Pilgrimage to Heaven
Visiting Our Lady of Good Success: A Pilgrimage to Heaven – The American TFP
It was in this convent that Our Lady began appearing to Sister Mariana de Jesus Torres with prophecies regarding the twentieth century
During the apparitions, Our Lady requested a statue to be made of her and requested that it be placed in the choir loft because, as she said, “I will rule this convent.” It is arguably the most extraordinary statue of the Blessed Mother on earth. Her solicitude for this group of nuns was expressed in another prophecy where she foretold there would always be a saint residing in this convent.
The events on this particular pilgrimage were truly historic. The first event was what is called the annual Rosary of the Dawn. Whereas this particular procession dates back to colonial times, it eventually fell by the wayside so many Catholic traditions.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of retired Brazilian Colonel Carlos Antonio Poli, it was resurrected in 2001. In that year, only twenty faithful showed up. This year there was an estimated 12,000.
Among them was General Carlos Obando, Commander of the Ecuadorian Army with a large contingent of soldiers and a military band.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the canonical crowning of Our Lady of Good Success, and she was given a full military honor guard.In very military fashion, an honor guard of soldiers in impeccable dress uniform marched down the center aisle of the convent church at around 4:30 in the morning. They would be Our Lady’s escort and provide protection from the crushing faithful eager to touch her royal mantle.
The miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Success is carried outside the convent church.
Such a presence is understandable. Usually the procession is done with a small copy of the statue of Our Lady of Good Success. This would be the first time the actual miraculous statue would take part in the procession. It was in fact the first time she has ever left the convent into the street.
It seemed very appropriate since Our Lady is both Queen of the Universe and a mother capable of consoling the faithful during these troubling times. One pilgrim, contemplating her majestic countenance in the open air, as if reigning over the city, aptly described her as having the air of an Empress.
This opinion was echoed by many others who saw her on this glorious morning as being more than a queen, she was Queen of Queens.
Our Lady of Good Success was placed on a Humvee which seemed divinely preordained as will be explained with an astounding event that occurred later. The military vehicle was appropriately covered and decorated in Our Lady’s colors—blue and white—and a copious assortment of flowers.
Fireworks filled the night skies above the convent as the procession began. As it passed through the streets the rosary was recited by the faithful along with the singing of Marian hymns. Periodically, one would see handfuls of rose petals thrown from a distance, which gracefully fell at the feet of Our Lady. Such acts of devotion were truly inspiring.
The life-size statue of Our Lady of Good Success was placed on a military Humvee for the procession of the Rosary of the Dawn, and escorted by an honor guard of soldiers in impeccable dress uniform.More noteworthy, however, was the devotion of the soldiers. An Army colonel who walked in front of the Humvee to carve a path for the vehicle, continually looked back to behold the statue’s luminous face. As I analyzed his expression it became clear for me that he was suffering an internal conflict of interest.
He seemed so overwhelmed by admiration for Our Lady of Good Success’ beauty it appeared hard for him to carry out his duty as her guard. This same colonel later took off his hat and proudly showed me a holy card of the infant Jesus he had fastened to the interior, a proud testament to his Catholic Faith.
Others witnessed a lieutenant colonel who carried his rosary during the entire procession praying along with the faithful.
As the procession passed through the streets the rosary was recited by the faithful along with the singing of Marian hymns, as handfuls of rose petals were thrown gracefully in honor of Our Lady.
As the procession was making its final turn before returning to convent the first glimmers of dawn silhouetted the city’s National Basilica atop a distant hill. Fireworks welcomed Our Lady and the throng of her devotees back inside the convent church where she was placed beside the altar in anticipation of an honor no one could have imagined.
After the 10:30 morning Mass celebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giacomo Ottonello, General Obando—along with three other generals and numerous colonels—made a stunning and very official declaration before the packed church.
General of the Army Carlos Alfredo Obando presents Our Lady of Good Success, through the hands of the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giacomo Ottonello, the baton and sword of the Armed Forces, symbols of her new authority and power, and placed under the mantle of her protection all levels of the Army Command.
“I, as the Ecuadorian Army Commander, place under the mantle of Our Lady of Good Success all members of the Army.” He then reaffirmed that “while Ecuador’s Army Commander, [I] place under the mantle of Our Lady of Good Success all intermediate levels of the Army Command, to always make upright decisions.”
