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."


The Book of Job: Reflections on Suffering

Posted by Jacob

As we begin our Lenten journey, we look to the Book of Job as a model of suffering and repentance. In reading Job, we must be prepared to challenge ourselves with some hard questions, and to sit quietly with some even more difficult answers.  The lessons of Job remind us that reward and punishment, as we imagine to be fair and just, do not always correspond to that of the Lord.  Job further reminds us that suffering is real, purposeful, and important to not only our humanity, but to our redemption and salvation.

Below, an excerpt from a thoughful article on the Book of Job, written by Larry J. Walters:

Written by an unknown author, possibly the most ancient literary account in the Bible, the Book of Job is a mixture of divine and human wisdom that addresses a major life issue: Why do righteous people suffer undeservedly? The Book of Job is also a prime example of Hebrew wisdom literature3 that labors with the concept of theodicy, which is a defense of the integrity of the justice and righteousness of God in light of the evil, injustice, and undeserved suffering in the world. Some writers have suggested that theodicy is the theme of the Book of Job. If this is so,then the emphasis of the book is not totally on the man Job and his suffering, though he and his suffering are certainly central, but also on God Himself and His relationship to His supreme creation.


Job therefore is a book dealing with human suffering, even though the suffering of the innocent does not encompass the author's entire purpose. It is also more than an ancient play written to portray the absurdities of life, the weaknesses of man, and the prominence of the sovereignty of God. The Book of Job shows that the sufferer can question and doubt, face the hard questions of life with faith, maintain an unbroken relationship with a loving God, and still come to a satisfactory resolution for personal and collective injustice and undeserved suffering. These observations need to be addressed not only within the context of the suffering by the righteous man Job, but also because many believers today suffer and can identify with Job. As Andersen points out, "the problem of suffering, human misery, or the larger sum of evil in all its forms is a problem only for the person who believes in one God who is all-powerful and all-loving." Suffering, then, is the prominent issue that forces a consideration of the deeper questions posed by this concept, especially as it affects the lives of those who have a loving, intimate relationship with the true and living God. All the questions that relate to God, man, and Satan-justice and injustice, sovereignty and freedom, innocence and guilt, good and evil, blessing and cursing-are interwoven within the context of undeserved suffering.


The Book of Job, and its presentation of undeserved suffering, therefore, serves as a dependable, useful model for the believer of any generation in dealing with the problem of theodicy. Is God to be held to a strict set of regulations based on human interpretations of His relationship with mankind? How does the Book of Job handle this question and its connection with undeserved suffering, while still demanding faith in an omnipotent, sovereign, and loving God? …


Job is truly a wisdom book. The basic concept of wisdom has always been connected with skill and "know-how," for "wisdom was the art of achieving," and the "emphasis was on competence." Wisdom challenges readers to discover the "know-how" presented in the book so that they might achieve competence in dealing with the questions of suffering. From the Book of Job readers can learn how to challenge the false concepts related to suffering and how to maintain a loving and meaningful relationship, in the midst of suffering, with the sovereign God. Only God "understands the way to [wisdom] and he alone knows where it dwells" (Job 28:23, NIV).

Walters, L.J. "Reflections on Suffering from the Book of Job," BIBLIOTHECA SACRA 154 (October-December 1997): 436-51.

Ash Wednesday: Suffering of Love

Posted by Jacob

“Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”


Today, February 22, we enter the solemn Lenten season of preparation and repentance. Ash Wednesday reminds us in a dramatic manner of our inevitable death—that our mortal bodies will fail and return to the dust from which they originated. But in this way, despite our medical advances, we are more importantly reminded that we can not triumph over death without the help of He who literally triumphed over death. When Jesus emerged from His tomb two thousand years ago, He freed us from the chains of death, inviting us to live in His glory with Him. Without that sacrifice—without that invitation—we would literally turn to dust, our mortal bodies ravaged by time and earthly emptiness.

Lent is a period of preparation—we prepare ourselves to meet Jesus, to follow Him with all that we have. We take stock and inventory of our lives, and bring from the darkness those areas of sin and failing which we can improve upon. Lent is not simply about choosing something to “give up.” Lent is about opening up ourselves to our Lord—repenting, and engaging in acts of prayer and penance, not only for ourselves but for all those in need.  Lent is a time of deeply personal conversion-- the physicality of fasting and penance should not distract us from this season's true goal: internal growth and movement toward Our God.

Biblically, ashes were a symbol of one’s repentance and wrongdoing. To put ashes upon oneself was a clear signal to those who witnessed it that one was a person of faith who had sinned against the Lord. The recognition and repentance can be viewed in much the same manner today, as we place the ashes on our foreheads in witness of the Gospel to the world, and recognition of our shortcomings. As we go about our days, with the mark of Christ on our foreheads, not only do we bear witness to the saving power of Christ to those around us, but we literally identify ourselves as the “walking dead” without His intercession.

