Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s video: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time B & Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11,2018

Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s video: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time B & Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11,2018

Jesus “stretched out his hand and touched him.” This was probably the first time the leper had ever been touched. That contact was just as compelling as his cure. The leper perceives in Jesus a compassion, a “pity”; like nothing else, the personal experience of sickness and suffering can make one acutely aware of the tenderness and goodness of another. Most likely the leper never would have begged Jesus in this way if he had not been afflicted in the first place. “I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble.” The leper present himself to the Great High Priest who “fills him with the joy of salvation.”

AMDG+

Opening Prayer

Lord, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean. May I never cease to tell others of your love and mercy.” In your Name, I pray. Amen.

Reading 1
Lv 13:1-2, 44-46 – The leper will dwell apart, making an abode outside the camp.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,
“If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch
which appears to be the sore of leprosy,
he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest,
or to one of the priests among his descendants.
If the man is leprous and unclean,
the priest shall declare him unclean
by reason of the sore on his head.
“The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall keep his garments rent and his head bare,
and shall muffle his beard;
he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’
As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean,
since he is in fact unclean.
He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 32:1-2, 5, 11

R. (7) I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just;
exult, all you upright of heart.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Reading II
1 Cor 10:31-11:1 – Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Brothers and sisters,
Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do everything for the glory of God.
Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or
the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way,
not seeking my own benefit but that of the many,
that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

The word of the Lord.

Gospel
Mk 1:40-45  – The leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily on 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time B – The Leper and Evangelization click below:

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched him, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning the him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
He said to him, See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses
 prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – Made Clean

To listen Dr. Scott Hahn’s Reflection click below:

Listen Here!

In the Old Testament, leprosy is depicted as punishment for disobedience of God’s commands (see Numbers 12:12-15; 2 Kings 5:27; 15:5).

Considered “unclean” – unfit to worship or live with the Israelites, lepers are considered “stillborn,” the living dead (see Numbers 12:12). Indeed, the requirements imposed on lepers in today’s First Reading – rent garments, shaven head, covered beard – are signs of death, penance, and mourning (see Leviticus 10:6; Ezekiel 24:17).

So there’s more to the story in today’s Gospel than a miraculous healing.

When Elisha, invoking God’s name, healed the leper, Naaman, it proved there was a prophet in Israel (see 2 Kings 5:8). Today’s healing reveals Jesus as far more than a great prophet – He is God visiting His people (see Luke 7:16).

Only God can cure leprosy and cleanse from sin (see 2 Kings 5:7); and only God has the power to bring about what He wills (see Isaiah 55:11; Wisdom 12:18).

The Gospel scene has an almost sacramental quality about it.

Jesus stretches out His hand – as God, by His outstretched arm, performed mighty deeds to save the Israelites (see Exodus 14:6; Acts 4:30). His ritual sign is accompanied by a divine word (“Be made clean”). And, like God’s word in creation (“Let there be”), Jesus’ word “does” what He commands (see Psalm 33:9).

The same thing happens when we show ourselves to the priest in the sacrament of penance. On our knees like the leper, we confess our sins to the Lord, as we sing in today’s Psalm. And through the outstretched arm and divine word spoken by His priest, the Lord takes away the guilt of our sin.

Like the leper we should rejoice in the Lord and spread the good news of His mercy. We should testify to our healing by living changed lives. As Paul says in today’s Epistle, we should do even the littlest things for the glory of God and that others may be saved. – Read the source: https://stpaulcenter.com/made-clean-scott-hahn-reflects-on-the-sixth-sunday-in-ordinary-time/

Reflection 2 – Who are the lepers today?

A leper was singled out by the Law of Moses and linked with sin because they were considered in those days as “unclean” both ceremonially and physically (Lev. 13:45; 22:4). Leprosy was seen as a graphic symbol of sin. If we could see sin, it would look something like leprosy.

In the gospel (Mk 1:40-45) the leper knelt down and begged Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean” (Mk 1:40). Jesus was “moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said ‘I do will it. Be made clean’. The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean” (Mk 1:41-42). Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them” (Mk 1:44).

Let’s look at ourselves in the leper. We can ask ourselves whether we are willing to let our spiritual leprosy of being separated from public worship, the ugly mark of pride and selfishness be cleaned in our encounter with Christ the Savior. The leper in the gospel took the risk of approaching Christ, seeking not only to be cleaned but a new life living in the community. Do I have the courage to reject pride, selfishness and complacency and go to the priest for the forgiveness of my sins? Until self-satisfaction dies I cannot live out the sacrificial love of Christ and be a faithful member of His body, the Church. St. Paul is our example of this sacrificial love of Christ and says, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me” (Gal. 2:20). As St. Paul points out to us that we are to have within us the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5) and said, “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1), do I see, think, and love like Christ? For more reflection, watch the video on Confession: It brings the dead soul back to life click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/05/29/confession-it-brings-the-dead-soul-back-to-life/

Let’s invite the unchurch to be reunited into our Parish community and celebrate this new life in Christ in the Eucharist and pray for healing, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed” (Mt 8:8).  Let us prepare ourselves this coming Lent season starting on Ash Wednesday with prayer, fasting, abstinence and go to confession at least during the penance service. And Jesus gives His healing power in us who humbly beg for it.

Reflection 3 – Be made clean

Today’s gospel scene brings to our hearts the depth of Christ’s love for all of us. It revealed to everyone that we have a God in Christ Who is truly authentic in His desire to care for all of us. He showed everyone how unconventional loving and caring should be among His people. That our love for our neighbor should never be fixed within the confines of a designed framework or program but one that extends to what is difficult to do, one that needs our total commitment, one that is almost impossible to pursue. But most importantly, what we do should be done for God’s greater glory…Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (AMDG!)

By what Jesus witnessed to us, He exhorts every believer to love one’s neighbor with the kind of love that is not only true and deep but one that will be enough to move one into action, one that flows into mercy and compassion. He wants us to love our neighbor as He did, without any reservation and totally selfless, a love that totally considers the present need and predicament of our neighbor, one that is not offensive, not self seeking… “Brothers and sisters, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”

Jesus healed a leper by touching him, a very meaningful act of love and compassion on a man who by law was barred from ever touching anyone again. To be near a leper was beyond peoples’ minds then, and even today. Lepers have practically been banished from society that no one would even dare come close to them, not even within reasonable distance. With their sores, dirty and contaminated bodies, lepers are the last persons man would want to touch.

