Spirituality and Charism

Untitled-1Pope Francis in a talk encouraged all consecrated religious to “wake up the world.” Pope Francis named 2015 as “The Year of Religious Consecration”, in order to help religious and others reflect on the life, charism and gift that is religious life for the Church.

And as I personally approach my fiftieth year of religious profession as a La Salette Missionary, I can testify that that I have been asked countless times several questions:

• What is a charism?
• What is the charism of La Salettes?
• How can we – laity and religious alike – live and make known the message of La Salette?

The following questions are given in a catechism format with accompanying reflection questions in order to explain the often-unknown topic our La Salette charism of reconciliation.

a) What is the meaning of the word “charism”?
Many of us are quite familiar with the Greek word, charisma, meaning a special magnetic charm or appeal. From this same root comes the word, charism, describing an extraordinary gift flowing from God’s love to human beings. We will discuss the basics of charism as recognized in the life and ministry of the La Salette Missionaries and those which whom they minister and share this charism.

Untitled-1The giant slope of Mount Gargas, with its “new” cross atop this Alpine peak. It was, without doubt, the largest and most beautiful Way of the Cross in our lives. The cross on Mount Gargas, that can still be seen in the audiovisual on the Apparition, was destroyed in a storm. So the idea came to us to replace it during a family pilgrimage.

This idea spread quickly. In a short time, we made ou to La Salette on Saturday August 26, 1978, some eighty of us – pilgrims, parents, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and asked for a blessing for our our newly fashioned oak cross. The next day, immediately after the Sunday morning Mass, we were off, up the steep incline of Mount Gargas, overlooking the sight of the apparition.

Untitled-2The families together begin their treck up the face of Mount Gargas.The stronger of us carried the cross in turn, while others carried all accessories – cement, water, sand, and tools. The sight of the La Salette apparition was still drowned in a thick fog. But soon, as we climbed the mountainside, we stepped into an area of brilliant sunshine, illuminating the entire chain of the surrounding mountains. We instantly saw this as a symbol of our passage as a family from darkness into light.

Some of the members of this long caravan began to show some signs of fatigue so we decided to make our first stop. A sat and relaxed and took out our rosaries so we could surround the upright cross with our prayers.

We resumed the climb to the very top. Once gathered there, we made preparations for the new foundation. Soon we replaced the old warned stand with a sturdier one and placed the new high cross in its place of honor. Suddenly the clouds below parted, near the scene of the apparition, allowing us also to see the Basilica, to which the cross was oriented. Our mission was completed. We had our lunch and paused for a while to take in our panoramic surroundings.

Editor: This article, entitled "La Salette," was originally written by Fr. Roger R. Castel, M.S., for the “Dictionary of Mary,” published in 1985 in New York by the Catholic Book Publishing Company.

Untitled-1La Salette, a French town located in the Alps, was the place at which a Marian apparition occurred in the nineteenth century. On September 19, 1846, Maximin Giraud (eleven years old) and Melanie Calvat (fourteen years old) experienced an encounter with a woman whom they described as a "Beautiful Lady."

The two children were grazing sheep at La Salette, when they saw that this woman was seated and was crying. Upon seeing them, the "Lady" stood up and, while crying, spoke in French and in the local dialect. After that, the woman walked up a steep path and vanished into a bright light. According to the children, the light emanated from a crucifix on the woman's chest. Soon after this event, word spread, and pilgrims crowded the rough paths leading up to the site where the apparition occurred.

There soon arose, a basilica and the first units for lodging. In 1851, the local bishop, Philippe de Bruillard of Grenoble, affirmed the supernatural character of the apparition of La Salette. He based his decision upon a thorough inquiry of the event, complete with interviews of witnesses, and an examination of the apparition's message to the seers. Bishop de Bruillard wished to encourage the faith expression (prayer and devotion) practiced by pilgrims at La Salette.

Untitled-1…Not everyone is capable of playing the role of reconciler. Yet it is probably the most needed gift and service in the Church and world today – whether in the context of a Lebanon war or a Niger famine, or of domestic or pastoral blood-letting. And it is only the compassionate soul, facing its own divisions, that can ever hope to make a difference where leaders and factions are driven by fixed certainties.

