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TRUE DEVOTION – THE MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN A CHEST

TRUE DEVOTION – THE MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN A CHEST

In 1842, a priest was looking through an old chest in a house in Saint Laurent-sur-Sevre, in France. The priest was a member of the Fathers of the Company of Mary, today commonly called the Montfort Fathers, and the house belonged to the community.

At the bottom of the chest, the priest found a stack of old handwritten pages, yellow with age. The priest took the sheets to his superiors. There were many consultations, many readings, much comparing of handwriting. Finally it was announced that these were two manuscripts which had undoubtedly been written by Father Louis Marie de Montfort, the founder of the community.

A STACK OF OLD HANDWRITTEN PAGES, YELLOW WITH AGE

The Bishop of Lucon authorised the publication of the work, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It has since gone through 130 editions and has played a tremendous part in increasing devotion to the Blessed Mother. The other manuscript, The Secret of Mary, is a summary of the True Devotion. 

“YOU ATTACK ME IN VAIN; I STAND BETWEEN JESUS AND MARY.”

Louis Marie de Montfort was born in a little town in Brittany in 1673, the eldest of seventeen children. He was ordained a priest in 1700. Most of his priestly career was devoted to preaching against the heresy of Jansenism which had taken a strong hold in France. In his preaching he constantly taught devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He stressed the fact that she is Mediatrix. In 1716, worn out by his constant labour, he was struck by a fatal illness. Just before he died, he cried out: “You attack me in vain; I stand between Jesus and Mary. I have finished my course. I shall sin no more.”

“THE DEVIL WOULD ENVELOP IT IN THE SILENCE OF A COFFER”

For a long time after his death, De Montfort was almost forgotten. Then, about a century later, discussion of his virtues began. In 1853, Rome decreed his writings to be exempt from all error that could be a bar to his canonisation. He was beatified in 1888 and canonised on July 20, 1947.

Sometime between his ordination in 1700 and his death in 1716, De Montfort wrote True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and The Secret of Mary. As he wrote he said, “If I thought that my poor blood could help to carry the truths that I write in my dear Mother’s honour to the hearts of men, I would use it instead of ink to form the letters.”

But he foretold that the little book would not come to light for a long time. He said that the devil would “envelop it in the silence of a coffer, in order that it might not appear.” He went on to prophesy that eventually it would appear and that it would be successful. We have seen that these prophecies were fully realised. The manuscript was lost for 126 years, but the book is now widely circulated.

THE BOOK IS NOW WIDELY CIRCULATED

Although St Louis Marie lived and died long before the period covered by this book, he belongs in any study of the Blessed Mother in the modern world.

The True Devotion preached by St Louis Marie was total consecration to the Blessed Virgin. We give her all our earthly possessions, all our thoughts, words, and deeds. Mary exists only to honour God and to serve Him, so when we offer these things to Mary we really offer them to God through Mary. St Louis Marie says that we should make ourselves slaves of Mary. He calls his devotion “the slavery of Jesus in Mary.”

The devotion did not originate with St Louis Marie, but to him must go most of the credit for making it widely known and widely practised. The devotion will be discussed more fully in a later chapter. For the present, we shall confine ourselves to that section of True Devotion which concerns the role of the Blessed Virgin in the modern world. In writing this section, the saint-author seems to have been inspired from heaven, because he looks into the future and tells what is going to happen. Many of the events that are taking place in the world today are more understandable when considered in the light of De Montfort’s words.

“MORE  KNOWN, MORE LOVED AND MORE HONOURED THAN SHE HAS EVER BEEN”

“God wishes that His Holy Mother should be at the present time more known, more loved and more honoured than she has ever been,” St Louis Marie tells us.

