Friday, October 20, 2017

Mary and the grasshoppers

If you are even remotely familiar with the Old Testament, you are aware of the fact that the ancient Egyptians, due to their enslavement of the Israelites, suffered 10 plagues, one of which was the invasion of the locusts. The other plagues included frogs, lice, hail, boils, and the death of every first born Egyptian son.

More than 2000 years later, you would think that the locust plague was ancient history – but you would be wrong.

In 2013, the locusts came back to Egypt. Although it is difficult to get an accurate count, it is estimated that 30 million locusts invaded Egypt in the early months of 2013, just before the Jewish Passover.

Not surprisingly, Egypt is not the only place that has been invaded by locusts, but before I explore the other locations, it is important to know exactly WHAT a locust is.

In essence, a locust is virtually the same as a grasshopper, and the distinction between the two lies in their behavioral patterns. If the critters turn into a swarm, then they have morphed from grasshoppers to locusts.

In the 1870’s, my home state of Minnesota suffered FIVE YEARS of a grasshopper invasions. From 1873 until 1877, the grasshoppers/locusts came every year, and devastated crops in most of the state. The farmers affected by the plagues tried every thing that they could think of, but none of the remedies seemed to work. In the spring of 1877, Minnesota governor John S. Pillsbury designated April 26 as a day of prayer. Although rain turned to snow that night, potentially freezing the varmints out, they were as plentiful as ever after the storm passed.

In July of 1877, the residents of the town of Cold Spring, Minnesota, erected a chapel to honor the Blessed Virgin. The official name for the chapel is Assumption Chapel, but it is also known as Grasshopper Chapel. The first mass at the chapel was held on August 15, and not long after that, the grasshoppers virtually disappeared.

In 1892, a tornado tossed the chapel into a nearby woods, entirely destroying the structure. The only thing that remained on the original structure was the statute of the Blessed Virgin, which was undamaged. In 1952, the chapel was finally rebuilt. Each year, a mass is held on the site on August 15, and daily masses are said each year for 7 weeks in the spring in order to bring blessings during the planting season.

You may or not believe that the disappearance of the grasshoppers in 1877 was a miracle, but it would not be much of a stretch to say that it was. Over the past few centuries, the Vatican has researched 295 apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, but has officially recognized only 12, the most recent being the 2008 approval of the 17th and 18th century apparitions of Our Lady of Laus.

The 2nd largest religious group in the United States is the one that includes Americans without a religious affiliation. At 22.8% of the population, it is a larger group than Catholics, who are 20.8 % of the population, but a lot smaller than the group labeled “Protestants”, who make up 46.5% of our population.

I have never personally witnessed any miracles, but I HAVE been to Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois, where some VERY miraculous occurrences have taken place.

In my opinion, it is totally irrelevant what your religious views are. However, even if you are totally irreligious, it is always wise to allow room for the miracles that WILL occur sometime during your lifetime. If you don’t believe me, take a trip to Cold Spring, Minnesota.

I think that you will see the light.

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