(A Letter from Pope Saint John Paul II to the Bishop of Grenoble in 1996, on the 150th anniversary of the vision at La Salette)
To the Most Reverend Louis Dufaux, Bishop of Grenoble
This year the diocese of Grenoble, the Missionaries of La Salette, and many of the faithful throughout the world, will celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin on this peak of the Alps from which her message has been unceasingly heralded. Such a commemoration has a rich potential of grace, and I want to share in it, in union with the pilgrims who come to venerate the Mother of the Lord under the title of Our Lady Reconciler of sinners.
Mother of the Saviour, Mother of the Church, Mother of all, Mary journeys with each one on the pilgrimage of life. The preparation of the great Jubilee of the Redemption intensifies, and this year, consecrated to the anniversary of the apparition of Mary to Maximin and Melanie, represents a significant step toward it. In this pIace, Mary, a Mother filled with love, manifested her sadness in the face of the moraI evil of humanity. Her tears help us better understand the painful gravity of sin, the denial of God, as well as the passionate fidelity that her Son, the Redeemer, maintains toward her children despite a love wounded and rejected.
The message of La Salette was given to two young shepherds at a time of great suffering. Peoples were scourged by famine, subjected to many injustices. Indifference or hostility toward the gospel message worsened. As she appeared bearing on her breast the likeness of her crucified Son, Our Lady showed herself associated to the work of salvation, experiencing compassion for the trials of her children, suffering when they strayed from the Church of Christ as they forgot or rejected the presence of God in their lives, the blessedness of his Name.
The wide diffusion of the event of La Salette bears convincing attestation that the message of Mary is not contained solely within the suffering expressed by her tears. The Virgin bids us regain spiritual composure. She invites us to penance, to perseverance in prayer, and especially to fidelity in the observance of Sunday. Through the witness of the two children, she asks that her message be made known to all her people. Indeed, the children’s voice was heard. Pilgrims came. There were many conversions. Mary appeared in a light reminiscent of the splendor of a humanity transformed by the Resurrection of Christ: La Salette is a message of hope a hope sustained by the intercession of her who is the Mother of all peoples. Our alienations are not irreparable. The night of sin surrenders to the light of divine mercy. Human suffering properly accepted can contribute to purification and salvation. The arm of the Son of Mary will not weigh upon, not condemn, the people who walk humbly in the pathway of the Lord. Christ will take the outstretched hand into his own, and lead to new life the sinner reconciled by the grace of the Cross.