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We walk with Mary into the light of Christ

By Charles Novel, M.S.


We recognize the “Beautiful Lady" that Maximin and Mélanie saw at La Salette: the same Mary, the Queen of Heaven, sung about in the Easter liturgy. We invite her to rejoice because “he has been raised just as he said” (Matthew 28:6). On Easter morning, more than any other, the “Mother of the Lord” must have experienced an unspeakable joy at seeing her Son risen. We can imagine Our Lady seated beside her Son, the King, enjoying an unalterable joy in heaven.


Why does Mary weep at La Salette?


Yet why, at La Salette, does she show us a face bathed in tears? Is there something missing from her happiness? In her message, Our Lady makes us understand why she has set before our eyes “her blessed presence in tears and her glory in her mourning.”


"Her people will not submit." Her people are the people for whom our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, gave himself up to the obedience of the cross. They are the people her Son acquired by freeing and purifying them from all sin. But these people, whose care Our Lady herself took at the foot of the Cross, in her merciful compassion, do not behave like “the chosen race,” “the holy nation,” “the holy people” whom God, in his merciful love, called us “out of darkness into his own marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).


Our Lady gives us two painful proofs of their lack of faith: their dishonor of the Lord's Day, Sunday, that weekly celebration of the Christian Passover centered on the Eucharist, and also their disrespectful use of the Name of her Son, Jesus Christ, the only one established by God as Christ, their Lord, and Savior. The people of her redeemed children do not live the mystery of her Redemption nor behave as God's holy people should.


So Our Lady calls her people to respect the Law of her Lord. She remains the Rainbow for her people, a symbol of the Covenant of Peace God made with them in the blood of his Son, the slain Lamb. She faithfully fulfills her role as Reconciler to invite them to keep this covenant, the new and definitive covenant of God with humankind, in the blood of her Son. Our Lady intercedes with her Son on behalf of her people, urging them to walk in Christ toward their full redemption. Until the Paschal Mystery has manifested its fullness, it seems that Our Lady's glory must be lacking something.


In the dead, risen, and glorified Christ, Redemption is acquired and realized in its fullness. Christ has "passed,” once and for all, from this world to his Father, from Death to Life, from shame to glory. But the completion of Redemption in his people is called to manifest this fullness.


Mary visits us at La Salette to remind us of several issues


As F. X. Durwell, C.SS.R. wrote, the Church does not yet possess the fullness of the Paschal Mystery. Mary visits us at La Salette to remind us of her Son’s wish that we realize and accept the supreme revelation of the Paschal Mystery of the Cross of Christ. The Church is holy, but the Christian people are sinners. So the “Lady of Light” at La Salette... begs her Son, as on the day of Pentecost, to pour out his Spirit on her people.


The role of the Holy Spirit that the Lord gives to his Church is “the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:14). It is precisely to transform the Church, to spiritualize it, to bring it into perfect conformity with him, its Head, to build it into a holy Temple. This is why the Spirit sanctifies every member of the Body of Christ, the Church.


At La Salette, Our Lady seems to be repeating to us the advice that St. Paul gave to the faithful of Ephesus: “Do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). This Day of Redemption, ... will be for his people the day of final Deliverance, if, on that day, he finds them “pure and blameless” (Philippians 1:10).


Mary disappeared into the air


Our Lady, who manifested the mystery of her Assumption at La Salette, knows that the Church is still walking in the realm of the flesh, for through each of its members, the Church plunges into a body that does not yet benefit from Redemption. That's why we groan in expectation of sonship, of “the redemption of our body,” for it is in the hope that we are saved (Romans 8: 23ff).


We possess adopted sonship, but we do not possess the fullness of it; this adoption, indeed, must extend to our bodies; we have freedom, but we do not have it completely; we do not have the freedom of the glory of the children of God. By the body, we are sold (enslaved) to sin (Romans 7:14), and we desire to be delivered from it (Romans 8:24). But we will only be transfigured into the image of the Son (Romans 8:29-30), in our resurrection by the Spirit who raised Jesus Christ (Romans 8:11). It will be transformed on the model of the glorious body of the risen Christ (Philippians 3:21). 


This is why Our Lady, since her Assumption, never ceases to ask for our glorification and to recommend to us again with St. Paul: “Glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20) ... Only then, on the day of the resurrection of the dead, will we recover a body ... spiritualized by the Spirit, incorruptible from now on.


Mary is interested in our daily lives


Our Lady of La Salette is interested in the humble realities of our daily life: our work, food, and using the material world as a friend, an ally. Mary corrects her people by reminding them of recent bad harvests; on the other hand, she promises them rich harvests “if they are converted” ...


Our Lady suggests how to work towards this liberation: we must first seek the justice of God's Kingdom, God’s life. From now on, we must live in a community of life with him, the newness of life of the risen with Christ. Founded on Christ by faith, rooted in him by charity, we “walk in him” (Colossians 2:6), without fear, by the hope that awaits us ... It is only with the renewal of all things that the material world will share fully in the glory of the children of God.


We walk in the light of the Paschal Mystery


Our Lady's people are thus on the march towards completing the Paschal Mystery. The full, final Redemption will be accomplished at Christ's return, at the Parousia, which, in addition to the resurrection of the dead, will include the Last Judgment when “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10) ...


From now on, under the leadership of her Son, the “Lord,” the people of our Sorrowful Mother are on the march towards our glorification, when “... through him the whole structure is held together and (will grow) into a temple sacred in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21).


God walks with us on our Journey back to the Father


In the Old Testament, the "I-am-He-who-is,” the "Lord-Yahweh,” wanted to dwell amid his people of Israel, to walk with them towards the Promised Land, to be their light on the way, their nourisher in the desert through manna and water gushing from the rock. 


In the New Testament, "I Am,” the only Son of the Father, the Incarnate Word, pitched his tent amid his people, "the Israel of God.” He has made himself the Light that guides God's holy people towards Life, just as he is the luminous end of their journey. Being the Spiritual Rock, the Lord waters his people from the springs of grace and his Holy Spirit. Being Bread from Heaven, his Flesh, offered as a sacrifice for the life of the world, nourishes God's adopted children through the Eucharist.


We walk in hope with Christ, supported by Mary, his Mother


The baptized receive by faith the paschal mystery of Christ. St. Paul says: “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12) ... The mystery of the dead and risen Christ becomes the very mystery of our lives ... We walk in and with Christ (Colossians 2:6), without fear, by the hope that awaits us in heaven.


At the end of time, on the day of Christ's return, the Church will appear all glorious, and we, the ones predestined to reproduce the image of the Son, will be glorified with Christ. Then we'll know with what truth we are Our Lady's people, her children, the people and children of her sorrow and prayer. Then we'll be able to sing to her, on that day, the song we stammered to her on earth: "Regina Cœli, laetare! Queen of Heaven, rejoice!”


(Reprinted with permission from the La Salette publication, Les Annales, 1954-1955, pp. 18-22, edited by Fr. Ron Gagne, M.S.)