THANKS to my mom, I have imbibed the practice of going to Mass regularly, aside from Sundays.
Sunday Masses were always nonnegotiable, Wednesdays were Novena Masses for Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Fridays, especially First Fridays, were for the Sacred Heart. But even as I’ve consistently maintained the practice over the years, there are times when I find myself in church only on Sundays.
Even my state of mind varies. Sometimes I walk into church and feel truly inspired, praying with all my heart. Then there are days when I allow my concerns to eat me up throughout the Mass, and I leave without having heard a single word.
But I still try my best, because all it takes is one good Mass to change the direction of my day or even the week. It also gives me strength and patience for daily tasks and challenges.
Recently I ran into a Mass “classmate,” Lucy Torres- Gomez. I don’t know how the subject turned up, but she began telling me about a booklet which documented a series of visions by a woman named Catalina Rivas. Lucy was kind enough to send me the booklet.
Catalina Rivas was originally from Cochabamba, Bolivia, but is now based in Yucatán, Mexico. She claims to have received the stigmata of Jesus Christ, and was filmed by a journalist who returned to the Catholic church after meeting her. She has written down countless messages from her visions of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
The Vatican has yet to verify her experiences. But Bishop Jose Oscar Barahona Castillo of San Vicente, El Salvador, has given his imprimatur to Rivas’ testimony on the Holy Mass. Her visions and writings have inspired many people around the world.
However, Catalina is not spared critics and detractors, since she talks about topics as controversial and divisive as religion, visions and stigmatas.
I am certainly in no position to say whether Catalina’s experiences are true. But I feel that what she has written is inspired, and would benefit anyone who would take her messages of God’s love and the great miracles of the Mass to heart.
Catalina starts the booklet with a note: “This is the testimony that I must and want to give to the whole world, for the greater Glory of God and for the salvation of all those who want to open their hearts to Him. It is given so that many souls who are consecrated to God may rekindle the fire of their love for Christ; those who own the hand that have the power to bring Christ to earth to be our nourishment (the priestly souls) and the others, that they may break loose of the habit of receiving him as a ‘routine practice’ and relive the amazement of everyday encounter with Love…”
She then relates how she heard the “gentle voice” of the Virgin Mary who tells her: “Today is a day of learning for you; and I want you to pay close attention because all that you witness today, everything that you experience on this day, you will have to share with all humanity.”
And then a Mass begins—Catalina awed by the sound of beautiful voices singing from far away.
During the Penitential Rite, the Blessed Virgin instructs her: “From the bottom of your heart, ask the Lord’s forgiveness for all your faults, for having offended Him. In this way, you will be able to participate worthily in this privilege, that is to attend the Holy Mass.”
Even if Catalina says she had just gone to confession the night before, the Virgin Mary reminds her of small things which she had unconsciously done to offend God.
The Virgin Mary also laments: “Why must you all arrive at the last moment? You should arrive earlier so that you can say a prayer and ask the Lord to send His Holy Spirit, so that the Holy Spirit may grant you a spirit of peace and cleanse you of the spirit of the world, your worries, your problems and your distractions in order that you may be able to live this so sacred a moment.
‘Greatest of Miracles’
“However, you arrive almost when the celebration is about to begin and you participate in Mass as if it were an ordinary event, without any spiritual preparation. Why? This is the greatest of Miracles. You are going to live the moment when the Most High God gives His greatest gift and you do not appreciate it.”
Catalina goes on to describe what she sees throughout the Mass, as well as the words and prayers of the Virgin Mary.
During the Liturgy of the Word, our Lady says, “I want you to be attentive to the readings and to the entire homily of the priest. Remember the Bible says that the Word of God does not return without having born fruit. If you are attentive, something of all that you have heard will remain in you… Savor them for the rest of the day and this will then become part of you, because this is the only way to change one’s life, by allowing the Word of God to transform you.”
Upon hearing these words, Catalina regrets all the times she taught her children to attend Mass because it was their obligation rather than a genuine desire to be filled by God and out of love.
During the Offertory, Catalina is taught by the Virgin Mary to pray like this: “Lord, I offer all that I am, all that I have, all that I can. I put everything in Your Hands. Build up Lord with the little that I am. Transform me, God almighty through the merits of Your Son. I ask for my family, for my benefactors, for each member of our Apostolate, for all the people who persecute us, for those who commend themselves to my poor prayers… Teach me to lay my heart down on the ground before them, so that their walk may be less hard…”
Catalina describes a most beautiful sight—angels lining up in the aisle to offer all the petitions and offerings of everyone in the church before the Altar of God.
The Virgin Mary then says, “Make your offering at this moment, offer your sorrows, pains, dreams, sadness, joys, petitions. Remember that the Mass has infinite value. Therefore be generous in your offering and in your asking… Ask for much, not only for yourselves, but also for all the others… Remember that the offering which most pleases the Lord is when you offer yourselves as a holocaust so that Jesus, upon His descent, may transform you by His own merits.”
Catalina goes on to praise the incomparable sight of celestial beings bowing before the altar, leaving their offerings on the floor, prostrating themselves on their knees with their foreheads almost touching the ground before disappearing from sight.