Causes of Mary's Tears
(Reflections on the Recital of the Two Children)
“If my people do not wish to submit themselves, I am forced to let go of the hand of my Son. It is so heavy and weighs me down so much I can no longer keep hold of it.”
1. The sins of men – disobedience to God and all lawful authority.
“It (The arm of my Son) is so heavy and weighs me down so much I can no longer keep hold of it.”
The perfect conformity in the words of Our Lady of La Salette with the language of the Church, is very remarkable. The children were simple and ignorant, had but the merest idea of the existence even of the Blessed Virgin: and yet, the words related by them are in strict harmony with the belief of the Church, which, for eighteen centuries, by the united voice of the Supreme Pontiffs and the General Councils, by the voice of its Fathers, its doctors, its saints, has not ceased to proclaim Mary to be our advocate and refuge.
The perfect conformity of the language used by our Lady with the wants of religion and society in this age, is not less striking. Her words are quite in accordance with the spirit which dictated the famous encyclical letter of the Pope Pius IX, Nov. 21, 1851. “None of you," writes His Holiness, “are ignorant of the perfidious artifices, the monstrous doctrines, the conspiracies of every kind which the enemies of God and the human race are setting to work in order to pervert minds, corrupt hearts, to cause religion to disappear if it were possible from the face of the earth, to break asunder all the bonds of society, and destroy it even to its very foundations. Hence again the unbridled license in thinking everything, doing everything, and daring everything, the determined revolt against all authority, the derision and scorn lavished upon things the most sacred; hence above all, the poisonous ravages of bad books, pamphlets, tracts, and newspapers, scattered about profusely and propagating everywhere the knowledge of evil. Hence likewise seditious movements, sacrilegious plots, and the contempt of the laws human and divine.”
What evils more truly capable of weighing down the arm of the Son of Mary, and of provoking His just vengeance! and if Catholic countries are guilty, how great then must be the crime of unbelieving England!
2. How men have become hardened in sin – Indifference
to our heavenly Mother
“I have suffered all of the time for the rest of you! If I do not wish my Son to abandon you, I must take it upon myself to pray for this continually. And the rest of you think little of this!”
It is not possible that two poor shepherd children, who knew little or nothing of the Blessed Virgin or her divine Son, could have invented such noble language, a language which paints with the simple force of truth the real state of so many Christians at the present day. Who can count the thousands, aye millions, even in Catholic countries, and especially in large towns, whose hearts are hardened down in sin, whom nothing can touch—not the voice of zealous pastors, nor the grace of frequent jubilees, nor of many missions preached to them,—whose consciences remain dead beneath the thunder of God’s justice announced to them in these times by political eruptions, by the horrors of war, the irregularity of the seasons, an awful pestilence, plagues and blights which are now coming upon us year after year! And with this picture before us, who can think without a shudder of the pride, impurities, and grovelling lust for riches, which here are but too often the real obstacles to the reception of the Truth!
3. The profanation of the Sunday.
“I gave you six days to work; I kept the seventh for myself, and no one wishes to grant it to me.”
Here is a text taken almost word for word from the Holy Scriptures, full of majesty, and evidently far beyond the reach of either Maximin or Melanie. Besides, these poor little shepherds could have known nothing whatever of the fearful amount of sin committed by desecration of the Lord’s day. To have had cognizance of a sin, they must have first known the law, and both children were totally without instruction, and what is more, almost incapable of receiving it. The world, the while, was plunged in the deepest guilt for sins against the third commandment. To have indicated this on the one hand, and in so doing to have used the above words in the dignified manner already noted, is a sure evidence, therefore, that the message itself partakes of a supernatural character.
Some may fancy that England cannot be included in this part at least of the reproach of our Blessed Lady. No error can be more fatal for Protestants, who may thus lull their consciences, and hug themselves in the self-sufficiency of their national pride. In a Catholic the error is one of stupidity, grounded generally on inexperience of the true facts of the case, want of reflection, and often on too much contact with Protestants. The Sunday is not observed in England: at least, it is observed here less than anywhere else. But how is it that so many persons think differently? For a very simple reason: because they confound the stoppage of work and cessation of business, with the observance of Sunday. Look at the streets of some great town in this country on the Lord's Day,— or go out of town into the villages— you will see that the work has ceased and the shops are closed: but where are the people? some few, a miserable few, are in Church,—and the rest? where are the great masses? do they give themselves to God on this one day out of the seven? Not a bit of it. The fact is clear, and let those who doubt it consult the returns of the last census, that on no day of the week, in England, is crime in its very worst shape so prevalent and almost universal as on Sundays,—crime also, which is only the more shameful, because committed under a pharisaical guise. The shops are shut: but it is not for prayer. The traffic has stopped on the highways: but it is only to open more widely the haunts of sin and shame. What a mockery of the Christian Sabbath, to pretend that men observe it; when they close their shops and houses, but to indulge the more freely in blasphemies and impurities, the readier to court vices which in their very brutishness would have disgraced a pagan. Who can say that the reproach of our Lady of La Salette, regarding the third commandment, has no reference to us!
