An eighteenth century painting by artist Sigismund Goetze, available from SIGNS OF THE TIMES, (109 Executive Dr. Suite D, Sterling, VA 20166) so clearly depicts this. The master painter based his rendition on Saint Paul's passage in Acts 17:22-31 when he addressed the citizens of Athens, center of culture at the apex of Greece's impace. There, he related the following, " Men of Athens, I see that in every respect you are extremely religious. For as I was going about and observing objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: 'To the Unknown God.' What therefore you worship in ignorance, that I proclaim to you. God, Who made the world and all that is in it, since He is Lord of Heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples built by hands; neither is He served by human hands as though He were in need of anything, since it is He Who gives to all men life and breath and all things. And from one man He has created the whole human race and made them live all over the face of the earth, determining their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands; that they should seek God, and perhaps grope after Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being, as indeed some of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring. If therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to imagine that the Divinity is like to gold or silver or stone, to an image graven by human art and thought. The times of this ignorance God has, it is true, overlooked, but now He calls upon all men everywhere to repent; inasmuch as He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world with justice by a Man Whom He has appointed, and Whom He has guaranteed to all by raising Him from the dead." Just as Our Lady prophesied at La Salette, so this painting illustrates what was happening. In this Athen-like setting we see a marble pillar where is inscribed at the base of the 'altar' Votum Deo Ignoto which means "To the Unknown God!" To this pillar, this altar is bound the suffering Christ, stripped to the waist as He was at the Scourging at the pillar. Behind Him, hovering above is the Angel of the Passion who holds aloft the chalice of suffering to remind all of His Passion, especially in our modern times when the world passes by without giving Him a glance, giving only lip service while many mock Him.
The question penetrates the soul, "Are we also there mocking the Son of God, giving Him only lip service while in our actions we pass Him by in favor of temporal things?" Are we like the young damsel in a low bodice in the lower left side of the painting who, in scant attire, tempts with immodesty, flirting and teasing? Or are we like the man directly behind her who has only lust on his mind? What about the scientist behind the amorous couple? Are we like him who looks to the test-tube for all his answers, much as modern genetic engineering relies on scientific wisdom today, ignoring the real Answer - the Seat of Wisdom - just a few feet away? Could we, in this age of "fanaticism" in sports and our obsession with gambling, be like the jockey at the top who checks the paper for the latest results, wagering his hard earned wages on frivolous things and, whipped into a frenzy, seeks the colosseums of modern gladiators while He ignores the Ultimate Victor an arm's length away?
Maybe we are personified in the poor mother who slinks beneath the altar, providing lactate nourishment to her unhealthy child as she wallows in the misery she feels she has been saddled with. Rather than turning her head to acknowledge the Savior and offer all to Him and seek comfort thus gaining great graces in her suffering, she curses her misfortune and continues to suffer without rhyme or reason.
Then there is the newsboy in the lower right corner of the painting who is hawking the scandals of the day - sins that mock God's Law by glorifying the Seven Deadly sins so prevalent today in our print and electronic media as well as the Hollywood agenda. Do we imitate him in subscribing to this drivel, by contributing to the coffers of satan's legions? Perhaps we might see a part of ourselves in the worker just behind the newsboy. He carries his pick ax to the mines and fields, so intent on his work that he has forgotten Who it is Who provides for him and his family, who furnishes the fruits of the fields to allow him to harvest an abundant crop. Our Lady warned at La Salette that there would be famine and drought, yet he goes about his chores oblivious to the warning, much as we do today when Our Lady comes in unprecedented numbers to bring our attention back to her Divine Son.
