We continue our re-publishing of previous posts chronicling the miraculous unfolding of events that took place at Lourdes in 1858. For an introduction to the series, see here. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
Today, February 24, marks the anniversary of the eighth apparition of Our Blessed Mother to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at the grotto in Lourdes. Beginning on February 11, 1858, The Blessed Virgin appeared to Bernadette Soubirous a total of 18 times bringing a message of prayer, penance, poverty, and participation. Through these posts, we continue our journey with Saint Bernadette as we encounter Our Blessed Mother through her eyes, memories, and words. The previous seven visitations (February 11, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, and 23) were prelude to what was to begin during the eighth blessed message of Mary. During these first days, despite being doubted by her family and friends, and despite being mercilessly tricked and questioned by the police, Bernadette held fast to her faith and never wavered form her story. She refused to discontinue her trips to the grotto at Massabielle, as she had made a promise to aquero. The Blessed Virgin made a promise to Bernadette, to make her happy in the next world.
Whereas the first seven apparitions were times filled with incredible joy for Bernadette, the eighth visitation of Our Lady of Lourdes marks a change in her experience. Her face, previously radiant with joy, becomes sorrowful and sad as Our Lady speaks with her and shares the crux of the message of Lourdes.
“Penance. Penance. Penance. Pray to God for sinners.” Bernadette would later report that Our Lady did not smile, but rather, appeared concerned. She wrote in her journal, “This merciful Queen looked sad when she told me to pray for sinners. She repeated the same words to me several times.”
“Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners.” To those observing, it was unclear what Bernadette was doing, and some took her actions as proof of a weak mind. The following day, during the ninth visitation of the Blessed Mother, her message, despite the strange behaviors of Bernadette, begins to take focus. We see, through the requests of Our Lady of Lourdes, the sufferings of her Son, Jesus Christ, and the redemption of mankind. The visions at Lourdes, through the messenger of the Blessed Virgin, communicate the Lord’s deep love and sacrifice for each of us, and place us at the center of the message of Lourdes.
Bernadette, you intensely desired the Eucharist.
You have done everything to finally receive communion in the Body of Christ.
You loved to adore the Blessed Sacrament.
You united your life living in the offering, that of Christ at the altar.
Like Mary, the Woman of the Eucharist,
Bernadette, inspire me the same hunger for the Eucharist, the food, presence, and sacrifice.
Lord, you have given us your Son, the living and eternal bread. Let the Eucharist transform my life to be a perpetual act of thanksgiving. Amen.
Year 2: Day 55 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Willingness to suffer and look foolish in the eyes of man; Penance for sinners
Requested Intentions: Healing, successful relationship (S); For successful marriage (A); For a husband’s freedom from addiction (C); Freedom from pain and illness for a friend (M); Financial freedom (J); Successful passing of occupational examination (S); Healing and conversion, sale of house (L); Occupational success for employee and colleagues (J); Employment for a son (C); Successful attainment of an important appointed position (J); Recovery from cancer for a friend (Z); For a family’s freedom from sin (M); For a daughter with Diabetes (A); Reconciliation of a marriage (D); Assistance with a legal matter, financial freedom (R); Healing for a friend (M); For a son in medical school (H); Financial assistance (M); Successful employment (N): Freedom from mental illness for a friend (L); For successful marriage (N); For friends having and recovering from surgery; for the reduction of a brain tumor (L); For resolution of a housing crisis (P); For a brother who is struggling financially, for a son who is struggling academically (B); For financial security for a friend (C); Success in business; familial happiness and health (J); Health and recovery of a sister (I); Healing of a father following stroke (S).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."