Catechetical Chaos, Fiery Chastisement & Our Lady of Good Help: “Teach the Children Their Catechism"
Hugh Owen | The Daily Knight
Glory to Jesus Christ! In the entire history of the United States of America, there has only been one approved apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the apparition of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin, in 1859. According to the official website of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help:
Our Lady appeared in October 1859 to a Belgian immigrant woman, Adele Brise, on the grounds of Champion Shrine, when the town was known as Robinsonville. Adele Brise was instructed, in a series of locutions by Our Lady, to “make a general confession, pray and offer communion for the conversion of sinners and to gather the children in the wild country to teach them what they needed to know for their salvation.” She further instructed Adele, to “teach the children their catechism, how to make the sign of the cross and how to approach the sacraments.” Mary ended by saying: “That is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.”
Sister Mary Adele Brise (1831-1896)
These locutions by Our Lady of Good Help became the foundation of a life-long legacy of catechetical mission work by Brise with local families. She traveled on foot in a 50-mile radius around the present-day Shrine to teach and instruct as she was told by Mary. Adele’s father later built a chapel on the apparition site where she also began her teaching work.
“Teach Them Their Catechism” Adele said Mary identified Herself as “the Queen of Heaven” and told her, “Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation. Teach them their catechism . . .”
Just seven years before the apparition of Our Lady of Good Help to Adele Brise, the Bishops of the United States had met in council in Baltimore and resolved to produce a national catechism for the Catholics of the whole country, modeled on the 1597 Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine. In his catechism, St. Robert Bellarmine had taught unequivocally that God created the heavens, the earth, the seas and all they contain in six 24-hour days and rested from His finished work of creation on the seventh day, just as God had written on the tablets of stone on Mt. Sinai. According to St. Robert:
God fulfilled the creation of the whole world on the Sabbath; therefore, in memory of such a benefit, namely, the creation of the world, He wanted that day to be sanctified . . . if the Jews worshiped on the Sabbath in memory of the created world because creation was completed on that day, then we certainly celebrate Sunday in memory of the same creation, but by a better law, begun on Sunday.
When instructing students on the necessity of supernatural faith in the mysteries of God, St. Robert’s Catechism shows that God’s revelation in Genesis regarding the origins of man and the universe requires neither more nor less faith than His revelation in the Holy Gospels about the Incarnation of the Son of God in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
The secret mysteries of God, even if they are not understood, nevertheless must be believed. For there are a great many things God can do which we cannot comprehend by our genius, therefore in the beginning of the Creed it was said that God is Almighty. Moreover, we have a handsome example in the creation of this world. You know the earth does not ordinarily produce on its own, if beforehand it was not plowed and not planted, or soaked with rain or burned by the sun; Just the same, in the beginning when it first produced grain, the earth was not plowed, nor planted, nor warmed and thus (in that manner of speaking) it was altogether virgin; and only through the command of Almighty God through the power of the same God, at that very moment, it produced wheat and grain. So the virginal womb of Mary, without any human commerce, solely from the command of God, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, produced that most precious grain, clearly the animated body of the Son of God.
With this beautiful instruction, St. Robert Bellarmine powerfully proclaims the coherence of the Catholic Faith when its source is acknowledged to be the authority of God; but he also exposes the incoherence that must follow on any attempt to place even part of the doctrine of the Faith on any other foundation than the authority of God revealing.
Catechetical Incoherence Today, Catholic intellectuals all over the world profess their faith in the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary while they deny the special creation of all of the different kinds of creatures at the beginning of time. Ask them why they believe that the sacred humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ was created in the womb of the Blessed Virgin at the moment of the Incarnation, and they will have no choice but to admit that they believe this truth on the authority of the Holy Gospels, as they have been understood in the Church from the beginning. If you probe them further by asking, “But a woman’s womb has no natural potential to produce the body of a man, so what would you say to a skeptical natural scientist who claims that Virgin Birth of Our Lord and His Incarnation in the Virgin’s womb are impossible?” At this point, the theistic evolutionist can only repeat what he said before, that he believes this truth on the authority of the Holy Gospels, as they have been understood in the Church from the beginning. Even a simple believer without any “higher education,” might then be prompted to ask his intellectual brother or sister in Christ, “But if you believe that God created a man in the womb of a woman that had absolutely no potential to produce the body of a man, why do you not believe that the same God by His Word created in the sea, in the air and from the earth, not only the body of the first man, St. Adam, but a host of other creatures which the sea, the air and the earth had no natural power to produce?”
