Wednesday, December 8, 2010

OUR LADY OF GOOD HELP - The First Approved Marian Apparition In The U.S.A.

Our Lady of Good Help Shrine
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: It's official. Mary was HERE! On this continent and in this country - the United States of America. She spoke in English. She visited one of our own - an American immigrant girl named Adele Brice in Champion Wisconsin, a small village just outside of Green Bay. There are many claims of Marian apparitions in the United States, but for now anyway, only one is approved and without dispute. It is "Our Lady of Good Help." Here is what we can learn from this. The Virgin Mary saw fit to visit the United States, and she did this in 1859, just one year after she appeared in France to Saint Bernadette Soubirous, in what has come to be known there as the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes. In fact, the similarities between this visitation, and that at Lourdes, are quite remarkable. Clearly this apparition was part of a cascade of apparitions in the middle 19th century, in which Our Lady was trying to communicate a particular message to us. At Lourdes she identified herself as the Immaculate Conception, while at Champion she identified herself as the "Queen of Heaven." As wonderful and exciting as this is, we would be remiss to venerate the apparition without taking into account the message of Our Lady to Adele Brice. It was simple really. There is no complexity to it, no apocalyptic visions of the future, just an instruction and a promise....
"As they approached the hallowed spot, Adele could see the beautiful lady, clothed in dazzling white, with a yellow sash around her waist. Her dress fell to her feet in graceful folds. She had a crown of stars around her head, and her long, golden, wavy hair fell loosely around her shoulders. Such a heavenly light shone around her that Adele could hardly look back at her sweet face. Overcome by this heavenly light and the beauty of her amiable visitor, Adele fell on her knees.

" 'In God’s name, who are you and what do you want of me?’ asked Adele, as she had been directed.

‘I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning, and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession, and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them’

'Adele, who is it?'' said one of the women. 'O why can't we see her as you do?' said another weeping.

‘Kneel,’ said Adele, ‘the Lady says she is the Queen of Heaven.’ Our Blessed Lady turned, looked kindly at them, and said, ‘Blessed are they that believe without seeing. What are you doing here in idleness…while your companions are working in the vineyard of my Son?’

‘What more can I do, dear Lady?’ said Adele, weeping.

‘Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation’

‘But how shall I teach them who know so little myself?’ replied Adele.

‘Teach them,’ replied her radiant visitor, ‘their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing. I will help you.’ "

The manifestation of Our Lady then lifted her hands, as though beseeching a blessing for those at her feet, and slowly vanished, leaving Adele overwhelmed and prostrate on the ground.
The message was simple enough, and it is an instruction that carries through with relevance to this day, now more than ever. That wasn't the end of it though. There is more. Our Lady demonstrated her presence with a miracle exactly twelve years after the initial apparition. By this time Adele had become a religious sister. In 1871 a raging wildfire swept through Wisconsin destroying many of the settlements in the area. It was one of the worst in U.S. history. Rather than flee for their lives, Sister Adele and the faithful rushed to the shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. The fire completely surrounded the shrine, but rather than panic in fear they turned toward Our Lady and prayed. The fire engulfed everything in all directions, singeing the fence around the shrine on all sides, but the shrine, and the small plot of land it stood on were left untouched. There is a message in this for all of us. If we will simply turn to the Lord, and follow the instruction of His mother at Champion Wisconsin, we (the American people) can escape the spiritual. economic and social firestorm that will soon engulf our nation.

It all starts with the family. Parents, teach your children the Gospel and the Catechism. Parishes, do the same, at all costs, educate the children in the faith. It is our lack of sound traditionally orthodox education that has brought our national church, and this nation, to the brink of disaster.

The Catholic Church in the United States names Mary as our nation's patroness - The Immaculate Conception. The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is in Washington DC. In doing this the United States bishops have claimed this nation for Mary. Mary was claimed as the Patroness of America as far back as 1792 by Bishop John Carroll. Then in 1846, the Catholic Bishops of the United States assembled to officially proclaim "Mary Immaculate" as our nation's patroness...
"We take this occasion, brethren, to communicate to you the determination, unanimously adopted by us, to place ourselves and all entrusted to our charge throughout the United States, under the special patronage of the holy Mother of God, whose Immaculate Conception is venerated by the piety of the faithful throughout the Catholic Church. By the aid of her prayers, we entertain the confident hope that we will be strengthened to perform the arduous duties of our ministry, and that you will be enabled to practice the sublime virtues, of which her life presents the most perfect example."
This was a full eight years before the dogmatic proclamation from Rome declaring Mary the Immaculate Conception. Yes, the United States not only has a strong Catholic history, but also a strong Marian history. Our Lady of Good Help is a message to us about help - God's help. The people of this nation are precious to God. He loves us, and he wants to heal our land. Turn back to our Lord and our Lady! Raise your children in the faith - strongly. This is our way out. This is our nation's only help. The fire is coming. What will you do?