To touch a leper is quite unthinkable up to this present time, yet the first thing Jesus did was to touch him. Jesus touched him, healed him and made him whole.  Even before Jesus could respond to the plea of the leper, Jesus Who was moved with pity, stretched out his hand, touched the leper and said: “I do will it. Be cured.” That is the kind of love Jesus has for us, one that flows into mercy and compassion, one that is authentic enough to make Him accept death on the Cross for the salvific benefit of sinners and not the righteous.

Today, let us be imitators of Christ and follow His great example by showing love and compassion to those we find hard to relate to, not only because of their physical deficiencies but due to what we have perceived as their sinfulness and brokenness. Let our love transcend the physical and go deep down into the beauty of one’s heart.

“Harden not our hearts” on those we find difficult to love. “Take care, brothers and sisters that none of us may have an indifferent and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. Let us encourage and lift each other up while time is in our favor so that none of us may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.”

Let us love one another as Christ has loved us by being “men for others.”

Direction

Our love and compassion for our neighbor should go beyond our words and be evidenced in our actions.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, give me the grace to find ways to express love and compassion on those who are hurting and are in need of your healing touch. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Reflection 4 – The Lord Jesus can make me clean

Do you seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith? No one who sought Jesus out was refused his help. Even the untouchables and the outcasts of Jewish society found help in him. Unlike the people of Jesus’ time who fled at the sight of a leper, Jesus touched the leper who approached him and he made him whole and clean. Why was this so remarkable? Lepers were outcasts of society. They were driven from their homes and communities and left to fend for themselves. Their physical condition was terrible as they slowly lost the use of their limbs and withered away. They were not only shunned but regarded as “already dead” even by their relatives. The Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur.

This leper did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean – not only physically but spiritually as well.

How do you approach those who are difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some defect? Do you show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving towards others.

Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.” – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2018/feb11.htm

Reflection 5 – Stretching Hands

A young man figured in a car accident, and he woke up at the hospital with his left arm gone. He was so depressed that he decided to commit suicide. He went up the rooftop of the hospital and was about to jump to his death when he saw on the ground a man dancing wildly. He noticed that the man had no arms. This sight brought him back to his right senses. He went down the building and talked to the man. “I am ashamed of myself,” he said. “I lost one arm, and I was already thinking of committing suicide. But here you are. You have lost both arms, and you are still happy.” The man replied, “What made you think I am happy?” “Well,” the first guy said, “I saw you dancing.” “But I was not dancing,” the armless man said. “My back is itchy and I have no way of scratching it.”

Leprosy is not only itchy. It is a dreaded disease, which, at the time of Jesus had no known cure. The leper was the most miserable outcast in Jewish society. He had to live away from the community. He had to wear a bell and cry out, “Unclean, unclean!” Worse still, he was also cut off from the worshipping community. Anyone who touched him would also be unclean. Hence, still alive, he was practically considered dead. This socio-religious custom, though, was based in Sacred Scriptures. The first reading this Sunday, from the Book of Leviticus, spelled out the prescriptions on how to deal with lepers.

In the Gospel today, Jesus once again showed his compassion and power as the Divine Healer. He said to the leper, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And he was healed. But before saying those words, Jesus did something unusual and even unthinkable: “Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand (and) touched him.” In the sight of the Jewish leaders, it was such a horrible thing to do. Jesus could be declared unclean, and more importantly, he could be accused of violating the Law. But he did not mind. He was more concerned with obedience to the true spirit of the law.

His action imparts several important lessons for us. First, this was an expression of his overwhelming desire to reach out to people, especially those who are in need, the sick, the sinners and the outcasts. “The healthy do not need a doctor; sick people do. I have come to call, not the self-righteous but sinners” (Mk 2:17). That has always been his mission in accordance with the Mystery of the Incarnation. God became man so that He can touch us and be one with us, especially in our miseries and sufferings. With this touch of Jesus, the leper was healed and can now go back to his family and community – not anymore an outcast, a living dead. The healing touch of Jesus gave him new life.

Second, Jesus touched the leper to impart healing in a personal way. God deals with each of us on a person-to-person basis. There is nothing impersonal with God. That is why Jesus taught us to call God “Abba”, Father. By touching the leper, Jesus risked being contaminated. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases’” (Mt. 8:17). Jesus did this because, behind the horrible disfigurement of leprosy, he saw the priceless value of every human person.

Third, Jesus wanted to correct the common belief that sickness is a divine punishment for sins. The story of Miriam, sister of Moses, who was struck with leprosy as a result of her misconduct (Num 12:9-10) as well as that of Job who was afflicted with a leprosy-like skin disease (Jb 30:30) were instances in the Bible that made the Jews view sickness as God’s punishment for sins. By touching the leper, Jesus has shown that God is not a vengeful despot, but a loving and merciful Father. Sickness, no matter how contagious and horrible, is not God’s punishment. It is just the result of the frailty and limitations of the human body. And in fact, in Jesus, God has always shown genuine compassion for the sick and afflicted.

But most importantly, the action of Jesus in touching the leper is a serious challenge to all his followers. At the Last Supper, he washed the feet of his apostles and said: “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (Jn 15:13). With his action, he is instructing us to reach out to everyone, especially the lost, the last and the least in society.

One day, a group of tourists visited the convent of the sisters of Mother Teresa in Calcutta. They were horrified at the appalling condition of the poor and destitute patients being cared for by the sisters. One tourist, seeing a nun cleaning the putrid sores of a patient, remarked with much disgust, “Sister, even if somebody pays me a million dollars, I will not do what you are doing right now.” The nun replied, “And neither will I. I am doing this only for the love of Jesus.”

That is what every Christian should do: reach out, care and share – all for the love of Jesus. Failure to do so is definitely a grave sin – sin of omission. Like leprosy, sin defiles and deforms our soul, and it separates us from God and from others. And basically, sin is rooted in selfishness. Selfishness is crossing our arms, unmindful of the needs of others – indeed, the cause of too much misery and pain in the world.

On February 11, we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Pope John Paul II has declared it as World Day of the Sick. Let us continue to pray for the sick and to help them in any way we can. But let us also pray for those who are truly sick in spirit: those who, in their selfishness, are unwilling to stretch out their hands. May the Lord touch them and heal their withered hands so that they may once again learn to reach out and enjoy life in its fullness (Source: Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs, Camarin Road).

