Readings & Reflections: Saturday of the Fifth week in Ordinary Time & Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11,2017

Readings & Reflections: Saturday of the Fifth week in Ordinary Time & Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11,2017

Our Lady of Lourdes

On February 11,1858 A.D., a beautiful woman appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in a remote stone grotto outside Lourdes, France. On March 25 when asked her name, she replied, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Only four years earlier, Pius IX had declared the dogma that Mary had been immaculately conceived in the womb of her mother, receiving the saving graces of her Son in anticipation of her divine Motherhood. In the spot where she requested a chapel, a spring bubbled forth. Since that time, sixty-nine official cures and hundreds of unofficial healings have been reported at Lourdes. “Mary is the one who believed and, from her womb, rivers of living water have flowed forth to irrigate human history. The spring that Mary pointed out to Bernadette here in Lourdes is the humble sign of this spiritual reality. From her believing heart, from her maternal heart, flows living water which purifies and heals” (Pope Benedict XVI). Today, the grotto at Lourdes, France, receives six million visitors each year.

Who is Mary according to Scripture? Please click this link to watch the video on Who is Mary according to Scripture?

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Opening Prayer

Lord, God the harshness of life and the struggle to produce the food needed for survival have been more and more pronounced among your people amidst greed and selfishness. Lord, bless us with your grace so that we may all be governed by honesty, collaboration, and mutual support. May we all be blessed with hearts that aim to solve many of the problems (poverty, inequality, ill health) faced by our society and the global community. In Jesus, Mighty Name, we pray. Amen.

Reading 1
Gn 3:9-24

The LORD God called to Adam and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:

“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
On your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
He will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”

To the woman he said:

“I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing;
in pain shall you bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall be your master.”

To the man he said: “Because you listened to your wife
and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat,

“Cursed be the ground because of you!
In toil shall you eat its yield
all the days of your life.
Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you,
as you eat of the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
shall you get bread to eat,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dirt,
and to dirt you shall return.”

The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.

For the man and his wife the LORD God made leather garments,
with which he clothed them.
Then the LORD God said: “See! The man has become like one of us,
knowing what is good and what is evil!
Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand
to take fruit from the tree of life also,
and thus eat of it and live forever.”
The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden,
to till the ground from which he had been taken.
When he expelled the man,
he settled him east of the garden of Eden;
and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword,
to guard the way to the tree of life.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 90:2, 3-4abc, 5-6, 12-13
R. (1) In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Before the mountains were begotten
and the earth and the world were brought forth,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Gospel
Mk 8:1-10

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat,
Jesus summoned the disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way,
and some of them have come a great distance.” His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?” Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish.
He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also. They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets. There were about four thousand people.

He dismissed the crowd and got into the boat with his disciples and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – The bread to satisfy

“Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?”

Some people say that this statement was an insightful statement from our Lord’s early disciples who may not have expected Him to respond to every need of the people by performing a miracle. However, some say that the disciples may have spoken out of doubt. They must have failed to remember the power of Jesus as He has witnessed to them in the past. Such a state of mind and heart is not something new to most of us today as we often fail to remember what the Lord has done in our lives.  When the going gets good and better we tend to take things for granted and we forget God’s mighty power in our lives and that He alone can make a difference in us.

In today’s gospel scene, Jesus provided enough for the needs of His people. His provisions were abundant with plenty of left over to take home to their families. The multiplication of bread / fish was one great miracle of Jesus but what appeared to be greater is the fact that Jesus fed both Jews and Gentles  (Mark 7:31) together foreshadowing the eventual fellowship of gentiles and Jews (Acts 10 &11).  Jesus united both Jews and gentiles and brought peace. “Therefore, remember that at one time you, Gentiles in the flesh…were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.

Today let us examine our hearts and see how open we are to breaking bread with people who come from different cultures, background and persuasion. How open are we to sharing God’s word and our faith in Christ with the rest of the world? Have we been like Jeroboam in the today’s first reading who was an agent of dissent, who instead of being an instrument for unification thwarted one and led his people into further sin by setting up worship places of false gods?

“Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?”

Translated in another context:  “Where can anyone get enough of CHRIST and His love to satisfy in this cold and indifferent world?”

When was the last time we gave more of ourselves in order to unite God’s people?

Direction
Ponder and meditate on the works of Jesus which unite and try to see how we can apply them in our relationship with those around us.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, give me your wisdom so that I may be able to deepen my relationship with you and your people, so that I may be able to appreciate and understand life and the need for all your people to be united in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Reflection 2 – What strengthens our faith?

