MANILA, Sept. 14, 2015 – “The Blessed Mother visited the Philippines!”
This is the resounding gist of the recent decree issued by Archbishop Ramón C. Argüelles settling once and for all the decades-long controversies surrounding the apparitions and miracles that took place repeatedly in Lipa, Batangas in 1948 and several times thereafter.
“The decree, with moral certainty, states that indeed the Blessed Mother appeared to a Carmelite postulant named Teresita Castillo several times in 1948, making herself known as the Mediatrix of All Grace. Our conscience can thus rest at ease that it was truly the Blessed Mother who came to visit us in 1948. The apparition is worthy of belief based on prudence as humanly possible,” explained Mariologist Marwil N. Llasos in a talk Sunday, Sept. 13.
Tears of joy
Fr. Melvin Castro, founder of the Confraternity of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace, expressed gratitude for the release of the decree.
“With joy in our hearts and tears in our eyes, we ring out praises to Almighty God today. His Grace, Most Rev. Ramon C. Arguelles, formally recognized the SUPERNATURAL ORIGIN of the 1948 Marian Apparitions in Lipa Carmel,” he said.
According to Llasos, author of “Defending Mary Our Mother,” the four-page document confirms, reinforces, and makes official what Mediatrix devotees have always known by instinct.
It starts by recalling the doctrinal patrimony of the Church viewing Mary as Mediatrix of All Grace, tracing its roots in the Church Fathers to the movement to declare the title a dogma led by Mechelen, Belgium Archbishop Désiré-Joseph Cardinal Mercier at the turn of the century.
“Lipa is in historic continuity with that movement,” Llasos stressed.
In the Sept. 12 decree, Argüelles looks back to the act of consecration of the Bishops of China to the Mediatrix of All Grace in 1942.
Six years after this event, the Blessed Mother appeared to Sr. Teresing Castillo at the Carmelite Monastery in Lipa, introducing herself as Mediatrix of All Grace.
Llasos noted that in an interior locution to Sr. Teresing, the Mediatrix has a special message which relates China to Lipa.
“The Decree, in a way, tells us that Fátima is to Russia as Lipa is to China,” he said.
Moreover, Llasos pointed out a compelling basis the Lipa Archbishop invokes in the decree is “Sensus Fidei” given the booming devotion to the Mediatrix in the Philippines and abroad, among the ordinary faithful and high-ranking Church officials alike.
He went on to praise the decree for its courage in facing historical truth.
It states that the April 10, 1951 declaration that the alleged apparitions and miracles in Lipa were nothing supernatural was perceived to be tainted with doubt since the bishops who signed it later recanted in duly notarized affidavits their decision thereby expressing their belief in the apparitions.
“That they did so near the end of their life is very telling: they told the truth before death would catch up with them. As a lawyer, I hold that these dying declarations bore kernels of truth,” he said.
Llasos shared that the same prelate who initially banned devotion to the Mediatrix on April 11, 1951 himself approved and allowed its spread on Sept. 25, 1963 as proved by prayer cards of the Mediatrix of All Grace with the imprimatur of the late Manila Archbishop Rufino Cardinal Santos.
“From sources close to the late Cardinal and the family of Sr. Teresing, the Cardinal personally believed in the apparitions. Otherwise, he would not have granted the imprimatur and kept a rose petal from Lipa until the end of his life,” he added.
Moreover, Llasos rejoiced that the decree vindicates the major players involved in what Argüelles calls the “Lipa phenomenon”: Sr. Teresing L. Castillo, Mo. Cecilia De Jesus (although without naming her), Bishop Alfredo Versoza, and Bishop Alfredo Obviar.
“The sufferings they went through were proof of the authenticity of the apparition. The warning of the Blessed Mother that they will suffer, including ridicule and persecution happened as precisely foretold. Yet, the personalities involved remained obedient, humble, faithful and holy in spite of, and because of, the sufferings they went through. The decree comes as their vindication in God’s time,” he explained.
In line with this, Castro urged the faithful to remember the people who suffered and offered their sufferings for the cause of the Mediatrix.
“Those who already passed away after working so hard for the cause of the Mediatrix, the Lipa Carmelite Sisters: Sor Alphonse, Sor Elizabeth, Mo. Bernardette, and so many others. Our lay Marian devotees: June Keithley-Castro, and so many others whose devotion Our Lady knows. And certainly, Sister Teresing Castillo, who up to know, is a willing victim soul for Our Lord and for Our Lady,” he said.
“Love triumphs in the end. The love of the Lord and our Lady triumphs. Now our generation is called to perpetuate the memory and relevance of the Lipa apparitions. Let us heed the call of Our Lady for Total Consecration to Her Immaculate Heart. Salve Mediatrix!” the priest added. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)