Reflection 6 – Cleaned your windows

What lesson can we get from the story of the leper? Here is a story of a woman who lived in a beautiful house. She possessed just about everything a person could dream of, but one thing always upset her. She said to her husband, “Just look at our neighbor’s laundry. Doesn’t it look more grey than white? On the other hand, ours is always so clean and white.”

She used to say that so often that her husband got used to it. And for years the two of them would discuss what possibly could be the cause of that grey laundry. One day while their house was being renovated, the lady and her husband went away for a short holiday to escape the turmoil of cleaning and painting, etc. When they returned, they immediately appreciated the glisten of the spotless home. Eventually the lady of the house looked out her window, and to her surprise, the neighbor’s laundry was now white as snow. There was nothing grey about it.

When she joyfully told her husband of this discovery, he smiled and told her, “The color of our neighbor’s laundry has not changed; but what has, is the quality of the window through which you are looking at the world outside. It has a new glass in it now.”

We are challenged to clean our own window glass first in order to see the beauty of the world around us. And from this new window glass, we can see a loving God and Jesus set forth the love of neighbor as a principle. In the Gospel, the Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper but Jesus met the leper’s misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. How do you approach the untouchables and outcasts, and those you find difficult to love? Do you offer mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean.

“Lord, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean. May, I never cease to tell others of your love and mercy.”

Reflection 7 – Our Need for Christ

Purpose: We so often pity those who live with great suffering or are cast out of society. With a false sense of independence, we can forget that all of us share that brokenness in our souls and are equally in need Christ’s healing.

We are incredibly blessed to live in this time in the United States of America. We are so used to basic necessities and daily luxuries, that we may forget just how much our ancestors labored simply to survive. While untimely death is a great tragedy for us, in any other time, it was a daily reality. We have the incredible freedom to follow our dreams, thanks to democracy, and obtain all we desire, especially through technology. With such great control and comfort, we easily get the sense that we are truly independent. We think what a terrible pity it is, and in many ways how horrifying, to see someone struck with a great misfortune. Life is not supposed to be that way; it frightens us to think that we may someday experience that utter dependence on others. Why else would euthanasia and the abortion of potentially handicapped infants in the womb gain currency, unless we believed that those lives are not worth living.

Lepers, in ancient times, would certainly have fallen into that same category. Labeled as unclean, and exiled from the community, the thought might certainly have crossed their minds that it would have been better to have never been born. In the Gospel, Christ heals a leper, giving him the inestimable gift of not just health, but new life in the fullest sense. The leper would once again become a member of the community, no longer one of the unclean, but a person of value. And we can imagine all the people going to Christ for this physical healing, searching for comfort from the trials of this life. It is natural for all of us to turn to God in our great struggles, to entrust ourselves to him, and entreat that he heal us, that he restore us to good fortune.

But that understanding of Christ falls terribly short. The healing Christ offers is so much more; it is not just to ease physical suffering. The sickness he comes to heal is not of our bodies, but in the very core of our souls. He comes to heal the brokenness which we all have, yet which so many of us today hide beneath the veil of self-sufficiency. The leper’s illness is merely an external image of the sinfulness we all bear. On our own, as much as we may care for our bodies, we are still weak; we still slip into selfishness due to our fallen nature. We fail to see that we utterly depend on God, just as the man of suffering depends on others. So often we convince ourselves that we are whole, and yet we end up living out our lives inchoately in this lonely isolation. As counterintuitive as it may seem, what a blessing it is to live out that suffering, to know what it means to live in complete dependence on others, and on God. What a blessing to never once court the illusion of self-sufficiency, and naturally grasp that we can only succeed in this life with the help of someone far greater than ourselves. What a blessing to live in hope of a life far better than this one, rather than settle for the meager joys of this earth.

Recognizing our own brokenness, we are able to see that none of us, even the mightiest and most successful, are any more valuable than the lowliest among us. Where it truly matters—according to the standard of the cross, the standard of selfless love—we all fall short. It is only because we are children of God, created in his image and likeness, that we gain our dignity. It is in our utter dependence on Christ, our complete reliance on the cross, that we are healed. Just as Christ lived out that brokenness in his body, and was raised, so, too, united with Christ, our broken existence in the end will be raised to new life (Source: Homiletic and Pastoral Review).

Reflection 8 – “He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”

Who knows your name, and why do they know it?
We are known by many people, and for many different reasons. Sometimes, we’re glad to be known by—family, by friends, by a prospective employer. And there are others to whom we’d like to remain anonymous—potential rivals, those who might drain our attention or energy, the IRS! But deep down in our hearts, we all have a longing desire to be truly known by someone we trust and love. The theme song for the old TV sitcom “Cheers” nailed it perfectly: “…you want to go where everybody knows your name.” If you are fortunate enough to be known in that wonderful way, it is deeply transformative.

When I was living in Washington, D.C., I would commute several times a day on their subway system, the Metro. Over time, I came to develop what I called the “Metro test.” As you might know, D.C. can be a pretty type-A personality town. There are many high-powered people in high-stress jobs making decisions that can impact millions of lives. At rush hour on a hot day (of which D.C. has many), it was not unusual to find many commuters presenting fairly serious faces, or even scowls, to the world. They were buried in their newspapers, or briefing books, and contemplating the next meeting or business trip on their agenda. But every now and then, you would see someone—clearly on their way to work, not a tourist—with the most serene look of peace on their face, or even a broad smile. Right there, crammed like a sardine in the middle of the train car, but looking as if they were in the sweetest place on earth. Whenever I would see someone like that, I would say to myself: there is a person who knows they are loved; a person who knows that there is somebody in their life who is thinking of them that very minute, who was sad to see them leave that morning, and who is anxiously anticipating their return that night when they can be together again.

In my priestly ministry, I have found that, by far, the most spiritually distressing situation we can find ourselves in is when we feel isolated or alone. Human beings can tolerate an awful lot of pain or stress so long as they feel that there is someone with them who understands their plight, and who can love them, even in the midst of the turmoil. We are wired for community, and when we are deprived of it, we are truly less than human. Every city has its marginalized population, but so also does every family, and even every parish. The community of the marginalized is fragile but large.

When the leper encounters Jesus in today’s Gospel, he asks to be made clean, to be sure. But what he is really asking for is to be included in the community from which he was originally cast out. Notice the determination behind this desire. He does not wait for Jesus to ask him: “What do you want me to do for you?” Rather, he boldly approaches Jesus, daring to cross the great divide, and beginning to forge a new communion on his own. His very act of declaring to Jesus that he has the power to heal him is the very act by which community is born. It should be little wonder that, once healed, the man publicizes the matter, and spreads the news broadly. The new community of which the former leper is the founder, desires only to grow by inviting others in.

