God works in ways that baffle the minds of "modern" men who are so impressed with "progress" and "change" and "innovation" and "novelty." He chooses the lowly and those who count for nothing to show forth His bountiful mercy to His ungrateful creatures, providing them with sacramental helps and, at times, admonitions to them to reform their lives. He reaches out to us time and time again to call us back to Him through His true Church, beckoning us to trust Him more, to make better and more fervent use of the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, to be more devoted to Him by offering up our prayers and sacrifices and daily efforts to Him through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
"Modern" men, steeped in rationalism, seek to disparage the fact that God has indeed spoken to genuine mystics and chosen souls by means of private revelations and apparitions. This is why the then Joseph "Cardinal" Ratzinger in the year 2000 disparaged the reality of the apparitions of Our Lady, the very Mother of God herself, to Saint Bernadette Soubirous in the Grotto of Massabielle near Lourdes, France, in 1858 and to Jacinta and Francisco Marto and Lucia dos Santos in the Cova da Iria near Fatima, Portugal, fifty-nine years later, that is, in 1917:
Before undertaking an interpretation of the message of Fatima, we must still attempt briefly to offer some clarification of their anthropological (psychological) character. In this field, theological anthropology distinguishes three forms of perception or “vision”: vision with the senses, and hence exterior bodily perception, interior perception, and spiritual vision (visio sensibilis - imaginativa - intellectualis). It is clear that in the visions of Lourdes, Fatima and other places it is not a question of normal exterior perception of the senses: the images and forms which are seen are not located spatially, as is the case for example with a tree or a house. This is perfectly obvious, for instance, as regards the vision of hell (described in the first part of the Fatima “secret”) or even the vision described in the third part of the “secret”. But the same can be very easily shown with regard to other visions, especially since not everybody present saw them, but only the “visionaries”. It is also clear that it is not a matter of a “vision” in the mind, without images, as occurs at the higher levels of mysticism. Therefore we are dealing with the middle category, interior perception. For the visionary, this perception certainly has the force of a presence, equivalent for that person to an external manifestation to the senses.
Interior vision does not mean fantasy, which would be no more than an expression of the subjective imagination. The person is led beyond pure exteriority and is touched by deeper dimensions of reality, which become visible to him. Perhaps this explains why children tend to be the ones to receive these apparitions: their souls are as yet little disturbed, their interior powers of perception are still not impaired. “On the lips of children and of babes you have found praise”, replies Jesus with a phrase of Psalm 8 (v. 3) to the criticism of the High Priests and elders, who had judged the children's cries of “hosanna” inappropriate (cf. Mt 21:16).
“Interior vision” is not fantasy but, as we have said, a true and valid means of verification. But it also has its limitations. Even in exterior vision the subjective element is always present. We do not see the pure object, but it comes to us through the filter of our senses, which carry out a work of translation. This is still more evident in the case of interior vision, especially when it involves realities which in themselves transcend our horizon. The subject, the visionary, is still more powerfully involved. He sees insofar as he is able, in the modes of representation and consciousness available to him. In the case of interior vision, the process of translation is even more extensive than in exterior vision, for the subject shares in an essential way in the formation of the image of what appears. He can arrive at the image only within the bounds of his capacities and possibilities. Such visions therefore are never simple “photographs” of the other world, but are influenced by the potentialities and limitations of the perceiving subject. (Theological Commentary on the Fatima Message.)
As I noted in May of 2010 as the then conciliar "pontiff," Ratzinger/Benedict visited Fatima, Portugal:
In other words, just as Modernists contend that Faith itself is a matter of interior consciousness that comes from within so do they believe that seers such as Saint Bernadette Soubirous and Jacinta and Francisco Marto and Lucia dos Santos have had real but necessarily "subjective" experiences that have no actual visible, spatial reality with the eyes of the body.
It is important to examine the connection between the Theological Commentary on the Fatima Message of ten years ago and the "homily" given on theEsplanade of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima yesterday [May 14, 2010].
First, Ratzinger/Benedict made the point yesterday that the three shepherd children of Fatima were able to "see" Our Lady because they had "these innocent and profound mystical confidences," meaning that the children had to have pure, innocent souls to see interiorly what they thought they had seen with their eyes. This corresponds exactly to what he wrote ten years ago, that "this explains why children tend to be the ones to receive these apparitions: their souls are as yet little disturbed, their interior powers of perception are still not impaired."
My friends, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI does not believe that Our Lady physically appeared before the physical eyes of Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia. He has dismissed the Fatima apparitions as an "interior vision" that are designed to move us closer to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and have nothing at all to do with apostasy in the ranks of those who believe themselves to be Catholics or, Heaven forfend, the consecration of Russia to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart by a true pope with all of the world's bishops.
Ratzinger/Benedict does not believe triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary that he referred to gratuitously yesterday has nothing at all to do with the consecration of Russia or the conversion of souls to the true Faith, Catholicism. Why did Ratzinger/Benedict make reference to that triumph, therefore? Because it makes life easier for those in the Motu communities and for Bishop Fellay of the Society of Saint Pius X as they bask in the false reassurance that their false "pontiff" is a partisan of the Fatima Message. One cannot believe in a request of a message that conflicts with good relations with those in Russia, whether it be the Communists of yore (and the present day, of course) or the Orthodox at the present time.
If what happened at Fatima was but a mere "interior vision," then why did each of the children, when being examined by ecclesiastical authorities, give identical testimony as to what they saw with the physical eyes of their bodies? Each had the identical vision? Logic has never been Ratzinger/Benedict's long suit as his rejection of Thomism (both Thomistic Philosophy and Thomistic Theology) has opened up to grow from young adulthood into an old man who has lived in a world of contradiction, paradox and ambiguity which makes it almost impossible for to him to see the fallacies in what he presents as "explanations" of the Faith and the events associated with It.
Second, Ratzinger/Benedict said yesterday [May 14, 2010] that God "has the power to come to us, particularly through our inner senses, so that the soul can receive the gentle touch of a reality which is beyond the senses and which enables us to reach what is not accessible or visible to the senses." This corresponds with his statement of fourteen years ago:
It is clear that in the visions of Lourdes, Fatima and other places it is not a question of normal exterior perception of the senses: the images and forms which are seen are not located spatially, as is the case for example with a tree or a house. This is perfectly obvious, for instance, as regards the vision of hell (described in the first part of the Fatima “secret”) or even the vision described in the third part of the “secret”. . . .
It means rather that the soul is touched by something real, even if beyond the senses. It is rendered capable of seeing that which is beyond the senses, that which cannot be seen—seeing by means of the “interior senses”. It involves true “objects”, which touch the soul, even if these “objects” do not belong to our habitual sensory world. This is why there is a need for an interior vigilance of the heart, which is usually precluded by the intense pressure of external reality and of the images and thoughts which fill the soul. (Theological Commentary on the Fatima Message.)
Why is it "perfectly obvious" that the images and forms seen, to cite the false "pope's own example, by the fourteen year-old Bernadette Soubirous and Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia "are not located spatially"?
Our Lady did not actually part the earth and show Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia a vision of Hell that they saw with their own eyes? This was merely an "interior" vision vision of theirs that did not really happen in time and space?
The the buds on holm oak tree over which Our Lady hovered as she physically appeared to Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia did not change their appearance as seen by eyewitnesses who came to watch them? They were all suffering from mass delusion when they saw the following things? (On Full Display: The Modernist Mind.)
Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI does not believe in the actual, physical reality of apparitions. When was the last time you heard him make reference to the miraculous conversion of the Catholic-hating Jew named Alphonse Ratisbonne Our Lady appeared to him as in the same image as she appeared to Saint Catherine Laboure of the Daughters of Charity in the convent at Rue du Bac in Paris, France, on November 27, 1830, one hundred eighty years ago. That image, of course, is the one that Our Lady instructed Saint Catherine to have the Miraculous Medal patterned after, demonstrating that he is indeed conceived without stain all of sin and is the Mediatrix of All Graces.
Our Lady sought to convert a Jewish man by actually appearing to him. Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI makes no reference to this as he would tell us that Alphonse Ratisbonne merely had an "interior vision" that was unique to the "interior" process of conversion that was taking place within him without his knowing that it was happening. There is only one slight problem with such a Modernist explanation: it is contrary to the truth.
Perhaps Father Ratisbonne himself can explain the truth to us, aided by an introduction provided by the great foe of all forms of naturalism as he sought to build up the City of Mary Immaculate and was thus a fervent client of the Miraculous Medal a sign of total Marian consecration, Father Maximilian Kolbe, M. I., about his conversion:
Once again it happened on a train, on April 6, 1924. To tell the truth, that is a place where one can easily meet persons with the most varied ideas. On the train I was relating the story of Ratisbonne's conversion, when a gentleman--one of those who are always ready to pronounce without proofs--observed ironically, "It's so nice to hear you tell all this, Father!" I replied that I could show him documentary proofs of the story, because just some days before I had received from Rome a collection of these, printed in 1892.
Therefore I wish to publish some extracts from these documents. To begin with, I shall give you same passages of a letter written by Ratisbonne himself to a parish priest, the Director of an Archconfraternity founded to pray for the conversion of sinners.
(After describing his family background, his wealth, his engagement and the trip he made to the Orient before the marriage--during which he stopped in Rome, despite the aversion he felt for Catholic Rome--Ratisbonne described the efforts of Baron de Bussieres, a zealous Catholic convert from Protestantism, to bring him into the Church. This nettled Ratisbonne. here is how he relates the visit he paid to Baron de Bussieres.)
"On entering M. de Bussieres' house I met with a first disappointment, because the maid, instead of simply taking my visiting card, immediately brought me into the parlor. As far as I could, I tried to dissimulate my ennui behind a feigned smile, and I sat down next to Baroness de Bussieres, near whom her two little daughters were playing. The conversation began with the usual insignificant topics, but soon I was displaying the passionate dislike with which I described the impressions I had received in Rome. In a condescending sort of way I considered Baron de Bussieres a devout person. Consequently, because this was a favorable opportunity for me, I did not refrain from some rather cutting remarks about the situation of the Jews in Rome, which relieved my feelings somewhat. However, it was these complaints of mine that brought the conversation around to religion. He spoke to me of the greatness of Catholicism. But I answered sarcastically with objections that I myself had read or that I had heard from others. However, I restrained my impious assertions somewhat, so as not to shock the faith of the little girls playing near us. Finally M. de Bussieres said to me: 'Well, inasmuch as you condemn all prejudices and profess such liberal principles, and because yours is such an enlightened and advanced mind, would you be brave enough to submit yourself to a harmless experiment?'
