De Maria numquam satis.
Have you been to any Marian pilgrimage before?
I had the privilege to visit a few Marian apparition sites such as Fatima, Lourdes, Rue de Bac, Walsingham and La Salette. Lourdes I have visited twice; once as a member to the Westminster Red Cap group and the other as a personal pilgrimage when Holy Father visited Lourdes for its 150th anniversary. Lourdes is lovely; in spite of the underground car park "basilica", the "Cathedral of trees" and the tragically ugly vestments. Oh and priests in shorts. I could never see what was wrong with cassocks and habits. Fatima... when I went there, it was an awful day and I walked around in torrential rain. I should really go there again... Need to see what it was all about. Pilgrimage to Walsingham was good too; except to find the Anglican chapel more beautiful than ours. La Salette was on this beautiful mountain. Cloud underneath your feet, the slope covered in snow and a beautiful statue of Our Lady. Quite difficult to get there though; you have to take a train from Lyon to Grenoble. take a bus from Grenoble for a couple of hours to get to the village and climb up or take a taxi up the mountain. Quite a trip indeed! But not much to do. Rue de Bac... Not much to do there either! So the winner for me is Lourdes. At least so far.
Now there are apparitions that were disproved and condemned by the Church.
Bayside apparition is a prime example and the one in Korea called Naju is another.
People still attached to these apparitions must come back to the Magisterium. The on-going apparition in Medjugorje is meant to have been condemned by the local bishop and it is not even finished yet so it is advisable NOT to go there. The historical example about authentic Marian apparitions though is that the visionaries were faithful and obedient to the Church but the pilgrims were not so faithful and obedient. Even for Lourdes and Fatima, the Church, in Her prudence, advised Catholics to refrain from paying too much attention to these apparitions and vising these sites until the investigations were complete. Many people still went there nonetheless but bluntly put, they were just lucky not to have gone to the wrong ones. Do not trust your own judgments; trust what the Church tells you to do. Even if Medjugorje feels "right", if the Church urges you not to go there, do not go there. The Church has one and only reason for existence; to save souls. If the Church thinks it is good for the salvation of souls, She will allow it eventually. Be patient, be obedient.
The one striking feature shared by all authorised apparitions of Our Lady is that there is absolutely nothing new. Granted, some apparitions contain more warnings than others, some contain specific prophecies that are contingent to the epoch but Fatima is Akita, essentially. After the era of Apostles, the era of Public Revelation came to an end. The Private Revelations that came afterwards are not required to believe. We do of course recognise Lourdes and Fatima as authentic apparitions of Our Lady but the content of these apparitions are not faith-binding. In fact, it seems very counter-productive how some certain groups of Catholics focus on these messages at the cost of forming oneself of integral Mariology. Surely that is not what Our Lady would have wished to see?
Marian teachings are of celestial beauty; hardly surprising as She is the Queen of Heaven. Without marveling at the fact that Our Lady referred to Herself as the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes, the teaching is already so beautiful and rich in Christology (as all Marian teachings ultimately are) it almost does not seem to matter that it was revealed in Lourdes. We have also been taught for centuries that the Rosary was a powerful weapon against the devil. St Louis de Montfort even wrote a book called "The Secret of the Rosary" and that predates Our Lady of Fatima by quite a few centuries.
De Maria, numquam satis. It originally means "Of Our Lady, there is never enough." or "We can never pay Our Lady enough respect or express enough gratitude for Her inextinguishable love for Her children." Well, something like that anyway. But I suppose it can also be interpreted like this; No apparitions can do Her justice for Her resplendent beauty and love for us. St Bernadette, the visionary at Lourdes, when she saw the first statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was known to have been disappointed. They may have reflected all the features St Bernadette described but still, the statue was nothing compared to what St Bernadette had the extraordinary privilege to see. Equally, what they saw in Fatima is nothing compared to what Our Lady has in store for us in Heaven. Whatever you saw or imagined of Our Lady, you can safely expect to see vastly more when you get to see Her face-to-face. She is bigger than Her apparitions; do not limit Her within the confines of Her apparitions.
Marian apparitions, the authentic ones, are indeed special grace Our Lady earns for us. It brings us great consolation and affords us these timely warnings that we all desperately need. Countries blessed with these must always give thanks to Our Blessed Lord who arranged for Her apparitions to be witnessed in their own home countries. But when you investigate into the messages of these apparitions, please bear in mind that it is Our Lady's wish for you to grow in love for Her in an integral, holistic (a dangerous word these days) and lasting manner, not going after "sensational" messages. And if you happen to be a strong advocate for these controversial apparitions mentioned above, remember you will, one day, be held accountable for your erroneous and reckless ways in the presence of Our Lady. Imagine the shame, imagine the horror!
Parting gift for today is Salve Regina in solemn tone.