Throughout this Lenten season, I will be meditating and reflecting on the book of Job, an "instructional manual" for patient suffering, for love, and for finding joy in all that the Lord gives-- including difficulty and harship.  At the end of his trials and suffering, although he stayed true in his faith in the Lord, Job repented in dust and ashes for his sinfulness.
1 Then Job replied to the LORD :
2 "I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 "You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.'
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:1-6)


And as we know, the Lord forgave Job and bestowed on him countless blessings, just as the Lord does for us with the great gift of the Resurrection.

Lent is a time of solemn contemplation of the Passion of Christ. We may choose to meditate, contemplate, or pray on His suffering for us. We may further contemplate the sufferings of His Blessed Mother throughout her live, recognizing the suffering she endured borne out of her great love for Jesus. In this tradition, we are encouraged to find our joy during Lent—a joy borne out of penance and prayer based in our own love for the Lord. As written in the Rule of Saint Benedict: “The season of Lent is: "to offer in the joy of the Holy Spirit, of our own accord a measure of service...Less food, drink, sleep, speech, merriment, and with the joy of spiritual desire await holy Easter." We are called to deep, personal conversion during Lent—and this conversion begins in love and joy, through the practice of repentance and penance.

I pray you each experience a profoundly enriching Lenten season, moving closer to the Lord with every step we take toward the glory of Easter!

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, the all-holy one, who gives us life and all things. As we go about our lives, the press of our duties and activities often leads us to forget your presence and your love. We fall into sin and fail to live out the responsibilities that you have entrusted to those who were baptized into your Son.


In this holy season, help us to turn our minds and hearts back to you. Lead us into sincere repentance and renew our lives with your grace. Help us to remember that we are sinners, but even more, help us to remember your loving mercy.


As we live through this Ash Wednesday, may the crosses of ashes that mark our foreheads be a reminder to us and to those we meet that we belong to your Son. May our worship and prayer and penitence this day be sustained throughout these 40 days of Lent. Bring us refreshed and renewed to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection at Easter.


We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes: The Sixth Apparition

Posted by Jacob

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!




The Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Lourdes, appeared to Saint Bernadette eighteen times at the grotto of Massabielle, 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. While the first three visitations, on February 11, February 14, February 18, were marked by the Blessed Mother establishing a deep and heart-felt connection with Saint Bernadette, the fourth and fifth visitations on February 19 and February 20 were marked by quiet prayer and confidences which Bernadette would not reveal.


The sixth time the Blessed Virgin, described by Bernadette as a beautiful young lady clothed in a white robe and blue sash, with golden roses on her feet, appeared in the grotto as Massabielle, Bernadette’s now radiant face was marked by unease and unhappiness. Those observing watched as she spoke, and paused as if listening, weeping throughout. Bernadette would later recall that the Blessed Mother had told her to pray for sinners, and described things to horrible to repeat. She kept the confidences of the Blessed Mother until her death.

This sixth apparition, on February 21, occurred very early in the morning, and following the departure of the Blessed Mother, the local police commissioner, Dominque Jacomet, brought Bernadette into the police station for questioning. Denying her mother’s request to accompany her, Jacomet questioned Bernadette alone for a significant period of time, as the town elders had grown concerned with the safety risk the crowds who followed her to the grotto were causing.

Jacomet questioned Bernadette regarding her age, education, and history, establishing that she had little education, seldom went to school, could neither read nor write, and had not yet made her First Eucharist. To his surprise, Bernadette was unsure of her age, estimating she was either thirteen or fourteen. When questioned about her experiences at Lourdes, and whether her family supported her, she forthrightly responded that no one believed her story—not her mother, sister, or friends—not even the nuns at the convent whom she had confided in. And yet, he could not sway her from her beliefs. She was calm for one so young, faced with the authority of the police, and would not be tricked into changing her story, despite his attempts. When asked who she was speaking to at the grotto of Massabielle, Bernadette answered, “aqueró,” which in the local patois dialect means “that one” or “that thing.” She refused to be more specific.

Commissioner Jacomet tried all he could to trick her, re-reading his written notes, but significantly changing her story each time. Without exception, Bernadette politely corrected him, saying, “You’ve changed everything.” As rumors were circulating around the town that she was being visited by the Blessed Virgin—something he could not believe, as he though the Holy Mother wouldn’t appear to someone as uneducated and poor as Bernadette—he substituted her title for aqueró. Again, Bernadette refuted his story, stating that she had never claimed to have seen the Blessed Virgin. He strongly encouraged her to avoid returning to the grotto, but Bernadette insisted that she must return, as she had made a promise. Despite his threats to imprison her as a public safety hazard, Jacomet let Bernadette go.

