The church authorities of Cochabamba, headed by Archbishop René Fernandez Apaz, have endorsed Catalina’s mystical experiences and given their permission for these writings to be published.
When I arrived at church on the feast of the Annunciation, the Archbishop and priests had already processed out of the sacristy. The Virgin Mary said in her soft, sweet, feminine voice: “Today is a day of learning for you. I want you to pay close attention to what you experience today, for you will be sharing it with all of mankind.”
The first thing I noticed was the distant sound of beautiful choir voices. The music seemed to draw nearer, then recede like the sound of the wind. The Archbishop began Mass. When he reached the penitential rite, the Blessed Virgin said: “Now ask the Lord from the bottom of your heart to forgive you your sins, for they are offensive to Him. This way you will be able to participate worthily in the privilege of attending Holy Mass.” I thought, “Surely I am in a state of sanctifying grace. Didn’t I go to confession last night?” But the Blessed Mother answered: “You think you have not offended God since last night? Let Me remind you of a couple of instances… And you say you have not hurt the Lord? You arrived here at the last minute, when the celebrants were processing to the altar to say Mass. You were going to take part without preparing yourself… Why do you come at the last minute? Come earlier to pray and ask the Lord to send His Holy Spirit, that He may grant you His peace and cleanse you of the spirit of the world, your worries, problems, and distractions. It is He who disposes you to the proper experience of so sacred a moment… This is the greatest of all Miracles. You are about to experience the moment when God the Most High bestows His supreme gift upon you, yet you are unable to appreciate it.”
Since this was a feast day and the Gloria was to be recited, Our Lady said: “Glorify and bless the Holy Trinity with all your love. Acknowledge yourself as one of Its creatures.”
Now came the Liturgy of the Word. The Virgin Mary bade me repeat: “Lord, today I desire to listen to Your Word and yield abundant fruit. May Your Holy Spirit clean the interior of my heart so that Your Word may grow and mature in it…” Then Our Lady said: “I want you to attend to the readings and homily. Remember Holy Scripture says that the Word of God does not return to His mouth without bearing fruit. If you are attentive, something of what you have heard will remain with you. Try all day long to recall the words that made an impression on you. It may be two verses, or the entire Gospel reading, or perhaps only a single word. Whatever it is, savor it for the rest of the day. It will become a part of you. That is the way to change your life, by allowing the God’s Word to transform you.”
Soon it was time for the Offertory, and the Blessed Virgin said: “Pray in this manner: ‘Lord, I offer You all that I am, all that I have, all that I am able to do. I entrust everything to Your Hands…Almighty God, transform me by the merits of Your Son. I beg You on behalf of my family, my benefactors… all those who struggle against us, and those who have commended themselves to my poor prayers.’”
Suddenly, figures I had not noticed before began rising out of the pews. It was as if another person were coming out of the side of each person sitting in the Cathedral. Before long, the building was full of beautiful young beings clad in snow-white robes. They moved to the center aisle and processed toward the altar.
Our Blessed Mother said: “Observe. They are the Guardian Angels of everyone present here. This is the moment when your Guardian Angel brings your offerings and petitions before the Lord’s Altar.”
I was utterly astonished. These beings had beautiful faces, radiant beyond imagining. Despite the feminine-like beauty of their faces, their bodies, hands, and stature were clearly masculine. Their bare feet seemed to glide over the floor. Some of them carried golden, bowl-like objects that gleamed with a golden-white light. The Virgin Mary said to me: “These are the Guardian Angels of those who are offering up this Holy Mass for many intentions. They know what the Divine Liturgy means. They have something to offer to the Lord… Avail yourself of this moment to make an offering of yourself. Offer your sorrows, your pains, your hopes, your sadness, your joys, and your petitions. Remember the Mass has infinite value. Therefore, be generous with your offerings and petitions.”
Behind the first group of angels came others who had nothing in their hands…The Virgin Mary said: “These are the angels of those present here who never have anything to offer. They have no interest in experiencing each liturgical moment of the Mass. They have no gifts to bring to the Lord’s Altar.”
At the end of the procession came other angels with sorrowful-looking expressions. They walked with their hands joined in prayer, their eyes downcast. “These are the Guardian Angels of those who are present here but who do not wish to be; that is, those who have been forced to come, who come out of a sense of obligation but without any real desire to take part in the Holy Mass. The angels walk sadly because they have nothing to bring to the Altar, except their own prayers… Do not sadden your Guardian Angel. Ask for much; ask for the conversion of sinners, for peace in the world, for your families, your neighbors, for those who ask for your prayers. Ask; ask for much, not only for yourselves, but for others as well. Remember the offering that most pleases the Lord is the one in which you offer yourself as a holocaust, so that upon His descent Jesus may transform you by His own merits. What do we have to offer the Father on our own? Nothing but sin. But the offering of ourselves united to the merits of Jesus, that offering is pleasing to the Father.”
