In 1991, in the Venezuelan city of Maracaibo, the Servant of God Maria Esperanza warned of a coming global disaster if we do not reconcile and change our hearts. She said, “If brothers do not join hands, if they do not tolerate each other, if they do not love one another, how is the world going to progress?” Science, technology, and diplomacy have their place, but without fraternal unity, those with bad intentions “will come, and very unpleasant things will happen in the society of men today….It is necessary to stop those hands so that a world-wide catastrophe does not take place, so that all may live peacefully and in harmony.”1
This is a very serious warning issued by the Venezuelan visionary named Maria Esperanza. Who is she and why must we take her words seriously? The Servant of God Maria Esperanza was a wife, mother, mystic and missionary at the center of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Betania, Venezuela. These apparitions took place in the 1970s and 1980s, and were approved by the local Ordinary, Bishop Pio Bello Ricardo on November 21, 1987. He undertook this investigation in close collaboration with then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) who, at the time, was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Our Lady came to Betania under the title, Mary, Virgin and Mother, Reconciler of All Peoples and Nations. She was sent from heaven to deliver an urgent message to humanity: a divine call to fraternal reconciliation and family unity.
The Servant of God Maria Esperanza, who was gifted with many extraordinary mystical graces, is the ambassador and spokeswoman of this message of reconciliation given to us by Our Lady in Betania. The Blessed Virgin made an urgent appeal for reconciliation in Betania because humanity is self-destructing. The principle cause of this self-destruction is the rejection of God and the consequent disregard for our fellow man. Maria Esperanza explained that, “This world must be saved; men must correct their weaknesses, their frailties, all their sins.” Although there is no perfection this side of eternity, “we must really live the Gospel of Jesus, his commandments,” or we are destined for war. “Difficult moments will come in the world; man continues forgetting that there will be war. Enraged by the love of a man, men feel weak. [Then strange] religions and things that are not just arise,”2 said the Servant of God.
The prophetic gift of Maria Esperanza is evident when she said, “I mention the Gospel because in these times of great confusion… so many things make true Catholics suffer deep down in their hearts.”3 She foresaw the great interior trials the good would suffer as evil expands unchecked. The slow erosion of faith, the constraining of religious exercise, the promotion of immorality, the widespread corruption, and the general spirit of selfishness and rebellion have become all too common. All of these are painful realities for believers and signs of a decaying civilization.
Thus we hear the cry from heaven for reconciliation; reconciliation with God and with one another. “It is reconciliation, it is Mary’s love that she wishes to transmit to us all, so we may unite, so we may preserve the teachings of Jesus, so moral values may grow, so families may unite, so men can join hands, so all quarrels and the disordered things that today are leading people to war may end.”4 Implicit in the general call to reconciliation is the need to convert to Jesus Christ. Mankind needs a change of heart in order to rectify the disorders of society. He is unable to achieve this interior transformation and the redemption of himself and society by his own efforts. He needs a Savior.
The Servant of God Maria connected the upheaval of humanity with the rejection of God and his Law. In 1976, a message from Our Heavenly Mother to Maria Esperanza highlighted this same connection between war and the disobedience of God: “Faith…has disappeared because of the noise, and the uproar of an atomic dawn that is about to burst. Passion, power, material riches, financial matters have made men cold, lukewarm and selfish.”5 The situation is dire and an immediate remedy is needed.
It is not news that the world has drifted from God. Everyone is aware that there has been a general apostasy over the past decades. Countless men and women, especially the young, have abandoned the faith, or live lives in direct contradiction to God’s commandments. The Servant of God asks, “How many families suffer because their son has left, or their daughter fled? They are left behind with a sad heart because their children have abandoned everything only to follow other currents that are not right, instead of the overwhelming current of our Mother the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church.”6
This apostasy has repercussions in the moral order causing humanity to become infirmed, self-destructive. This moral illness bursts to the surface in eruptions of war, violence and hatred. A dimension of this moral sickness is persecution as well. “There will be more martyrs because in all periods [of history], from time to time, faith in man’s heart has to be rectified to rekindle Jesus’ flame, his fire,”7 said Maria Esperanza. This prophecy calls to mind our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Africa, China, and even in Europe and the Americas who suffer for Christ.