This statement helps explain the many manifestations of the Blessed Virgin in the last [centuries] and the great increase in devotion to her. The manuscript of True Devotion was found in 1842. In the twelve years preceding its finding, there had been manifestations of the Blessed Mother at the convent of the Daughters of Charity in Paris, at Blangy, and at the shrine of Our Lady of Victories in Paris. Four years later, our Lady was to appear to children at La Salette. Twelve years later the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception was to be defined. Three years after that our Lady was to appear to Bernadette of Lourdes. And this was only the beginning! Truly, it would seem that God wants his mother more known, more loved, and more honoured than ever before. – Why does God wish this?

“IN MERCY, IN MIGHT, AND IN GRACE”

“It was through Mary that the salvation of the world was begun and it is through Mary that it must be consummated. Mary hardly appeared at all in the first coming of Jesus Christ. But in the second coming… Mary has to be made known and revealed by the Holy Ghost, in order that through her, Jesus Christ may be known, loved and served…”

It was through Mary that our Lord came into the world the first time. It is through her that he will come back to the world. In order to accomplish this, Mary herself must become better known and better loved.

St Louis Marie then elaborates on why God “wishes to reveal and make known the masterpiece of His hands in these latter times:

“It is by her that the souls who are to shine forth especially in sanctity have to find Our Lord. He who shall find Mary shall find life, that is Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. But no one can find Mary who does not seek her, who does not know her… It is necessary, then, for the greater knowledge and glory of the Most Holy Trinity, that Mary should be more than ever known.

That is a further possible explanation for the many apparitions of the Blessed Virgin that have been taking place since 1830.

FOR THE GREATER KNOWLEDGE AND GLORY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

St Louis Marie continues: “Mary must shine forth more than ever in mercy, in might, and in grace in these latter times.” In mercy, he says, to bring back the strayed sinner. In might, against the enemies of God who shall rise in terrible revolt against Him. In grace, to sustain the soldiers and servants of Christ who shall battle in His service.

He concludes the list of reasons with the following words which seem to have special bearing on the present world situation:

“And lastly Mary must be terrible to the devil and his crew, as an army ranged in battle, principally in these latter times, because the devil, knowing he has but little time, and now less than ever, to destroy souls, will every day redouble his efforts and his combats. He will presently raise up cruel persecutions, and will put terrible snares before the faithful servants and true children of Mary, whom it gives him more trouble to conquer than it does to conquer others.”

One has but to think of the events of the past two centuries and of conditions in our modern world to realise that the devil has indeed been raising up cruel persecutions of the Church and that they have been increasing in intensity. St Louis Marie tells us that these last and cruel persecutions “shall go on increasing daily till the reign of Antichrist.”

With such a powerful enemy ranged against us, the situation would be hopeless if we did not have an even more powerful friend and protector. After the fall of our first parents God said to the serpent: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”

On this point St Louis Marie says: “God has formed… but one enmity, but it is an irreconcilable one, which shall endure and grow even to the end. It is between Mary, his worthy Mother, and the devil – between the children and servants of the Blessed Virgin, and the children and tools of Lucifer.” God has given His Mother such power over the devil, De Montfort tells us, that Satan “fears her not only more than all the angels and men, but in a sense more than God Himself. Not that the anger, the hatred and the power of God are not infinitely greater than those of the Blessed Virgin, for the perfections of Mary are limited, but Satan, being proud, suffers infinitely more from being beaten and punished by a little handmaid of God, and her humility humbles him more than the divine power.

The devils, we are told, fear one of Mary’s sighs for a soul, “more than the prayers of all the saints, and one of her threats against them more than all other torments.”

THE BATTLE HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR CENTURIES 

The battle between the devil and our Blessed Mother has been going on for centuries. It is a battle for souls. The devil is trying to lure all of us into the lowest depths of hell. Mary is trying to lead us to heaven. Today, according to De Montfort, the devil is more active than ever before because he has little time left. As a consequence the Blessed Virgin is making herself better known to us, so that we might resist the devil and enrol on her side. The battle seems to be approaching a great climax.

The saint’s words about Mary’s power over the devil are consoling ones for these trying days. Satan may rage and roar at us. He may persecute us openly or subtly, but he cannot harm us do long as we stay by Mary’s side.