Bernadette returned to the grotto the following day, in honor of her promise. However, on that day, the Blessed Virgin did not appear. Bernadette prayed the Rosary, and followed by a disappointed crowd, returned home. Bernadette, however, was not disappointed, and seemingly lit by an internal peace and grace, returned the following day.

The Lourdes Hymn (sung during the Candlelight Processional)

O Mary, our mother, we come to this place,
Where you, who are sinless, appeared full of grace.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria


As Bernadette waited there came to her site
A radiant Lady, surrounded by light.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria


She gave her a message, “Let penance be done,
And pray that all sinners may turn to my Son.”
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria


“Come here in procession, to praise God and sing,
To wash in these waters and drink at this spring.”
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria


She asked that a chapel be built in this place;
That all be encouraged to pray for God’s grace.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria


The Lady responded when asked for her name:
“Conceived without sin is the title I claim.”
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria


O mother of mercy, our sorrows relieve;
Sustain those who suffer, console those who grieve.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria


O bless us, dear Lady, with blessings from heaven;
And to our petitions let answers be given
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria

February 21: Saint Peter the Scribe

Posted by Jacob

Today, February 21, we also celebrate the feast day of the holy martyr, Saint Peter the Scribe (died743).  Little is known about Saint Peter, other than he was a Christian scribe in Palestine in the 8th century.  During the Islamic invasion of the region, Peter was captured and later martyred by the Arab conquerors from Damascus.

We pray today with Saint Peter the Scribe, and all the holy men and women who have given their lives in service to the Lord, using the words of Saint Polycarp:

Lord, almighty God, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have come to the knowledge of yourself, God of angels, of powers, of all creation, of all the race of saints who live in your sight, I bless you for judging me worthy of this day, this hour, so that in the company of the martyrs I may share the cup of Christ, your annointed one, and so rise again to eternal life in soul and body, immortal through the power of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among the martyrs in your presence today as a rich and pleasing sacrifice. God of truth, stranger to falsehood, you have prepared this and revealed it to me and now you have fulfilled your promise.



I praise you for all things, I bless you, I glorify you through the eternal priest of heaven, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. Through him be glory to you, together with him and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

February 21: Blessed Pepin I of Landen

Posted by Jacob

Today, February 21, we celebrate the feast day of Blessed Pepin I “The Old” de Landen (alson known as Pippin, 591-640), Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, husband to Blessed Ituberga de Metz, and father to Saints Begga, Gertrude, and Bavo. Blessed Pepin was the most powerful man in the Austrasian empire during his lifetime, playing a major role in revolution and improvement of the lives of the people. Described as “a lover of peace and the constant defender of truth and justice,” Blessed Pepin upheld the tenets of the Christian faith during a time of decadence and licentiousness.


Blessed Pepin with Saint Begga
Blessed Pepin, aided by his equally holy wife, worked to spread the faith throughout the kingdom, defended Christian towns from Slavic invaders, and chose responsible men to fill vacant sees. He found time in his busy life to take active part in the raising of his children. His daughter Begga devoted herself to charitable acts, later canonized. His second daughter, Gertrude, entered the convent of Nivelles (founded by her mother), and was also later canonized. His eldest son, Grimoald, filled Pepin’s governmental seat upon his death, and his youngest son, Bavo, became a hermit, devoting his life to the Lord, later canonized.

Pepin was praised by his contemporaries for his good government and wise counsel. He suffered exile on one occaision, after reprimanding the king for his licentious lifestyle. Soon recalled, he thereafter served with the king for many years despite his enemies plts to turn the king against him. In 629, for reasons unknown, he retired to his estates, where he remained until his death. Pepin of Landen was buried at Landen, but his relics were later translated to Nivelle, where they are now enshrined with those of his wife and daughter Gertrude.


Requested Intentions: Healing (M); Healing of a mental disorder (B); Blessings upon vocations and relationship (F); Employment for daughters (L); Reconciliation for a family (K); Healing for a friend undergoing chemotherapy (G); Blessings upon a new job (F); For the repose of departed souls (J); For Our Lady of the Rosary parish, personal intentions (D); Blessings upon a family, educational success, financial security (N); For blessings upon a relationship, for financial assistance (J); For assistance with immigration challenges (M); For a family in trouble (J); For peace and security for a couple (D); For strengthening of families throughout the world (C); Healing for a sick child (H); Healing for a mother, safety and security for a family (M); Peace and conversion of afflicted peoples (P); Healing upon a family (E); Blessings upon a couple; specific intentions (A); For financial security, for vocational discernment, for a friend fighting addiction, for a family in need of conversion (M); For those courageously fighting cancer (M); Physical healing and financial security (C); For a family to serve the Lord, for physical healing, financial security (R); For a return to the faith of a family (D); Financial security, health, and peace for a family (N); End to debt, peace and health (E); For a young boy facing medical challenges (M); Permanent employment for a son (R); For inmates facing illness (M); For the renewal of a marriage (A); For the blessing of a union (C); Peaceful resolution to work difficulties, end to health challenges (R); For private intentions (J); For the faith of a prayer group (A); For healing and conversion of the injured (C); Healing of a family following the death of a loved one, resolution of legal matters (J); Employment and security for a mother and children (A); Healing and peace (J); Healing and peace in a family (D); Successful employment (M); Healing of a relationship (B).

