Several years ago, Angie and I were having a meal with some intellectual Catholics, when the conversation turned to the topic of Fr. Gruner and those who worked with him. At that point, the conversation took on a distinctly mocking tone. Although, to my shame, I laughed along, (mea culpa!), I reflected to myself that I really did not know enough about the truth of Fr. Gruner's story to really comment. Then, too, it became clear to me from their words that neither did anyone else who was sat at that table. I began to ask myself: is this not the very definition of bigotry?
In the summer of 2010, I read a copy of Christopher Ferrara's, The Secret Still Hidden. In that work, Mr. Ferrara applies his lawyer's mind to the issues in such a way that he provides a most enlightening investigation. Indeed, I have never come across anyone who has yet been able to refute the evidence and conclusions that Mr. Ferrara comes to in that precisely researched and carefully argued text.
During the previous decade, I had already come around to slowly see that the Consecration of Russia had not been done according to the express wishes of Our Lady of Fatima. Mr. Ferrara's book backed up and took further the conclusions that I had come to. Around that time, I also got hold of and read a copy of Antonio Socci's, The Fourth Secret. This is also a good and thought-provoking book, but Mr. Ferrara's seems particularly rock solid in its court-room style analysis.
Several months later, I purchased and read a copy of John Vennari's helpful warning booklet, The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita - A Masonic Blueprint for the Subversion of the Catholic Church.
Around 2011, I began to occasionally dip into the on-line website of Catholic Family News. I admit, that I was cautious at first. Please understand: this was not due to any of the content of the site; but merely because of the stigma that had become attached to all things to do with Fr. Gruner.
I began to realize that there was nothing that Mr. John Vennari was saying there that I disagreed with. In fact, his articles consistently articulated the Catholic Faith by drawing on Magisterial documents and demonstrating how various present day activities, such as the various debacles in Assisi, were a direct contradiction of them. After about six months, I became a daily reader.
Partly because I have met so many orthodox, pro-life families in America who attribute their conversions to the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver, I had always had a slightly rosy conception of these events. When we first got married in 2002, Angie and I had also enjoyed watching some of EWTN's coverage of the World Youth Day from Toronto on our newly-installed satellite system.
However, the on-the-ground research carried out by John Vennari and Cornelia Ferreira for their book, World Youth Day - From Catholic to Counterchurch really opened our eyes to the ideology and serious abuses that were taking place and spreading through these events.
When Fr. Gruner died in April 2015, I thought it was high time that I found out some more about the man and the myths surrounding him. As up until then, I had merely encountered all the attacks against him, I thought it only fair to read his side of the story in the book, Fatima Priest. I have to say that, in light of my experiences of anti-Catholic persecution at Ushaw seminary in the late 1990's, that there was so much in his story that I could relate to. I began to see how easy it would have been for the enemies of Fr. Gruner - or more specifically the enemies of Fatima - to tarnish him with a bad reputation to keep people from accessing the full truth.
To those who scoff or harshly judge the man, I must ask: Do you really know all the facts; and have you done as much as he did to so selflessly spread and defend the Catholic Faith or the message of Fatima?
When it came to the disastrous synods of '14 and '15, Angie and I relied on Catholic Family News as one of the key sources for up-to-the-minute news and orthodox analysis of all that was going on in Rome. The nightly videos of John Vennari and Christopher Ferrara were especially appreciated. At the time, we e-mailed Mr. Vennari to express our appreciation and gratitude for the things that we had learned from him and from Mr. Ferrara.
Like so many Catholics around the world, we were saddened to hear last year that Mr. Vennari was suffering from cancer. Again, we were deeply moved when we heard that he was possibly close to death a few weeks ago.
At the same time, we were greatly inspired by his phone-call remarks to Michael Matt of the Remnant. Even though he thought at that time that he might only survive for a couple more days, John Vennari said to Michael Matt: ''Either we believe in Divine Providence or we don't. I believe in it, and I know that God has known for all eternity that I would be here in this hospital today, ready to die.''
Particularly inspirational were his words on keeping up the fight for the restoration of the True Catholic Faith. He said to Michael Matt: ''Please, keep it going. You must continue the fight for the Cause.''
A couple of days ago, the Remnant announced that John Vennari is still alive and reflected that, after all this time, that in itself is quite miraculous. The Vennari family had apparently also asked for Catholics to pray a novena to St. Philomena for him to be given the grace of a miraculous recovery.
We gladly reproduce that novena below and urge all of our readers to please pray for this good man of God.
Novena to St. Philomena
O great St. Philomena, glorious Virgin and Martyr, wonder-worker of our age, I return most fervent thanks to God for the miraculous gifts bestowed on thee, and beseech thee to impart to me a share in the graces and blessings of which thou hast been a channel to so many souls.
Through the heroic fortitude with which thou didst confront the fury of tyrants and brave the frowns of the mighty rather than swerve from thy allegiance to the King of Heaven, obtain for me purity of body and soul, purity of heart and desire, purity of thought and affection.
Through thy patience under multiplied sufferings, obtain for me a submissive acceptance of all the afflictions it may please God to send me and as thou didst miraculously escape unhurt from the waters of the Tiber, into which thou wert cast by order of thy persecutor, so may I pass through the waters of tribulation without detriment to my soul. In addition to these favours, obtain for me, O faithful spouse of Jesus, the particular intention I earnestly recommend to thee at this moment.
(Mention the request here).
O pure Virgin and holy Martyr, deign to cast a look of pity from Heaven on thy devoted servant, comfort me in affliction, assist me in danger, above all come to my aid in the hour of death.
Watch over the interests of the Church of God, pray for its exaltation and prosperity, the extension of the Faith, for the Sovereign Pontiff, for the clergy, for the perseverance of the just, the conversion of sinners, and the relief of the souls in Purgatory, especially those dear to me.
O great saint, whose triumph we celebrate on earth, intercede for me, that I may one day behold the crown of glory bestowed on thee in Heaven, and eternally bless Him Who so liberally rewards for all eternity the sufferings endured for His love during this short life. Amen.
St. Philomena, Powerful with God - Pray for us!