"'To carry about with you an object that I will give you. Here, take this image of the most Blessed Virgin. That sounds ridiculous to you, doesn't it? However, I consider it very effective.'
"I must admit that I had never expected such a proposition. At first I felt like bursting out laughing and shrugging my shoulders. But then I thought, 'What a splendid story this scene will make in the account of my trip!' So I accepted the medal which was placed around my neck. When I rested on my breast I laughed aloud and said, 'Well, well! Now I am a Catholic! . . . Apostolic . . . and Roman!'
"M. de Bussieres was genially triumphant over the victory he had won, but wanting to exploit it to the full, he said, '"Now, to complete the test, you must recite, morning and evening, the Memorare, a very short, but very efficacious prayer to the most Blessed Virgin, composed by St. Bernard.'
"But what on earth is this Memorare?" I exclaimed. Let's have done with all this mummery!
"At that moment I felt a great surge of vexation. The name of St. Bernard made me remember my brother, who had written the life of this saint. I had never been willing to take the book in my hands. But his souvenir awakened my rage against proselytism, against the Jesuits and against those whom I called hypocrites and apostates.
"So I begged M. de Bussieres to let it go at that, and making a joke of the affair, I told him I was sorry that I could not offer him even a single Hebrew prayer in return and that consequently I would have to remain in his debt. The fact was that I did not know any prayers at all. However, my adversary insisted that if I refused to say this short prayer, the whole test would fail, and thus I would prove that I was only an obstinate unbeliever. Since I attached no importance whatever to the matter I finally promised to recite the prayer. He went to get a copy of it right way and asked me to write it out. I agreed, but on the condition that he would give me the original and keep my handwritten copy. What I wanted to do in fact was to add to my notebook the new 'pledge of justice.'
So we finally came to an agreement. At the end we parted, and I spent the rest of the evening at the theater, forgetting all about the medal and the prayer. When I returned to my lodgings, however, I found a visiting card from M. de Bussieres, who had come to return my visit. He invited me to stop at his house again before leaving Rome. since I had to give the prayer back to him, after packing my valises in view of my departure the next day, I sat down and copied the prayer. It ran: 'Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known hat anyone who fled to thy patronage, sought thy aid, or implored thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother; to thee I come, before I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O mother of the Incarnate Word, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.'
"I wrote out the words of St. Bernard without paying any attention to them. It was late; I was tired and was about to fall asleep standing up.
"Next day, January 16th, I got everything ready for my departure. But as I went about I found myself constantly repeating the words of that prayer. My God, how had they taken such possession of my imagination?
(Ratisbonne goes on to relate how M. de Bussieres persuaded him to delay leaving so as to have a chance to see the Pope, Gregory XVI. In the meantime he brought his guest to visit some of the Christian antiquities, which gave him a chance ot discuss religious topics.)
"Everything our eyes beheld--monuments, paintings, the local customs--became topics of conversation. All this led on to various religious questions. M. de Bussieres brought them up so simply and spoke of them so enthusiastically that sometimes in the depths of my heart I thought 'If anything can turn a man aside from religion, it is certainly the persistence some people show in trying to convert him!' My natural irreverence led me to make fun even of most serious things. To my barbed remarks I added an infernal fire of blasphemies, which I no longer have the courage even to think of today. In spite of all this, however, M. de Bussieres, while expressing his disappointment, remained indulgent and calm. Once he even went so far as to say, 'In spite of your irritation, I am sure that sooner or later you will become a Catholic, because deep in your nature there resides a naturally straightforward judgment, and this tells me that you will let God enlighten you, even if he has to send an angel from heaven to do it.'
"All right," I replied jokingly, "but let it be when I am in a good mood; otherwise, the thing might off badly.
"As our carriage was passing near the Scala Santa, M. de Bussieres stood up and doffed his hat, exclaimed, 'Hail, O sacred stairway! Here is a sinner who will mount you on his knees some day!'
"I cannot express what I felt at the idea of paying homage to a stairway! I laughed heartily, as at something entirely unreasonable. Later, as we were passing by the lovely villas and gardens that lined the sides of Nero's aqueduct, I too raised my voice, and using the same words as he, I exclaimed, 'Hail, ye truly divine marvels! Before you one should bow his head and not before a staircase of whatever kind!'
(Ratisbonne continues with the story of his meeting with some Protestant friends on January 20th, in a cafe where they were reading the papers.)
"As I left the cafe, I meet M. de Bussieres' carriage, and he invited me for a ride. As it was a beautiful day, I willingly accepted. When we got to the church of Saint' Andrea delle Fratte, M. de Bussieres excused himself for a moment, because he had an errand to run. He asked me to wait for him in the vehicle; but instead I preferred to get down and visit the church. Within they were preparing a catafalque for a funeral, so I asked the Baron, 'Whose funeral is it?'
"'The Count de Laferronays',' he replied, 'a good friend of mine who died suddenly. That is why you may have found me rather glum these last couple of days.'
"I did not know the count; had never seen him in fact. So the news did not make any special impression on me, beyond that produced by the information about a sudden death. M. de Bussieres left because he had to see about preparing the place where the family of the deceased would sit. 'Excuse me me for a few minutes,' he said, as he went into the monastery. 'I shall be back shortly.'
(On February 18th and 19th, in the deposition he made during the investigative process set up to make clear the circumstances of his conversion. Ratisbonne stated the following among other things.)
"When I traversed the church, I arrived at the spot where they were getting ready for the funeral. Suddenly I felt interiorly disturbed, and saw in front of me something like a veil. It seemed to me that the entire church had been swallowed up in shadow, except one chapel. It was as thought all the light was concentrated in that single place. I looked over towards this chapel whence so much light shone and above the altar I saw a living figure standing, tall, majestic, beautiful and full of mercy. It was the most Holy Virgin Mary, resembling her figure on the Miraculous Medal of the Immaculate. At this sight I fell on my knees right where I stood; several times I attempted to lift my eyes towards the Most Blessed Virgin, but respect and the blinding light forced me to lower my gaze; this, however, did not prevent me from seeing the luminosity of the apparition. I fixed my glance on her hands, and in them I could read the expression of mercy and pardon. In the presence of the most Blessed Virgin, even though she did not speak a word to me, I understood the frightful situation I was in, the heinousness of sin, the beauty of the Catholic religion . . . in a word, I understood everything.
"When he returned, M. de Bussieres found me kneeling, my head resting on the railing of the chapel where the most Blessed Virgin had appeared, and bathed in tears. I do not understand how I managed to get to the railing, because I had fallen to my knees on the other side of the nave, and the catafalque stood between me and the chapel. I must add that the feeling that accompanied my weeping was one of gratitude towards the Blessed Virgin and of pity for my family, buried in the darkness of Judaism, for heretics and for sinners. M. de Bussieres raised me up and, still weeping, I told him, 'Oh, that person must have prayed very much for me,' thinking of the deceased Count de Laferronays. [Father Kolbe note: "M. de Bussieres had in fact recommended Ratisbonne to the prayers of M. de Laferronays."]
"He asked me several questions, but I could not answer, so deeply was I moved. So he took me by the hand, led me out of the church to the carriage and helped me to get in. Then he asked me where I wanted to go.
"Take me wherever you like," I said, "after what I have seen, I will do anything you want."
"'But what did you see?' he asked me.
"I cannot tell you; but please bring me to a confessor, and I will tell him everything on my knees."
"He brought me to the church of the Gesu, to a Jesuit, Father Villefort, to whom in the presence of M. de Bussieres, I related all that had happened to me."
(In his letter he continues.)
"All I can say of myself comes down to this: that in an instant a veil fell from my eyes; or rather not a single veil, but many of the veils which surrounded me were dissipated one after the other, like snow, mud and ice under the burning rays of the sun. I felt as though I were emerging from a tomb, from a dark grave; that I was beginning to be a living being, enjoying a real life. And yet I wept. I could see into the depths of my frightful misery, from which infinite mercy had liberated me. My whole being shivered at the sight of my transgressions; I was shaken, overcome by amazement and gratitude. I thought of my brother with indescribable joy; and to my tears of love there were joined tears of compassion. How many persons in this world, alas, are going down unknowingly into the abyss, their eyes shut by pride and indifference!They are being swallowed up alive by those horrifying shadows; and among them are my family, my fiancee, my poor sisters. What a bitter thought! My mind turned to you, whom I love so much; for you I offered my first prayers. Will you some day raise your eyes towards the Savior of the world, whose blood washed away original sin? How monstrous is the stain of that sin, because of which man no longer bears the resemblance to God!
"They asked me now I had come to know these truths, since they all knew that I had never so much as opened a book dealing with religion, head not even read a single page of the Bible, while the dogma of original sin, entirely forgotten or denied by modern Jews, had never occupied my mind for a single instant. I am no sure that I had even heard its name. So how had I come to know these truths? I cannot tell' all I know is that when I entered the church, I was ignorant of all this, whereas when I left I could see it all with blinding clarity. I cannot explain this change except by comparing myself to a man who suddenly awakens from deep sleep or to someone born blind who suddenly acquires sight. He sees, even though he cannot describe his sensations or pinpoint what enlightens him and makes it possible for him to admire the things around him. If we cannot adequately explain natural light, how can we describe a light the substance of which is truth itself? I think I am expressing myself correctly when I say that I did not have any verbal knowledge, but had come to possess the meaning and spirit of the dogmas, to feel rather than see these things, to experience them with the help of the inexpressible power which was at work within me.
"The love of God had taken the place of all other loves, to such an extent that I loved even my fiancee, but in a different way. I loved her like someone whom God held in his hands, like a precious gift which inspires an even greater love for the giver."
(As they wanted to delay his Baptism, Ratisbonne pleaded.)
"What? The Jews who heard the preaching of the apostles were baptized at once; and you wish to delay Baptism for me who have heard the Queen of the apostles?"
"My emotion, my ardent desires and my prayers finally induced these good men to fix a date for my Baptism. I awaited the appointed day with impatience, because I realized how displeasing I was in the eyes of God.
(Finally the 31st of January came. He described his Baptism.)
"Immediately after Baptism I felt myself filled with sentiments of veneration and filial love for the Holy Father; I considered myself fortunate when I was told that I would be granted an audience with the Pontiff, accompanied by the General of the Jesuits. In spite of all this I was quite nervous, because I had never frequented the important people of this world; although these important people seemed to me too insignificant when compared to true grandeur. I must confess that I included among these great ones of the world the one who on this earth holds God's highest power, i.e., the pope, the successor of Jesus Christ himself, whose indestructible chair he occupies.
