Chapter Thirteen

"Am I Not Here"

Our Lady's Apparitions

"The more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus."

Saint Louis de Montfort.

This talk was given several years ago at a Catholic High School. The first time I spoke to the students it was on the message of Fatima. They were so impressed, they asked me to come back and speak again. They wanted to hear more about Our Lady and Her other earthly apparitions. The result was the following talk.

Since the year 40 AD Our Lady has appeared countless times on this earth. Why, because in her own words on December 12, 1531 on Tepayac Hill she said, "AM I NOT HERE WHO AM YOUR MOTHER?"

In the year 40 AD St. James, according to tradition had journeyed to Spain to spread the Gospel. With seven of his disciples, he paused beside the River Ebro to pray in Zaragoza, Spain. Our Lady who was still living in Jerusalem, bilocated to the spot to encourage and request a chapel be built there. A habit which has persisted with Our Lady in all her earthly apparitions.

She left them a small jasper column which she had stood on as evidence of her apparition. The church is called the Virgin of the Pillar. The pillar is still there today. Since ancient times a fragrance of roses surrounds the pillar constantly and is readily perceived by all. This is Our Lady's first known apparition. She has appeared countless times on this earth since then but not as often as she has in the past 150 years, for she has literally flooded the earth with appearances.

Before going into these apparitions, there are three that need mentioned. The Byzantine Church celebrates the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God on October 1st. This feast is celebrated because of the appearance of the Mother of God in Constantinople in the 10th century. The account of the apparition is found in the life of St. Andrew, known as the Fool for Christ.

It was during a service in the church of Blanchernes, St. Andrew and his disciple St. Epiphanius, saw Our Lady approach the ambo. She was supported by St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist and accompanied by many saints. She knelt in prayer, her face bathed in tears. After praying again at the altar, she took her veil and extended it over the people as a sign of her protection. Our Lady came to tell us that she is the never failing protectress of all Christians. We are not alone! We live in the presence of the Mother of God! She is our Protectress!

To prepare the world, especially the world of today, Our Lady in the 13th century gave us her two greatest sacramentals to fight the world, the flesh and the devil. In the year 1208, she appeared to St. Dominic, and she herself taught him how to pray the rosary. She gave him her rosary to fight the Albingensian heresy that was in southern France at that time. Many people gave up their faith to follow this heresy which taught that there are two gods, a god of good and god of evil, held only the New Testament to be inspired, rejected infant baptism, declared marriage sinful, and it was wrong to obey and support the clergy. It held that everyone has the power to forgive sins, denied the Trinity, Incarnation, Redemption and the Sacraments, declared all penance useless, and held that an unworthy priest lost the power of consecrating the Holy Eucharist. By preaching the rosary, Dominic defeated this heresy in less than three years.

On July 16, 1251, Our Lady again appeared on this earth. This time in Alysford, England to St. Simon Stock. She gave him the brown scapular, with this great promise, "WHOSOEVER DIES WEARING THIS GARMENT SHALL NEVER SUFFER THE FIRES OF HELL!" Every pope since that time has approved the use of the brown scapular. When we wear Our Lady's brown scapular, we show we belong to Our Lady, that we are under her special protection. Always remember that Our Lady's promises are backed up by almighty God! In Genesis He said:

"I WILL PUT EMINITY

BETWEEN YOU AND THE WOMAN,

BETWEEN YOUR SEED AND HER SEED

AND SHE WILL CRUSH YOUR HEAD!"

The Humility of Mary's heel, backed up by the power of God has indeed crushed the proud head of Satan. When we wear her brown scapular we are striving to imitate her many virtues, especially humility.

In this great battle there is no in between. There are no grey zones, only black and white; good or evil. As stated in Genesis, we are either for God or against him, we are either the woman's seed or the serpents.

Because of man's fallen nature, we are inclined to evil. Our Lady, the only person ever conceived without the stain of original sin on her soul, is exempt from this. When we have recourse to her, being the gentle and loving mother that she is, she helps us to overcome this fallen nature. With such help, this world should be a veritable garden of paradise. Yet it isn't! Why, because man has chosen to ignore this Mediatrix of graces. This came to a head during the Protestant revolt, in the 15th century, when men such as Clavin. Luther and Henry the 8th, choose to deny the teachings of Holy Mother the Church and Holy Father, Christ's Vicar on earth and make up their own rules; their own religions.

