DESPITE the 2016 letter of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith saying that the 1948 Lipa, Batangas apparitions of the Blessed Mother was "of no supernatural origin," Filipino Catholic leaders, including laymen like myself, strongly believe in the supernaturality of the events surrounding the late visionary Carmelite nun Teresing Castillo.
So does my uncle Lipa Archbishop Emeritus Manuel Arguelles who had once declared the apparitions to Teresing was authentic before the Vatican declaration which he had to respect with much sadness.
So did the late Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal who, before his death, took efforts to spread the messages of the Blessed Mother from Lipa, messages that include prophecies we now see unfolding. He was archbishop of Lipa before he became Cebu archbishop in 1982.
Vidal retired as Cebu archbishop in 2010 and died in 2017. Teresing, the daughter of former Batangas Gov. Modesto Castillo, died the year before.
I have shared some of the messages in a past column, but they bear repeating because there was reference to dangers from China that we now see amid an unusually China-friendly President Duterte, aggressive Chinese expansionism and a pandemic that is now reputed to have originated from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan.
This, as devotion to Mary Mediatrix of Grace, which was the supposed title of the Marian apparitions in Lipa, remains allowed by the Vatican. Thus, the Mediatrix icon is ubiquitous in Batangas province and the Carmel church in Lipa where Teresing experienced Marian apparitions.
“It is thus to the Queen of Prophets under her title of Mediatrix of All Grace to whom we will have recourse in order to avert the buildup of tension and to check the territorial ambitions of this Asian superpower,” wrote Vidal.
Cardinal Vidal, in a 2014 letter to the Catholic Bishops’ of the Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said one of the “secrets” of Lipa as revealed to Teresing was a Chinese move to invade the Philippines and the rest of the world.
“Pray hard for China’s dream is to invade the whole world,” Vidal quoted Teresing in her notes, a year before the Communist triumph in China and Communist leader Mao Tse-tung’s official proclamation of the People’s Republic of China.
"The Philippines is one of its favorites. Money is the evil force that will lead the people of the world to destruction," the note said as quoted by Vidal.
Vidal wrote the letter to CBCP in 2014 shortly after China took over the Panatag Shoal from the Philippines in 2012 and made several incursions in the West Philippine Sea.
On June 19, 2014, Vidal issued a prayer asking for the Blessed Mother’s intercession to protect the Philippines against threats posed by China.
He urged Catholics to regularly recite the rosary and say the prayer:
“It is by following this path of prayer and penance sounded out in Fatima and reiterated at Lipa that our beloved Philippines will be spared the scourge of war and the domination of a communist giant," Vidal stressed.
Here is the prayer:
“Most Blessed Virgin Mary, amid the crisis brought about by the territorial claims of China, we come to your presence seeking your queenly protection and motherly help. We pray for peace and the safety of the Philippines, as we keep in mind the spiritual welfare of those who advance their territorial claims to the detriment of the security of our country.
“May the love of your Maternal Heart attract the Chinese people to your Son, Jesus. May your Immaculate Heart be the center from which the rays of the light and love for the Sacred Heart will radiate forth throughout China, becoming for them the unquenchable fountain from which the living water of the Divine Mercy will flow. Through your intercession, may the Lord grace the Chinese people with faith, hope and love, that by your maternal mediation of grace, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit will be worshiped and glorified in that vast expanse of land.
"Remember O most gracious Virgin that the Philippines is your beloved ‘Pueblo Amante de Maria’ (People in love with Mary) and that we belong to you absolutely, totally, always and forever. We are all yours and all that we have is yours, O most loving Jesus through Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace.”
Fast Forward to July 16, 1980, in the Blessed Mother's message to the late Italian priest Fr. Stefano Gobbi, wherein she identified herself as Mediatrix of Graces. Here are excerpts:
"Beloved sons, I am the Mediatrix of Graces. Grace is the very life of God which is communicated to you. It springs from the bosom of the Father and is merited for you by the Word who, in my virginal womb, became man to share with you that same divine life, and for this He offered himself as a ransom for you, becoming thus the one and only Mediator between God and all humanity...
"By means of grace, the Father communicates himself to you ever more and more, the Son assimilates you, the Holy Spirit transforms you, bringing about a relationship of life with the Most Holy Trinity, which becomes ever increasingly strong and active. Within souls who are in grace, it is the Most Holy Trinity itself which takes up Its dwelling place there.
"....I am truly the Mediatrix of grace between you and my Son Jesus. My task is that of distributing to my little children that grace which flows out from the bosom of the Father, is merited for you by the Son and is given to you by the Holy Spirit. My task is that of distributing it to all my children, according to the particular needs of each one, which the Mother is very good at knowing. I am ever carrying out this duty of mine.
"However, I can carry it out fully only in the case of those children who entrust themselves to me with perfect abandonment... And so, never before as in these present times, are so many of my sons running the risk of not being able to reach Him. The Jesus whom they meet is often only the result of their human research, and corresponds to their aspirations and desires; He is a Jesus formed according to their measure; He is not Jesus, the Christ, the true Son of God and of your Immaculate Mother. Entrust yourselves to me with confidence and you will remain faithful, because I will be able to carry out fully my work as Mediatrix of graces. I will take you each day along the way of my Son, in such a way that He may increase in you to His fullness.
"This is my great work, which I am still carrying out in silence and in the desert. Under my powerful action as Mediatrix of graces, you are ever more transformed into Christ, that you may become fit for the task which awaits you. Forward then, with courage, along the way traced out by your heavenly Mother."