible person to speak boldly to other people about the Mass, indeed, about the whole Faith. He made it plain to me, in prayer, that although some people teach by preaching sermons, and some teach about the Mass by saying Mass, my job was to paint and to write, and at a later date, to speak boldly about what I’d seen in prayer …
Through His instructions in prayer, and by His grace and kindness, Christ increased my courage, and helped me to bear both interior and exterior trials. He explained … He had a special role for me, if I’d overcome my sense of unworthiness in order to speak out about the supernatural, and to proclaim out loud what I’d seen and understood …
[From “Falling in Love,” Chapter Eleven.]
At around that time, during the Mass, Christ’s words to me became so clear that I felt I couldn’t continue on my strange path any further, unadvised. None of us follows the Christian way of life alone; and I had to be sure about the “teachings”: sure of walking in step with the Catholic Church in my home town, and therefore in step with the whole Communion of the Catholic Church.
Although my heart knew the truth of what I’d been shown by Christ for many years, I couldn’t be at peace without submitting myself to the judgement of the parish priest - who represented the Catholic Church. So, when I’d prayed for help and had asked others for their prayers, though without explaining why, I plucked up courage to make an appointment and to speak of what I’d experienced …
As I waited for an answer, I was quite content. I’d put my trust in God, and in the priest as His representative: as the voice of Church authority in our town. I was so ignorant about what I’d mentioned that I really had no idea what our priest would say … But he was a theologian as well as a parish priest, and he recognised what had been happening.
To my immense relief, He answered that it was quite all right: that these teachings were gifts from God - Who gave gifts to some, he said. though not to others. I ought to thank God for them.
He said quite matter-of-factly that I could accept them; and when I said I felt I must write about some of these things, he suggested that perhaps Providence would make use of any writing I might undertake, but there was no cause for concern. Then Father reminded me that for as long as we’re on this earth, we’re still able to ‘grow’, meaning: to grow in charity and understanding …
So, in this way, and through His Church, God delivered me from my quandary. I gave Him thanks through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit, for all His graces … There were never-ending struggles, however, despite my good intentions; and one day in Holy Communion, as I timidly complained to Christ: “I’m so weak,” He suddenly taught and consoled me, saying:-
Be glad that you are weak! “That is why I came” - came to earth for your sake in My holy Incarnation and come lovingly to you now in Holy Communion. (T:631)
Many months later, I was shown by Christ that I must begin my new work, which consisted of writing down almost all of His ‘teachings-in-prayer’, solely in obedience to Him, for the Glory of the Father. For Christ’s sake, I was ready to reveal these things when the time was ripe, despite my timidity. I had come to see that - despite my apparent uselessness - others might one day benefit from what I was doing. I hoped that others would be comforted, and would turn to God more swiftly than I had done.
… I asked our Holy Mother Mary and all the Saints and Angels to pray for me; then I set about my new task in silence. First I made small brush-and-ink pictures of the images I’ve mentioned, which Christ had given to me in prayer from time to time to illustrate what He’d taught me about prayer and the spiritual life. Then I began to write a full account of every important ‘teaching’, most of which had been given to me in prayer through pure Knowledge, unaccompanied by any sound, image or sensation …
During those first few weeks of writing out the teachings I sometimes wondered if I should be spending every spare minute in that way; but Christ reassured me, in Holy Communion …
I was ashamed of my poor writing and bad grammar; but as I worked, I was astonished to hear Christ speak to me about the faith and hope that He’d seen in my heart as I’d tried to serve Him throughout the years. He’s full of tenderness towards us all, especially in these days when we’re condemned in some quarters for being “religious”; and He’s full of sympathy for us about our physical problems, too.
Just when I was finding that I had to rest after even a short period of standing, Christ spoke to me with astonishing impact through the Holy Scriptures. He told me that I can say, about His teachings and my frailty:- “We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power cOmeS from God and not from us” (2 Co 4:7) and then: “always ... we carry WITH us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body” (2 Co 4:10).
So, at appropriate times and in various ways, Christ either reminded me of my frailty, in order to foster humility, or gave me marvellous encouragement …
As I continued with my writing, it felt very odd to be covering pages by the dozen with descriptions of Christ’s teachings. I was extremely self-conscious and ill-at-ease. After all, I was a modern woman. What would people think, when they learned more about my peculiar task - or, worse, about my life, and my daily routine? How would I cope? Although I didn’t know it, glorious help was on the way.
Daily life continued in pain and struggle, but I kept on writing; and then I prayed at Holy Mass one day more fervently than usual: for myself, for the Church and the world.
… I was truly repentant that I didn’t try at all times and at all costs to do the Will of God perfectly. I made new resolutions. I vowed to love God with all my heart, and to love my neighbour as fully as Christ loves me. I resolved to give myself fully to the one goal or task that Christ wants me to undertake at each moment, and to avoid, vigorously, all weakness, haste, vanity or fear. Then, after Mass, I worked and prayed as usual until the evening.
CHRIST’S INFINITE KINDNESS.
As a total and awesome surprise, I was about to receive a visit from Our Blessed Lady; and I’m mentioning this here, in order to tell you how kind she is, and how kind is Our Lord, Who asked her to come to me. He has explained to me, recently, that I myself wasn’t worthy of such a privilege; but He allowed it because of His Love for me and because of my need.