They turned their backs on Mary, they demoted her so to speak. She is only a woman they said. Some even went so far as to say she is not the Mother of God, but of the person Jesus. They attacked her perpetual virginity by saying that she had other children. They blasphemed and desecrated her sacred images and pictures. They brought back to light heresies that had been reputed centuries before. Man, now was listening to the words of the serpent. Pride made them feel there could be no mortal greater than they were.

One small sin of pride snow balled into an avalanche. Bear in mind that when you take Mary out of your life, you take God out too. All that was left was to make gods of themselves. Think of this, why would Jesus, after He died on the cross, wait 500, 1500, 1900 years to found His church on this earth? The men who start their own religions are the founders. Whether they realize it or not, they are the centers of their religions, not God!

By the year 1531, 700,000 people in Europe had apostatized, left their faith. 700,000 souls plus the countless millions that would follow through the centuries. Think of how Our Lady's maternal heart cried out at this great apostasy! She had watched her Son shed His last drop of blood for sinners, now there were thousands of people turning their backs on this great sacrifice. What could a mother do? She did as the master of the house did in the Gospels, when the invited guests did not come to the feast. She went out in search of others, as always the prefect imitator of her Son!

She went to Tepeyac Hill, Mexico City, Mexico, to a lowly humble Indian, Juan Diego. She appeared on the shoulder of the hill, where the memories of the former pagan temple of To-nant-zin once stood. In a gentle voice she affectionately called to him: "Juanito...Juan Dieguito."

Her following words refuted all the heresies and blasphemies that were in Europe at that time.

"Know for certain dearest of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God, through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things, who is Master of heaven and earth. I desire that a temple be built here for me where I will show and offer all my love, my compassion, my help and may protection to the people. I am your merciful Mother, the Mother of all who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weepings and their sorrows and will remedy and alleviate their sufferings, necessities and misfortunes."

When Our Lady appeared, there were no borders, the lands of the America's were one. She chose the most central part of the two continents to appear. Unknown to Juan Deigo, the bishop of Mexico was having a terrible time. He was ready to leave Mexico. There were few converts, and the Indians still sacrificed thousands to serpent their god every year. A violent situation threatened to erupt at any moment. As a sign that he was to remain, he asked Our Lady to send him Castilian roses, even though this was the dead of winter. When Juan Diego came with the message, the bishop wondered if this was his sign he had asked of Our Lady during his prayers. He told Juan Diego before he could respond, he needed a sign. Juan Diego told Our Lady this and she told Juan on December 12, 1531, he would have his sign.

On December 12, Juan had a dilemma, his uncle was near death, and he had to fetch a priest for him. He skirted around the east side of the hill hoping the Lady would not see him. But when he descended the hill, there she stood, startling him, when she said, "My little son, what is the matter? Where are you going?"

He told her his uncle was ill and he had to fetch a priest, but he would be back tomorrow. He could see the love and sympathy flowing from her gaze and the tenderness of her response almost moved him to tears when she said:

"Listen and let it penetrate your heart, my dear little son! Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety, or pain. Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?" Pausing she added, "At this moment your uncle is cured."

She then instructed him to go to the spot where he saw her previously and to gather the flowers in his tilma and to return to her. The Castilian roses he found blooming in the frozen soil were not only completely out of season, but it was impossible for any flowers to grow in such a stoney terrain.

She rearranged the flowers with her own hands! While telling Juan not to reveal his contents to anyone but the bishop. He went to the bishop's office and waited till late in the afternoon. When he was finally called into the bishop's office, he opened his tilma and the roses fell to the floor. The bishop was momentarily speechless because this was the sign he asked of the Blessed Virgin. He knew that his prayer for peace in the country was granted. He then looked at the tilma, in an instant, the image of the Mother of God, just as she had appeared to Juan Diego, appeared on it.

Pope John Paul II said of this image on his visit to Mexico, in imitation of the words of St. Elizabeth on the visitation of Mary to her home, "Oh, America, why have you been so blessed that the Mother of our God should visit you in such a manner!"

The image of Our Lady was a pictorial message to the Indians. Their language was a language of pictures. In 7 years 7 million Indians converted. 700,000 left the faith in Europe, while 7 million embraced the faith in America.

