In February of this year, I posted a quote by St. Maximilian Kolbe about the white stairway to heaven, which is the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the consecration of oneself to her. St. Maximilian Kolbe said:
An unlimited love for the Immaculate, what does that mean? The Immaculate is so united to God through love that she rises not only above all saints, but also above the angels, the cherubim and seraphim. Therefore an unlimited love towards the Immaculate raises us up to her and joins us to her through love… What is the Immaculate’s unlimited love? Since she is very close to God, and we are very close to her, consequently, we are very close to God Himself through her. God has given us this white stairway and He wants us to reach Him by climbing it, or rather that she, after having clasped us to her maternal heart, may lead us to Him.
This morning, I was perusing the internet, recalling that it is the First Friday of the month, wondering if it were a Marian feast day, remembering that Sunday is the great day of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the remembrance of the Battle of Lepanto, and that there is an international Rosary crusade on Sunday, as well; when I came across a quote which details a dream of Brother Leo, a contemporary of St. Francis, and one of his friars. In the dream, Our Lady is seen as the white ladder to heaven. Perhaps it is the origin of the white staircase story in the Franciscan Order? I do not know, but here it is:
Once, in a dream, Friar Leo beheld a vision of the making ready of the Divine judgment. He beheld the Angels making music with trumpets and divers instruments, and calling together a marvelous great crowd in a meadow. And on one side of the meadow was set a ladder all rosy red, which reached from earth even unto heaven, and on the other side of the meadow was set another ladder all white, which descended from heaven to earth. On the top of the red ladder, Christ appeared a Lord offended and exceeding wrath. And St. Francis was nigh unto Christ but a few steps lower down; and he came farther down the ladder, and with a loud voice and great fervour called and said: “Come ye, my friars, come confidently, fear not, come, draw nigh unto the Lord, for He calleth you”. At the voice of St. Francis and at his bidding, the friars went and climbed up the red ladder with great confidence. And, when they were all thereon, some fell off the third step, and some off the fourth step, others off the fifth and the sixth; and at the last all fell, so that there remained not one upon the ladder. And so great ruin of his friars, St. Francis, as a pitiful father, was moved to compassion, and besought the Judge for his sons, that He would receive them to His mercy. And Christ showed His wounds all bloody, and said unto St. Francis: “This have thy friars done unto Me”.
And St. Francis delayed not, but, even as he interceded, came down certain steps, and cried unto the friars that were fallen from the red ladder and said: “Come ye, rise up, my sons and friars, be of good courage and despair not, but run to the white ladder and climb up it, for by it ye shall be received into the Kingdom of Heaven; run, friars, through paternal admonishment, to the white ladder”. And on the top of the ladder appeared the glorious Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, all pitiful and kind, and welcomed those friars; and without any difficulty they entered into the eternal kingdom. To the praise of Christ.
“And on the top of the ladder appeared the glorious Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, all pitiful and kind, and welcomed those friars; and without any difficulty they entered into the eternal kingdom. To the praise of Christ.”
Such a story has been passed down through the Franciscan Order for a reason. The story reminds me of the one reported to be a favorite of another Franciscan, St. Padre Pio, wherein Our Lady possesses a second key to heaven. I love this story:
“One day Our Lord making rounds of Paradise saw some strange faces. He asked Peter: ‘Who let these people in?’
Peter: ‘There is nothing I can do.’
The Lord: ‘But you have the key.’
Peter: ‘There is nothing I can do, and you can’t do either.’
The Lord: ‘What do you mean?’
‘It’s your mother. She has another key. She let’s them in.’ ” (a story told by Padre Pio)
“She has another key. She let’s them in.”
This story, and the white stairway story(ies), are delightful. The children of Mary understand these stories: it means that Our Lady leads her children, and will see that they make it into heaven. It is what it means to be consecrated to her, to live under her mantle, under her care, and to follow her.
So, let’s place ourselves under the mantle of Our Lady, and climb the white stairway, as our Catholic ancestors did: it is a sure resting spot amidst the dangers, and errors, which roam about the world.
May God bless your day, and weekend.
And, on Sunday, remember Lepanto!
•Information on Mariology in the Franciscan Order: link