FR. STEPHEN BREEN'S ACCOUNT OF THE APPARITIONS
It was Saturday, September 19, 1846. Maximin and Melanie had been together for some time during the afternoon. They had not discussed anything religious; nor anything else particularly. Having grown heavy after lunch in the drowsy warmth of the bright September day, they decided to have a short afternoon nap. Ordinarily, neither did this.
MELANIE'S ACCOUNT: I woke first, and I did not see my cows. I awoke Maximin. "Maximin," I said, "quick, let us go and look for the cows." We passed the little stream which went straight up before us, and saw the cows laying down on the other side; they were not far off. I was coming down first, and when I was five or six steps off the little stream, I saw a brightness like the sun, it was far more brilliant, but it had not the same color; and I said to Maximin, "Come, quick, and see the bright light down there," and Maximin came down, saying, "Where is it?" I pointed to it near the little spring, and he stopped when he saw it. Then we saw a Lady in the bright light; she was sitting with her head in her hands. We were afraid; I let my stick fall. Then Maximin said: "Keep your stick; if it does anything I will give it a good knock. " Then the Lady rose up, crossed her arms, and said to us, "Come near, my children, be not afraid, I am here to tell you great news."
Then we crossed the little stream; and she advanced to the place where we had been sleeping. She was between us both. She said to us, weeping all the time that she spoke:
"If my people will not submit, I shall be forced to let go the hand of my Son. It is so strong, so heavy, that I can no longer withhold it. For how long a time do I pray for you! If I would not have my Son abandon you, I am compelled to pray to Him without ceasing. And as to you, you take no heed of it. However much you pray, however much you do, you will never recompense the pains I have taken for you. Six days have I given you to labor, the seventh I have kept for myself, and they will not give it to me. It is this which makes the hand of my Son so heavy. Those who drive the carts cannot swear without introducing the Name of my Son. These are the two things which make the hand of my Son so heavy. If the harvest is spoilt, it is all on your account. I gave you warning last year in the potatoes, but you did not heed it. On the contrary, when you found the potatoes spoilt, you swore, you took the Name of my Son in vain. They will continue to decay, so that by Christmas there will be none left."
And as I did not well understand what was meant by potatoes (pommes de terre), I was going to ask Maximin what was meant by potatoes, when the Lady said to us:
"Ah! my children, you do not understand; I will say it in a different way." Then she continued:
"If the potatoes (las truffas) are spoilt, it is all on your account. I gave you warning last year, but you would not take heed of it. On the contrary, when you found the potatoes spoilt, you swore, and introduced in your oaths the Name of my Son. They will continue to decay, so that by Christmas there will be none left. If you have corn, it is no good to sow it; all that you sow the beasts will eat. What comes up will fall into dust when you thresh it. There will come a great famine. Before the famine comes, the children under seven years of age will be seized with trembling, and will die in the hands of those who hold them; and others will do penance by the famine. The walnuts will become bad, the grapes will rot. If they are converted, the stones and the rocks will change into heaps of corn, and the potatoes will be self-sown on the lands. Do you say your prayers well, my children?"
Both of us answered: "Not very well, Madam."
"You must be sure to say them well, morning and evening. When you cannot do better, say at least an Our Father and a Hail Mary. But when you have time, say more. There are none who go to Mass but a few aged women, the rest work on Sunday all summer; and in winter, when they know not what to do, they go to Mass only to mock at religion. During Lent they go to the shambles like dogs. Have you never seen corn that is spoilt, my children?"
Maximin replied: "Oh no, Madam!" For me, I did not know of which of us she asked this question; and I replied very gently, "No, Madam, I have never seen any yet."
The Lady said, "You must surely have seen it, you, my child (turning to Maximin), once when you were near the farm of Coin, with your father. The master of the field told your father to go and see his ruined wheat. You went both together.
"You took two or three of the ears into your hands and rubbed them, and they all fell into dust; and then you returned home. When you were still half an hour's distance from Corps, your father gave you a piece of bread, and said to you, 'Here, my child, eat some bread this year at least; I don't know who will eat any next year if the corn goes on like that.' "
Maximin replied: "Oh! yes, Madam, I recollect now; just this moment, I did not remember."