She stood in front of the sun, a sign to them that she was greater than the sun god whom they worshipped. The crescent beneath her feet showed that their moon god was less than nothing since she was standing on it. She was not of this world, for a young child with wings was holding her aloft with his two arms. There was a brooch at her throat with a small black cross in the center. This was the emblem of the Spanish friars. Her lovely hands were joined in prayer, showing there was one greater than she. She had destroyed their serpent god. Her title says this for Guadalupe, sounds phonetically similar to the Aztex word she choose, COATLAXOPUEH. This means she who breaks, stamps, or crushes the serpent or the equivalent, the Immaculate Conception. A dogma which was not officially proclaimed by the church until 1854 by Pope Pius the 9th.

On July 27, 1830, at the Rue de Bac, Paris, France, Our Lady appeared again to a humble nun of the daughters of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Catherine Laboure. This apparition is very important because it opened the door to the Marian Age!

In the first apparition an Angel took St. Catherine to Our Lady. In the chapel, sitting in a chair, was the Mother of God. St. Catherine sat at her feat and rested her hands in the lap of Our Lady. The only seer ever privileged to do this. She talked with Our Lady for two hours! She was told of the terrible happenings which would befall France and world in 1870. Never has Our Heavenly Mother ever said so much to a child of this earth. Only a fraction of the two hour conversation was reported. The privilege of talking to Our Lady extended throughout Catherine's entire life. For on January of 1831, Our Lady said to St. Catherine, "You will see me no more, but you will often hear my voice in your prayers!"

With this apparition the link is made to the succeeding ones in the next 100 years. It is the call to prayer, for the Blessed Virgin said, "Come to the foot of the altar!"

The following apparitions, which gave Catherine her mission, was the beginning of the series that would stretch to Fatima. When she appeared November 27, 1830, she appeared with a white globe under her feet while standing on a green serpent with yellow spots. From her outstretched hands, upon which there were rings on her fingers, came rays that burst forth from all sides. The ball was the world and the rays were the graces she shed upon those who asked for them. Our Lady asked for a medal to be struck from this vision. The medal was to worn around the neck and those who wore it would receive great graces, especially those who wore it with confidence.

Around Our Lady were the words: "O MARY CONCEIVED WITHOUT SIN, PRAY FOR US WHO HAVE RECOURSE TO THEE." On the back was a large M surmounted by a bar and a cross, beneath this were the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, one crowned with thorns, the other pierced with a sword.

This apparition laid the ground work for the Fatima message: Prayer and Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The next three apparitions emphasized one aspect of the Fatima message.

On September 19, 1846, at La Salette, France, Our Lady appeared to Melenie and Maxium, 14 and 11 years old respectively. The year is significant because of the social and political turmoil taking place in France, the great revolution, the reign of Napoleon, and the age of new ideas. There were religious persecutions and a neglect of the Christian life and a general turning away from God.

It was late afternoon, and coming down a hill in a ravine, the children saw a beautiful lady with a tiadom on her head. She was sitting on a boulder with her elbows on her knees, her face in her hands weeping profusely. Around her neck she wore a golden crucifix with a hammer on one side of it and a pair of pincers on the other. She looked at them and said:

"IF MY PEOPLE WILL NOT OBEY, I SHALL BE COMPELLED TO LET LOOSE MY SONíS ARM!"

She complained bitterly of the total lack of disregard for the Sabbath and the cursing from the lips of men. She made one statement to the children which is something to ponder on even today.

"NO MATTER HOW WELL YOU PRAY IN THE FUTURE, NO MATTER HOW WELL YOU ACT, YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO MAKE UP TO ME FOR WHAT I HAVE ENDURED FOR YOUR SAKE."

She told the children of the famines and wars to come. She gave each of the them a secret, with warnings of dire consequences. She came to warn and to plead, and asked for pray, penance, and sacrifices. The message of La Salette is very grave reading. Some say the dire predications of the Blessed Mother were postponed for 100 years or so. Never the less the main message here is change our lives, do penance, and pray! We must stop offending God by sin!

On February 11, 1858 just 12 years later, Our Lady came to earth again. This time to Lourdes, France. Bernadette describes Our Lady as dressed all in white with a blue sash, on her right arm hung a rosary. She said she prayed the rosary by herself except at the end of each decade when Our Lady joined her. She appeared to Bernadette 18 times. At one point she said, "PRAY, PRAY, PRAY...PRAY FOR SINNERS!"

She taught Bernadette a prayer which she prayed everyday till she died, never revealing the contents of the prayer to anyone. She asked for a chapel to be built. When asked to identify herself she replied,

"I AM THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION!"

