The First United States Marian Shrine is Officially Recognized

Bishop Ricken has approved Marian apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion, diocese of Green Bay, Wis. (December 8, 2010). This may seem to be a minor religious item in the constant flow of Church news. Yet, for us, this represents a major step as the Champion site is the first United States shrine officially recognized as a Marian apparition which dates back to over 150 years before.

Incessant prayer has gone up in this place based upon the word of a young Belgian immigrant woman of 28 years old, Adele Brise who, in October 1859, said that the Blessed Mother, a Lady clothed in dazzling white, had appeared to her on this site. The Lady was elevated slightly in a bright light and gave words of solace and comfort and a bold and challenging mission for the young immigrant woman. The Lady gave her a two-fold mission of prayer for the conversion of sinners and catechesis. “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… Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation… Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.”

In our days of endemic acute visionitis and apparitionitis, a dangerous virus prevalent in our conservative but enclosed circles, it is worth our while getting into the question of apparitions and their connection with the Catholic hierarchy. There have always been souls endowed with the spirit of prophecy and receiving private revelations from God. Such revelations deal, perhaps with future events, but often—and here this is the case—with present problems which heaven is urging the seer to remedy. Such gifts of prophecy and revelations are given, not only for the benefit of the seer, but especially for that of others. As we are not dealing with the public or official revelation of God—sealed with the death of St. John—it follows that such divine manifestations cannot command or alter our faith. Each is free to accept or refuse them and no one will go to hell by rejecting them and this would apply even to one who, mysteriously but for some good reason, would deny the authenticity and efficacy of Fatima, for example. And yet, if heaven makes it a point of visiting the earth, there must be some urgency and it is most imprudent not to check this out with all diligence. The Apostle commands us: “Do not believe all spirits, but examine them.” This is what the Church, as always, needs to do in such cases: apply the rules for discerning the spirits. These can be quickly summed up thus: Reject any revelation opposed to the Catholic dogma and moral code: this applies particularly to the radical and uncatholic ecumenism of Medjugorje.

Reject any revelation of useless, curious or indecent things. As a rule, divine revelations are brief and discrete and are not made to satisfy our vain curiosity (against Medjugorje again).

Examine the character of the seer. One should be cautious of a soul naturally tormented, extenuated by austerities or infirmities, affected by nervous sickness, exalted and unbalanced, who divulges easily its revelation, not in good standing with the Church laws. This applies to the apparitions of New York (to Veronica Lueken in Bayside NY, USA) and Bolivia (to Catalina Rivas of Cochabamba).

Finally—and this is a main source of discernment—check the results of such apparitions in the seer and the people attending them: “the good tree cannot give evil fruit and the bad tree cannot give good fruit” (Mt. VII 18).

Now, this work of discernment of the revelation falls properly on the lap of the competent Church authority, namely the bishop of the place—in this instance, the bishop of Green Bay—although at the time of the apparitions, this Diocese may not have even existed. He and his diocesan tribunal for the case at hand are to judge the authenticity of the apparition. His judgment consists in affirming—or denying—with certitude the supernatural character of the apparitions and allowing—or preventing—the visitation of the shrine by the faithful. In this case, the judgment was positive and the document goes on explaining some of the reasons for this:
Many physical cures, unofficially attested to by the number of crutches, together with a constant tradition of Marian prayers around the shrine.

This holy place was preserved from the infamous Peshtigo fire of 1871 by the prayer of Adele to Our Lady.

Adele herself has fulfilled faithfully her difficult mission, regardless of endless opposition, to the benefit of many souls and even founded a Third Order of Franciscan sisters at the Shrine.

The accounts of the apparitions and locutions are judged to be free from doctrinal error and consistent with the Catholic faith.

This is obviously a serious work done by the proper authority and based on the safe and sound critical judgment, and totally in agreement with the Church’s tradition. Therefore, it can certainly be considered authentic and worthy of honor by our traditional faithful. The negative side of this is that the Shrine is using the Protestantized Mass and that the website sounds very emotional a la modernist to our more austere ears as if the advertising was simply to speak of making a new experience in love. See the shrine's website.

We could certainly draw a spiritual lesson, a call for zeal from the simple but demanding message of the Mother of God. However young you may be, God wishes to use your hidden talents to give your time to fulfill what is lacking to edify the Church, starting with those simple things every Catholic adult can do: make a general confession, pray for sinners and teach catechism. In other words, intensify your spiritual life by a regular prayer life; begin the work of conversion with yourself as we can hardly help others from shipwreck unless we are on safe grounds ourselves; teach the faith in season and out of season. Here, anyone who has had a tiny bit of teaching experience will readily acknowledge how demanding it is. No one can claim to teach others unless he firstly practices it, lives and loves it, especially when it touches our wholesome all-or-nothing faith. What Our Lady demanded of Adele was a serious program of life which, echoing in our own soul, makes similar demands. Blessed are those who listen to such counsel and put it into practice.

Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us!

Notre dame de Bon Secours, Priez per nous!

Thanks to Robert Banaugh a some time contributor.

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