To be a reconciler is to be one of those who forever endeavor to flesh out in their complex lives the pattern of the dying and rising mystery of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Instead of reacting to, resisting or reflecting back the negative emotions and attitudes of those around them, whether in a one-to-one, communal, or wider context, they take into their own vulnerable spirit, like Jesus did, the arrogance, hardness, and stubbornness of those they lead or serve or live with, their jealousies, cynicism, and strange motives. This is costly spiritual work. It is the occupation of the saint.

Grace Can Transform Our Heart

When I pray to be a reconciler, I’m praying for the death of my all-powerful ego. I’m praying for the grace to transform, within my own body and soul, within the most redeemed part of me, the sins into graces, the curses into blessings, the destructive forces into life-enhancing gifts. In our imitation of Christ the experience of redemption can come no better than this.

Untitled-1Polish version of the Weeping MotherThe mid-afternoon sun paled that Saturday, September 19, 1846. “Come quick, Memin, come and see”, a stunned Mélanie stammered. “Come and see a brightness.” “Where?” her puzzled young companion replied. “Over there, see?” And in the ravine where they had shared a meager midday meal of hard bread and goat cheese, and where, not at all routinely they had napped, a globe of dazzling, radiant light swirled.

This brightness eventually parted and the mountain herders saw a pair of very white hands, a face buried in these hands, elbows resting on knees, a woman seated on a pile of stones, weeping. She rose, tall and stately, and gently, reassuringly called the children to herself. Their eyes were soon riveted upon the source of the blinding light that clothed the Beautiful Lady, that enveloped her and embraced them both; what they called the Lady’s lovely cross.


The Hour of Jesus

Jesus’ crucifixion – it is history’s critical turning point, human freedom’s finest hour, the hour of Jesus. This was the hour he both dreaded and eagerly anticipated, an hour in which his mother shared deeply. “For this reason does the Father love me that I freely lay down my life that I may freely take it up again” (John 10:17). “If I set you free you will be free indeed. Knowledge of the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).

This gift that Christ brings — that Christ is — is freedom from self-delusion, from all that is self-deception, from all that is escapism, evasion and rationalization. Indeed, there are many ways to tell the story of the cross. According to St. John the Evangelist, it involved a collision between politics and religion. The chief priests and Pontius Pilate conspired to solve the “Jesus Problem” while managing to remain enemies.

Editor: Fr. Ted Brown, M.S. delivered his talks at a National Gathering of La Salette Associates in Attleboro, MA on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. About 50 people attended including Associates from the Northeast (MA, and NH) and the Midwest (St. Louis, MO area).

Untitled-1La Salette Associates from the Eastern and Midwest United States, gathering for a workshop on Oct. 4, 2014 in Attleboro, MAThose of you who know me, know that I’m a story teller. I believe that the true meaning of life – the true meaning of the journey – comes through stories.

We often talk about the La Salette Story. The children were told to tell the story – to “make it known”. That’s what they did for the rest of their lives. Here we are, many years later, because they told the story and something came alive in many hearts and they, in turn, retold that story again and again until we heard it for the very first time.


We Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

We can reread how the bible summarizes the story of Abraham’s journey from Ur to Canaan: “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).

Fitchburg – Bishop Donald Pelletier of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, came to St. Joseph Parish, Fitchburg, MA, to celebrate the feast of the Holy Cross.

Untitled-1Bishop Donald Pelletier, M.S., Bishop Emeritus of Morondava, Madagascar, and a native of Blackstone and Attleboro, MAAs he welcomed everyone, he noted that Our Lady's Feast Day would be in a few days, September 19. The Mass he presided over fell on the eve of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. He told parishioners the two events were closely connected. Bishop Pelletier who serves in the Diocese of Morondava, Madagascar, has been in the United States in recent weeks, but will soon return to his home diocese.

The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette is the religious order that once staffed St. Joseph's. Two La Salette priests, Fr. John Hughes and Fr. Laurie Leger still work at the parish.