Again, I am the crusher of the serpent. Here Our Lady is asking for prayer. By leading Bernadette in the rosary, she showed us how much she wants us to pray the rosary, and offer the intentions up, especially for sinners.

The elements of the Fatima message are all but laid. All that is left to ask for is reparation. Our Lady did this most eloquently at Knock, Ireland in 1879. In this apparition she is known as Our Lady of Silence.

The poor church that Our Lady choose was dedicated to St. John the Baptist. There is an inscription on the west wall that reads, "MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED THE HOUSE OF PRAYER TO ALL NATIONS. THIS IS THE GATE OF THE LORD; THE JUST SHALL ENTER INTO IT."

It was a rainy evening on August 21, 1879, when Mary McLoughlin, the housekeeper left the presbytery to visit her friend Mrs. Margaret Beirne. Going past the church she noticed strange figures and an altar outside the church. She wondered why the archdeacon had purchased more statues and then left them in the rain.

Unknown to her, two others had seen the same phenomena, leaving without investigating it. After her visit, Mary left to leave with Mary Beirne who offered to go with her part of the way. When they reached the church Mary Beirne called out, "Look at those beautiful figures!" As they approached the figures, they noticed an extraordinarily brilliant light around the figures, and that they were moving.

"It's the Blessed Virgin!" cried out Mary Beirne. To her right was St. Joseph and on her left was St. John the Evangelist dressed as a Bishop.

Mary Beirne rushed home to tell her family. Eighteen people in all saw the apparition. To the rear of the three figures they saw an altar with a large cross in front of a young lamb, which stood Face to the West. One young boy saw angels hovering during the whole time. For an hour and half or longer, he saw their wings fluttering, but he did not see their faces or heads. A small boy, John Curry, saw two angels flying back and forth for two hours, the duration of the apparition.

The people saw Our Lady's hands extended apart and upward, in the same position as a priest holds his hands when praying at Holy Mass. Her gaze was fixed on the heavens. She did not look at any time toward the group gathered near the church. An elderly woman, Bridget Trench, went up to embrace the feet of Our Lady, but her arms enclosed on empty air!

It was raining heavily, but the ground was perfectly dry on that portion of the church where the figures were. St. John held in his left a large open book, with his right hand raised high as if preaching. The uniqueness of this apparition is the varying ages, absence of ecstasy and the fact that not one word was spoken. No verbal message was given.

The witnesses of the Knock were like Juan Diego, full of faith and candor, children in the sight of heaven. The very silence of this apparition makes one ponder on it's symbolism:

    1. The altar was at the center and at a higher level than the figures. The lamb was above the altar but not resting on it.
    2. Our Lady was between and somewhat above St. Joseph and St. John
    3. St. Joseph bowed to her and St. John's right hand was raised in her direction.
    4. She appeared as a queen. Several witnesses described the crown she wore.
    5. The rose on her brow recalled her title, "Mystical Rose, the greatest contemplative who pondered in her heart, the first of all who love God and are beloved by Him." Her gaze, as her hands, was uplifted. What is interesting is that none of the witnesses had ever seen a statue or picture of Our Lady in this attitude. Yet, if you remember, this is exactly how Our Lady appeared in the 10th century in the church in Constantinople!
    6. Early Christian paintings have depicted Our Lady in this manner. As Our Advocate, her hands raised in prayer, rather in the manner of the priest during the canon of the Mass. Theologians have stated that Mary appeared at Knock as the MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACES.
    7. She was silent because she wanted the witnesses to look beyond to the altar and the Lamb ready for sacrifice.
    8. The lesson here is the Mass.

At Fatima Our Lady asked for reparation, Eucharistic reparation! At Knock, through her silence she asked for the same thing. Through her silence she showed us the necessity of meditation, prayer and a quietness that brings our souls closer to God. The request of the first five Saturdays asks for 15 minutes of silent meditation on the mysteries of the rosary, which is the Life of Christ.

Again at Knock, Our Lady showed that in our silence we can pray. Today when everyone feels that they must be busy, and doing things to be happy, to be at peace; Our Lady of Silence points to a different way to attain this peace, prayerful silence in front of Our Eucharistic Lord. How many of you spend time with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament? Bishop Sheen was once asked the secret of his power. He answered briefly that there was no real secret. He said that he spends one hour everyday in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He started this practice the day he was ordained and continued with it until the day he died. If someone as busy as Bishop Sheen can find time to pray for one hour a day, surely you can find the time!