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954

 

 

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“BUT PRAY, MY CHILDREN” – THE STORY OF OUR LADY OF HOPE

“The Franco-Prussian War, which began in 1870, was the backdrop to this silent apparition of Our Lady at Portmain in northwestern France. By January 1871, the country was in a very serious position militarily, with the Prussians controlling two thirds of the country and Paris besieged. It seemed to be only a matter of time before Mayenne and Brittany, the northwestern part of the country, would also be taken. The next attack was expected at Laval, the capital of Mayenne, less than 30 miles from Pontmain, where the Blessed Virgin would appear.

Guided by their parish priest, they sought to live as good Christians

At the time, Pontmain was a small village, inhabited by simple and hardworking country folk, who, guided by their parish priest, Abbé Michel Guerin, sought to live as good Christians.

The Barbedette family consisted of father Cesar, his wife, Victoire, with their two sons Joseph and Eugene, aged ten and 12, and another older brother who was away in the army.

On 17th January 1871, after going to early morning Mass, the boys spent the day at school as usual. On their return, they were helping their father in the barn when a neighbour, an elderly lady named Jeannette Details, called in and began to talk with Cesar. During the conversation, the older boy, Eugene, walked over towards the door to look out, and noticed one area practically free of stars above a neighbouring house. This puzzled him; but, as he gazed at it, suddenly he saw an apparition of a beautiful woman smiling at him; she was wearing a blue gown covered with golden stars, and a black veil under a golden crown.

His mum suggested they should all say five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys in her honour

As Jeannette Details was about to leave, Eugene asked her if she could see anything, and as she replied in the negative, his father and brother came out to look. Joseph immediately said he too could see the apparition, although their father, like the old lady, saw nothing. He asked Eugene if he could still see the lady and on being told ‘Yes’, asked him to go and fetch his mother. Victoire arrived but like the other adults she could see nothing, although she was puzzled because her boys were usually very truthful.

She suggested that it might be the Blessed Virgin, and that they should all say five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys in her honour. By this time the neighbours were coming out to see what was going on, and the Barbedettes withdrew into the barn to pray.

The family servant, Louise, was called but she too could see nothing; and as it was now about a quarter past six, the family went inside for supper. Victoire gave the boys permission to go out again soon after, and, on hearing that the lady was still there, went to fetch Sr Vitaline, the local schoolteacher.

He pointed to three bright stars in the shape of a triangle

Eugene pointed to three bright stars in the shape of a triangle and told her that the lady’s head was in the middle of them. Although Sr Vitaline could see the stars, she saw nothing else, and so she went to get three young girls from the school to see their reactions. Immediately they arrived, the two youngest of these, aged nine and 11, expressed their delight at the apparition, describing it as the boys had done, although the oldest girl saw nothing. The three stars were seen by everyone that evening, but disappeared after the apparition.

It was decided to fetch other children, and another sister called at the presbytery to tell Fr Guerin, who, after some hesitation, decided to come out as well. As he reached the barn with his housekeeper, a child of two and her mother had just arrived. Immediately the infant looked with delight at the apparition, clapped her hands, and called out the name of Jesus, as taught by her mother. The next evening the child was taken back to the same spot at the same time and told to look, but gave no indication of seeing anything.

They began to say the rosary, and as the rosary progressed, the stars began to multiply around her

The adults in the crowd, which had now grown to about sixty people, including the priest, could still see nothing and began to say the rosary, as the children exclaimed that something new was happening. A blue oval frame with four candles, two at the level of the shoulders and two at the knees, was being formed around the lady, and a short red cross had appeared over her heart. As the rosary progressed, the figure and its frame grew larger, until it was twice life size; the stars around her began to multiply and attach themselves to her dress until she was covered with them.