He could see how terrified I was at the thought of being drawn from obscurity to prominence as His teachings became more widely known; and if there was one person who could help me by a woman-to-woman conversation, it would be His own sweet Mother; so that’s what happened; He brought her to visit me, and, after a long time, I was reassured, and was made more content with my task and with the implications of the whole Divinely-conceived project.
Now I’ll tell how it happened: one evening when my husband was out, and the children, too, were away at different events.
A VISIT FROM OUR LADY.
On a Thursday evening towards the end of 1990 - on November 22nd, when I was alone in my room - I decided to say my night prayers early. It was only eight o’clock; but after prayer to the most Holy Trinity, I recited the Hail Mary as usual, but for the love of God and of her, only, as I was exhausted. Then, suddenly, as I sat there in the armchair, I saw our Lady within my soul.
I hardly dared to believe that my Holy Mother - Mary - was truly beside me, as I prayed; but I saw her with me, as Jesus began to explain about her in His usual way, as if Mind to mind. I’ve put His silent teachings into words, below, as usual; and as I said earlier, the words in italics are His very own. Christ taught me, as I sat awe-struck before Heaven’s Glory:-
Look towards My Holy Mother, who has come to join you as you greet her devotedly in prayer. (T:735 #1)
Revere My Mother Mary. See how great is her dignity. Her holiness surpasses that of all other mere creatures. Her glory is dazzling. (T:735 #2)
See, before the eyes of your soul, the vastness of Space, in which the earth shines like a little jewel! Notice the small figure who stands alone, poised ready to receive an outpouring of Divine grace. This is My holy Mother, the Virgin Mary. I poured My Spirit on her, from Heaven, and made her fruitful. Thus, she conceived Me in her womb. (WC:735) (T:735 #3)
Mary: “Mother of God”.
Here I begged my Holy Angel to deliver me from deceit or illusion or danger, and I made the sign of the Cross with holy water, yet Our Lady was still present to my soul’s eyes; and Christ permitted me to understand even more. By a simple image, and with a soundless implanting of knowledge within my soul, Christ taught me, about His Incarnation:-
See, before the eyes of your soul, how a stream of grace poured out through Heaven’s gates, to tumble downwards, to enfold this Holy Virgin. Because of her immaculate soul and pure heart, and her great love and obedience, the bright grace of Heaven came to a dark earth. Thus did I take flesh of Mary, and enter your world, through the power of My Spirit. She was made fruitful for the sake of the whole world. (WC + OIL:736) (T:736 #1)
Rejoice that this great gift of the Father was lavished upon the world for every era. He worked this marvel so that Divine grace would always pour out through Me, Jesus, the Son of God, and through My Holy Mother. (T:736 #2)
Turn to your Heavenly Mother. “Mother of God”, you rightly call her! I your Lord came from her, took flesh and blood from her, was subject to her and was taught by her. She who ‘formed’ Me in My earthly life can help you in every circumstance. (T:736 #3)
There, at that very moment, what had been a glorious ‘teaching’ about Our Blessed Lady and her magnificent role was transformed into a visit. I still saw her only with the ‘eyes of the soul’: yet from then on she was really with me in my room, beside my chair - and for the reason which I’d be shown later, as I told you.
All I could think about was my unfitness to be there before someone so holy. Yet I didn’t leap up, or kneel, or say special prayers. It wasn’t required of me, I knew. I wasn’t well; and besides, my whole heart and mind were so stunned by what I was being given, that it didn’t occur to me to do anything of my choosing. I knew that if God wanted to teach me, I ought to listen rather than talk. Everyone in the family was out somewhere, as I said. The house was silent; and because I wasn’t worried about being disturbed, I gave all my attention to God and Our Lady for as long as I was being ‘taught’.
AN UNEXPECTED CONVERSATION.
When there was a pause in the ‘teachings’, it seemed as though Our Lady was waiting patiently beside me, inviting me to speak if I chose. So - still sitting in the armchair, astounded by Our Lady’s presence, and by her holiness - I dared to speak to her about my unworthiness: telling her about my sins. But she didn’t mind. She knew that I was sorry, and that I’d been reconciled. I even began to make requests of her, at last, knowing that she can do wonderful things for those who trust her; so I asked her to arrange that even my failures would somehow be used, by their good effects, for the Glory of God. I know that He can work wonders for people who really trust in Him, and can even bring good out of evil.
Suddenly, Christ began to teach me once more, by infused knowledge; and this is what He told me:-
Honour My Mother. This Holy Virgin is like the “wise virgin” of the gospel story. (T:737 #1)
Look upon this Holy Virgin, who stands before you, dazzlingly beautiful - a lamp in her hand - her head veiled, her clothing brilliantly white. She is the purest of all ‘mere’ creatures, totally dedicated to My service and ever-alert to please Me. (T:737 #2)
Give all your attention to My holy Mother as I teach you about her and encourage you to trust her. (WC:738) (T:738)
Follow My inspiration and speak to My Mother even about sinful and stupid things, even as you consider her great holiness and your unworthiness. Just like Me, she is tender, just, and understanding. (T:739 #1)
Imitate My Mother by sharing her concern for others. Speak to her about everyone dear to you (T:739 #2)
See what special care My Mother gives to one who has been named in her honour and entrusted to her care! (T:739 #3)
MARY: ‘THE WISE VIRGIN.’
