I have visited at least nine places of Marian apparition. I’ve read the messages and studied the apparition’s significance. Of those, one of my favorite Marian apparitions is not as well known as Fatima or Lourdes.
It was a series of apparitions in Beauraing, Belgium, received by five children from the Voisin and Degeimbre families. The 33 apparitions began on November 29, 1932 and concluded on January 3, 1933. Mary appeared above a railroad bridge, and later underneath a Hawthorne tree.
The message of Our Lady was quite simple. She encouraged the children to always be good, to pray very much, and to pray always. And in the final apparition, she gave a special message to each visionary. To Gilberte Voisin, she said, “I will convert sinners.” Such a statement is emphatic, there is a certitude behind it.
But how does she do it? How will she do it? How does Mary convert sinners?
By Her Presence
Over the last 200 years, the Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared to many different people all though out the world. By her presence in our world, the messages she gave, will be one way in which she will convert sinners.
As we learn the messages she spoke, they challenge us to reflect on how we live our life and consider how God might be inviting us to greater conversion of life. Mary’s presence, her concern for all God’s children, is one way by which she will convert sinners.
By Her Prayers
The first way Mary converts sinners is through her prayers. In a different apparition received by a Belgian immigrant in the United States back in 1859, the Blessed Mother told the seer Adele Brise, “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners.” Assumed body and soul into Heaven, Mary now intercedes for the world.
As the Queen Mother, she advocates for the world before the throne of her son. Isn’t it the case that the hearts of some hardened sinners have been converted and conquered by the Blessed Virgin’s love? Conversion stories like Fr. Donald Calloway’s come to mind.
Mary is praying for the conversion of sinners. She’s praying for you and me. And by her prayers, she will obtain the grace of conversion from her Son, and convert sinners.
By Her Example
We meet the Blessed Virgin in the pages of the gospel. The way by which she lived her life offers us a great example.
When we are confronted with vices, we look Mary’s virtues. When are we tempted towards pride, we remember her humility before God. When we want to be disobedient, we recall her obedience to God’s will. When impurity and unchastity confronts us, her example of purity and chastity inspires to live similarly. When we wish to ignore the needs of our brothers and sister in Christ, her attentiveness and generosity towards Elizabeth beckons us to respond to their needs.
When we are talking about conversion, it becomes quite a personal topic. We all know people in our lives for whose conversion we long to see. Just think of St. Monica, who for years prayed for her son St. Augustine.
Parents become disappointed with their children because they stopped practicing the faith and their grandchildren are not baptized. Praying for someone’s conversion requires patience. But we hold on to the hope that God will break through in their lives. And it seems like Mary gives us hope for that.
Mary is praying for the conversion of sinners. That means Heaven has already been for someone’s conversion before we even started. Her messages, once heard and interiorized by the Faithful could spark the seed of conversion. And her example, as we meet her in the Gospels, might convert the hearts of fellow sinners. Hopefully, it will help us on our own personal journey of conversion.