After this the Lady said to us in French, "Well, my children, you will make this known to all my people."
She passed the little stream, and again said to us, "Well, my children, you will make this known to all my people." Then she ascended to the place where we had come to look for our cows. She did not touch the grass. She moved along on the tips of the grass. I and Maximin followed her; I passed before the Lady, and Maximin a little on the side, two or three steps. And then the Beautiful Lady arose a little from the ground, then she looked towards Heaven, then towards the earth; then we saw her head no more, then her arms no more, then her feet no more; we saw nothing but a brightness in the air; after this the brightness disappeared. And I said to Maximin: "Perhaps it is a great Saint." And Maximin said to me: "If we had known it was a great Saint, we would have asked her to take us with her." And I said to him: "O that she were here still!" Then Maximin darted his hand out to catch a little of the brightness; but there was nothing there any more. And we looked well, to see if we could not see her. And I said: "She will not let herself be seen, that we may not see where she goes."
Afterwards we looked after our cows. There are slight variations in the words of Our Lady as rendered by Maximin, as compared to the account of Melanie. The substance is nevertheless the same exactly, and the only difference lies in a further denotation of detail.
Both Maximin and Melanie stubbornly refused to reveal their secrets. Our Lady interrupted her message to impart to each a "secret." Every device was used to unveil the secret at that time; none successfully.
After the apparition, Maximin wanted to be a priest. One priest of Grenoble offered to secure him the seminary training and ordination if he would just reveal his secret. "If I must tell my secret to become a priest," Maximin concluded, "I shall never be one."
During the latter part of March, 1851, about five years after the apparition, Pius IX expressed a desire to know the secrets of La Salette. At first the children upon being informed of it and presented with the old questions, refused. Upon being instructed of the unique position of the Pope, however, Maximin and Melanie at length agreed to communicate their secrets to him and to him only.
Yet when the time came to write her secret down, she manifested the greatest calm. Melanie announced that she would tell the Holy Father willingly and without fear of offending the Blessed Virgin. A friend suspected the explanation. She asked Melanie if the Blessed Virgin had appeared to her "once more" before she determined to reveal the secret to the Supreme Pontiff. Melanie declined to reply; she only bowed her head and smiled. Questioned further as to whether or not she "knew" that the Blessed Virgin approved, she answered, "Yes, Madam, I know!"
It is known that the secret addressed to the Pope in Maximin's handwriting, contained seven paragraphs, each numbered. It began:
"Most Holy Father, on the 19th of September 1846, a Lady appeared to me; they say it is the Blessed Virgin; you will judge whether it was by what follows."
Melanie stopped twice in writing hers; once to ask the meaning of the word "infallibly"; once to ask what the word "Antichrist" meant.
As the Pope read the autograph of Melanie, "his lips became strongly compressed, and his face seemed moved with considerable emotion."
The following day at an audience Cardinal Fornari, pressed by the two envoys from the Diocese of Grenoble, declared, "I am terrified with these prodigies; we have everything that is needed in our religion for the conversion of sinners; and when Heaven employs such means the evil must be very great."
EXCERPTS FROM THE SECRET OF LA SALETTE
"There will be a kind of false peace before the advent of Antichrist. Man's only thought will be upon diversions and amusements. The wicked will indulge in all sorts of sin, but the children of the Holy Church, the children of the Faith, my sincere followers, will wax strong in the love of God and in the virtues that are dear to me. Happy the humble souls that are guided by the Holy Ghost. I will fight with them until they shall have reached the completion of age.
"God is going to punish in a manner without precedence. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth! God is going to exhaust His wrath, and nobody shall be able to evade so many combined evils. At the first stroke of His fulminating sword the mountains and the whole of nature shall shake with terror, because the disorders and crimes of men pierce the very vaults of the Heavens.