It was so wonderful to be there. I was awe-struck, horrified at my unworthiness, and yet immensely joyful: dazzled by her radiance and beauty, convinced of her kindness. I was able to speak about stupid and sinful things without a trace of embarrassment because I knew she’d be just and understanding.
Since I couldn’t possibly experience such joy without gaining a share - as it were - for the people I love, I instinctively prayed: “Mary, Mother, here are my four dear ones, one by one before you;” and I was suddenly shown, by a vision, something of her motherly concern for us all. One, she watched gently. One danced, it seemed, before her in their mutual joy. Another was cherished by her; I learned that she can rely on his loyalty, especially. Then I saw that she carried in her arms the child whom I’d named in her honour, many years before.
After a little while longer, the vision of my family faded away, and I saw that Our Lady was standing very close to me. She was still dazzlingly bright, but I began to see her more clearly. Until then, I’d hardly dared to raise my eyes to look at her. But now that I’d grown a little used to her radiance, and felt a little less ashamed, I could see that her head was veiled. In fact, she was clothed from head to foot in dazzling white garments. She was looking straight towards me; and she held her left hand up level with her shoulder, although I couldn’t see that shoulder because she was holding up a little lamp which was casting its rays all round for about half a metre. Then Christ was silent again, as He allowed me to see that Our Lady, who put her trust in God at every moment, is truly like one of the wise Bridesmaids of His Gospel who “WENT TO MEET THE BRIDEGROOM” (Mt 25:1). Christ made it plain that His Mother can be entitled: ‘The Wise Virgin’.
her beautiful face.
I was left in silence, untaught for a while. Christ stood aside, unseen, leaving me free to speak and free to learn more. I had no idea what would happen next, and my heart was thumping with a mixture of awe and fear. Fervently wishing to know and serve Our Lady much better, I told her that I longed to see her clearly just as I hoped to see her face of my beloved Christ; yet I was happy to wait, I said, if it be His Will that I wait all my life, until Heaven. I was still determined, as ever, not to look for special consolations in prayer, preferring truth above all.
Straight away, through the Will of God and her great generosity, Our Blessed Lady showed me her holy face, which is so like Christ’s. I was utterly amazed at that brief but detailed glimpse of her. My heart was almost overwhelmed with a mixture of bliss and astonishment. I had no idea why this was all happening, or where it would lead me. Then Christ showed me:-
Put your trust in My Mother, Mary. Like Me, she is full of love, good, gentle and calming. She is like Me in so many ways. Consider her astonishing beauty, modesty, and serenity. (T:740)
The experience was wholly unexpected. As I realised later, it was such an extraordinary privilege. For perhaps half-an-hour I’d been rooted to the spot in Our Lady’s presence, attentive to every word and instruction, almost overwhelmed by my unworthiness and her dignity, and too remorseful to be able to look at her properly. I felt like a bashful twelve-year-old before her graceful figure.
A real woman.
My surroundings were forgotten. Our Lady was gazing at me steadily, very tenderly. For a few moments, I saw her lovely features clearly. Her veiled head was framed against what seemed like a dark blue circle, like a halo.
She had the grace and serenity of a happy fifty-year-old, but looked only about twenty-five or thirty, depending on her expression: gently smiling or thoughtful. I noticed that she had a high forehead, beautiful eyes - with straight dark lashes and slightly curved eyebrows. Her nose was long and slim, not tip-tilted, and her mouth was pretty and with rounded lips: feminine but not doll-like. Her cheeks were gently rounded, and she had a little rounded chin. She was utterly lovely, though not in the sense of glamorous; and every attempt of mine to draw and paint her has been quite inadequate. She was perfectly feminine, without any sort of ‘sparkle’ or posing. I think she might have been about five foot five; and she was slender, but not slim. Although she was as simple as a child, she was a real woman; and I can’t describe how honoured I felt to be there in her presence. Who wouldn’t have been overcome before the holiness of the one especially chosen to be the Mother of God?
She gazed at me steadily, eyes quiet and gentle, dark eyes in a serene and beautiful face, and with a look that was serious but not solemn, but was ready to smile.
If anyone should wonder how I can describe her face in such detail, they can remember that I’ve painted many, many portraits. I’m used to letting my eyes ‘run over’ faces, marking each feature: remembering the height of the brows or the slant of an ear. But of course, the details I’m now mentioning were only noted because of God’s goodness, which caused Him to offer me those few moments when I saw Christ’s wonderful Mother so close to me, and so patient and gentle.
A SIMPLE DESCRIPTION.
How can I describe her? She had an oval face, and a slim neck. I could see her black hair parted, beneath a plain white veil which fell down on each side of her face to cover her shoulders. She wore a plain white dress with a round neckline. I saw no frills or jewels. I was so absorbed in her holy face that I noticed nothing below about shoulder-level, and have no idea how she held her hands after that first holding-up of the lamp. But she was quite beautiful, and - more important - she was utterly ‘full-of-love’: simply good and trustworthy and calming.
Several times before, in prayer, I’d glimpsed Our Blessed Lady, but usually as she stood at Christ’s side, in Heaven. Never before had I seen her face so clearly. Never before had she stood beside me in my room; and never yet had I heard her speaking.
After a while spent, captivated, gazing in silence at our Lady’s beautiful face, I suddenly realised how long I’d spent in prayer. It seemed as if Our Lady had distanced herself slightly, simply to leave me free to think or to turn away.
WAITING FOR ME.
