Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Our Lady of LaSalette

In the Jubilee Year of 2000, we were fortunate to be able to take the children on pilgrimage to shrines and Catholic sites all over France and Italy (culminating in seeing John Paul the Great in audience). My husband and I have a special devotion to Our Lady, and incorporated many Marian shrines in our planning of this momentous trip.

Of all the shrines and places we went -- including Lourdes and Lisieux -- no place had more impact on me then the small French Alpine village of LaSalette near Grenoble. The place is hard country -- mountainous and rocky, perfect for sheep, goats and shepherds. And, a Marian shrine that will live in my memory.

The story of this not-so famous Marian apparition, begins on September 19, 1846. Two young shepherds, Maximin Giraud (11) and Melanie Mathieu (15), had fallen asleep on that drowsy day and awoke to see a woman sitting on a rock, head in our hands, weeping.
She stood and said
Come near, my children, do not be afraid. I am here to tell you great news.

The beautiful Lady was tall. She was all light. She was dressed like the women of that region: a long dress, long apron tied at the waist, a shawl crossed and knotted in the back. On her head she wore a peasant bonnet. There were roses in a crown around her head, around her shawl and her shoes. Light shimmered like a fiery diadem on her forehead. A chain seemed to weigh heavily on her shoulders. A finer link-chain held a brilliant crucifix on her breast, with a hammer on one side and tongs on the other. (as described at the official site of the Missionaries and Sisters of Our Lady of LaSalette

Imagine, the Blessed Mother WEEPING! She, who held back her tears when Jesus was left in Jerusalem. She, who held back her tears when Jesus met her on his way to Golgotha. She, who held back her tears when her Son died on the Cross. This is the woman who was seen WEEPING in front of two children.

Her message was one of Divine Mercy and a plea for a change of heart by the French. They were no longer attending Mass on Sundays. They were no longer keeping the Lord's Day special. They were no longer venerating the Lord's name, but instead were blaspheming whenever anything bad happened -- crop failures or just plain bad luck.

Here are the words she spoke:
If my people do not obey, I shall be compelled to loose the arm of my Son. It is so heavy that I can no longer restrain it.

How long have I suffered for you!

Here was her simple, yet serious request of the children:

If my people are converted, the stones will become mounds of wheat and it will be found that the potatoes have been self-sown. Do you say your prayers well, my children?

The children answered with one voice: "Not too well, Madame, hardly at all".

Ah! my children, it is very important to do so, at night and in the morning. When you don't have time, at least say an "Our Father" and a "Hail Mary"; and when you can, say more.

Only a few rather elderly women go to Mass in the summer. Everyone else works every Sunday all summer long. And in winter, when they don't know what else to do, they go to Mass only to scoff at religion. During Lent, they go to the butcher shop like dogs.

In 1851 the Bishop of Grenoble, France, after a lengthy investigation, proclaimed the apparition of La Salette "bears within itself all the characteristics of truth."

This site had such an impression on me -- the lovely, graceful image of Our Blessed Mother weeping into her hands with her elbows resting on her knees. How sad she must have been! How racked with grief for the mistakes of the French. How little she asked of the French people -- attend Mass, keep the Lord's day holy, venerate her Son, and pray.

How little she asks of all of us.

Consecration to Our Lady of La Salette

Most holy Mother, Our Lady of La Salette, who for love of me shed such bitter tears in your merciful apparition, look down with kindness upon me, as I consecrate myself to you without reserve. From this day, my glory shall be to know that I am your child. May I so live as to dry your tears and console your afflicted heart. Beloved Mother, to you and to your blessed charge and sacred keeping and into the bosom of your mercy, for this day and for every day, and for the hour of my death I commend myself, body and soul, every hope and every joy, every trouble and every sorrow, my life and my life's end. O dearest Mother, enlighten by understanding, direct my steps, console me by your maternal protection, so that exempt from all error, sheltered from every danger of sin, I may, with ardor and invincible courage, walk in the paths traced out for me by you and your Son.

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