Saturday, May 26, 2012

Our Lady of La Salette, submission and Vatican II

166 years ago, Our Lady came to La Salette France and gave Maximin Giraud and Melanie Calvat a message for the world.  A message which is just as timely now as it was then.  And perhaps more so.  Our Lady's message began with these words: "If my people will not submit, I shall be forced to let fall the arm of my Son.  It is so strong, so heavy, that I can no longer withhold it.."

We live in an age where words like "fidelity" and "submission" have taken on a negative connotation, a world where "the word fidelity seems to have lost all meaning, to have dropped out of human usage. The fickleness of man and woman, their changeableness is the virtue of the age. One must not be too rigid, too dogmatic, too steadfast; maturity indicates the ability to change, even to call back one's promises and vows made to God" (Fr. Vincent Miceli, Permanent Consecration: Anchor of Religious Community).

And yet, we are all - each and every one of us - warned to, "..submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4: 7). This submission to God, and to the Church He founded, is intimately connected with defeating the Devil in our lives. Without such submission, we place ourselves in peril.

Vatican II, in its Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) No. 25, says that: "This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking."

I receive comments at this Blog from time to time accusing me of being "too narrow" because I insist upon promoting this religious submission of mind and will to the teaching Church.  A few have asserted that the idea of submission cannot be reconciled with the teaching of Vatican II.  How they come to this conclusion after a read of Lumen Gentium 25 is beyond me.  But Gaudium et Spes also emphasizes that, "God's Word...taught us that the new command of love was the basic law of human perfection and hence of the world's transformation...Appointed Lord by his resurrection and given plenary power in heaven and on earth, Christ is now at work in human hearts through the energy of his Spirit...He animates, purifies, and strengthens those noble longings by which the human family strives to make its life more human and to render the whole earth submissive to this goal..." (No. 38).

Many within the Church have succumbed to pride and so the very idea of submission is anathema to them.  But throughout the New Testament, the notion of subjection, of submission, reveals itself: "He put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the Church" (Ephesians 1: 22); "He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself" (Philippians 3: 21); "You crowned him with glory and honor, subjecting all things under his feet.  In subjecting all things to him, God left nothing unsubjected.  At present we do not see all things thus subject, but we do see Jesus crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death..." (Hebrews 2: 8-9); and "[Jesus] has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him" (1 Peter 3: 22).

St. Paul, in the second chapter to the Philippians, reminds us of the example provided by the Lord Jesus of submission - even to the point of death:

"Christ Jesus...though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped at.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and found human in form, he humbled himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Because of this, God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2: 6-11).

This is what Our Lady called us to at La Salette: submission to God.  It is a message which Pope John Paul II said is "forever timely in a world caught in the scourges of war, hunger, and many other ordeals that are the signs of the times, and often the consequences of the sins of the world...May she lead to her Son all the nations of the earth."

And she will.  For the Cure of Ars himself prophesied that "One day Our Lady of La Salette will lead the world."

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