All of these apparitions pointed to May 13, 1917, when Our Lady appeared in Fatima, Portugal. She came and asked us,

    1. To pray the rosary everyday for peace. (Lourdes)
    2. To do penance. The penance being our daily duty.(La Sallete)
    3. To make reparation. (Knock)

When She appeared to the children on June 13, 1917, She held in Her hands, Her Immaculate Heart, surrounded by thorns. Lucia said that those thorns penetrated the inner chamber of Our Lady's Heart. Then She looked at the children, very sorrowful, saying, "God wishes to establish world devotion to my Immaculate Heart." Our Lady first showed us Her Immaculate Heart during Her apparition to Saint Catherine Laboure in 1830. This heart is on the back of every miraculous medal.

Fatima, Portugal was the pinnacle of Our Lady's apparitions. Here she tied everything together for us. If we want peace we must pray the rosary, do penance and make reparation for the sins of the world. The greatest reparation being Eucharistic Reparation.

The Last two approved apparitions of this century are Bannuex and Beaurang, Belgium, both reaffirm and restate the message of Fatima. From 1932 to 1933, at Beaurang, Belgium Our Lady appeared to five children 33 times. She asked for prayer and a chapel to be built. On December 29, 1932, she showed the children her heart of gold surrounded by glittering rays. This is the most distinctive feature of the apparition. Beaurang is a repetition and reemphasize of the message of Fatima! But it goes a step further. At Beaurang, Our Lady said,

"I AM THE IMMACULATE VIRGIN

I AM THE MOTHER OF GOD

I AM THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN!"

All three of these titles are being attacked today. Her queenship was emphasized by rays surrounding her head during the apparitions. Never has the doctrine of Mary's queenship received such attention. Pope Pius XII in 1954 established the Feast of the Queenship of Mary on May 31.

Finally she makes a great promise when she said,

"I WILL CONVERT SINNERS!"

This comes about only by God entrusting Mary with great power and refusing her nothing. Although not yet a dogma of the church, Mary's title Mediatrix of all Graces, is accepted by most theologians. This was stressed at Knock, Ireland.

Our Lady ended saying,

"DO YOU LOVE MY SON? DO YOU LOVE ME? THAN SACRIFICE YOURSELF FOR ME!"

At Fatima, she came asking for these three things. At Beaurang she came again, repeating the same message, this time resplendent showing her shining heart of pure gold, Her Immaculate Heart in triumph!

Twelve days later north in Bannuex, Belgium, Our Lady appeared again to Marriette Beco. The statement of this apparition is to Jesus through Mary! Again she asked us to pray very much. She identified herself as the Virgin of the Poor. She is always there to help us out of the poverty of sin. As always She asked for a chapel to be built. She left a spring which was reserved for all nations. She said,

"I CAME TO RELIEVE THE SICK!",

whether a physical sickness or a spiritual sickness. Here she is showing us that by coming to the spring, symbolic of Christ we can be healed! Christ, the living water, the Divine Physician, comes to us through Mary!

In all of Our Lady's approved earthly apparitions this point is stressed. Our Heavenly Mother's role, (and this is her only role) is to take us to her Son, Jesus. When reading about her earthly apparitions always keep this point in mind and you will never be led astray. Always stay close to Our Heavenly Mother, pray the rosary everyday and wear the Brown Scapular as a sign of your consecration to her Immaculate Heart. In return She will protect you from the snares of the devil, guiding you to the safety of your true home, heaven! In the words of Pope Pius IX, when his scapular was removed while being vested for his papal carnation,

"LEAVE ME MARY, LEST MARY LEAVE ME!" Never leave Mary and She will never abandon you!

Recommended reading

A Woman Clothed in the Sun by John J Delaney. Image book, Garden City, N.Y.

The Woman Shall Conquer by Don Sharkey. Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, Il.

Our Lady of Guadeloupe by Warren H. Carrol, Christendom Publications, Front Royal, Va.

Our Lady of Fatima by William Thomas Walsh. Image books, Garden City, N.Y.

Our Lady of Beauraing by Don Sharkey and Joseph Debergh, O.M.I.. Abbey Press, Saint Meinrad, In.

Childrens Coloring books. Our Lady of Banneux. Our Lady of Beauraing. Our Lady of Fatima. Our Lady of Guadeloupe. Our Lady of Knack. Our Lady of La Salette. Our Lady of Lourdes. Our Lady of Miraculous Medal. Tan Publishers, Rockford Il.