Our Lady of Lourdes: The Fifth Apparition

Posted by Jacob

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!




We continue our journey with Saint Bernadette as we encounter Our Blessed Mother through her eyes, memories, and words. Our Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette eighteen times at the grotto of Lourdes, bringing a message of prayer, penance, poverty, and participation. While the first three visitations, on February 11, February 14, February 18, were marked by the Blessed Mother establishing a deep and heart-felt connection with Saint Bernadette, the fourth (February 19) though seventh visitations were marked by quiet prayer. During these visits, the crowds that followed Bernadette to the grotto at Massabielle grew each day, and the leaders of the town began to become alarmed. It would not be long before the police became involved, and Bernadette would suffer for her faith.


The fifth apparition, February 20, 1858, marks the first time that Bernadette’s mother accompanies her to the grotto. Prior to this day, she had actively discouraged Bernadette, certain the attention would have negative impact on the family’s already tenuous existence within the community. However, on February 20, due to her growing concern for her daughter’s safety amongst the crowds following her, she accompanied Bernadette. Together, they returned to the grotto at Massabielle, again carrying the lighted blessed candle. Again, the crowds, including her mother, witnessed Bernadette, in ecstasy, kneeling before the rock face, praying the Rosary, holding the lit candle in the other hand. While Bernadette was transfixed, the others present saw and heard nothing.

During the fifth visitation of Our Lady of Lourdes on February 20, the Blessed Mother appeared in the recess of the rock face, as she had previously, praying the Rosary with Bernadette, and smiling gently. Bernadette was content to sit in her presence, recalling the joy and peace she felt the remainder of her life, and describing how nothing earthly could compare. On this occasion, the Blessed Mother spoke to Bernadette, teaching her a prayer which Bernadette kept secret the remainder of her life. Onlookers watched her beautiful and joy-filled face become troubled and sad, followed by tears during the visitation. This was the first of several times where Bernadette was provided with information regarding the future of the world and the torment of sinners.

Despite this difficult vision, Bernadette was not deterred. She would return the following day, and subsequently be questioned by the police. Throughout, her faith would remain child-like and simple, her love for the beautiful lady undeterred, and her confidence in the Lord ever growing. As the Blessed Virgin had promised, Bernadette had found happiness not in the world of man, but in the internal Kingdom of God—a kingdom of love.
Years later, in 1783, Saint Bernadette wrote:

O Mary, my gentle Mother, here I am, your child who can bear no more. See my needs and above all my spiritual distress. Have pity on me; grant that one day I may be with you in Heaven.


I shall do everything for Heaven, my true home. There I shall find my Mother in all the splendor of her glory. I shall delight were her in the joy of Jesus himself in perfect safety.”

Our Lady of Lourdes: The Fourth Apparition

Posted by Jacob

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!

The Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette eighteen times, bringing a message of prayer, penance, poverty, and participation. She said, “Penance. Penance. Penance. Pray for Sinners.” She picked the most humble of messengers, truly showing that we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. Between today and July 16, we will continue our journey with Saint Bernadette as we encounter Our Blessed Mother through her eyes, memories, and words.


On February 19, Bernadette returned to the grotto at Massabielle, as she had promised the beautiful lady she would. Our Blessed Lady of Lourdes appeared for the fourth time on that day, having appeared previously on February 11, February 14, and February 18. During those initial visitations, the Blessed Virgin smiled and prayed with Bernadette. During the previous visitation, she had spoken, inquiring as to whether Bernadette would visit the grotto each day for 15 days, and telling her, “I do not promise to make you happy in this life, but in the other.”

Bernadette did not completely understand the message of the Holy Mother, but returned as promised, on February 19th. In preparation for her visit to the grotto, she brought a blessed candle, which she had borrowed, to offer in honor of the beautiful lady. During this visit, a small crowd of family members, friends, and curious townsfolk followed her. They witnessed Bernadette, in ecstasy, kneeling before the rock face, praying the Rosary, holding the lit candle in the other hand. She was transfixed, and unable to be distracted from her vision. Her face, during these moments, becomes calm and beautiful—more beautiful than anything the onlookers have seen.

Bernadette’s habit of carrying a lit candle to the grotto is the start of the daily Marian Candlelight Procession at Lourdes, still occurring today, and having occurred every day since that time.