At a spiritual level, the leper has a profound lesson to teach us. He comes to Jesus and presents to him directly the depth of his painful isolation, and the depth of his desire for return to community. That is the purest form of prayer. We often make the mistake of praying in a roundabout way that never directly names, to Jesus’ face, precisely what is in our heart. The leper makes no assumption that Jesus “probably already knows” what he is thinking, and neither should we. Wherever we are feeling isolated and nameless—in our broken relationships, in our failed commitments, in our unrealized dreams, in our moral disappointments—we need to boldly let ourselves be known by the only one whose love can break through the isolating wall around our hearts.

So while everyone, from your credit card company to your internet provider, might know your name, the one who most purely desires to know it (and to know you) is the one to whom you freely choose to reveal it.

“Lord, if you wish…” “I do will it.” And you no longer need to be alone. – Read the source: http://www.hprweb.com/2018/01/homilies-for-february-2018/

Reflection 9 – The Meaning of the Leper’s Suffering

“Freedom is nothing but this: the respect God has for us….

“If God desires to have us, he must seduce us, for if his Majesty does not please us, we can throw it from our presence, buffet it, scourge it, and crucify it to the applause of the vilest rabble. God will not defend himself with his power, but only with his patience and his beauty….

“Suffering! Here then is the key word! Here the solution for every human life on earth! The springboard for every superiority, the sieve for every merit, the infallible criterion for every moral beauty! People absolutely refuse to understand that suffering is needful…. Suffering is necessary. It is the backbone, the very essence of moral life. Love is recognized by this sign, and when this sign is lacking, love is but a prostitution of strength or of beauty. I say that someone loves me when that someone consents to suffer through or for me….

“There is but one sorrow and that is to have lost the Garden of Delights, and there is but one hope and one desire, to recover it” (Source: Leon Bloy, +1917, Magnificat, Vol. 16, No. 12, February 2015, pp. 245-246).

Reflection 10 – On begging to be purified

We gain the invitation to do as the leper who asked Christ for being purified. Then Jesus will give us health for our body and salvation for our souls and a pure heart, which harbors his love.

1) Lord, “Make me clean”

This Sunday’s Gospel passage offers us the healing of a leprosy1 patient. The evangelist St. Mark with this miracle wants to make the listeners of his time and of today understand that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

In fact, the leper who asks to be healed does not say “heal me”, but kneels, as one does before a Lord and begs him saying: “If you wish, make me clean”. He asks to be purified, that is to see his skin and his flesh clean, but he asks also forgiveness from his sins and to be free from all that keeps him away from God and from men.

This is the attitude to have only with God, who alone can purify from the sin that has caused the disease.

To understand this assertion, which may seem absurd, let us briefly examine the first reading of today’s Mass. The chosen passage proposes a part of chapter 13 of Leviticus. In this chapter, leprosy is described including in it quite broadly different forms of skin diseases many of which are curable. In Chapter 14 it is described the ritual of the purification of lepers and of their infected houses.

Therefore, on the one hand, the Leviticus states that the Priests were the competent ones to examine the sick and to diagnose the infection declaring him “unclean” (Lev. 13, 3), on the other hand in chapter 14 we read that the same priest is then in charge of certifying the eventual healing (Lev 14, 1-4). In ancient societies, precautionary rules were indeed the only possible defense against contagious and incurable diseases; hence the harsh norms set forth in vv. 45-46: “The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean.
He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp
 “.

The leper is therefore an impure individual, struck by God because of a physical and moral impurity: he is an untouchable and must live banned by society.

This makes us understand why, in Jesus’ times, the lepers were really “unapproachable”. They were the untouchables – an image of what sin does in man. Faced with cry for the help of the leper, who recognizes in Jesus the envoy of God to cure also the lepers, Jesus responds with his divine “compassion”: he extends his hand, touches him – becoming himself impure according to the law – and says: “I do will it, be purified”.

It is against this background that the Gospel story acquires a precise meaning: Jesus touches an untouchable. The Kingdom of God does not take into account the barriers of the pure and the impure: it overcomes them.

There are no men to welcome and men to avoid, men who are close to us and men who are far, men with rights and men without rights. All are loved by God. All are called, and evangelical praxis must be the sign of this divine love that makes no differences.

2) Purity.

What is the biblical concept of purity? In order not to make you bored with a lengthy examination of the biblical texts in this regard, I once more dwell on the first reading taken by Leviticus2, in which it is described in what incurs the unclean person. In this book, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, when someone showed symptoms that could be traced to leprosy, precisely because leprosy is an infectious disease, he was immediately declared “impure” by the priest. The consequence was that he had to live alone and outside the camp.

The Jews, like the ancient oriental peoples, considered “everything” that belonged to the sacred sphere and favored the worship of God. On the contrary, they considered “impure” everything that opposed the sacred and was an obstacle to worship. However, a similar distinction did not concern the moral sphere of the person, but only the conditions necessary to be considered fit or not for worship and to be included in the life of the community (a leper was excluded).

At the time of Jesus’ earthly life, this distinction between pure and impure was in force, supported by the Pharisees. But Christ teaches us to give primacy to interior purity, which has its center in the heart of man, from where what truly contaminates his existence may come out (Cf. Mt 15: 10-20; Mk 7: 14-23). We too, following the example of Jesus, must privilege inner and moral purity: the purity of the heart

Being pure of heart means above all to be holy and honest.

The saint is not a superman. The saint is a true man, restored to his truth because he is cleansed from sin. The saint is a true person, who kneels before Christ, recognizes his divinity, implores him to be cleansed by his mercy and lives by the pure love that he shares with his neighbor. Saint is he who – in spite of his weaknesses, indeed precisely because of them and for the awareness of his own nothingness – recognizes the need to be converted, healed and saved by Christ every day. This is why saint is he who follows Him with perseverance and with a wise and intelligent heart along the journey that is Christ himself.

Holy is he who follows Christ sincerely.

Sincerity is the mirror of truth of all the other virtues. The holy person manifests his or her truth in sincerity. This is the virtue that guarantees the truth of the relationships with God and with others. Sincerity is the transparency of the heart. The lack of sincerity obscures our vocation as servants of God. The foundation of sincerity is to stand in the presence of God who is the transparency of Truth. Jesus was sincere. People knew how his heart was. “We know that you are truthful” (Mt 22, 16). His sincerity was printed in his eyes.

