Friday, September 9, 2011

Our Lady of Good Help, Pray for Us

Today we visited the shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, where the Blessed Mother appeared to Adele Brise in the 1800s and urged her to "teach the children." Driving through the Wisconsin peninsula, I can easily imagine the challenge for Adele. Much of the land at that time was probably forest as immigrant families worked to clear their acres and prepare them for crops. The farms were spread out and it must have required real effort to go from one to another to gather the children for catechism.

Today, the shrine is located on six acres nestled in between farms. Corn silk sways in the breeze and hay bales are rolled and ready to store for winter feeding within a few steps of the chapel. It was a personal reminder to me that God is always right there amid the toils and turmoils of our day.

A crypt with a beautiful statue of Our Lady occupies the site of the apparition and Adele is buried nearby as are some of her co-workers.

What a place of peace! As Larry and I wandered around the grounds praying the rosary, visiting the Stations of the Cross and the Lourdes and Fatima grottoes, we felt we were standing on holy ground. The priest who celebrated Mass challenged us to open our hearts to receive God's gifts. If God is trying to shower us with graces and we open an umbrella, we block His generosity. He can only give us what we are willing to accept.

Father reminded us of the spiritual works of mercy, the need especially to bear wrongs patiently. What a challenge! How much easier to moan and wail like the children of Israel in the desert.

Our three hours at the shrine was a good reminder that our journey across this great country is a pilgrimage of hope. And we do not make the journey alone.

How many of my favorite saints adorned the church and grounds: St. Joseph, of course, St. Francis, St. Jean Vianney, St. Clare, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Padre Pio, and others.

St. Michael the Archangel was there with his big sword vanquishing the devil. Larry and I have three saints we have invoked for our trip. St. Joseph as our spiritual father, protector, and maintenance worker. He has already helped us with several mechanical glitches. We invited St. Benedict to make our car and camper a little monastery on wheels as we travel around and to intercede for a hospitable reception wherever we go. And last - St. Michael as a strong guardian. I'm sure a grizzly is no match for his shining sword, not to mention human grizzlies.

How I loved visiting this humble little shrine and reflecting on the witness of holy men and women like Adele Brise. (Learn more about her here.) We have so much for which to be grateful and a grateful heart is linked closely to humility. This lovely, humble shrine in the countryside of Wisconsin far from any imposing cities draws the pilgrim to desire a humble heart because, as the psalmist says, "A humble, contrite heart you will not spurn, O Lord." I don't think He will spurn a grateful heart either.

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