Monday, October 02, 2006

Our Lady of America

Sister Mary Ephrem (1916-2000) started having mystical experiences in 1938. She was born in Brooklyn to Austrian immigrants, and was christened Mildred Neuzil. At the age of thirteen she became associated with the Order of the Precious Blood Sisters, and later in life she became a Contemplative of the Inner Trinity.

In September of 1956, she began to have visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary (peace be with her) as "Our Lady of America." The messages she received in such visions and also in visions of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, and St. Joseph centered on purity, the sanctity of the family, and veneration of Our Lady through shrines, medallions, statues, pilgimages, and other devotions. In all of this she was supported by her personal religious director, then Monsignor Paul F. Leibold, who later became Archbishop, had wooden carvings made and a medallion cast.
Medal ObverseMedal Reverse
"It is the United States that is to lead the world to peace, the peace of Christ, the peace that He brought with Him from heaven," Sister Mary Ephrem quoted The Virgin as saying. "Dear children, unless the United States accepts and carries out faithfully the mandate given to it by heaven to lead the world to peace, there will come upon it and all nations a great havoc of war and incredible suffering. If, however, the United States is faithful to this mandate from heaven and yet fails in the pursuit of peace because the rest of the world will not accept or cooperate, then the United States will not be burdened with the punishment about to fall."
Our Lady of America

In the course of approving the writings of Sister Mary Ephrem, Monsignor Paul F. Leibold considered the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title, "Our Lady of America" (basically referring to the United States of America), as distinct from her title, "Empress of The Americas" (referring to Our Lady of Guadalupe, as declared by Pope Pius XII in 1945, as having patronage over all the American nations). Our Lady of America (in the singular) focuses primarily on the United States of America as revealed in 1956.

If this seems innocuous enough, and we see that the message conveyed by the good sister is one of peace, there are those who would interpret the message as one that links traditional Catholic triumphalism with right wing politics in the US.

In a recent homily, Fr. Peter M. Fehlner, F.I., has warned: "In the face of the worldwide disaster which could be the first and immediate result of a nuclear conflict between two forms of tyranny: Islam and the secularized western nations, the relevance of the messages of Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Coredemptrix, are [sic] perfectly evident." He continues with a call for the "repudiation of contraception and the contraceptive mentality, abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage and all that directly attacks and undermines the sanctity of the family..." Notice, that he considers not any particular form of Islamic government nor any particular Muslim dictatorship to be a form of tyranny, but Islam itself.
Sr. Mildred Mary
Sister Mary Ephrem reports that in November 1956 she was taught the following prayer by the apparition of Our Lady of America: "By thy Holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, deliver us from evil."

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