Joan Carroll Cruz was an author and "conservative" member of the Vatican II sect. Most of what she wrote is reverent and edifying. She writes about popular devotional topics, typically saints, relics, Eucharistic miracles and the like. She passed in 2012 at the age of 81. I have a copy of her popular little booklet entitled Prayers and Heavenly Promises (compiled from approved sources). The "approval" of some promises comes from the Vatican II sect, which is no approval at all. Traditionalists must be careful when it comes to belief in promises attached to some prayer or devotion. There is a three-fold danger: (1) promises which claim approval and are not, (2) promises which have been condemned or censured, and (3) misunderstandings of authentic promises which can lead to a loss of Faith, or even jeopardize one's soul. This post will examine true and false promises from Heaven as well as the Church's teaching on interpreting such promises.
Church Teaching on Devotions
On May 26, 1937, The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office published the following decree with full approval of His Holiness Pope Pius XI:
"Long ago the Sacred Council of Trent, after declaring that the worship of the saints and the use of their images to obtain favors from God is legitimate, solemnly warned the Bishops that, if they found that any abuses were creeping in or had crept into these holy and salutary practices, they must take great care to eradicate them, so that no images that are theologically false and might be an occasion of dangerous error to the unlearned be set up; that all superstition in the invocation of saints and in the use of sacred images be removed; that all profit seeking be eliminated; and finally that nothing inordinate, nothing distorted or hasty, nothing profane, nothing unworthy be observed.
Unfortunately, however, so many grave warnings and injunctions of the Supreme ecclesiastical Authority have thus far failed to obtain full obedience. In fact, as everyone knows, these new forms of worship and devotion, often enough ridiculous, usually useless imitations or corruptions of similar ones which are already legitimately established, are in many places, especially in these recent days, being daily multiplied and propagated among the faithful, giving occasion to great astonishment and to bitter aspersion on the part of non-Catholics.
Again and again therefore, this Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, which is charged with the guardianship of the purity and integrity of faith and morals, by express mandate of His Holiness, by Divine Providence Pope, Pius XI, earnestly appeals to the zeal and pastoral solicitude of the Bishops who have the care of souls throughout the Catholic world, and charges them in conscience to urge at last the strictest observance of the aforesaid admonitions and injunctions, by firmly abolishing abuses which have already arisen, and taking the most diligent precautions lest any new ones come into vogue.
Approved and confirmed in every respect, and ordered to be published, by His Holiness, in the audience of May 20, 1937. Given at Rome, from the Palace of the Holy Office, May 26, 1937."
One must also keep in mind what the Church dogmatically teaches regarding salvation. In the Decree on Justification, The Council of Trent teaches:
"No one, moreover, so long as he is in this mortal life, ought so far to presume as regards the secret mystery of divine predestination, as to determine for certain that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; as if it were true, that he that is justified, either cannot sin any more, or, if he do sin, that he ought to promise himself an assured repentance; for except by special revelation, it cannot be known whom God hath chosen unto Himself."
"So also as regards the gift of perseverance, of which it is written, He that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved: which gift cannot be derived from any other but Him, who is able to establish him who standeth that he stand perseveringly, and to restore him who falleth: let no one herein promise himself any thing as certain with an absolute certainty; though all ought to place and repose a most firm hope in God's help."
"For even as no pious person ought to doubt of the mercy of God, of the merit of Christ, and of the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, even so each one, when he regards himself, and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension touching his own grace; seeing that no one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God."
From Trent we learn that it is of Faith that: (1) no one can know for certain he will be saved except by special revelation from God, such as in the case of the Good Thief. "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation." (See Philippians 2: 12); (2) The greatest gift of Final Perseverance comes from God and we should pray and do good works for it unceasingly. This gift cannot be merited so as God "must save us," however, if you continue with prayer and good works until your last breath, you can place firm hope that God will save you. (3) No one can have absolute certainty they are in the state of grace at any given moment. Only moral certainty is possible.
Hence, any promise which gives you a "guarantee of salvation" for saying certain prayers, doing certain pious acts cannot be true. For God can neither deceive nor be deceived. He cannot contradict the dogmatic teachings of His One True Church.