Mark never paints a positive picture of the disciples closest to Jesus. Time and time again they lack faith. No matter what signs they experience in their journey with Jesus they just don’t get it. In today’s Gospel we hear Mark’s second account of Jesus feeding a huge crowd with a small amount of food. How quickly the disciples forgot the earlier miracle when they ask the same question once more that they asked then: “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?”

It is important for us not to shake our heads in disbelief at the hardness of heart of those Jesus called his own. Are we not often the same as they? Time and again the Lord feeds us bread from heaven at this Eucharistic table. Time and time again we find ourselves failing to become what we eat – Christ himself.

Like the previous one, this is a story about the Eucharist. The Eucharist is represented by the seven loaves. In Jewish numerology seven is equated with perfection and thus with God. This must have been an extremely important story for the ancient church as it is one of the few miracles of Jesus found in all four of the Gospels, and even recorded twice in Mark.

The bread distributed to the four thousand today is to satisfy their physical hunger. This will give them the strength to leave “this deserted place” (which harkens back to the manna in the desert in the Exodus story). The bread given from our Eucharistic table satisfies a far greater hunger then the physical kind. For we who have been baptized into Christ experience a spiritual and transformative hunger, a hunger to take the Lord into ourselves so that we can, with the grace of God, truly become what we eat and drink – the Lord’s presence wherever we go.

As we approach the Lenten and Easter seasons in the coming days let our priority be to allow God to use us, to grace us as God’s instruments to be transformed into Christ, the bread from heaven, for a world desperately hungry for his presence. (Source: Timothy J. Cronin. Weekday Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, February 13, 2010).

Reflection 3 – Can one feed with bread in the desert?

Can anything on earth truly satisfy the hunger we experience for God? The enormous crowd that pressed upon Jesus for three days were hungry for something more than physical food. They hung upon Jesus’ words because they were hungry for God. When the disciples were confronted by Jesus with the task of feeding four thousand people many miles away from any source of food, they exclaimed: Where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them? The Israelites were confronted with the same dilemma when they fled Egypt and found themselves in a barren wilderness.

Like the miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness, Jesus, himself provides bread in abundance for the hungry crowd who came out into the desert to seek him. The Gospel records that all were satisfied and they took up what was leftover. When God gives he gives abundantly – more than we deserve and more than we need so that we may have something to share with others as well. The Lord Jesus nourishes and sustains us with his life-giving word and with his heavenly bread.

Jesus nourishes us with the true bread of heaven
The sign of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes through his disciples, prefigures the superabundance of the unique bread of his Eucharist or Lord’s Supper. When we receive from the Lord’s table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the “one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ” (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward.

When you approach the Table of the Lord, what do you expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and refreshment for your soul? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving from the Lord’s Table is an intimate union with Christ himself. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Do you hunger for Jesus, the true “bread of life”?

“Lord Jesus, you alone can satisfy the hunger in our lives. Fill me with grateful joy and eager longing for the true heavenly bread which gives health, strength, and wholeness to body and soul alike.” – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/feb11.htm

Reflection 4 – The Boxcar Wall

I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. –Mark 8:2

I ate breakfast the other day with a man who 60 years ago sold newspapers and shined shoes on the streets of downtown Boise, Idaho. He told me about his life in those days and how much things have changed.

“What’s changed the most?” I asked him. “People,” he said. “They don’t care anymore.”

As a case in point, he told me about his mother, who often fed hungry men who came to her house. Every day she prepared food for her family and then made several more meals because she knew homeless travelers would start to show up around mealtime. She had deep compassion for those who were in need. Once she asked a man how he happened to find his way to her door. “Your address is written on all the boxcar walls,” he said.

I wish that type of compliment could be said of all of us. In the feeding of the multitude, Jesus gave us an example of what it means to care about the physical and spiritual needs of others (Mark 8:1-9).

It would be wonderful if our homes were known as places where hungry people could find bread. But more than that, we need to pray that our homes will be known as places where spiritually hungry men, women, and children will be loved, listened to, and given the Bread of life.  —DHR  — David H. Roper

Thousands of weary ones need consolation,
Souls of the hungry are crying for bread;
Many have never yet heard of salvation,
Many are waiting by you to be fed. —Anon.

