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A Beacon Of Light… Mary’s Message: God Is Always With Us

June 21, 2022 Frontpage No Comments


(Editor’s Note: Fr. Richard D. Breton Jr. is a priest of the Diocese of Norwich, Conn. He received his BA in religious studies and his MA in dogmatic theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.)

  • + + Let’s take a look at some of the key appearances of Mary around the world, some popularly known, and some, not so known. In each of them she’s been calling us to conversion and has been warning us of consequences of not doing so.
    The First Apparition focuses on what happened in Lourdes, France in 1858. St. Bernadette encounters a mysterious Lady, of pure white. Our Lady’s first appearance was on Thursday, February 11, 1858, when Bernadette was 14 years old. (You can read for yourselves the whole story of the 18 apparitions of Mary to Bernadette.)
    For our purposes, we are going to focus on Mary’s messages to Bernadette. This message is as important to us today, as it was in 1858. The message of Lourdes is God’s desire to meet us where we are. This is always happening in our lives. God is always with us, exactly where we are, by our side. God meets us in the dirtiness of life, just like where Mary met St. Bernadette, in the dirtiness of the pig shelter in Massabielle. It was dirty, damp, and cold, but Mary was at St. Bernadette’s side as she spoke the message needed to be heard at that time. God is not afraid, embarrassed, or uncomfortable to join us where we are: in the midst of our poverty and failures.
    He sent Mary to the “pig shelter” to tell us that He loves us. This is the heart of the Message of Lourdes. We serve a God who wishes to relate to us as a person. We see this in some of Mary’s words to Bernadette: “What I have to say to you does not have to be written down.” Mary speaks to us at the level of the heart, the center of the person. This is an invitation to open the depths of our hearts to God’s continual message of love.

Complete, Spontaneous, Immediate

As an important aside about Lourdes, Catholic News Agency reported the following in 2018:
While there have been more than 7,000 miraculous recoveries attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes at the French shrine, only 70 cases have been officially recognized by the Catholic Church. A miraculous recovery must generally be a complete, spontaneous, and immediate healing from a documented medical condition.
The last official miracle attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes was declared in 2013.
The 2013 miraculous event CNA noted in 2018 involved a French nun, Sr. Bernadette Moriau, who went on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in 2008. She had been suffering from spinal complications which had rendered her wheelchair-bound and disabled since 1980. She said she had been taking morphine to control the pain.
When Sr. Moriau visited the Lourdes Shrine in 2008, she said she “never asked for a miracle.” After attending a blessing for the sick at the shrine, however, something began to change.
“I felt a [surge of] well-being throughout my body, a relaxation, warmth…I returned to my room and there, a voice told me to ‘take off your braces’,” the nun recalled. “Surprise. I could move,” Moriau said.

Their Hour Of Need

The Blessed Mother also appeared in Knock, Ireland in 1879. The apparition of Knock can be best explained in the context of a Scripture passage: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
On the evening of August 21, 1879, two women from the village of Knock were walking back to their home. In the rain, they passed by the back of the village church and it was there they saw the apparition. This apparition was in conjunction with the great famine and terrible misery the Irish people were enduring. It wasn’t uncommon for the priest to offer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to as many as forty parishioners a day. The Irish people were facing astronomical deaths daily.
In order to offer spiritual comfort to his parishioners, the pastor of Knock had begun a series of 100 consecutive Masses for the repose of the souls of those who had died.
On August 21, 1879, in the evening when the 100th Mass was celebrated, the apparition took place. Our Lady, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of the church. Interestingly, Mary said nothing during these apparitions. These apparitions were meant to be a consolation to the people. She came to be with the people in their hour of need.
(My first pastor gave me some good advice: “‘Richard, at the end of the day, people may not remember the things you said…but they will remember that you were there. The priest came to the house…the hospital…the funeral home’.”)
For the people of Ireland, Mary comes to be with them, to comfort and to strengthen them in their times of trial.

Penance And Sacrifice

The apparitions continue, but this time in Portugal. The story begins in the village of Fatima, on May 13, 1917. Mary appeared to three young children, Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia, ages 9, 7, and 10. Mary promised that God would grant peace to the entire world if her three requests were heard and obeyed. The first is prayer. Prayer, specifically to pray the rosary daily and for the Holy Father, “the Bishop clothed in white.” It was here Mary introduced herself as Our Lady of the Rosary.
The second request was for reparation. This is where the children saw a frightening vision of Hell. Mary requested acts of penance and sacrifice to save souls. Here, we see the power of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the devotion that is required of us for poor souls, and with particular emphasis on devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The third request at Fatima was consecration, particularly of Russia. Our Lady asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart so its errors and evils would not spread throughout the world.
Mary visited the children for the last time on October 13, 1917. She promised a sign that would convince the world she had appeared. We know this as the “Miracle of the Sun.”
The apparition at Fatima promised that the world would be at peace, and many souls would go to Heaven, if her requests were listened to and obeyed. At Lourdes Mary reminds us that we are all sinners in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. At Fatima we hear the anguished appeal of our Heavenly Mother.

A Special Prayer

We turn our attention to Akita, Japan. In 1973, this apparition of Mary involves Sr. Agnes Sasagawa of the Handmaids of the Eucharist. Sr. Agnes had a great love for Jesus in the Eucharist. When she went to visit Jesus in the Tabernacle, it was just Him and her. She could hear Him, not with her ears, but with her heart. Sr. Agnes was deaf, and she told Him all that was in her heart. She then remained silent, while He spoke to her. On Tuesday, June 26, 1973, the Lord had a special plan for her. He was to bestow upon her a blessing which would remain with her for the rest of her life. Sr. Agnes experienced a bright illumination of light from the Tabernacle and received the stigmata. This was to prepare her for the greatest gift. But first, Sr. Agnes was given three messages: pray for the reparation of sins, pray for the souls, and pray the rosary frequently. On the last Sunday of May 1982, during the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Sr. Agnes was completely cured from her deafness.
At Akita, Mary stressed the importance of: praying the rosary, accepting from God whatever He may send in the course of each day, offer it up in reparation for so many sins committed throughout the world at this time. Our Lady begged especially for prayers for bishops, priests, and religious, and for reparation before the Blessed Sacrament that they be strong and not “sifted like wheat.”
In conclusion, Our Lady’s purpose for coming to Earth is to guide each one of us back to her Son, Jesus. Our Lady’s main message throughout the world is one of peace and love. She comes to Earth to re-educate us and to help us convert and center our lives back to God. Our Lady’s role has always been one of guiding people to her Son, Jesus.
What an amazing opportunity we have before us! It is important we understand both the magnitude and the urgency of Our Lady’s call to conversion, and that we respond with all our hearts. The time for decision is NOW! Our Lady’s call is URGENT!

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