Hello everyone; I do not know how or where to begin. As the Psalmist says: “Lord, open my lips and [THEN] I will proclaim Your praise.
I have been at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help this weekend to commemorate the Miracle of the Fire and the 152nd anniversary of the Apparitions the “Queen of Heaven” gave to Adele Brise. This weekend has been quite a rollercoaster of emotions.
Last night, my family and I attended the candle-light procession in commemoration of the “Miracle of the Fire.” We have attended this procession for several years. Last year, we were heart-broken that the Chapel was so empty – my mother even said: “Oh Blessed Mother, you deserve so much better.” Last night the Chapel was so packed that our family (and indeed a couple hundred people) participated in the Benediction on the front steps. As Fr. Peter Stryker CPM, Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, read from the Chapel history book, I couldn’t help but pondering the scene of Adele and the farmers and their families running to the Chapel and seeking refuge in Mary’s unfailing protection.
“’The crucial hour had come, the hurricane of fire broke in all it’s fury….Adele and her companions…faith in Mary’s protection never faltered….They raced in the direction of Mary’s sanctuary….Awe-stricken, they thronged the Chapel grounds….”Filled with confidence, they entered the Chapel, reverently raised the statue of Mary, and kneeling bore it in procession around their beloved sanctuary. When wind and fire exposed them to suffocation, they turned in another direction, and continued to hope and pray, saying the rosary (The Chapel History Book).’”
Last night was crisp and clear, with the waxing moon shining brightly. It was hard to imagine that 140 years ago – on that very spot – Adele and her companions were being suffocated by thick smoke and ash. With the brisk October breeze which would occasionally nip at our ears, it was a challenge to picture Adele and her companions encircled in a 2,0000 raging inferno.
Fr. Stryker continued:
“After hours of horror and suspense, the heavens sent relief in the form of an downpour. The fervent prayers to the Mother of God were heard…. Everything around them was destroyed; miles of desolation everywhere…. But the Convent, school, Chapel and the five acres of land consecrated to the Virgin Mary shone like an emerald isle in a sea of ashes…. Tongues of fire had reached the Chapel fence, and threatened destruction to all within its confines – the fire had not entered the Chapel grounds (The Chapel History Book).”
It was around these very grounds which, with 1,000 other pilgrims, we processed around. The pictures I took from this procession look like something from Lourdes. The procession was the longest I have ever seen for this event and I was grateful that so many people showed up.
After the procession culminated, we adored Our Lord in Benediction. Though I was only able to catch a glimpse (remember we were amongst the crowd of 500 people stuck outside the Chapel) nevertheless, I still felt a certain closeness to Jesus. Words can not express the beauty of that moment.
Today, I had the honor of serving as Miter and Crosier Bearer for Bishop David Ricken at the 10:00 A.M. Mass at the Shrine. The Mass was equally beautiful and well attended. I wish to spend a bit of time conveying the significance of this special Mass, therefore I will continue my narrative in a separate post (hopefully within the next 48 hrs., though I am traveling home tomorrow.) My family and I prayed for your intentions at the Shrine today.