Our Lady of La Salette: A Mother Weeps for her Children is available on Amazon.
The Blessed Mother’s Message and its
Importance for Today
Our Blessed Mother’s apparition at La Salette was over 170 years ago. Does her message still matter for today? The answer is an unequivocal yes.
In examining the message of Our Lady of La Salette in more detail, let us first look at the message itself and its relevance in the context of the time in which it was given.
Our Lady of La Salette spoke in the name of God. In that respect, she followed the tradition of the Old Testament prophets. The Blessed Virgin is the “Queen of Prophets”.[i] She is calling the people to return to God and repent of their sins. In this particular case, she was speaking out against Sunday work and blasphemy, violations of the second and third commandments: keep holy the Sabbath and do not take the Lord’s name in vain. Indirectly, these are also violations of the first commandment because those who work on Sunday or take God’s name in vain are not putting God before everything else as the first commandment directs us to do. These sins are the reason for her tears.
Our Lady of La Salette indicated that during the previous year (1845), there had been a poor potato crop. According to her, this had been a warning from God that the people should change their ways, but they did not heed the warning. Instead they blasphemed even more. Our Lady indicated that by the coming Christmas (of 1846) there would be almost no potatoes to be found. This proved to be the case. Not only France, but also Germany, England, and most especially Ireland suffered from a terrible potato famine.
The people of Corps did heed Our Lady’s warnings and experienced a great conversion. After the years of 1846 and 1847, they had good harvests and only a minimal number of potatoes were affected by disease.[ii]
Our Lady also foretold that the wheat crops would fail. “For several years after the Apparition, it was observed in certain localities that the wheat did almost literally fall into dust at threshing, or, at least, so little grain did it yield, that it seemed to melt under the flail. The ears of corn, which at first appeared fair and full, produced but few grains of wheat.”[iii]
She predicted that many children would be seized by trembling and that a great famine would follow. “During the years immediately following the Apparition of La Salette, a great number of children died from the effects of a strange epidemic.”[iv] “In 1847 there was a very unusual mortality among the children of Corps and nearby villages, and in 1854 great numbers were carried off by cholera, complicated by miliary fever (probably tuberculosis). These little victims were suddenly seized with a violent chill, began trembling all over and died after two or three hours of agony.”[v]
As for the famine, many in Europe died due to food shortages in the years following the apparition. In 1855, “nearly one hundred thousand people had died of starvation in France alone! And according to conservative estimates, from 1854 to 1856 inclusively, as many as one million persons throughout Europe died victims of the same ‘high price of food.’”[vi]
In all of Our Lady’s apparitions, her warnings are conditional. Like the prophets of old, she states that if the people do not repent, evils will befall them. The future is not set in stone. We do have the power to change the dire predictions for the future if we repent, pray for the conversion of sinners, and turn back to God.
Our Lady of La Salette commanded the children to what seemed like an impossible task. They were to make her message known to all the world. That mission continues today.
Back in 1953, Fr. James O’Reilly wrote:
Never more than now have men so much needed the salutary teachings of La Salette. We look out on a world today that seems to be in complete revolt against all authority, human and divine. . . . The Christian principles that once ruled our lives and fostered obedience, modesty, and respect, have been repudiated as old-fashioned. In every department of human activity, in the home, in business, in our national life, our educational system, all forms of entertainment, in music, literature and art, the seeds of revolt, irreverence, indecency and unbridles license have been cultivated, and now we are reaping the whirlwind in a national crime wave, in gross immorality, in an alarming breakdown of the marriage bond and of home life that seems unparalleled in nearly two thousand years of Christianity. . . [Our Lady’s] tears still flow, her work of merciful intercession still goes on for a heedless world. What then, does she ask of each one of us? She pleads for our conversion, and in her gentle maternal way urges us all to lead lives of prayer, penance and reparation.[vii]
How is it possible that those words were written in the 1950s, an era we now look back on as so conservative compared to our own? How much more in need is our world today when so many have turned their backs on God and religious practice?
Our Lady wants all of us to be reconciled to her Son. She wants this so much that she weeps for her children who have fallen away.
These tears are La Salette’s most powerful unspoken message. The beautiful Lady weeps but she never refers to her tears, never so much as alludes to them. They are meant to speak for themselves and they do. They are an unspoken message but they add a crucial dimension to her words . . . [The tears] are liquid sorrow, molten streams of pain running down the Lady’s face and a very obvious show of love. . . [They] highlight the words and give urgency and crucial importance to the entire message. If someone from heaven, and the Blessed Virgin at that, is provoked to tears over disrespect for the Day of the Lord and the Name of Jesus, then the word is out that these offenses are more evil than people think they are and should be carefully avoided.[viii]
How true that last statement is. How many people think nothing of skipping Mass (or never attend at all)? How often do we hear the name of the Lord used in vain? Truly, these acts matter to God.
Not honoring God in his Name and on his day, not worshiping, not praying are the root causes, the deep-seated sins against God that bring on those ‘sins against the neighbor.’ The Lady says, without actually pronouncing the words, that serving God and serving the neighbor are not two acts, but one.
On the face of it, the La Salette message is limited in its demands: Mass, prayer, penance, and respect for Christ’s name appear to be the bare bones of religion . . . On the other hand, when these elements are observed well, they launch an intimate and powerful Christian life, for all of Christian life is based on those demands.[ix]
Our Blessed Mother took the people to task for not paying attention to the sorrow that they were causing her and her Son. “She also reproached her people for not seeing the signs of the times when the potatoes rotten. ‘You paid no least heed,’ she said.”[x]
Do we pay heed to the world around us? Our world, our environment, is in such pain. Our physical world is connected to the spiritual realm. Yes, we need to take practical, concrete actions to help our physical world. But the role of the spiritual should not be neglected. What would our world look like if everyone returned to God, loved God and neighbor, respected God’s name, and kept the Lord’s Day holy? It isn’t too late.
Our Blessed Mother still weeps for us. She wants us to return to her Son. Will we answer her plea?
Prayers to Our Lady of La Salette
Our Lady of La Salette, reconciler of sinners,
pray without ceasing for us who have recourse to thee.
pray without ceasing for us who have recourse to thee.
The Memorare to Our Lady of La Salette
Remember, Our Lady of La Salette, true Mother of Sorrows, the tears which thou didst shed for me on Calvary; be mindful also of the unceasing care which thou dost exercise to shield me from the justice of God; and consider whether thou canst now abandon thy child, for whom thou hast done so much. Inspired by this consoling thought, I came to cast myself at thy feet, in spite of my infidelity and ingratitude. Reject not my prayer, O Virgin of reconciliation, convert me, obtain for me the grace to love Jesus Christ above all things and to console thee too by living a holy life, in order that one day I may be able to see thee in Heaven. Amen.
[i] Ladouceur, 42.
[ii] Ladouceur, 45.
[iii] Ladouceur, 52.
[iv] Ladouceur, 52.
[v] O’Reilly, 52.
[vi] O’Reilly, 51.
[vii] O’Reilly, 163-164.
[viii] Fr. Normand Theroux, M.S., Our La Salette Mission: To Reconcile Her People With Her Son (Attleboro, MA: La Salette Communications Center Publications, 2017).