“My Son allows himself to be moved”

As the Magnificat was being said, the four children cried out: ‘Something else is happening.’ A broad streamer on which letters were appearing unrolled beneath the feet of the lady, so that eventually the phrase, ‘But pray, my children,’ could be read. Fr Guerin then ordered that the Litany of Our Lady should be sung, and as this progressed new letters appeared, making the message: ‘God will soon answer you.’ As they continued to sing, another message was formed, one that removed any doubt that it was the Blessed Virgin who was appearing to the children: ‘My Son allows himself to be moved.’

The children were beside themselves with joy

The children were beside themselves with joy at the beauty of the lady and her smile, but her expression then changed to one of extreme sadness, as she now contemplated a large red cross that had suddenly appeared before her, with a figure of Christ on it in an even darker shade of red. One of the stars then lit the four candles that surrounded the figure, the crucifix vanished and the group began night prayers.

As the group began night prayers a white veil lifted

As these were being recited, the children reported that a white veil was rising from the lady’s feet and gradually blotting her out, until finally, at about nine o’clock, the apparition was over.

It is worth noting that earlier that evening, at the house near Paris where Catherine Laboure – the seer of Rue du Back and the Miraculous Medal – lived, the sisters observed the remarkable colour of the western sky, which some felt was an omen. Catherine looked but said nothing, although later, when the events of Pontmain became known, it was suspected that she had some inkling of what had happened. In any event, it appears that she certainly believed that Our Lady appeared there, since she said as much to a fellow nun in 1872, telling her to send her prayer intentions to the village, because ‘the Blessed Lady revealed herself there…’

Our Lady of Hope

The following March a canonical inquiry into the apparition was held, and in May the local bishop questioned the children. The inquiry was continued later in the year, with further questioning by the theologians and a medical examination. The bishop was satisfied by these investigations, and in February 1873 declared his belief that it was the Blessed Virgin who had appeared to the children. Joseph Barbedette became a priest, a member of the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, while his brother Eugene became a secular priest. One of the girls who had seen Mary assisted him as his housekeeper, while the other, Jeanne-Marie Lebosse, became a nun. A large basilica was built at Pontmain and consecrated in 1900.

During his reign, Pope Pius XI confirmed the decision of the bishop and granted a Mass and Office for Pontmain under the title ‘Our Lady of Hope’.”

– This article by Donal Anthony Foley was published in the Catholic Times newspaper, issue 16th January 2015. For subscriptions please contact: The Universe Media Group, Allerton House, St Mary’s Parsonage, Manchester M3 2WJ.

 

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2015 in Prayers to Our Lady

 

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ANCIENT MARIAN DEVOTIONS: OUR LADY OF CONSOLATION

Our Lady of Consolation

“Our Blessed Mother has been invoked under the beautiful title of Our Lady of Consolation since the fourth century – and probably for even longer than that. History records that St Eusebius of Vercelli, who was a heroic defender of the doctrine of Christ’s Divinity in an age when Arianism was gaining influential followers, brought back an icon of Our Lady of Consolation from Egypt in 363 when he was returning from exile.

Turin

This icon was presented to the city of Turin. Later St Maximus, Bishop of Turin 380 – 420, established a small Shrine to house the icon in a church dedicated to St Andrew. Here it became a popular centre of Marian devotion in the city. However, the following years brought a cycle of destruction, then restoration, followed by neglect, then revival.

During these troubled times a new shrine was built, only to be destroyed again during an invasion of the Barbarians. In 1104 the icon was found buried unharmed beneath some ruins and once again the faithful of Turin could honour Our Lady of Consolation in her shrine. Many miracles were attributed to her intercession and over the succeeding centuries the church in which the icon now is displayed has been reconstructed, embellished and added to, and has been elevated to the status of a minor basilica. The devotion to Our Lady of Consolation became widespread in Europe.

West Grinstead

The English Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, West Grinstead, Sussex is officially affiliated to the Turin Shrine. Although the church itself was built comparatively recently, it stands in a rural area which is steeped in Church history.

