Posted by: fvbcdm | February 4, 2013

Feast of Saint Joan of Valois (4 Feb 2013)

Next Monday, February 11, will be the 155th anniversary of the first apparition of Our Blessed Mother at Lourdes to Saint Bernadette Soubirous. So let us consider this week some of the aspects of Our Lady’s apparitions there. On that occasion, when the tremendous beauty of the young lady in the niche above the river Gave threw the 14-year-old girl into a deep ecstasy, “the Lady” asked Bernadette to do her the grace of returning to that place every day for fifteen days. Those were her words: “do me the grace. . .” The Mother of God, the Queen of Angels and Saints, asks a French peasant child to “do her the grace. . .” The humble courtesy, the gentle respect shown here is almost beyond our comprehension. Once, the Archangel Gabriel bowed before this young woman and called her “full of grace.” Now, she stands in a rocky cliff and asks an impoverished child to “do her the grace. . .”

Bernadette was only too happy to comply with this exquisite invitation on the part of “the Lady” whose identity she did not know, since every time she saw the beautiful young woman, she went into a world far beyond the commonplace and into the supernatural. Never had Bernadette seen anything so beautiful; never had she been treated with such delicate courtesy; never had anyone indicated any desire to see her each day for fifteen days, or shown any particular interest in her at all, outside the everyday happenings within a private family. Bernadette was fourteen years old; the eldest of five children of a very poor miller and his wife. At the time of the first apparition, her father was unemployed and only her mother’s laundering the dirty clothes and linens of the somewhat more well-to-do citizens of Lourdes kept the simplest food on their table. They lived in a former jail which the town of Lourdes allowed them to occupy—a cold, damp, unsanitary place which aggravated the chronic asthma from which Bernadette suffered.

There were many devout people in the world at large and in France in particular to whom the Mother of our Lord might have appeared, but she chose this child whom she used as the instrument of her remarkable manifestations to the world. Today, 155 years later, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims go to Lourdes each year to do what “the Lady” asked for: to go there in processions; to drink of the spring and wash there, to pray and do penance for sinners and to pray in a “chapel” to be built on the spot. We will speak more of this later this week. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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