Posted by: fvbcdm | February 7, 2013

Feast of Saint Richard of Lucca (7 Feb 2013)

I would like to continue our meditations on the apparitions of Our Blessed Mother at Lourdes as we prepare to celebrate the 155th anniversary of that event next Monday. After having appeared to the young girl several times, the beautiful lady in the niche said to her, “Go drink from the spring and wash there.” And with these words, she indicated a spot in a corner of the cave in which Saint Bernadette was kneeling. The child didn’t see any spring there, so thinking that the Lady meant the river Gave which flowed by the mouth of the cave, she went there prepared to drink and wash. But the Lady said, “No; not the river. The spring,” again pointing with her finger to a spot where no spring was visible. The obedient child, seeing no spring, began to dig into the earth with her hands. The little hole that she dug filled with muddy water. However, the water became clearer as she continued to widen the hole, and finally she was able to drink a few swallows and wash her face in it.

As far as I know, the Lady in the niche did not specifically mention bringing sick people there for healing, but almost as soon as it became known through the town that Bernadette had dug a hole in the ground from which water was now flowing copiously, people began to bring the sick and afflicted to bathe or to drink the water. And cures began to occur, and are still occurring. When you go to Lourdes now, one of the most obvious things that you can’t miss is the constant coming and going of the sick, some able to walk, others in wheelchairs or on gurneys being pushed to and from the baths by the hundreds of volunteers who are there all year round. The water which began to flow when Bernadette dug the little hole has been flowing ever since; it is channeled into a dozen spigots where the pilgrims can drink, wash themselves, or fill containers to take home with them. It is also channeled into a number of baths where those who wish can go down into the water. Believe me, it’s COLD! The Lady asked for penance at Lourdes, and to go down into that mountain water is penitential indeed!

Saint Bernadette lived only until the age of 35; her health was never good, and her last years were spent in severe illness and suffering. The idea occurred to her superiors in the convent where she had become a nun to take her down to Lourdes and seek a cure there. She let it be known that she would go in obedience, but that she would not be cured there. “The spring is not for me,” she stated with total conviction. The sickness of many of the thousands who go to Lourdes annually is certainly one of the major factors of its whole history. A few cures occur there each year, enough to give hope to many chronically sick people. They go; most of them do not receive a physical cure. But what they do receive is the grace of recognizing the value of their sickness and suffering, and the patience to bear them with confidence in God’s will and the understanding that they are accomplishing much on their sickbeds. Saint Bernadette herself, when asked in the infirmary of the convent shortly before she died what she was doing there, replied very simply, “I am being sick.” She called it “her work.” Just as Jesus accomplished his greatest task while nailed to a cross, so the sick and suffering of this world may well do more for the good of humanity by their unsung sufferings than the great ones of this world do by their activity in the world of politics or economics. We should never underestimate the value and power of our crosses. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.

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