Twice, I turned away and looked around my room to reassure myself that although I was being honoured with an extraordinary visit, everything else about the moment was normal. I mean that I confirmed that even though Christ was drawing me up time and time again into His extraordinary bliss and Knowledge, I was sitting in my usual place, in my room, and - except for the few moments when I was wholly ‘lifted up’ in spirit to be given a teaching about Our Lady’s role, for example (T:736) - I was able to look around and to reflect rationally about the marvels of our Faith and the holiness of my visitor; and this reassured me.
Each time I turned back to her, Our Blessed Lady was still there waiting for me. Having known her for so many years only by faith, in spiritual darkness, I now saw her in an extraordinary way: still by faith, but with faith illumined for a moment by God’s freely-given Light; and I gazed upon her continuously.
Still feeling some remnant of fear, and some astonishment at my own ‘impudence’ at believing that Our Lady would dream of coming to someone like me, I made the sign of the Cross again, using holy water, knowing that if it were really Our Lady, she wouldn’t be insulted. I asked my guardian Angel, once again, to keep me in true prayer and to help me to avoid anything evil: I meant evil persons or evil thoughts.
Gratitude for Christ and for His Mother.
But my courage grew, and Our Lady still stood before me; and, because I longed to be more worthy of her and her Son, I asked her quite spontaneously: “Show me how to love you”. It didn’t really occur to me that she’d answer. I often ask questions of God in prayer, knowing from long experience that many of His answers are given as clearly through events as through words; so I was astonished to receive an answer. I was astonished to hear Our Lady reply, straight away, and quite clearly, in an almost childlike and matter-of-fact way, as though simply stating truth, without apology: “No-one who truly loves Christ can fail to love me”.
I realised that this observation was for other people besides myself; it was part of a declaration of truth, not just part of a personal conversation; and by the way, her voice was lovely. She sounded just like anyone I meet around here, yet very simple and calm. Then Christ took part once again. Invisible and silent, He taught me more about Our Lady, and told me:-
See how My Mother looks upon all her children. Her gaze is not limited to Heaven. She understands the hearts of all who try to serve Me, her Divine son. She sees the actions of all who oppose Me. (WC + OIL:741) (T:741 #1)
Encourage other people to honour My holy Mother. Tell them what you discovered so many years ago: that you can all ‘prove’ your love for Me by loving the holy Mother whom I Myself revere. One who truly loves Me is therefore full of praise for the Motherhood of Mary, and is full of gratitude to her for her joyful consent to her holy task, whereas one who does not love Mary proves by that stance that he does not truly love Me, Jesus, or he would be grateful to her for giving him, by Divine grace, so great a Redeemer as Myself. (T:741 #4)
Follow My inspiration, and confidently ask the prayer of My Holy Mother, as she stands before you. (WC:742) (T:742)
A private litany.
These teachings were ‘new’ to me only in their phrasing. In essence, I learned nothing that the Church hasn’t taught us before; and since the manner in which the ‘teaching’ was being given to me was familiar, I began to gain confidence and to stop worrying about being deceived.
Apart from my inner conviction that the beautiful woman was Our Blessed Lady, and was good, I was by now content to trust that the God to Whom I pray continuously for help wouldn’t keep me with an impostor; and I was sure that nothing evil could have urged me to feel so grateful to God and to Our Lady; so, less timidly, and at peace, I stayed in prayer with this Queen and true Mother. Then, not wishing to keep such extraordinary peace and joy just for myself, I asked her prayers for the world and for the Church.
When I had prayed enough to satisfy my conscience, I sat peacefully before her for a long time in quiet wonder and admiration. I asked her, over and over, but gently and at peace: “Mother Mary, pray for me.” It was like a private litany, prayed with extraordinary joy, there in her visible presence.
When a great deal of time had passed I started to grow tired; and then I began to wonder if I’d remember everything I’d been shown; so I asked Our Lady if she’d mind if I turned away to write. I was happy to be obedient to whatever she said: but she didn’t mind whether I wrote or not: it wasn’t important. This was explained very graciously, but without words. So when I’d looked around desperately, not wanting to leave Our Lady for long, I found a piece of paper; and there in her presence I made hurried notes about the ‘teachings’ of the past hour or so, already stunned by the implications of her visit.
Our Lady’s kindness.
When I’d finished scribbling, I hurried turned to Our Lady again. I’d suddenly realised that I’d asked her prayers for the living, but not for the departed. I was prompted by Christ:-
Ask the prayers of My Mother for the faithful departed. Her prayers are powerful and effective. (T:743 #1)
Ashamed of my neglect, I looked up at Our Lady again and asked: “Mother Mary: please help my own mother” - and it was God Who reassured me, through Our Lady, that my mother is now in Heaven.
Then I was urged, in prayer:-
Ask My Mother to help you to be faithful in your ordinary daily duties - to be a good mother. (T:743 #2)
I asked Our Lady: “May be a good mother”; and I sat still with her for a long time, in bliss, just looking at her in my heart, confident that she would help me by her prayers.
For most of the time it seemed as if Our Lady were almost passive and serene, quietly waiting; I mean, waiting with delight in case God should choose to explain something further to me about her role, and waiting at times - with marvellous charity - for me to ask the questions which I think she half-expected. Or she simply waited, utterly content and kind, whilst I sat stunned with joy in prayer before her. What graciousness and self-giving.
TWO WOMEN, SIDE BY SIDE.
