See How She Loves Us is about the times in history when the Mary the Mother of God visited her people in a special way at a particular place and to a particular group of people. These approved apparitions reveal the depth of God's love for us and prove that heaven observes our daily activities and the motions of our heart. The events recorded in Cruz's 50 approved apparitions also express God's desire for the propagation of the Catholic Faith and our adherence to her merciful requests.
See How She Loves Us: 50 Approved Apparitions of Our Lady by Joan Carroll Cruz, also author of The Incorruptibles and Eucharistic Miracles.
I like to read. I have sampled everything from Hank the Cow Dog and Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs to those books most loved by classical philosophers and Catholic theologians. See How She Loves Us by Cruz was something special. The book is about the moments in history when the Mother of God deigned to visit her children in a special way, and which confirms what the Church teaches with vigor: the Mother of God is truly our Mother as well and there are certain things that please her. The only reason I dared to purchase it considering the scandal of recent apparitions, was because Cruz has a book about incorruptibles with a wonderful picture of St. Bernadette on the front cover (please stop and consider what this might say about Cruz, a woman who seemingly finds something good and beautiful in dead bodies and will spend her time researching and writing about them), but mostly I dared because Cruz included the word “approved”, i.e. approved apparitions.
Cruz begins her book by noting what is required for private revelations to be approved. This has changed with time, but as of 1978, the local bishop has the primary responsibility to judge an apparition’s authenticity. The visions reported in her book either earned the approval of the Vatican, when they occurred, or of the local Bishop acting under the directives given by the Vatican. Those apparitions found in See How She Loves Us are then credible and worthy of belief.
In her book Cruz includes not only the well know apparitions of the miraculous medal, Fatima, Lourdes, La Salette, Knock, Guadalupe, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the conversion of the Jewish banker Marie Alphonse Ratisbonne, but also those apparitions only known in their own country. Our Lady appears in the most obscure places to those in need, to those who love her, to those who are living in sin, to those about to face a calamity. Cruz’s book reveals how intimately the Mother of God knows each of us and how her eyes are always upon her children, especially those in distress and those who call upon her motherly intercession. She desires our salvation, she desires to assist each of us in our pilgrimage or journey through life. She wants to be with us on our way like the truest of mothers.
Something that comes across pretty clearly is that Our Lady upholds Church teaching. She also summits her desires to the local Bishop out of respect for Church authority. What I loved about this book are how the Saints and holy Angels participated in the apparitions, aiding our lady as messengers and escorts. Our Lady is very sacramental; the apparitions are usually accompanied by some material good or physical aid. These include the healing of bodies, images miraculously found or created: a painting on a rock, a wooden statue hidden for 600 years, a medal cast and worn, a woolen cloth scapular as a sign of predestination. She is so maternal. Her kind and intimate words to a farmer in Rapallo, Italy (Our Lady of Montallegro) included the following: “Do not fear, Giovanni, I am the Mother of God. I have chosen you to be a messenger of my motherly will. Visit the ecclesiastics of Rapallo and let them know that the Mother of God has chosen this place as her perpetual dwelling place and would like a church to be erected here. I leave here a pledge of my love.” It is an incredible thing that the Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth wants to remain until the end of time, with any given population of her children.
The coolest apparitions, in my opinion, include those in which the image of the Immaculate Conception was taken from an ocote tree, which alone burned in a grove throughout a single night in Tlaxcala, Mexico (Our Lady of Ocotlan). The apparitions of Siluva, Lithuania in which Our Lady by weeping mournfully converted a Calvanist pastor, expressing her deep sadness that a Catholic Church had been removed and sacred soil was left exposed to the grazing animals. The sign for this apparition was that an ironclad box buried in the ground was unearthed, full of Catholic vestments, chalices, documents regarding Church property granted by the state, and a single painting of the Blessed Virgin holding the Child Jesus. In Castelpetroso, Italy (Our Lady of Sorrows) crowds of people, Priests and Bishops saw Our Lady of Sorrows through the fissures in a rocky cliff. The Queen of Heaven was kneeling by her deceased Son, and she was bleeding from seven wounds that pierced her heart, while her beloved Son wore the Crown of Thorns and was all covered in blood. Those who saw it were moved to tears simply by the memory of such a vision. The authenticity of this apparition was confirmed by a spring of water which appeared, significant physical healings, and the conversion of avowed heretics.
Saints that appeared in this book include St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, St. Michael!!! St. Anthony, St. Sebastian. A priest once explained to me that the saints and Christ are present in a special way in their images. This idea was brought home to me in this book because some of the patron saints of the area or local churches would assist Our Lady in her visitations. Our Lady also likes, not only for Catholic churches to be built so that God can sacramentally dwell among His people, but also for her images to be promoted and venerated – this heals the human heart and gives us more opportunities to seek the assistance and love of our heavenly God-given mother.
Cruz does a great job in summarizing the apparitions. I have read detailed accounts of the Lourdes apparitions offered by St. Bernadette herself and accomplished my own in-depth research of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe. By comparing my personal research to Cruz’s accounts of the same apparitions, I felt confident in trusting her understanding of the other messages and events. Two of the apparitions Cruz chose have the message of not doing manual labor on Sunday, just putting that out there. The Mother of God comes from Heaven to tell us to rest and keep Sunday/feasts – the Mercy of God.
This book was captivating and easy to read. Perhaps, Cruz obtained a special blessing for it because it affected my life, bringing home to my heart the fact that the Mother of God loves us and is with us, even in the little places I see her, like my devotionals. That goes, of course, for Christ as well, who is also really present in the Blessed Sacrament.