The Grace of Betania
A community, serving the United Kingdom, to promote the reconciliation of the human family in Christ through the Heart of Mary.
Betania XXI, based in Aberdeen, Scotland is one of twenty other Betania communities around the world. Betania XXI, officially born in the United Kingdom, on 25th March 2021, is formed by people specially drawn together in faith by their devotion to Our Lady under the title “Mary, Virgin and Mother Reconciler of all People and Nations” and her call to conversion and deepening of faith, enkindling sacramental and family life. This concrete way of living, or School of Spirituality, was founded by Servant of God Maria Esperanza de Bianchinni, whose Cause of Beatification has been placed into the hands of Pope Francis directly by Cardinal Baltazar Porras, of Venezuela.
The Virgin Mary has appeared at different time and places in the world. This specific devotion takes us to her apparitions in Finca Betania, a sugarcane farm in Venezuela, where our Lady identified herself under this title. The apparition in Finca Betania is the 4th and the last apparition of the 20th century approved by the Catholic Church.
The first apparition took place on 25th March 1976, in that occasion only Mrs. Maria Esperanza Medrano de Bianchini saw the Virgin Mary, although many of the people present saw some luminous phenomena in the sun. Many years later, again in the feast of the Annunciation, on Sunday 25th March 1984, Our Lady make herself visible to everyone present in Finca Betania. On that day, there were seven apparitions in total, between 3pm until around 6pm, each apparition lasting 5 to 10 minutes, except for the last, when she appeared for approximately half an hour. The witnesses were a very diverse group: engineers, physicians, psychologist, psychiatrist, an army general, lawyers, businessmen, housewives, university students and children.
At the time of the public apparition the local Bishop Pio Bello Ricardo, who was highly discipline with great personal integrity, ran a systematic analysis of the events. He consulted with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, and at the time was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Cardinal Ratzinger gave Bishop Pio Bello clear guidelines and a printed manual from the Congregation for conducting the canonical process. The Bishop followed it to the letter. Pope John Paul II was kept abreast of the developments in Betania as well. After three years and eight months investigating and discerning the events of Betania he issued on 21st of November 1987, on the Feast of the Presentation of Mary, a Pastoral Letter that reads: “… I DECLARE THAT IN MY JUDGMENT THESE APPARITIONS ARE AUTHENTIC AND OF SUPERNATURAL CHARACTER. THEREFORE, I APPROVE OFFICIALLY THAT THE PLACE WHERE THE APPARITIONS HAVE TAKEN PLACE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS SACRED, AND THAT IT BE KEPT AS A SITE FOR PILGRIMAGES, AS A PLACE FOR PRAYER, REFLECTION AND WORSHIP, WHERE ALL LITURGICAL ACTS CAN BE CELEBRATED…”
Fr. Timothy Byerley, vice-postulator for the cause of beatification of Mrs. Maria Esperanza, considers that the characteristics of the apparition, which was to a large number of people over a lengthy period of time, is an outstanding moment in the history of the Church. He asserts that “this flash of divine intervention transformed the sugarcane farm into an international focal point of reconciliation and Marian spirituality.”
In Finca Betania, Mary, Virgin and Mother, Reconciler of Peoples and Nations announced a prophetic appeal for fraternal unity, for brotherly unity, built upon divine love. She has based her appeal upon a new impulse of hope that she offers at the Venezuelan Sanctuary. Betania is therefore a catalyst to awaken peoples and nations to the gift and urgency of reconciliation. Her invitation to embrace the message and enjoy the spiritual riches of Betania is Universal, as Our lady herself expressed in one of her messages to the Servant of God:
“My Jesus gave His life for all as the Saviour of the world, the Redeemer of the World. Take refuge in my motherly Heart. Come here! I invite you here, my little ones. All of you…It doesn’t matter where you are from; everyone can come to me, all of you are my children. I love all of you. I come to search for you, the poor, the crippled. I come to bring bread to you, I come to call you so that you may know that this mother will accompany you until you achieve your greatest desire in this earthly existence. And now, all of you who are feeling me in your hearts, come here, my children, to my motherly lap, take refuge in my heart. My heart I gave to you; my heart I give to you, and my heart I will continue to give to you always because I am your Mother. I am the Mother of Reconciliation; I am the Reconciler of Nations, reconciliation among men.”