During the visitation of Our Lady of Lourdes on February 19, she again remained silent, praying the Rosary with Bernadette, but not speaking to her. Instead, Bernadette was graced with the gentle smile and feeling of peace she remembered from previous visions.

Bernadette would continue to visit the grotto for the next 14 days in a row, during that time, receiving the important message of Lourdes- a message that is from the heart of Our Blessed Mother. During the third apparition, when the beautiful lady explains to Saint Bernadette, “What I have to say does not need to be written down,” she is inviting Bernadette to enter into a personal relationship from the heart, the very center and depth of her message of love, respect, and human dignity.



O Immaculate Virgin Mary,
you are the refuge of sinners,
the health of the sick,
and the comfort of the afflicted.
By your appearances at the Grotto of Lourdes
you made it a privileged sanctuary
where your favors are given to people streaming to it from the whole world.
Over the years countless sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities,
whether of soul, mind, or body.
Therefore I come with limitless confidence
to implore your motherly intercession.


Loving Mother, obtain the grant of my requests.
Let me strive to imitate your virtues on earth
so that I may one day share your glory in heaven.
Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes: The Third Apparition

Posted by Jacob

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!

Our Blessed Mother appeared for the third time to Bernadette Soubirous on February 18. As you may recall, Bernadette was a simple girl, uneducated in the way of the Catechism, but deeply faithful despite countless hardships. We know that she carried a Rosary with her at all times, but prior to the visits from Our Blessed Mother, had not yet mastered all the prayers. Beginning on February 11, 1858, The Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Bernadette a total of 18 times in Lourdes, France. The final visitation occurred on July 16, 1858. Since that time, hundreds of millions of pilgrims have visited Lourdes, with crowds reaching 40,000 on average during busier times of year. Over 60 miraculous cures have been recorded in the grotto where the Blessed Virgin appeared, or due to the curative properties of the spring which appeared during the apparitions.



Our Blessed Lady of Lourdes


Following the second apparition of Mary in the grotto as Massabielle on February 14, Bernadette’s mother had forbidden her to return, as the small community had begun to gossip about the already beleaguered family. However, the talk had attracted the attention of one of the town’s wealthier residents, Jeanne-Marie Milhet. As it just so happened, Bernadette’s mother worked for Madame Milhet doing washing and mending from time to time. When her employer pressed her to allow Bernadette to return to the grotto with her, Bernadette’s mother had no choice but to give in. On February 18, Bernadette, accompanied by Madame Milhet and a companion, visited the grotto. Madame Milhet believed that the woman visiting Bernadette was a deceased friend, known for her piety in the village.

Upon arriving at the grotto, Bernadette fell to her knees and began praying the Rosary, joined by the others. She was immediately graced by the appearance of the beautiful lady, and informed the others. They could not see her, however, and were disappointed. Upon finishing the Rosary, again during which Our Blessed Mother prayed concurrently, but without words, Bernadette approached the vision, extending her hands which contained a pen and paper. Despite being unable to read or write, she had been coached by Madame Milhet to ask for a written name.

“Would you be kind enough to write your name down?” Bernadette inquired, again afraid. The beautiful young lady, clothed in white with a blue sash and yellow roses on her feet, smiled gently and spoke for the first time. She said, “It is not necessary. What I have to say to you does not need to be written down.” Surprisingly, she answered Bernadette in the local dialect in which she had been spoken to. Still smiling, she inquired of Bernadette, “Would you have the kindness to come here for a fortnight?” (In this case, fifteen days). In this case, however, she used formal language, the first time anyone had spoken to Bernadette in that manner.  In that moment, Bernadette reported that the Blessed Virgin looked at her "as one person looks at another person"-- as a person worthy of love, respect, and human dignity.

Bernadette, joy overcoming fear, promised that she would. Our Blessed Mother replied with a promise of her own. “I do not promise to make you happy in this life, but in the other.” She then disappeared.

Bernadette reported to her companions that she was most sure that it was not Madame Milhet’s deceased friend who she was conversing with. Together they returned to town, with Bernadette recounting the events of the day to her mother, and gaining permission to return to the grotto for the next fifteen days. The others who had accompanied her reported that Bernadette had been entranced, speaking aloud, but receiving no replies that were audible to the onlookers. Interest in the story continued to grow throughout the small town. Bernadette would return to the grotto each day, as promised, and during that time would be blessed by the presence of Our Blessed Mother.


O Brilliant star of purity,

Mary Immaculate,
Our Lady of Lourdes,
glorious assumption,
triumphant in your coronation,
show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God,
Virgin Mary,
Queen and Mother,
be our comfort, hope, strength,
and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

Our Lady of Lourdes: The Second Apparition

Posted by Jacob

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 hereOur Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!


