1980 marked the 150th anniversary of the first modern appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On July 18th, 1830, to Saint Catherine Laboure, then a young novice of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent De Paul in Paris, Our Lady spoke these telling words: "The times are very evil...The whole world will be plunged into every kind of trouble." In that instant she opened to Catherine and to us the long corridor of modern history, wherein so many calamitous events have stricken our globe. By what she said to her, she clearly taught us to connect such misfortunes with our own sinfulness. She had come to call us back to her Son, Jesus, away from the darkness. Just as she led Catherine from the sleep
of midnight to the chapel where the Light of the World dwelled in the Eucharist, so she was calling us from our slumber to new life in the Lord.
Later, she again appeared to Catherine to present her with the image we are familiar with in the "Miraculous Medal." On its face she stands astride the earth in dominion, Satan himself beneath her heel, her hands streaming light upon the world. She said the rays represented graces given by her intercession to those who asked for them. Around the oval perimeter of the image we can read the words, "Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." Her victory over evil is signified by this prayer, since her Immaculate Conception is total conquest of sin in a human heart. She leads us into the same victory by her example, and helps us by her prayers to attain it.
In this medal, Mary gave us the outline of the final battle between Satan and the Church which was then about to commence in the historical events of modern times. Already, the Church had been weakened by the darkness of the "Enlightenment" in Europe. The French Revolution had devastated her and torn so many believers from her embrace. Blood was about to flow throughout the continent in further revolution (in 1848); and later there was more tribulation in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, not to mention further conflicts in 1914-1918 (World War I), and more recent disturbances beginning with World War II (1939-1945). Truly the times were very evil, if the pain and sorrow of war is any indication that such was the case.
[To be continued . . .]