Throughout this time, Christ waited, unseen. He didn’t intrude or interrupt her conversation; and I was amazed, still, by Our Lady: astonished that we two women could walk side by side, it seemed, as I entrusted others to her care.
Then I was taught by Christ, in the presence of Our Lady:
Admit your sinfulness and imperfection beside the purity of My Holy Mother and Myself. Accept that you are as a crippled or disfigured one, wounded by sin, beside her purity. Yet even someone as pure and great as My Mother never despises anyone who is in need of help. (T:745 #1)
See how kind and gracious is My Mother, content to wait, to listen and to pray, as I wish, and now walking beside you as you entrust others to her care. (T:744)
Imitate My Mother’s generosity. Just as she listens tenderly to your words, and patiently helps you, so must you walk in great charity with others; you must always be patient and tender with other people, and must always remain aware of your unworthiness to serve them. You must count it a privilege to be able to do so. (T:745 #3)
Whoever imagines that Christ was cruel, in speaking so frankly about sin and imperfection should be aware that we’re all marred and marked by what Christians call ‘Original Sin’ as well as by personal failings - except, of course, Christ and The Blessed Virgin Mary; and so Christ’s words about sin were chosen not to humiliate me, but rather to emphasise the beauty of the purity-of-soul of His Immaculate Mother.
The reason for the visit.
Next, for the third time, I paused again, asking the help of my Guardian Angel. I made the Sign of the Cross with holy water again. I was still wondering: ‘Who am I, so wretched a sinner, to talk with the purest, most Holy Lady of all?’ Yet Christ continued - for His own purposes - to teach me more about His Holy Mother, in pure Knowledge, with silent words. I learned:-
Don’t worry about your sinfulness. Love Me and accept My gifts. My graciousness, and My Mother’s, are greater than you can imagine. It is because of our love for you that My Holy Mother has come here to reassure and comfort you, as you press on with your difficult task. The teachings which you receive from Me will serve a great purpose. (T:747 #1)
When that ‘teaching’ ended, I plucked up courage and looked up at the clock, not sure whether a few minutes or a whole evening had passed by. I had learned so much and was beginning to worry about people coming back. Then I saw that it was nearly nine o’clock. Nearly a whole hour had been spent with Our Lady.
After thanking Almighty God whole-heartedly for this blessing, I thanked Our Lady, saying: “Mother, you know my heart - my hesitations and feelings ...” - I was aware that my duty lay not in praying for any longer, but in doing my work. I asked, trustingly, if she would please let me know if I were wrong to leave her to do the ‘chores’; but I was astonished to learn, immediately:-
Don’t be afraid to reveal your heart’s true thoughts to My Mother, even your longing to please Me by leaving her to do the washing up, since it is your duty. She wants you to be obedient to Me, and it is My Will that you look after your family’s needs. Listen to what she is saying: “I am not going to leave you!” (T:746 #3)
I left my studio and went into the kitchen. And as I did so, and as I put on my apron, I half-expected to find that Our Lady had gone; I was so puzzled, and so amazed that she should come to someone like me. Yet I did believe it. What else could I believe in the presence of someone so holy and so close to Christ?
Filling the kitchen bowl, I started washing the dishes, and I concentrated on my work. I knew it wouldn’t be kind to welcome back the family to a messy kitchen, just because I might have hoped to prolong the joy of my prayer with Our Lady. They were due to return very soon. As I worked, my heart still stunned and awed by the experience, and my mind still thinking of her, I was suddenly taught, by pure knowledge from God:-
Trust that I am at work in your prayer. You are taught Heavenly things according to your capacity - capacity of heart, mind, health, or yearning, and according to your need, such as for your consolation or in preparation for some task ahead. (T:746 #2)
Don’t be despondent about your sinfulness. My Mother is delighted by a heart which - with soul, mind and strength - is dedicated entirely to My service. She scarcely sees little failings in love, and little weaknesses, in someone who lives for My Glory and for the good of souls. (T:747)
It amazed me that I was being taught in this way about God’s dealings with the soul, and about prayer. It was usually in church that God taught me this sort of thing; but I saw the truth of what I’d been told; and when I was still standing there, leaning against my sink, terribly moved by God’s goodness, yet determined to live only in crystal-clear honesty with Our Lady, as I already tried to do with Our Lord, I decided to speak. I decided that if I didn’t confide in someone as wonderful as Our Lady, I’d waste an opportunity; and that’s why I determinedly said to her then, standing in my kitchen, “Mary, Mother, see this weakness”, daring to show her how faint-hearted and fearful I was about the consequences of speaking out even more widely about Christ’s intervention in my life and about His teachings-in-prayer. I knew she’d be willing to listen to anything and everything, as she’d done earlier. Then, suddenly, I was shown, by Christ:-
Follow My inspiration and reveal every facet of your heart and life to the gaze of My Holy Mother. Like Me, she is utterly trustworthy, and understanding. (WC:748) (T:748)
Don’t worry about upsetting My Mother, who, like Myself, is quite unshockable. She is delighted by your trust and by your longing to be truthful. (T:749 #1)
Trust in My Mother. She sees you as you really are: her child, and her son’s close relation. She is reassuring you, again: “I am not going to leave you!” (T:749 #2)
Listen to the advice of the best possible Mother, who is insisting: “Elizabeth! Do not worry!” With the help of both My Mother and Myself, you can peacefully set out to do My Will from hour to hour and day to day, released from the fear which has over- shadowed you. (WC:749) (T:749 #3)
A KISS FROM OUR LADY.
