Ecumenism and La Salette

Editor: This article was originally written in our newly-begun publication, “Reconciliare: a La Salette Intracommunity Review”, published in Rome, after Vatican II. Fr. Stern is himself a convert from Judeism.

Untitled-1Fr. Jean Stern, M.S.Everyone knows that the place now held by apparitions in Catholic piety constitutes one of the major obstacles to closer relations with our Protestant brethren. Dr. Künneth, Secretary of the World Lutheran Federation at Geneva, whose conference given at the Marian Congress in Lisbon included many sympathetic viewpoints still did not hesitate to express serious reservations relative to piety as manifested at Lourdes and Fatima.


Catholics and Our Separated Brethren


Every Catholic anxious for the progress of ecumenism will necessarily be perturbed by this state of affairs. Some will probably go as far as to hope for the outright suppression of all forms of piety related to apparitions. In fact, some will say: La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima, etc., are not part of Revelation; shouldn't we choose to remove these obstacles from the road to unity, a road already long and strewn with difficulties for our separated brethren? The Church, after all, never considered apparitions as bolted to the foundations of faith properly so-called.

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Catholics and Non-Violence

Editor: The following statement, crafted in a consensus process, was released at the end of the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference in Rome, April 2016. We invite individuals and organizations to endorse this statement using the form below. More than 1,100 individuals and organizations have endorsed it as of September 12, 2016.

Untitled-1As Christians committed to a more just and peaceful world, we are called to take a clear stand for creative and active nonviolence and against all forms of violence. With this conviction, and in recognition of the Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis, people from many countries gathered at the Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International on April 11-13, 2016 in Rome.

Our assembly, people of God from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania included lay people, theologians, members of religious congregations, priests, and bishops. Many of us live in communities experiencing violence and oppression. All of us are practitioners of justice and peace. We are grateful for the message to our conference from Pope Francis: “your thoughts on revitalizing the tools of nonviolence, and of active nonviolence in particular, will be a needed and positive contribution”.


Looking at our world today


We live in a time of tremendous suffering, widespread trauma and fear linked to militarization, economic injustice, climate change, and a myriad of other specific forms of violence. In this context of normalized and systemic violence, those of us who stand in the Christian tradition are called to recognize the centrality of active nonviolence to the vision and message of Jesus; to the life and practice of the Catholic Church; and to our long-term vocation of healing and reconciling both people and the planet.

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A Pep-Talk for La Salettes

Editor: Fr. Ferec’s article, Reflections on our Spirituality (Dec., 1966), was originally published in the La Salette publication, Reconciliare, just after the conclusion of Vatican II. We have divided his lengthy presentation into five articles: 1) Our La Salette Spirituality, 2) Mary, Mediator and Reconciler, 3) La Salettes – Reconcilers Par Excellence, 4) Our La Salette Charism, and 5) A Pep-Talk for La Salettes.


Untitled-1Priest speaks with pilgrims in the early years of the Shrine at the Holy MountainWhat rating does our ministry of reconciliation deserve? An “A” for a service that is constantly improving? An “E” for effort? What mark does one put down for the missionary who is only going through the motions, marking time, rendering a spineless service, a non-zeal that only serves to emasculate one's spirituality?

There are times when the generous performance of routine apostolic chores creates the impression that a big step forward has been taken when actually we have gone two steps backward: because the wasted efforts amounted to what St. Augustine called “giant steps in the wrong direction”.


We are Troops in Ministry-Readiness

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The Mystery of La Salette

Editor: The author of this article (1896-1974) was a noted French writer from Egypt, a convert from Judaism, who was an essayist and biographer, especially concentrating on Marcel Proust.

In May of 1664, seventeen-year-old Benoîte Rencurel was tending her sheep at Notre-Dame du Laus (Our Lady of Laus), on a mountain near Gap, when Saint Maurice, a third-century martyr, appeared to her and told her that, in the nearby valley, she would see a great lady who later reveal her name.

