“Mondays with Mary” – St. Teresa of Calcutta and The Miraculous Medal

Famously known as Mother Teresa, St. Teresa of Calcutta in her many years of worldwide missionary work with the poor was often seen with a Miraculous Medal in her hands. At times, she would pass out handfuls to priests who would meet with her. It didn’t matter who you were – young, old, dying, or healthy, if you came into a contact with Mother Teresa, there is a chance you received a medal.

During one of her last public appearances, just three months before her death in 1997 while visiting the South Bronx in New York, she held tightly to a basket full of these medals on her lap. As she gave large sums of them away, her sisters just kept on replenishing the basket. She loved this tiny sacramental. She said it’s one of the best tools to spread the Gospel message of love to the world.

She was so devoted to the Miraculous Medal that St. Teresa of Calcutta could be seen as the primary advocate during the second half of 20th century for this medal (St. Maximillian Kolbe is the first half).  Just like Kolbe, St. Teresa understand that the medal was more than just an object. It was sign of the Gospel’s message of love because the medal taught about Jesus Christ, His Church, Redemption, the Eucharist, Divine Mercy, original sin, grace, Mary, and the Last Things.

The Saint of Calcutta knew the importance of having Mary as Our Mother. She would often pray with the sick while holding this medal as well as press it against the person who was sick showing the importance of acknowledging Mary as Mother. Often, she would press the medal on the person’s body where the pain originated. The Miraculous Medal for St. Teresa of Calcutta was a medal of charity – a symbol of God’s love for all people, most especially the every now moment of our lives.

The Miraculous Medal or the Medal of the Immaculate Conception begins with the Apparitions of Rue du Bac in Paris, France at the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity. In the year 1830, St. Catherine Laboure received three apparitions –

  1. The “Virgin of the Chair” (July 18, 1830)
  2. the “Virgin of the Globe” (November 27, 1830);
  3. “Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal” (November 27, 1830)

On the night of July 18, 1830, St. Catherine was awakened by an angel disguised as a small child and was led to the chapel where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her. Catherine would recollect hearing the rustling of a silk dress just before seeing the Blessed Virgin seating in the director’s chair in the sanctuary. As Catherine approached the Blessed Virgin, after a time of hesitation, the Virgin said to her: “My child, the good God wishes to charge you with a mission.”

The Virgin Mary would explain to her all the things that would occur to her personally, the events and suffering that would happen in France, and the major events that were coming to the entire world. The Virgin Mary said,

“You will be in anguish until you have told them who is charged with directing you…tell it with simplicity. Have Confidence. Do not be afraid. The times are very evil. Sorrows will come to France…the whole world will be upset by miseries of every kind…graces will be especially shed upon those who ask for them.”

The Virgin Mary also told Catherine that the Vincentian Fathers and Daughters of Charity were in need of much reform. She said that a new community would develop from the Daughters of Charity. This came to fruition when St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Sisters in Emmitsburg, Maryland would eventually join the Paris community.

As she wept, the Virgin Mary told Catherine of the great dangers that would come to France and the world. Nine days after this first apparition, there was a revolution in Paris by Charles X to reestablish the “divine right” to the Bourbon monarchy. However, he was trampled upon in the “Three Glorious Days” where monarchists, merchants, and radical anarchists attacked the Church by beating, killing, and imprisoning priests and religious. They burned churches and pulled down statues and crosses. The Archbishop was force to flee for his life. The apparition prophecy of nine days earlier came to pass.

On November 27, 1830, the visions of the “Virgin of the Globe” and the “Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal” both occurred. The “Virgin of the Globe” is where the Virgin Mary is holding a golden ball in her hands and offering it up to God. This golden ball represents the Earth, but especially France and all people. After this vision, St. Catherine then saw another vision.

At this moment in the apparition, an oval frame formed around the Blessed Virgin. Surrounding the oval frame were the words – “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

The Virgin then said, “Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence.”

The vision then turned around and Catherine viewed the back of the medal. This image was shown to her seven times before the medal was struck.

These symbols from the vision are enriched with deep Marian theology and importance. On the front of the medal, we see Our Lady outstretched and rays coming from her hands. She is also crushing the head of the serpent. The crushing of the head of the serpent is the image we have from Genesis 3:15 (known as the Protoevangelium – first gospel) – “She will crush your head.”

The rays of light flowing from her hands represent her as Mediatrix of all graces. In prayer, she is our universal Advocate – “pray for us who have recourse to thee.” She offers our prayers to the Heavenly Father (as Queen Mother brings the petitions to the King).

The doctrine (and eventual dogma – December 8, 1854 by Bl. Pius IX) of the Immaculate Conception is revealed here – “O Mary, conceived without sin…” The medal was known first as the “Medal of the Immaculate Conception” but because it invoked so many miracles, it became known as the “Miraculous Medal.”

