Editor: This is the introduction by Fr. Flavio Gillio, M.S., to the new book to be published soon, “Food for the Journey; the Biblical Roots of the La Salette Message, Volume One”, by Fr. Normand Theroux, M.S. This book is a welcome addition to our library of materials on the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette., and will be available in a paper version, in digital form and also as an audio book, all sold online on Amazon.com and other outlets.
I have never personally met Fr. Normand Theroux, M.S. and yet we have become good friends. Whenever I have a chance to visit his gravesite in the small cemetery the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Enfield, New Hampshire, we spend a little time together and we peacefully converse. Yes, I guess we have become good friends. After all, we both share the same passion for the Scripture, we both studied in Rome at the Pontifical Biblical Institute and, more importantly, we have both being seduced by the same “Beautiful Lady”!
I have, therefore, welcomed with joy the invitation to write an introduction to this volume, Food for the Journey; the Biblical Roots of the La Salette Message, Volume One. Fr. Theroux’s own title for this collection evokes one of the most used biblical metaphors to unfold the hidden meaning of our own lives – that of a journey or pilgrimage.
This year I marked 47 years as a La Salette Missionary. That means I have spent the greater part of my life as a member of this Congregation dedicated to the Apparition and the Message of the Beautiful Lady here at La Salette. Now I find myself living in the very place where the Apparition occurred and the Message was given. That fact feels like a great grace and a great challenge.
Fr. Joseph Bachand, M.S., presently Superior of the La Salette Community at the Holy Mountain in France
Looking at our life with new eyes
As I reflect on the years and the many assignments I have had, it occurs to me that each ministry entrusted to me provided the perspective or lens through which all past assignments would be viewed. I believe this is true for all of us: our present situation in life demands that we look at all that went before with “eyes” made more aware by the new situation. So I look back at all that has transpired in ministry with a greater understanding of conversion, reconciliation and relationship with God that Our Blessed Lady recommends.
Called to Minister as Spiritual Director
With that in mind, one period of my history stands out as instrumental in my own formation as a reconciler. I was blessed to spend four years (1998-2002), with the permission of my superiors, at a treatment center for priests and religious. I held the position of Director of Spirituality for the St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland, but worked more specifically with the men, individually and in groups.
The representation of the ethnicity of Jesus by cultures
…The month of September has always had a Marian flavor for the Church. In fact, the liturgy urges us to celebrate various feasts of Mary: her Nativity – September 8th, the Holy Name of Mary – September 12th, and Our Lady of Sorrows – September 15th. These are worldwide liturgical memorials that speak to us of the nearness of Mary in the life of every human being, and of her total involvement in the sufferings of Christ for the salvation of humankind. To these we must add, since 1846, the Feast of the Apparition at La Salette on September 19th.
Our Faith is Centered on Christ
This month is also important for each one of us in that we are invited at this time to return regularly to the roots of our spirituality, which is fundamentally Christo-centric – “Christ is the rule of our life” (Rule of Life, #7).
Yet we are also exquisitely Marian, because our life, ministry and rule of life are inspired by the message of Mary in her apparition at La Salette and by her faithful example throughout her life dedicated to the person and to the work of her Son:
“Our life of religious consecration finds its inspiration in Mary, ‘whose life is a model for all’ and whose unceasing intercession supports our efforts. Conscious of the challenge which the Apparition of the Lord's Handmaid continues to put before us, we resolve to devote ourselves entirely, as she herself did, to the person and work of her Son” (Rule of Life, #13).
Scripture says: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:13-18).
Editor: This article was written in French by Fr. Pierre Liaud, M.S. (1865-1930), first published in 1897 in his book, "The Mystical Flowers of the Mountain of La Salette (Les Fleurs Mystiques de la Sainte Montagne de La Salette)". This article, chapter six, has been edited.
The children who beheld the Virgin Mary, seated on the stone of the mountain, saw her weeping in profound desolation, overwhelmed with the most bitter grief and shedding abundant tears. "She cried all the time she spoke to us," the children said. "I saw her tears flowing," added Melanie, the little shepherdess.
(Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord: Daniel 7:9-14; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Matthew 17:1-9)
Over the main entrance to the Basilica on the Holy Mountain of La Salette is a stained-glass representation of the Transfiguration of Jesus. As you step outside, the site of the Apparition our Our Lady is directly in front of you.
In reflecting on the message of La salette, there are three basic elements in the Discourse that warrant our attention and can increase our depth of appreciation for the Apparition of our Weeping Mother.
There is nothing that confounds the wisdom of this world so completely as the report of a supernatural apparition. Scientific progress has intoxicated humanity with a sense of its own importance until it has come to believe that nothing lies outside the range of human intelligence.
To the modern mind, anything that evades the chemist's retort, the physicist’s microscope or the astronomer's telescope is purest unreality. It doesn't exist except as a figment of the mind, and the entire field of actuality is an open book to humanity's intelligence.
Out of This World
But with beautifully timed irony Divine Providence intervenes from time to time to effect a work that defies the created intellect to assign its cause. So today Lourdes with its series of miracles annoys the scientist, and the visionary of Konnersreuth, Germany, Therese Neumann (1898-1962), proves quite exasperating. The learned scientists and philosophers of modern thought have not the humility to admit the reality of anything that cannot be touched or weighed and labelled with technical formulae.