We continue our re-publishing of previous posts chronicling the miraculous unfolding of events that took place at Lourdes in 1858. 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.
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.
“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.”
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."