Currently, thanks to the tireless apostolic work and dedication of Servant of God Maria Esperanza, who devoted herself to a deep and tireless apostolic work, as the Missionary of Reconciliation, spent great time and effort in the spiritual formation of the souls entrusted to her. What started back in Venezuela as a small group, has grown over these 44 years into 21 BETANIA COMMUNITIES around the World, being our community, based in Aberdeen, the youngest one of all, Betania XXI. We are members of the Public Association of the Faithful called “Betania Spirituality Movement”, erected by His Excellency Cardinal Baltazar Porras, member of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life in the Vatican.
Servant of God Maria Esperanza
To grasp the “Grace of Betania” we also need to understand its missionary objective and what better answer that in the words of our foundress, Servant of God Maria Esperanza:
“This is the mission: the reconciliation of all peoples and nations. It is hard; I know it is tough, very difficult but the Lord knows what he is doing and why he is doing this. And if he has allowed Our Lady to come -and she has- it is because it is the time of the awakening of the consciences of all men on earth”
Fr Timothy Byerley, in his book “Maria Esperanza and the Grace of Betania, God’s plan for healing the family and the society in the third millennium” defined it in a very succinct way:
“THE MISSIONARY OBJECTIVE OF BETANIA IS TO ACHIVE THE UNITY OF THE HUMAN FAMILY IN CHRIST THROUGH THE INTERCESSION OF THE VIRGIN MARY, RECONCILER OF ALL PEOPLES AND NATIONS”
There is not denying that this missionary objective is an exalted aspiration, but it is nevertheless the goal of Betania. The unique Charism that was born in Betania continues to mature in service to God and his Church.
The Servant of God, well aware of holiness as the essential principle of Christian life, handed on to us, her disciples a simple four -fold method for disposing oneself to acquire virtue and pursue unity with God. She called this method “the four Pillars of the Spiritual Life”. These are: Prayer, meditation, penance and the Eucharist. According to the Servant of God these four essential exercises are the practical means of growing in holiness and becoming an instrument of apostolic mission. These four pillars express the core elements of the spiritual life as it is lived in Betania.
This Charism born in Betania is distinguished by its emphasis on six Gospel values. It is a Charism of communion for our times. The essential features that define the unique gift of Betania are HOPE, JOY, HUMILITY, BALANCE, FAMILY LIFE, and EVANGELIZATION.
Saint John Paul II expressed in his exhortation RECONCILIATION and PENANCE, that the Church “carries on the proclamation of reconciliation which Christ caused to echo through the village of Galilee and all Palestine, inviting all humanity to be converted and to believe the Good News”, so framed into this mission we can understand how Betania provides a powerful new impulse of grace to the Church. The Virgin’s visit to Betania has clarified, deepened, and urgently stressed this innermost core of the gospel for our times.
Servant of God Maria Esperanza with Pope St John Paul II.
We can affirm, together with our brothers and sisters, that the invitation of the Virgin in Betania is absolutely irresistible. Touched by this message we have discovered a new divine potency in our lives and have been moved to embrace the mandate of reconciliation. In virtue of our interior renewal, we have become missionaries of reconciliation. We want to say with St Paul, as read in the 2nd Letter to the Corinthians 5:20 “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
Prayer to Mary Reconciler of All Peoples
Holy Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, we thank you for visiting our land as a kind Mother who looks after her children. You have come to a secularized and distrustful world to renew our faith and the experience of supernatural realities. You have come to a sick world to heal our bodies and souls. You have come to our world invaded by sin to call us to conversion. You have come to our world divided by hatred, injustice, and violence to invite us to reconciliation and to brotherly love.
When you visited your cousin Elizabeth, she was filled with the Holy Spirit: may your coming make the Holy Spirit pour the abundance of his gifts over us. You found your son in the Temple after three days of tortuous search: may your coming lead us to Jesus Christ and bring us together with him forever.
Holy Mary, Virgin and Mother Reconciler of All Peoples, pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen
By Alexandra Martin De Carias, Representative of Betania XXI, UK.
Alexandra, along with her husband Jose and daughter Maria oversee Betania UK and volunteer for Radio Maria England, but hope to set up a Scottish branch soon. They attend the Cathedral in Aberdeen.
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This week’s Saints
1st May: St Asaph
3rd May: St Fumac
Find out about them on our website www.maryswell.net.