"Never will I forget my trepidation and the beatings of my heart when I entered the vatican and traversed the spacious courtyards and majestic halls leading to the sacred premises where the pope resides. When I beheld him, though, my nervousness suddenly gave way to amazement. He was so simple, humble and paternal. This was no monarch, but a father who with unrestrained love treated me like a cherished son.
"O good God! Will it be thus when I appear before you to give you an account of the graces I hare received? Awe fills me at the mere thought of God's greatness, and I tremble before his justice; but at the sight of his mercy my confidence revives, and with confidence so will my love and unbounded gratitude.
"Yes, gratitude will from now on be my law and my life . I cannot express it in words; so I shall strive to do so in deeds. The letters received from my family give me full liberty; I wish to consecrate this liberty to God, and I offer it to him from this very moment, along with my whole life, to serve the Church and my brothers under the protection of the most Blessed Virgin Mary." (Father Anselm W. Romb, OFM Conv., Commentator and Editor, The Writings of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, OFM Conv.: The Kolbe Reader, pp. 22-31.)
Just an "interior vision"? No, not at all.
The apparition of Our Lady to the future Father Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne was no "interior vision." Our Lady herself appeared to the Catholic-hating Jewish man to convert him to the true Faith just as she had appeared to a chosen soul, Saint Catherine Laboure, to show forth her love for us sinful men for whom her Divine Son shed every single drop of His Most Precious Blood to redeem and to teach us that all graces that were won for us on the wood of the Holy Cross are sent by her Divine Son through her hands as the Mediatrix of All Graces. And just as the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne seemed very unlikely in human terms, so was it the case that the sisters of the Daughters of Charity were shocked to learn over forty years after Our Lady had appeared to one of them that it was, of all people, Sister Catherine Laboure who was the chosen soul. God does indeed work in ways that battle not only the minds of "modern" men but of those who are consecrated in His holy service.
Saint Catherine Laboure's mother died when she was nine years old. She told Our Lady, after picking up and kissing a statue of her "Now you will be mother." Little did Catherine Laboure know just how much that meant to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who was to draw this chosen soul closer and closer to her throughout the course of her lifetime at the dawning of the Age of Mary during the year, 1830, when a second French revolution overthrew the hereditary king of the House of Bourbon, King Charles X, in favor of the "citizen-king," Louis-Philippe, of the House of Orleans, who was overthrown during the French Revolution of 1848. Saint Catherine Laboure was chosen to be the very instrument by which that young Catholic-hating Jew would have access to the Miraculous Medal and then recognize Our Lady's image when she appeared to him in the Church of San Andrea delle Fratte on January 20, 1842.
Saint Catherine Laboure was given the penance of a confessor, Father Jean-Marie Aladel, who did not at first believe that his penitent was a chosen soul who had been given to see visions of the heart of the founder of her order, Saint Vincent de Paul, or of Christ the King, no less that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's apparition to her as King of men and their nations had a public as well as personal dimension to it as it portended the fall and abdication of King Charles X and the end of France's hereditary monarchy that had been restored following the final defeat and exile of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815. France, the elder daughter of Holy Mother Church, had become a land of instability. But it was in France nevertheless that Our Lord, Christ the King, sought to make His merciful designs known to "modern" men by means of Our Lady's apparitions in France to Saint Catherine Laboure talked and to Melanie Calvert and Maximim Giraud at LaSalette in 1846 and to Saint Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 and to the seers at Pontmain on January 17, 1871.
Sister Catherine Laboure had an inking that she would see Our Lady on the night of July 18, 1830:
Catherine's heart was bursting with the certainty that grew and swelled within it, the certainty that something was about to happen, something of great moment. Lying wide awake and staring up at the pale whiteness of the bed curtains, she clutched in her hand her piece of that precious surplice [of Saint Vincent de Paul]. She talked to Saint Vincent a long time in her prayers, telling him again of her soul's dearest wish--to see with her own eyes the Blessed Virgin. It was a startling wish, a startling prayer, on the lips of this hard-headed, practical peasant girl, but it can no longer surprise us, who have seen her intense love of the Mother of God take root and burgeon and fructify; nor could it surprise her, who had witnessed the intimate wonders of Heaven, had seen the Lord Himself.
Suddenly, as if struck with an inspiration, she tore the tiny clothing two and swallowed half of it. It was a simple act of devotion, growing out of a simple faith. Sophisticated rationalists might sniff at it as ludicrous superstition, but those whose believing mothers have signed their brows with the sacred wedding ring and given them holy water to drink will understand.
A serene peace came over Catherine. In her mind was a single, confident thought: Tonight I shall see her. Tonight I shall see the Blessed Virgin. She closed her eyes and slept.
She had been sleeping some two hours when a sudden light flickered in the dormitory. The light came from a candle carried by a little child of four or five, a child of extraordinary beauty and so surrounded with radiance that the whiteness of his little gown was dazzling. He approached the bed where Catherine lay. He called her softly:
She did not stir. He called again, insistently:
She moved a little, his voice had entered her dreams, and sleep was slipping away. Then:
"Sister Laboure!" once more, and Catherine awoke, her eyes big and staring. She turned her head in the direction of the sound. It seemed to come from the door. Through the haze of her bad curtains she saw the brightness. She sat up quickly and drew the curtains. The child said:
"Come to the chapel. The Blessed Virgin awaits you."
Catherine was not frightened. The child had come to take her to Our Lady; it was the moment she had longed for and prayed for, the great part of her life. Only one thought leaping into her mind made her hesitate: "We shall be discovered!"
"Do not be uneasy," the radiant vision answered. "It is half past eleven; everyone is asleep. Come, I am waiting for you."
Catherine jumped out of bed and threw on her clothes. Now, the clothes of a novice Sister of Charity are a complicated bit of costume, and that Catherine could manage them in this highly excitable moment, tying every last ribbon, pinning every last pin, proves as nothing else that she was neither excited, nor upset, nor in ecstasy. She might be going to a rendezvous with Heaven, but the feet that took her there were firmly planted on the earth.
The child led the way to the door and they passed into the hallway. She was amazed to find the hall lights burning.
Down the narrow stairs they went, for the chapel was on the first floor. Catherine's wonder mounted: everywhere the lamps were lit, and yet they met no one. Once or twice, in her eagerness, she hurried ahead of her little guide, then fell back in humble confusion.
Now they were at the chapel, Catherine gasped in astonishment when the heavy door, which must be locked, swung wide open at the child's mere touch. The chapel was ablaze with light! The chandeliers, the candles on the altar, all burned brightly. Why, she thought, it is like a Midnight Mass!
The child moved on into the sanctuary. Obediently, Catherine followed. He stopped by the chair that the Director used when he gave conferences to the Sisters. Instinctively, Catherine knelt.
Nothing happened. The Virgin was not there. The child stood calmly waiting, as if for a cure, as if he were part of a play. The minutes were long and the stillness grew loud with noises: the scurry of a mouse, the cracking of a pew, the distant clatter of a carriage. Catherine shifted on her knees. Anxiously she glanced over her shoulder toward the gallery. The night Sisters, up with the sick, might be passing. But there was no one. Suddenly the child spoke:
"Here is the Blessed Virgin."
In the same instant Catherine heard a sound like the rustling of a silk dress, and, looking toward the direction of the sound, saw a lady descending the altar steps. The lady seated herself in the Director's chair. As she sat there, she reminded Catherine of St. Anne in the picture over the sacristy door. Catherine's eyes flew to the painting and back to the lady. But no, she was not like St. Anne. A doubt clouded the novice's mind. Was this really the Mother of God? The child reassured her:
"This is the Blessed Virgin."
Even this did not allay all her doubts. Was the whole thing a dream, a fancy, of the night? She blushed. The lady was looking at her, waiting. The child spoke again, startling her, for now his voice was a man's voice, deep and commanding and stern. She held back no more, but threw herself at Our Lady's knee and rested her hands in Our Lady's lap. Then she lifted her head and looked up, up into her Mother's eyes. Many years later she was to write with ecstatic remembrance of this moment that it was the sweetest of her life.
"My child," said Our Lady, "the good God wishes to charge you with a mission."
But that could wait. This moment was Catherine's; and Mary went on to tell her of God's plans for her, to warn her of the trails that would come upon her, and to show her how she should bear them.
The good God wished to charge her with a mission. She would meet with many difficulties in carrying it out, but she would overcome the difficulties by thinking upon the glory of God as her reason for doing what He wanted. Most comforting of all, she would know with unerring certainty the Will of God; she would be spiritually secure, for she would recognize at all times what God wanted of her.
"You will be tormented," Our Lady continued, "until you have told him who is charged with directing you. You will be contradicted, but do not fear, you will have grace. Tell with confidence all that passes within you; tell it with simplicity. Have confidence. Do not be afraid."
"You will see certain things: give an account of what you see and hear. You will be inspired in your prayers: give an account of what I tell you and of what you will understand in your prayers."
"The times are very evil. Sorrows will come upon France; the throne will be overturned. The whole world will be upset by miseries of every kind." As she delivered herself of this ominous prophecy, pain crossed the Virgin's face. There was a remedy however:
"Come to the foot of the altar." she indicated the spot. "There graces will be shed upon all, great and little, who ask for them. Graces will be especially shed upon those who ask for them."
"Then the Mother of god turned her attention to the Vincentian Fathers and the Sisters of Charity. "My child, I particularly love to shed graces upon your Community; I love it very much," she said. "It pains me that there are great abuses in regularity, that the rules are not observed, that there is much relaxation in the two Communities. Tell that to him who has charge of you, even though he is not the superior. He will be given charge of the Community in a special way; he must do everything he can to restore the rule in vigor. Tell him for me to guard against useless reading, loss of time and visits."
When the rule should be fully observed once more, May promised, another community of Sisters, would ask to join the Community of rue du Bac. The prediction was fulfilled in 1849, when Father Etienne received Mother Elizabeth Seton's Sisters of Emmitsburg, Maryland, into the Paris Community. These Sisters were the foundation stone of the Sisters of Charity in the United States.
Our Lady concluded her instructions concerning the family of St. Vincent with a great promise:
"The Community will enjoy a great peace; it will become large."
Then Our Lady began to speak of the miseries to come upon France and the whole world. "There will be an abundance of sorrows; and the danger will be great. Yet do not be afraid; tell them not to be afraid. The protection of God shall be ever present in a special way--and St. Vincent will protect you. I shall be with you myself. Always, I have my eye upon you. I will grant you many graces."
