If there is one thing that a human beings should stop and ponder at their leisure, it is the fact of God's unending benevolence. God's determination, if we may so speak, to save humanity and have us enjoy the happiness of eternity, strikes the mind with astounding force. God will not let us go.
Supremely happy Himself, He has heaped blessing upon blessing on us from the day He drew us from the clay. We, however, almost as determinately, have fled from God. He sought by every means in his power to get away from that love of God, as if he could find happiness anywhere else. The poet, Francis Thompson has described the process with an understanding that amounts almost to inspiration:
"I fled Him down the nights and down the days; / I fled Him down the arches of the years. / I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways, / Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears / I hid from Him and under running laughter Up vistaed hopes I sped: / From those strong feet that followed, followed after."
We walked in the GardenGod created us and placed us in a garden of delights. We are told that God walked and talked with Adam in that garden, but even that did not hold us. We sinned. God sent his only-begotten Son to take on human nature so that we could satisfy God's justice. Some of us laughed and went the way that to them seemed more pleasant – the way of sin.
God then sent Mary to renew the battle for the conquest of these souls. Mary has come to our earth many times but only once in a direct appeal to our hearts, to turn to our God, and return love for love.
France was aptly chosen as the scene of this new mercy of God. France – so favored by God and yet so faithless – was a good type of the human race in its relation to God. It was mid-afternoon on that September 19, 1846, when Maximin Giraud and Melanie Mathieu, two little cowherds, woke from a noonday rest and began to search for their charges.
Our Weeping Mother
Looking down into a small dip in the hills they were dazzled by a brilliant light that, unfolding, disclosed to their astounded eyes, a woman seated on a stone, her face buried in her hands. Their instinctive fear changed to compassion as they saw the tears drop silently through her fingers. Hesitating to intrude on her sorrow, they stood until, rising, the vision banished all fear with the words: "Come near my children, be not afraid. I am here to tell you great news."
From her virgin lips, in a voice redolent of angel music, fell the story of Mary's sorrow. Humanity had defied God so long and so continually. Alone of all earthly creatures, humans dared to emulate the rebellion of the fallen angels. Commandment after commandment of God fell, smashed to pieces at the feet of the gilded idol of humanity's passions.
I gave you six days…Six days has God given us to work and the seventh God had reserved for himself. We turned Sunday from a day of rest into a day of revelry and unrestrained pleasure. Mass and the Sacraments were regarded as checks upon our liberty and were rejected. The means given by God to check our rebellious nature were seen as antique, middle-aged vagaries. Fast and abstinence were words with no meaning. We might starve ouselves to keep the body beautiful but we must do nothing to make the soul well and fair. That would be the height of foolishness and too old fashioned.
The Name of JesusThe Holy Name of Jesus is heard very often. In the streets, in the home, everywhere – but not said in prayer. Every disappointment, every affliction called for a reviling of the Name of Christ. We could find no word in the whole range of our vocabulary to emphasize our speech except the name of the One who suffered and died for us. Parents profanes the names of God and the saints before their children and then are surprised when the same language falls so easily from their childish lips.
The justice of God requires satisfaction for these violations of God’s law and resistance to God’s love. And from the maternal lips of Mary – intended to pronounce only blessings and tell of God’s love –come threats of punishment! The crops will fail. We will find ourselves reduced to the last extremities. The gaunt specter of famine will stalk the land and lay hands on the inhabitants of the earth. Even our children may suffer. These new innocents will be seized with trembling and die in the arms of those who hold them. Mothers will feel their babes stiffen and die in their own embrace.
The threats are invitations to come homeThe world has seen the fulfillment of these threats. We have but to look back to the time of the Apparition of La Salette and glance at the history of the world up to our own day. Famine, fire and sword have harassed all the nations of the world. Who can say that in our own day we are not suffering those same threats, pronounced by Mary?
However, ''all the threats of God, end in an embrace." God seems to punish us – horribly it seems at times – but it is only because God wants us so much and alas, we will not come to God by love. God menaces us and then promises health, happiness, love and peace if only we will turn back to him. Our Blessed Virgin tells us: "If they are converted, the stones and the rocks will be changed into heaps of corn and the potatoes will be self-sown in the land." It is simply a restatement of the words of Isaiah:
“If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; But if you refuse and resist,
you shall be eaten by the sword: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken!” (Isaiah 1:19).
Prayer and Eucharist
Mary points the way to God and tells us how to follow it. "You must say your prayers well." No, not long tedious prayers, but in her own words, "at least an Our Father and a Hail Mary and if you have time say more."
Once a week she asks us to give an hour of our time to the attentive hearing of Mass. That the weight of passion may not overburden us, she urges us to use the fasts and abstinences that the Church gives us to shore up our faith.
The Gospel of Mary’s TearsThis is Mary's appeal to all her people from the mountain of La Salette. This is the gospel of her tears. We have seen her tears fall because of our sins. They are the tears of one interested enough in our soul's welfare to come to earth to save them. They are the tears of one who needs only the slightest evidence of good will on our part to throw the whole weight of her influence to bear on the justice of God, to obtain for us the grace and help we need.
Confidence in Mary is the passport to a happy eternity. Let us heed the words of the Weeping Virgin and cast out of our lives the slightest thing that might cause the eyes of Mary to be dimmed with sorrow. Then remembering the last words of Mary at La Salette: "My children, you will make this message known to all my people," let us become apostles of her tears and do whatever, in our power lies, to bring the knowledge of her merciful apparition at La Salette to those around us.
(Reprinted from the La Salette publication, Our Lady’s Missionary, September 1935, pgs. 130 and135)