In the upper right hand corner of the painting, in the shadows of the giant marble pillars rising to the sky, a politician stands above the masses, shouting platitudes to the frenzied mob. Could we be like him who speaks from both sides of the mouth, who compromises everything to please man - even to the extent of selling his soul - while ignoring the Will of God? Or could we be like those crowding around him, hanging on every word, mesmerized by the slick manner and hollow promises man spouts and which bring nothing but heartache if we do not look to the Sacred Heart? To the left of the crowd are a few solitude nuns who are so far back and so wrapped in the routine of their daily lives that they've truly forgotten the purpose of their vocation - to serve God and to offer all to their Suffering Savior as His brides. But like marriage, they begin to take their duties and their spouse - in their case, Jesus Christ, for granted. Have we done this at times? In the foreground, just below the nuns and at the edge of the altar is a top-hatted businessman who is so engrossed with his profession and the desire to get ahead that he lowers his head without looking to Heaven for assistance. How many times do we all become "workaholics" and ignore the blessings and signs God gives us to help us in our daily lives? Next to the businessman is the soldier, so intent on killing and hating the enemy that he has become callous to anyone bleeding and suffering as Our Lord is, as the military man, decked out in medals, further plots in his mind the overthrow of others to build up the spoils of war. Are we like this soldier in our prejudices and hate for others, no matter if they are our enemy? Next to the soldier is a judge, so intent on the letter of the law that he has lost sight of the Spirit of the God's Law and given in to pride, greed, and power through bribery and graft. Do we judge others without just cause? Do we set ourselves up as the authority and use our position to influence others to our will rather than the Divine Will? Next to the judge is a bon-vivant imbibing a brew in an attempt to forget his troubles. By drowning his sorrows in artificial means, he becomes more and more addicted to his habit which blurs his vision of his ultimate goal - Jesus Christ. How many of us use various addictions as a crutch to get through life where all we need do is rely totally on Jesus for all our needs? To his left is a cleric adorned in his fine robes with a pompous pharisee-like countenance. He has become so enveloped in his status as an ecclesiast that he too has lost sight of his vocation and his charge by Christ to "Feed My sheep." Like many bishops and priests today, he is lost in his ivory tower and oblivious to the needs of the people who look to the priests and bishops for guidance and leadership in Holy Mother Church. Of all people, Christ expects more of those who have been given much and He has promised His graces and Heavenly rewards if they but use the talents given to them and follow His commands as shepherds of men. Just below the cleric, in front of the imbiber, and behind the woman, is a gentleman biting into an apple, symbolizing man's fall from grace. It is a reminder that if we are not obedient to all God asks we, too, will be banished from Paradise. In front of him is an eighteenth century nurse who is the only one who looks to our Suffering Lord. Because she has devoted her life to helping others in her profession she is sensitive to Christ's plight and looks to Him with love. That is the key, for love is why He is there, why He suffers so, why He permits man of his own free will to ignore Him, and why He gave His very life for the salvation of all. The nurse recognizes this and yet she shudders at both the misery He is in and in utter dismay at the oblivious demeanor of all those around her who pass Him by in their tunnelvision. Hopefully we, like the caring nurse, can recognize in all and in Christ's mission, the total love that Christ commands in John 13: 34, "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another: that as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." If we follow Jesus' charge to love one another then we will not be numbered among those in the painting who have ignored the Son of God and their fellow man.
This was the scenario Our Lady spoke of in her prophesies to the visionaries at La Salette, specifically Melanie Matthieu Calvat in the mid eighteenth century, but the scenario, except for the attire, is no different then as it is today and that's why God is sending His very Own Mother in unprecedented numbers in unprecedented ways to remind us over and over how we need to rekindle that love for her Divine Son and recognize Him in all we meet - all members of God's family. If we do as she asks, then the omens of La Salette can be mitigated and the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart will become a reality sooner. That Immaculate Heart is such because Mary is the Mother of God and was conceived free of sin - the Immaculate Conception.
Their parents were at their wits' end trying to control them. Hearing about a priest nearby who worked with delinquent boys, the mother suggested to her husband that they ask the good father to talk with the boys. The boys' dad concurred.
The mother went to the priest and made her request. He agreed, but said he wanted to see the younger boy first and alone. So the mother sent him to the good padre. Father sat the boy down on the other side of his huge, impressive desk. For about five minutes they just sat and stared at each other. Finally, the priest pointed his forefinger at the boy and asked, "Where is God?" The boy looked under the desk, in the corners of the room, all around, but said nothing. Again, louder, the priest pointed at the boy and asked, "Where is God, my son?" Again the boy looked all around but said nothing. A third time, in a louder, firmer voice, the priest leaned far across the desk and put his forefinger almost to the boy's nose, and asked "Oh, for the love of God! Where is God?" The boy panicked and ran all the way home.
Finding his older brother, he dragged him upstairs to their room and into the closet, where they usually plotted their mischief. He finally said, "We are in B-I-I-I-I-G trouble now!" The older boy asked, "What do you mean, B-I-I-I-I-G trouble?" His brother replied, "God is missing and they think we did it."
And the capper...:
One dark night outside a small town, a fire started inside the local chemical plant. Before long it exploded into flames and an alarm went out to fire departments from miles around. After fighting the fire for over an hour, the chemical company president approached the fire chief and said, "All of our secret formulas are in the vault in the center of the plant. They must be saved! I will give $50,000 to the engine company that brings them out safely!"
As soon as the chief heard this, he ordered the firemen to strengthen their attack on the blaze. After two more hours of attacking the fire, the president of the company offered $100,000 to the engine company that could bring out the company's secret files. From the distance a long siren was heard and another fire truck came into sight. It was a local volunteer fire company composed entirely of men over 65.
To everyone's amazement the little fire engine raced through the chemical plant gates and drove straight into the middle of the inferno. In the distance the other firemen watched as the old timers hopped off of their rig and began to fight the fire with an effort that they had never seen before. After an hour of intense fighting the volunteer company had extinguished the fire and saved the secret formulas.
Joyous, the chemical company president announced that he would double the reward to $200,000 and walked over to personally thank each of the volunteers. After thanking each of the old men individually, the president asked the group what they intended to do with the reward money. The fire truck driver looked him right in the eye and said, "The first thing we're going to do is fix the dang brakes on that truck!"