The next day, on the Cliff of Fours, the Lady appeared to her, holding a small child by the hand. For two months, the apparitions continued daily. The Lady, however, had not yet mentioned her name. After going to confession and communion so as to purify her soul, Benoîte dared to ask who she was. She replied, "I am Mary, the Mother of Jesus."


Notre Dame de Laus, an apparent prelude to La Salette


As soon as she revealed the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, Benoite ran into major challenges. During the fourteen days that she was obliged to remain in Embrun for the investigation into the apparitions, she took no food and yet her health did not suffer. The day before her departure, she received another visit from the Blessed Virgin who urged patience. The next day she had a vision of Jesus crucified. This event seemed to prepare the way for the upcoming apparition of La Salette on a nearby mountain.
Untitled-1Notre-Dame du Laus (Photo: Antony B)
It was on Saturday, September 19, 1846 that the Mother of the Son of God appeared to two shepherd children, Melanie and Maximin, in the stark ravine called Sézia, at the foot of the slopes of Mount Gargas. The site strangely evokes two mountaintops in the Holy Land, the land of the prophets; namely, Mounts Tabor and Carmel. Those summits have similar contours, similar air purity and similar barrenness. So much in the apparition at La Salette reminds us of the Scriptures.

Our Lady weeps, warns, invites, prophesies. On her breast we see her crucified Son, nailed still alive on the cross, with its hammer and pincers, the instruments of his passion. She was wearing the white linen ephod of the High Priest as an apron and roses like the little bells, the roses of the Rosary.

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Our La Salette Charism

Editor: Fr. Ferec’s article, Reflections on our Spirituality (Dec., 1966), was originally published in the La Salette publication, Reconciliare, just after the conclusion of Vatican II. We have divided his lengthy presentation into five articles: 1) Our La Salette Spirituality, 2) Mary, Mediator and Reconciler, 3) La Salettes – Reconcilers Par Excellence, 4) Our La Salette Charism, and 5) A Pep-Talk for La Salettes (edited).

Untitled-1…The text of our Constitutions enunciates a twofold purpose (of our congregation) and leaves both elements on an equal plane: we pledge ourselves to “reconcile sinners”, but, with no less determination, we promise “to ferret out and nurture volunteers willing to atone for others.” It seems fairly obvious that only through this two-pronged commitment can our spirituality perpetuate Fr. Sylvan-Marie Giraud's intuition – to honor the Blessed Virgin's urgent appeal for an Atonement Corps – and respect the law of Redemption which decrees that a brother or sister) should be the one to save a wayward Christian.


Atonement and/or Reconciliation


We exist with a dual purpose wrapped in a single service to the Church: to take our place as a reconciler concerning our fellow Christian’s about-face towards God – and to atone... Do our traditions promote, with feet-on-the-ground realism and all-out generosity, (actual) atonement without which La Salette must hobble on only one leg?

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The Feast of La Salette

Editor: Originally given as a homily on Sept. 16, 1998, Fr. Cassista offers this prayerful reflection.

We are invited to prepare well for the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette.

A simple village, a simple life

Untitled-1View of hamlet of La Salette-Fallavaux, 
by E. Dardalet
On this day, …the village of La Salette was its normal self. Life was simple. The village was practically unknown to the rest of the world, even to France. The village was an insignificant place – a village of little importance.

The Mountain of La Salette was also as it had always been quiet, awesome and majestic in its beauty, yet unseen and unknown to most people. The only signs of life, the only sounds which could be heard on the Mountain on that day, September 16, 1846, were the sounds of children, shepherds at play and at work, watching over the flocks confided to their care. The small bells tied to the necks of cows and sheep could be heard faintly, here and there on the Mountain.


Let us go to that Mountain


In spirit today, let us go to that Mountain. What do we experience? The Mountain resembles a desert. It is quiet and silent. The silence is almost deafening. The grass on the mountainside is brown, burned by the summer sun.

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Untitled-1Many years ago, there appeared to two ignorant mountain children, a vision filled at once with heavenly glory and the most poignant human sorrow. The two innocent children saw the Mother of God, surrounded by radiant light, her eyes were bathed in tears. They heard from her lips a message from God: words of reproof and warning, yet full of encouragement; words that chided people for their lack of submission to God and God’s law of love.