The apparition of La Salette, from which this order originated, happened on the evening of Sept. 19, 1846, on a mountain in the French Alps. Our Blessed Mother appeared, dressed in white, wearing a gold apron. Around her neck was a bright crucifix. She was also crying. Pictures and statue of Our Lady of La Salette often show her in a seated position, with her face in her hands.

Explaining how the two feasts were aligned, Bishop Pelletier said that we are all sinners and Our Lady, when she appeared, was calling us to conversion.

The yearly celebration of the September 19th Feast of Our Lady La Salette is a wonderful opportunity to give thanks to God for Mary’s visit to the mountaintop near the little hamlet of La Salette in the French Alps. As La Salettes, we honor our community’s feast day in many different ways.


In North America

At the La Salette National Shrine in Attleboro, MA, USA, we celebrated Eucharist at which over twenty La Salette Associates renewed their promises to dedicate themselves for one year to the ministry and message of the Weeping Mother.

Untitled-1(from left) La Salette Associates, Attleboro, MA; In Twin Lakes, WI, Bro. Paul Jussen, M.S. (3rd from right) with (from left) Fr. Jim Stajkowski, M.S., Fr. Ray Cadran, M.S., Fr. Phil Negley, M.S., Provincial, Fr. Gerald Lebanowski, M.S., and Bro. Anthony Sepanik, (oblate).

Untitled-1Appropriately the Feast of the Holy Cross on Sept. 14th is closely linked to the Solemnity of the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette on Sept. 19th each year. It is not just another happy coincidence because, as we shall see, the two feasts are not only closely interrelated but La Salette is truly a manifestation of the Glorious Cross.

The feast of the Holy Cross, seen in the light of the La Salette apparition, has not only a very strong and powerful message but some very practical and vital applications for our daily living and in a special way our devotion to Mary, Mother of Jesus, and the Mother of the Church.

A Globe of Light was Brighter than the Sun

When Maximin and Melanie saw that light shining in the narrow hollow and shady ravine, they were blinded by a globe of light brighter than the sun. Their fear, having been dispelled by the welcoming words of Mary: "Come near, my children, be not afraid", they approached the Beautiful Lady.

She called to them and only then did they realize that all the light came from the crucifix that hung from a chain on Mary's breast. The source of that light was the crucifix; all that light “brighter than the sun” had its origin in the cross.

“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
“As Jesus drew near, he saw the city (of Jerusalem) and wept over it” (Luke 19:41)

Untitled-1Jesus Weeps Over JerusalemIts accents, inflections and rhythms vary widely from situation to situation, from person to person, but it remains a universal language, spoken and understood everywhere in the world. A truly international language, the disconcerting, heart-rending language of tears. It conveys what words are powerless to express: anger, betrayal, disappointment, exasperation, frustration, grief, helplessness, loss, misunderstanding, pain, sorrow and unrequited love.

A Flood of Rain, A Flood of Tears

The tears Our Lady shed at La Salette so many years ago, tears indelibly etched upon our spiritual awareness, entice us to the edge of a compelling mystery, the mystery of Christ weeping over the Chosen City (Luke 19:41-44). The tears Jesus shed there have hallowed all the tears all men and women have shed over the ages; they make holy the tears our brothers and sisters—near and far—are shedding now.

Happy those who mourn, blessed those who weep, they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4). The deepest, truest comfort, the consolation most reflective of God’s own infinite happiness, will follow upon our grieving over the losses sustained by our fellow human beings rather than our own. It is only natural that we should cry over our own disappointments, losses, misfortunes, trials and troubles. But we will truly share, even now, in that peace-filled comfort God alone can give only when we share in God’s own care, compassion, and concern for all.

Prayer e-Book

Our La Salette Prayer Book is available for your e-readers at Amazon.

La salette prayerbook

amazon-logoThe Amazon Logo will take
you to the purchase page.

Do you pray well my children?

Please Consider Helping

Even small donations help us to continue to Make Mary's message known.


Newsletter Signup

small mailbox

We update our site every 3 weeks (or so) and would love to let you know when we do. Please sign up for our newsletter.

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.”