As I turned away from my sink, I stood, head bowed, in front of Our Blessed Lady, showing her my heart; and she leaned over to comfort me. She treated me as her true child; she kissed me on the forehead; and how like a true mother she was, when she spoke to me: using this child’s proper name!
After my work I was utterly exhausted. I couldn’t sit up straight any longer, because of my illness, or stay awake to listen to her further; but I knew that she understood my weakness. I went off to bed eventually, my heart full of gratitude. I was determined to honour her more reverently for the rest of my life.
I resolved, too, to pray and work in her honour, especially on the 22nd of each month, out of love for her and for the Glory of Christ her son, just as I already celebrate the 11th of each month in memory of His kindness on what I call the ‘Alpha and Omega’ Day.
Anyone who reads the first volume of the ‘Teachings-in-prayer’ will see explained once again the reason for this particular visit. The knowledge which had been given to me, by God, in Our Blessed Lady’s presence, of the pouring-out of grace and Divine Life at the Incarnation, was a small part of the whole series of ‘Teachings’; but the personal, extraordinary kindness of Our Lady on that occasion was given to encourage me in my task of writing and explaining the teachings. God knew that at times I’d been almost paralysed with fear at the thought of the questions I might be asked and the friends who might desert me, and also the ridicule I might have to bear if, in our modern world - though every age is ‘modern’ to itself - I made myself conspicuous, in obedience to God, by truthfully claiming to have received ‘teachings’ in prayer.
Extraordinary steps to help me.
I know I keep stressing my unworthiness; but Christ Himself showed me how true this is, when He explained, later on, that my task alone was worthy of Our Lady’s visit, which hadn’t occurred because of any merit of mine. Christ has explained not once but many times just how important it is that the ‘teachings’ are recorded and - at a time decided by Him - poured out, through His Church, to help His struggling People and also many others. That’s why He and His wonderful Mother have been willing to take extraordinary steps to keep me going during the past few years. He also explained that the knowledge of Our Lady’s kindness to me would affect other people so much that it would ‘soften’ many hearts, and so prepare those hearts in the way that seedbeds are prepared, so that they’d be ready to receive a lavish ‘planting’ within them of the other teachings which He’d been giving to me in prayer.
It makes me very happy to be writing this account of the visit. I yearn to tell people about Our Blessed Lady’s goodness and beauty. But sometimes I feel ashamed, when I think about her visit, because what excuse have I, now, at ever failing to love, after being offered such a Heavenly example of loving concern? And what excuse have I, ever to stop being joyful, when Christ has promised me that He’ll let nothing and nobody take me away from Him? The goodness and tenderness of Our Lord and Our Lady is indescribable.
CHRIST’S OWN PLAN.
[From “Falling in Love,” Chapter Seventeen.]
There was more reassurance. Further teachings followed, on every sort of relevant subject, day after day; and yet each day was busy, too, with meals, mishaps, visits to friends, with the usual services at church - and with extra, unexpected tasks to do for Our Lord.
Just before Easter, in 1996 … I was given a broader knowledge by Christ, in prayer, about my own role in His Church. He taught me precisely why He had chosen to ask a weak and handicapped lay-person like myself to speak out boldly about the Faith …
There was much more I needed to know, at that stage, if I was able to fulfil Christ’s plan and Christ was eager to help me …
Christ continued to instruct me on every facet of the work:-
… By our joint work, you and I are providing a consoling reminder, for many, of what has already been revealed, long ago: the Good News of My Love for you all: the Love of My tender and merciful Heart. (T:1867 #1)
Don’t worry about future reactions to My work in your life. I assure you that, when the work is more widely revealed, you will be able to accept the praise which will be lavished upon you because of this work; you will accept it as peacefully as you have come to accept indifference or scorn; and this will be possible because you have not sought that praise for yourself, since all you seek - even now - is Me, your Saviour, and the joy of hearing Me praised. (T:1867 #2)
A new title.
Week by week, Christ continued to enlighten me; for example, He explained the special relevance to this whole work of His Mother’s visit to my home, and of the picture of “Our Lady of Harpenden” …
By about April 1993 I had completed an oil portrait of Our Blessed Lady which was as detailed and as accurate as I could make it. Then one day in May, 1996, Christ explained to me (T:1899) that I should share my joy about the love of “Our Lady of Harpenden”. He invited me to speak to my new parish priest about the visit, and about the title of the painting - so that having shown that courtesy to the head of the Church in our area I’d be free to speak more boldly about the same wonderful things to old friends and to new acquaintances. Christ had explained to me, at different times, that the knowledge of Our Lady’s kindness to me would affect other people so much that it would ‘soften’ many hearts, and so would prepare those hearts in the way that seedbeds are prepared, so that they’d receive a lavish ‘planting’ within them of the many ‘teachings’ which He’d given to me in prayer.
A ‘RIVER’ OF TEACHINGS.
I suppose I should add that Our Lord also asked me to tell my priest, in connection with Our Lady’s visit, that there’s now a river flowing through our town, just as elsewhere, except that this river isn’t cold and crystal-clear; it’s the living water of Christ’s teachings, as it continues to pour out from my prayer and from my pen. Needless to say, I only repeated that to our priest in order to obey Christ, Who has explained to me that His teachings will continue to flow, so long as I am prayerful and faithful. It wouldn’t then have occurred to me to make grand descriptions of my work: but I’m not ashamed to do so, today, now that Christ has shown me what tremendous results will be brought about because of these teachings, and now that I’m longing for Him to be praised for His wisdom and goodness.
