The Memorare Legacy is part of St. Mary of the Angels’ For All Generations Campaign, raising money for the final restoration of the church. The Memorare Legacy is an opportunity for people to entrust loved-ones to Our Blessed Mother, as “never was it known that anyone who fled to [her] protection, implored [her] help, or sought [her] intercession was left unaided” (from the Memorare prayer).
A Story of St. John Vianney
St. John Vianney, the Cure (Pastor) of Ars, was a very holy parish priest in eastern France, outside the city of Lyon. He was known as a great confessor and catechist.
God gave him a very powerful gift of reading into the state of souls. For example, when a person was a bit embarrassed to confess his big sins—just having the nerve to confess his little sins, such as arguing with a sibling or friend—St. John Vianney might happen to ask the person: “But didn’t you do X, and didn’t you do Y, and didn’t you do Z?” mentioning to the penitent all the big sins he was too embarrassed to say. “Ah… Yes, Father, I did,” the penitent would say sheepishly. Then, after asking the penitent if he were sorry for those sins, the Cure of Ars would give the sacramental absolution.
One day an elderly woman came to confession to the Cure of Ars. She had been quite distraught, because her husband had died two years earlier without receiving the last sacraments. In fact, he had lived most of their married life without going to church or confession, so the woman thought: “I’ll never see my husband again, he must be in hell.” This disturbed her greatly because she loved her husband a lot.
The widow’s neighbor noticed her depressed state and encouraged her to go to confession to this holy priest in Ars. The widow said No, telling her neighbor that she didn’t have any big sins to confess, and besides she went to confession to their parish priest quite frequently, so why should she travel across France just to go to confession? Her neighbor kept pestering the widow to go until she finally acquiesced, and the two made the long trip to Ars together.
When they got to Ars and entered the church, they found a very long line for confession—some had to wait two days (the Cure of Ars heard 15 to 18 hours of confessions daily). The two did wait—they didn’t want to waste their trip. The widow went to confession, it was a pretty normal and quick as she was a pious ole-lady who didn’t have much to confess. But then as she was leaving the confessional St. John Vianney stopped her and said: “Don’t worry about your husband.” Now she hadn’t mentioned her husband at all in the confessional. The Cure of Ars continued: “Do you remember when your husband picked the flower from your garden and placed it next to the statue of the Virgin Mary in your home?” Sure enough, she vaguely remembered that years earlier her husband, probably in a moment of weakness, picked a flower from their garden and placed it next to the statue of Mary in their home. The widow had all but forgotten. Besides, what was that compared to all the big sinful things he had done, she thought.
St. John Vianney went on to say: “Well, when your husband died and went before the Judgment Seat, and Satan accused him of all he had done, ready to grab his soul and thrust it into hell… Our Lady remembered that deed and snatched his soul from the grasp of the devil. That was all that she needed.
Now people say, “Women never forget…” well Our Lady is a woman, so let’s take advantage of that—anything we do for Our Blessed Mother she will not forget!
St. Mary of the Angels, Our Help and Protection
In replacing the parapet wall of St. Mary of the Angels, above the rose window over the church entrance, we plan
to put a large image of our Blessed Mother, overlooking the raised Kennedy expressway and Metra train lines just a block and half away. The image will be made in painted ceramic tile, 26 feet tall and 15 feet wide. The image will show Our Lady holding her mantle out in protection over the church, school, and all of Chicago. On the backside of the image—which can be seen from the “606” elevated trail—will be the Memorare prayer painted on ceramic tile formed by the names of persons and institutions entrusted to Our Lady.
As many faithful Catholics wish to entrust a loved-one to Mary: perhaps a child or God-child recently baptized, asking Mary to lead that child to its vocation and to heaven; perhaps unbaptized relatives or ones who have gone astray; perhaps a sick, elderly, or frail loved-one… anyone who needs St. Mary of the Angels, Our Help and Protection. Some have loved-ones in perilous and uncertain situations—living the “gay” lifestyle, in an unhealthy or sinful relationship, addicted to drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc., etc. We can and should be “inspired by this confidence” and go to Mary’s intercession with the assurance that our prayers will be “heard and answered.”
For gifts of $1000 or more we will inscribe the name into the Memorare prayer on the back of the parapet. Our Lady appreciates gifts of any size as well as anything we do for her and her parish; nothing will be forgotten. We will find a way to entrust everyone who makes a gift to Mary.
Fr. John R. Waiss
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