The Deeper Message of Pellevoisin

The statue marking the place where Our Lady appeared to Estelle Faguette, in the shrine at Pellevoisin

Reflections on my Pilgrimage to Pellevoisin… on the day when Cardiff Pilgrims begin their journey to the International Eucharistic Congress with a 6 a.m. service of prayer at Llantarnam Abbey.

So far we have reflected on the invitation to wear a particular kind of scapular and the spiritual message implicit in this, and also the explicit call for a greater reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament. But this is not to exhaust the depths of the message of Pellevoisin. There is also a lesson for us in the timing of the revelations…

On many occassions, Our Lady counselled the visionary Estelle Faguette to be “calm”. Twice in July Estelle was exhorted to “be calm” and to be “still more calm”. When the Scapular of the Sacred Heart was shown to Estelle for the first time on September 9, Our Lady explains that Estelle’s frame of mind was crucial:

You deprived yourself of a visit from me on the 15th of August; you were not sufficiently calm. You have indeed the French character, wishing to know all without learning anything, and to understand everything before knowing it. I would have come to you yesterday, too; again you deprived yourself of it. I was waiting for this act of submission and obedience from you.

There was a message here not only for Estelle, but all those who heeded the apparitions at Pellevoisin. On the night of Estelle’s healing in February, Our Lady declared:

What afflicts me most is the want of respect shown by some people to my Divine Son in the Holy Communion and the attitude taken for prayer, when, at the same time the mind continues occupied with other things. I say this for people who pretend to be pious.

Choosing to pray requires an act of will; choosing to remain focussed in time notionally given to prayer requires considerable effort. Estelle missed out on an earlier apparition because she had not chosen to give time to prayer, or to allow sufficient time and space for her prayer to be recollected.

Most of us have probably had the experience of being put “on hold” by a friend whose mobile phone has rung in the middle of a conversation; perhaps we measure the importance of our relationship with the phone’s owner by the brevity with which the call is dealt. How do we deal with our own incoming calls? How do we create time and space for our conversation with God in a way which gives respect to the King of Kings?

I am not a “morning person”, and throughout seminary and for the first five years of my priesthood, I made it my rule to give the “first available” time in the working day to God. Often that time slipped because of the “must do” and “just do” jobs. Once the day gets going and phone calls or visitors arrive, there are things I must do. And in odd fragments of time there are things I’ll “just do” before I pray – but the 5-minute job easily ends up taking 20, and too often my prayer time had slipped to the end of the day; it got done (usually) but when tired, distractions were common and the effort needed seemed so much greater.

At the start of Lent this year I decided I was going to have to bow to the inevitable: the only way to put God first was to literally put God first, rising early enough to give God an hour of prayer before the phone was likely to start ringing. God will not be outdone in generosity, and I have experienced the months since Lent as months of considerable blessing.

So why not give it a go – try praying first? If you are battling with distractions, fear not: help is at hand.