Today, February 14, marks the anniversary of the second apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous. Beginning on February 11, 1858, The Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Bernadette a total of 18 times in Lourdes, France. The final visitation occurred on July 16, 1858. Since that time, hundreds of millions of pilgrims have visited Lourdes, with crowds reaching 40,000 on average during busier times of year. Over 60 miraculous cures have been recorded in the grotto where the Blessed Virgin appeared, or due to the curative properties of the spring which appeared during the apparitions.

As you may recall, following the first apparition, Bernadette’s mother forbade her to return to the holy grotto at Massabielle, and for three days, Bernadette complied with her mother’s wishes. However, on the fourth day, she felt called to the grotto. In her writings, Bernadette wrote, “Something inside me drew me there.” Having persuaded her mother to let her go, she returned to the grotto along with some other children. Bernadette armed herself with holy water, believing that if she threw the water at the vision, she would know whether it was from God. Her simple belief: if the vision was Godly, all would be well. If the vision was from elsewhere, the holy water would make the lady go away.

Similar to the initial visitation, the beautiful lady appeared in a nook on the rock face of the grotto. She was dressed in the same manner—a white dress with a blue sash, golden roses in each foot, and a Rosary draped over her arm. Bernadette threw the holy water on the vision, and Our Lady smiled. In fact, the more water Bernadette threw, the more she “smiled, bowed, and gestured.” Our Lady of Lourdes remained silent, and eventually disappeared after Bernadette again prayed the Rosary. The other children who accompanied her reported seeing nothing. Bernadette was so enraptured by the vision of Mary that she was unable to be moved from the spot. Her friends ran back to town, finding an adult, who physically carried her from the grotto.

Her mother, already dependent on the small town for odd jobs to support the family, was afraid of scandal. Following word of her daughter’s strange behavior, she forbade Bernadette from returning to the grotto, this time intending to enforce her rule.

The Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette eighteen times, bringing a message of prayer, penance, poverty, and participation. She said, “Penance. Penance. Penance. Pray for Sinners.” She picked the most humble of messengers, truly showing that we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. Between today and July 16, we will journey with Saint Bernadette as we encounter Our Blessed Mother through her eyes, memories, and words.

Since my pilgrimage to Lourdes, I have incorporated a prayer I learned there into my daily Rosary (following the Fatima prayer). I thought I might share it here:

O Holy Virgin, in the midst of your days of glory, do not forget the sorrows of this earth.
Cast a merciful gaze upon those who are suffering,
struggling against difficulty, with their lips pressed constantly against life’s bitter cup.
Have pity on those who love each other and are separated.
Have pity on our rebellious hearts.
Have pity on our weak faith.
Have pity on those we love.
Have pity on those who weep, on those pray, on those who fear.
Grant hope and peace to all.
Amen.

February 13: Saint Agabus

Posted by Jacob

Today, February 13, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Agabus (also known as Saint Agabo, died 1st Century), one of the seventy disciples of Christ sent out to preach the Gospel, and holy martyr of Antioch. Saint Agabus was graced with the gift of prophecy, and was likely present in the upper room on the day of Pentecost.


Saint Agabus is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, in which he is recorded as predicting a great famine thorughout the Roman Empire.

27And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.


28And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. (Acts 11: 27-28)


Saint Agabus later predicted the imprisonment of Paul, attempting unsuccessfully to convince him to refrain from journeying to Jerusalem:

10And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.


11And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.


12And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.


13Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.


14And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.


15And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem. (Acts 21: 10-15)

Saint Agabus traveled, preaching the Gospel with his fellow disciples of Christ. He converted both Jews and Greeks, attracting the attention of the Jews of Jerusalem. He was arrested, tortured, beaten, and dragged by a rope around his neck outside the city. He was stoned to death at Antioch. At the moment of his death, a glowing light from Heaven shone down, causing those in attendance to look upon it in amazement. A Jewish woman proclaimed, "Truly this man was righteous,” and converted to Christianity on the spot. The crowds promptly stoned her and she was buried with the holy saint in his tomb.

Today we pray that Saint Agabus, and all the holy martyrs of the faith, inspire us to live our lives with the conviction and certainty of Christ—that we may proclaim the Gospel through our thoughts, words, and actions each day!



Requested Intentions: For peace and security for a couple (D); For strengthening of families throughout the world (C); Healing for a sick child (H); Healing for a mother, safety and security for a family (M); Peace and conversion of afflicted peoples (P); Healing upon a family (E); Blessings upon a couple; specific intentions (A); For financial security, for vocational discernment, for a friend fighting addiction, for a family in need of conversion (M); For those courageously fighting cancer (M); Physical healing and financial security (C); For a family to serve the Lord, for physical healing, financial security (R); For a return to the faith of a family (D); Financial security, health, and peace for a family (N); End to debt, peace and health (E); For a young boy facing medical challenges (M); Permanent employment for a son (R); For inmates facing illness (M); For the renewal of a marriage (A); For the blessing of a union (C); Peaceful resolution to work difficulties, end to health challenges (R); For private intentions (J); For the faith of a prayer group (A); For healing and conversion of the injured (C); Healing of a family following the death of a loved one, resolution of legal matters (J); Employment and security for a mother and children (A); Healing and peace (J); Healing and peace in a family (D); Successful employment (M); Healing of a relationship (B).