"Many shall abandon the Faith, and great shall be the number of priests and religious who shall separate themselves from the true religion; among these there will be found bishops. Be on your guard against miracle workers, for in that time there shall be the most astounding prodigies which will take place on the earth and in the air. Lucifer, with a very great number of demons will be unchained from Hell. By degrees they shall abolish the Faith, even among persons consecrated to God. They shall blind them in such a manner that, without very special graces, these persons shall imbibe the spirit of those wicked Angels. Many religious houses will entirely lose the Faith, and shall be the cause of the loss of many souls. The superiors of religious communities should be cautious in regard to those they receive into the community, for the devil will use all malice to bring persons of evil into the orders.
"The earth shall abound with evil men and the spirit of darkness shall spread over the earth a universal relaxation about everything relating to the service of God. Satan shall have very great power over nature (permitted by God as a punishment for the crimes of men). Temples will be erected for the worship of demons. Some persons shall be transported from one place to another by these wicked spirits, even some priests, because they will not be animated by the sacred spirit of the Gospel, which is a spirit of humility, charity, and zeal for God's glory.
"Some will make the dead arise and appear as holy persons. The souls of the damned shall also be summoned, and shall appear as united to their bodies (such persons, resurrected by the power of the demons, shall appear as holy persons, in order more easily to deceive. These self-styled resuscitated persons shall be nothing but demons in human form. In this way they shall preach a gospel contrary to that of Jesus Christ, denying the existence of Heaven).
"In every place there shall be seen extraordinary prodigies, because the true Faith has been extinguished, and a pale light shines in the world . . . TREMBLE, oh earth! And tremble also you who profess to serve Jesus Christ, but inwardly worship yourselves, for God has delivered you to His enemies, because corruption is in the holy places . . . the abomination shall be seen in holy places, in convents, and then the demon shall make himself the king of hearts.
"Together with the Antichrist the demons will work great false miracles on earth and in the air. Voices will be heard in the air. (False apparitions?) Then men will desert religion and become worse and worse. They will let themselves be deceived because they refused to adore the true Christ Who lives bodily amongst them (the Holy Eucharist).
"A certain precursor of Antichrist, together with his followers from many nations, will oppose the real Christ, the only Saviour of the world. He will endeavor to eliminate the adoration of God in order to be considered as God Himself . . . Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of Antichrist . . . see, here is the Beast with its subjects that claims to be the Saviour of the world. Proudly it rises in the air to go straight to Heaven, but it will be strangled by the Archangel Michael and cast down. And the earth, which for three days has been in continuous convulsions, will open her fiery jaws and swallow him with all his cohorts forever into its hellish abyss. Eventually water and fire will cleanse the earth and the works of human pride will be destroyed and all will be renewed. Then will all serve God and glorify Him.
"The just will have much to suffer; their prayers, works of penance, and tears will ascend to Heaven. All of God's people will cry for forgiveness and grace and beg my help and intercession. Then, by a special act of His Justice and Mercy, Jesus Christ will command His Angels to deliver all His enemies to death . . . all persecutors of the Church and all evil doers will suddenly perish . . . Jesus Christ will be served, adored, and glorified. Everywhere love of neighbor will begin to flourish. The new kings will be on the right hand of the Church which will grow strong, and which will be humble, pious, poor, zealous and followers of the virtues. Everywhere the Gospel will be preached, people will make great progress in the Faith; there will be unity among the laborers of Jesus Christ, and people will live in the fear of God.
I address an urgent appeal to the earth. I call upon the true disciples of the living God Who reigns in the Heavens; I call upon the true imitators of Christ made Man, the only true Saviour of mankind; I call upon my children, those who are truly devoted to me, those who have offered themselves to me, that I may lead them to My Son, those who have been animated by my spirit. Finally, I call upon the apostles of the latter days, the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, who have lived despising the world and themselves, in poverty and humility, in silence and contempt, in prayer and mortification, in chastity and union with God, in suffering and unknown to the world . . .t o go forth and manifest yourselves as my beloved children; I am with you and within you, so that your Faith may be light which illumines you in these unhappy days, and that your zeal may make you long for the glory and honor of the Most High. Fight, ye children of Light! Combat ye small band that can see, for this is the time of times, the end of ends."
The above excerpts are from the message of the Ever-Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God as given to Her children at La Salette, France.
THE REIGN OF MARY
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