He then presented to Our Lady of Good Success, through the hands of the Nuncio, the symbol of her new authority and power, a sword which was laid on the altar and a baton or command staff of the Armed Forces. The latter was placed in Our Lady’s hand. The infant Jesus was also conferred with military honors. He was given a military decoration along with the symbol of a general which were pinned to His garments.General Obando finished his remarks by thanking the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giacomo Ottonello, Archbishop Castrense, Bishop Rene Coba Galarza, Mother Inez, and the nuns of the convent “who gave me the opportunity to know about the devotion of Our Lady of Good Success; I also thank Tradition, Family and Property for this.”
Our Lady of Good Success holding the baton of the Armed Forces of Ecuador in her right hand and the Infant Jesus with the military decoration and insignia of a general.
That evening members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and sister associations took turns praying before the statue during an all-night vigil. The coveted private time with the statue allowed us the opportunity to absorb the previous day’s events.
As I prayed before the statue I pondered the sad state of affairs in our country and the world, which leaves many Catholics feeling the apostles on the turbulent waters of Lake Genesareth.
Just as Our Lord majestically calmed the raging storm one could not help feeling a similarly calming effect while gazing at the extraordinary face of Our Lady of Good Success.
Our Lady of Good Success, intercede for us.
The next day, we were given the distinct privilege of venerating the incorrupt body of Mother Mariana. As we entered the room where her body is laid out, Mother Inez of the Tabernacle removed the veil covering the face of the saintly nun.
It is important to note here that this holy soul was not only given a glimpse of the evils of our day, she willingly accepted to suffer for us. With this in mind, we did not fail to thank this generous soul for what she did on our behalf.
How many of us, who carry out our struggle against the errors of our day, owe our perseverance to this sacrificial soul? It is for this reason we must all say, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you Mother Mariana!
Then came the final farewell when the same TFP members who had participated in the nocturnal vigil carried out the privileged task, granted to us long ago, of carrying Our Lady back to the upper choir.This gave us the opportunity to venerate the exact spot where Our Lady appeared to Mother Mariana.
At this point, however, our time on the mountain, breathing that rarified, supernatural air was coming to a close.
The Queen of Queens returns to her Upper Choir in the convent of the Immaculate Conception where she reigns as Prioress to her daughters, and Mother to all who open their hearts and souls to her.
Mr. Sergio de Paz, founder of the Miami-based organization, Cubanos Desterrados (Cubans in Exile), was standing next to me. He had been praying for his country, an island-prison still in the grips of the blood-stained hands of the Castro brothers.
He has tirelessly fought for the Faith here in America and carries a great sorrow for the plight of the Cuban people still suffering under a communist dictatorship.
With a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes, he looked at me and asked, “What is going to happen when we land?” My instinctive response was, “I don’t know, but I hope we don’t crash because we are flying pretty high right now.”
Learn All About the Prophecies of Our Lady of Good Success About Our Times
All good things must come to an end in this valley of tears as we march towards the victory promised by Our Lady at Fatima, and so did our trip. Yet those who were in Quito, Ecuador left energized after a journey that can aptly be termed a pilgrimage to heaven.
VIDEO: 2016 Rosary of the Dawn Procession, Quito, Ecuador
Pilgrimage to Wudang Mountain
Home >> Articles >> Pilgrimage to Wudang Mountain
by Zhou, Xuan-Yun
September 27, 2010
During the summer of 2010, my family and I brought several students along during our annual trip to Wudang Mountain. Bringing students to the mountain is one way to pay our respect to the origin of the Wudang arts.
During the summer of 2010, my family and I brought several students along during our annual trip to Wudang Mountain. Bringing students to the mountain is one way to pay our respect to the origin of the Wudang arts.
Over the course of our trip, the students were able to participate in many aspects of Wudang life that normally is closed to outsiders.
We ate in the temple kitchens every day, participated in Daoist ritual, and had classes and practice sessions with many respected teachers. By participating this way, Wudang Mountain can ensure that the Daoist arts are being protected and accurately passed on.
We are in a position where we are able to act as a bridge between two cultures (Western and Wudang Daoist). We hope that those crossing the bridge will create friendship and mutual understanding.
Sharing Wudang arts
My teacher, Li Guang Fu, has asked me to share the Wudang arts in the West. Bringing students back to visit the mountain is one way to help them practice.
Experiencing China and traditional Chinese culture is important for students of all martial arts. Li Guang Fu is the abbot of Wudang Mountain and the head of the Wudang Daoist Association (the group of Daoists on the mountain).Master Li is the highest ranking Daoist on the mountain, and has been the abbot since 2003.