Evangelism is nothing more than one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 5 – Our Lady of Lourdes

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus. A little more than three years later, on February 11, 1858, a young lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. This began a series of visions. During the apparition on March 25, the lady identified herself with the words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Bernadette was a sickly child of poor parents. Their practice of the Catholic faith was scarcely more than lukewarm. Bernadette could pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Creed. She also knew the prayer of the Miraculous Medal: “O Mary conceived without sin.”

During interrogations Bernadette gave an account of what she saw. It was “something white in the shape of a girl.” She used the word aquero, a dialect term meaning “this thing.” It was “a pretty young girl with a rosary over her arm.” Her white robe was encircled by a blue girdle. She wore a white veil. There was a yellow rose on each foot. A rosary was in her hand. Bernadette was also impressed by the fact that the lady did not use the informal form of address (tu), but the polite form (vous). The humble virgin appeared to a humble girl and treated her with dignity.

Through that humble girl, Mary revitalized and continues to revitalize the faith of millions of people. People began to flock to Lourdes from other parts of France and from all over the world. In 1862 Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions and authorized the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes for the diocese. The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes became worldwide in 1907.

Comment:

Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and healing, but even more of faith. Church authorities have recognized over 60 miraculous cures, although there have probably been many more. To people of faith this is not surprising. It is a continuation of Jesus’ healing miracles—now performed at the intercession of his mother. Some would say that the greater miracles are hidden. Many who visit Lourdes return home with renewed faith and a readiness to serve God in their needy brothers and sisters. There still may be people who doubt the apparitions of Lourdes. Perhaps the best that can be said to them are the words that introduce the film The Song of Bernadette: “For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.”

Quote:

“Lo! Mary is exempt from stain of sin, Proclaims the Pontiff high; And earth applauding celebrates with joy Her triumph, far and high. Unto a lowly timid maid she shows Her form in beauty fair, And the Immaculate Conception truth Her sacred lips declare.” (Unattributed hymn from the Roman Breviary)

Patron Saint of: Bodily ills

Related St. Anthony Messenger article(s) 

Lourdes: 150 Years of God’s Healing Care, by Father John Lochran

Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1288

SAINT OF THE DAY
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Lourdes 
For a more detailed account of the Marian apparitions at Lourdes, please see Lourdes apparitions.
Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
VirgendeLourdes.JPG

The rock cave at Massabielle in Lourdes, where Saint Bernadette Soubirous said that she had seen theBlessed Virgin Mary, though however she disapproved of its artistic demeanor. Now a religious grotto.
Location Lourdes, France
Date 11 February 1858
Witness Saint Bernadette Soubirous
Type Marian apparition
Holy See approval 3 July 1876, during the pontificate of Pope Pius IX
Shrine Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, Lourdes, France
Patronage Lourdes, France, Tagaytay City of Cavite, Barangay Granada of Bacolod City, Daegu, South Korea, Tennessee, Diocese of Lancaster, bodily ills, sick people, protection from diseases

Our Lady of Lourdes is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated in honor of the Marian apparitions that reportedly occurred in 1858 in the vicinity of Lourdes in France. The first of these is the apparition of 11 February 1858, when 14-year old Bernadette Soubirous told her mother that a “lady” spoke to her in the cave of Massabielle (a mile from the town) while she was gathering firewood with her sister and a friend.[1] Similar apparitions of the alleged “Lady” were reported on seventeen occasions that year, until the climax revelation of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception took place.[2]

In 1862, Pope Pius IX authorized Bishop Bertrand-Sévère Laurence to permit the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes. On 3 July 1876, the same Pontiff officially granted a Canonical Coronation to the image that used to be in the courtyard of what is now part of the Rosary Basilica.[3][4] The image of Our Lady of Lourdes has been widely copied and reproduced, often displayed in shrines and homes, often in garden landscapes. Soubirous was later canonized as a Catholic saint.

History[edit]

Bernadette Soubirous[edit]

Main article: Bernadette Soubirous

In 1858, Bernadette Soubirous reported a vision of Our Lady of Lourdes.[5][6] A simple 14-year-old peasant girl of no significant educational experience, Soubirous claimed she saw uo petito damizelo, “a small maiden,”[7] in white, with a golden rosary and blue belt fastened around her waist, and two golden roses at her feet. In subsequent visitations she heard the lady speak to her, saying Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou (I am the Immaculate Conception), and asking that a chapel be built there. At first ridiculed, questioned, and belittled by Church officials and other contemporaries, Soubirous insisted on her vision. Eventually the Church believed her and she was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1933.[8][9]

After church investigations confirmed her visions, a large church was built at the site.[10] Lourdes is now a major Marian pilgrimage site: within France, only Paris has more hotels than Lourdes.

