Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
First Sunday of Advent (Commemoration of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal)—27 November AD 2016

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Blessing of the Advent Wreath

Blessing of Miraculous Medals

“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

    Today's Gospel is taken from Saint Luke's account and seems to be a shorter version of Saint Matthew's Gospel which we heard last week. [1] We can say the same things we said last week.  If we are close to the end of the world, it can't be too close, for we are not seeing all of the signs which our Lord described.  We are seeing confusion in the Church and in civil society, but we don't yet see the signs in the sky and in the waves.  But as I said last week it is not terribly important whether the end will come soon or thousands of years from now.  The end will come for each one of us in a quite personal manner.  It may come sooner for the elderly, but even the very young cannot be sure of any particular length of life.  The moral of the story is that we should always be ready for Judgment Day.  That is to say that e must pray, do good works, keep the Commandments, and receive the Sacraments frequently.  We all know these things and they shouldn't have to be repeated very often.

    So today I would like to tell you something about the medals we will be blessing at the end of Mass.  Properly the medals are called “Medals of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” but just about everyone refers to them as “Miraculous Medals.” Their design was revealed by the Blessed Virgin in 1830 to Catherine Labouré, a twenty-four her old member of the Daughters of Charity, at rue de Bac, in Paris. 

    On the obverse, Mary stands on a globe, crushing a serpent beneath her feet, depicting the prophecy of Genesis 3:15.[2]  She is the one who God put “at enmities” with the devilhis polar opposite—utterly sinless in order to oppose the dread serpent's evil.  Rays streak downward from her hands, symbolizing the graces which she wins for us from her Holy Son.  The oval shaped medal is bordered by the words:  “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”  The year of the apparition, 1830, is at the bottom.  This Marian revelation of the Immaculate Conception came almost a quarter century before the formal definition of the dogma in 1854—at which time Pope Pius IX indicated that he was motivated by events taking place in France,[3]

    On the reverse side of the medal, A cross-and-bar surmounts a large, bold letter “M,” for Jesus and Mary are united in the redemption of the human race.  Below this device, emitting flames are images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary—we are reminded of the burning love of Jesus our Redeemer and Mary our Intercessor.  On this side, the border consists of twelve stars, reminiscent of the twelve Apostles or the crown of the “woman clothed with the sun” in Apocalypse 12:1.[4]

    The medal is called “Miraculous” for a large number of significant miracles are attributed to Mary and her Medal.

    Perhaps the most famous miracle is the conversion of an anti-Catholic Jew both to the Catholic Faith and the Priesthood.  In 1841, Alphonse Ratisbone visited Rome on an art tour, where he called on a school friend, Gustave de Bussières. a Protestant.  He was introduced to Gustave’s brother , the Baron de Bussières, a recent convert to Catholicism.  In gratitude for the Baron’s hospitality, Ratisbone was induced to take a Miraculous Medal, and to make a copy of Saint Bernard’s prayer, the Memorare.  To make the story short, Ratisbone accompanied the Baron to church to make funeral arrangements for a friend who had just died,  Ratisbone wandered off, but was found kneeling before the altar, insisting that he had seen the woman on the medal in the church, and insisting that he had to be baptized as soon as possible.  He was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1847, and went on to found an Order to work for the conversion of Jews to the Catholic Faith.[5]

    Another well-known miracle was the 1943 conversion of a murderer, twenty-year-old Claude Newman, on death row in Mississippi.  He acquired the Medal from another inmate who seemed happy to get rid of it.  That night, the most beautiful woman appeared to him, telling him: “If you would like me to be your mother, and you to be my child, send for a priest of the Catholic Church.”  Newman was frightened nearly to death, but sent for the Catholic Chaplain, who brought him into the church.  Newman was so thoroughly convinced of his patronage by the beautiful Blessed Virgin that he was heartbroken when his execution was delayed for a few weeks.  He spent the time praying for another inmate who had fallen away from the Faith.  The second man was so impressed with Newman’s acceptance of death that he returned to the Sacraments before peacefully accepting his own execution.[6]

    Perhaps my favorite miracle is that of a Brazilian couple who journeyed to Paris to beg for the healing of their little girl who was paralyzed from the waist down.  The family was brought into the chapel where the apparition had taken place and the little girl told to sit down in the chair that had been occupied by the Blessed Virgin—which the little girl steadfastly refused to do.  Dejected, the family returned to Brazil.  While en‑route they questioned their daughter, who told them she couldn’t sit in the chair because of the beautiful lady who was already sitting there.  When they disembarked, the little girl left, walking on her own two feet![7]

    Please understand that there is no magic at work in any of these countless miracles.  The sacramentals work by helping us to be highly aware of and trusting in the power and mercy of God, and the unqualified willingness of His Blessed Mother to make intercession for all who call on her.  Sacramentals like the Rosary, the Scapular, and the Miraculous Medal are badges which indicate that we have put our trust in God and in His Holy Mother.  Never fail to wear their badges!

“O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

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