Therefore, let us imitate Christ in his sincerity, with simplicity and loyalty be faithful to his Heart that guards our heart and make this prayer our own: “O God, who promised to be present in those who love you and with a right and sincere heart guard your word, make us worthy of becoming your permanent home “(Colletta of the Sixth Sunday of the year).

3) Sincerity and virginity.

“What a sweet joy to think that the good God is just, that is, that he takes into account our weaknesses and knows perfectly the fragility of our nature. So what should I be afraid of? “(Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church)

“Chastity is sincerity, so the best protection for chastity is to hide nothing” (Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta)

A current testimony to the truth of the affirmation of the two Saints is the life of the consecrated virgins. These women give themselves completely to Christ and their love, purified and sanctified by their consecration, becomes the visibility of God’s love. As God loves sincerely, without ulterior motives, without asking for anything in return because He loves to give joy, so the consecrated virgins sincerely love God and the neighbor, to give themselves to God and to chastely give to the neighbor the Holy Love of which they live.

“Totally consecrated to God, they are totally handed over to the brothers, to bring the light of Christ where the darkness is thickest and to spread his hope in the disheartened hearts. The consecrated persons are a sign of God in the different environments of life, they are leaven for the growth of a more just and fraternal society, they are prophecy of sharing with the little ones and the poor. Thus understood and lived, the consecrated life appears to us just as it truly is: a gift of God, a gift of God to the Church, a gift of God to its People “(Pope Francis).

Patristic reading

Golden Chain

On Mark 1, 40 -45

Bede, in Marc., i, 7: After that the serpent-tongue of the devils was shut up, and the woman, who was first seduced, cured of a fever, in the third place, the man, who listened to the evil counsels of the woman, is cleansed from his leprosy, that the order of restoration in the Lord might be the same as was the order of the fall in our first parents.
Whence it goes on: “And there came a leper to him, beseeching Him.”
Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 19: Mark puts together circumstances, from which one may infer that he is the same as that one whom Matthew relates to have been cleansed, when the Lord came down from the mount, after the sermon. (Mt 8,2)
Bede, in Marc., i, 9: And because the Lord said that He came “not to destroy the Law but to fulfill,” (Mt 5,17) he who was excluded by the Law, inferring that he was cleansed by the power of the Lord, shewed that grace, which could wash away the stain of the leper, was not from the Law, but over the Law. And truly, as in the Lord authoritative power, so in him the constancy of faith is shewn.
For there follows: “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”
He falls on his face, which is at once a gesture of lowliness and of shame, to shew that every man should blush for the stains of his life. But his shame did not stifle confession; he shewed his wound, and begged for medicine, and the confession is full of devotion and of faith, for he refers the power to the will of the Lord.
Theophylact: For he said not, If thou wilt, pray unto God, but, “If Thou wilt,” as thinking Him very God.
Bede: Moreover, he doubted of the will of the Lord, not as disbelieving His compassion, but, as conscious of his own filth, he did not presume.
It goes on; “But Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will, be thou clean.”
It is not, as many of the Latins think, to be taken to mean and read, I wish to cleanse thee, but that Christ should say separately, “I will,” and then command (p. 34), “be thou clean.”
Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 25: Further, the reason why He touches the leper, and did not confer health upon him by word alone, was, that it is said by Moses in the Law, that he who touches a leper shall be unclean till the evening; that is, that he might shew that this uncleanness is a natural one, that the Law was not laid down for Him, but on account of mere men. Furthermore, He shews that He Himself is the Lord of the Law; and the reason why He touched the leper, though the touch was not necessary to the working of the cure, was to shew that He gives health, not as a servant, but as the Lord.
Bede: Another reason why He touched him, was to prove that He could not be defiled, who free others from pollution. At the same time it is remarkable, that He healed in the way in which He had been begged to heal.
“If Thou wilt,” says the leper, “Thou canst make me clean.”
“I will,” He answered, behold, thou hast My will, “be clean;” now thou hast at once the effect of My compassion.
Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 25: Moreover, by this, not only did He not take away the opinion of Him entertained by the leper, but He confirmed it; for He puts to flight the disease by a word, and what the leper had said in word, He filled up in deed.
Wherefore there follows, “And when He had spoken, immediately, &c.”
Bede: For there is no interval between the work of God and the command, because the work is in the command, for “He commanded, and they were created.” (Ps 148,5)
There follows: “And He straightly charged him, and forthwith, &c.” See thou tell no man.”
Chrys., Hom 25: As if He said, It is not yet time that My works should be preached, I require not thy preaching. By which He teaches us not to seek worldly honor as a reward for our works.
It goes on: “But go thy way, shew thyself to the chief of the priests.”
Our Savior sent him to the priest for the trial of his cure, and that he might not be cast out of the temple, but still be numbered with the people in prayer. He sends him also, that he might fulfil all the parts of the Law, in order to stop the evil-speaking tongue of the Jews. He Himself indeed completed the work, leaving them to try it.
Bede: This He did in order that the priest might understand that the leper was not healed by the Law, but by the grace of God above [p. 35] the Law.
There follows: “And offer for thy cleansing what Moses, &c.”
Theophylact: He ordered him to offer the gift which they who were healed were accustomed to offer, as if for a testimony, that He was not against the Law, but rather confirmed the Law, inasmuch as He Himself worked out the precepts of the Law.
ede: If any one wonders, how the Lord seems to approve of the Jewish sacrifice, which the Church rejects, let him remember that He had not yet offered His own holocaust in His passion. And it was not right that significative sacrifices should be taken away before that which they signified was confirmed by the witness of the Apostles in their preaching, and by the faith of the believing people.
Theophylact: But the leper, although the Lord forbade him disclosed the benefit, wherefore it goes on: “But he having gone out, began to publish and to blaze abroad the tale;” for the person benefitted ought to be grateful, and to return thanks, even though his benefactor requires it not.
Bede, see Greg., Moral., 19, 22: Now it may well be asked, why our Lord ordered His action to be concealed, and yet it could not be kept hid for an hour? But it is to be observed, that the reason why, in doing a miracle, He ordered it to be kept secret, and yet for all that it was noised abroad, was, that His elect, following the example of His teaching, should wish indeed that in the great things which they do, they should remain concealed, but should nevertheless unwillingly be brought to light for the good of others. Not then that He wished anything to be done, which He was not able to bring about, but, by the authority of His teaching, He gave an example of what His members ought to wish for, and of what should happen to them even against their will.
Bede: Further, this perfect cure of one man brought large multitudes to the Lord.
Wherefore it is added, “So that He could not any more openly enter into the city, but could only be without in desert places.”
Chrys.: For the leper everywhere proclaimed his wonderful cure, so that all ran to see and to believe on the Healer; thus the Lord could not preach the Gospel, but walked in desert places.
Wherefore there follows, “And they came together to Him from all places.”
Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, our leprosy is the sin of the first man, which began from the head, when he (p. 36) desired the kingdom of the world. For covetousness is the root of all evil; wherefore Gehazi, engaged in an avaricious pursuit, is covered with leprosy.
Bede: But when the hand of the Savior, that is, the Incarnate Word of God, is stretched out, and touches human nature, it is cleansed from the various parts of the old error.
Pseudo-Jerome: This leprosy is cleansed on offering an oblation to the true Priest after the order of Melchisedec; for He tells us, “Give alms of such things as ye have, and, behold, all things are clean unto you.” (Lc 11,41)
But in that Jesus could not openly enter into the city, it is meant to be conveyed that Jesus is not manifested to those who are enslaved to the love of praise in the broad highway, and to their own wills, but to those who with Peter go into the desert, which the Lord chose for prayer, and for refreshing His people; that is, those who quit the pleasures of the world, and all that they possess, that they may say, “The Lord is my portion.” But the glory of the Lord is manifested to those, who meet together on all sides, that is, through smooth ways and steep, whom nothing can “separate from the love of Christ.” (Rm 8,35)
Bede, in Marc., i, 10: Even after working a miracle in that city, the Lord retires into the desert, to shew that He loves best a quiet life, and one far removed from the cares of the world, and that it is on account of this desire, He applied Himself to the healing of the body.

