Monday, November 27, 2006

The Miraculous Medal: my favorite sacramental

Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. —the words which appear on the Miraculous Medal
Miraculous Medal
I wear a brown scapular around my neck, and attached to it is a replica of the famous sacramental that Our Lady "gave" to St. Catherine Laboure in a vision. In addition, I carry a Miraculous Medal or two in my back pocket, to bring out and hold during key moments of the day. Overkill? Well, I do know that the devil would like you to think so.

It was on November 27th, 1830, that Our Lady in Her third apparition to Sister Catherine showed her the image of the medal. "Have a medal struck after this model," Our Lady explained to her. "All who wear it around the neck will receive great graces." Immediately Catherine told her confessor Fr. Aladel about the vision, and instead of thinking Laboure crazy, he complied. And, almost as quickly the "Medal of the Immaculate Conception" as it was first called, was minted, it began to produce miracles and thus came to be known by its present name.

I love the medal not only because it comes out of the era I call "The century of great French saints," starting with Laboure whose medal helped build support for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and continuing with St. Bernadette, whose vision of Mary as "The Immaculate Conception" at Lourdes helped to confirm it, I also love it because it is convenient to hold, to touch. When I'm in a difficult conversation or situation, feeling God's sacramental grace between my fingers gives me an added courage that prayer alone doesn't. Also, as with the rosary, it's very hard to sin when you are holding it; you almost have to discard it, or at least put it in your pocket, to proceed with anything nasty. A mini-rosary in many respects, it makes Satan flee in sudden confrontations just as the rosary drives out the devil in long standing situations. Combined with the Eucharist, wearing the medal can move mountains—even if it sometimes moves them a pebble at a time. So, if you haven't already, buy one today! They're inexpensive enough even the widow in today's gospel (Luke 21:1-4) can afford one—and they make great (often impromptu) gifts. For you never know when you're gonna bump into someone who needs that little miracle from Mary to get them over that hump.

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