In this video, Fr. John Freund, CM, Social Communications Ministry, St. Vincent’s Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, discusses the apparition of Our Lady of Gietrzwald and reflects on how we can embrace the Blessed Mother’s example during Lent.
I was surprised to learn of these Church-approved apparitions in Poland, in 1877, some 30 years prior to Fatima. Mary appeared to 13-year-old Justyna coming home from her pre-Communion examination. And three days later, to 12-year-old Barbara, while praying the rosary. Now Sister Barbara* experienced a vision at the foot of a maple tree in front of the church. She described Our Lady as seated on a throne among angels, with Jesus on her knee. When she asked who this lady was, the lady replied, “I am the most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception.” She then asked Our Lady, what did Mary want? And Mary said, “Pray the rosary daily.” There were two other questions: whether the Church in the kingdom of Poland would be freed and orphaned (abandoned) parishes in Southern Warsaw area would have priests again. Our Lady replied that if people prayed fervently, the Church would not be persecuted, and those parishes would regain priests. Why are these apparitions important to us today? Well, for one thing, it’s another one of the apparitions of Mary to the poor. And children. And her message was always, “Pray.”
This Lent, let’s take some time to pray, as Mary asked us to pray. I think it would be particularly appropriate in this Lent, to pray for the coming of the Kingdom, to the world, but especially to our own hearts. To recognize that God cares for us. Even the children. God cares for every man, woman, and child, and asks us to care in a like manner. Prayer takes many forms; it can be in words, such as the rosary, but it can also be in actions. And the lesson for us during this Lent would be: Who do we look out for? Who do we reach out to? Who are the cries of the poor, that Jesus her Son constantly listened to? He always listened to those who were the outcasts. And so, in this apparition, along with many other apparitions, the challenge for us is to do this in memory of Him who went out to seek out the outcasts, and following the example of Mary.
*Following the apparitions, both the visionaries entered the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul