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AS TIME RUNS THROUGH THE HOUR GLASS BISHOPS REMAIN UNAWARE OF AMERICA APPARITION -- AND ITS URGENT REQUEST
American bishops appear largely unaware of the call from the Virgin Mary as she spoke to a nun in Ohio to install a statue at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception -- a move the Virgin promised would lead to special protection for America.
It was way back in the 1950s that Mary, in messages granted to Sister Mildred Mary Ephrem Neuzil of Fostoria, requested that a statue of "Our Lady of America" -- the title under which she appeared to Sister Neuzil -- be installed at the shrine after a solemn procession in our nation's capital. However, according to Monsignor Michael J. Bransfield, rector of the shrine, there have been no directives from the American Conference of Bishops -- which has jurisdiction over the shrine -- nor indeed an indication that they are even aware of the requests, made in a revelation that had the support of Sister Neuzil's spiritual director, Archbishop Paul F. Leibold of Cincinnati.
"Tell the bishops of the United States, my loyal sons, of my desires and how I wish them to be carried out," said the Virgin in messages granted an imprimatur. "Through him who is head over you, make known the longings of my Immaculate Heart to establish the reign of my Divine Son in the hearts of men and thus save them from the scourge of heaven, both now and hereafter."
If her requests were met (not only for the statue, but for the U.S. to set itself as an example of purity), the Virgin promised wonders similar to those at Lourdes and Fatima, and most importantly promised that the U.S. would spiritually lead the world. But since the Fifties the U.S. has strayed in the opposite direction. As time grows short, we recall that similar requests -- such as the one at Fatima to consecrate Russia -- met with gargantuan effects. According to Fatima seer Sister Lucia dos Santos the consecration of the world by Pope John Paul II in 1984, which was done in concert with the world's bishops, prevented a nuclear war from occurring in 1985. Through history, other devotions have had similar effects. Across Europe installation of statues upon requests of the Virgin at various apparitions during the 15th and 16th centuries prevented bubonic plague from returning to countless villages and ravaging whole regions.
Now a similar request has been made in what appears to be the first apparition to reach first-stage ecclesiastic approval in America. Indeed, the apparition of Our Lady of America was commemorated by Archbishop Leibold by the striking of a medal, transmission of an "Our Lady of America" statue to the Vatican, and construction of a plaque.
But there is still the burning issue of a statue at the shrine -- already dedicated to her Immaculate Conception -- and the question: Will we continue to ignore the request or take action and open the opportunity for blessings at this critical juncture?
It's not the bishops' fault. As we have said, most are still not even aware of it. A small, dedicated group of women who knew Sister Neuzil has been attempting to approach the bishops, but thus far there has been no great following. It's our duty to help them let the bishops know. It's our duty to show Church authorities our interest. Last spring, when we first ran stories on the apparition, there was a deluge of response. Now we have to tap that energy and approach the proper authorities in a grass-roots way, for as the message said -- and as we saw September 11 -- "the hour grows late."
Construct a statue. Install it in the shrine. Dedicate it to the Virgin's purity. It's a simple request in a message granted an imprimatur by one of the most well-respected prelates in U.S. history and it would help her bring America back. "The response from the bishops has been that they really don't know much about it," Monsignor Bransfield told Spirit Daily Monday. "I don't think there's an active shrine [in Ohio]. We have no way of telling anything about the apparition. And we don't see it as an apparition that has a great following. For us to use these devotions, I would expect the American bishops to give it approbation."
That approbation may one day come. Hopefully it will be sooner than later. A petition to install the statue is now circulating [click here for one], and interest in this apparition is as intense as any we have seen in the past year (with the exception of Medjugorje). Only a grass-roots effort will overcome the obstacles.
It is good for the bishops to be circumspect. It is good for them to discern. But the request for the statue appears urgent. All we know for sure is that there has been stunningly little official consideration -- largely because prelates haven't seen a public response. "For us to in any way use these devotions, I would expect them to give us approbation and approval, so there's no question as to their veracity," said Monsignor Bransfield, who emphasized the need for a shrine erected in Ohio in association with an apparition, and then evidence of a following of the devout.
So it is that we have come to a point where it's time for the laymen -- who Sister Mildred predicted would lead the cause -- to let the bishops know how the rank-and-file feels. We urge you all to write Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, head of American bishops, by clicking here, and also to contact your local bishops [see here for faxes and addresses], or e-mail them (scroll down for your diocese). There's little time for delay. "I come to you, O children of America," said Our Lady of America, "as a last resort."
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