Wudang Mountain is not just one mountain; it's a range that covers a large area of land. To drive from the bottom to the top, it is over an hour, and cars can't go all the way to the top. In the winter there are some days when the mountain is closed due to snow, but usually the roads are passable.
Diverse Groups on Wudang Mountain
There is a very diverse group of people on the mountain. In addition to the temples and martial arts schools, there are hotels, tour buses, government offices, and restaurants and shops for tourists and pilgrims. There are around 300 Wudang Daoists in four major temples and several smaller temples.
The Daoist lifestyle incorporates study of classical Daoist philosophy, ritual practices, meditation, and physical exercises. For those who live at Wudang year-round, training on the mountain is a full time endeavor. In the West, due to the high cost of living, it is extremely rare for people to leave their jobs and devote themselves entirely to their practice.
The 15 schools on Wudang Mountain are very diverse. Some are run by the practice brothers who I grew up with on the mountain; some by graduates of the government's sports academies, and even some schools run by people from Shaolin Temple.
Since the schools are so diverse, some teach the traditional forms and others the more modern performance oriented versions. This is why, when Dr. Yang and I first talked about filming the Wudang arts in DVD form, I asked if he was interested in the performance forms, or the traditional forms.
Fortunately for me, he shares my love and respect for the traditional styles.
I devoted several years to studying full time as a novice in a temple, thus completing the more traditional process to ordination as a Daoist monk, or priest. The differentiation between being a monk or a priest is a Western concept. It doesn't exist in the Chinese language. In Chinese, all male Daoists are called 道士 (dao shi), and all female Daoists are 道姑 (dao gu).
There are two major schools of Daoism in China today. There is正一 (Orthodox Unity) Daoism and (Complete Reality) Daoism全真.
正一 (Orthodox Unity) Daoism The school of Daoism that was first practiced at Wudang Mountain, Orthodox Unity Daoism, was founded in 142 C.E. during the Eastern Han Dynasty.
Many of the original Orthodox Unity Daoist practices grew from shamanistic origins, including writing talismans for protection, and using natural herbs and minerals to create health potions.Orthodox Unity Daoists can choose to live in temples, or offer their services while living among the people. Many Orthodox Unity Daoists practice martial arts or medicine.
(Complete Reality) Daoism全真. Hundreds of years after the Orthodox Unity School was founded, during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Daoist religion, Buddhism, and local folk practices began to mix, and the Complete Perfection school of Daoism (Quanzhen Dao) emerged. Complete Perfection Daoism is the major monastic form of Daoism today.
Complete Perfection Daoists are traditionally celibate, live exclusively in monasteries, and practice “internal alchemy.” which seeks to refine the body through breathing exercises, meditation, and visualization practices. However, in modern times, differences between the two schools are less obvious, and many Daoists adopt practices from both lineages.
For example, I studied with masters from both lineages, and I was inducted into both the Orthodox Unity and the Dragon Gate lineage (which is a Complete Reality sect).
In the West, sometimes Complete Reality Daoists are referred to as Daoist Monks, and Orthodox Unity Daoists are referred to as Daoist Priests, but again, the difference does not exist in the Chinese language. Nor have I seen the “priestess” vs. “nun” distinction ever used to differentiate female Daoist initiates from the two lineages.
There are more similarities than differences between the different schools of Daoism, and all Daoists embrace the three jewels of the Dao: compassion, moderation, and humility.
Art of Well Being
All of the Daoist arts are wellness arts.
The first question Daoists ask themselves about their habits is, “Is this healthy for me?” which I think is a question that all of us, in our modern society, could be asking more frequently.
Many of the basic philosophical concepts behind these arts, the taiji (yin-yang), five elements, and other Daoist beliefs, can be applied to martial arts, medicine, diet, interpersonal relations, and much more.
Many of the modern arts are very superficial. The traditional arts are very deep, the more you practice, the more the art has to offer. Within the traditional martial arts is a soul that transcends the realm of fighting and self-defense and can be any part of your life.
Preserving Wudang Arts
To preserve the Wudang arts means not just learning the movements of the forms, but also understanding the theory and philosophy behind the movements. So, an element of study is also required. We also should try to record the arts as technology evolves, so that there is a reference that later generations of students can refer back to.
It is also important to remember that the arts are living arts, not something fixed, a painting. Even those who master the Wudang arts, all master them differently. For the Wudang arts, a way to check for accuracy is to constantly ask yourself if your practice manifests the underlying principles.
The underlying principle is the Dao–compassion moderation, and humility.
August 2010 Wudang Pilgrimage
A diverse group of students joined us on the trip, including men and women, ranging in ages 3 to 60+. Some were my regular Boston students, others were students we met at special events or in China, and others were friends we had met online.
When we got to the mountain we went directly to the Purple Heaven Palace (紫霄宫) to pay our respects to Master Li Guang Fu (李光富). Purple Heaven Palace is the home of the Wudang Daoist Association (武当道教协会) and is considered by many to be the spiritual heart of the mountain.
Here's our daily schedule during our weeks at Purple Heaven Palace:
6:30 – Wake Up
8:00 -10:00 Morning practice (Taiji and meditation)
12:00 – Lunch (Daoist vegan cooking in the temple meal hall)
1:00 – 4:00 – Free Time
4:00 – 6:00 – Afternoon Practice (Student's choice)
6:00 – Evening chanting ritual
6:30 – Dinner (Daoist vegan again)
7:30 – Return to our rooms
After two weeks to adjust ourselves to the mountain, we made the hike up to the Golden Pinnacle (金顶) which is the temple on the very top of the mountain.
Although not present in ancient times, most modern pilgrims take the cable car.This year the cable car is being replaced, and was service, so we had a gorgeous three hour hike up, and were able to pay homage by ascending the mountain in the traditional way, with sweat and blisters.
The top of the mountain is a magical place. Literally nestled among the clouds, the temples appear and disappear as the weather shifts. We spent three days on the top of the mountain. One of the high points of this time was a lecture with Master Lu (卢道长) the abbot of Golden Pinnacle, who charmed the group with his impressive English and joyful heart.
Western Disciples–An Exciting Event
After returning back down the mountain to Purple Heaven Palace, one of the most exciting events of our trip took place.
Two students, Michael Vollero and Scott Mayer completed the 拜师 discipleship ritual, formally initiating them into the Wudang Daoist lineage. The ritual was a two-hour event involving chanting, and ritual offerings of incense.
Both of the new disciples bowed to show their respect for the lineage, were given Daoist names, and their names were entered in the registry (list of Wudang Daoists).
Believe it or not, the traditional initiation ritual is not often performed at Wudang Mountain. For many years, the Daoist masters have only accepted their students as disciples, allowing them into the lineage, in small private ceremonies.
According to Master Li, who officiated the ritual, this was the first time the traditional initiation ritual had been held for almost 10 years, and the first time it had ever been done to initiate foreign disciples.
Not only did this ritual involve an exciting step for Wudang Mountain, welcoming foreign disciples, it also involved a return to tradition, reviving the ancient ceremony. We were honored to be a part of this process.
Daoist Studies Institute
Shortly after the ceremony we moved our regular classes to the Daoist Studies Institute (道教学院) two hours away. The Daoist Studies Institute is a temple and a university all rolled into one.
The Institute offers a three-year program in Daoist history, ritual, chanting, meditation, philosophy, and English.
The group enjoyed a lecture on Wudang Daoist history with Professor Yang Li Zhi (杨立志教授) the chair of the Wudang Daoist Culture Historical Society, and a lecture and practice session on Qigong and Daoist Meditation with Master Wang (王道长) the Institute's meditation professor.After visiting the Daoist Studies Institute, the group headed home to the United States.
After returning, one participant wrote to us sharing feelings that seem to sum up the group's experiences, “the opportunity to visit Wudang with an “insider” is un anything someone could achieve by traveling on their own.
The sheer vastness of these sacred mountains is overwhelming, but Zhou, Xuan-Yun's presence, personal connections, and knowledge made this pilgrimage one of the most fulfilling experiences in my entire life.”
We all returned from the mountain inspired, and with our batteries fully charged for the road ahead. We have already begun planning the trip for next year. Here are some more photos from the trip.
Information for the 2011 Pilgrimage to Wudang Mountain is available at the Daoist Gate website or by email .
The Way of St James ~ A Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago
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The term, the “Way of St James” or the Camino de Santiago, in actuality, describes many Christian pilgrimage routes, dating from medieval times that journey from various locations in Europe, to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It is here, in this cathedral, that the remains of St James, the Apostle is said to lie in rest. For the Christian faith, it is a most sacred site, and only to Rome do more pilgrims travel in a year.
“Pilgrims are persons in motion –
passing through territories not their own –
seeking something we might call completion,
or perhaps the word clarity would do as well,
a goal to which only the spirit's compass
points the way.“
~ Richard R. Niebuhr
The medieval pilgrim sought indulgences here at this most holy shrine to St James and believed that they were guaranteed a place in heaven if they completed this pilgrimage. Is it any wonder that as many as could, attempted this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime, despite risk to life, theft and disease?
