In Ways That Baffle the Minds of "Modern" Men
Thomas A. Droleskey
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 over six months ago now:
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 the Esplanade 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 ten 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.
What? 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.
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 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 embrace of "separation of Church and State" despite the fact that Pope Saint Pius X called it a thesis "absolutely false," a "grave and fatal error," a statement that is either true or false and cannot be contradicted by anyone, no less a putative "pontiff," 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 the end, of course, her Immaculate Heart triumphs. What have we to fear?
Tomorrow's installment will provide the narrative of Our Lady's apparition to Saint Catherine Laboure on November 27, 1830, and a few of the first miracles associated with the Medal that prompted the friends of Alphonse Ratisbonne to believe that he could be converted by wearing it, no less be a chosen soul in his own right.
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.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, triumph soon!
Vivat Christus Rex! Viva Cristo Rey!
Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?
Viva Cristo Rey!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, 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 Andrew the Apostle, pray for us.
See also: A Litany of Saints