1Nowadays we struggle to understand the tragedy of leprosy. This disease is treatable today, yet still every year about 211,000 people get infected and 19,000 of them are children. That is to say that there is a contamination every two minutes. This disease is still present in the world with 700-800 thousand cases. Because of the tragic devastation of the body (it causes deformity of the hands and feet, blindness and other disabilities) and the social consequences of exclusion from the civil and religious community, leprosy was and is still today considered in many parts of the world a divine curse.

2In the book of Leviticus (the book of the Bible that is concerned with the religious life of the people of Israel), we find a large section, enclosed in chapters 11-15, entirely dedicated to the distinction between what is pure and what is impure (today, we would say between the sacred and the profane). This section presents the distinction between pure animals (which can be eaten, such as sheep, calves, lambs) and impure animals (which are forbidden to be eaten, such as the camel and the pig) and the statement that the sphere linked to childbirth, birth, death, sexual relations and illness (in particular leprosy) is considered as a source of contamination ( or impurities). Those who had incurred the impurity originating from one of these conditions, before dedicating themselves to worship, had to undergo special rites of purification (such as washing oneself in running water and offering a sacrifice of expiation).

1) Lord, “Make me clean”

This Sunday’s Gospel passage offers us the healing of a leprosy1 patient. The evangelist St. Mark with this miracle wants to make the listeners of his time and of today understand that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

In fact, the leper who asks to be healed does not say “heal me”, but kneels, as one does before a Lord and begs him saying: “If you wish, make me clean”. He asks to be purified, that is to see his skin and his flesh clean, but he asks also forgiveness from his sins and to be free from all that keeps him away from God and from men.

This is the attitude to have only with God, who alone can purify from the sin that has caused the disease.

To understand this assertion, which may seem absurd, let us briefly examine the first reading of today’s Mass. The chosen passage proposes a part of chapter 13 of Leviticus. In this chapter, leprosy is described including in it quite broadly different forms of skin diseases many of which are curable. In Chapter 14 it is described the ritual of the purification of lepers and of their infected houses.

Therefore, on the one hand, the Leviticus states that the Priests were the competent ones to examine the sick and to diagnose the infection declaring him “unclean” (Lev. 13, 3), on the other hand in chapter 14 we read that the same priest is then in charge of certifying the eventual healing (Lev 14, 1-4). In ancient societies, precautionary rules were indeed the only possible defense against contagious and incurable diseases; hence the harsh norms set forth in vv. 45-46: “The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean.
He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp
 “.

The leper is therefore an impure individual, struck by God because of a physical and moral impurity: he is an untouchable and must live banned by society.

This makes us understand why, in Jesus’ times, the lepers were really “unapproachable”. They were the untouchables – an image of what sin does in man. Faced with cry for the help of the leper, who recognizes in Jesus the envoy of God to cure also the lepers, Jesus responds with his divine “compassion”: he extends his hand, touches him – becoming himself impure according to the law – and says: “I do will it, be purified”.

It is against this background that the Gospel story acquires a precise meaning: Jesus touches an untouchable. The Kingdom of God does not take into account the barriers of the pure and the impure: it overcomes them.

There are no men to welcome and men to avoid, men who are close to us and men who are far, men with rights and men without rights. All are loved by God. All are called, and evangelical praxis must be the sign of this divine love that makes no differences.

2) Purity.

What is the biblical concept of purity? In order not to make you bored with a lengthy examination of the biblical texts in this regard, I once more dwell on the first reading taken by Leviticus2, in which it is described in what incurs the unclean person. In this book, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, when someone showed symptoms that could be traced to leprosy, precisely because leprosy is an infectious disease, he was immediately declared “impure” by the priest. The consequence was that he had to live alone and outside the camp.

The Jews, like the ancient oriental peoples, considered “everything” that belonged to the sacred sphere and favored the worship of God. On the contrary, they considered “impure” everything that opposed the sacred and was an obstacle to worship. However, a similar distinction did not concern the moral sphere of the person, but only the conditions necessary to be considered fit or not for worship and to be included in the life of the community (a leper was excluded).

At the time of Jesus’ earthly life, this distinction between pure and impure was in force, supported by the Pharisees. But Christ teaches us to give primacy to interior purity, which has its center in the heart of man, from where what truly contaminates his existence may come out (Cf. Mt 15: 10-20; Mk 7: 14-23). We too, following the example of Jesus, must privilege inner and moral purity: the purity of the heart

Being pure of heart means above all to be holy and honest.