The Preface came to a close. Suddenly, as the assembly sang, “Holy, Holy, Holy…” everything visible behind the celebrants vanished from view. To the Archbishop’s left, extending behind him in a diagonal line, a host of Angels appeared: small angels, big angels, angels with enormous wings, angels with small wings, wingless angels. Like the others, they were clad in white robes not unlike those worn by the priests and altar boys. All knelt, hands joined in prayer, heads bowed reverently. Beautiful, well-blended voices broke forth as though from numerous choirs. They sang in unison with the people, Holy, Holy, Holy…
The moment of the Consecration – that most marvelous of Miracles – drew near. Another great multitude appeared in a diagonal line behind the Bishop, this time to his right. They were similarly clad, but in various shades of pastel: rose, green, light-blue, lilac, and yellow. Their faces were blissful and shone radiantly. All seemed to be of the same age. Somehow you knew they were of different ages, but their faces looked the same – without wrinkle and joyous. They too knelt down at the intoning of the Sanctus, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord…” Our Lady said: “These are the Saints and the Blessed of Heaven. Among them you will find the souls of your relatives who already enjoy the Beatific Vision.” Then I saw Her, at the Archbishop’s right elbow, one step behind him. She hovered over the floor, kneeling on an exquisite piece of fabric, clear and bright, like pellucid water. Hands joined, she looked attentively and respectfully at the celebrant. From that position, she murmured directly into my heart, without looking at me: “It surprises you to see Me standing behind the Archbishop, does it not? This is as it should be. For all the love that My Son bestows upon Me, He has not accorded Me the honor of confecting the daily Miracle with My hands as priestly hands do. Because of this, I feel a deep respect for priests and for the miracle that God accomplishes through them. This compels Me to kneel behind them.”
Before the Altar, shadows of people appeared, all in gray, their hands raised. The Holy Virgin said to me: “These are the blessed souls of Purgatory, who await your prayers in order to be refreshed. Never cease to pray for them. They pray for you, but they cannot pray for themselves. You must pray for them, in order to help them leave Purgatory, that they may be with God and enjoy Him for eternity.” Mary added: “Now you have seen it; I am here all the time. People go on pilgrimages to the sites of my apparitions. That is good, because they will receive many graces there. But at none of my apparitions, at no other site, am I more present than at the Altar during Holy Mass. You will always find Me at the foot of the Altar, where the Eucharist is celebrated. I remain at the foot of the Tabernacle, with the angels, because I am always with Him.”
To see Our Blessed Mother’s beautiful face at the intoning of the Sanctus, to see all those others present, faces radiant, hands joined, eagerly awaiting the Miracle that is ever made present – to see this was to be in Heaven itself. “And to think there are those who can be distracted in conversation at such a moment. It hurts me to say that many remain standing, arms crossed, paying homage to the Lord as if they were His equal. Tell men especially that they are never more manly than when they bend their knee to God.”
The celebrant pronounced the words of the Consecration. Though he was a man of average height, he began suddenly to grow in stature. A supernatural golden-white light seemed to suffuse him. It proceeded to envelop him completely, growing especially bright around the face. Because of this, I could not make out his features. As he raised the Host, I saw his hands. The back of them showed marks from which great beams of light emanated. It was Jesus! It was He, wrapping His Body around the celebrant. It was as if He were lovingly surrounding the hands of the Archbishop. The Host began growing to enormous size. Upon it, the marvelous face of Jesus appeared. He looked down upon His people. Instinctively, I bowed my head, but Our Lady said: “Do not look down. Look up; view and contemplate Him. Exchange your gaze with His and repeat the Fatima prayer: ‘Lord, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, who do not adore, or trust, or love You.’ Now tell Him how much you love Him. Pay homage to the King of Kings.”
It seemed to me that I was the only one looking at Him as He gazed down from that enormous Host. But then I understood that this was how He gazes at every person. He loves all with a boundless love. Then I bowed my head to the very floor, as did all the Angels and Heavenly Saints. As the celebrant lowered the Host, it returned to its normal size. Tears ran down my cheeks. I could not recover from my astonishment. As the Bishop repeated the words of the Consecration of the wine, lightning appeared from the heavens… The church walls and ceiling had vanished. All was dark but for that brilliant light from the Altar.
Suddenly, there, suspended in the air, was the Crucified Jesus. I saw Him down to the lower part of His torso. The horizontal beam of the Cross was borne up by large, strong hands. From out of this brilliant light burst forth a smaller light. It was like a small, very bright dove. After flying swiftly around the Church, it came to rest on the left shoulder of the Archbishop, who still looked like Jesus, for I could make out His long hair, His luminous wounds and His large body…
I was able to contemplate His face, battered arms and torn flesh. His right side had a gaping wound from which blood gushed out to the left and right. It looked like water, but it had a brilliant sheen to it, more like jets of light emanating towards the faithful… At that moment the Virgin Mary said: “This is the Miracle of Miracles. I have told you before that the Lord is not constrained by the limits of time and space. At the moment of the Consecration, the entire assembly is brought to the foot of Calvary at the very instant of Christ’s crucifixion.”