The Mother of God said it all over again, emphasizing her words, lest there by any mistake: "The moment will come when the danger will be enormous; it will seem that all is lost; at that moment, I will be with you, have confidence. You will recognize my coming, you will see the protection of God upon the Community, the protection of St. Vincent upon both his Communities. Have confidence. Do not be discouraged. I shall be with you." It was a refrain of hope: Have confidence, have confidence; a refrain of encouragement: Do not be afraid; God, and I, and St. Vincent will be with you. These were words of promise, to be clung to in time of a calamity, as child clings to its mother's hand.
Then the worst: Mary began to specify the sorrows and the dangers. She spoke in broken sentences, in halting phrases, fighting back tears that stored in eyes. "It will not be the same for other communities. There will be victims. . . . the Archbishop . . ." She could not finish weeping. "My child, the cross will be treated with contempt; they will hurl it to the ground. Blood will flow; they will open up again the side of Our Lord. The streets will stream with blood. Monseigneur the Archbishop will be stripped of his garments. . . ."
She could not go on. Tears choked her voice, and her lovely face twisted in pain. She could only conclude:
"My child, the whole world will be in sadness?"
When will all this be? Catherine wondered, and immediately she understood: forty years.
The conversation was not one-sided. Catherine spoke freely, unfolding the secrets of her souls, asking questions which Mary graciously answered.
Then, like the fading of a shadow, Our Lady was gone.
Slowly, Catherine got up from her knees. The child hovered nearby. Together they left the chapel and went back upstairs to the dormitory. The lights in the hall were still lit, but Catherine scarcely noticed them. Her heart was too filled with gladness and horror and hope and bliss, all jumbled together. The hand that had lighted them would put them out. when they got back to the side of Catherine's bed, the child, too, faded from sight as Our Lady. Catherine felt now that she knew who he was: her guardian angel, long the confidant of her wish to see the Blessed Virgin. She climbed quickly into bed and pulled the covers around her. Just then the clock struck two. She had been with Our Lady over two hours! She slept no more that night. (Father Joseph Dirvin, CM, Saint Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal, published by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, Inc., in 1958, and republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1984, pp, 80-86. By the way, I am, of course, an alumnus of Saint John's University, Jamaica, Queens, New York, and I remember seeing Father Dirvin walk the hallways to teach his classes in my time there from February of 1970 until my graduation in January of 1973, and he was still there during the time I taught at my baccalaureate alma mater off and on between 1982 and 1992 as an adjunct professor. Father Dirvin died on July 8, 1993. Please pray for the repose of his immortal soul.)
Using the same exhortation that she had given to Juan Diego nearly two hundred ninety-nine years before, Our Lady told Saint Catherine Laboure to have confidence and not to fear or to be discouraged that she was with her.
Isn't this a good reminder to us in these times of ultra-statism in the world and of Modernism in the counterfeit church of conciliarism?
Why are we so worried about Barack Hussein Obama/Barry Soetoro and his petty little caesars and caesarettes?
Why are we so worried about what our families and our friends and others think of us for having recognized that we must hold fast to these words of Saint Paul the Apostle in his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians when he explained the difficulties of our own day?
And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time.  For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way.  And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him,  Whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders,  And in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying:  That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.  But we ought to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, beloved of God, for that God hath chosen you firstfruits unto salvation, in sanctification of the spirit, and faith of the truth:  Whereunto also he hath called you by our gospel, unto the purchasing of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.  Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God and our Father, who hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation, and good hope in grace,  Exhort your hearts, and confirm you in every good work and word. (2 Thessalonians 2: 6-16.)
Truth does not change over time. Our understanding of truth may deepen over time, never in a way, however, that it can be contradicted (such as Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's and Jorge Mario Bergoglio's having embraced and promote the thesis of "separation of Church and State"that that Pope Saint Pius X called "absolutely false," a "grave and fatal error," a statement that is either true or false and cannot be contradicted by anyone, no less putative "pontiffs," if it is true). We will be persecuted. We will be hated. We will be blamed for the problems caused by the revolutionaries of Modernity and Modernism.
What have we to fear?
Does not the Blessed Virgin Mary have her very eyes on us?
Has not not given us the weapon of her Most Holy Rosary and the shield of her Brown Scapular?
Has she not given us Sacramental aids such as the Miraculous Medal and the Green Scapular?
Has she not us repeatedly to pray her Holy Rosary and to be devoted to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart?
What have we to fear? For in the end, of course, her Immaculate Heart triumphs.
What have we to fear?
Saint Catherine Laboure had great expectation in her heart as she waited and waited and waited for Our Lady to visit her again with news of the the mission that God has chosen to entrust to her. This chosen soul, however, suffered much in the one hundred thirty-two days between Our Lady's initial visit to her and the one that took place on November 27, 1830, in which the nature of that mission that God had chosen for her to undertake was revealed.
Saint Catherine Laboure was rebuffed by her confessor, Father Jean-Marie Aladel, C.M., even though he, without telling her, believed that what she said concerning Our Lady's visit to her was true. Saint Catherine, an obedient religious, understood that she would have to suffer the rebuffs and disappointment even though the calamities in France that Our Lady had foretold had come true after she had revealed them to Father Aladel The second French Revolution that broke out on July 27,1830, confirmed everything that Sister Catherine Laboure had informed Father Aladel would occur This obedient daughter of Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac simply had to wait as she held within the depths of her heart the treasures of Our Lady's visit to her on July 18, 1830, as she was given the privilege that not even Saint Bernadette Soubirous or Jacinta and Francisco Marto and Lucia dos Santo were given: to touch the very Mother of God herself.
Here is but a brief description of the sort of contentious relationship she had with Father Aladel after Our Lady had appeared to her on July 18, 1830, and again on November 27, 1830:
As soon as possible, Catherine, with a natural fear and trepidation,--she had been rebuffed so many times!--laid the whole matter of the Medal before Father Aladel. He listened patiently, but once more refused to put much stock in the visions of a novice.
The great vision of November 27, the vision of the Medal, was repeated again and again, probably five times in all. This very repetition seemed to insist on action, and each time Catherine was troubled afresh, for each time she knew she must approach Father Aladel again, and each time she dreaded the encounter more.
These encounters of confessor and penitent had become highly excitable and unpleasant. Voices were raised and hard words uttered. The sounds of battle drifted out of the confessional to startle the ears of the Sisters waiting their turn. although they did not know then what it all meant, Sisters later testified before the solemn tribunal convoked by Rome to investigate Catherine's sanctity, that they often overheard the voice of Father Aladel, its tone peremptorily commanding, and the voice of Sister Laboure, its tone just as peremptorily insisting. She testified herself, shortly before her death, that she once confessed to the priest that, in a moment of frustration, she had told Our Lady that she "had better appear to someone else, since no one will believe me," and that the priest in horror had called her a "wicked wasp." These pitched battles were not of her choosing, for there is further testimony of the Sisters who survived her that she approached the confessional trembling. She had a dogged and determined will, however, that would not sidestep any unpleasantness to achieve its objective, and a spirited tongue to pursue that objective against all argument and remonstrance. There is ample evidence of her tart rejoinders throughout her life.
Not that she was untractable or disobedient: that is another matter entirely. Father Aladel, who knew her soul best, never accused her of the slightest disobedience or rebellion. Quite the opposite: he called her most submissive. Therefore, when he would feel himself forced to call a halt to the discussion, his word was enough her, no matter how sorely she might suffer in silence. In the matter of her visions, nevertheless, she had a command from Heaven that must be obeyed, and she fought tooth and nail to obey it, to see the mission entrusted to her carried out. As always, it was her indomitable obedience that won the day. (Father Joseph Dirvin, CM, Saint Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal, published by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, Inc., in 1958, and republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1984, pp. 100-101.)
Mind you, the description from the book written by Father Dirvin, who was an administrator at Saint John's University in Jamaica, Queens, New York, when I was undergraduate there from February of 1970 to the end of the Fall Semester in December of 1972, was about the battles that took place between penitent and confessor after Our Lady had appeared to Sister Catherine Laboure on Saturday, November 27, 1830. It was in God's good and providential time for her to appear at that time only after the chosen soul was tested in the four months between the two Marian apparitions as she grew in fervent expectation of the mission that was to be revealed to her. That period of waiting was only a preparation for the patience that Saint Catherine Laboure had do exercise over the course of forty-six years until she was permitted by Our Lady to reveal her identity to the world.
This is what happened on the night of Saturday, November 27, 1830:
Outside the convent on the rue du Bac, the City of Paris had grown quiet; people had gone back to their daily living. Charles X retreated to England, where he no longer ruled even "like and English king." Louis Philippe came to the throne. Although a Bourbon, he was not of the line of Bourbon kings, but of the Orleans family, and most certainly he wa snot the divine right monarch the royal Bourbons had been. Dubbed from the start "The Citizen King," he was the figurehead the new nation wanted.
Saturday, November 27, 1830, was just another day, busy like all the rest with prayer and work and study of the things of God. The next day would be the first Sunday of Advent. At half past five, all the Sisters, professed and novices alike, gathered in the chapel for/ their evening meditation. The chill November dusk had settled outside, and the chapel was in semi-darkness.
Catherine like this time of evening. She had always liked it, even at home: the laborious day was over and the tired mind found rest in thinking of God. Tonight, the quite voice of the Sister reading the prophecies of Christ's coming at Christmas seemed like the voice of Isaiah himself, calling down the centuries. In the darkness, time and place were no more; only the mind was alive. The voice stopped, and a great stillness followed.
Suddenly,Catherine's heart leaped. She had heard it--that rustling, that faint swish of silk she could never forget, the sound of Our Lady's gown as she walked! There it as again--and there was the Queen of Heaven, there in the sanctuary, standing on a globe. She shone as the morning rising, a radiant vision, "in all her perfect beauty," as Catherine said later.
Catherine's eyes widened with bliss at the sight. Yet they were not so dazzled but that, womanlike, they took note of every detail of the Virgin's dress: that her robe was of silk, "of the whiteness of the dawn," that the neck of it was cut high and the sleeves plain, that she wore a white veil which fell to her feet, and beneath the veil a lace fillet binding her hair.
The Virgin held in her hands a golden ball which she seemed to offer to God, for her eyes were raised heavenward. Suddenly, her hands were resplendent with rings set with precious stones that glittered and flashed in a brilliant cascade of light. So bright was the flood of glory cast upon the globe below that Catherine could no longer see Our Lady's feet.
Mary lowered her eyes and looked at Sister Laboure. Her lips did not move, but Catherine heard a voice.
"The ball which you see represents the whole world, especially France, and each person in particular."
These words stirred the heart of the Sister with fresh transports of joy, and the dazzling rays seemed to her to increase to blinding brilliance.