Holy Icon of the Fourth Day of Creation
Our interlocutor might reply that the Holy Gospels are historical books which contain eyewitness accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, whereas the book of Genesis is a kind of allegory, an “exalted myth,” which was never intended to be taken as a literal historical account of the creation and early history of the world. But if our interlocutor is a truth-loving, fair-minded man, we will have no difficulty in proving to him that all of the Apostles, Fathers and Doctors of the Church considered Genesis from beginning to end to be a sacred history, so that there is no more reason to take God at His Word in the Gospel of St. Mark than there is to take Him at His Word in the Book of Genesis! The Character of God and of His Blessed Mother Excludes Theistic Evolution When the Queen of Heaven told Adele Brise to teach the children of her area, Adele asked Her, “How can I teach them when I know so little?” To this, the Queen of Heaven replied, “I do not mean the science of the world. Teach them their catechism.” Less than two months after the Queen of Heaven made this request, Charles Darwin published his world-changing book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. With this in mind, let us ask ourselves two important questions. Question #1: When the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Adele Brise, did She know the true origin of man and the universe? Answer: Certainly, She did! Possessed of the Beatific Vision, it would have been impossible for the Blessed Virgin not to know, in God, the true origin of man and the universe—knowledge that She had already been given during her life on earth through the Book of Genesis and, according to Venerable Maria of Agreda, by being shown the work of the six days of creation in vision, just as they were shown to Moses. Question #2: In light of the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary definitely knew the true origin of man and the universe, is it possible that the Immaculate Conception would ask Adele Brise to teach her children a catechism that was not true—a catechism that told her children that God directly created all of the different kinds of creatures of the sea, land and air, including St. Adam body and soul and St. Eve from Adam’s side, in six days, when She knew that God actually used hundreds of millions of years of the same kinds of material processes going on now to evolve the bodies of the first human beings in the womb of a sub-human primate? Answer: No, it is not possible! This simple pair of questions and answers suffices to prove that the character of God remains the most powerful and irrefutable argument against all the deviations from the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation—be it theistic evolutionism, progressive creationism, or some other novelty. It is simply impossible for God or His Blessed Mother to command the Holy Church to teach a false account of the origins of man and the universe. Moreover, there is no doubt that the catechism that Sister Mary Adele Brise used to teach the children of her region taught them that God created the heavens, the earth, the seas and all they contain in six 24-hour days. As summarized in the Teacher’s Guide for the Baltimore Catechism which was mandated for use in every diocese in the United States during Sister Mary Adele’s lifetime:
In the beginning God created all things: something particular on each of the six days of creation . . . The chief things created [were] . . . Plants and trees . . . [and] men . . . The sun, moon, stars, etc. . . . All these are the works of God’s creation. All these he has called into existence by merely wishing for them (An Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism, 1891).
Can it be a mere coincidence that Our Lady commissioned Adele Brise to teach these truths to the children of her area less than two months before the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species called them all into question? Fire From Heaven There is one more aspect of Our Lady’s apparition in Champion that deserves our attention. When Our Lady of Good Help first appeared to Adele Brise, She told her: “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same.” Then, after Adele confirmed that she had gone to Holy Communion that morning, Our Lady added: “You have done well. But I wish you to do more. Pray for nine days. Go and make a general confession and offer your Holy Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert themselves and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.”
Our Lady of Akita The need for penance has been a recurring theme of the authentic apparitions of Our Lady in modern times, along with the threat of chastisements if penance is not done. On October 13, 1917, the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima warned of a terrible fiery chastisement, and in Akita, Japan, in 1973, on the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, Our Lady warned again:
If men do not repent and better themselves, the Heavenly Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the Deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by my Son.
With these words, Our Blessed Mother confirmed the global extent of the Noahic Flood, at the same time as She warned of a future, fiery global chastisement. The website of the Champion Shrine describes an event that occurred in the vicinity of the shrine in 1871 that would seem to prefigure on a local scale the global chastisement that now impends if the world does not repent:
On October 8, 1871, almost twelve years to the date of Mary’s last appearance, a Midwestern drought caused two of the worst fires in America’s history – one in Chicago and the other in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. The same drought caused an inferno that began raging through the rural area, threatening the chapel in the town of Robinsonville. Local families who had been involved with Adele Brise as part of her mission work in catechesis traveled during the fire to the chapel on the Shrine’s grounds, many with babies, small children and farm animals, to pray the rosary. On their knees and in procession all night long, as the areas near the Shrine were reduced to ashes, those who gathered at the Shrine prayed the rosary, asking Our Lady of Good Help for her intercession with her Son, Jesus, to save them from the fire. Their prayers were answered when the rains came and extinguished the fire, preserving the chapel and Shrine grounds.
In his account of the great fire, the local parish priest Father Peter Pernin described the scene on the morning of Sunday, October 9:
Morning's light revealed the deplorable ravages wrought by the conflagration. All the houses and fences in the neighborhood had been burned, with the exception of the school, the chapel and fence surrounding the six acres of land consecrated to the Blessed Virgin. This paling had been charred in several places, but the fire, as if it had been a sentient being, whilst consuming everything in the vicinity, the winding path surrounding the enclosure being only eight or ten feet wide, had respected this spot, sanctified by the visible presence of the Mother of God, and, it now shone cut, like an emerald island in a sea of ashes.
Lessons Contained in the Apparitions of Our Lady of Good Help Every authentic apparition of Our Blessed Mother contains important lessons, and the apparition of Our Lady of Good Help is no exception. It can hardly be a coincidence that the Queen of Heaven emphasized the teaching of the fundamental truths of the Faith including the six-day creation of all things less than two months before the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species—at a time when every approved catechism in the world taught the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation and the literal historical truth of the sacred history of Genesis. Our Lady’s commission to Sister Mary Adele, her warning, the fiery chastisement, and the miraculous preservation of Sister Mary’s chapel, school and grounds, all seem to point to this urgent conclusion: If we learn, obey, and teach the truths of the Catholic Faith, including the dogma of creation as it was handed down to us from the Apostles; and if we do penance for our sins and for the sins of the whole world, Our Lord and His Blessed Mother will watch over us and protect us, come what may. Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph, Hugh Owen
Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation