The Imitation of Mary, by Abbe Alexander de Rouville. No sooner had the incomparable Imitation of Christ appeared than the faithful began to spontaneously wish for an imitation of Our Lady, and finally, in 1768, a monk pulled together a little powerhouse of meditation on the different mysteries and circumstances of her life, from the Immaculate Conception to her Assumption into Heaven! Click here



When is mysticism valid and when does it stray towards the outer limits? Is herbalism part of the simplicity of Jesus, or does it tend elsewhere?

It's an interesting question. On the one hand, it's difficult to see Jesus approving of synthetic chemicals in all we eat (if God meant them to be in our food, He'd have put them there) -- and thus one can see where the Lord would prefer simpler peasant-like living (including organic products and raising our own food when we can, which largely precludes the need for artificial pesticides). Have you noticed how tall many young people suddenly are? It may be partly due to the bovine growth hormones in milk and meat, with unknown future implications. Natural is better. Natural is best.

But does this extend to medications? Can we solely rely on natural remedies? Can they have a nearly miraculous effect?

It's a pertinent question at a time when many are seeking natural protection against onslaughts of disease like the flu or cancer. Alternative medicine has gone mainstream, with many doctors embracing it. There are those who say that the great mystic Maria Esperanza once mentioned making sort of a tea from the hawthorn plant as a remedy for a future influenza epidemic -- something other alleged mystics have likewise mentioned.

Hawthorn -- known well to the health-food industry -- is mainly used for coronary problems (and only should be done with medical consultation -- especially with children; the same is true of any other remedy). Did Maria really say that, or was it from mystic Marie-Julie Jahenny, who, long before, on August 5, 1880, said:

"There will be a grave illness which human science will not be able to alleviate. This illness will attack firstly the heart, then the spirit, and at the same time, the tongue. It will be horrible. The heat accompanying it will be a devouring fire insupportable and so intense that the members of the body affected will be red -- an unendurable fiery red. At the end of seven days this disease, sown like a seed in the field (incubation period) will spread everywhere rapidly and make great progress. This disease will produce a continual vomiting and nausea. If the remedy is taken too late, the part of the body affected will become black and in the black there will be seen a sort of pale, yellow streak. My children, here is the only remedy which could save you. You are familiar with the hawthorn which grows practically in all hedges. The leaves of the hawthorn, not the wood, can arrest the progress of this disease."

In the 1990s, an alleged California locutionist repeated it.

Esperanza had once told an ill boy to take hot baths and drink drops of lemon in a glass of water to cleanse internally. She also said she was cured herself of a childhood illness at least in part by eating grapes.

When possible, a natural means is always the preferred course. Other holy figures have likewise recommended natural medications. But one must be cautious for two key reasons: occultists long have used herbs for potions (although usually to influence or hex), and in some cases regular medications can save lives that might be lost if only natural remedies are solely relied upon. Herbals are medications with good and bad side effects, warns Bruce Silverglade of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Should we shirk regular medications?

It is a question that often arises in cases of cancer, where the treatment can sometimes be worse than letting matters alone or seeking a more natural approach. In other cases, medicine, however harsh, does rid the body of malignancies. In either case, prayer is crucial, and bringing medals of the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, St. Padre Pio, and holy figures like Brother Andre of Montreal to the doctor's office doesn't hurt -- nor do prayers for help from souls like Maria Esperanza (who said that many cures would be effected if science embraced spirituality).

Make use of that time in the waiting room. Pray. The answers are too individualistic for a single prescription, and lead us to what we must always recall: that in our own situations, there is only One Who knows all the details, all the complexities, in our bodies, and that's the Holy Spirit, Who should be invoked extensively before we make any decision.

[see also:  Alternative herbs and remedies growing rapidly]

[resources: Foods Jesus Ate, Fit for Life, healing books]

[The alleged recipes: "I am going to give you a remedy for the illness of infants (and small children)," one person who met her reports that Esperanza said before dying in 2005. "You must take the leaves from the hawthorn plant and steep them into a tea for eight minutes. Then administer the tea orally to the infant (or child) 1/4 cup at a time, continually throughout the day and night, until the ravages of the illness subside. The symptoms will be flu-like, with a high fever, purple-blackened color to the lips, jerking and flailing like convulsions." According to this person, the remedy was given for the times we are living. Esperanza told her that this plague would take many babies and children and there will be no ordinary remedy or medicine that will work, while Marie-Julie Jahenny said: "You will gather the leaves, not the wood. Even dry, they will keep their efficacy. You will put them into boiling water and leave them there for 14 minutes, covering the receptacle so that the steam remains therein. At the onset of this disease, one must use this remedy three times a day." In another ecstasy on 24th April 1880, there was mention by Jahenny of "a plague which would affect people as well as animals (cattle). This calamity will spread in more northerly parts. Crops will also be affected."]

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