Monday, March 3, 2014

Medjugorje Message: Wear Something Blessed

An image of the Medjugorje visionary Vicka in 2014, speaking to pilgrims.
Vicka Mijatovic speaking to pilgrims at the Pope John Paul II Orphanage

If you have been following my blog, then you certainly have become familiar with Medjugorje and the main core messages given to us by Our Lady of her "Little Stones." In addition to these, Our Lady has given us many other messages as well, and today's post focusses on one of those messages, "...[T]hat we wear something blessed on us." 

This is Our Lady's recommendation that Vicka—the oldest of the visionaries who continues to receive daily apparitions and whose prayer mission is to pray for the sick—has revealed to us, one that personally resonates with me in a big way. I hope that by the end of your reading of today's post, it will be likewise for you.

Vicka currently lives in Bosnia-Herzegovina in a small village, Gradac, which is only a few kilometers north of Medjugorje. Vicka provides talks to hundreds of pilgrims at the Pope John Paul II Orphanage in Medjugorje.

Our Lady's message of "wearing something blessed" is of great significance for us on our earthly pilgrimage because it specifically deals with how we can better protect ourselves against Satan. Our Lady has communicated to Vicka that Satan works very hard to disturb our prayers and take away our peace. To remedy this, Our Lady has told Vicka that the strongest weapon in our hands against Satan is the Rosary. In addition, Our Lady recommends that we wear something blessed, "Dear Children! Today I call you to place more blessed objects in your homes and that everyone put some blessed objects on their person. Bless all the objects and thus Satan will attack you less because you will have armour against him." (July 18, 1985) 

You might be clear as to what blessed objects to add to your home—a statue of Our Lady, an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a crucifix—but not very clear about what to place on your body; that is, what medal or object would properly comply with Our Lady's recommendation. Although there are many approved objects and medals that one could choose from, long established in the Church, I would respectfully recommend three in particular: the Miraculous Medal, the Brown Scapular, and the Saint Benedict Medal. Anyone one of these objects will suffice and if you so choose to, you could wear all three!

Miraculous Medal

Two images of the Miraculous Medal, back and front.
Miraculous Medal
The Miraculous Medal was designed by the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Lady commissioned the design in 1830, as a mission to Saint Catherine Labouré; a novice in the community of the Daughters of Charity in Paris.

Saint Catherine was specifically told by Our Lady, “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.”

The specific meaning of each side of the medal has been referenced from the Association of The Miraculous Medal; a Vincentian Community in Missouri that generously offers a free Miraculous Medal to visitors at their site

  • Front: Our Lady is standing on a globe, as Queen of Heaven and Earth, crushing the head of a serpent beneath her feet. The crushing of the serpent is to proclaim that Satan and all his followers are helpless before Her (Gn 3:15). The year 1830, marks the year of the medal's commission to Saint Catherine. The reference to Mary conceived without sin supports the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. 
  • Back: There are twelve stars, one for each Apostle, who represent the entire Church as it surrounds Mary. The cross symbolizes Christ Our Redeemer and our redemption; the bar under the cross is a sign of the earth. The “M” stands for Mary, which illustrates Mary’s close involvement with Jesus and Her mission in the world. The two hearts represent the love of Jesus and that of Mary.

For further reading on the Miraculous Medal, I would also recommend Father Robert J. Billett's article, St. Catherine Labouré and the Miraculous MedalIf you do decide to obtain a Miraculous Medal, you will need to make an appointment with a priest for its investiture: a special blessing. 

Brown Scapular

An image of the Brown Scapular.
Brown Scapular
The Brown Scapular is the physical object worn by many Catholics as part of the Brown Scapular Devotion; a universally established devotion in the Church since the seventeenth century and is considered together with the Rosary, a customary Marian devotional practice.

The scapular that you see from the image associated with this post derives from a garment worn by religious—those who have consecrated themselves to God and live as members of various Orders of the Church—would wear over their shoulders, that would extend to the front and back.

From the Brown Scapular Devotion, there are two main aspects that one should come to know and understand: the Scapular Promise and the Sabbatine Privilege:

