By: Brian Isenbarger
Years ago, I had a revelation about apparitions of Mary. While the Blessed Mother did not appear to me in a dream or in country side field, she certainly made her presence known. I was in the eighth grade at the local Catholic school, and several devoted ladies from the Blue Army came to my class and told us all about Our Lady’s appearance at Fatima. I had never heard of the apparition before and found myself quite surprised at the story of the Miracle of the Sun and the faith of Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia. But shortly thereafter I quickly realized that the apparition was just not that important.
Do I believe the occurrences at Fatima actually happened? Absolutely. Do I love Our Lady deeply? I recite the rosary daily and have a scapular around my neck right now. But her appearance at Fatima and any other apparition sites are just that – a mere appearance of the Blessed Mother. While they are certainly supernatural appearances which would cause extraordinary wonder in all of us – the appearances of Our Lady are nothing compared to the greatest supernatural event in human history: the Holy Mass.
In the Holy Mass, the Eternal Word of God appears to us in the Scriptures, and then makes Himself present to us in the Eucharist. In other words, not only does God Himself proclaim a divine message to us in the Liturgy of the Word, but then He gives Himself totally to us in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion! In all reality, there is nothing which can compare to the gift of the Holy Mass – not even a miraculous appearance of Our Lady. An apparition is the appearance of heaven; communion is its reception. The former points to the ladder.
All of this revealed two things to me. First, Our Lady’s appearances always find their greatest importance in the way she points away from herself and to her Son. Secondly, I realized my own lack in wonder and awe for the greatest gift ever given to humanity in the Eucharist. If we truly received the gift of the Mass with the love and devotion corresponding to the reality of the event – how different the world would be! Think about the graces which still flow from Fatima or Lourdes. Yet, those are only the fruits of the salvific event which is commemorated at every Holy Mass. In other words, infinitely more graces are waiting to be given at each and every Mass for the salvation of souls and conversion of hearts.
In short, it is in the Eucharist that God displays the greatest scandal of His love. While most of us think of certain days (weddings, ordinations, the birth of children, etc.) as the greatest days of our lives, it seems the greatest day of our lives is actually the day we experience most frequently: the day we attend Mass and go to Holy Communion. For it is precisely on those days which divinity dwells in our own humanity and salvation takes place in our own beings. Indeed, it is for this reason that the Catechism (1324) calls the Eucharist the “source and summit of the Christian life.”
As we began this new year beginning on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, may we beg her intercession to have the corresponding wonder for Holy Mass that should infinitely surpass the wonder we would have at any one of her appearances. After all, compared to her Son, Mary herself doesn’t think her appearances are all that important.