Apparition[edit]

The venerated image of Our Lady of the Rosary granted a Canonical Coronation by Pope Pius XI on 3 July 1876. During that same year, an oversized golden laurel wreath was placed at the base as well as a stellar halo was attached to the head of the image; both no longer present.

On 11 February 1858, Soubirous went with her sister Toinette and Jeanne Abadie to collect some firewood and bones in order to buy some bread. After taking off her shoes and stockings to wade through the water near the Grotto of Massabielle, she said she heard the sound of two gusts of wind (coups de vent) but the trees and bushes nearby did not move. A wild rose in a natural niche in the grotto, however, did move.

I came back towards the grotto and started taking off my stockings. I had hardly taken off the first stocking when I heard a sound like a gust of wind. Then I turned my head towards the meadow. I saw the trees quite still: I went on taking off my stockings. I heard the same sound again. As I raised my head to look at the grotto, I saw a lady dressed in white, wearing a white dress, a blue girdle and a yellow rose on each foot, the same color as the chain of her rosary; the beads of the rosary were white….From the niche, or rather the dark alcove behind it, came a dazzling light.[11]

Soubirous tried to make the sign of the Cross but she could not, because her hands were trembling. The lady smiled, and invited Soubirous to pray the rosary with her.[12] Soubirous tried to keep this a secret, but Toinette told her mother. After parental cross-examination, she and her sister received corporal punishment for their story.[13]

Three days later, 14 February, Soubirous returned to the Grotto. She had brought holy water as a test that the apparition was not of evil origin/provenance: “The second time was the following Sunday. … Then I started to throw holy water in her direction, and at the same time I said that if she came from God she was to stay, but if not, she must go. She started to smile, and bowed … This was the second time.”[14]

Soubirous’s companions are said to have become afraid when they saw her in ecstasy. She remained ecstatic even as they returned to the village. On 18 February, she spoke of being told by the Lady to return to the Grotto over a period of two weeks. She quoted the apparition: “The Lady only spoke to me the third time. … She told me also that she did not promise to make me happy in this world, but in the next.”[13]

Soubirous was ordered by her parents to never go there again. She went anyway, and on 24 February, Soubirous related that the apparition asked for prayer and penitence for the conversion of sinners.

Soubirous witnessing the apparition of the Virgin Mary. Stained glass, Bonneval.

The next day, she said the apparition asked her to dig in the ground and drink from the spring she found there. This made her dishevelled and some of her supporters were dismayed, but this act revealed the stream that soon became a focal point for pilgrimages.[15] Although it was muddy at first, the stream became increasingly clean. As word spread, this water was given to medical patients of all kinds, and many reports of miraculous cures followed. Seven of these cures were confirmed as lacking any medical explanations by Professor Verges in 1860. The first person with a “certified miracle” was a woman whose right hand had been deformed as a consequence of an accident. Several miracles turned out to be short-term improvement or even hoaxes, and Church and government officials became increasingly concerned.[16] The government fenced off the Grotto and issued stiff penalties for anybody trying to get near the off-limits area. In the process, Lourdes became a national issue in France, resulting in the intervention of Emperor Napoleon III with an order to reopen the grotto on 4 October 1858. The Church had decided to stay away from the controversy altogether.

Soubirous, knowing the local area well, managed to visit the barricaded grotto under cover of darkness. There, on 25 March, she said she was told: “I am the Immaculate Conception” (“que soy era immaculada concepciou”). On Easter Sunday, 7 April, her examining doctor stated that Soubirous, in ecstasy, was observed to have held her hands over a lit candle without sustaining harm. On 16 July, Soubirous went for the last time to the Grotto. “I have never seen her so beautiful before,” she reported.[16]

A garden image of the Lourdes apparition in Castlewellan, Northern Ireland

Main article: Lourdes apparitions

The Church, faced with nationwide questions, decided to institute an investigative commission on 17 November 1858. On 18 January 1860, the local bishop finally declared that: “The Virgin Mary did appear indeed to Bernadette Soubirous.”[16] These events established the Marian veneration in Lourdes, which together with Fátima, is one of the most frequented Marian shrines in the world, and to which between 4 and 6 million pilgrims travel annually.

In 1863, Joseph-Hugues Fabisch was charged to create a statue of the Virgin according to Soubirous’s description. The work was placed in the grotto and solemnly dedicated on 4 April 1864 in presence of 20,000 pilgrims.

Soubirous was later canonized as a saint in 1933.

The veracity of the apparitions of Lourdes is not an article of faith for Catholics. Nevertheless, all recent Popes visited the Marian shrine at some time. Benedict XV, Pius XI, and John XXIII went there as bishops, Pius XII as papal delegate. He also issued an encyclical, Le pèlerinage de Lourdes, on the one-hundredth anniversary of the apparitions in 1958. John Paul II visited Lourdes three times during his Pontificate, and twice before as a Bishop.

Historical context[edit]

Many Marian apparitions, although they may occur in different ages and cultures, share similarities. Soubirous’s visions took place against a cultural backdrop of apparitions and other supernatural events that bear some resemblance to Soubirous’s experiences. It is likely that Soubirous would have known of, and may even have been influenced by, such events, which were woven into the fabric of her society.

In nearby Lestelle-Bétharram, only a few kilometres from Lourdes, some shepherds guarding their flocks in the mountains observed a vision of a ray of light that guided them to the discovery of a statue of the Virgin Mary. Two attempts were made to remove the statue to a more prominent position; each time it disappeared and returned to its original location, at which a small chapel was built for it.[17]

In the early sixteenth century, a twelve-year-old shepherdess called Anglèze de Sagazan received a vision of the Virgin Mary near the spring at Garaison (part of the commune of Monléon-Magnoac), somewhat further away. Anglèze’s story is strikingly similar to that of Soubirous: she was a pious but illiterate and poorly educated girl, extremely impoverished, who spoke only in the local language, Gascon Occitan, but successfully convinced authorities that her vision was genuine and persuaded them to obey the instructions of her apparitions. Like Soubirous, she was the only one who could see the apparition (others could apparently hear it); however, the apparition at Garaison’s supernatural powers tended toward the miraculous provision of abundant food, rather than healing the sick and injured. Mid-nineteenth century commentators noted the parallels between the events at Massabielle and Garaison, and interestingly, interpreted the similarities as proof of the divine nature of Soubirous’s claims.[18] At the time of Soubirous, Garaison was a noted center of pilgrimage and Marian devotion.

There are also several similarities between the apparition at La Salette, near Grenoble, and Lourdes. La Salette is many hundreds of kilometres from Lourdes, and the events at La Salette predate those in Lourdes by 12 years. However, Virgin Mary’s appearance of La Salette was tall and maternal (not petite and gentle like her Lourdes apparition) and had a darker, more threatening series of messages. It is not certain if Soubirous was aware of the events at La Salette.[19]

Position of the Catholic Church[edit]

The sanctuary basilica built at Lourdes directly above the site of the apparitions

Approval of Lourdes[edit]

On 18 January 1862, Bishop Laurence, the Bishop of Tarbes, declared: “We are inspired by the Commission comprising wise, holy, learned and experienced priests who questioned the child, studied the facts, examined everything and weighed all the evidence. We have also called on science, and we remain convinced that the Apparitions are supernatural and divine, and that by consequence, what Soubirous saw was the Most Blessed Virgin. Our convictions are based on the testimony of Soubirous, but above all on the things that have happened, things which can be nothing other than divine intervention”.[20]

Nature of approval[edit]

Because the apparitions are private, and not public revelations, Catholics are not required to believe them. They do not add any additional material to the truths of the Catholic Church as expressed in public revelation. Soubirous said, “One must have faith and pray; the water will have no virtue without faith.”

Holy Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes[edit]

The Catholic Church celebrates a mass in honor of “Our Lady of Lourdes” (optional memorial) in many countries on February 11 of each year — the anniversary of the first apparition. There had long been a tradition of interpreting the Song of Songs as an allegory of God’s love for the Church, so up until the liturgical reforms following Vatican II, a passage from this Old Testament book was used during the mass for its reference to the “beloved” appearing in a cleft of a rock[21] and its parallel with what Catholics have described as the “Mother of the Church”[22] being seen in the cleft of a rock in Lourdes.[citation needed]

Popes and Lourdes[edit]

Pope John Paul II in the Grotto of Massabielle, in the Lourdes Shrine.