Healing of Family Needed
The healing of the human family is brought about by the conversion of souls to Christ, who transforms individuals and through them transforms society. Jesus is always faithful. If we turn to Him with repentance, sincerity and trust, His grace triumphs over all evil and sin. He will even erase the ugly repercussions of sin, like bloodshed and natural disasters.
It is so hopeful to know that prayer and conversion can extinguish war and the other horrible fruits of sin. “We must prevent war from taking place. War does no good. It harms us and harms our people, our men who go to war, our children who are sent to war. We must avoid war by all means. Do you know something? Do you know what all Catholics must do? Live the Gospel, especially gather our families together, and help them grow spiritually to sing a canticle to God like [this]:8
Thank You, my Lord and my God. Thank You, my Lord and my God, for the home I have, for this family, for these children, for these friends, for these families, thank You, Lord. These are your children who love You; your children who cherish You. They are your children who follow You. We follow You, Jesus; we follow You on this path to Calvary carrying a Cross serving our neighbor. Our sufferings do not matter, nor our problems, nor what we have to suffer if we can give them a caress, a glance, a handshake, a brotherly embrace. Love one another, Lord, love one another.”9
Even if we experience some discipline for our sins; prayer, penance and the sacraments of the Church can mitigate its intensity or shield us from its effects. When Maria Esperanza foretold that our planet would experience a global seismic trauma of some kind, she also said that we would pass through the event and ultimately prevail. “You must know that the earth will tremble, we will suffer, but we will make it. These are little touches of the love of the Lord to call his children. These little touches hurt, but at the same time we recover when we see that they are lessons of love to make us understand that we are not completely well. We are failing, weakened by sin, by a world eager for power, dominance and riches; the power of being superior.”10
A New World is Coming
The Servant of God explained that the world as we know it will not continue indefinitely. A new world is coming; a world of Divine Love, a world totally renewed by Jesus Christ, a world of love, truth, justice, peace and fraternal unity. We may call this the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, prophesied by the Mother of God at various points in history. This prospect of a reconciled humanity, a world free of war, injustice, hunger, persecution, greed, and family rupture fills our hearts with joy and hope. This is the destiny of humanity. As the Blessed Virgin assured us, “Do not fear, my little one[s], I live with you and nothing or no one can stop the cause of reconciliation among all men on earth.”11
Despite the fact that birth pangs may precede the emergence of a new world of Divine Love, those who are devoted to Jesus and Mary can expect heavenly protection. As Maria Esperanza prophesied, “The final hour of great decisions is near. These decisions must be those that the Holy Spirit inspires in the souls and minds of men, in order to reaffirm how great is the mercy of the Lord. He is coming to look for His children defending them from evil and from the enemy.”12
The Awakening, The Illumination
Before the birth of a new world under the reign of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Maria Esperanza, like others, anticipated a moment in which all of the living will experience a profound illumination of conscience. This will be a moment in which everyone will be given to see the true state of their own soul before God. This will be a shocking revelation for all of us, which will also be a great impetus for personal conversion.
Maria Esperanza frames this “awakening” or “illumination” of consciences in this way: “I must tell you something. The Lord will touch many hearts, He truly will…[Our Lady] and her Divine Son have come to illuminate the world, so man will awaken, in order to acknowledge that this is the time of the great revelation, that the world, man, will improve his attitude in life. [Aware] that we are filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we all must be attentive to that grace as it pours forth during these days informing us what we should do in life, how we should behave and truly live the Gospels.”13 This is Maria Esperanza’s gentle announcement of the awakening of consciences, but it will be a portentous event.