This is precisely what Christ has told me about Our Lady’s picture and its significance:-
Don’t be bashful about My gifts to you, and your good work for Me. On this wonderful feast of Pentecost, you have turned to My Holy Spirit, Who longs to help you in every aspect of your life. Listen to His guidance:
follow my prompting. don’t be afraid to do as i urge you, which is to speak to my priest, at greater length, about the wonderful visit which you received from christ’s holy mother, and about the portrait of her which you have painted and which is giving joy to so many people. i, your god, delight in the beauty and holiness of the most holy virgin mary; and you can make this known. “Share My joy” with your priest, as with other people. let him enjoy the knowledge that the picture which is entitled “our lady of harpenden” is a true representation of your gracious visitor: of the holy mother who gave you courage, as well as reassurance and good advice. (T:1899 #1)
share the good news that the intercession of christ’s holy mother is especially fruitful, under her new title, for departed souls, and for the sick, and for children in distress. (T:1899 #2)
tell my priest, too, that a spring of living water is now flowing in your town; and that ‘spring’ is the unending ‘stream’ of teachings which is my gift to you in prayer - a ‘stream’ which will benefit very many people. (T:1899 #3)
accept my will for your life. you have longed to share your faith with other people; and it is precisely so that my goodness shall be more widely known - and also the holiness of the most holy virgin mary - that you have also received, in prayer, so many hundreds of teachings, and have received several visits from christ’s holy mother. i want you to share the joy of these things with other people, to encourage them in faith and to spread in their hearts my divine and heavenly joy: which is my gift to those who love me. (T:1899 #4)
know that it is my wish that christ’s holy mother be honoured everywhere, albeit under the different titles which are appropriate for different times and places. i delight in the virtues of christ’s holy mother - and in her presence in heaven; and i also assure you that “our lady of harpenden” is a fitting title for this most holy of my saints, and for her picture. (T:1899 #5)
Facing the door of Heaven.
[Some years have gone past; and I’ve grown more and more grateful for Our Lady’s kindness; and yet, above all] …The Father’s goodness astounds me, daily. Every experience of receiving teachings in prayer is now wholly delightful; and the state of friendship with the Father in which I live - this heart-warming and profound participation in the Life of the Holy Trinity - is so wonderful and fulfilling that I’ve only to turn my heart and thoughts towards the Father in Heaven, or to His Son, or to the Holy Spirit, to receive another ‘taste’ of Heaven’s Bliss
… God is so good that He has changed my life entirely. I’m not ashamed to say that every prayer I pray leads to bliss. I’ve only to enter the church, and to begin to pray - whether by greeting the holy Angels who are gathered there, by honouring Christ’s Mother Mary at the Lady Chapel, or by adoring and thanking Christ Who is Really Present in the Blessed Sacrament - to find that my heart, mind and soul are almost overpowered by God’s Love and Glory. I face the ‘Door of Heaven’, it seems, in what used to be the darkness of prayer; and yet I now always find that door ‘open’, as God’s Light shines out towards me …
It seems astonishing to me that Christ has continued to teach me about the truths of the Catholic Faith: teachings which in recent times have been very difficult for me to ‘translate’ into words, yet which have been thrilling to understand to a greater degree. They’ve included such diverse but related subjects as the Immaculate Conception, the Atonement, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and also the work of Contemplation; and it astonishes me how Christ has enabled me not only to understand more about these subjects but also to describe such things for other people. But the reason I’m saying all this is because I’m overwhelmed with gratitude; and so of course I want to share my good news; and I know I can do so by obeying the Father and by describing how an astonishing friendship with Him is now the fulfilment of my journey.
YEARNING TO SHARE GOOD NEWS.
Only today - October 15th, 1998 - I told Christ once again how I’m yearning to make Him known to other people; and straightaway He showed me that although He understands my difficulties, the quicker I finish this book, then the quicker I’ll be able to explain to people about His goodness. It’s to be through this very book, which I was so bashful about writing, that many people will be given hope, comfort and encouragement about things to do with His Love, and faith, and about His Church.
Right up to the present day, Christ has continued to teach me, in prayer; and my heart aches with joy as I ponder each new teaching. More and more, I’ve understood what Saint John meant when he wrote “God IS Love” (1 Jn 4:8); and I long to help other people to realise that God’s Love for us isn’t something luke-warm, conditional, or grudging, but is a fiery and personal delight in each one of us, with a longing-to-give joy …
It is Christ Himself Who, through my inadequate work, is urging His People to be fervent in prayer, and to be obedient to His Will in everyday life - out of love for Him Who is Wisdom and Goodness. This is how we can glorify Him, and also bring down immense blessings upon our own souls: blessings and graces which will enable us to relish and to do His Will, and which will also prepare us for Heaven. Then, if we spend our lives in God’s service, relying on Him and His strength in everything, and trying to follow where He leads us, we’ll love our neighbour from the best of motives, and in the best possible way: in the way in which God wishes, when and where He wishes, as we’re prompted and guided by His Holy Spirit in the practice of true charity …
Christ has shown me numerous ways by which we can express our sorrow-for-sin, through penance and reparation, and can express our love for God through reverent worship: supremely through the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in union with Christ.
