Fr. Roger J. Landry
Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Rue du Bac, Paris
Votive Mass of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Pilgrimage to the Saints and Shrines of France
September 12, 2013
Rev 12:1.5-6.14-17, Ps 45, Jn 2:1-11
To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click below:
The following points were attempted in the homily:
- In the Gospel of the wedding feast of Cana, we see something truly important about our Blessed Mother, the fact and the how of her intercession. She saw an impending disaster happening for a newly married couple and their families. In Jewish culture, a wedding feast lasted eight days with three meals a day and plenty of food and plenty of wine. For them to run out of wine in a reception would be today like going to a wedding reception and there being no food. There’s no indication, however, that any of the people who were responsible for the reception were adequately aware of the imminent catastrophe, not the wine steward, not the couple, not even the mother of the bride. Only Mary adverted to the problem. Why did she notice when others who should have noticed didn’t? Because when one loves, one notices the details. When one loves, one is faithful and pours oneself into things others may miss or consider small. Likewise the same Blessed Mother who helped that young bride and groom is likewise noticing precisely what we need — whether we are aware that we need it or not. She is more attentive to us than the most attentive mother.
- The second thing we observe is how the Blessed Mother intercedes for us. She always goes to her Son. She herself doesn’t have the power to work miracles. She brings the needs to Jesus. And as we see in the Gospel, even when Jesus is reluctant to do a miracle that would bring others to start squeezing him into their narrow hopes for a political Messiah rather than a savior from sin, he did it anyway for her. It’s always been a great consolation for me to know that Mary is always turning to Jesus to ask him for what I need, whether I’m aware of it or not. Doubtless she’s saying to him right now about each one of us, “The one you love is tired with jet lag, having arrived in France just a few hours ago with no sleep on the plane and is trying to pay attention during Mass!” She’s probably intervening for many more things, too.
- The reason why the Wedding Feast of Cana is chosen by the Church for the Votive Mass of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is because it points to the reality and the power of Mary’s intercession.
- In July 1830, only a few months after St. Catherine Labouré, whose incorrupt body rests to my left, had entered the Daughters of Charity here, she was awakened in the middle the night by an angel appearing like a little boy. You can see a depiction of this in the beautiful Mosaic in the triumphal arch above. He led her to the chapel where there was an empty seat placed right at the back of the right leg of where the present altar stands. The angel told her to wait and very soon Mary appeared seated on the chair. St. Catherine immediately fell down on her knees, placed her hands lovingly on Mary’s lap, and proceeded to have a tender conversation with her for the next two hours. It was then that Mary revealed that she would have a special mission for her.
- Four months later, Mary revealed what that mission would be in a second appearance on November 27. She appeared in an oval and asked St. Catherine to have an image struck in accordance with what she saw. Mary told Catherine, “Have a medal made according to this model. Everyone who wears it around his neck will receive great graces. For those who wear it with confidence there will be abundant graces.” On the front Mary was there with a crown of twelve bright stars, in line with what we saw in today’s first reading from the Book of Revelation. Around the inside of the oval were the words, “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to them.” In her hands were rings with precious stones emitting rays of light. Mary told St. Catharine that those were a sign of the graces that she pours out on those who ask her. When Catherine asked why some of the rings had no rays, Mary said that those were an image of the graces that people should have asked for, that Mary wanted to give, but that they never asked for. On the back side of the Medal was an M for Mary, a Cross, and an image of Jesus’ Sacred Heart crowned with thorns and Mary’s immaculate heart pierced with a sword. Eventually, Catherine spoke to a priest who served as her spiritual director and told him about the apparitions. At first, he was reluctant to believe, but over time Catherine’s sanity and sanctity convinced him that they were true and he had them struck, with the permission of the Archbishop. No one but him knew that St. Catherine was the one who had received the apparition until she revealed it to her Mother Superior 46 years later as St. Catherine was preparing to die.
- As soon as her spiritual director starting passing out the medals to the Daughters of Charity, they started passing them out to others. The next year there was a terrible plague in Paris and other parts of France and a dramatic string of miracles from those who were touched by the medal. So many wonders accompanied the prayerful use of the medal that it was almost immediately dubbed “the Miraculous Medal.” Use of it spread quickly throughout the world and as we know it is still quite popular. I was always very touched that Blessed Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity always pass it out as a means to get people to trust in our Lady’s intercession.
- Today all of us come here to this sacred spot in which the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Catherine and today is interceding for us. We all have some devotion to Mary, but today is an opportunity to grow in our love, appreciation and docility. I’ve always been moved by the expression the Blessed Mother revealed: “Pray for us who have recourse to thee.” The word re-course literally means to “run back.” It points to the fact that many of us once had a deep love and devotion to our Lady but we have wandered away from it. Today is a day for us not to walk back, or to crawl back, but to run back, to return with urgency, to receive her great help. Around the Triumphal Arch above me, in French, are the words the Blessed Mother said to St. Catherine appearing to her in this very chapel. “Venez au pied de cet autel. La les graces seront repandues sur tous.” “Come to the foot of this altar. There graces will be poured out on everyone.” As we being our pilgrimage here in France today, we come to that very altar begging Mary, conceived without sin, to take our intentions, the needs of our family members, our loved ones, all those who have asked us to pray for them, to her Son.
The readings for today’s Mass were:
A Reading from the Book of Revelation (Rev 12:1, 5-6, 14-17)
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that there she might be taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly to her place in the desert, where, far from the serpent, she was taken care of for a year, two years, and a half-year. The serpent, however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with the current. But the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth and swallowed the flood that the dragon spewed out of its mouth. Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus. The word of the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm — The Queen Stands at Your Right Hand Arrayed In Gold (Ps 45:11-12, 14)
Listen, my daughter, and understand; pay me careful heed.
Forget your people and your father’s house,
that the king might desire your beauty. He is your lord.
All glorious is the king’s daughter as she enters, her raiment threaded with gold;
In embroidered apparel she is led to the king.
The maids of her train are presented to the king.
They are led in with glad and joyous acclaim; they enter the palace of the king.
The throne of your fathers your sons will have; you shall make them princes through all the land.
Alleluia — “Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it. Blessed is holy Mary who fully obeyed God’s will.”
A Reading from the Holy Gospel According to John (Jn 2:1-11)
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him. The Gospel of the Lord.