Our Lady of the Snows
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
On the 21st and 22nd days of this month, the Society of St Pius X will be making an official pilgrimage to Fatima in Portugal, to honour the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to obtain through her intercession all possible graces for the Church, for the world, for the Society and for ourselves.
It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance today of the Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary's Immaculate Heart. Why devotions? Why the Blessed Virgin Mary? Why her Immaculate Heart?
New devotions have always arisen down the twenty centuries of Catholic Church history, but these devotions have never been entirely new, nor could they be, because neither God nor the Catholic religion can change. However, the world changes, the times they are always a-changing, and so men in a variety of different historical circumstances may need a variety of religious practices, or devotions, to help them to reach the same God. Within the Catholic Church it is God Himself, the Holy Ghost, who inspires these various devotions down the ages according to the differing needs of men (Jn.XVI, 12, 13).
For instance, the one and only Catholic Mass by which Christ's bloody sacrifice on the Cross is made unbloodily present again, cannot change in its essentials, but at the height of the Middle Ages God knew that the following centuries would need not to forget that Our Lord really is present beneath the appearances of bread and wine when consecrated, so He inspired and raised up in His Church the Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Thus Catholics could be ready 300 years later for the Protestant onslaught on the Real Presence.
Similarly when Protestantism had nevertheless taken firm root in half of Christendom, and risked in the other half too withering the Faith by its bitter-cold doctrines, then Our Lord made to a soul in the late 17th century the private revelation of the fire of His love for men burning within His breast, which gave rise of course, as He meant, to the great public Devotion to His Sacred Heart. Thus Catholics were spiritually forearmed, or forewarmed, against the icy blasts of rising scientism (idolatry of the material sciences), so that the growing cold of charity was then again seriously delayed.
Nevertheless the Christian nations continued to apostatize from Christ, especially by the French Revolution, whose liberalism poisoned the entire world. By this liberalism men were becoming too sick to take any strong medicine, and so for modern times, as St. Louis Grignon de Montfort had foretold in the early 18th century, Our Lord, to sugar the pill as it were, put forward His Mother, and Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in many forms, became more prominent than ever in the Catholic Church.
Thus in the middle of the 19th century, the Catholic Pope chose the Mother of God to drive a stake through the heart of liberalism by his definition in 1854 of the dogma of her Immaculate Conception - no, men are not all nice people born without sin and longing to follow the truth and do good the moment they know it - they are born in sin and borne to do evil by a mysterious curse brought down upon men by men, from which curse, alone amongst children of a human father, the Blessed Virgin Mary was protected by the privilege of her immaculate conception in the womb of St. Anne.
Objection: "Ah, but that extraordinary privilege cannot have been earned by the Blessed Virgin because she could not exist before she received it.” True, but corresponding to the unearned privilege of her beginnings, the Catholic Pope in the middle of the 20th century defined the fully earned privilege of her bodily Assumption into Heaven at the end of her time upon earth. By her complete and unwavering fidelity to God and then to her divine Son, in every moment of her life, but especially at the foot of the Cross when fidelity to the will of God inflicted upon her motherly heart an overwhelming sorrow, she deserved, she fully deserved, at the end of her days to be taken by God not only with her soul but also with her body, into Heaven.
This is the mother whom God Himself has through His one Church put before modern mankind, a by now near terminally ill patient, as its only hope of healing. And how should she be this fount of healing other than through the heart by which a mother loves her sick child, bends over him, tends him, cares for him, and then turns to whoever can help to beg, beg, beg, for the means of a cure? As mothering is the essence of womanhood, so the motherly Heart is the essence of the Blessed Virgin.
By now we see all three elements of the Devotion to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and how suitable that devotion is to our times. It is like a summing up of all devotions to the Blessed Virgin, because it tells of the purity of her being (Immaculate), of her love in action (Heart), and of her love in suffering (Sorrowful). Just how important this Devotion now is, Our Lord Himself tells. As the Second World War was beginning its slaughter, He said to a privileged soul, on July 2, 1940: "It is hearts that must be changed. This will be accomplished only by the Devotion to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of My Mother being proclaimed, explained, preached, and recommended everywhere. Recourse to My Mother under this title which I wish for her universally, is the last help I shall give before the end of time."
In similar fashion we have been told by Our Lady that the present downfall of Church and world, which is endangering the salvation of all our souls, will only be turned around when Russia is consecrated by the Pope and bishops of all the world to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. From then on how could Our Lord (who is omnipotent) allow any other means to save Church and world, without - perish the thought! - making His Mother into a liar? Therefore the devotion to the Immaculate Heart is, by the will of God, not a matter of choice for mankind, but an absolute necessity.
Enclosed is a copy of the prayer which all friends and members of the Society of St Pius X present in Fatima will be praying together, God willing, on August 22, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart, in this 80th anniversary year of her apparitions in Fatima. If you cannot be there that day, by all means join us in spirit by reciting the prayer at home.
Meanwhile thank you always for your support of the Seminary, both material (which we always need) and moral. Particular thanks to several friends who sent letters of sympathy for the Seminary's problems in May. But do not worry. We spent only a little time in weeping for fallen comrades. The war goes on.
Pray for vocations to the priesthood such as will understand and serve the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which unquestionably shares in the rejoicing of her Son:- "I confess to thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. Yea, Father, for so it hath seemed good in thy sight" (Lk. X, 21).
Not. by mere human devising or intelligence, but by God's own means may he continue to be your servant; in Christ, who professes himself.
+ Richard Williamson