Pope Pius IX approved the veneration in Lourdes and supported the building of the Cathedral in 1870 to which he donated several gifts. He approved the veneration and promoted Marian piety in Lourdes with the granting of special indulgences and the formation of local Lourdes associations.[23] Pope Leo XIII crowned Our Lady of La Salette and issued an apostolic letter Parte Humanae Generi in commemoration of the consecration of the new Cathedral in Lourdes in 1879.[24] Pope Benedict XV, when archbishop of Bologna, organized a diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, asking for the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin there. In 1907, Pope Pius X introduced the feast of the apparition of the Immaculate Virgin of Lourdes. In the same year he issued his encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis, in which he specifically repeated the permission to venerate the virgin in Lourdes.[25]

Pope Benedict XVI placing a crown[a] on Our Lady of Lourdes for the plenary indulgence he attached for pilgrims of the World Day of the Sick. 11 February 2007. Saint Peter’s Basilica.

In 1937, Pius XI nominated Eugenio Pacelli as his ‘Papal Delegate’ to personally visit and venerate in Lourdes. Pius XI beatified Soubirous on 6 June 1925. He canonized her on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1933 and determined her Feast Day to be 18 February. Soubirous, who suffered from asthma and bone cancer, had lived on the borderline of social acceptance in the church during her lifetime.[26] The Virgin Mary reportedly told Soubirous ‘that she did not promise to make me happy in this world, but in the next.’[27]

Pope Pius XII, commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the Immaculate conception dogma, announced a Marian year, the first one on Church history. In his encyclical Fulgens corona, he described the events in Lourdes:

It seems that the Blessed Virgin Mary herself wished to confirm by some special sign the definition, which the Vicar of her Divine Son on earth had pronounced amidst the applause of the whole Church. For indeed four years had not yet elapsed when, in a French town at the foot of the Pyrenees, the Virgin Mother, youthful and benign in appearance, clothed in a shining white garment, covered with a white mantle and girded with a hanging blue cord, showed herself to a simple and innocent girl at the grotto of Massabielle. And to this same girl, earnestly inquiring the name of her with whose vision she was favored, with eyes raised to heaven and sweetly smiling, she replied: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” [28]

The Rosary Basilica, Lourdes

Le pèlerinage de Lourdes, the only encyclical written on Lourdes, was issued on the centenary of the apparitions at Lourdes. The encyclical represents one of the strongest pronouncements of the papal magisterium on Marian apparitions in the history of the Catholic Church.[citation needed] The Pope presents Mary as the model of alternative lifestyle. The school of Mary teaches selflessness and charity.

In the school of Mary one can learn to live, not only to give Christ to the world, but also to await with faith the hour of Jesus, and to remain with Mary at the foot of the cross. Wherever providence has placed a person, there is always more to be done for God’s cause. Priests should with supernatural confidence, show the narrow road which leads to life. Consecrated and Religious fight under Mary’s banner against inordinate lust for freedom, riches, and pleasures. In response to the Immaculate, they will fight with the weapons of prayer and penance and by triumphs of charity. Go to her, you who are crushed by material misery, defenseless against the hardships of life and the indifference of men. Go to her, you who are assailed by sorrows and moral trials. Go to her, beloved invalids and infirm, you who are sincerely welcomed and honoured at Lourdes as the suffering members of our Lord. Go to her and receive peace of heart, strength for your daily duties, joy for the sacrifice you offer.[29][30]

The Basilica of St. Pius X was consecrated on 25 March 1958, by the Patriarch of Venice, cardinal Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII. Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, had visited Lourdes as archbishop of Milan. Pope John Paul II undertook three pilgrimages to Lourdes, the last one shortly before his death. Pope Benedict XVI visited Lourdes commemorating the 150th anniversary of the apparitions in September 2008. Born on Soubirous’ feast day 16 April in 1927, three days after his 78th birthday the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected to the See of Peter on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave and celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005.

Lourdes water[edit]

Main article: Lourdes water

The location of the spring was described to Soubirous by an apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes on 25 February 1858. Since that time many thousands of pilgrims to Lourdes have followed the instruction of Our Lady of Lourdes to “drink at the spring and wash in it”.

