Editor: Each country-group in the First International Lay La Salette Encounter held at La Salette in France from Sept. 1-10, 2011 was asked to design a picture of Our Lady of La Salette as if she were appearing in their own country today. What would she wear? What would be symbols indicating topics she might speak about – contemporary ills or concerns of their nation? Here are the visuals and explanation from our Swiss and German group.
In their contemporary version of the event of La Salette, the Swiss see Maximin and Melanie as schoolchildren. All children can and must go to school. They are completely supported by their family. We see them taking a break. Maximin is a soccer player and is dressed like one; in fact, he seems to be kicking the soccer ball while Mary speaks (just as he actually spun his hat on his stick in the original event).
In Switzerland, more than half of all couples are divorced. Their children wait until evening to see their parents and therefore they are alone a lot at home.
The red alarm clock (center left) indicates that these children have a lot to do each day. They have little time for themselves and not much time for God. They have few leaders in faith that they know or admire. In Germany, it seems that many teachers lose their own faith in God.
Statue of Mary speaking
with the two children,
La Salette, France
Members of the First La Salette
Lay Encounter, La Salette, France,
Sept 1-10, 2011
Frankly I am amazed when I hear the encouraging words of Jesus: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12). Imagine – we can do greater things than Jesus because he has gone back to the Father and sent the Spirit to stir up and strengthen our minds, hearts and lives! This gives us unending hope that we can be church and change the world, one person at a time, just like Jesus did.
When I was with the other participants in the First La Salette International Lay Encounter from September 1-10th of 2011 at La Salette in France, I felt that same hope come alive. We were some forty people from around the world – La Salette laity and religious. Most of us had never met each other yet we discovered during those ten days a sense of community and a unity of vision that was simply remarkable. Our comradery was as palpable as it was remarkable. Our shared prayer, discussions, and workshops on various aspects of the La Salette apparition and our shared mission of reconciliation were affirming and enlightening. It was truly a Pentecost moment!
The apparition at La Salette offers us an in-depth critique of – or our way of looking at – the world. It challenges us to give up the comfortable security of the noncommittal observer, to relinquish control, to refuse to become ‘solitary monads,’ and to entrust ourselves to the ebb and flow of a history that eludes our grasp, in the image of the One who we believe gave himself into the hands of others in order to give us life.
At La Salette, Mary offers us, in biblical fashion, “an in-depth critique of our way of looking at the world.” Maximin and Mélanie were led to look at their world, at the reality around them: drought, famine, rotten potatoes, worm-eaten grapes and walnuts, the blighted crops – and the resulting death of children, disdain for God, religious indifference, etc. In the face of such insecurity for the future, many inhabitants of those mountains blamed God alone: it was God’s fault, God punishing his children, a vengeful God, no God of love.
Antonella Portinaro, a leader of
the Lay La Salettes in Italy
Editor: Antonella was one of the participants in the First International Lay La Salette Encounter held at La Salette in France from Sept. 1-10, 2011. Each country-group was asked to design a picture of Our Lady of La Salette as if she were appearing in their own country today. What would she wear? What would be symbols indicating topics she might speak about – contemporary ills or concerns of their nation?
My name is Antonella Portinaro and I am a “leader” of the dynamic and dedicated lay associates connected with the Missionaries Our Lady of La Salette from Italy. This lay community is composed of three groups – one in Turin where I reside, the other two in Rome and Naples.
Let me explain our first drawing from Italy. It was prepared by the centro in Rome. Mary stands in the center of the piazza; she has some of the characteristics of Mary at La Salette; namely, the cross with hammer and pincers; the cross is hanging from a chain (the Rosary), a symbol of the strength of prayer; at her waist, there are flowers, a symbol of love; she has a blue shawl, made of tears, (blue a symbol of water and baptism). Light comes from her, touching everything around her. Behind her is a church dome, symbolizing St. Peter’s in Vatican City.
Editor: Fr. Norman Butler, M.S., and Fr. Edilson Schio, M.S., were co-directors of the First International La Salette Lay Encounter (Sept.1-10, 2011) at Holy Mountain, France.
The Encounter: Sept. 1-10, 2011
|Salle Schumann, the main meeting room|
The ten days of activities and fraternity marked the life of each participant. The moments of prayer, reflection, sharing, questioning and integration brought everyone together. The organization of the Encounter into three “methodologies” made it possible for everyone to follow the steps and understand the objectives.
We sought to take advantage of the many physical spaces at the shrine that lead pilgrims into the experience of La Salette. Not everything happened in our meeting room (the Schumann Room). We spent time on the hillsides, and prayed at different spots: the site of the apparition, the font of water, Mount Planeau, the “Rencontre” chapel and the Basilica.
While many of our activities were specific to our group, at times we participated in activities with the pilgrims on the mountain. The transmission of parts of the Encounter on Internet made it possible for people far away to participate with us.
|La Salette statue in Narthex
of St. Ann Church, Marietta, GA
|Fr. Thomas Reilly, M.S., Pastor of St. Ann
Parish, Marietta, GA., welcomes everyone
Fr. Joseph Bachand, M.S., Provincial Superior,
Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas
|Bill and Elaine Hale wrote this article in 1982.|
With the coming of our La Salette Lay Ministry Summit in Atlanta, GA, on July 20-23, 2011 (for more information, click here), I thought we could revisit an article by Bill and Elaine Hale, written almost thirty years ago for our publication, Our Lady’s Missionary. Although their young family of seven has now grown into several families with lots of grandchildren, their sharing remains a wonderful testament to how God blesses each of us with the gift of faith and how God wants us to share it within the family of the Church.
I am a man who has come to realize that God is not a distant concept, nor does heaven start when I die. I grew up in a traditional Catholic family. In many ways I always had a passive involvement in the Church and at worship. I did not actively participate and thought, quite frankly, that it made no difference whether I prayed, sang in Church, became involved in activities or donated money — the Church was unaffected. Furthermore, in my opinion, my life was so insignificant that surely God had little time for me. After all, he was light years away in heaven and I was light years away from meeting him.
The New Laity – A Sign of our Times
The emergence of the layperson has been and continues to be one of the most important and the most visible characteristics of the post-Vatican II Church. The phrase “the emerging layman” has been with us since the early sixties — even the sexist language (layman) smacks of that period. The notion is intimately connected with that of church: the Church is essentially composed of lay people.
Laity and the Church
Lay men and lay women now share in the liturgy of the word from the sanctuary. They distribute the bread of the Eucharist, they serve on
Fr. Ron Beauchemin, M.S., Superior of the Attleboro House,
congratulates laity for giving their commitment for
another year as La Salette Associates
parish councils and on archdiocesan and diocesan committees and they teach in our seminaries. This is not token improvement. This is not a paper-clip change; this is ongoing reconciliation. We remember when the priest called his people “the populo.” This may sound strange today but, at the time it was said, such a remark was symptomatic. It took for granted a clear separation between Church and laity, or between clergy and laity. The communion rail was more than a symbolic table. It was a fence.
The assimilation of the laity into the life of the Church will take years to run its course. This is probably just as well. The slow pace and the gradualness will solidify change, deepen it, and ward off tokenism. But reconciliation is very present, and we are all aware of the process nature of reconciliation. Wherever we have spoken of the laity above, we have understood both men and women. Women, religious sisters are speaking at conferences, teaching in seminaries, preaching and directing retreats and spiritual exercises. All of this was inconceivable fifty years ago.
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