Unapproved and Censured Promises
The Two Divine Promises. In Mrs. Cruz' booklet, on pg. 12. Briefly stated, the "Two Divine Promises" ensure the salvation of any priest (and one person selected by that priest) who offers Mass for 30 consecutive days and prays the Stations of the Cross daily during that time. In addition, anyone who worthily receives Holy Communion for 30 consecutive days and prays one Pater and one Ave for the welfare of the Catholic Church will be saved along with one other person of his choosing. This promise was allegedly made to a"Polish soul" by Our Lord. Who could "approve" something directly opposed to divine and Catholic Faith? To my knowledge, these promises were never approved (at least prior to Vatican II).
The Magnificent Promises. St. Bridget of Sweden allegedly received these fifteen (15) promises from Christ for any person who recites the fifteen (15) prayers in honor of the (alleged) 5,480 blows He received during His Holy Passion. The prayers are not heretical, and are edifying, but the promises stand censured. The second promise purports to have "Fifteen souls of his (the person who says the prayers) lineage... confirmed and preserved in grace." This means assurance of salvation for him and fifteen (15) people in his lineage. In 1954 the Holy Office decreed:
"In certain places a booklet has appeared with the title 'The Secret of Happiness: Fifteen Prayers Revealed by Our Lord to Saint Brigid in the Church of Saint Paul in Rome,' published in various languages at Nice (and elsewhere).Since it is asserted in this booklet that certain promises were made by God to Saint Brigid, and it is by no means certain that these promises were of supernatural origin, Ordinaries of places [bishops of dioceses] must avoid giving permission to publish or to reprint works or writings which contain the aforesaid promises. Given at Rome, from the Holy Office, 28 January, 1954"
Prayer of St. Gertrude, Drops of Blood Prayer, Shoulder Wound Prayer. These three prayers were ascribed as releasing a certain number of souls from Purgatory whenever recited. It was alleged that 1,000 souls would be released from Purgatory each time the St. Gertrude Prayer was recited. On May 26, 1898, the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences and Holy Relics under Pope Leo XIII decreed, "The leaflets and booklets which promise the faithful that they will free one or more souls from Purgatory by the recitation of some prayer or another are to be rejected : and the Indulgences which are wont to be attached to the said promise are to be held as apocryphal."
Divine Mercy. Now celebrated in the Vatican II sect with much fanfare the Sunday after Easter (Low Sunday on the Traditionalist Calendar), the works of "St." Faustina Kowalska were placed on the Index of Prohibited Books by His Holiness Pope Pius XII. The Holy Office in 1959, under Cardinal Ottaviani, (Roncalli was only "pope" a very short time, and the Cardinals of the Congregation all enjoyed true jurisdiction) forbade "images and writings that promote devotion to Divine Mercy in the forms proposed by Sister Faustina." The image is a pallid imitation of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the devotion is to be recited on the Rosary--supplanting the greatest devotion in the Church! There is no evidence of supernatural character, but all was "rehabilitated" under John Paul the Great Apostate.
Don't Some True Devotions Promise Salvation?
Some people mistakenly think that true devotions and promises such as the Nine First Fridays in honor of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Five First Saturdays in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Brown Scapular promise us salvation. This is simply false. The 12th Promise of those devoted to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus states, "I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment." How is this different from the Two Divine Promises, or the other unapproved promises?
First, the supernatural origin is beyond doubt. Second, no one can have absolute certainty they carried out the request with the correct disposition--remember that no one can know if they are in the state of grace, so you have only moral certainty. Third, to persevere in the love of Christ's Heart so long is thereby engaging in prayers and works to obtain salvation. Fourth, anyone who performs the Nine First Fridays with the intention that they will sin with impunity thereafter, or not need to worry about getting to Heaven, does not have the proper disposition to gain the promise in the first place! Likewise, the scapular promise, "Whosoever dies clothed in this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire" was always understood by the Church as meaning Mary will help to salvation those devoted to her and who work out their salvation battling the devil, the flesh and the world. It is not a license to wear the Scapular, live like a heathen committing mortal sins, and you can die entering Heaven because you're wearing a Scapular.
Avoid any new devotions and the promises connected to them. We have no one to authorize anything in this time of near universal apostasy. Remain true to those devotions propagated time and again by Holy Mother Church, and remember that the promises are not guarantees. They can help us get to Heaven, but they are not "golden tickets" nor a free pass to sin. Be careful, too, that prayers that promise to grant you some favor are always conditioned on what God knows is best for us. He will not grant something we want if He knows it will end up damning us. People often forget that and, when some petition is not granted, they lose faith.
God has given us some wonderful promises. However, in order to obtain them, we must promise to always work out our salvation in fear and trembling, and remember that God will not grant anything He knows will hurt us.