As we were about to pray the Our Father, the Lord spoke to me for the first time during the liturgy: “Wait, I want you to pray from the deepest recesses of your being. Take this moment to bring to mind the person or persons that have done you the greatest harm in your life. Clasp them to your bosom and tell them with all your heart: ‘In Jesus’ Name I forgive you and wish you peace. In Jesus’ Name, I ask for your forgiveness and wish you my peace.’ If the person is worthy of that peace, then he will receive it and feel the better for it. If he is incapable of accepting that peace, then peace will return to your heart. But I do not want you to receive or offer peace if you are not able to forgive and feel that peace in your heart first. Be careful what you do,” continued the Lord, “when you repeat in the Our Father: ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ If you are capable of forgiving but not forgetting, as the saying goes, then you are placing conditions upon the forgiveness of God. You are saying: ‘You forgive me only as I am capable of forgiving, but no more’.”
The celebrant said, “… grant us peace and unity…” and, then, “The peace of the Lord be with you all .” Suddenly, I saw a very intense light shining between some of the people and those whom they embraced… I could truly feel the embrace of the Lord in that light. It was He who embraced and gave me His peace, because at that moment I had been able to forgive and rid my heart of all rancor against others. That is what Jesus wants, to share with us that moment of joy, by clasping us to His bosom and wishing us His Peace.
The time came for the celebrants to receive Communion. When the Archbishop took Communion, the Virgin Mary said: “This is the moment to pray for the Priest and his concelebrants. Say together with Me: ‘Lord, bless them, sanctify them, help them, purify them, love them, watch over them and support them in Your Love.’ Remember all the priests of the world, pray for all the consecrated souls.”
The people rose from their pews to receive Communion. The moment of the Great Encounter had come. The Lord said to me: “Wait a moment; I want you to observe something.” An inner impulse made me look up at a woman who was about to receive Communion… When the Priest placed the Sacred Host on her tongue, a flash of golden-white light pierced her. It came out of her back, suffusing it, then her shoulders, then her head. The Lord said, “This is how I rejoice when I embrace a soul that receives me with a clean heart.” He spoke as one who was truly happy. When I went to receive Communion, Jesus told me: “The Last Supper marked My greatest moment of intimacy with My own. In that hour of love, I established what in the eyes of men might be seen as the greatest act of madness. I instituted the Eucharist. I made Myself a prisoner of Love, desiring to remain with you until the end of time. My Love could not bear the thought of you remaining orphans, for I loved you more than life itself.”
On returning to my seat, I knelt down, and the Lord said to me: “Listen!” A moment later, I heard the prayers of the woman seated in front of me. She had just received Communion… Jesus said in a sad voice: “Did you hear her prayer? Not once did she tell Me she loved Me. Not once did she thank Me for the gift of bringing My Divinity down to level of her poor humanity, that I might then raise her up to Myself. Not once did she say, ‘Thank You, Lord.’ It was merely a litany of requests. So it is with almost all those who receive Me. I died out of love for you, then rose again. Out of love I wait for each of you. Out of love I remain with you. But you do not realize that I too need your love. Remember that in this sublime hour of the soul I am the Beggar of Love.”
When the celebrant was about to impart the Blessing, the Holy Virgin said: “Be attentive, take care. Instead of the Sign of the Cross, you make any old sign. Remember that this blessing might be the last one you will ever receive at hands of a priest. You do not know, upon leaving this place, if you will die or not… Those consecrated hands are blessing you in the Name of the Blessed Trinity. Therefore, make the Sign of the Cross with respect, as though it were the last you make in your life.”
At the end of Mass, Jesus asked me to stay with Him a while longer. He said: “Do not be in such a hurry to leave. Stay a while in My company. Take delight in it and give Me an occasion to take delight in yours.” Then I asked Him, “Lord, tell me truly, how long do You stay with us after Communion?” The Lord replied: “For as long as you wish. If you speak to Me throughout the day, exchanging words with Me during your daily chores, I will listen to you. I am always with you. It is you who leave Me. You leave the Mass and the day of obligation is behind you. You have observed the Lord’s Day and now it is over… I read the deepest secrets of your hearts and minds. But I enjoy your telling Me about your life, your allowing Me to be a member of your family, being your closest friend. If you only knew how many graces you lose by not giving Me a place in your life!”
Jesus said to me: “You should exceed the angels and archangels in virtue, because, unlike you, they do not have the joy of receiving Me as nourishment. They drink a drop from the Spring, but you, who have the grace of receiving Me, have an entire Ocean to drink from.”
The Lord also spoke to me with pain in His heart about those who meet Him out of habit, who have lost their sense of awe at each encounter with Him. Routine makes many people lukewarm so that they have nothing new to tell Him when they receive Him. He also told me that there are many consecrated souls who have lost their enthusiasm over loving the Lord. They have turned their vocation into a job, a profession to which nothing is given beyond the minimum demanded of them.
Then the Lord spoke to me about the fruits that ought to come from frequent reception of Communion. There are people who receive the Lord daily, but whose lives do not change. They spend many hours at prayer, doing many works, yet they do not continue to grow in love. A life that does not mature cannot bear true fruits for the Lord. The merits received in the Eucharist should yield fruits of conversion in us. They should bear fruits of charity toward our brothers and sisters.
Catalina Rivas, Lay Missionary of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus
(prepared by Maria Zboralska)