La Salette is Like a Good Virus

Editor: On the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the La Salette Apparition, a La Salette priest visited the Holy Mountain and wrote his reflections upon which we can reflect.

Untitled-1(left) Fr. Alfred Hischer, M.S. (1923-2008); (right) Fr. Josef lmhof, M.S. (1894-1986)The members of our La Salette Province of Switzerland have traveled to the Holy Mountain of La Salette for 50 years. Over the years our lives certainly have changed but our gratitude for the time spent on the Holy Mountain and with the pilgrims encountered remains.

My first visit to this place of pilgrimage was on Sept. 20th, 1946. It was the day after the 100th anniversary of the Appearance of our Holy Mother. This was the first year after the end of World War II, the effects of which we saw during our journey from Geneva to La Salette.

We arrived on a wonderful evening in late fall together with two hundred La Salettes from all over the world to pay homage to our Merciful Mother. Immediately after our arrival, our Provincial Superior, Father Josef lmhof, M.S., led us to the site of the apparition. He showed us where, 100 years previous, Mother Mary had appeared. I was so impressed by this fact, that for some time this place was for me the center of La Salette.

Until 1987 I spent not less than thirty summers as a guide for pilgrims to La Salette. During this time I become enamored with this place and its pristine beauty. The more often I visited, the more I learned about La Salette – the appearance and the message. And so this lovely spot became my home.

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La Salette National Shrine in Dominica

Untitled-1(left) old church before hurricane in 1979;
(right) new walls and roof being replaced

Each year hundreds of Catholic pilgrims converge on the Southern community of Pointe Michel on September 19th to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette, dubbed “the village feast.” The celebration is the culmination of a nine-day Novena which began with Mass presided over by our bishop and many concelebrating clergy, along with people from all over the island.

St. Luke’s Parish Church in Pointe Michel, Dominica, in the Caribbean Islands, was declared the National Shrine, and dedicated to Our Lady of La Salette by Bp. Arnold Boghaert in 1983. Having recently completed extensive renovations, it is a beautiful place of worship and a center of devotion and prayer to Our Lady of La Salette.

Small Beginnings – 1870s and 1880s

La Salette devotion in Dominica goes back to early February of 1872 when Fr. Desiré Clément Ardois returned from France with a beautiful statue of Our Lady as she appeared to the two little shepherd children, Maximin and Mélanie on September 19, 1846 in La Salette in France. As he was the parish priest of Pointe Michel, he had a small side chapel added to the parish church where he displayed the statue for veneration by the faithful.

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Editor: This article was originally presented at the First International Encounter of La Salette Laity, held on the Holy Mountain of La Salette from Sept. 1-10, 2011. It was translated from Portuguese to English by Fr. Norman Butler, M.S. This is the second of three articles.

La Salette and its Symbols

Untitled-1Fr. Isidro Perin, M.S., La Salette Superior General from 1994-2006La Salette is an event and a message full of symbols.

The globe of light that surrounds Mary and the children;

The tears that constantly flow from the eyes of the Beautiful Lady and vanish as they fall into the intense light radiating from the crucifix she wears;

The chains that form a border to her shawl, symbols of oppression and of rejection of the fraternity and solidarity offered by her Son Jesus.

There are roses that accompany the chains of her shawl, and surround her head and her shoes, symbols of love, of new life so that creation no longer needs to suffer birth pangs but can become a paradise of brothers and sisters.


Renewing Consecrated Life in Brazil

Untitled-1The first session for the Juniors of Bahia took place at Mombitaba House, provided by the La Salette Missionaries and the Taizé Community of Alagoinhas in Bahia, Brazil. The meeting included seventy-two juniors and eight trainers.

The theme of the meeting was Consecrated Religious Life: Space for Dialogue and Discernment. Sr. Annette Havenne, SM, from the Conference of Religious of Brazil, gave a brief reflection on what identifies us as Consecrated Religious: that is, Community, Mysticism and Mission. She then asked: Where is dialogue and discernment in our life?

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La Salette’s Concern for the Social Order

Untitled-1Pope St. John Paul II
As people connected to the reconciling message of the La Salette apparition, we are witnessing widening gaps between peoples of the world. It is no longer a question of armed conflict, ethnic prejudice or the wealth and poverty of nations. There is no doubt that these play crucial roles in the alienation of peoples. But other factors have entered the scene and are exacerbating the crisis of injustice on every continent and in every country throughout the world.

Way back in 1987, Pope St. John Paul II followed up his encyclical, Laborem Exercens (On Human Work), with another encyclical, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (Concern [of the Church] for the Social Order). It has been described as “a progressive application of the central concept of justice” from the Church for society at large.


Pervasive Injustice – Deprivation vs. Superabundance


Injustice is at the root of every single evil separating peoples everywhere. This may seem to be a blanket condemnation but the fact of injustice becomes apparent as one notes the areas of poverty and deprivation across the entire spectrum of humanity.

If the whole planet were poor and deprived of many necessities of human life then those needs could not be said to be unjustly caused by some nations against others, some nations withholding or depriving others of needed essentials for acceptable levels for the dignity of human existence. For every single type of poverty or deprivation there exists in our civilization an opposite glut and abundance sufficient at least to alleviate the distress and sometimes to provide the self help resources that would allow that nation or region to lift itself out of want.

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A La Salette Ministry of Restorative Justice

Editor: Fr. Landry has begun a new ministry in the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona. He wrote this letter explaining an important facet of his ministry of reconciliation…

Untitled-1To all my La Salette Brothers and Sisters, and friends of La Salette,

My new assignment has taken me to the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona. I am working in Detention Ministry with a focus on Restorative Justice. Detention Ministry here in the diocese is called The Kolbe Society out of respect for and inspired by Saint Maximilian Kolbe who gave his life to replace a man condemned to death.

