Conception and Contraception: Virgin Mary and Margaret Sanger

The Miraculous Medal containing the Image of the Immaculate Conception

The Miraculous Medal containing the Image of the Immaculate Conception

I.  Immaculate Conception

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  As defined by Pope Pius IX last December 8, 1854 in his encyclical,Ineffabilis Deus:

 “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”

Four years after, Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous on March 25, 1858 and proclaimed her title:

“I am the Immaculate Conception” (“que soy era immaculada concepciou”)

But two decades before this, on November 27, 1830, the Virgin Mary already appeared to Catherine Soubirous instructing her to promote the devotion to the Miraculous Medal:

According to an account written by Catherine’s own hand, Mary was clothed in a robe of auroral light and her robe had a high neck and plain sleeves. According to Catherine’s notes, the medal should also have half a globe upon which Mary’s feet rest, hands raised up to her waist, fingers filled with diamond rings of different sizes giving off rays of light, and a frame slightly oval with golden letters saying, “O Mary! conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!” Her fingers each had three rings and the largest stones emitted the most brilliant rays. She added that some of the diamonds did not give off rays.

Mary, the Immaculate Conception, was conceived without sin.

II. Margaret Sanger and Contraception

It is interesting how the modern world has turned this statement upside down by telling each woman around the world: “Mary, to conceive is to sin.”  In 1914, sixty years after the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception in Ineffabilis Deus, Margaret Sanger wrote an 8-page monthly newsletter on contraception with the slogan, “No Gods, No Masters.”  In 1917, she published the monthly periodical, The Birth Control Review.  In 1921, she founded the American Birth Control League, with the following guiding principles:

“We hold that children should be (1) Conceived in love; (2) Born of the mother’s conscious desire; (3) And only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health. Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied.”

With the support of the Rockefeller family, Sanger created the Clinical Research Bureau, a birth control clinic, which later gave rise to the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 1952–a name which Sanger deplored because it is too euphemistic.  Planned Parenthood is the number one abortion provider in the US and is one of the major supporters of the Reproductive Health Law in the Philippines.

The guiding principles of the American Birth Control League has discriminated against babies that were not born in love or the mother’s conscious decision or were simply sickly

As part of her efforts to promote birth control, Sanger found common cause with proponents of eugenics, believing that they both sought to “assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit.”[73] Sanger was a proponent of negative eugenics, which aims to improve human hereditary traits through social intervention by reducing reproduction by those considered unfit. Sanger’s eugenic policies included an exclusionary immigration policy, free access to birth control methods and full family planning autonomy for the able-minded, and compulsory segregation or sterilization for the profoundly retarded.[74][75] In her book The Pivot of Civilization, she advocated coercion to prevent the “undeniably feeble-minded” from procreating.[76] Although Sanger supported negative eugenics, she asserted that eugenics alone was not sufficient, and that birth control was essential to achieve her goals

Notice the Darwinian undercurrents in Sanger’s pronouncements: “Survival of the fittest, removal of the unfit.”  But it will not be nature who will define who will be the fittest and the unfit; rather, it will be Margaret Sanger or the woman or Planned Parenthood or the State.  This is what Pope Paul VI prophesied in 1968 in his Encyclical, Humanae Vitae:

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

And true enough, Pres. Aquino has fulfilled this prophecy when he signed in December 21, 2012 the  Republic Act No. 10354, An Act Providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health.

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19th Century Apparitions in France: Rue du Bac, La Salette, and Lourdes

Bro. Francis Mary Kalvelage F. F. I., ed., You Will Make This Known to All My People: 19th Century Apparitions in France–Rue du Bac, La Salette, and Lourdes (Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, Our Lady’s Chapel, New Bedford, MA USA, 1998), 182 pages.  Imprimatur by Most Rev. Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., Bishop of Fall River, Mass., USA, 8 Dec 1998, Feast of Immaculate Conception.  Preface by Fr. John Hardon S.J.

[Note: There is a new edition by Ignatius Press with an additional shrine of Pontmain (Our Lady of Hope).  The new edition is entitled, Marian Shrines of France.  This is available in the F.F.I. Immaculate Mediatrix Online bookstore. Price: $12.50.  (PROD ID: SMS-MSF007, 198 pp, perfect bound, illustrated.)]

This book is a a collection of essays on the three 19th century apparitions in France: Rue du Bac, La Sallete, Lourdes.  But why France?

In modern times, it seems, France has been more a prodigal daughter of the Church than her “Eldest Daughter.”  The history of Catholicism in France has been a glorious and turbulent one: at times France has been a great defender of the Church and at other times, her greatest adversary.

Christianity arrived there in the middle of the Second Century in the area around what is now the city of Lyons, at that time a part of the Roman province of Gaul.  Its first bishop, Hilary, was martyred but by the middle of the Third Century, there were over 30 bishoprics.  Much of this expansion was due no doubt to the first Saint to be canonized other than a martyr, namely the popular St. Martin of Tours.  When the Vandals and Franks overran the country, the brought with them the Arian heresy, which caused much confusion and falling away from the Faith.  Following the conversion and baptism of King Clovis in 496, the Franks were converted.  But it wasn’t until two centuries later that the Christianization of France was completed.  From that time on virtually every development and important event revolved around the Catholic Church–through the periods of the Carolingians, feudalism, the Middle Ages and monarchies right up to the Eighteenth Century and the French revolution.