A Woman in Tears, Calling for Submission

She pleaded and almost bargained for her people’s obedience with promises of good things to come if they were converted. Her words dealt with their submission to God, as opposed to humanity’s ruling or misruling of themselves, and seems to be a message for our own day as well.

"If my people will not submit, I shall be forced to let go the arm of my Son. It is so strong and so heavy that I can no longer withhold it." And there follows the tender recalling of Mary's own efforts on behalf of the offenders who are also her children: "How long a time do I suffer for you. If I would not have my Son abandon you, I am compelled to pray to him without ceasing." She add, with the pain that would be despair were she not our Mother, "And as for you, you take no heed of it... However much you pray, however much you do, you will never recompense the pain I have taken for you".


La Salettes – Reconcilers Par Excellence

Editor: Fr. Ferec’s article, Reflections on our Spirituality (Dec., 1966), was 

Untitled-1Our Lady, wrapt in a circle of light, speaks to the two children

originally published in the La Salette publication, Reconciliare, just after the conclusion of Vatican II. We have divided his lengthy presentation into five articles: 1) Our La Salette Spirituality, 2) Mary, Mediator and Reconciler, 3) La Salettes – Reconcilers Par Excellence, 4) Our La Salette Charism, and 5) A Pep-Talk for La Salettes.

…the master-theme which undergirds a spirituality must serve as the polarizing factor which unifies and correlates all other mysteries essential to that spirituality. One can readily notice that the several mysteries evoked by the Apparition of La Salette spontaneously polarize around the major theme of Reconciliation.

For instance, what mysterious motive compels the Virgin Reconciler to “pray without ceasing” and to spare no effort in the fulfillment of her errand of compassion? Here is why: Mother of God and of all people, she cannot abide a mortal division between the Firstborn of her divine maternity and the offspring she bore in the realm of grace. Nor can the Queen of heaven bear to watch her People destroy themselves through their obstinate revolt.

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Our Lady, Reconciler

Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).

Untitled-1This cry of the great Apostle to the Gentiles was heard again at La Salette. The Mother of God returned to earth and chose a pulpit in the splendid French Alps. In the hope of being heard, she was crying, urging us in similar words to “Be reconciled with God." This is the summary of her apparition, the meaning behind her tears and the mystery of her heavenly appearance. Doesn’t her message not deserve to be greeted with similar respect, attention and recognition as do the words of St. Paul?

Mary is truly an ambassador, a Reconciler of her people. She gave her Son as a gift to us, just as the Father similarly gave his only Son as our only reconciliation. She therefore has a unique place in the work of Redemption.


Mary, the Mother of Jesus

If it is true, according to the first letter of Timothy, "For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all" (1 Tim 2:5), it is also true that there is only one Mother of Jesus, the Virgin Mother, from whom Jesus received his body and blood by the action of the Holy Spirit…

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What’s a Pilgrimage?

Editor: This part of the presentation was given at the La Salette Lay Summit held in Attleboro, MA from July 15-17, 2016.

Pilgrimage is rooted deep in the human experience. We go back to places that have had deep meaning for us or, more broadly, places that have deep meaning for us as a people.


Memorial Events or Places Draw Us

Untitled-1Pilgrims swarmed to the site of
the La Salette Apparition soon
after the heavenly event.
If you have ever been to Gettysburg or the Vietnam War Memorial, you can’t help but be moved. I certainly did not participate in the Battle of Gettysburg and by the grace of God, I did not go to war in Vietnam. Yet as Americans these places are deemed as significant, in a way holy, and somehow as an American, I am transported into those realities of long ago.

Many of you were not in New York City for September 11, 2001, but if you go to the Memorial, it’s very moving. When Pope Francis visited New York City in April, 2008, he stopped to lay a wreath at Ground Zero, one of the sites of the 9/11 attacks.

Even if we have not personally participated in the actual events, they are made present to us by their existence and often we feel compelled to visit them.

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