Teachings about spiritual matters.
It’s been by Christ’s own choice - and through His desire that I remind other people about the importance of a sincere love for God and a longing for holiness - that I’ve been taught by Him for so many years: during prayer, and occasionally during meditation …
Christ … although He wants to feed and comfort His People through our kind actions - in ways which help sick and tired bodies … wants to issue a special reminder in our time that He can also help and change damaged souls through us.
Christ can work through us to soothe hearts by hope, to feed minds with Truth, and to purify souls through Reconciliation; and so, through our prayers and sacrifices, He can make ‘whole’ persons who are ready for ‘real Life’ with Him: ready to enjoy His beauty and perfection, forever.
… we’ve been indwelt by the Three Divine Persons from the moment of our Baptism; yet I’ve been shown through personal experience and by faith that an intimate friendship with the Three is achieved, and understood to a limited degree, and also ‘relished’, only if someone has been willing to love, serve and obey Christ with both fervour and sincerity, and has been willing to accept His purifications. These are utterly necessary before a sinful creature can endure as well as enjoy what I can only call a special proximity to the Three Divine Persons Who are Infinitely pure, perfect, majestic and Holy - although Infinitely tender and loving. But I can also say from experience that the more lavishly God reveals His Glory and beauty to a contrite soul, the more clearly does that soul see the need for further purification, and the more gladly does he step forward, willing to be changed.
The joys which are given in the heights of prayer are greater than anyone can imagine; and a loving union with the Three Divine Persons Who bestow those joys makes every past agony seem worthwhile …
TRULY ‘IN COMMUNION’.
[From Appendix 3 of “Falling in Love.”]
… I couldn’t begin to speak of Christ or of union with Him, without knowing myself to be, not worthy or fit, but ‘in Communion’ with - of one heart and mind with - His Holy Church; so, it’s only after seeking advice which the Church freely offers to all Christ’s brothers and sisters that I feel free to accept His gifts and to press on with the task which He has entrusted to me. I can’t describe the joy which He gives me now, even amidst all sorts of difficulties; but I’m determined to do His Will from moment to moment, by His grace, neither peering sadly back to the past, nor straining anxiously to see ahead.
St. Paul says that God chooses “THOSE WHO ARE NOTHING AT ALL” (1 Co 1:28) to show and prove His goodness and His power, for the sake of many others who don’t yet know about His Love, and who haven’t yet been brought to faith in Him.
He has certainly chosen someone insignificant in this case, as I once said; but He is true to His promises; and since I gave Him my whole life - every aspect of it and every dream - He has given me His. As I freely consented to His Will being worked in me, He now guides my will, my memory and my understanding too. He wants to make them entirely His; and so He continues to purify them in the fire of His love, in the ordinary circumstances of daily life, for His use and service; and I hope He’ll do this until my life’s end.”
REPAYING MY DEBT.
Much of this little booklet has consisted of the details of a single visit to me of Our Blessed Lady; yet on numerous other occasions, Christ has caused her to visit me, or has revealed her to me as she stands, radiantly happy, beside Him in Heaven. In limiting myself to a full description of one visit, however, I’m obeying Christ’s request - and I’m also repaying my ‘debt’ to her as if by one small ‘coin’.
I couldn’t have found the courage to do my work, without special help; and so I hope and pray that other people who also try to serve God will do what every person should do who wants to gain all possible help, in efforts to be loving towards God and neighbour: not simply to lean on Christ, whilst ignoring His holy Mother, nor to rely on Our Lady’s prayers whilst scarcely glancing at her Divine son. It’s best if we rely on the Infinite love of Christ, and on His Infinite merits which were won for us through His Sacred Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension, yet that we also ask confidently for the prayers of His holy Mother.
Christ helps all who turn to Him with open hearts. Each time His Holy Sacrifice is offered from the altar He prays for our salvation; and He feeds us with His own Body and Blood in Holy Communion. That’s how He transforms us, and prepares us to share Eternal Life with the Father in Heaven; meanwhile, Christ guides us, moment by moment, by His Holy Spirit: the same Spirit Who guides the one, holy Church which Christ founded; yet Mary, Our Blessed Lady, can help us as well.
Our Lady helped Christ in His infancy and in His Passion; and she can help us by her prayers today. From her place at Christ’s side, in Heaven’s Glory, she can bring marvellous graces to us who need them - whether in our childish stumblings or in our own terrible way of the Cross.’
The greatest prayer of all is the prayer of Christ, in His self-offering in the Holy Eucharist - the Mass, which is at the ‘heart’ of the life of every practising Catholic; yet there are three little prayers which are immensely important, whether in our public or our private prayers.
The first is the ‘Our Father’ which was given to us by Christ Himself when He taught His disciples during His life on earth (Mt 6:9-13). The second is the ‘Hail Mary’, by which we can glorify God Who has given us a Saviour through the Blessed Virgin Mary; and at the same time, in praying this prayer, we honour Mary, just as the Angel Gabriel did (Lk 1:26-28) and humbly ask her to pray for ‘us sinners’. The third prayer which is especially important is the ‘Glory Be’ - by which we adore God the Most Holy Trinity: God Who has revealed His great love for us, and Who is still at work in our world today.
“Our Father, Who art in Heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth
as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women;
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now, and at the hour of our death.
Glory be to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end,