Our Lady of Lourdes
In 1858 Mary, the Mother of Jesus, appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in a cave at Massabielle, near Lourdes in France. Just four years earlier, in 1854, the Church had declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, so when the “beautiful woman” of Bernadette’s visions identified herself as the Immaculate Conception, there was initial scepticism. Although others accompanied Bernadette to the grotto, no one else could see or hear the visions. It did not take very long for an Episcopal Commission, an official inquiry, to state: “We judge that Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God, did really appear to Bernadette Soubirous on February 11th, 1858, and on certain subsequent days, 18 times in all, in the Grotto of Massabielle, near the town of Lourdes; that this appearance bears every mark of truth and that the belief of the faithful is well-grounded.” A few years later, this date was added to the list of Marian feasts to honour the mysterious beauty of the Immaculate Conception.
REFLECTION FOR THE DAY
Thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. Psalm 128:4
A number of years ago, a priest friend and I took a woman suffering from terminal cancer to Lourdes. She was not Catholic but willingly came along. When we arrived, she plunged into the waters and joined us in prayer. Sometime later, she died. Before she passed, she said to me, “I am glad I went to Lourdes.” It was clear that she received a special grace, although not a physical healing as we had hoped. So many people become angry when they do not get what they want from God. I think it best to repeat the phrase, “God gives us what we need, not what we want.” I believe this woman died in gratitude and hope. God answered her prayers. God answers our prayers. We, too, should be grateful and live, and die, in hope.