Saint Catherine Laboure and the Virgin Mary. The Miraculous Medals I hand out.
"My child, I am going to give you a mission." These were the first words spoken by the Blessed Virgin to a novice of the Daughter's of Charity by the name of Catherine Laboure. The year was 1830 and Catherine was awakened by her guardian angel and told to go to the chapel where she received a vision of the Virgin. Later, during a second vision, she saw Mary standing on a globe with rays of light coming from rings on her fingers. Mary explained that the rays of light were the graces she obtains from God for those who ask for them. When Catherine asked her why some of the gems on the rings were dark and emitting no light, Mary answered, "The graces are available but did not come because no one asked for them."
Then, during the third vision, Catherine saw our Lady standing on a globe with her hands outstretched, the rays of light radiating down. Framing the figure was the inscription: O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Then the vision turned to show the reverse side of the medal. Shown were twelve stars encircling a large "M" from which rose a cross. Thorns encircled one heart and a sword pierces the other. The twelve stars represent the twelve apostles and the M stands for Mary. The cross coming out of the M shows the close relationship that she has with her Divine son. We must never forget how important this relationship is and how much Our Lord wants us to love and honor His mother.
Mary then spoke to Catherine: "Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck."
With the approval of the Church, the first medals were made in 1832 in Paris and were quickly distributed to the people. Immediately, the blessings that Mary had promised began to shower down on those who wore the medal and word spread about this Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Virgin. The Miraculous Medal is not a good luck charm or anything related to superstition. It is, in fact, a great testimony to the power of trusting prayer and our faith. God uses the medal, not as a sacrament, but as an agent to transmit grace to us. "The weak things of this Earth hath God chosen to confound the strong."
When Our Blessed Mother gave the medal to Saint Catherine she said, "Now it must be given to the whole world and to every person."
I have made a habit of carrying around miraculous medals, that have been blessed by my priest, to hand out to people in my day to day encounters. I make sure I keep them in the outer pocket of my backpack so I can grab them quickly if need be. I have handed them out in drive thrus, at grocery stores, at stop lights, gas stations, malls and in every place in between.
I have so many stories in the short time I have been doing this, of people being so moved by the Miraculous Medal and the grace that God gives through this little object. I have had people burst into tears when I handed them one, I have had people hug me and people literally light up with joy. Most people allow me to put them around their necks, and while I am reaching around them, I am silently praying to Our Blessed Mother. I ask her to bring the person to her son. To give them the graces they need the most right now in their lives. I ask for those graces that are available and that no one has asked for...
I have had the great joy of seeing people wearing these medals around town that I have given them in the past. This always makes me smile. I hope that this very small gesture makes Our Lady happy and brings her some consolation. I know how greatly offended she is.
I pray that all the people I have given these medals to will allow God to change their hearts and to draw them closer to Himself. I pray also that through this small act of kindness on my part, God will continue to convert me to love Him more and more. That He will help me to be better, closer and more like Him. Often I feel so very far away, but when I can get outside of myself and reach out to someone else, this is when I really get the sense of the divine life. This divine life that overflows with love towards the other, whoever they may be. The person in the check out line, the clerk at the McDonalds or even the person next to you in the DMV waiting room.
Very rarely I will have someone refuse the medal. This is also a good thing, because then I know to pray for that person especially. We can resist God's grace when He offers it. Every time we sin, this is what we are doing. He is constantly offering more and more grace to us. Every day that we wake up and are alive, we have a new opportunity to receive this incredible gift of God's love.
May we all choose the good instead of the evil that we are so inclined to want. I hope to always remember that there is no such thing as something "small" in the eyes of God. These little medals make a difference. They touch people's hearts as I have witnessed countless times.
*I purchase these medals from the Saint Paul Street Evangelization store @ streetevangelization.com
The chains they sell are also very good quality and do not rust. The medals are beautiful and people really love them. *