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."

April 16: Saint Bernadette Soubirous, Visionary of Lourdes

Posted by Jacob

Today, April 16, we commemorate the feast day of Saint Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1979), the visionary of Lourdes. The life of Saint Bernadette is a profound example of humility, suffering, and unwavering faith. Despite her notoriety and the early events of her life, Bernadette never sought out public attention or praise. Rather, following the cessation of visitations from Our Blessed Mother, Bernadette secluded herself in the Convent of Saint-Gildard, becoming a nun. Always humble, when one of her sisters once asked her if she had temptations of pride because she was favored by the Blessed Mother, Bernadette answered, "How can I? The Blessed Virgin chose me only because I was the most ignorant."

The early life story of Bernadette is recorded in this blog through the chronicling of her visitations from Our Blessed Mother at the Grotto of Massabielle, Lourdes. Throughout the eighteen visitations, the Blessed Virgin brought a message of prayer, penance, poverty, and participation to all people, through her unlikely messenger, Bernadette. (For information on each of the visitations, please see: February 11, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28; March 1, 2, 3, 4, 25; April 7). Our Lady of Lourdes implored us all, saying, “Penance, Penance, Penance. Pray to God for sinners.” Our Blessed Mother further invited Bernadette to drink and bathe in the muddy water of the grotto, after which a clear flowing spring came forth where none had existed before. Our Lady of Lourdes commanded, “Go drink in the spring and wash yourself there,” something that faithful pilgrims continue to do each day. (For personal reflections on my experience at Lourdes, see here, here, here, and here). During the sixteenth visitation, upon Bernadette’s repeated questioning, our Blessed Mother revealed her name. She said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Following this revelation, even the local authorities believed!

Following the visitations, Bernadette made her wish known to enter religious life, but was dissuaded by the local church authorities, as they wanted her to remain available to pilgrims, recounting her story (without any changes) repeatedly during the church investigation and the years following. Moreover, local religious orders were reluctant to accept Bernadette into their convents, as they were concerned with the disruption her notoriety may cause their daily lives. During this time, Bernadette, following the words of Mary, continued to pray daily and in earnest for the repentance and forgiveness of sinners. Bernadette’s health continued to deteriorate, her asthma (an effect of her childhood sickness) worsened.

Eventually, following the urging of the local bishop, Bernadette was admitted to the convent at Saint-Gildard, where she became a postulant in the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction, the Sisters of Nevers. Following her postulate, she took the veil, accepting the name Sister Marie-Bernard. During this time, the Soubirous family suffered three deaths, which plagued Bernadette with sadness. She was frequently ill, spending frequent lengthy spells in the infirmary as a patient, and when not a patient, working as a nurses aide.

By the age of 31, Bernadette was confined to her bed, too ill to leave the infirmary, which she referred to as her “white chapel.” In letters to her family, she wrote that is was her “vocation to be sick,” joining her suffering with that of Jesus, and continuing to spend any energy granted her by the Lord in prayer for sinners. Bernadette’s life continued to be an exercise in suffering, as promised by the Blessed Virgin in the Grotto of Lourdes—three more nieces and nephews passed away, followed by her confessor, the Superior of the convent, the local bishop, and Monsignor Payramale—her original parish priest who had offered her significant support during the apparitions and subsequently. Finally, Pope Pius IX joined the Lord, after sending Bernadette an apostolic blessing written in his own hand. Throughout this time, the emotional toll on Bernadette worsened her symptoms. She was to receive the Last Rites on three separate occasions.

On April 16, 1879, Bernadette passed away, sitting in an armchair in front of a roaring fire. She had been carried from the infirmary to the fire, as she was violently shivering and expressed difficulty breathing. Once by the fire, she was at peace. Her body, laid to rest in the Chapel of Saint Joseph in the convent remains incorrupt, a gentle peace which escaped Bernadette while on earth eternally etched on her face—just as the Blessed Mother promised when saying, “I do not promise to make you happy in this world, but in the next.”

From the canonization homily of Saint Bernadette, delivered by Pope Pius XI in 1933:

"To the honour of the Most Holy and Indivisible Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and for the spread of the Christian religion, by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul and by Our own, after mature deliberation and having often implored the Divine Assistance, on the advice of our venerable brethren the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops, We define and declare the Blessed Marie Bernarde Soubirous a Saint, and We enrol her in the Catalogue of Saints, ordaining that her memory shall be piously celebrated in the Universal Church on April 16th each year, the day of her birth in Heaven. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

The legacy of Saint Bernadette continues to live today, with millions of pilgrims each year traveling to Lourdes to visit the holy site of Our Blessed Mother’s apparitions. Studying the life and readings of Saint Bernadette, it is not surprising that she was chosen for such a role—her simple love and devotion to the Lord, faith, humility, and willingness to sacrifice and suffer for others makes Bernadette a model of Christian virtue and someone worthy of aspiration!

Some selected quotations from the writings of Saint Bernadette:

“O Immaculate Mary! O glorious Saint Joseph! And you, Saint John, beloved disciple of the Divine Heart, teach me the great science of love! May it draw me powerfully! May I soar at last, may I take flight and hasten to lose myself, unite myself and disappear with you in the adorable heart of Jesus, and Jesus Crucified, the divine heart of Charity, purity, self-denial, and perfect submission.”

“Why must we suffer? Because here below pure Love cannot exist without suffering. O Jesus, Jesus, I no longer feel my cross when I think of yours.”

“O Mary, my good Mother, help me follow your example to be generous in every sacrifice Our Lord may ask of me during my life… O my Mother, offer me to Jesus. Take my heart and unite it with the heart of my Jesus.”

“Jesus came on earth to be my model. I want to follow him and walk generously in his footsteps.”

“I want to follow you and be like you, O my Jesus; I would rather be crucified with you than enjoy all the pleasures of this world without you. O my Jesus, help me to love you; love me, and then crucify me as much as you please.”

“Those who are humble of heart will be glorified. How beautiful the heavenly crown will be for those who are genuinely humble despite outward humiliations, those who follow the humility of the Savior in every way.”

“Love overcomes, love delights, Those who love the Sacred heart rejoice!”

Year 2: Day 106 of 365

Prayer Intentions: Humility and willingness to sacrifice for others.
Requested Intentions: Financial ability to send children to school (S); Safe return of a runaway (J); Healing of a family (J); Reconciliation of marriage (S); Healing of a daughter with congenital heart disease (F); Healing and an end to suffering (J); For the children (M); For a son fighting a rare immune system disease (R); Freedom from imprisonment (J); Employment and end to depression (H); Successful employment (A); Health for a soon to be delivered baby (T); Financial security (L); Healing of tooth pain (A); Health of expectant mother and child (R); Purification of the souls in Purgatory (A); Guidance in studies (J); Healing and security for a displaced family (C); Healing of high blood pressure; Recovery of brother following surgery (A); For a sister in trouble, that she may make better decisions in the light of Christ (M); Health of expectant mother and child (R); Attainment of funds for surgery (J); Freedom from financial difficulties (E); For employment and college acceptance (E); Recovery and healing of a friend (C); For successful outcome to surgery (C); Healing for brother (M); Successful employment (C); For the victims of the Japanese tsunami/earthquake (J); Healing (E); For a son struggling with depression (B); Successful conception (M); Freedom from social anxiety; confidence in the Lord (J); Improved success in employment and studies (D); Freedom from illness (T); For a wife’s employment (E); Healing of a husband’s knee (M); Freedom from sickness (R); Healing (C); Restoration of marriage (F); Freedom from medical difficulties, employment, successful relationship (D); Healing of a father following stroke (S).


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