Outside my window, a host of tiny little bugs is swarming and swirling in the sunlight. I don’t know enough etymology enough to identity them, but they are a familiar sight as the weather moves from late spring to summer. They gather in a dense mass and then, as if by some magic signal only they can hear, they suddenly disperse, only to recongregate a few minutes later and start all over.
It’s a lot like that for many of us, even if we don’t work in or with a school. May is a month filled with activity, often the last of the Easter season celebrations, May Days, rosaries and general spring activities. We bustle about, with more things to do than we have hours to do it in and then, all of a sudden, summer is upon us.
I like to think that one reason the Church honors Mary during May is to show us how both the active and contemplative life combine in the Blessed Mother. That’s one reason I’d like to depart a bit from the usual ideas for spirituality at work to talk about a brand-new (if more than 300 years can be considered new) Marian site.
It’s not often that the Church elevates a Marian pilgrimage site to share honors with places like Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe, but Our Lady of Laus, France, is joining that august company.
A few of the saints who have had a particular devotion to Our Lady of Laus include Saint Eugene de Mazenod (1782-1861), founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate; Saint Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868), founder of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers and Servants. When Saint Peter Julian was eleven years old he made a sixty kilometer pilgrimage on foot in order to pray for nine days at the shire while preparing for this First Communion. Later he wrote, "That is where I first came to know and love Mary."
In some ways, there is nothing new in this apparition or this site. Mary says, as she has everywhere else that she has appeared, that we must repent, receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, do penance and pray. What makes Our Lady of Laus so unusual is that Mary appeared to the seer Bl. Benoite Rencurel for 54 years, the longest continual apparition in the history of the church. (A history of the site can be found at http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/laus.htm.)
Even if we find we are flitting frantically like spring bugs as we get ready for summer, may we stop and find peace in the words of Mary as revealed at Laus: Have patience . . . Do your duty cheerfully . . . Bear no hatred towards the enemies of Laus . . . Do not be troubled and sick over it if people do not profit from your advice . . . Do not be disturbed by temptations, visible or invisible spirits, or temporal affairs . . . Strive never to forsake the presence of God, for whoever has any faith will not dare to offend Him."