“In cases which concern private revelations, it is better to believe than not to believe, for if you believe and it is proven true, you will be happy that you believed, because our Holy Mother asked it of you. If you believed and it should be proven false, you will receive all the blessings as if it has been true, because you believed it to be true.” Pope Urban VIII
I am starting this blog on the 2012 feast of the Queenship of Mary, hoping to post it before the eve of the feast of St. Monica, a saint who epitomizes for me the virtue of perseverance against all odds. (I turn 50 on this day – an ominous milestone for me, for some reason…)
I was inspired to write this while praying in front of a very special statue of Our Lady located in the St. John Vianney Oratory Chapel at the headquarters of the Apostolate for Family Consecration in Bloomingdale, Ohio. Our family spent a week’s vacation there recently during one of the apostolate’s Holy Family Fests.
I think most of you would agree with me when I say our country, the United States of America, is in need of a miracle of grace. We are a divided country philosophically and politically, riddled with factions. There are a large number of Americans today who, for whatever reason, are losing their faith or have even forgotten God. They no longer remember our roots as a Christian country – as one nation under God.
Those of us who do remember, and who do honor God as our creator and Father, are well aware of the signs of the times. We know we are engaged in a fierce spiritual battle and that our country is at a turning point.
Lest you think I am all gloom and doom here, I do realize there are many great lights shining in our US Church today – because when evil abounds, grace abounds all the more.
I always remember that the patroness of the United States is Our Blessed Mother. (One of my favorite places on earth is the headquarters of our Catholic Church in the US, located in Washington DC, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.)
I have had a great devotion to Mary ever since I was a little child -- from the shrines I made to her in my bedroom during May, to the visits at recess to her statue in church when I was at Catholic grade school, to the grotto that adorns my front yard today, she has a special place in my heart and in my family’s home. I always remember what the nuns and my mother taught me about her – “Mary never focuses us on herself, but always leads us to her Son.” Click here to read what Pope Benedict said about this August 22, 2012.
Perhaps my Marian devotion is the reason I have a special love for our late great pope John Paul II, whose motto was Totus Tuus (totally yours) regarding the Blessed Virgin.
I credit the teachings of John Paul II with putting me back on the right path in my life after I had dangerously gone astray. I studied his encyclicals pertinent to women, and I was led to learn his wonderful catechesis, the Theology of the Body, about the meaning of our creation as male and female and our call to love as God loves. If I had only learned this teaching earlier in my life, I might have avoided a lot of suffering.
I became a student of this catechesis, taking classes at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and at the Theology of the Body Institute in Philadelphia, and I was later given the privilege of hosting a Theology of the Body radio show on 1090 AM Michigan Catholic Radio for a few years. During that time I was blessed to interview Dr. Michael Waldstein, who wrote the introduction for and translated the most recent edition of John Paul II’s work Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body. Because he lived in Austria at the time, I asked Dr. Waldstein if an appreciation of the Theology of the Body was growing in Europe. Sadly, he said not really, commenting that nowhere is this teaching as popular as it is in the United States.
This is one of those lights in our country that I was talking about. I can give you reams of information on the people and organizations inside and even outside the Catholic Church who are bringing this catechesis, and all the wonderful works of John Paul II, to young and old alike in the US. We are definitely in a new springtime in our faith, much of which can be credited to John Paul II. (I could start naming them, this blog already getting too long...)
Perhaps this is why Our Lady has called for an army of young people specifically from the United States to lead the world in the battle for purity.
Oh, you haven’t heard about this? Probably that’s because this call is from a Marian apparition, Our Lady of America, which has not been fully recognized by the Church, although I’m not sure why. (If you hadn’t guessed, as I mentioned earlier, it was her statue in front of which I was praying…) Click here to read the statement from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and here from the Bishop of Toledo, Ohio, about the private revelations of Sister Mary Ephrem in Fostoria, Ohio, concerning these apparitions. I have taken the liberty of copying some segments from this sister’s revelations here so you can get an idea of what Our Lady is reported to have said. Go to the website to learn more.
"I am Our Lady of America. I desire that my children honor me, especially by the purity of their lives…I desire, through my children of America, to further the cause of faith and purity among peoples and nations.”
“I come to you, O children of America, as a last resort. I plead with you to listen to my voice. Cleanse your souls in the Precious Blood of My Son. Live in His Heart, and take me in that I may teach you to live in great purity of heart which is so pleasing to God. Be my army of chaste soldiers, ready to fight to the death to preserve the purity of your souls.”
Our Lady promised “greater miracles than those granted at Lourdes and Fatima” to happen in America, and the United States in particular, if “we would do as she desires… Tell the Bishops of the United States, my loyal sons, of my desires and how I wish them to be carried out.”
Her request is simple. She does not ask for a shrine to be built because we already have a Basilica of which she is very pleased. She wants her statue under the title of Our Lady of America to be placed in that shrine. If this happens she says:
"I promise to reward their love by working through the power of my Son's Heart and my Immaculate Heart miracles of grace among them. I do not promise miracles of the body, but of the soul."
It is very reassuring to think that during two of the most well-known Marian apparitions -- Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima -- Mary emphasizes the importance of her title as the Immaculate Conception. At Lourdes, she revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception, and she told the children at Fatima that in the end, her Immaculate Heart would triumph. In the apparitions to Sister Mary Ephrem, Our Lady said she is most pleased that we in America honor her under this title of purity.
She also states specifically that it is the young people in the United States who will lead the cause. We do have an ever growing group of young adults emerging as leaders in this country who are well formed in their faith and very in favor of creating a Culture of Life.
But does anyone believe the transformation called for by Our Blessed Mother will happen any time soon unless we have a miracle? A spiritual miracle of grace, perhaps?
I sent a note to the rector of the Basilica of Shrine of Immaculate Conception, asking about the status of the request to place the statue amongst the many shrines to Marian apparitions that already exist in the Basilica. He said there are no plans for this to happen, stating that John Paul II has already consecrated the Americas to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I mean no disrespect to Msg. Rossi, or to Our Lady in her amazing apparition that took place in Mexico, but if John Paul II were alive today, I think he might agree there is room for more than one title under which Our Lady can be honored in the Americas. I think US Catholics know well that our country has been uniquely favored in the world during its history, partly because of its founding as a Christian country, and mostly, I think, because we have specifically made Mary our patroness under the title of the Immaculate Conception.
Please pray that our US Church leaders will do as Our Lady has asked. And as the November elections approach, using the prayer given to us by Our Lady of America, I make this plea to the Queen of Heaven and Earth:
"By thy Holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, deliver us from evil.”