The Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in St. James Church, Medjugorje
February 11, 2019
Our Lady of Lourdes
Dear Family of Mary!
August 25, 2000 “Dear children! I desire to share my joy with you. In my Immaculate Heart I feel that there are many of those who have drawn closer to me and are, in a special way, carrying the victory of my Immaculate Heart in their hearts by praying and converting. I desire to thank you and to inspire you to work even more for God and His kingdom with love and the power of the Holy Spirit. I am with you and I bless you with my motherly blessing. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
(reprinted from my February 11, 2016 Reflection)
On this day, February 11, in 1858, Our Lady first appeared to Bernadette Soubirous at the Grotto at Lourdes. We celebrate that great apparition today. Bernadette is now a saint! And the Shrine at Lourdes is famous and much visited. I love to read St. Bernadette’s words, as they communicate the simplicity and intimacy she had with Our Lady. Here is her account of the apparition on March 25, 1858:
On March 25th, I was roused from sleep by an inner insistence to go to the grotto. It was still dark when I reached Massabielle. The Lady was there and waiting for me.
I apologised for keeping her waiting, for I had caught a cold. She smiled, I knelt down, we said the Rosary together. Then the Lady came very close to me. I told her how I loved her, and how happy I was to see her again.
“Mademoiselle,” I said, “would you be so kind as to tell me who you are, if you please?” Instead of replying, she only smiled.
I said again, “Would you be so kind as to tell me who you are?” I said this four times altogether.
The Lady extended her hands towards the ground, swept them upwards to join them on her heart, raised her eyes, but not her head to Heaven, leaned tenderly towards me and said, “Que soy era Immaculada Conceptiou.” She smiled at me. She disappeared. I was alone.
I did not understand the words, but I knew the Priest would. I knew also the Lady loved the Priest. Leaving my candle at the grotto, I went straight to Fr. Peyramale, saying the Lady’s name to myself along the way. Father was waiting for me. I bowed and said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Seeing his surprise, I explained, “Aquero said, ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’.”
The good Priest stood there stunned. Suddenly he stammered, “Do you know what that means?” I shook my head, I said ” No.”
“Then how can you say the words if you do not understand them?” “I repeated them all along the way,” I replied, then added, “She still wants the chapel.”
The Priest by now was deathly pale, but he pulled himself together, saying, “Go home now, child. I will see you another day.”
Years later I learned that Father wrote to the Bishop that night, and as he wrote, his heart filled up with emotion, and his eyes filled up with tears.
What my Lady meant by “I am the Immaculate Conception,” I had no idea. I decided to ask Mademoiselle Estrade. She had a serene sense of the supernatural.
“Mademoiselle, what does it mean, Immaculate Conception?” Mademoiselle explained how Pope Pius IX had applied the words to Our Blessed Lady four years ago on December 8th.
It was then I realised I could speak what was unspoken in my soul for seven silent weeks-that Aquero was the Immaculate Virgin Mary. She was the Mother of God, and she had been stepping out of Heaven to share her soul with me. She had taught me prayers no soul on earth had prayed. She had promised me happiness, not in this world, but in the next.
Through all her visits, she had spoken, not the flawless French of the town officials, but the homely words of my Lourdes patois. Holiness and prayer are simple. God’s Mother taught me so.
The majority of people sensed it was Our Blessed Lady who was hallowing Lourdes. When they knew for certain, they could scarce contain their joy. Throughout her visits, not a single crime was committed in the district, the confessionals in the church were besieged, and the Priests were well-nigh exhausted.
The Lady told me always to bring a blessed candle to the grotto, then bring it home with me. On March 25th, she asked me to leave it lighted at the grotto, and to this day candles have always been burning at Massabielle.
I noticed that Our Blessed Lady would often look over my head to single out individuals in the crowd. She would then smile on them as though they were old familiar friends.
Nor did she forget the town officials who caused my parents such distress. All finally believed in the Apparitions and died with the crucifix pressed to their lips. Jacomet admitted, “Our opposition was in vain. Bernadette had the Immaculate Virgin Mary on her side.” (http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/bernlife.htm )
Oh Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!