Restorative Justice has many expressions as it strives to “make things right” between a victim and his or her offender and the community. The objective is to focus on the broken relationship between the victim and the offender that has caused real harm and possibly deep hurt to the victim and within the community.

While the Criminal Justice System looks to punishment as the reparation for the hurt or harm caused by the offender, restorative justice looks to address the hurt or harm by bringing both together (when possible) and to explore all the dimensions of hurt or harm caused by the crime.


The Victim


In most crimes, the victim has sustained serious material damage and this must be addressed; the offender is responsible for just compensation. However the victim is a person and will most certainly have suffered inner hurt as well; this emotional hurt is addressed when the victim meets face to face with the offender through the restorative justice process; we should note that this face to face meeting rarely happens within the criminal justice system.

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The Hope and Promise of New Life

On Palm Sunday, as I was visiting our La Salettes in Washington, DC, our Presider at Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was the Apostolic Nuncio, Most Rev. Carlo Maria Viganò, DD. His homily touched on the power of Christ’s passion and death to bring about the hope and promise of new Untitled-1Apostolic Nuncio to the United States,
Most Rev. Carlo Maria Viganò, D.D.
life. I could not help but reflect on this theme in light of where we are journeying as a religious missionary community sent to make the message of the Gospel and the grace of the La Salette event known “to all [God’s] people.”


For the Will of the Father and for Love of Us


New life is for many of us uncharted territory. We experience the challenges of change every day. Sometimes new life is as puzzling to us as it was for Nicodemus in his nighttime appointment and dialogue with Jesus (cf. John 3:1-21). We are all too familiar with the paradox of Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel, “unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit” (John 12:24). Living out these words is at times a significant challenge.

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Jacques Maritain – Mary’s Tears at La Salette

How could the Lady weep at La Salette? Isn't she among the saved, the elect in heaven? How can there be sadness in Paradise, tears in a world of bliss?

Untitled-1Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), a French Catholic philosopher, theologian and friend of Pope Paul VIOn earth, tears are the unmistakable sign of sadness and pain. Here on earth, tears are also a sign that the person weeping has come to the end of his or her resources. Weeping is a sign of helplessness before evil or pain. The heart is filled to overflowing with affliction, and tears must come.


The great French Catholic philosopher, Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), has interesting insights into tears and especially the tears of Our Lady at La Salette. He writes:


"It is easy to answer that this is only a manner of expressing oneself – not infrequent in Holy Scripture, where it is said that God repents, is angry, etc... We must be careful, however, not to weaken the truth by our comments and to change God's language into figures of speech or hyperboles. If Our Lady wept, if she spoke as she did, it is because, within the system of signs that people commonly understand, nothing could better express the unspeakable reality of what is happening in heaven. "


"It is not by excess, but by default..."


And the great philosopher reveals what is perhaps the greatest insight into the tears of Our Lady at La Salette:

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With Loud Cries and Tears

Editor: This is a homily given by Carlo Maria Martini, S.J., Cardinal-Archbishop Emeritus of Milan at a Mass in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows celebrated on the Mountain of La Salette on July 2, 1996.

Untitled-1Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J., (1927–2012), an Italian Jesuit, Archbishop of Milan (1980 to 2002) and elevated to the cardinalate in 1983.In the letter to the Hebrews we read: “During his life on earth, (Jesus) offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard” (Heb 5:7).

A commentary on the Passion of Jesus, this is one of the most moving of New Testament passages. With the exception of the agony in Gethsemane, the Gospels describe Christ’s Passion in an impartial, detached, and almost cold manner, as though Mark, Matthew and Luke had decided not to allow their own feelings to intrude.


Hebrews Expresses the Very Heart of Jesus

 These words from the Letter to the Hebrews, on the contrary, take us into the very heart of Jesus, for the author has every intention of having us contemplate our sovereign high priest as he offers himself for the sinners of the world, and as he offers God perfect worship, and as he is offering it now in the heavens. 

Might not this image of our high priest in the heavens make him seem far too removed from us? For this reason the author of Hebrews assures us that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness” (4:15).

Let us now take a close look at the passage Heb 5:7-9: “In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.”

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La Salette and the Name of Her Son

Untitled-1"Holy Kiss" by Nancy BradleyThe charism of La Salette is a factor in the Lady's injunction to reverence the name of her Son. In the Hebrew-Aramaic language that Jesus spoke, his name meant "Yahweh Saves". Reconciliation, then, was wrought in his person. It is crucial for every person to know that his or her passport to heaven and to glory was countersigned with the name of Jesus. Abusing his name is an indication of ignorance of the Christian faith.

“You are to name him Jesus.”

That God should come to earth, be born in the same flesh we wear is a clear will to brotherhood and intimacy with the human race. That he should be given a name, a human name by which he could be distinguished from other humans is another sign that he took on our humanity completely. We remember with awe that this was the name by which his mother and father knew him, and it was also the name his heavenly Father gave him. The angel said to Joseph: "She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Mt.1: 21). The name of Jesus tells who he is and what he will do, what will be his mission. That mission will be totally dedicated to the glory of his Father by the salvation of people.

We are Christ-ians

The whole focus of prayer is centered on this Name. It is, in fact, the Name we give to our faith. It is the leverage of all our prayer. The Name is the one we turn to in sorrow and distress, when we skirt the outer edges of hope. Repeatedly in the Gospels, God the Father is shown offering rescue and wholeness "in the name of Jesus." "And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it" (John 14: 13-14).

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