"These rays symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them. The gems from which rays do not fall are the graces for which souls forget to ask."
At this moment, Catherine was so lost in delight that she scarcely knew where she was, whether she lived or died. The golden ball vanished from Mary's hands; her arms swept wide in a gesture of motherly compassion, while form her jeweled fingers the rays of light streamed around the Blessed Virgin, and written within it in letters of gold Catherine read the worlds:
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
The voice spoke again:
"Have a Medal struck after this model.all who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence."
The tableau revolved, and Catherine beheld the reverse of the Medal she was to have made. It contained a large M surmounted by a bar and a cross. Beneath the M were the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the one crowned with thorns, the other pierced with a sword. Twelve stars encircled the whole.
And then the vision was gone.
Habit is a saving thing. Certainly it saved Catherine embarrassment or discovery in the next few minutes. She must have said the closing prayers of the meditation with the others; she must have taken her place in line to go to the dining hall; she must have recited the grace and sat down at the table. She did not remember. It was the chastening voice of the Mistress of Novices brought her back to earth.
"Sister Laboure must still be in ecstasy," it said dryly.
Catherine started in confusion. "Why the other novices had begun to eat!
The three great Apparitions of Our Lady to Saint Catherine Laboure--they are designated by number for convenience--were complete. The first, the Apparition of July 18, is sometimes called "The Virgin of the Chair"; the second and third, actually two phases of the Apparition of November 27, are known by the titles: "The Virgin of the Globe" or "The Virgin Most Powerful," and "Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal."
The Medal design submitted by the engraver in 1832 and accepted by Father Aladel was the second phase of the Great Apparition of November 27, representing Our Lady bestowing her graces upon mankind through the symbolism of the rays falling from her outstretched hands upon the globe at her feet. It was not the design originally intended, which was the first phase of the Great Apparition, the "Virgin of the Globe," offering the golden ball to heaven while the rays streamed from her hands upon the large globe on which she stood. Catherine herself remarked upon this change form the original design in her account of the apparitions given to Sister Dufes, her superior, in 1876, and her words carry a tone of complaint. If she saw fit to complain, it must be that Our Lady had wanted the Medal to represent her in the attitude of offering the golden ball. Why, then, the change?
Father Chevalier, Catherine's last director, in his deposition before the Beatification Tribunal, expresses the opinion that the change was made because of the difficulty of representing the attitude of the first phase in the metal, and also because Father Aladel thought it more prudent, in view of the anti-religious feeling at the time, to represent Our Lady in the attitude of the second phase. It is hard to see how the one attitude would been any more acceptable to anti-religious feeling than the other. The probable reason for the change is the first point made by Father Chevalier, that M. Vachette, the engraver, saw difficulty in delineating within the limits of the engraver's art at that time, the arms and the golden ball superimposed upon the stamped image of Our Lady's body. There would have been no such problem today , when dies can be cut so deeply and etched so finely, bit it was a problem in 1832. Father Aladel, with no technical knowledge of the problem, would have followed the advice of the engraver.
There is, of course, a difference of emphasis upon doctrine in the two representations, for the first phase of the Apparition, in addition to honoring the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady in the words "conceived without sin," expressly demonstrates the doctrine that Mary is the Mediatrix of All Graces. Very simply, this doctrine--considered by the Church to be certain although not yet solemnly defined--teaches that all prayers, and petitions, whether made to God directly, to Our Lady, or to the saints, are presented to God by His Mother; and that all graces, whether answers to prayer or gratuitously bestowed by God, pass to men through the hands of His Mother. In the first phase of the Apparition, the attitude of Our Lady, eyes raised to Heaven, lips moving in prayer, and the symbolic offering of the golden ball of the world, beautifully express the intercession of Mary, while the rays from her fingers express the bestowal of God's graces through her. In the second phase of the Apparition, the bestowal of the graces alone is represented by the rays flowing from the outstretched hands.
However, while Father Aladel must have regretted the inability to present the completeness of doctrine symbolized in the first phase, he must have considered the intercessory powers of Mary as Mediatrix to be sufficiently represented by the words of the prayer on the Medal: "Pray for us who have recourse to thee." There is no record of dissatisfaction on Catherine's part when she saw the first Medals, fresh from the press. her only comment was a call to arms: "Now it must be propagated." She, therefore, consented from the first to the Medal's propagation in its altered form. Our Lady would be expected to consult her on such an important change. The proof of the Medal's acceptability to Heaven is the vast multitude of graces bestowed from the beginning on those who wore it and recited the prayer engraved on it. Catherine's complaining reference to change, forty-four years later, may be laid to natural anxiety, with approaching death, as to whether she had carried out her mission exactly. Such anxiety could arise easily out of her very justifiable concern, which we shall hear more of, that the statue of "The Virgin of the Globe," also commissioned by Our Lady, had not been made.
At the command of her director, Catherine would out full accounts of her visions, in 1841, in 1856, and again in 1876. It is odd that, while these accounts are minute and detailed in their descriptions, they omit two significant details of the Medal. The first of these is the serpent whose head Our Lady crushed beneath her heel, as she stood upon the white globe of the earth. This was an obvious pictorial reference to Genesis III: 15, the sole scriptural text with any reference to the doctrine of Mary's Immaculate Conception. "She (the woman) shall crush thy head (the serpent's), and thou shalt lie in wait for heel." The second detail left out of Catherine's written accounts was the twelve stars on the back of the Medal. These stars refer probably to the Twelve Apostles, and are mentioned in the text from Apocalypse XII: 1, applied by theologians to Our Lady: "A woman, clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and the moon under feet, and on her head a crown a twelve stars." That Catherine transmitted the details of the serpent and the stars to the director, at least by word of mouth, is morally certain, for she approved the Medal which bore both details from the first. Besides, in 1836, when the artist LeCerf was painting canvases of the apparitions, she described the serpent to her director as "green with yellow spots"--a rather fearsome serpent, and one, certainly, to offend the sensibilities of an artist!
There was one further instruction concerning the Medal which Catherine gave Father Aladel orally. The priest was puzzled by the fact that there were no words on the back of the Medal, to balance the prayer on the front. He told Catherine to ask Our Lady what should be written there, Catherine consulted the Virgin prayer, and returned with the verbatim reply: "The M and the two Hearts express enough."
Aside from the importance of Catherine's written accounts as religious historical documents, they are, like all such writings not meant to be published, supreme revelations of the character of the one who wrote them. If we knew nothing whatever of Catherine Laboure, we should know from these accounts that she was a practical, commonsense sort of person, not to be rattled even by the glorious visions of another world/ Her first thought upon being awakened by the angel on the night of July18 was: We shall be discovered. On her knees in the chapel, awaiting the arrival of the Blessed Virgin, she kept craning her neck and peering into the dim recesses of the chapel, for fear "the night Sisters, up with the sick," would see her. When Our Lady finally came, Catherine did not throw herself upon the Virgin at once in ecstasy, but wondered whether this were really the Mother of God. Certainly she had a practical prudence, much like Our Lady's when she asked the Angel Gabriel: "How shall this be done?"
Again, she is revealed as an extremely observant person, who, even in the ecstasy of her apparitions, did not miss the smallest details, and a precise person, who did not fail to report them. Catherine tells us, for example, that Our Lady wore "three rings on each of her fingers." She tells us, further, that the rings were graduated in size, "the largest one near the base of the finger, one of medium size in the middle, the smallest one at the tip." She even noticed that the rings themselves were set with stones "of proportionate size, some larger and others smaller."
Her description of Our Lady's veil and headdress is a marvel of exactitude. "A white veil covered her head," Catherine wrote, "falling on either side to her feet. Under the veil her hair, was bound with a fillet ornamented with lace, about three centimeters in height or of two fingers' breadth, without pleats, and resting lightly on the hair.
This supreme accuracy carries over into the recording of the time and place of her visions. She saw the heart of St. Vincent "above the little shrine where the relic of St. Vincent was exposed in the chapel of the Sisters, over the picture of St. Anne and in front of St. Joseph's picture." One the night of July 18, she heard herself called by name at "eleven-thirty in the evening." She heard the noise of Our Lady's coming "from the side of the tribune near St. Joseph's picture." when she returned to her bed, "it was two o'clock in the morning, for I heard the hour strike." The opening paragraph of her account of the Great Apparition is incomparable: "On November 27, 1830, which fell upon the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent, at five-thirty in the evening, in the deep silence after the point of meditation had been read--that is, several minutes after the point of the meditation--I heard a sound like the rustling of a silken gown, from the tribune near the picture of St. Joseph."
The precision of these descriptions, particularly the details of the Virgin's attire, makes all the more mysterious Catherine's omission of the serpent and the twelve stars, and her failure to give us the faintest clue as to Our Lady's age or personal appearance.
Catherine had a woman's eye for color. When the heart of St. Vincent was shown her in April, 1830, she recorded that it was successively "white flesh color," "fiery red," "dark red," and "vermilion." It finally appeared "sombre, the color of dead flesh." Certainly not every woman can boast this eye for nuance and shading. Her description of the Virgin's dress in the apparition of November 27: "of the whiteness of the dawn," has been the despair of artists, and they have gotten around the problem by painting the dress a flat white or cream color. Catherine, who, as a farm girl had often seen the day break, meant literally that Our Lady was clothed in the color of the dawn sky: a basic white with myriad tints of red, pink, saffron, and the palest blue.
Perhaps the most surprising trait revealed by Catherine Laboure in her written accounts is her flair for the right word or phrase. Certain descriptive flashes in her story of the Apparitions would be the envy of professional writers. When she tells us that the chapel all lighted for the coming of the Blessed Virgin reminded her of "Midnight Mass," the phrase is completely evocative. When the Virgin departed, "she faded away and became but a shadow, which moved toward the tribune the way she had come." At the cose of the Miraculous Medal Apparition, on the other hand, "everything disappeared from my sight, like a candle that is blown out." In describing the brilliant rays that flashed from Mary's hands, Catherine uses the word rejaillissant, thus suggesting a breath-taking picture of dazzling light "bursting from all sides," like a fountain. The rays grew so bright that they "flooded the base, so that I could no longer see the feet of the Blessed Virgin." Mary's hands were "bent down under the weight of the treasures of graces obtained." For an uneducated girl, Catherine's accounts are masterpieces of clarity and beauty. (Father Joseph Dirvin, CM, Saint Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal, published by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, Inc., in 1958, and republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1984, pp. 92-100.)
It is interesting to note that two Marian doctrines, neither of which had been solemnly defined by Holy Mother Church, were promoted by Our Lady by means of the Miraculous Medal.