4. Taking the Lord’s name in vain – Cursing, swearing, and blaspheming.
“Those who drive carts cannot speak without putting the name of my Son in the middle.”
5. Profanation of holy places and things.
“They only go to Mass to make fun of religion.”
6. Contempt in general for the laws of the Church – Neglect of prayer and penance.
“You must say your prayers morning and evening… During Lent, they go to the butcher's like hungry dogs.”
With respect to these three last reproaches of our Blessed Lady, it is well to remark the exact accordance they exhibit with the crying sins of the age. Everyone now thinks he can guide himself; and in consequence, laughs at the Church and its laws. Then can we call to mind without a shudder, how within the last three hundred years (as of 1855 A.D.), churches and convents in hosts have been destroyed, pillaged, robbed, changed in to barracks, industrial schools, private dwellings, or what not? Again, is not this the age par excellence of cursing and blasphemy? when before, were such dreadful oaths administered to secret societies? When was cursing and swearing so common amongst the rude and ignorant? Men seem indeed to have preserved the idea of God in their minds, only to swear and blaspheme by His Name.
The plaint of Our Lady is therefore strictly just. How explain then, otherwise than by a manifestation from heaven, the language repeated by poor simple children—language which finds an echo in the pastoral letters of Popes and Bishops for eighty or a hundred years past? Has England no share in these sins? If in France, to use the strictly Scriptural expression, “they go to the butcher's like hungry dogs, during Lent,” what are we to think of the insolent defiance with which the laws of God on mortification and self-denial, and the laws of the Church on fasting and abstinence are systematically neglected and despised in this country! If in France, Church property was confiscated, and the abbeys destroyed, at least the deed was done by a faction, whose crimes the French nation has since labored much to repair. But in England many factions were at work, and, although the people cannot be said to have plundered the Church, their descendants have since, by the continuous apostacy of three centuries, taken their part in the fearful act of the sixteenth century. And can it be imagined that the wrath of God is not ever enkindled, as looking down from His heavenly throne, He sees His altar still overthrown, and His sanctuaries yet ever polluted by the rites of a- degraded sect? Proceeding further—to say nothing of the distinctive mark of English Protestants on the continent, the habit of cursing and swearing— what horrible blasphemies are there not in daily utterance against the truths of Christ's holy religion blasphemies against the Mother of Christ and His Saints; blasphemies against the Sacraments, the Vicar of Christ, and all holy things; and worse than any, blasphemies against the Sacred Body of our Lord,—for ever in the mouths of all, from the very lowest all along every grade in the community! Do not our Protestant members of parliament, do not our nobles, our governors of colonies, the very chiefs of the state, when they take the oath against transubstantiation, call God to witness to a shocking impiety? Add to this the great number of evil associations, disunited amongst themselves, yet leagued together by the one devilish object common to all, of disseminating these blasphemies with an energy so atrocious, that the very fiends in hell could hardly match it. See again how this crime of blasphemy has crept into the scientific literature of the day,—with what satanic craft and consummate ability the dark work is carried on, in our leading books and journals. In England could men be found to set up “chairs of pestilence," as the Scripture calls them, where, in the very act perhaps of invoking God’s holy name, they fling away with contempt every doctrine He preached and every truth He revealed. It is said in reply that all this is often done in ignorance. No doubt it is. But what blind and awful ignorance! With a saving clause for persons, to react the dreadful spectacle of the Jews before our Lord would scarcely be more terrible. The Jews were ignorant: who, unless blasphemers in the nineteenth century, will say they were not guilty? Surely then, it is an awful sight before the eternal throne of God, to behold a vast multitude, however ignorant, led on by the devil, and joining in a blind and passionate onslaught on the holiest of institutions and the sublimest mysteries of heaven. Can it be possible that Almighty God has looked on unmoved, and that consequently the reproaches of La Salette are not for us? The question has but one answer in the heart of a Christian.
Resolutions to be taken to console Our Lady.
1. I will never eat flesh-meat on days of abstinence, and I will avoid all excess in the use of intoxicating liquors.
2. I will observe the Lord’s Day, and cause others to do so.
3. I will obey with docility and love all my superiors, both spiritual and temporal.
4. I will have recourse to Our Lady of La Salette in all my necessities and I will strive to spread her devotion.
5. I will be faithful to say my morning and evening prayers.
Taken from: Manual of the Confraternity of La Salette, by Rev. John Wyse
(Catholic Priest), 1855,
Nihil Obstat, Bishop of Birmingham, June 9th, 1855; and
Our Lady of La Salette, Reconciler of
pray without ceasing for us who have recourse to thee.