In recent times, walking the Camino de Santiago, as the Way of St James is known in Spanish, has had a revival among modern-day tourists and pilgrims a. Not all that are on The Way are doing it for religious purposes, as in medieval times, however, many are walking for personal reasons, if not spiritual.
There are more than a dozen Caminos from which you can choose, depending on your desire, your skill level and the time of year. Just refer to the map below!
The Many Ways of St. James
Most pilgrims chose to embark on a Camino, time and time again, choosing a new route to Santiago each time they go. This is especially true of Europeans, for whom it is a hop, skip and jump to Spain, taking sections of the Camino as their holidays allow.In order to receive the “Compostela” or the official certificate of completion by the Catholic Church, you must walk at least 100 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela and get a “passport” (or Credential in Spanish) stamped at least every day along the way in local hostels, churches, bars and pharmacies, to prove that you were there.
If you are only walking 100 kilometers, it is best to get your Credential stamped at least twice a day. You may also ride bicycle or horse, but then you must complete at least 200 kilometers.
The exception to the rule of 100 kilometers is on the Camino Inglés from A Coruña. Please click on the link for more information!
Most modern pilgrims chose the most arduous of Caminos, from the French border in St Jean Pied de Port and walk over 700 kilometers (500 miles) to complete their pilgrimage travel. The stories of the personal transformations that occur on this lengthy physical journey abound. Each one is fascinating.
Cathedral of Santigo de Compostela, at Night*
Our New Passion ~ The Way of St James
Our fascination with the Way of St James began when a good friend of ours sent a DVD of the movie, “The Way,” directed by Emilio Estevez, and starring his father, Martin Sheen. This friend said the movie reminded her of us, and thought we would enjoy it. What a synchronous event this would turn out to be.
“The Way” was a very touching story, and one that, as we know now, tried to be as authentic as possible, in it's documentation of what an actual pilgrimage on the Way of St James would be in modern times.
It piqued Elle's interest in doing her own pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela so much, that she soon became somewhat obsessed with the subject. She had no idea that what was brewing in her was about to change her life.
All she knew was that she must do a Camino de Santiago!
Official Trailer for “The Way”
This same friend also sent us a copy of the book, “The Pilgrimage to the End of the World” by Conrad Rudolph, also describing the author's journey on The Way. Elle devoured the book in only a few hours.
The true joy of destiny is hard to suppress, even though she would never have guessed that reading about and contemplating her own spiritual journey on the Way of St James was to forever change our destiny.
Slowly, as Elle discussed her new passion with her husband, Rich, the desire to be a pilgrimage traveler was slowly beginning to unfold in her. He was highly interested as well.
So were several friends with whom we began to discuss the possibility of their joining us on a Camino de Santiago.
Souls yearn for the pilgrimage of the Way of St James! We're not sure why, we only know that the desire is infectious!
True Pilgrimage Travelers
We have had the fortune to travel to many parts of the world. We have always tried to be respectful of the practices that we found wherever we were, and have definitely been open to seeing things from the perspective of the ancients as well as those in the present time.
With the stirrings from the tales on the Way of St James, now, our challenge was to become true pilgrims, connecting with the spiritual energy of the place. We vowed to one an other, that in the future, we would set out on not just a journey for sight-seeing, but a spiritual journey.
We were to take our sense of adventure and go see the spiritual sites, the holy places, that have inspired many before us and will continue to inspire the souls who choose to travel there in the future.Do we dare to look inside our own souls and see what was there at the sacred site for us to discover? Do we dare to see more clearly the process of the sacred journey itself?
Inside the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the Apostles**
For the pilgrimage traveler, the growth and the joy are in the journey itself. The more difficult the journey, and the more removed you are from your comfort zone, the more meaningful and growth-producing it is!
The frosting on the cake is when the destination is as glorious as this amazing Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. What closed heart would it be to stand before this great cathedral for the first time and not be awe struck?
Won't you step back in time and take a spiritual journey with us on the Way of St James to this grand cathedral, and open your heart to the possibility for transforming yourself along the way? Whatever your spiritual goal for deciding to make the arduous journey, your personal Camino de Santiago, you will not regret it! It will change you forever!
*Santiago.de.Compostela.Catedral.Noche”. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.
**Apóstoles del Pórtico de la Gloria” by pedronchi – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
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