March 26, 2023

Our Lady of La Salette is a title given to the Virgin Mary after she appeared to two shepherd children, Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud, in La Salette-Fallavaux, France, September 19, 1846. She spoke of the abominable sins of the French people and asked for them to repent, return to God, and thereby enjoy the fruits of His Blessings. This apparition, after a lengthy investigation, was approved by Pope Blessed Pius IX in 1856.

What were these abominable sins she spoke about? You may be surprised to learn that the sins which grieved Her and Her Son were not the sins against the Sixth and Ninth Commandments (regarding purity), but against the Third Commandment: “Thou Shalt observe the Sabbath Day keep it holy, for I AM the LORD.”†

At the time, most people in France did not go to church on Sunday because Sunday was regarded as a day of work just like any other day. One of the principles driving the French Revolution was its adoption of a “Radical Enlightenment,” which sought to create an entirely rational people, cut off from every vestige of their Pre-Enlightenment and “superstitious” past. After the Monarchy and the Third Estate (nobility and clergy) were murdered, the revolutionaries adopted a new calendar in 1793 called the French Republican Calendar (sometimes called the French Revolutionary Calendar). The calendar was designed to reflect the new revolutionary ideals of the time and to break away from the traditional Gregorian calendar, which was associated with the Catholic Church and with the birth of Christ. Hence, September 21, 1792, the day the French First Republic was decreed, became the first day of the first month of the first year.‡

The new calendar contained within its ideology the seeds of Marxism insofar as there was no longer a Lord’s Day, since according to Marxism the human being is defined as a worker serving the all-powerful state. Although the calendar didn’t really catch on, the elimination of the Lord’s Day became for all intents and purposes the prevailing cultural norm. Employers expected their workers to be on the job without fail every single day, including Sunday.

Into this milieu Our Lady appeared, telling the two children, who by the way had no religion whatsoever and didn’t even recognize her as the Blessed Virgin Mary (they called her the “beautiful lady”), that these violations of the Third Commandment were a grave insult to God because, by working every day, the people were in essence denying God’s influence in the affairs of humankind. She told the children that if people continued to work (and by "work" she is referring to "business" - she was not referring to cooking a meal or doing the dishes) on Sundays, he would withdraw his hand, and famine, civil unrest, and disorder in the family would multiply; however, if the people change their ways and spend Sunday in church, praying, reading pious books, spending time with family, and by refraining from all business activity, that God would bless the people with abundant harvests, civil order, and stable, healthy, and holy families.

This message does apply to us today of course. Even though we might go to church on Sunday, we are still nevertheless obliged to do no work on Sundays and also not to cause anyone to have to work on Sundays. Does this actually mean no trips to the store on Sundays or going out for coffee after Sunday Mass? Think in terms of basic economics. That cashier at Schnucks or Dierbergs or that server at the restaurant or cafe is provided as “supply” for you as long as you “demand” goods and services on Sunday. The answer as extreme as it might seem to be to most of us is a resounding “NO.” To obey the Third Commandment therefore has two aspects. First, a positive aspect: That the day be devoted to prayer, to spending time with loved ones, to calling up friends, to playing with our pets, to napping, to reading good and holy books (i.e. the Bible, a biography of a saint, Shakespeare). Second, a negative aspect: That we do not do any business of any kind on Sundays, and if after Mass we want to watch the “big game” for example, we try to keep our heads on straight and understand that such entertainments are a means to an end, that end being family time.

(St. Augustine, if he were your pastor, would consider me to be very lax. The great man considered sporting events and the reading of all secular literature to be gravely sinful. Let me say this: Once you have advanced in holiness and chosen to refrain from all business on Sunday, if you wish to become perfect follow St. Augustine’s advice!) In the past, I have been guilty of going to the store on Sundays. Now, after my recent considerations of the messages of Our Lady of La Salette, I have decided that I will never ever do this ever again. 86% of the week is plenty of time to get shopping and business done. To use the other 14% reserved for God? We have no excuse. And we must understand that we Americans are not exempt from the messages of Our Lady of La Salette. If we Americans continue to treat Sunday as just another shopping day, then the Lord will take our abundance away from us. Then we will have no other choice but to spend our Sundays in prayer, for the simple reason that there will no longer be anything left to buy or sell. At La Salette, Mary warned of impending punishment if people did not repent, including famine, war, and persecution. It was a conditional prophecy, dependent upon the response of the people.

†The Catholic Church understands this commandment to also encompass the keeping the Name of the Lord Holy, hence in the Latin Vulgate, for example, what we normally consider the second and third commandments are combined into one. Therefore, offenses also included at La Salette include:

1. Using God's name in vain or blasphemy.
2. Disrespecting sacred objects or places, such as churches or religious statues.
3. Sacrilege (receiving Holy Communion unworthily, willful destruction of the Blessed Sacrament or of another
holy item)
4. Failing to give due respect to religious leaders or authorities.

‡The French Republican Calendar had 12 months, each with three ten-day weeks, known as "decades." The months were named after natural phenomena – not gods or Roman Emperors! – such as the summer or the winter solstice, rather than after saints or historical figures. For instance, today March 19, 2023 would be 29 Ventôse, year 231. Later the Soviets were to adopt a similar sort of calendar with colors for the new five-day continuous work week, with 1/5 of the population having a day off each day. The calendar was used for only 12 years until 1805, when France returned to the use of the Gregorian Calendar (the original Roman or “Julian” Calendar as revised under the authority of Pope Gregory XIII in 1582).


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