The saint is not a superman. The saint is a true man, restored to his truth because he is cleansed from sin. The saint is a true person, who kneels before Christ, recognizes his divinity, implores him to be cleansed by his mercy and lives by the pure love that he shares with his neighbor. Saint is he who – in spite of his weaknesses, indeed precisely because of them and for the awareness of his own nothingness – recognizes the need to be converted, healed and saved by Christ every day. This is why saint is he who follows Him with perseverance and with a wise and intelligent heart along the journey that is Christ himself.

Holy is he who follows Christ sincerely.

Sincerity is the mirror of truth of all the other virtues. The holy person manifests his or her truth in sincerity. This is the virtue that guarantees the truth of the relationships with God and with others. Sincerity is the transparency of the heart. The lack of sincerity obscures our vocation as servants of God. The foundation of sincerity is to stand in the presence of God who is the transparency of Truth. Jesus was sincere. People knew how his heart was. “We know that you are truthful” (Mt 22, 16). His sincerity was printed in his eyes.

Therefore, let us imitate Christ in his sincerity, with simplicity and loyalty be faithful to his Heart that guards our heart and make this prayer our own: “O God, who promised to be present in those who love you and with a right and sincere heart guard your word, make us worthy of becoming your permanent home “(Colletta of the Sixth Sunday of the year).

3) Sincerity and virginity.

“What a sweet joy to think that the good God is just, that is, that he takes into account our weaknesses and knows perfectly the fragility of our nature. So what should I be afraid of? “(Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church)

“Chastity is sincerity, so the best protection for chastity is to hide nothing” (Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta)

A current testimony to the truth of the affirmation of the two Saints is the life of the consecrated virgins. These women give themselves completely to Christ and their love, purified and sanctified by their consecration, becomes the visibility of God’s love. As God loves sincerely, without ulterior motives, without asking for anything in return because He loves to give joy, so the consecrated virgins sincerely love God and the neighbor, to give themselves to God and to chastely give to the neighbor the Holy Love of which they live.

“Totally consecrated to God, they are totally handed over to the brothers, to bring the light of Christ where the darkness is thickest and to spread his hope in the disheartened hearts. The consecrated persons are a sign of God in the different environments of life, they are leaven for the growth of a more just and fraternal society, they are prophecy of sharing with the little ones and the poor. Thus understood and lived, the consecrated life appears to us just as it truly is: a gift of God, a gift of God to the Church, a gift of God to its People “(Pope Francis).

Patristic reading

Golden Chain

On Mark 1, 40 -45

Bede, in Marc., i, 7: After that the serpent-tongue of the devils was shut up, and the woman, who was first seduced, cured of a fever, in the third place, the man, who listened to the evil counsels of the woman, is cleansed from his leprosy, that the order of restoration in the Lord might be the same as was the order of the fall in our first parents.
Whence it goes on: “And there came a leper to him, beseeching Him.”
Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 19: Mark puts together circumstances, from which one may infer that he is the same as that one whom Matthew relates to have been cleansed, when the Lord came down from the mount, after the sermon. (Mt 8,2)
Bede, in Marc., i, 9: And because the Lord said that He came “not to destroy the Law but to fulfill,” (Mt 5,17) he who was excluded by the Law, inferring that he was cleansed by the power of the Lord, shewed that grace, which could wash away the stain of the leper, was not from the Law, but over the Law. And truly, as in the Lord authoritative power, so in him the constancy of faith is shewn.
For there follows: “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”
He falls on his face, which is at once a gesture of lowliness and of shame, to shew that every man should blush for the stains of his life. But his shame did not stifle confession; he shewed his wound, and begged for medicine, and the confession is full of devotion and of faith, for he refers the power to the will of the Lord.
Theophylact: For he said not, If thou wilt, pray unto God, but, “If Thou wilt,” as thinking Him very God.
Bede: Moreover, he doubted of the will of the Lord, not as disbelieving His compassion, but, as conscious of his own filth, he did not presume.
It goes on; “But Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will, be thou clean.”
It is not, as many of the Latins think, to be taken to mean and read, I wish to cleanse thee, but that Christ should say separately, “I will,” and then command (p. 34), “be thou clean.”
Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 25: Further, the reason why He touches the leper, and did not confer health upon him by word alone, was, that it is said by Moses in the Law, that he who touches a leper shall be unclean till the evening; that is, that he might shew that this uncleanness is a natural one, that the Law was not laid down for Him, but on account of mere men. Furthermore, He shews that He Himself is the Lord of the Law; and the reason why He touched the leper, though the touch was not necessary to the working of the cure, was to shew that He gives health, not as a servant, but as the Lord.
Bede: Another reason why He touched him, was to prove that He could not be defiled, who free others from pollution. At the same time it is remarkable, that He healed in the way in which He had been begged to heal.
“If Thou wilt,” says the leper, “Thou canst make me clean.”
“I will,” He answered, behold, thou hast My will, “be clean;” now thou hast at once the effect of My compassion.
Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 25: Moreover, by this, not only did He not take away the opinion of Him entertained by the leper, but He confirmed it; for He puts to flight the disease by a word, and what the leper had said in word, He filled up in deed.
Wherefore there follows, “And when He had spoken, immediately, &c.”
Bede: For there is no interval between the work of God and the command, because the work is in the command, for “He commanded, and they were created.” (Ps 148,5)
There follows: “And He straightly charged him, and forthwith, &c.” See thou tell no man.”
Chrys., Hom 25: As if He said, It is not yet time that My works should be preached, I require not thy preaching. By which He teaches us not to seek worldly honor as a reward for our works.
It goes on: “But go thy way, shew thyself to the chief of the priests.”
Our Savior sent him to the priest for the trial of his cure, and that he might not be cast out of the temple, but still be numbered with the people in prayer. He sends him also, that he might fulfil all the parts of the Law, in order to stop the evil-speaking tongue of the Jews. He Himself indeed completed the work, leaving them to try it.
Bede: This He did in order that the priest might understand that the leper was not healed by the Law, but by the grace of God above [p. 35] the Law.
There follows: “And offer for thy cleansing what Moses, &c.”
Theophylact: He ordered him to offer the gift which they who were healed were accustomed to offer, as if for a testimony, that He was not against the Law, but rather confirmed the Law, inasmuch as He Himself worked out the precepts of the Law.
Bede: If any one wonders, how the Lord seems to approve of the Jewish sacrifice, which the Church rejects, let him remember that He had not yet offered His own holocaust in His passion. And it was not right that significative sacrifices should be taken away before that which they signified was confirmed by the witness of the Apostles in their preaching, and by the faith of the believing people.
Theophylact: But the leper, although the Lord forbade him disclosed the benefit, wherefore it goes on: “But he having gone out, began to publish and to blaze abroad the tale;” for the person benefitted ought to be grateful, and to return thanks, even though his benefactor requires it not.
Bede, see Greg., Moral., 19, 22: Now it may well be asked, why our Lord ordered His action to be concealed, and yet it could not be kept hid for an hour? But it is to be observed, that the reason why, in doing a miracle, He ordered it to be kept secret, and yet for all that it was noised abroad, was, that His elect, following the example of His teaching, should wish indeed that in the great things which they do, they should remain concealed, but should nevertheless unwillingly be brought to light for the good of others. Not then that He wished anything to be done, which He was not able to bring about, but, by the authority of His teaching, He gave an example of what His members ought to wish for, and of what should happen to them even against their will.
Bede: Further, this perfect cure of one man brought large multitudes to the Lord.
Wherefore it is added, “So that He could not any more openly enter into the city, but could only be without in desert places.”
Chrys.: For the leper everywhere proclaimed his wonderful cure, so that all ran to see and to believe on the Healer; thus the Lord could not preach the Gospel, but walked in desert places.
Wherefore there follows, “And they came together to Him from all places.”
Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, our leprosy is the sin of the first man, which began from the head, when he (p. 36) desired the kingdom of the world. For covetousness is the root of all evil; wherefore Gehazi, engaged in an avaricious pursuit, is covered with leprosy.
Bede: But when the hand of the Savior, that is, the Incarnate Word of God, is stretched out, and touches human nature, it is cleansed from the various parts of the old error.
Pseudo-Jerome: This leprosy is cleansed on offering an oblation to the true Priest after the order of Melchisedec; for He tells us, “Give alms of such things as ye have, and, behold, all things are clean unto you.” (Lc 11,41)
But in that Jesus could not openly enter into the city, it is meant to be conveyed that Jesus is not manifested to those who are enslaved to the love of praise in the broad highway, and to their own wills, but to those who with Peter go into the desert, which the Lord chose for prayer, and for refreshing His people; that is, those who quit the pleasures of the world, and all that they possess, that they may say, “The Lord is my portion.” But the glory of the Lord is manifested to those, who meet together on all sides, that is, through smooth ways and steep, whom nothing can “separate from the love of Christ.” (Rm 8,35)
Bede, in Marc., i, 10: Even after working a miracle in that city, the Lord retires into the desert, to shew that He loves best a quiet life, and one far removed from the cares of the world, and that it is on account of this desire, He applied Himself to the healing of the body.

