Our Lady of La Salette - A Personal Story
(a reflection by Theresa Effinger)
As Willy and I traveled the long and winding mountain road up to the Shrine of La Salette in the 1990's, motion sickness and the fear of heights made me wonder why we were making this seemingly perilous journey. Once we set foot on the holy ground of the Shrine dedicated to Our Weeping Mother, all my discomfort was quickly forgotten. Peace and tranquility filled my heart as a deep devotion to Our Lady of La Salette began.
We had the opportunity to enjoy nature as we toured the scenic grounds, to unite in prayer and song with hundreds of people of many nationalities in the evening candle procession, to pray (and even cry) with our Heavenly Mother at this very special place. We read our Blessed Mother's words about people working on Sunday, the use of the Lord's name in vain, the lack of sincere prayer, irreverent behaviour at Holy Mass and the desperate need for conversion.
Very little has changed! In fact, today we can add the gravest sin against God's gift of life to the list – that is, abortion. How many innocent children are not even given a chance to live? No wonder Our Lady of La Salette weeps!
We know that caring, conscientious parents spend their lives sharing their children's grief. Can you imagine how much our Heavenly Mother endures as she watches billions of her children wandering far from the most merciful Heart of Jesus? She wept for us all at the foot of His Cross and she continues to weep today as her Immaculate Heart is pierced over and over again.
How many more children will be lost? She keeps trying to intercede for us, to lead us closer to Jesus, but how many are listening? How many are willing to become selfless, humble and totally obedient to the will of the Father? The weeping Mother of La Salette is a visual reminder of the need for repentance, reconciliation and continuous conversion. We must pray, with contrite hearts, in atonement for our own sins and for the sins of all of our brothers and sisters – whether we know them or not, whether we like them or not.
It was becoming very clear that we should have a statue of Our Lady of La Salette at the Centre, but none were available from the Shrine. So, when we returned home, we started calling various places where the Missionaries of La Salette had settled; none of them could help us to make our dream a reality. Then, in 1996, during the 150th Anniversary year of the Apparition, we got a call from a kind parish secretary, who told us that she had heard about Don Kolash, a lawyer from Great Falls Virginia, who was producing life-size replicas of Our Lady of La Salette to distribute throughout North America.
Through the generosity of many of our supporters, we were able to purchase one of these statues for the Centre on March 15th, 1997. With the help of Sterling and Anthony Burns, a 22-foot Cross of La Salette with the ornamental hammer and pliers, was erected in May of 1998; lights have been added so that it is clearly visible to passersby from dusk to dawn. Since then, a host of volunteers have helped to put a large dome roof on the Grotto. In the summer and autumn, visitors can enjoy this beautiful prayer haven, overlooking the pond, surrounded by Concord grape vines.
Don had a very strong feeling (and we agree) that Mary cries bitterly for the sin of abortion today. So, we have made our Grotto of La Salette a Grotto for Life; we pray for God's mercy upon those who contribute to the sins of abortion and euthanasia. There are reminders of the sanctity of life hanging on the interior walls of the Grotto, graciously donated by a prayerful Right to Life group.
Many people have been touched by Our Lady here. Looking at the large Crucifix around her neck, one is reminded to re-focus on her Son. The tools of crucifixion are a reminder of His great mercy. The blows of the hammer marked the beginning of the end of His earthly life as His Blood began to flow for our sins. The pliers, used to release His Body from the Cross, enabled Him to rise in glorious splendour - and gave us all hope for eternal life.
In union with our Weeping Mother's tears, we should try to become instruments of mercy to others. By means of persistent prayer, we can help them to pull out the “nails” which keep them attached to the world; we can help them to free their hearts and souls, so that the mercy of God can bathe them in heavenly joy.
Each day at noon, in the Divine Mercy Oratory, we pray, through the intercession of Our Lady of La Salette. for the needs of all apostles of Divine Mercy, all associates, all those who call the prayer line or sending in written requests and for those who have sent in pictures for various kinds of healing of loved ones. We have also added a hymn from the candle procession in the French Alps to our Marian repertoire for the close of night prayers. For those who have not been able to visit the Centre, we are including a Grotto Photo Gallery for you to enjoy.
Dearest Mother of La Salette, help us all to grow ever closer to the most merciful Heart of your beloved Son!