On the backside of the medal, we see the “M” connected to the cross with the crossbeam. This represents Mary’s Co-Redemption with her son and her role as Co-Redemptrix but always subordinate to Him (Jn 19:25-27). Mary is able to crush the head of the serpent by the power of Our Lord, not with her own power.

The two hearts on the bottom of the medal (Immaculate Heart of Mary and Sacred Heart of Jesus) define the whole age of Mary and the motif of the Marian messages to the modern world. The hearts of Mary and Jesus would be developed in the message of Fatima. The triumph of the Immaculate Heart leads to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The twelve stars on the back of the medal represent Mary’s universal Queenship (Rev 12:1), she is also the mother of the male child (Rev 12:5), and the mother of the “rest of her offspring” (Rev 12:7). She is our Queen Mother (1 Kings 2:19-21). The twelve stars also represent the twelve apostles who fulfill the twelve tribes of Israel. Mary is also known in the Tradition of the Church as the Queen of the Apostles.

The first medals were struck in 1832 under the permission of the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor de Quelen. In 1836, the Church investigated the apparition as well as the miracles attributed to the medal and said that there was a supernatural authenticity. In 1842, due to the conversion of a famous European Jewish figure, the Church declared the Miraculous Medal devotion approved. It is believed that the Miraculous Medal was the defining factor in promulgation of the Immaculate Conception being declared dogmatic on December 8, 1854 by Bl. Pius IX.

Sr. Catherine Laboure passed into Eternal Glory in 1876. Fifty-seven years after her death, while her cause for Canonization was occurring, her body was exhumed and was found incorrupt. On July 27, 1947, Pope Pius XII canonized St. Catherine of Laboure a Saint of the Catholic Church. The Miraculous Medal is worn by thousands of Catholics on a daily basis.

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal…Pray for Us

St. Catherine Laboure…Pray for Us

Source: 

McCurry , Fr. James. “Mother Teresa and the Miraculous Medal.” Mother of All Peoples, 21 Feb. 2012, http://www.motherofallpeoples.com/2004/09/mother-teresa-and-the-miraculous-medal/.

“Mondays with Mary” – 10 Quotes on the Blessed Mother from St. Teresa of Calcutta

For the past five days, I have written five different blog posts focusing on the words of the newest saint in the Catholic Church’s arsenal, St. Teresa of Calcutta. On day one, I focused on work and evangelization; day two, I wrote about family life; day three, I focused on faith and holiness; day four, yesterday, I wrote about her words on prayer; and finally today, we will focus on her words that speak about Blessed Virgin Mary. Since today is a Monday, it fell perfectly to include this last blog post as part of my “Mondays with Mary” series.

In her book, Total Surrender, St. Teresa of Calcutta says the following about Mary’s Example –

“The Magnificat is Our Lady’s Prayer of thanks. She can help us to love Jesus best; she is the one who can show us the shortest way to Jesus. Mary was the one whose intercession led Jesus to work the first miracle. ‘They have no wine,’ she said to Jesus. ‘Do whatever he tells you,’ she said to the servants. We take the part of the servants. Let us go to her with great love and trust…”

Like many of the saints before her, including her contemporary, Pope St. John Paul II, she had a deep devotion and a relationship rooted in love with the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Teresa of Calcutta (“Tiny T”), like her Teresa predecessors, St. Teresa of Avila (“Big T”) and St. Therese of Lisieux (“Little T”), knew the importance that the Blessed Mother played not only in the life of Jesus Christ, but the important role she plays in all of salvation history. She knew well if there were no Mary, there would be no Jesus. Mary’s role in the Church, yesterday, today, and tomorrow is always about leading us closer to Jesus Christ.

St. Teresa of Calcutta and Pope St. John Paul II

To conclude this quintuple of blog posts, here are 10 quotes focusing on the Blessed Virgin Mary from the words of the Saint of Calcutta –

From a letter written on the day of her death –

1. “Loving trust and total surrender made Our Lady say ‘yes’ to the message of the angel. And cheerfulness made her fun in haste to serve her cousin Elizabeth. That is so much our life: say ‘yes’ to Jesus and running in haste to serve him in the poorest of the poor. Let us keep very close to Our Lady and she will make that same spirit grow in each of us.”

2. “Pray especially to Our Blessed Mother Mary, placing all your intentions into her hands. For she loves you as she loves her Son. She will guide you in all your relationships so that peace may fill your life.”

3. “Let us ask Our Lady, in a very special way: Mary, mother of Jesus, be a mother to each of us, that we, like you, may be pure in heart, that we, like you, love Jesus; that we, like you, serve the poorest for we are all poor. First let us love our neighbors and so fulfill God’s desire that we become carriers of his love and compassion.”

4. “Mary is our mother, the cause of our joy. Being a mother, I have never had difficulty in talking with Mary and feeling close to her.”