1Nowadays we struggle to understand the tragedy of leprosy. This disease is treatable today, yet still every year about 211,000 people get infected and 19,000 of them are children. That is to say that there is a contamination every two minutes. This disease is still present in the world with 700-800 thousand cases. Because of the tragic devastation of the body (it causes deformity of the hands and feet, blindness and other disabilities) and the social consequences of exclusion from the civil and religious community, leprosy was and is still today considered in many parts of the world a divine curse.

2In the book of Leviticus (the book of the Bible that is concerned with the religious life of the people of Israel), we find a large section, enclosed in chapters 11-15, entirely dedicated to the distinction between what is pure and what is impure (today, we would say between the sacred and the profane). This section presents the distinction between pure animals (which can be eaten, such as sheep, calves, lambs) and impure animals (which are forbidden to be eaten, such as the camel and the pig) and the statement that the sphere linked to childbirth, birth, death, sexual relations and illness (in particular leprosy) is considered as a source of contamination ( or impurities). Those who had incurred the impurity originating from one of these conditions, before dedicating themselves to worship, had to undergo special rites of purification (such as washing oneself in running water and offering a sacrifice of expiation). – Read the source: Archbishop Francesco Follo   https://zenit.org/articles/archbishop-follo-on-begging-to-be-purified/

Reflection 11 – For the glory of God

This Sunday’s second reading gives us a great motto that we should post on our bedroom mirrors so that it’s the first thing we see as our sleepy eyes awaken each morning: “Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.”

Everything! Brush your teeth for the glory of God. Kiss your family “Good morning!” for the glory of God. Go to Mass for the glory of God (in other words, we don’t go to church just for what we can get out of it). Do your work for the glory of God. Drive politely for the glory of God. Shop and eat and greet others for the glory of God. Say yes to the needs of the Church for the glory of God. And receive all that he wants to give you (the compliments, the money you earn, the answered prayers, the good times and rewards) all for the glory of God.

This should be part of our daily prayers every morning: “Holy Spirit, help me to do everything today for the glory of God. Amen!”

By making it a daily habit to start the day this way, the glory of God becomes integrated into our character. When we remember to see our activities through the lens of “whatever you do, do it for the glory of God”, we become stronger in avoiding all kinds of sins. It sanctifies each moment of every day.

Often, we see religious activities as separate from our normal activities. We take “time out” from our schedules to go to church. We stop what we’re doing when we want to pray. We think that only Clergy and Religious can be religious all of the time and that a layperson who is like that is a “fanatic”. But why?

Why should we limit “for the glory of God” to only what is “holy” — Mass attendance, religious rituals, prayers, the works of ministry, etc.? We can sanctify every moment by remembering that whatever we do, we want to please God with it.

Questions for Personal Reflection:
What have you done already today that glorifies God? What is planned for later today and how can that be offered to God? What will you do to remind yourself daily to do everything for the glory of God?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
Describe ways that we can glorify God in normal, everyday activities. How do you turn mundane tasks into a gift for God? When is it most difficult to glorify him? How can even our lapses into sin become blessings that glorify God? – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2018-02-10

Please follow Romeo Hontiveros at Twitter click this link: https://twitter.com/Trumpeta

Reflection 12 – 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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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?

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 LourdesLourdes, France
PATRONAGE Lourdes, FranceTagaytay City of CaviteBarangay Granada of Bacolod CityDaeguSouth KoreaTennesseeDiocese 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 Conceptiontook 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 XVPius XI, and John XXIII went there as bishops, Pius XII as papal delegate. He also issued an encyclicalLe 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, nitrogencarbonic acidcarbonatesof 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, psychologicalnatural 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 LourdesFrance. 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]

Main article: Lourdes Medical Bureau

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 0809147440chapter 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 GodThe 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 awardScreen daily.com, 4 November 2009.
  45. Jump up^ Michael Knott – Songs From The Feather River Highway EPKnottheads.com, Retrieved June 4, 2016

Works cited[edit]

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