Spirituality and Charism
Editor: This presentation was originally the third part of the La Salette Triduum, given at the La Salette Shrine in Enfield, N.H. in the 1980s.

The Formation of the La Salette Mass

Untitled-1In the early 1940s, in anticipation of the centenary of her Apparition at La Salette — the occupation of France by Nazi Germany notwithstanding — Our Lady’s Missionaries intensified their appeals to Vatican officials for the privilege of a proper Office and Mass in her honor. Word reached them in early 1942 that the Holy See was willing to accede to their wish.

The La Salette General Council of the Congregation saw to it that a formulary for the new Office and Mass be drafted and submitted to the Congregation of Rites. Suitable prayers were written up, hymns were composed and, more importantly perhaps, appropriate Scripture passages were selected.

The second reading for the La Salette Mass, taken from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, was an obvious choice, as was the classic passage from St. John’s Gospel which places Mary at Calvary.

Particularly insightful and inspired, though, is the first reading, borrowed from the Book of Genesis, focusing as it does on both the renewed covenant of reconciliation between the Creator and every creature and on the rainbow, the sign and reminder of our restored friendship.

Wickedness Reigned
At the dawn of sacred history, the Lord saw that human wickedness was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of the human heart was evil continually. And the Lord God regretted having made the human creatures on the earth and was grieved to the heart (Gen 6:5-7).

Untitled-1Window in the La Salette Shrine Church in
Salmata, Italy
At La Salette our Weeping Mother sensed fear in the two children and said, “Come near, my children. Do not be afraid.”

When we reflect on getting involved in some aspects of life, in challenging relationships, in reaching out to those in need, we may experience hesitation, fear or even indifference. These tendencies are countered by the second of the two great commandments: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Responding to this invitation to love seems to me incompatible with any tendency to indifference.

The tendency to attempt to be indifferent is a refusal to be affected by another person, event, situation, or almost anything. It seems to spring from a yearning to be neutral or perhaps to avoid our fear of others, or can even come from a pure lack of interest. It can also result from an accumulation of worries, or wanting to avoid any emotional reactions or encounters.


What Does Jesus Say?

At the heart of the storm, while his companions were panicking, Jesus remained asleep! Is this indifference? Certainly not! He sleeps with confidence in their expertise as sailors.

When the shepherd of the parable of the lost sheep leaves his flock to rescue one sheep, is this indifference for the ninety-nine others? Certainly not! It is rather an expression of his passionate concern for the lost and helpless sheep that he takes time away from his flock to go looking for him.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan on the way to Jericho, the priest and the Levite pass by, perhaps pulled away from involvement by their insistence of the importance of their own need for purity, an expression of their Jewish faith. They chose not to “defile themselves” with their involvement with the injured, abandoned Samaritan, thus preventing them from practicing their religion.

Untitled-1My people – three times Mary uses this phrase, once early on and twice in the conclusion of her merciful message at La Salette. Very clearly from the outset, she indicates that we are the recipients of her great news – far beyond just Maximin and Melanie. She addresses the entire people of God.

At La Salette Mary invites us to join in a spiritual revolution. One hundred and twenty two years before the Second Vatican Council, she very clearly invites us out of an individualistic attitude of mind into a personal, active commitment in faith. She has a truly personal yet universal message involving ourselves, our God, and our spiritual life – all within the context of an immense family of faith, the people of God.

We find the phrase, my people, more than 2,000 times in the Bible, including 150 in the New Testament alone. And, of course, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wrote:


“...it pleased (God) to bring (humanity) together as one people, a people which acknowledges (God) in truth and serves (God) in holiness. He therefore chose the race of Israel as a people unto himself. With it he set up a covenant. Step by step he taught and prepared this people... I will be their God, and they shall be my people...

For those who believe in Christ... are finally established as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people... who in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God". That messianic people has Christ for its head... The state of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons (and daughters) of God... "(Lumen Gentium, #9, emphasis added).


Bringing Mary Out Of Eclipse


Untitled-1Stamp issued by Italy, for the 1983 Holy YearIt is no exaggeration to say that Marian devotion suffered a diminution during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Some blame the Second Vatican Council; others hold theologians at fault. And yet no council has ever spoken so beautifully of Mary as does Lumen Gentium, nos. 52-69. Prominent theologians such as Karl Rahner, Schillebeeckx, and even the non-Catholic Max Thurian have written exquisitely on Mary. Bishops’ conferences have issued pastoral letters on Mary, such as the American Bishops’ beautiful letter, Behold Your Mother.

The eclipse perhaps came as an overreaction to excesses that at times existed in some Marian devotions; the eclipse also may have come because our attention was focused on other essential aspects of our Christian, ecclesial life.

But Mary is so integral a part of the fabric of our faith that she cannot remain in eclipse. In fact, in Argentina, Cardinal Primatesta, in a conference to members of the Council of the Congregation, went on at great length to emphasize that it is Marian devotion that has preserved the Christian faith of the Latin American people over the centuries. This great gift cannot remain in eclipse.

The Holy Mountain of Our Lady of La Salette is very close to heaven, being atop an Alpine peak in the French Alps. In fact it is a high, holy ground – a good place for you to meet your God.

Untitled-1Overview of the Holy Mountain in FranceIn order to do this, you must first enter this stately La Salette Basilica, leaving behind your masks, and ready to hold God’s truth like a fragile flame in the palm of your hands. You must also be silent and aware of God’s awesome presence in this truly holy space.

Can you sense Mary’s lingering and loving presence? No loneliness can resist her tender words.

