Grace And The Miraculous Medal
The words “Miraculous Medal” have a special meaning to many Catholics around the world. It is said that perhaps after the Rosary, no other sacramental in the Church has had such an impact. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta would carry these medals in her pocket and hand them out to people she met in her various travels. And if you ever happen upon a CFR Sister you will find that she has been inspired to do the same. This particular story of Our Lady’s apparitions may not be as well known as Guadalupe, Lourdes and Fatima. However, during this current time of trial, we may find some solace in Our Lady’s message given nearly two hundred years ago.
Our Lady chose to come to a humble novice from the Sisters of Charity, Sr. Catherine Labouré (now a canonized saint). It first happened on July 18th, 1830. A small child appeared in St. Catherine’s room in the middle of the night and said, “Come to the chapel. The Blessed Virgin awaits you.” For two hours St. Catherine knelt, resting her hands on Mary’s lap. Our Lady confided that God had a mission for her. She spoke words of comfort to prepare St. Catherine for hardships to come. And she spoke about grace: “Come to the foot of the altar. There graces will be shed upon all, great and little, who ask for them.”
Our Lady appeared again to St. Catherine in the convent chapel on November 27th. The faint swish of Our Lady’s silk dress as she walked was a sound the Saint would always remember! During this vision, Our Lady held a golden ball which she said represented the whole world and each person in particular. She held it up as if to offer it to God. From her hands cascaded rays of brilliant light. She said, “These rays symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them.” Then the golden ball disappeared, and her hands swept down to her side. Letters of gold appeared in an arc above her: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Our Lady spoke again, “Have a Medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence.” The reverse side of the medal was also revealed: a large M surmounted by a bar and a cross with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary underneath and twelve stars encircling the whole.
While the medal is rich in symbolism, Our Lady’s encouragement to ask for graces is an important part of this apparition. The Catechism describes grace as “the free and undeserved help that God gives us” and “a participation in the life of God.” What are the graces you desire right now? What miracles of grace do you or your loved ones need during this unprecedented time of trial? Is it trust, perseverance, hope, mercy, humility, joy, healing or peace? Or maybe all of the above? Let us heed Our Lady’s message: “Come to the foot of the altar” (even if we only can spiritually). Wear a “Miraculous Medal” with confidence and encourage others to do the same. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are ready to pour out “great graces” to those who “ask for them.” Let us not hesitate to turn to them with faith and receive the great miracle of grace that is promised.
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, pray for us!
St. Catherine Labouré, pray for us!
Sr. Catherine Mary, CFR