By Robert A. Macdonald, C.Ss.R., written 1948
It is my conviction, that despite all the wars, the threats and the horror of Communism, we are living in the happiest of centuries. Never since the days that she taught the Infant Jesus to pray has the Mother of God been closer to the earth. We are living in the Age of Mary. Countless signs show us that she has come down from the Galilean hills of heaven to give us a new Bethlehem, a reborn Christ in the hearts of men. Germany, Italy, Portugal and France have been singularly blessed by her gentle presence. From all sides witnesses spring up to attest with wondrous proofs, her presence among us. She is walking on the earth!
However, there is a dark side to the picture today, the darkness of the beast. He prowls to trample and destroy. Never has he been so apparent. His time is growing short. No one knows better than he. He has never forgotten the prophecy in the garden: "I will put enmitites between thee and the woman... she shall crush thy head" (Gen. 3:15).
He realizes well what the coming of Mary means to him and his empire. God alone knows the furious activity of hell, the rage with which it strives to make this world a madhouse of hate. How he must hate the tender Virgin as she journeys from country to country. His power has been so great that he thought God had abandoned the world because of its unbelief. He was hopeful of finally conquering the world, of snatching souls from the nail-scarred Hands of Christ. Then came Lourdes, then Fatima and, today, the Mother of God sitting at the bedside of a sick world.
For years he has succeeded in hiding the beautiful devotion of her Immaculate Heart in the Green Scapular. I am sure that most of you have heard of this matchless devotion only lately. Yet the good Sister to whom it was revealed died over forty years ago. This is not surprising. See how well the evil spirit hid the marvels of Fatima although Our Lady's power flamed in the heavens before fifty thousand men and women.
Let me tell you the stroy of how I discovered the Green Scapular. This is my only way of trying to spread a true and tender love to her Immaculate Heart and of paying my debt to her. Seven years ago, before penicillin was in use, I was lying in a hospital very ill with pneumonia. I began to hemorrhage and the doctors decided to operate as a last resource. Then a little nun came into my room.
"Father, have you great faith in the Mother of God, especially in her Immaculate Heart? If so, you can be cured."
"Through the Green Scapular."
"What is that?"
"Four years ago, Father, I was operated on for cancer. I was so filled with it, that they just closed me up and sent me away to die. Then I prayed to Our Lady of the Green Scapular; grew tired of waiting to die and came back to work. I am cured, Father. Do you want me to give you a Scapular?"
With that she put one over my head. A feeling of tremendous confidence poured into me and the bleeding stopped. Two days later, in the X-ray rooom, they asked me when the hemorrhage had ceased. When I replied that it was a matter of a couple of days, they expressed great surpriese.
"Your have a wound that is six months healed and there is no other mark." Today even the scars are gone. No wonder I speak of an unpayable debt to her Immaculate Heart. Since then I have done everything possible to foster this devotion. To my great joy and amazement, those to whom I have spoken of the Green Scapular have become more zealous than I. Never have I seen the equal of the faith and confidence of these new apostles of Mary. The tremendous fervor of the crusades must have been like it.
During May I aksed the rector of St. Patrick's, Toronto, for permission to speak of it at the Wednesday devotions. I had a thousand Green Scapulars on hand, but no one thought that more than thirty would be asked for. The thousand were gone the first morning. The room where we distributed them was so jammed that I fearded someone would be injured. The rest of the day I was besieged on all sides for more. Foolishly, I showed the one I had for myself and it was quickly snatched from my hand.
The spirit in Toronto today is beyond belief. Ten thousand more have been too few. Over twenty-five priests have come to our monastery begging for scapulars. I have been stopped on the streets and accosted on trains by total strangers asking where these Scapulars could be obtained. Montreal has since shown a like fervor.
I am stunned at the response. I have no explanation for it. Certainly it was not due to the simple little sermon that I preached. I believe the explanation of it was given by a priest with all the simplicity of the priesthood: "She wants her heart loved."
Those who doubted in the beginning are today the most devoted to the Green Scapular. It has become something priceless. They love to say the beautiful prayer which we learned from Mary's lips:
"Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death."
Toronto today is feeling the warmth of that heart. A man, who had refused for years to see a priest, remained adamant on his deathbed. One of the family brought the Scapular into his room, said the prayer twice and, suddleny out of a clear sky, he begged for a priest.
I must insist that the peculier power of this Scapular is that of conversion. To bring her Son into the hearts of men. To give Him a new birth there. Although there are many cures like my own, I repeat, her greatest desire is to give her Son birth in the cradle of your soul.
The Green Scapular is the story of Sister Justine Bisqueyburu. An orphan in early life, she was adopted by a wealthy relative who left her his fortune. Her greatest day of joy was November 27, 1839, when she entered the novitiate of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent of Paul in Paris. Her Sisters in religion are stationed in Maryland. Address: Sisters of Charity, Central House, Emmitsburg, Maryland.
They can tell you much better than I the story of a Sister who inspired love and emulation in everyone who met her. One who was a confidante of Peope Pius IX in the dark days preceding his imprisonment in the Vatican; one who was the admiration of the Mohammedans of North Africa; the recipient of the flattering imitation of the famous Florence Nightingale on the battlefields of the Crimea. They can tell you the great efforts she made to keep her identity unknown; how her secret was revealed. How the Green Scapular found its way to the desk of Pope Pius XI. They will repeat the description of the Mother of God, standing in all her beauty before the young novice, and returning again und again until the Scapular was made and distributed. Telling the young Sister that the Scapular could be blessed by any priest, carried or worn on the person, even left in one's room, the only obligation being to say, once a day (and this can be said in favor of another): "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death."
(The above article was published in the Madonna Magazine, August 1948, and was copied with permission by the Quarterly Bulletin of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Agony. March, 1949. It also appeared in Fatima Findings, September, 1949, published by the Reparation Society of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Baltimore, Maryland.)