The first, of course, is the doctrine of her Immaculate Conception, which was proclaimed solemnly by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854. This is why Father Maximilian Kolbe, M.I., sought to promote the Miraculous Medal as part of the external display on the clothing of his Knights of the Immaculata as their very mission was from its outset to establish the City of Mary Immaculate.
Our Lady foretold this proclamation of a basic doctrinal truth that is, after all, contained in the Ave Maria, which comes from the very words spoken to her by Saint Gabriel the Archangel to her at the Annunciation ("Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women," Luke 2: 27), in anticipation of Pope Pius IX's solemn definition of it, a solemn definition that she ratified when she appeared to Saint Bernadette Soubirous in the Grotto of Massabielle near Lourdes, France, on March 25, 1858, identifying herself as "I am the Immaculate Conception" (see Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for Sinners). As Father Dirvin pointed out in his book about Saint Catherine Laboure, Saint Bernadette Soubirous was wearing a variation of the Miraculous Medal when Our Lady appeared to her in 1858:
In 1854, Pius IX made the momentous pronouncement that, beyond any shadow of doubt, Our Blessed Lady was "preserved and exempt from all stain of original sin, from the first moment of her conception." Pius himself recognized that the impetus of devotion to the Immaculate Conception that led to this definition had come from France. Indeed, it is certain that the Apparitions of the Miraculous Medal to Catherine Laboure in 1830 hastened the solemn declaration of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, just as at the Apparitions of Lourdes, wherein Our Lady declared: "I am the Immaculate Conception," set the seal of approval on it.
There was great joy in France in 1858 when it became known that Mary had appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, a peasant girl of the French Pyrenees. No one was happier than Catherine Laboure. "You see," she exclaimed, "it is our own Blessed Mother, the Immaculate!"
On the day of the first national pilgrimage of France to the grotto at Lourdes, a group of the Sisters of Enghien were standing at the front door of the house, deep in conversation. Catherine joined them, and, before they knew was happening, she had launched into a detailed description of the ceremony taking place at that moment in Lourdes. Several days later, the Parisian papers verified everything that she had said.
It is interesting to conjecture whether Catherine had her knowledge of an event occurring several hundred miles away by clairvoyance or whether she was bilocated, being actually present at Lourdes and Enghien at one and the same time. There are several well-authenticated cases of bilocation in religious history, notably those of St. Catherine of Siena, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and, more recently, of the English lay apostle, Teresa Higginson. Whatever the way in which Catherine Laboure came to a knowledge of this distant event, her knowledge was definitely of supernatural origin.
A tangible reminder of the very real connection between the Apparitions of Paris and Lourdes was the medal Bernadette wore around her neck during her meetings with the Mother of God. It was not a Miraculous Medal. It was not a Miraculous Medal, but a sort hybrid: the face of the medal was an exact copy of the from the Miraculous Medal, but the back was devoted to St. Teresa of Avila. The medal was given to Bernadette to parish priest of St. Thomas-d'Aquin in Paris, who was on pilgrimage to Lourdes, and eventually it found its way to the rue du Bac, where it now reposes in the archives. (Father Joseph Dirvin, CM, Saint Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal, published by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, Inc., in 1958, and republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1984, pp. 178-179.)
The second doctrine confirmed by the Miraculous Medal is the doctrine of Our Lady as the Mediatrix of All Graces, which has yet to proclaimed solemnly but is, as Father Dirvin noted above, theologically certain. And the fact that Our Lady herself revealed it to be so and that Pope Pius IX himself gave approval to the Miraculous Medal should make us simple peasants who are not decreed theologians jump with joy at the great gift that the Mother of God has given us, to know what Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort had taught us in True Devotion to Mary, summarizing the doctrine taught by various saints, namely, that Our Lady is indeed the Mediatrix of All Graces:
The conduct which the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity have deigned to pursue in the Incarnation and the first coming of Jesus Christ, They still pursue daily, in an invisible manner, throughout the whole Church; and They will still pursue it even to the consummation of the world in the last coming of Jesus Christ.
God the Father made an assemblage of all the waters and He named it the sea (mare). He made an assemblage of all His graces and he called it Mary (Maria). This great God has a most rich treasury in which He has laid up all that He ha of beauty and splendor, of rarity and precariousness, including even His own Son: and this immense treasury is none other than Mary, whom the saints have named the Treasure of the Lord, out of whose plenitude all men are made rich.
God the Son has communicated to His Mother all that He acquired by His life and His death, His infinite merits and His admirable virtues; and He has made her the treasurer of all that His Father gave Him for His inheritance. It is by her that He applies His merits to His members, and that He communicates His virtues, and distributes His graces. She is His mysterious canal; she is His aqueduct, through which He makes His mercies flow gently and abundantly.
To Mary, His faithful spouse, God the Holy Ghost has communicated His unspeakable gifts; and He has chosen her to be the dispenser of all He possesses, in such wise that she distributes to whom she wills, as much as she wills, all His gifts and graces. The Holy Ghost gives no heavenly gift to men which He does not have pass through her virginal hands. Such has been the will of God, who has willed that we should have everything pass through Mary; so that she who, impoverished, humbled, and who hid herself even unto the abyss of nothingness by her profound humility her whole life long, should now be enriched and exalted and honored by the Most High. Such are the sentiments of the Church and the holy Fathers.
If I were speaking to the freethinkers of these times, I would prove what I have said to simply here, drawing it out more at length, and conforming it by the Holy Scriptures and the fathers, quoting the original passages and adducing various solid reasons, which may be seen at length in the book of Father Poire, La Triple Couronne de la Ste. Vierge. But as I speak of particularly to the poor and simple, who being of good will, and having more faith than the common run of scholars, believe more simply and more meritoriously, I content myself with stating the truth quite plainly, without stopping to quote Latin passages, which they would not understand. Nevertheless, without making much research, I shall not fail to bring forward some of them from time to time. (Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, as translated by Father Frederick William Faber, TAN Books and publishers, pp. 14-16.)
Our Lady, of course, ratified this exquisite summary of Catholic teaching that is understandable to those of us who are monolinguists by her apparition of November 27, 1830, to Saint Catherine Laboure.
The Miraculous Medal also presaged the widespread devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that would be ushered in when she appeared from May 13, 1917, to October 13, 1917, to Jacinta and Lucia Marto and Lucia dos Santos in the Cova da Iria near Fatima, Portugal.
All of this is quite baffling to the minds of "modern" men, steeped in rationalism and naturalism, men who are very unwilling to believe the miracles that did take place shortly after the Archbishop of Paris, Hyacinthe-Louis de Quelen, who was Archbishop of Paris, France, from October 20, 1831, to December 31, 1839, gave approval for what we know now as the Miraculous Medal to be struck and propagated:
Catherine always kept some of these first Medals with her throughout her life. About ten of them survive today, jealously guarded in the archives of the Sisters of Charity in Paris. One of them is on exhibition in the Miraculous Medal Art Museum in Germantown, Philadelphia. They are essentially the same the Medals we know today, except that they are not the masterpieces of artistry and engraving effected by modern craftsmen. Little, flat, oval pieces of some alloy, they are a far cry from the ravishing vision Catherine saw, yet they are the sole reason for the vision. Our Lady herself came down form Heaven to model them.
The propagation of the Medal urged by Catherine was carried out so swiftly that it was miraculous in itself. The first supply of Medals vanished in no time. Pope Gregory XVI placed one of them at the crucifix on his desk. Father Gillet, Redemptorist founder of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in America, had the design of the Medal placed on his ordination card in 1836.
As soon as Archbishop de Quelen had received some of the first Medals, he put one in his pocket and went to visit Monseigneur de Pradt, former chaplain to Napoleon and unlawful Archbishop of Malines, who lay dying in Paris. This prelate had sided with Napoleon in the Emperor's quarrel with the Church, and had been excommunicated by the Holy See. he had furthered his contumacy by accepting the archbishopric of Malines from Napoleon's hands. Ousted from his illegal possession of the See at the Emperor's downfall, he now lay on his deathbed, unreconciled to the Church and defiant. He received Archbishop de Quelen, but steadfastly refused to discuss the all-important object of the visit, the abjuration of his errors. At length, Archbishop de Quelen, admitting defeat, withdrew. He had not yet left the house when the sick man suddenly called him back. In that stroke of time he had capitulated to the Queen of the Medal. Completely docile and repentant, he made his confession and was received back into the saving bosom of the Church. He died a peaceful death the next day, the first signal triumph of the Miraculous Medal.
The first order of 20,000 Medals proved to be but a small start. The new "Medals of the Immaculate Conception" began to pour from the presses in streams, spilling over France and escaping to the world beyond. Wonders sprang up in their wake, miracles of mercy and healing and grace. By December 1836, the firm of Vachette had sold several million medals. Eleven other Parisian engravers had equaled this number, and four Lyon engravers were hard at work to meet the demand.
Excitedly, people passed the Medal from hand to hand.
"Take this Miraculous Medal. . . ."
Its formal name was forgotten. It was the "Miraculous Medal even in those first days, for the power working through it was seen to be truly miraculous. It would never be called anything else. Even the Liturgy accorded it the proud title conferred on it by the people who accepted it with faith and love.
If the wildfire spread of the Medal was miraculous, the wonders it worked were more so. No sacramental of the Church had made such impact on the Catholic world since the Rosary had routed the Albigensian and the Turk. Its name was honestly come by, for it literally worked miracles. It seemed to specialize in the impossible, the conversion of the hardened sinner, the cure of hopelessly ill. And yet it only seemed to specialize in these startling favors because they were startling. Actually it blanketed all the ills of daily living, if only because there were so many of these. People came to count on this Miraculous Medal in every need. And it is this universal concern of Mary for every necessity of her children, ordinary and extraordinary alike, that has endeared the Medal to all the world.
There would be no point in cataloguing the wonders worked by the Medal in those early days, for it works the same wonders today. There are hundreds of modern conversions to match that of Monseigneur de Pradt. The hopelessly ill are still cured. And there are countless lesser favors flowing in a steady stream from the outstretched hands of the Queen of the Medal. The national Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Germantown, Pennsylvania, records 500 such favors, actually reported, every week. The favors that go unreported must be, conservatively, ten times that number. And this at but one tiny spot on the globe. (Father Joseph Dirvin, CM, Saint Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal, published by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, Inc., in 1958, and republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1984, pp, 92-101.)
Father Dirvin was not exaggerating the power of the Miraculous Medal.
Ordinary Catholics all across the vast expanse of the ecclesiastical divide are still devoted to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, distributing Miraculous Medals as plentifully as they were distributed in those first days in France.
