Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Bernadette
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By Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
When the chaste Mother of God visited little Bernadette Soubirous in 1858, our world was a much different place than it is today.
During the last 150 years, the rampant changes in social communications and the global economy, for example, have been massive; the frightening decrease in respect for human life and the human body has been astonishing.
But the human person is the same. The pious Bernadette needed the sure assistance of the Ever-Virgin Mary to avoid the inevitable and powerful temptations that are part and parcel of the challenging human condition--and so do we.
Not only did the Madonna as the Mediatrix of All Graces provide Bernadette with the divine favor she needed but Our Blessed Lady also encouraged her to be the supple clay in the Eternal Potter's gracious hand so that He could employ her as He performed incredible wonders. And she was precisely that! Because of Bernadette's remarkable receptivity to the Holy Spirit, God worked astounding marvels in and through her.
The Liturgy of the Hours, in its Introduction to the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11), asserts: "Through this humble girl (Bernadette), Mary called sinners to conversion and enkindled within the Church a great zeal for prayer and charity, especially service to the sick and poor."
When we freely and generously cooperate with the merciful Lord, He gladly grants us His abundant grace and also uses us to herald boldly the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ to our neighbors.
The inspiring story of the stirring encounter of the Mother of Jesus and Saint Bernadette Soubirous reminds us of a perennial truth: God initiates, while His children are to respond positively. The Almighty always invites His human creatures to participate in His mysterious designs, conceding one gift after another to the human race. In turn, His sons and daughters are to yield promptly to Him and His summons, thereby collaborating with the all-wise plan He presents.
This genuine surrender to our Creator demands that we trust Him. We will embark on no really valuable and lasting enterprise in our entire lives unless we sincerely place our confidence in Jesus, as the words of the Third Eucharist Prayer from the Mass declares, "from Whom all good things come."
Bernadette trusted that God would protect her. She was ridiculed when she humbly admitted that she had seen a beautiful "girl" in the grotto. But she never lost her ardent focus on God and His will. She lovingly accepted a pile of scorn from her family and friends rather than to betray her Savior.
Putting our confidence in the Lord and His Mother is indispensable if we are serious about being, like Saint Bernadette, supply clay in the Eternal Potter's gracious hand.
Imagine the fruit that will come from our poor efforts when we trust in Jesus and Mary. Then we will more closely imitate Bernadette by way of our prayer, charity and service to the sick and poor.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
Saint Bernadette Soubirous, pray for us!
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Our Blessed Lady; Lourdes; Saint Bernadette Soubirous
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