Speaking about electricity and wires, and where the power of our ‘light’ comes from, she says the following –

5. “Our Lady was the most wonderful wire. She allowed God to fill her to the brim. By her surrender ‘Be it done to me according to thy word’ she became ‘full of grace.’ The moment she was filled by the current, by the grace of God, she went in haste to Elizabeth’s house to connect the wire, John, to the current, Jesus. As his mother said, ‘This child, John, leapt up with joy at your voice.’ Let us ask Our Lady to come into our lives also and make the current, Jesus, use us to go round the world – especially in our own communities so that we can continue connecting the wires of the hearts of men and women with the current, Jesus.”

6. “Even Almighty God cannot fill what is already fill. We must be empty if we want God to fill us with fullness. Our Lady had to be empty before she could be full of grace. She had to declare that she was the handmaid of the Lord before God could fill her. So also we must be empty of all pride, all jealousy, of all selfishness before God can fill us with his love.”

7. “Mary showed complete trust in God by agreeing to be used as an instrument in his plan of salvation. She trusted him in spite of her nothingness because she knew he who is mighty could do great things in her and through her. Once she said ‘yes’ to him, she never doubted. She was just a young woman, but she belonged to God and nothing nor anyone could separate her from him.”

8. “Mary did not feel ashamed. She proclaimed Jesus her son. At Calvary we see her standing upright – the mother of God, standing next to the cross. What a deep faith she must have had because of her love for her son! To see him dishonored, unloved, an object of hatred. Yet, she stayed upright.”

9. “How much we need Mary to teach us what it means to satiate God’s Thirsting Love for us, which Jesus came to reveal to us. She did it so beautifully. Yes, Mary allowed God to take possession of her life by her purity, her humility, and her faithful love…Let us seek to grow, under the guidance of our Heavenly Mother…”

10. “If we stand with Our Lady, she will give us her spirit of loving trust, total surrender, and cheerfulness.”

As the Catholic Church celebrates this newest Saint, please pray for the work of the Missionaries of Charity throughout the world, pray for the pilgrims returning home from the Canonization, and pray that all people, even our enemies, may they come to know the love and mercy of Jesus Christ through His Holy Mother and the Saints in Heaven.

10 Quotes on Prayer from St. Teresa of Calcutta

Since today is the Canonization Day for St. Teresa of Calcutta, I am going to be as plain as I can with you and say that prayer is simply a conversation with God. If you are interested in reading more about prayer I would suggest checking out my QLC’s – The Way of Prayer, Expressions of Prayer, and The Battle of Prayer. She can say things a lot better than I can on this subject.

So with this being said, let’s focus on 10 quotes on prayer from St. Teresa of Calcutta –

1. “Prayer is as necessary as the air, as the blood in our bodies, as anything to keep us alive – to keep us alive to the grace of God.”

2. “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at this disposition, and listening to his voice in the depths of our hearts.”

3. “I always begin my prayer in silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks. God is the friend of silence – we need to listen to God because it’s not what we say but he says to us and through us that matters.”

The fourth quote is something a lot of people don’t think about when it comes to prayer, but the saints speak of it –

4. “You can pray while you work. Work doesn’t stop prayer and prayer doesn’t stop work. It requires only that small raising of the mind to him: I love you God, I trust you, I believe in you, I need you now. Small things like that. They are wonderful prayers.”

5. “Love to pray. Take the trouble to pray. Prayer opens your heart until it is big enough to hold and keep God. We must know Jesus in prayer before we can see him in the broken bodies of the poor.”

6. “Deep down in every human heart there is knowledge of God. And deep down in every human heart is the desire to communicate with Him.”

Silence is something our modern culture struggles with greatly. St. Teresa of Calcutta says it’s essential part of our prayer life –

7. “If we neglect prayer and if the branch is not connected with the vine, it will die. That connecting of the branch to the vine is prayer. If that connection is there then love is there, then joy is there, and we will be the sunshine of God’s love, the hope of eternal happiness, the flame of burning love. Why? Because we are one with Jesus. If you sincerely want to learn to pray: keep silence.”

8. “My secret is very simple: I pray. Through prayer I become one in love with Christ. I realize that praying to him is loving him.”

9. “Prayer must come from the heart and must be able to touch the heart of God. See how Jesus taught his disciples to pray: Call God your Father; praise and glorify his name; do his will as the saints do it in heaven; ask for daily bread, spiritual and temporal; ask for forgiveness of your own sins and for the grace to forgive others; ask for the grace to resist temptations and for the final grace to be delivered from the evil which is in you and around you.”

This is another very important part of prayer and place to do it. If you have a Perpetual Adoration Chapel, pray there

10. “Every moment of prayer, especially before our Lord in the tabernacle, is a sure, positive gain. The time we spend in having our daily audience with God is the most precious part of the whole day.”

St. Teresa of Calcutta…Pray for Us.