Look to the upper dome, above the sanctuary. Take in the majestic face the Christ, with his arms open in blessing, a shadow of the cross on his face. He is the Reconciler who calls you to a renewal of your faith in the privilege of this moment.

Looking around the central dome, heavenly light steals into this quiet space, softly lighting up the stained glass windows of the mysteries of the rosary.

As devotees of Mary’s Apparition at La Salette, we often reflect on her words about the important place of Untitled-1Stained glass window on the
Holy Mountain of La Salette
depicting Mary’s words about
working on Sunday
worshipping God at the Eucharist. In effect, she is reminding us of the fourth commandment. The full version of this commandment, seldom quoted, is found in the Book of Exodus with the accompanying reason God asked a Sabbath and how we should conduct ourselves on that special day:


Remember the Sabbath day—keep it holy. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your work animal, or the resident alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20: 8-11)


We Christians need to reflect more deeply on this call to Sabbath. Let me begin with a true story told by Jacob, a friend of Wayne Muller, a Christian, who wrote the book, “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives” (Bantam Books, New York, 1999). He writes:


“When Sheila and I were married, her grandparents gave us a brand-new washer and dryer. It was a very generous gift, and we were very grateful to receive such a blessing for our new home. But when they presented them to us, her grandfather explained that this was a Jewish washer and dryer. ‘What makes them Jewish?’ I asked, naively. Sheila’s grandfather replied with a twinkle, ‘They won’t work on Shabbat (the Sabbath day).’”

Editor: Fr. Eugene Barrette, M.S., past Superior General of the La Salette Missionaries, wrote in the May-June 1988 edition of Review for Religious (pgs. 342-352), an article on the Marian Year. This is a brief section of his article.

Untitled-1St John Under The Cross With Mary by Fr. R. Maria LuccisanoMary is model for our pilgrimage of faith, but she is more. She is an accompanying maternal presence – guiding, interceding, helping with the sensitivity that only a mother can have. And that is also a reality – she is truly a mother to each of us.

Mary as mother of the human race, again, is not just poetry. It is clearly stated and established at the foot of the cross. “Women, behold your son. Son, behold your mother.” Mary as model is a great gift of the Father to us; but even more, Mary as mother is the great gift of the Father and the Son to us.


Her Motherhood is Our Gift from Christ


Again the words of Pope John Paul in 1987,


“Mary’s motherhood which becomes (humanity’s) inheritance is a gift; a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual... Of the essence of motherhood is the fact that it concerns the person. Motherhood always establishes a unique and unrepeatable relationship between two people: between mother and child and between child and mother” (Redemptoris Mater, #45).


Mary is not “out there” somewhere; she is intimately linked with you and me, whether we pay attention to that link or not. The relationship is part of our reality.

Untitled-1Mary appears to the two children at La SaletteWe do not approach La Salette with a “tabula rasa (blank tablet),” as it were. Our image of God precedes our hearing the message and helps determines how we hear that message. If we adopt the image of God the Father revealed by Jesus, …what do we hear when we listen to the message and event of La Salette?


A Father Concerned For His Poor Children


First of all, we hear the plea of a Father concerned for his children; a Father who wants what’s best for them. It is clear that the Beautiful Lady is in the position of a prophet, speaking on behalf of God, because it is God who has “given us six days to labor” and kept the seventh for himself. God’s love is being poured out on all alike: swearing cart-drivers and those who hold dying children in their arms; the elderly women who go to Mass and those who go only to mock; those who work on Sunday and those who bemoan the poor harvest.

Untitled-1The Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette was not only an extraordinary event for the two witnesses and the world at large. It is also a wonderful school of how to develop an intimate relationship with others and with God.

In his masterful book, With An Everlasting Love: Developing An Intimate Relationship with God, the renowned spiritual director, Fr. William A. Barry, S.J., speaks of the central points of growth necessary to develop our relationship with God. As a La Salette Missionary, in reading his book, I was struck by the many parallels between our relationship with God and the content of the La Salette Apparition.

Fr. Barry states that, in any relationship, there are certain common basics:


First: we have to be interested in the person, attracted to that person;
Second: we must take some initiative to be with that person;
Third: we will want to know about that person’s heart – his or her values and beliefs; and..
Fourth: we must begin to trust in that person, becoming more transparent with each other. (1)


First: developing interest, being attracted to that person

There is a saying, “Just like fine wine, we should get better with the passage of time.” Put another way, it also means: “We can never stop growing.” This is also true of our Catholic faith.
Untitled-1Some La Salette Associates from Attleboro meeting with Fr. Silvano Marisa, M.S., La Salette Superior General (left of wall cross) and Fr. Ephen Musngi, M.S. (2nd from left), a La Salette General Councilor
Pope Francis encourages us in his Angelus message of October 7, 2013:


“Yes, Lord, our faith is small, our faith is weak, fragile, but we offer it to you just as it is, so that you will make it grow. It seems to me that it would be good for all of us to repeat this together: ‘Lord, increase our faith! … Make it grow!’ And the Lord, how does he answer? He replies: ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree: Be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it would obey you’" (Luke 17:6).


Over these past few years I have been privileged to be involved with our La Salette Associates. As part of the leadership team for La Salette Associates in the Attleboro area I have been forming prayer services and ongoing education information for the monthly meetings of our Associates. It came from their initial request to learn “something more” about their faith.


Learning More About Our Faith


These sessions are based on four topics: La Salette, Community, Ministry and Personal Spirituality. I have formed almost twenty sessions, each about 3-4 pages long. However these materials are not only for La Salette Associates but also for the La Salette Laity in our many ministries across our country and, in true La Salette fashion, for “all (Mary’s) people.”

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La Salette Missionaries, Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas

Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.

Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.

Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”