On February 11, we commemorate the Immaculate Virgin Mary who appeared to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, France, eighteen times between February 11 and July 16, 1858. This memorial of Mary, under the title of “Our Lady of Lourdes,” was extended to the Universal Church by Pope Saint Pius X in 1907.
The apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes is one of the most celebrated events in the Catholic Church in the nineteenth century. In fact, the popularity of “Our Lady of Lourdes” contributed to the renewal of the Catholic Faith throughout France and the shrine that marks the site of the apparitions remains one of the most popular destinations for pilgrims anywhere in the world.
World Day of the Sick. The great miracle of Lourdes, however, is not the individual miraculous healings, but the extended miracle of God’s grace at work in the spiritual and physical weaknesses and illnesses that effect our lives.
As we continue to celebrate the beginning of the Lenten Season, take time to reflect on the grace of healing and renewal that is offered to all who commit themselves to follow Christ. Although, for most of us, the graces we receive will not include physical healings or miraculous signs, the opportunity and invitation to “take up your cross” is a powerful reminder that, whatever we experience in life, God is present in every moment and every circumstance of our lives.
Today, ask the Blessed Virgin and Saint Bernadette to help you remember that all the crosses of our lives—whether they are the simple “good works” of our Lenten observance or the heavier crosses of illness and despair—are not an end in themselves. Through the Paschal Mystery, God has transformed the crosses of our lives into opportunities for grace and union with him!
Grant us, O merciful God, protection in our weakness,
that we, who keep the Memorial of the Immaculate Mother of God,
may, with the help of her intercession,
rise up from our iniquities.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
This reflection was originally written for Aleteia.org and published on their site on February 11, 2016.