Not just a lady and not just a mother, but a queen! Wisconsin has bragging rights it has never capitalized on. A real queen came to visit a young Wisconsin girl named Adele Brice in October of 1859. It was the Blessed Virgin Mary who appeared to her. But she referred to herself – not the queen of any particular nation – but the “Queen of Heaven.” And if she is queen of heaven, she has to be the queen of all of those who reside on the earth. Just as Our Lady of Guadalupe came to confirm the preaching of the Gospel by Franciscan missionaries in Mexico in 1531, Our Lady of Good Help came to fulfill a similar calling one hundred and fifty-five years after the Jesuit missionaries and explorers visited Wisconsin.
Indeed, she came to water the seeds of life that had already been planted by the Church.
Long after Jean Nicolet, the French explorer, and an entourage of Jesuit missionaries landed on the shores of Green Bay in 1634, this mysterious Lady came to give “good” help to the settlers of Northeast Wisconsin. Some people have good intentions in lending you their assistance, but it does not always prove beneficial. But the Queen of Heaven is a lady who comes to give “good” help … indeed, the best kind of help. But it can be asked, “Did the people from Wisconsin ask for help?” The answer: “No. Not yet anyway!” But they would twelve years after she first appeared to Adele in Robinsonville, Wisconsin; that is, twelve years after her first appearance on October 9,1859.
Evidently, she seemed too know something that the Wisconsin settlers did not know. She knew there was something special about October 9.
Sometimes the most important things in life can easily escape our notice. As such, losing the less important things in life, such as material belongings and even human life itself, can serve as valuable reminders about the more important things we can lose. But first things first! The Queen of Heaven spoke about the welfare of souls, the most important thing of all. She said,
“I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning, and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession, and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.”
Praying for the conversion of sinners! From heaven’s vantage point, to “live and let live” is not one of love but indifference. The Queen from heaven came to change people. She seemed to be saying that evangelization and religious education, if it is to have any success at all, has to be seasoned with prayers for the conversion of sinners; not only with prayers but also with spiritual sacrifices.
Just as the road to sin is comprised of pleasure and convenience, so too the road to recovery – that is, the road back to Christ – is comprise of and must be forged with sacrificial love. Just as sin can incur an infinite debt because of God’s justice, our prayers and spiritual sacrifices can be filled with merit in God’s eyes because of his mercy. As such, the “good help” the Lady from heaven came to give requires, at least on our part, to do more than just fulfill our own religious duties. We have to go beyond that! We have to confess our sins and receive the Eucharist on behalf of others ... in a spirit of reparation!
“If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.” Consequences! How seldom do we speak to those consequences that come about from spiritual inactivity or neglect! In fact, when moral and spiritual consequences are rarely spoken about, is it not the case that the incentive for living the life of Christ is weakened? And yet, Catholics are pretty good when talking about what we “should convert to.” But as it pertains to what we need to “convert from,” we have never been worse. The sins that are killing Western civilization rarely get mentioned from pulpits, pastoral letters and religious curriculums. We need to relearn that the same Good Shepherd that goes out into the wilderness to search for the lost sheep is He who disciplines. The One who builds up also tears down!
Notice that Our Lady of Good Help, as she is referred to today, wanted Adele to make a general confession so that she could be free from the stain of sin as much as possible. Being an effective instrument for the conversion of sinners is to be, at the same time, a pleasing aroma to Christ. A Christian is one who wears the wedding garment of purity and repentance. With this, Adele's witness would give credence to whatever words she spoke in teaching the Faith to others. And the Communion she would frequently receive for the purpose of converting souls would make her into a walking tabernacle of Christ’s presence. Not on knowledge alone is a person saved but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Part two will be published next week.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.