Writings of Saint Bernadette Soubirous on the Holy Mother of God

Posted by Jacob

"Here is your servant, O my God, ready to undertake all, to give all, to sacrifice all, to offer up all, as long as your will may be accomplished in me and on the earth."



From the private notes of Saint Bernadette (as quoted in “A Holy Life: Saint Bernadette of Lourdes,” McEachern, Ph.D., 2005, page 57):

"Courage, my child.  You have found the precious Pearl that buys the Kingdom of Heaven.  To love what God wills always, to will it always, to desire it always, to do it always: this is the great secret of perfection, the key to paradise, the foretaste of the peace of the saints!"

"The more you unite your heart to mine, the more you will understand the truth of those words.  When you no longer have any will other than God's, your heart and mine will become one and the same heart.  Learn to say the Ecce Ancilla ("I am the handmaid of the Lord) of perfect obedience with me each day."

"Whatever trials the Lord sends you, whatever sacrifices he asks of you, whatever duties he imposes on you, always have this response of love and faithfulness on your lips and in your heart: Here is your servant, O my God, ready to undertake all, to give all, to sacrifice all, to offer up all, as long as your will may be accomplished in me and on the earth."

The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Posted by Jacob

As I rededicate myself to this blog, we return to the beginning... the first apparition of Our Blessed Mother to Saint Bernadette Soubirous in the sacred grotto at Lourdes.  Let us reflect on the sweet grace of Our Lord, flowing through His Holy Mother, like the fresh springs of water that continue to flow today in Lourdes.  Holy Mother of God, bless this undertaking and may the work of this blog be helpful in comforting the suffering, providing hope to those in need, and creating a community of faithful dedicated to your Immaculate Heart.  I offer my time and sacrifice as penance for sinners, that they may be freed from the burden of sin and washed clean in the grace of Jesus.  Amen.


Today, February 11, marks the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes. Beginning on February 11, 1858, The Blessed Virgin appeared to Bernadette Soubirous a total of 18 times in Lourdes, France. The final visitation occurred on July 16, 1858. Since that time, hundreds of millions of pilgrims have visited Lourdes, with crowds reaching 40,000 on average during busier times of year. Over 60 miraculous cures have been recorded in the grotto where the Blessed Virgin appeared, or due to the curative properties of the spring which appeared during the apparitions.

To understand the message of Lourdes, however, we need to return to the beginning of the story of Bernadette Soubirous, and the sleepy town of Lourdes, sitting at the base of the Pyrénées mountains. Bernadette’s parents, François and Louise Soubirous, had settled in Lourdes, working in the mill owned by Louise’s family. On January 7, 1844, Marie-Bernarde (always referred to as Bernadette) was born, their first child. Over the course of her life, Bernadette’s parents would bring eight additional children into the world, five of which died before reaching the age of ten years old.

Bernadette’s early life was marked by poverty and frequent moves. After her mother suffered an accident, burning herself severely, Bernadette was sent to be wet-nursed by a “foster mother” for approximately 18 months. During that time, her father suffered an accident leaving him blind in one eye, had to sell the mill, could no longer afford to pay the family’s bills, and was eventually evicted from their home. A series of moves to smaller and less comfortable rooms followed, with the family ending up living in a one-room former prison cell, the Cachot, which was rotting and abandoned. During these moves, Bernadette was stuck down with cholera, during on outbreak affecting the area. While she recovered, she was left with permanent ailments of the lungs, including asthma and tuberculosis, as well as general weakness and frailty which remained with her throughout her short life. Following the cholera epidemic, famine struck France, and the government distributed free flour to all, in effect removing any possibility of Bernadette’s father working in the milling business. Instead, he took on chores as a day laborer, as did her mother, but earned too little to adequately support the family.

Due to the family’s financial problems, Bernadette returned to her wet-nurse, now old enough to work. She spent the days in the fields with the sheep, acting as a shepherdess. She neither attended school, nor could she read or write. Living outside of town, she also was unable to participate in formal religious education, and despite being of age, had not made her First Communion. Concerned, her parents brought her back to Lourdes in January 1858, and she began attending Catechism classes to prepare for First Communion with the Sisters of Nevers. Given her lack of education, she was the oldest in her class, with many of her younger classmates better able to read and write. Her instructor deemed her “unteachable,” and the local priest, who would later become her confessor, considered her a “blank slate.”