Although never formally encouraged by the Church, Lourdes water has become a focus of devotion to the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. Since the apparitions, many people have claimed to have been cured by drinking or bathing in it,[31] and the Lourdes authorities provide it free of charge to any who ask for it.[32]

An analysis of the water was commissioned by Mayor Anselme Lacadé of Lourdes in 1858. It was conducted by a professor in Toulouse, who determined that the water was potable and that it contained the following: oxygen, nitrogen, carbonic acid, carbonates of lime and magnesia, a trace of carbonate of iron, an alkaline carbonate or silicate, chlorides of potassium and sodium, traces of sulphates of potassium and soda, traces of ammonia, and traces of iodine.[33] Essentially, the water is quite pure and inert. Lacadé had hoped that Lourdes water might have special mineral properties which would allow him to develop Lourdes into a spa town, to compete with neighbouring Cauterets and Bagnères-de-Bigorre.[31]

Secular views[edit]

Historical, psychological, natural analogies and other empirical explanations have been forwarded, all of which are welcomed by the Catholic Church, provided they are generally open-ended and unbiased.[34] Analogies are most common in Marian apparitions, they indicate that the person involved used popular images and common language. They do not by themselves support arguments for or against the apparition itself.

Thus, Soubirous described the apparition as uo petito damizelo (“a tiny maiden”) of about twelve years old. Soubirous insisted that the apparition was no taller than herself. At 1.40 metres (4 ft 7 in) tall, Soubirous was diminutive even by the standards of other poorly nourished children.[35]

Soubirous described that the apparition as dressed in a flowing white robe, with a blue sash around her waist. This was the uniform of a religious group called the Children of Mary, which, on account of her poverty, Soubirous was not permitted to join (although she was admitted after the apparitions).[36] Her Aunt Bernarde was a long-time member.

The statue that currently stands in the niche within the grotto of Massabielle was created by the Lyonnais sculptor Joseph-Hugues Fabisch in 1864. Although it has become an iconographic symbol of Our Lady of Lourdes, it depicts a figure which is not only older and taller than Soubirous’s description, but also more in keeping with orthodox and traditional representations of the Virgin Mary. On seeing the statue, Soubirous was profoundly disappointed with this representation of her vision.[37]

The Sanctuary[edit]

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes or the Domain (as it is most commonly known) is an area of ground surrounding the shrine (Grotto) to Our Lady of Lourdes in the town of Lourdes, France. This ground is owned and administrated by the Church, and has several functions, including devotional activities, offices, and accommodation for sick pilgrims and their helpers. The Domain includes the Grotto itself, the nearby taps which dispense the Lourdes water, and the offices of the Lourdes Medical Bureau, as well as several churches and basilicas. It comprises an area of 51 hectares, and includes 22 separate places of worship.[38] There are six official languages of the Sanctuary: French, English, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and German.

Affiliate and replica shrines[edit]

  • The Church of Notre Dame (New York City) is an affiliated Church of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is dedicated to her veneration and Lourdes waters are available to pilgrims at the New York church, with the 1910 interior constructed as a faithful, large-scale replica of the Grotto.
  • Scotland’s Carfin Grotto includes a replica of Our Lady of Lourdes.
  • Mount Saint Mary’s University, Emmitsburg, MD National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The Lourdes Medical Bureau[edit]

To ensure claims of cures were examined properly and to protect the town from fraudulent claims of miracles, the Lourdes Medical Bureau (Bureau Medical) was established at the request of Pope Saint Pius X. It is completely under medical rather than ecclesiastical supervision. Approximately 7000 people have sought to have their case confirmed as a miracle, of which 68 have been declared a scientifically inexplicable miracle by both the Bureau and the Catholic Church.[39]

The officially recognized miracle cures in Lourdes are among the least controversial in the Catholic world, because Lourdes from the very beginning was subject to intense medical investigation from skeptical doctors around the world. All medical doctors with the appropriate specialization in the area of the cure have unlimited access to the files and documents of the Lourdes Medical Bureau (Bureau Medical),[40] which also contains all approved and disapproved miracles. Most officially recognized cures in Lourdes were openly discussed and reported on in the media at the time. Nevertheless, there were a few instances where medically ascertained incomprehension turned out not to be miracles, because the illness reappeared in later years. In the vast number of cases however, the judgment of the medical and ecclesiastical authorities was upheld as beyond medical explanation in later critical investigations.[41]

Pilgrimages[edit]

Skyline of the sanctuary at Lourdes

The pilgrimage site is visited by millions of Catholics each year, and Lourdes has become one of the prominent pilgrimage sites of the world. Miraculous healings have been claimed, and a number of these have been documented by the Lourdes Medical Commission. Large numbers of sick pilgrims travel to Lourdes each year in the hope of physical healing or spiritual renewal.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Jump up^ The event was not a rite of Canonical coronation, nor a re-coronation of the image at the Rosary basilica.

