Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Pontmain, France, known more popularly as Our Lady of Hope. Appearing to six children on January 17, 1871, the Blessed Virgin encouraged them to persevere in prayer in order to obtain Heaven's help against an army of invaders.
In August 1870, less than six months before, the Prussian Army under Kaiser Wilhelm I had begun its military expansion into France and was closing in on Pontmain, having already invaded Paris just two days after Christmas. The villagers feared for their lives. Father Guerin, the parish priest, had instructed the children to pray to Our Lady for help.
About 5:00 p.m., young Eugene Barbadette was outside helping to feed the animals when he spotted a lady in the sky. He stood entranced by the vision of a tall lady wearing a long blue robe with gold stars, a black veil, and a gold crown. Later in the evening, he would see her holding a red Crucifix with the words "JESUS CHRIST." Soon his 10-year-old brother Joseph and their father joined him, but only Joseph could see the apparition. (This is common in nearly all approved apparitions of Our Lady, who most often chooses to appear to poor, country children who are pure in mind and body. Even the local teaching sisters could not see her.)
As the evening of January 17th deepened into night, the villagers prayed and sang hymns, even though they could not see anything out of the ordinary. As they did so, the children reported that a written scroll with gold letters was unfolding at Our Lady's feet with the following words, one sentence at a time:
"Mais priez mes enfants, Dieu vous exaucera dans peu de temps. mon Fils se laisse toucher."
"But pray, my children. God will hear you in a little while. My Son allows Himself to be moved."
And He did. While the people prayed, unbeknownst to them the Prussian general was receiving orders at that hour to withdraw. Thankfully, ten days later an armistice was signed officially ending the Franco-Prussian War. Some might say this is just a coincidence, but this isn't the first time the Blessed Virgin has obtained military victories for her children.
To read the full story of Our Lady of Pontmain, go here to Catholic Straight Answers.
Let us ask Our Lord in these very difficult times to give us the grace to grow in the saving virtue of hope and to remember that ultimately the best weapon we possess against evil in all its forms is prayer. Let us also remember that one of the greatest gifts we have received from God is His sweet mother as our heavenly advocate.
"But pray, my children.
God will hear you in a little while.
My Son allows Himself to be moved."
So I've been thinking a lot about how to disengage from MAGA -- not the acronym of our beleagured former leader's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," but the initials of that four-headed hydra of high tech: Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon, plus FT for Facebook and Twitter. Thankfully, I never got into tweeting, so that one at least I don't have to worry about. The rest, sadly, I am firmly attached and addicted to. They planned it like that, of course.
Apparently, I'm not the only one coming to realize the seriousness of this addiction. Going to my Google search (what other kind is there?) and typing in the words "alternatives to..." and guess what popped up? The most popular searches using this phrase are the MAGA-FT's.
They're all in cahoots with each other, making it even more difficult to disentangle ourselves. Even Weebly, the website hosting company I use (now owned by Square), gives me the option to log in using Google or Facebook. Why, I wonder, do they want to do this? What advantage do they gain from having access to my blog posts and other items on my website? Is it really any of their damned business? Apparently they believe it is. And how easy it is for us to just click once on a "Log in with Google" button rather than take the extra ten seconds to type in our log-in. We are the personification of sloth. Make it easy for us, and we'll do whatever you want.
I started using Firefox instead of Microsoft Explorer years ago, but that too was for the sake of convenience. Firefox is faster and less prone to bugs, privacy-focused rather than obsessed with upselling and upgrading every couple of years. I also opened a ProtonMail account, but Gmail has seemingly limitless free (free!) storage and larger print that's easier to read, so I don't use ProtonMail as much as I had planned. Make it easy, make it free, and we're hooked.
Thus far, to find alternatives to YouTube and its gross ads and limiting algorithms, I've checked out LBRY.com and it's video site, Odysee. But LBRY supports the ACLU, which does nasty things like forcing towns to remove their Nativity scenes from public property and helping special interest groups destroy small businesses with Christian values, so I won't be joining up.
There is, of course, an immediate alternative to YouTube and Fakebook. It's called real life. It involves picking up the phone and calling people, or going to their houses and dropping in to say hello. Unfortunately, that won't work well for people like me who are introverted, have trouble making small talk, and who, consequently, like to hide behind the screen. But at least it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one facing this (alternate) identity crisis.
Our endless, one might say insatiable, need for information and entertainment has led us to this crisis of the computer age. I am not willing to give up my iPhone for the simple fact that I feel unable to return to using a paper map to figure out where I'm going. I resisited buying one for years but now that I have, there's no turning back, at least in that sphere of influence. The rest I will tackle one at a time.
Imagine what would happen if all the hours we spent staring intently at our phones and tablets were instead directed towards acts of charity and prayer, good works and good words? When we stand before Christ, will our first impulse be to hit "record"? To gaze at Him through the screens of our smart phones and upload it to Facebook Live?
When I was a child, I remember having a recurring dream. I must have seen or heard something scary on t.v., something terrifying, because in my dream, I would rush to the t.v. and turn it off. I tried to make the scary thing go away. But somehow it came back on again, all by itself. I was powerless against it.
Take back your life from MAGA-FT. Do it now, before it's too late, if it isn't already. Because your life is worth more than watching videos, retweeting tweets, and posting memes. Jesus expects much more of us than that. We are capable, individually and as a nation, of infinitely more than that. And as long as we spend the majority of our free time engaged in these pointless amusements, provided free of charge thanks to the multi-billionaire-owned mega-corporations that invented them, we are slaves to their technologies and pawns in their grand designs. They are so insanely powerful that they could block a sitting president of the United States from using their platforms because they didn't like his policies or his personality.
When Trump supporters blocked from You Tube turned to Parler to engage in political discourse, some of whom were later found to be associated with the Capitol riots this month, Apple and Amazon shut them down. Companies should have the right to deny service (unless it's based on protected status such as race, gender, or disability). The problem is when the people who run all of our social media and communications and internet sales monopolies have a liberal agenda which they are hell-bent on pursuing, aka "The Reset." I'm sorry, but I'm not a computer, and I don't want or need your freaking reset.
What we really need is to consciously decide to disengage from their shiny, free, and easy traps and clutches. What we really need is to see we've been played, and to get mad as hell.
It won't be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Return to reality. I hope to see you there.
The opinions expressed on this website are my own personal views and do not necessarily represent those of the Catholic Church.
If I have erred in any statement, whether directly or by implication, in any matter pertaining to faith or morals, I humbly invite fraternal correction.