Despite poverty and hard luck, the Soubirous family was united in love for God and each other. At age 14, Bernadette’s life was about to dramatically change. On Thursday, February 11, 1858, her parents sent her, her 11year-old sister Toinette-Marie, and her 13 year old friend Jeanne Abadien to collect firewood as it was very cold. The Soubirous family could not afford firewood, and the Cachot, where they were living was poorly insulated. The girls left town, and while Toinette-Marie and Jeanne crossed a small stream, Bernadette remained behind. Given the cold temperature, and her penchant for sickness, she was reluctant to wade into the cold water. Instead, she remained behind, searching in what is now referred to as the grotto of Massabielle, but then was little more than a muddy cave strewn with debris that served as a shelter for wild pigs. Having no luck finding usable wood, and seeing her sister and friend moving further away from her, Bernadette sat to remove her stockings, planning on crossing the Savy Canal. As she sat, she heard a sudden gust of wind, but the trees around her remained still. Looking back into the grotto, she saw a beautiful young lady dressed in a white dress with a white veil, and a blue sash. She had yellow roses on each foot, the color perfectly matching the Rosary chain she held on her arm. The beads on the Rosary itself were white. She was surrounded by white light, but it was “not blinding light,” and had beautiful blue eyes. The young woman smiled at Bernadette. “I rubbed my eyes. I thought I was mistaken,” Bernadette would later write in her journal.

Bernadette dropped to her knees, fearful, and pulled the Rosary from her pocket. While she desired to pray, she found herself paralyzed, unable to move her arms. Trembling, she try without success, only able to bless herself with the Sign of the Cross after the smiling woman in white did. She later reported that “immediately after I made the Sign of the Cross, the great fear that had seized me disappeared.” Bernadette prayed the Rosary, with the woman fingering the beads along with her, but remaining silent. As soon as Bernadette had finished the Rosary, the lady beckoned her closer. Bernadette, again afraid, remained kneeling where she was, and the lady disappeared, leaving her alone. Her companions returned, neither having seen anything.
After telling her sister and friend what had happened, she begged them not to mention the apparition to anyone. However, Bernadette’s sister promptly told their mother upon return home, and they were both punished and forbidden to return to the grotto. Bernadette would return, however, drawn to the beautiful young woman, in three day’s time.

Saint Bernadette later wrote in her Journal Dedicated to the Queen of Heaven:
“Dearest Mother, how happy was my soul those heavenly moments when I gazed upon you. How I love to remember those sweet moments spent in your presence, your eyes filled with kindness and mercy for us! Yes, dear Mother, your heart is so full of love for us that you came down to earth to appear to a poor, weak child and convey certain things to her despite her great unworthiness. How humbled she is. You, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, chose to use what is weakest in the eyes of men. O Mary, give the precious virtue of humility to she who dares to call herself your child. O loving Mother, help your child resemble you in everything and in every way. In a word, grant that I may be a child according to your heart and the heart of your dear Son.” (quoted in “A Holy Life: Saint Bernadette of Lourdes,” McEachern, Ph.D., 2005, pages 18-19).

The Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette eighteen times, bringing a message of prayer, penance, poverty, and participation. She said, “Penance. Penance. Penance. Pray for Sinners.” She picked the most humble of messengers, truly showing that we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. Between today and July 16, we will journey with Saint Bernadette as we encounter Our Blessed Mother through her eyes, memories, and words.

365 Rosaries to Relaunch on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Posted by Jacob

After some time of prayerful reflection, I have decided to "relaunch" 365 Rosaries: a year of prayer on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.  Given that my piligrimage and subsequent call led to the creation of this blog, it only seems fitting that my continued committment honor Our Blessed Mother on her feast day!

With the decision made, only the "details" remain to be figured out:  How often will I post?  What will the content be? What will change, what will stay the same?  I imagine that some of these answers may be a work in progress, that the blog will evolve in its own time, as all things do.  I welcome any thoughts regarding the future, and again extend my gratitude for the countless emails, notes, prayer requests, and prayers that I have been offered over the past month of discernment.

May the Lord bless each of you.
jacob


Requested Intentions: For those courageously fighting cancer (M); Physical healing and financial security (C); For a family to serve the Lord, for physical healing, financial security (R); For a return to the faith of a family (D); Financial security, health, and peace for a family (N); End to debt, peace and health (E); For a young boy facing medical challenges (M); Permanent employment for a son (R); For inmates facing illness (M); For the renewal of a marriage (A);  For the blessing of a union (C); Peaceful resolution to work difficulties, end to health challenges (R); For private intentions (J); For the faith of a prayer group (A); For healing and conversion of the injured (C); Healing of a family following the death of a loved one, resolution of legal matters (J); Employment and security for a mother and children (A); Healing and peace (J); Healing and peace in a family (D); Successful employment (M); Healing of a relationship (B)