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Catholic Online: Apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes First ApparitionArchived April 12, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. Jump up^ “2009 Catholic Almanac”. Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.
  3. Jump up^ “La Vierge Couronnee”, Sanctuaire Notre-Dame du Lourdes
  4. Jump up^ “Marie Reine, 22 août”, Zenit, 21 Août 2013
  5. Jump up^ Stravinskas, Peter. What Mary Means to Christians: An Ancient Tradition Explained, 2012, Paulist Press ISBN 0809147440 chapter on “Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe”
  6. Jump up^ Bunson, Matthew. The Catholic Almanac’s Guide to the Church, 2001 ISBN 0879739142 p. 194
  7. Jump up^ Blanton, Margaret Grey, Bernadette of Lourdes. Longmans, Green & Co., 1939.
  8. Jump up^ Burke, Raymond L.; et al. (2008). Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons ISBN 978-1-57918-355-4 pp. 850-868
  9. Jump up^ Lauretin, R., Lourdes, Dossier des documents authentiques, Paris: 1957
  10. Jump up^ Buckley, James; Bauerschmidt, Frederick Christian, and Pomplun, Trent. The Blackwell Companion to Catholicism, 2010 ISBN 1444337327 p. 317
  11. Jump up^ Taylor, Thérèse (2003). Bernadette of Lourdes. Burns and Oates. ISBN 0-86012-337-5
  12. Jump up^ Fr. Paolo O. Pirlo, SHMI (1997). “Our Lady of Lourdes”. My First Book of Saints. Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate – Quality Catholic Publications. pp. 49–50. ISBN 971-91595-4-5.
  13. ^ Jump up to:a b Laurentin 1988, p. 161.
  14. Jump up^ Harris 1999, p. 4.
  15. Jump up^ Harris 1999, p. 7.
  16. ^ Jump up to:a b c Lauretin 1988, p. 162.
  17. Jump up^ Harris 1999, p. 39.
  18. Jump up^ Harris 1999, p. 41.
  19. Jump up^ Harris 1999, p. 60.
  20. Jump up^ “Lourdes France: The encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary”, Sanctuaire Notre-Dame du Lourdes
  21. Jump up^ “Song of Songs”, 2:14, retrieved 29 May 2007
  22. Jump up^ “Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church”, Catechism of the Catholic Church 963, retrieved 29 May 2007.Vatican.va
  23. Jump up^ Schmidlin, Josef.Papstgeschichte, München 1934, 317
  24. Jump up^ Bäumer Leo XIII, Marienlexikon, 97
  25. Jump up^ Bäumer, Pius X Marienlexikon, 246
  26. Jump up^ Hahn Baier, Bernadette Soubirous, Marienlexikon, 217
  27. Jump up^ Catholic Pilgrims: Apparitions at Lourdes
  28. Jump up^ Fulgens Corona, §3
  29. Jump up^ Le pèlerinage de Lourdes, 57
  30. Jump up^ Le pèlerinage de Lourdes, 40 ff
  31. ^ Jump up to:a b Harris, Ruth. Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books, 2000, p. 312.
  32. Jump up^ Clarke, Richard. 2008 Lourdes, Its Inhabitants, Its Pilgrims, And Its MiraclesISBN 1-4086-8541-8 p. 38
  33. Jump up^ Barbé, Daniel. Lourdes
  34. Jump up^ Stöger, Erscheinungen in Marienlexikon, 395 ff
  35. Jump up^ Harris 1999, p. 72.
  36. Jump up^ Harris 1999, p. 43.
  37. Jump up^ Visentin, M.C. (2000). “María Bernarda Soubirous (Bernardita)”. In Leonardi, C.; Riccardi, A.; Zarri, G. Diccionario de los Santos (in Spanish). Spain: San Pablo. pp. 1586–1596. ISBN 84-285-2259-6.
  38. Jump up^ Sanctuaire Notre-Dame du Lourdes
  39. Jump up^ Where Scientists are looking for God, The Telegraph, 16 January 2002. Retrieved 7 August 2012
  40. Jump up^ Müller, 767
  41. Jump up^ Müller 768
  42. Jump up^ “NY Times: The Song of Bernadette”. NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
  43. Jump up^ Andy Williams, “The Village of St. Bernadette” chart positions Retrieved June 6, 2013
  44. Jump up^ Hausner’s Lourdes wins Viennale best film award. Screen daily.com, 4 November 2009.
  45. Jump up^ Michael Knott – Songs From The Feather River Highway EP. Knottheads.com, Retrieved June 4, 2016

Works cited[edit]

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