It was that revolution and the bloody persecution of the Church that caused a devastating break between church and state and the introduction of the strictly secular state.  This break with the past Christian roots of France was symbolized and made visible in her national flag.  For centuries the French flag had the fleurs-de-lis on a blue field.  They every symbolized the Christian virtue of purity and the Immaculate Virgin in particular, thus uniting Mary and the Church with French patriotism.  The present tricolor was introduced at the time of the French revolution when religion was being exiled from public life.  But love and loyalty to the Church could never by taken away from the hearts of Frenchmen.  Our Lady saw to that.  (pp. 1-2 by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate)

The book does not only tell the story of the apparitions, but also provides character sketches of seers, the meaning of the message, the subsequent developments, and the testimonials on the miracles.  Like a diamond cut in a multitude of facets, this book is a gem.

PREFACE

by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.

Saints and Marian Shrines are gaining in popularity.  Thus, the series of Marian Saints and Shrines, of which this book is the third, is well-timed.  The present Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has been criticized for the numerous men and women, clerical and lay, whom he has beatified and canonized in the last two decades, much more than any previous pontiff.  Recently, he announced that there will be many more beatifications and canonizations in celebrating the second millennium of Christianity.  All of this points to the fact that we are living in extraordinary times.  As the saying goes “where evil abounds, good abounds that much more.”  St. Louis de Montfort predicted in his great spiritual classic, True Devotion to Mary, “God will raise up great saints towards the end of time,” and these saints will be noted for their true devotion (total consecration) to the Blessed Mother.

In recent decades there has been a diminution of the cult of the saints.  One has to but look at the number of lives of the saints, books that have been written in the last thirty years, compared to the previous thirty years.  But one can say today that the trend is gradually changing.  The series of books on Marian Saints and Shrines published by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, is one indication to that fact.  Ignatius Press, possibly the largest Catholic book distributor in the country, has carried in their catalogues the first two books in this series.  The Guadalupe Handbook and St. Therese, Doctor of the Church.  They have found that there is a growing market for books of this type.

. . .

Thus again, the vital importance of showing Mary’s presence in our times, in particular through her apparitions and her admonitions at Lourdes, La Salette and other Church-approved apparitions.  It is a well-known fact, besides the physical cures at these shrines, there are countless spiritual lepers, or sinners, who have been cleansed and reconciled to God.  So I welcome this latest and third in the series of Marian Saints and Shrines.  May it increase the number of those who are sincerely striving to become Saints.  As Mother Theresa used to say to priests, even at this time of shortage of vocations, “We do not need more priests but holy priests.”  That can apply to all of us.  For the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ is built up by “little people,” the saints, and will triumph ultimately united to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

CONTENTS

Part I.  From a Historical Perspective

  1. The Eldest Daughter of the Church is Marian
  2. Mary, Mother of the Church
  3. The Ballad and the Message

Part II.  Rue du Bac, Paris 1830–Mary’s First Message to the Modern World

  1. Revelation of the Medal called Miraculous
  2. The Triple Mission
  3. Rich Symbolism of the Miraculous
  4. The Conquest of a Rabid Anti-Catholic
  5. The “Bullets” Hit the Mark
  6. The Saint of Silence

Part III.  La Sallete, 1846, The Madonna in Tears Appears as the Reconciler of Sinners

  1. A Mother Weeps for Her Children
  2. How She Touched the Most Hardened Sinners
  3. He Skied Into Mary’s Arms
  4. “. . . The Seventh I Kept for Myself”
  5. A Cautious “Mother” Investigates
  6. Why Believe in Private Revelations
  7. Faithful to Their Mission
  8. What about the Secret?
  9. The Lady Gives a Lesson in Theology
  10. The Ars Incident

Part IV.   Lourdes, 1858, The Immaculate Virgin of the Grotto and Her Sainted Seer

  1. The Lady of the Grotto
  2. The Brave Little Heroine
  3. Lady Poverty Finds a Home
  4. School of Evangelical Penance
  5. The Penetrating Sweetness of that Smile
  6. Pope Pius XII Remembers Lourdes
  7. A Most Astounding Miracle
  8. “I Met a Miracle”
  9. Where the Miraculous Confronts the Science-Skeptics
  10. Interview of Doctor from the International Medical Committee
  11. Human Interest Side of Medical Bureau
  12. Two Novelists Went to Lourdes
  13. The Real Bernadette
  14. He Wrote About Lourdes and the Immaculate Conception
  15. The Two Things Go Together
  16. Guardian and Teacher of the Faith
  17. She Pushed Back the Germans
  18. Bernadette Speaks from the Heart

Ordering Information:

The following information is from the book’s last page (This was still in 1998; the website address is still valid):

Special bulk rates are available with 10% to 60% discount depending on the number of books, plus postage.  For ordering books and further information:

Academy of the Immaculate, POB 667, Valatie NY 12184, phone/FAX (518) 758-1584.  E-mail Mimike@pipeline.com.

Quotations on bulk rates shipped directly by the box from the printery, contact:

Friars of the Immaculate, P.O. Box 3003, New Bedford, MA 02740, (508) 984-1856, FAX (508) 996-8296, E-mail ffi@ici.net, http://www.marymediatrix.com.

The FFI website is Immaculate Mediatrix Online (same address as above).  The book may be purchased in their bookstore here.

Here is a tabular list of bookstores for the book “Marian Shrines of France”:

Company Price Type In Stock Delivery
Immaculate Mediatrix Online
$12.50 softcover Yes
The Catholic Company $12.50 softcover Yes 1-2 business days
Family Publications
£ 9.95 (UK) paperback Yes
All Catholic Books
$12.50($9.70) softcover(paperback) Yes
EWTN Religious Catalogue
$13.00 softcover Yes
Freedom Publishing
AUD 25.95 paperback Yes 1-2 business days
Amazon
£ 24.23 to £ 86.20 Used and new books Yes
Leaflet Missal
$13.95 Softcover Yes
The Abbey Shop
£ 9.95 paperback Yes

Updated: 10 Feb 2009