DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     March 17, 1999     vol. 10, no. 53

THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
    INTRODUCTION
         

          By the end of the 1860's the Blessed Mother turned her attention toward the Emerald Isle where Saint Patrick had brought the True Faith over fourteen centuries before. In the boggy village of Knock in County Mayo, located in the rocky peat-filled environs of northwestern Ireland, God chose to send his Mother with a silent Message that would speak volumes for all the world, but especially to the Irish people who had braved so much in their struggle to preserve their faith. Blessed Mary appeared with the "quiet" visions of Knock that would remind the world of the sacredness and absolute necessity of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in living and preserving the True Faith.

          No matter the age, Our Lady has been imparting the same message: "Pray! Pray! Pray!" It is only through constant prayer, taken as a bouquet in loving, motherly intercession before the Throne of God, that the hearts of mankind will eventually be softened and all her little ones brought into accord with the Will of God. This continuing in-depth series on the grace-filled mystical phenomena of Our Lady's appearances through the ages and the meaning of her messages will open eyes and hearts because she is the mother of us all and her words of wisdom and warnings must be taken seriously...very seriously!

Knock and it shall be opened to you

          With today being the feast of Saint Patrick, Bishop and Apostle of Ireland and the one largely responsible for bringing the faith to the emerald isle, we bring you another famous account of one who brought more to the land of Eire - the Blessed Mother of God. Our Lady focused her attention on the Emerald Isle in 1879, appearing in a Ireland for the first time in northwestern part of the island in County Mayo in the village of Knock. The actor John Wayne played the lead role in a movie many decades ago called "The Quiet Man", the story of an Irishman. Our Lady could be called "The Quiet Woman" for no words were spoken during her apparition on August 21, 1879. It was the eve of the Octave of the Assumption (August 15). Around 7:30 pm Our Lady appeared on the village chapel's south gable wall. Fifteen known persons saw this vision which lasted two hours. Despite the fact it was raining steadily, the figures which appeared in the vision as well as the spot where they appeared on the wall remained totallly dry. This wall, bathed in a cloud of light framed the Blessed Mother, clothed all in white, who appeared wearing a large brilliant tiarra as she raised her hands in prayer with her eyes looking toward the Heavens. To her right was Saint Joseph, looking to his beloved spouse, while on her left was Saint John the Evangelist dressed in bishop's vestments with his left hand holding the Sacred Scriptures and his right raised in a preaching motion. To his left could be seen an altar where there was a cross with a young lamb on the altar. All around the altar angels hovered. The visionaries were so stunned to leave that they did not notify the parish priest until the next day. The apparition returned twice a year later but many say the light was too intense to clearly recognize any of the figures except for the Blessed Mother.

          The meaning of the original vision was discerned by the visionaries and later approved by the Church. The silent message was that the Mother of God personified personal holiness while Christ's beloved Apostle St. John signified the defense and spread of the True Roman Catholic Faith, and St. Joseph stood for Charity. The Cross, the altar and the lamb - meaning the Lamb of God which is sacrificed in an unbloody manner in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - represent source of the strength necessary for all Catholics to live their faith as God wills.

          Mariologist Father Michael O'Carroll from Dublin, the well-known spiritual director of present visionary Christine Gallagher, further explains the silent vision of Knock: "The first lesson of the apparition is the Mass. Everything seems to point to that - the altar with the sacrificial Lamb, the gesture of Our Lady, the presence of Saint John in vestments, and the respectful attitude of Saint Joseph. But we may also see in the vision a reminder of another great truth connected with the Mass - the necessity of Mary's mediation and intercession and the unique character which the latter acquires because of Mary's glorious Assumption and Coronation. We use bodily relics of the Saints when we wish to obtain our requests, but we have no bodily relics of hour Heavenly Mother. We have, however, something infinitely more powerful - we have the continuation on our altars of the Sacrifice in which her Son was immolated. We have His very Body and Blood on the altar and, at the same moment, in Heaven at the right hand of the Father, and with it is the human source from which it was taken - the assumed body of Mary. If the dead bodies of the Saints move the Heart of God on our behalf, how much more the living body of the Immaculate One who crushed forever the enemy of mankind! Let us see, then, in the manifestation of Knock, an invitation to have recourse ever more to the Blessed Virgin, Mediatrix of All Graces and Queen of Heaven and earth, to pray to her and to take into our lives the consciousness of her full gentle presence in Heaven."

          As is the norm, word soon spread of this phenomena and the Archbishop of Tuam was called in. He, along with a discernment board, interviewed each of the fifteen visionaries separately and at great length and found their accounts credible including local authentication of many miraculous physical and spiritual cures. Convinced this was from God he pronounced it "trustworthy and satisfactory." The area soon became a pilgrimage site and a large church was built to accommodate the vast masses coming as well as giving proper reverence to the Message of Knock with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass becoming the main focus for all activities at Knock. In 1936 Pope Pius XI concurred with the findings at Knock and officially made Knock worthy of belief for the Universal Church. Today the shrine at Knock is one of the world's major Marian shrines and has been the recipient of special privileges by at least four popes with our present Holy Father Pope John Paul II being the first to physically visit the shrine as a reigning pontiff. He did so on September 30, 1979 on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the apparitions when he bestowed the status of Basilica on the new church there, presented a golden rose to the shrine, and proclaimed publicly: "From that day of grace, 21 August 1879, until this very day, the sick and the suffering, people handicapped in body or mind, troubled in their faith or their conscience, all have been healed, comforted, and confirmed in their faith because they trusted that the Mother of God would lead them to her Son Jesus. Every time a pilgrim comes up to what was once an obscure bogside village in County Mayo, every time a man, woman, or child comes up to the Old Church with the Apparition Gable or the the new shrine of Mary Queen of Ireland, it is to renew his or her faith in the salvation that comes through Jesus, Who made us all children of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven."


March 17, 1999       volume 10, no. 53
THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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