Several years ago, a young woman began to have debilitating headaches daily. When her doctor conducted tests, it was found that she had a rare neuro eye disorder, and had begun losing her peripheral eye sight. If medication didn’t work, she might need to have a shunt implanted in her brain and could go blind. After a year of medical treatment, with her symptoms unabated, she traveled with her mother to Lourdes. Upon entering the frigid spring at the Shrine where Our Lady appeared, a feeling of warmth permeated her body and she experienced a deep sense of peace. Her symptoms vanished, she has been in remission ever since, and some of her peripheral eyesight was even restored.
Although this event actually happened in my own life, in his new book How They Love Mary, Father Edward Looney reveals 28 life-changing stories of devotion to Mary in the lives of holy men and women that he “met along the way.” The lives of some, like Blessed Solanus Casey, were actually saved through the Blessed Mother’s intervention. When Our Lady interceded for others, like Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Saint Francis de Sales, Mother Angelica, and Venerable Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., they experienced physical, spiritual, emotional, or psychological healings.
One fascinating example of Mother Mary’s care took place in the United States. Adele Brise, a Belgian immigrant to Wisconsin, saw Our Lady three times. The third time Our Lady appeared to Adele, she spoke to her, saying:
“I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well, but you must do more, make a general confession and offer your Holy Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.”
In her maternal love, Mary always seeks out her children, especially those who are broken or who have gone astray; mothers show the greatest concern when their children need them the most. Mary invites us to also take part in her mission of prayer and work as spiritual mothers of souls through frequent or daily Mass and offering our Holy Communions for those who have wandered away from God. Especially in these times, we should consider scheduling an appointment with a priest to make a general confession, which is where one confesses all the sins of their life (or an extended period, like a year).
At her First Communion, Adele promised that she would become a religious and work in the foreign missions. Now, in her twenties, Adele was busy helping her family of origin with household tasks and farm work. Fr. Looney recounts how the Blessed Mother challenged Adele:
“Mary remembering Adele’s promise made on the occasion of her First Communion asked Adele, ‘What are you doing here in idleness while your companions are working in the vineyard of my Son?’ Adele began to weep and responded, ‘What more can I do, dear lady?’ The answer, ‘Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.’ Adele queried, ‘But how shall I teach them who know so little myself?’ The Queen of Heaven responded, ‘Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.’”
These words of Our Lady were the impetus Adele needed to spend the rest of her life teaching souls about the Faith. It especially inspired Adele and the townspeople she’d ministered to on the night of the great Chicago fire—October 8, 1871. While flames were raging there, they also ravaged Adele’s area in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. It was the most widespread and destructive fire in United States history. In fact, the situation appeared hopeless as the fire even went across a body of water! Adele, along with many families with small children, sought recourse in Mother Mary’s intercession. They carried a statue of Our Lady in procession around the property of the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Help and prayed the Rosary on their knees throughout the night. Although there was devastation surrounding them, those who invoked the Blessed Mother’s intercession were saved. Rain came in the morning, and the sanctuary and grounds were also miraculously spared.
In his thirty inspiring meditations, which guide readers closer to the Mother of God, Father Looney also provides real-world tips from holy men and women on how to love Mary in their everyday lives. From Saint Thomas Aquinas to Caryll Houselander to Sister Clare Crockett, the social media sensation, examples on honoring our Blessed Mother are shared—through consecration prayers, songs, and a myriad of other practical ways. Father Looney reflects,
“I know that as my life progresses, my love for Mary will only grow, and it will definitely take many forms of expressions. Yes, devotionally with prayers like the rosary, novenas, or litanies (I’ve written a good number of devotional books), to being clothed with the protection of Mary (scapular, miraculous medal), to pilgrimage, and more study. I always ask Mary to help me love Jesus. With all the ways we can love Mary, I hope that the Fulton Sheen quote may one day be the same words I hear when I meet the Lord face to face: ‘My mother has told me a lot about you.’”
Sometimes we tend to complicate things (I resemble that remark)! However, when it comes to devotion to Our Lady, the saints simplify it best. As Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta “No Mary, no Jesus.” Regardless of our vocation, each of us is able to share the truths of our Faith with those we come into contact with, as well as by offering up our sufferings and prayers.
The two great loves of the saints are devotion to the Holy Eucharist and Our Lady. What matters the most is not the politics of the world, or even in the Church, but that Jesus be adored in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Our most gracious Mother longs to draw us to His Eucharistic Heart that Jesus may be loved on earth as He is in Heaven. “The family that prays together, stays together,” proclaimed Venerable Father Patrick Peyton, CSC, and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.”
Pope Pius IX declared, “If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, in your country, recite the Rosary.” Saint Louis de Montfort asked good souls to offer all three parts of the Rosary—Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious—each day. When Our Lady appeared to Saint Dominic, who had spent three days weeping and doing extreme penances for people’s sins, many who were falling prey to heresy, she said: “Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?” Then, she told him to preach the Rosary. Scripture says of Mary, “And his mother kept all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51) A young woman once told me that her boyfriend loved to hold his Rosary, even when he wasn’t praying it, because it was like holding Our Lady’s hand. If we ask her, our Blessed Mother will intercede for us, our loved ones, and kindle a Eucharistic revival in our country and the entire world.