  • Scapular Promise: Wearing the Brown Scapular is a physical confirmation in one's confidence in the intercession of Our Lady to obtain for those who wear it, the grace of final perseverance or a "happy death." The two general conditions necessary to obtain this benefit are: first, one must honour Mary by wearing the Scapular faithfully until death and two, endeavour to sincerely lead a Catholic life. The revelation of this promise was made by Our Lady to Saint Simon Stock, Prior General of the Carmelites (1247-1265), during which She stated that all who wear the Scapular will not suffer the eternal flames of Hell. This assurance by Our Lady has become known as the Scapular Promise
  • Sabbatine Privilege: Our Lady's aid may be confidently expected in Purgatory for those who have worn the Scapular and fulfilled two other conditions: the first, the practice of chastity according to one's state of life and two, the daily recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin. The second condition, praying the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin can be commuted; that is, substituted with other prayers, typically five decades of the Rosary or some other pious practice such as fasting. This commute must be given by a Catholic priest. A similar commute can be given to substitute the abstinence of meat on Wednesday and Fridays; an original form of penance associated with this devotion and forms part of living a Catholic life together with prayer. The specific aid that one can be assured of from Mary is that after death, upon the first Saturday, one will be released from Purgatory. This release from Purgatory on the first Saturday is referred to as, the Sabbatine Privilege.

An essential aspect of the Brown Scapular Devotion is to obtain the Blessing and Enrolment. This can be obtained within a group setting or an individual one. For individual purposes, there is the option of a short form of investiture, whereby a priest or deacon recites a Marian prayer, such as the Hail Mary, Memorare or Salve Regina, while placing the scapular over the head of the individual who intends to wear it. Once completed, the individual is invested. It does not matter whether you choose to invest within a group setting or on an individual basis, just so long as you are invested. In so doing, you properly receive the Brown Scapular and begin your devotion following Jesus in a closer manner, in the example of Mary, Our Mother.

Saint Benedict Medal

An image showing the front and back of the Saint Benedict Medal.
St. Benedict Medal (Jubilee Medal of 1880)
Saint Benedict, who lived from 480 to 547, is one of the greatest saints in the Catholic Church; a saint whose deep faith in the Cross had performed many miracles.

Saint Benedict's faith and devotion to the Cross was passed on to succeeding generations of Benedictines, who received this special gift and made it available to the universal Catholic Church through the creation of the Saint Benedict Medal.

The medal that we have today was designed and created in 1880, under the supervision of the monks at Monte Cassino, Italy to mark the 1400 anniversary of the birth of Saint Benedict.

Prior to this time, other medals were created, but not as complete and thoroughly designed as the most current one, referred to as the "Jubilee Medal." The medal of Saint Benedict is one of the Sacramentals of the Church, whose value and power must always be attributed to: the merits of Christ; to the efficacious prayers of Saint Benedict; to the blessing of the Church; and to the faith and disposition of the person wearing the medal.

The spiritual benefits for those that wear Saint Benedict Medal are many and not limited to the following:

  • It wards off from both the soul and the body all dangers arising from the devil
  • The medal is powerful in obtaining for sinners the grace of conversion
  • It obtains protection and aid for persons tormented by the evil spirit, and in temptations against holy purity
  • It procures assistance in the hour of death
  • It has often proved an efficacious remedy for bodily sufferings, and a means of protection against contagious diseases
  • Expectant mothers have obtained special assistance for a safe delivery
  • In time of storms, tempests and other dangers on land and sea it has been found to be a protection

Being the sacramental that it is, the Saint Benedict Medal has been long been regarded as an efficacious instrument to protect all who wear it from demonic attacks and obtaining many special graces. This medal can be worn around your neck, attached to a Scapular or Rosary, as part of a devotional bracelet, or carried somewhere else on you.

Before you actually use this medal, you first must obtain an Approved Blessing from a priest or deacon.

Below are the design details of the Saint Benedict Medal:

Front Side of Saint Benedict Medal
  • An image of Saint Benedict, with a cross in his right hand and the Rule For Monasteries in his left
  • To the right of Saint Benedict on a pedestal is a poisoned cup, shattered when he made a sign of the cross over it. To the left, a raven on a pedestal carrying a loaf of poisoned bread sent by a jealous enemy to Saint Benedict
  • Above the cup are the Latin words, "Crus s. patris Benedicti" (The Cross of Our Holy Father Benedict)
  • On the margin encircling the figure of Saint Benedict are the Latin words, "Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur" (May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death)
  • Below Saint Benedict's feet we read, "SM Casino MDCCCLXXX" (From Holy Monte Cassino, 1880)

Back Side of Saint Benedict Medal
  • The Latin word, "Pax" at the top which means "Peace"
  • The cross image is dominant with the Latin inscriptions on the arms, "Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Nunquam draco sit mihi dux!" (May the holy cross always be my light! May the dragon never be my guide!)
  • In the angles of the cross, the letters "CSPB," which stands for "Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti" (The cross of our holy father Benedict)
  • Around the margin are the letters, "VRSNSMV-SMQLIVB," which is a Latin prayer of exorcism against Satan, "Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas!" (Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!)

May Our Lady Queen of Peace, inspire and guide you in your selection.

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