An elderly man I met on a charter flight in 1984 from Rome, Italy, to New York, New York, operated by AirTran when it was a charter airline, told me that he was taking back with him to Berwick, Pennsylvania, thousands of Miraculous Medals after having been to France. He had story after story to tell of the miracles wrought by Our Lady's Miraculous Medal. And another man, a former benefactor of ours for whom we pray every day without fail, told me in May of 1999 that he would rather distribute a million Miraculous Medals than given another dime to any politician running for elected office. That comment started me on my own path of withdrawing from the world of partisan politics in which I was still somewhat enmeshed in order to concentrate in my writing and in my speaking on the root causes of our social problems that rest in the overthrow of the Social Reign of Christ the King wrought by the Protestant Revolution and institutionalized by the allied, interrelated but nevertheless multifaceted naturalistic forces of Judeo-Masonry.
As noted earlier in this reflection, the miracle that brought Our Lady's Miraculous Medal worldwide attention was the conversion of the Catholic-hating Jewish man named Alphonse Ratisbonne. Even with this great miracle, however, Saint Catherine Laboure desired to remain unknown to even the future Father Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne:
News of the "Madonna del Ratisbonne" and his miraculous conversion had Rome agog, and quickly fanned out through all Europe, especially in diplomatic and financial circles, where Ratisbonne and Bussieres and De la Ferronnaya were widely known. Interest centered especially on the Medal which, until this time, had only the approbation of the Archbishop of Paris. Rome immediately instituted an inquiry, and twenty-five sessions were held between February 17, 1842, and June 3, 1842. The findings of the court "fully recognized the signal miracle wrought by God through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the spontaneous and complete conversion of Marie Alphonse Ratisbonne from Judaism to Catholicism." It was a major triumph of the Miraculous Medal.
Ratisbonne entered with the Jesuit Fathers to study for the priesthood and spent ten years in the bosom of the Society. When, however, his superiors repeatedly turned down his request to go to China, he left, for, as he put it, his true vocation was to be an apostle, "not a sixth-form master." He joined his brother Theodore, who had formed the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion for the evangelization of the Jews, and spent more than thirty years in the Holy Land as a missionary to his own people.
Ratisbonne made several attempts to converse with the unknown Sister who had been given the Miraculous Medal in 1830, but never got beyond Father Aladel, who told him regretfully that the Seer insisted on remaining unknown. The Holy Father himself, Gregory XVI, became intensely interested, and wanted to converse with the Sister, but Catherine was adamant. Had the Pope commanded her to come forward, there would have been an interesting development, for it would seem that she would have had to obey the Vicar of Christ. As it was, Gregory did not insist, but he left her in her silence. (Father Joseph Dirvin, CM, Saint Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal, published by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, Inc., in 1958, and republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1984, pp. 170-171.)
Just ponder over this for a moment or two.
The man born as Alphonse Tobie Ratisbonne in Strasbourg, France, on May 1, 1814, knew immediately after his miraculous conversion that he had to be an apostle of the Catholic Faith.
Could you imagine Father Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne securing permission from either Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI or Jorge Mario Bergoglio to work in the Holy Land for the conversion of the Jews?
Isn't that a sign of thes false "pontiffs'" apostate mind and heart that rejects the necessity of seeking with urgency those who adhere to the Talmud and its blasphemous lies and its false rites that are "sacred" only to the devil?
Shouldn't it tell you something, just a little something, that Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI before him have never mentioned Our Lady's Miraculous Medal. Ratzinger/Benedict almost never mentioned Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary in his journeys to various countries.
Our Lady knew that we would be living in these times of such great confusion as the operation of error prophesied by Saint Paul has indeed deceived many of the elect and deprived most Roman Rite Catholics in the world of the Sanctifying Graces that are meant to flow from her loving hands through the ministration of true priests as they administer the Sacraments. Acting at the behest of her Divine Son, Christ the King, Our Lady did not want to leave her children that she had given spiritual rebirth to in such great pain as she stood by the foot of His Holy Cross feeling the torments of the Fifth Sword of Sorrow pierce her Immaculate Heart through and through without supernatural aids. She has thus given us, in addition to the Most Holy Rosary and the Brown Scapular, the Miraculous Medal and the Green Scapular, which was given to Sister Justine Bisqueyburo in the same convent of the Daughters of Charity on the Rue du Bac where Saint Catherine Laboure had been given the instructions concerning the Miraculous Medal by the Mother of God herself:
In 1840, Our Lady came again to the house on the rue du Bac, to reveal her Immaculate Heart to novice named Justine Bisqueyburu. Sister Justine had entered the novitiate on November 27, 1839, the ninth anniversary of the Apparition of the Medal. Toward the end of January she entered upon her retreat in a prayer hall, behind the Chapel of the Apparitions. This prayer hall contained a miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin which was very old and which had figured several times in the supernatural protection of the Sisters and their house. During the exercises of retreat, the Blessed Virgin appeared suddenly to Sister Justine, on January 28, 1840. She wore a long white dress and a blue mantle. She was barefooted and bareheaded, her hair falling free to the shoulders. In her hand she her her Immaculate Heart, pieced with a sword, and surrounded with flames. This vision was repeated several times as the retreat continued, and later on the principal feasts of the Blessed Virgin. On September 8, 1840, the feast of Our Lady's Nativity, the vision took on an added detail. The Virgin carried the Immaculate Heart in her right hand, and suspended from her left hand, a kind of scapular of green cloth. On the face of the scapular was a representation of Mary as she had appeared in the preceding apparitions, and on the back "a heart all burning with rays more brilliant than the sun, and as transparent as crystal, this heart, surmounted by a cross, was pierced with a sword, and around it were the words: "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death." The Green Scapular, as this sacramental is popularly called, is not really a scapular, but rather a "cloth medal," for it consists of only one piece of material, and is worn about the neck as a medal would be worn. Sister Justine confided her vision to Father Aladel, as Catherine Laboure had done, and found the same difficulty in having the scapular made as Catherine had encountered with the Medal. It was not until 1846, after Our Lady had complained several times that her gift to the Community was not appreciated, that the approbation of Monseigneur Affre, the Archbishop of Paris, was finally sought and obtained for the distribution of the scapular.
In spite of the slowness of the authorities to act, heaven continued to lavish its treasures on the Community of St. Vincent. Throughout the year 1845, another Sister of Charity, Sister Appolline Andreveaux, stationed at the Hospice de Saint Jean in Troyes, received several visits of Our Lord in His Passion. On July 26, 1846, Christ appeared to Sister Appolline, holding in His hand a red scapular. One piece of the scapular bore the image of Christ on the Cross, surrounded by the instruments of the Passion, and the words: "Holy Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, save us." The other piece bore representations of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, surmounted by a cross, and the words: "Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, protect us."
Sister Appolline was to meet with prompter action than either Sister Catherine or Sister Justine. Sister Appolline had confided her visions, in writing, to Father Etienne, and the Superior General sought and obtained approbation for the making of the scapular from Pope Pius IX in 1847, during the same audience in which the Pontiff approved the Children of Mary. (Father Joseph Dirvin, CM, Saint Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal, published by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, Inc., in 1958, and republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1984, pp. 164-166.)
So many graces for the daughters of Saint Vincent de Paul! So many graces for us at a time of tremendous sacramental barrenness.
Do not let anyone--and I mean anyone--dissuade you from believing in the power of the Miraculous Medal or the Green Scapular. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has even given us the Red Scapular to promote devotion to His own Passion and to those matchless Hearts of love that are intertwined with each other, His own Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, His Most Blessed Mother. The only way out of the mess that we find ourselves in at this time, my few and increasingly fewer readers, is through the Immaculate Heart of Mary as entrust ourselves to the tender mercies of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the very Immaculate Heart out of which this ocean of mercy was formed in Our Lady's Virginal and Immaculate Womb.
Father Frederick William Faber, who had studied the not-yet-canonized Father Louis Grignion de Montfort's True Devotion to Mary for fifteen years, almost the entirety of his life as a Catholic priest following his conversion from Anglicanism, before he translated it from French into English, reminded us that we must promote True Devotion to Mary and reject the ways of "modern men" who are so baffled by what appears to them to be but childish practices and superstitions:
All those who who are likely to read this book [True Devotion to Mary] love God, and lament that they do not love Him more; all desire something for His glory--the spread of some good work, the success of some devotion, the coming of some good time. One man has been striving for years to overcome a particular fault, and has not succeeded. Another mourns, and almost wonders while he mourns, that so few of his relations and friends have been converted to the Faith. One grieves that he has not devotion enough; another that he has a cross to carry which is a peculiarly impossible cross to him; while a third has domestic troubles and family unhappinesses which feel almost incompatible with his salvation; and for all these things prayer appears to bring so little remedy.
But what is the remedy that is wanted? What is the remedy indicated by God Himself? If we may rely on the disclosures of the saints, it is an immense increase of devotion to our Blessed Lady; but, remember, nothing short of an immense one. Here in England, Mary is not half enough preached. Devotion ot her is low and thin and poor. It is frightened out of its wits by the sneers of heresy. It is always invoking human respect and carnal prudence, wishing to make Mary so little of a Mary that Protestants may feel at ease about her. Its ignorance of theology makes it unsubstantial and unworthy. It is not the prominent characteristic of our religion which it ought to be. It has no faith in itself. hence it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are not converted, that the Church is not exalted; that souls which might be saints wither and dwindle; that the Sacraments are not rightly frequented, or souls enthusiastically evangelized.
Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable, unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. yet, if we are to believe the revelation of the saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother. I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation for anyone than the simple spreading of this peculiar devotion of the Venerable Grignion de Montfort. Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings within it, and the transformations it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its otherwise almost incredible efficacy as a means of salvation of men, and for the coming of Christ. Oh, if Mary were but known, how much more wonderful would be our faith, and how different would our Communions be! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much happier, how much holier, how much less worldly should we be, and how much more should we be living images of our sole Lord and Saviour, her dearest and most blessed Son! (Father Frederick William Faber, preface to True Devotion to Mary, pp. xxi-xxiii.)
This is, of course, why the great apostle of True Devotion to Mary in recent times, Father Maximilian Kolbe, M.I.., promoted total Marian consecration in conjunction with the Miraculous Medal that Our Lady herself had instructed Saint Catherine Laboure to have struck and propagated. True devotees of Our Lady do not fear the sneers of other. They do not fear what will happen to their professional "respectability" if they mention the Holy Name of Mary in public and promote her Most Holy Rosary and Brown Scapular and Green Scapular.