After the Reformation, the local major landowners, the Caryll family, were secret Catholics and welcomed priests who came disguised, at the risk of their lives, to minister to them and to the faithful throughout England.

The Priest’s House, with hiding places to shelter the priest if any investigating authorities were in the area, was originally a tiny cottage. There was also a hidden chapel intended to provide temporary safety for worshippers.

Eventually the government policy towards Catholics changed and instead of the risk of the death penalty, financial sanctions were imposed. The Caryll family remained faithful to the Church and eventually followed the Stuart Royal family to France, where they had an honoured place at the Court in Exile.

Monsignor Denis

When the Caryll estate in Sussex was sold in 1754, the Priest’s House at West Grinstead was given to the Church to ensure that a Catholic presence would continue there. Strange to say, the historical situation was soon reversed, as French Catholic priests fled to England to escape the French Revolution, and some found refuge at West Grinstead.

It was difficult for French speaking priests to minister to a rural English congregation and sadly local fervour declined. Eventually, however, following the establishment of a Catholic Diocese of Southwark (which included Sussex) a priest from Brittany, Mgr Jean Marie Denis, was appointed to West Grinstead and, encouraged by the Bishop, worked hard to revitalise the parish.

A new place of pilgrimage

It was Mgr Denis’s inspiration to establish the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation at West Grinstead in 1876. He chose this title because the Shrine at Turin was an ancient one and was blessed with special privileges and Indulgences. Through affiliation, the Shrine at West Grinstead shares those privileges.

The combination of history enshrined in the Priest’s House and devotion to Our Blessed Lady under the ancient title Our Lady of Consolation excited wide interest and pilgrims began to visit and pray there and they continue to do so today.

Developments in Turin

Whilst the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, West Grinstead, in England was developing and attracting pilgrims, there had been developments at the Shrine in Turin. In 1880 a young priest, Father Giuseppe Allamano, was appointed Rector of the Shrine at the age of 29. Although his father had died when he was only three years old, his early years had been privileged with the example of at least two future saints: one being his uncle, later to become St John Cafasso, and the other being Don Bosco, later to become St John Bosco. The latter was his teacher and spiritual director.

Father Giuseppe had benefited from these early influences and, by the time he was installed as Rector of Our Lady of Consolation Shrine in Turin, he had a number of years’ experience of directing seminarians and newly ordained priests of the diocese. He was a dynamic Rector of the Shrine and enhanced its reputation and influence, but his achievements were not limited to that holy place.

Consolata Missionaries

Father Giuseppe was led by his intense devotion to Our Lady and his zeal for evangelisation to found the two religious missionary congregations that we know as the Consolata Fathers and Brothers (1901) and the Consolata Sisters (1910). They were soon active in Africa and now are spread across the world. Father Giuseppe, better known to us today as Blessed Joseph Allamano, died in 1926 and was beatified in 1990 by Pope St John Paul II. We may hope that he will soon be a canonised saint. The Consolata Missionaries eagerly await this and have dedicated the year 2014 to their founder. They are praying that the miracles required to support the Cause of his canonisation will soon be identified and they urge us all to ask his intercession.

The Consolata Icon

Blessed Joseph Allamano spent many hours in prayer at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Turin. The holy icon was a source of inspiration for him, and his prayer led him beyond the ancient representation, to the reality of Our Lady’s loving concern for the needy, the sick, the forlorn, the lost… a loving concern as alive today as it has been through the ages.

It seems appropriate that the icon at Turin is not replicated at West Grinstead, which has its own distinct painting … Our Lady is not limited in time or space. Her title of ‘Consolata’ reassures us of her motherly love and her attentiveness to us whenever we call on her, wherever we may be.

Our Lady of Consolation, pray for us.

Blessed Joseph Allamano, pray for us. “

– This article was published in the “Little Way Association” magazine (hard copy) Issue no. 94. For subscriptions and donations, please visit the Little Way Association’s website http://www.littlewayassociation.com (external link)

 

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2015 in Devotions

 

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