We live at a time when the conciliar revolutionaries have indeed made of Our Lady so little of Our Lady and have made of the Holy Faith Itself so little of the Holy Faith that Protestants and others would not be offended. Behold the wretched results as a supposed "pontiff" endorses a vile means to "protect" those committed to lives of sin from the personal consequences of their perverse behavior and as one of his "bishops" can dismiss various references to God with a breezy, casual, flippant Whatever You Want.
It cannot be that way with us. We must use the sacramentals that Heaven has given us by means of Our Lady, who desires us, her most beloved children, to be with her in Heaven for all eternity to praise and adore and to give thanks to the Most Blessed Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost to all eternity. And just as the Son of God became Man in her Virginal and Immaculate Womb, passing through her miraculously on Christmas Day, so is it case that we are meant to ascend to Him, Christ the King, through the same Mother of God.
Saint Louis de Montfort taught us that True Devotion to Mary will be the singular characteristic of these latter times: that just as Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ came into the world through Mary as a humble Child, so will it be the case that He will come in glory at the end of time after Our Lady has prepared the children of election for that Second Coming of His:
In as much as grace perfects nature, and glory perfects grace, it is certain that Our Lord is still, in Heaven, as much the Son of Mary as He was on earth; and that, consequently, He has retained the obedience and submission of the most perfect Child toward the best of all mothers. But we must take great pains not to conceive this dependence as any abasement or imperfection in Jesus Christ. For Mary is infinitely below her Son, who is God, and therefore she does not command Him as a mother here below would command her child who is below her. Mary, being altogether transformed into God by grace and by the glory which transforms all the saints- into Him, asks nothing, wishes nothing, does nothing contrary to the eternal and immutable will of God. When we read then in the writings of Sts. Bernard, Bernardine, Bonaventure, and others that in Heaven and on earth everything, even God Himself, is subject to the Blessed Virgin, they mean that the authority which God has been pleased to give her is so great that it seems as if she had the same power as God; and that her prayers and petitions are so powerful with God that they always pass for commandments with His Majesty, Who never resists the prayer of His dear Mother, because she is always humble and conformed to His will.
If Moses, by the force of his prayer, stayed the anger of God against the Israelites in a manner so powerful that the most high and infinitely merciful Lord, being unable to resist him, told him to Let Him alone that He might be angry with and punish that rebellious people, what must we not, with much greater reason, think of the prayer of the humble Mary, the Mother of God, which is more powerful with His Majesty than the prayers and intercessions of all the angels and saints both in Heaven and on earth.
In the Heavens Mary commands the angels and the blessed. As a recompense for her profound humility, God has empowered her and commissioned her to fill with saints the empty thrones form which the apostate angels fell by pride. The will of the Most High, who exalts the- humble (Lk. 1:52), is that Heaven, earth and Hell bend, with good will or bad will to the commandments of the humble Mary, whom He has made sovereign of Heaven and earth, general of His armies, treasurer of His treasures, dispenser os His graces, worker of His greatest marvels, restorer of the human race, Mediatrix of men, the exterminator of the enemies of God, and the faithful companion of His grandeurs and triumphs.
God the Father wishes to have children by Mary till the consummation of the world; and He speaks to her these words: "Dwell in Jacob" (Ecclus. 24:13); that is to say: Make your dwelling and residence in My predestined children, prefigured by Jacob, and not in the reprobate children of the devil, prefigured by Esau.
Just as in the natural and corporal generation of children there are a father and a mother, so in the supernatural and spiritual generation there are a Father, who is God, and a Mother, who is Mary. All the true children of God, the predestinate, have God for their Father and Mary for their Mother. He has not Mary for his Mother has not God for his Father. This is the reason why the reprobate, such as heretics, schismatics and others, who hate our Blessed Lady or regard her with contempt and indifference have not God for their Father, however much they boast of it, simply because they have not Mary for their Mother. For if they had her for their Mother, they would love and honor her as the true child naturally loves and honors the the mother who has given him life.
The most infallible and indisputable sign by which we may distinguish a heretic, a man of bad doctrine, a reprobate, from one of the predestinate, is that the heretic and the reprobate have nothing but contempt and indifference for Our Lady, endeavoring by their words and examples to diminish the worship and love of her, openly or hiddenly, and sometimes by misrepresentations. Alas! God the Father has not told Mary to dwell in them, for they are Esaus. (Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, as translated by Father Frederick William Faber, TAN Books and publishers, pp. 16-18.)
Not very ecumenical of Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort.
Indeed, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI and Jorge Mario Bergoglio have exalted Protestants as "believers" even though most of them disparage Our Lady while others misrepresent her, as did the Protestant producers of The Nativity Story motion picture that made its world premiere in the Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican on Sunday, November 26, 2006, with the former "pontiff's" own full approval and blessing. Our Lady is essential to our salvation, something that Protestants and many, although far from all, conciliarists believe. It is also sad to note that there are some fully traditional Catholics who, perhaps being tinged with a bit of the Jansenist spirit, tend to minimize Our Lady's role in these latter days, believing, rather pridefully, it should be noted, that "we" can "solve" things quite without her help, a proposition that is quite wrong and quite insulting to Christ the King, Who has sent us His Most Blessed Mother in these latter times to help us to save our immortal souls in spite of ourselves and our terrible sins.
Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort explains:
God the Son wishes to form Himself, and, so to speak, to incarnate Himself in His members, every day, by His dear Mother, and He says to her: "Take Israel for your inheritance." (Ecclus. 24:13). It is as if He had said: God the Father has given for an inheritance all the nations of the earth, good and bad, predestinate and reprobate. The ones I will lead with a rod of gold. and the others with a rod of iron. Of the ones, I will be the Father and the Advocate; of the others, the Just Punisher; and of all, the Judge. But as for you, My dear Mother, you shall have for your heritage and possession only the predestinate, prefigured by Israel; and as their Mother, you shall bring them forth and take care of them; and as their sovereign, you shall conduct them, govern them and defend them.
"This man and that man is born in her" (Ps. 86:5), says the Holy Ghost through the Royal Psalmist. According to the explanation of some of the Fathers, the first man that is born of Mary is the Man-God, Jesus Christ; the second is a mere man, the child of God and Mary by adoption. If Jesus Christ, the Head of men, is born in her, then the predestinate, who are the members of that Head, ought also to be born in her, by a necessary consequence. One and the same mother does not bring forth into the world the head without the members, or the members without the head; for this would be a monster of nature. So in like manner, in the order of grace, the head and the members are born of one and the same Mother; and if a member of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ--that is to say, one of the predestinate--were born of any other mother than Mary, who has produced the Head, he would not be one of the predestinate, nor a member of Jesus Christ, but simply a monster in the order of grace.
Besides this, Jesus being at present as much as ever the fruit of Mary--as Heaven and earth repeat thousands and thousands of times a day, "and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus"--it is certain that Jesus Christ is, for each man in particular who possesses Him, as truly the fruit and the work of Mary as He is for the whole world in general; so that if any one of the faithful has Jesus Christ formed in his heart, he can say boldly, "All thanks be to Mary! What I possess is her effect and and her fruit, and without her I should never have had it." We can apply to her more than St. Paul applied to himself the words: "I am in labor again with all the children of God, until Jesus Christ my Son be formed in them in the fullness of His age." (Cf. Gal. 4:19)
St. Augustine, surpassing himself, and going beyond all I have yet said, affirms that all the predestinate, in order to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, are in this world is hidden in the womb of the most holy Virgin, where they are guarded, nourished, brought up and made to grow by that good Mother, until she has brought them forth to glory after death, which is properly the day of their birth, as the Church calls the death of the just. O mystery of grace, unknown to the reprobate, and but little known even to the predestinate! (Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, as translated by Father Frederick William Faber, TAN Books and publishers, pp. 18-20.)
Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort also explained that just as Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ came into the world through Mary as a humble Child, so will it be the case that He will come in glory at the end of time after Our Lady has prepared the children of election for that Second Coming of His:
I have said that this world would come to pass, particularly at the end of the world an indeed presently, because the Most High with His holy Mother has to form for Himself great saints who shall surpass most of the other saints in sanctity as much as the cedars of Lebanon outgrow the little shrubs, as has been revealed to a holy soul whose life has been written by M. de Renty.
These great souls, full of grace and zeal, shall be chosen to match themselves against the enemies of God, who shall rage on all sides; and they shall be singularly devout to our Blessed Lady, illuminated by her light, strengthened with her nourishment, led by her spirit, supported by her arm and sheltered under her protection, so that they shall fight with one hand and build with the other. With the one hand they shall fight, overthrow and crush the heretics with the heresies, the schismatics with their schisms, the idolaters with their idolatries and the sinners with their impieties. With the other they shall build (Esd. 4:7) the temple of the true Solomon, and the mystical city of God, that is to say, the most holy Virgin, called by the fathers the "Temple of Solomon" and the"City of God." By their words and their examples they shall draw the whole world to true devotion to Mary. This shall bring upon them many enemies, but shall also bring them many victories and much glory for God alone. This is what God revealed to St. Vincent Ferrer, the great apostle of his age, as he has sufficiently noted in one of his works.
This is what the Holy Ghost seems to have prophesied in the Fifty-eighth Psalm: "And they shall know that God will rule Jacob and all the ends of the earth; they shall return at evening and shall suffer hunger like dogs and shall go round the city." (Ps. 58: 14-15) This city which men shall find at the end of the world to convert themselves in, and to satisfy the hunger they have for justice, is the most holy Virgin, who is called by the Holy Ghost, the "City of God" (Ps. 86: 3) Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, as translated by Father Frederick William Faber, TAN Books and publishers, pp. 26-27.)
We need to pray to Our Lady for the graces so that we can be one of these souls despite our sins and our best efforts to avoid being so formed!
Let us resolve to give all of the sufferings of the moment, no matter they be personal or civil or ecclesiastical, to the Throne of the Most Blessed Trinity through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, counting it as a true privilege to alive in our troubling times as we seek to make reparation for our own many sins and ingratitude and lukewarmness and worldliness by offering up everything that we are called to suffer without complaint as the slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who display our Miraculous Medals and use the shield of the Brown Scapular, praying as many Rosaries each day as our state-in-life permits.
Yes, God works in ways that baffle the minds of "modern" men. We are not called to be "modern" man, though. We are called to be Catholics who live and work in this passing, mortal vale of tears as pray to journey home to Heaven, which exists outside of the earthly considerations of time and space and where "modern" skeptics are excluded as they did not have the hearts of little children to trust in the simple signs of God's love that He sent to them through Our Lady's apparitions in this, her age, the Age of Mary.
We have only Heaven to gain.
What we we waiting for?
Immaculate Heart of Mary, triumph soon!
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint Catherine Laboure, pray for us.