"O Mother, it is to your heart that I come to lay down the anguish of my heart;
it is there that I draw strength and courage."
- St. Bernadette
All feasts of Our Lady are celebrated with joy and affection by the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa, but a few enjoy particular devotion; one such is Our Lady of Lourdes. The presence of Our Lady in this apparition to the humble St. Bernadette Soubirous is moving on many accounts: Our Lady’s maternal solicitude for poor sinners, and towards St. Bernadette herself; her encouragement of obedience towards ecclesiastical authority; and her humility in identifying herself with her first great gift of grace, her Immaculate Conception.
We can perhaps make bold to say, however, that this appearance of Our Lady in Lourdes, France is not so well known for its message as for the miraculous events that came afterwards, as confirmation of God’s benediction upon this modest village. We speak of the spring at Lourdes which well up at the place where Our Lady appeared, and is from that day to this a place of pilgrimage for countless faithful, many of them sick and dying who come to seek a remedy for their ailments in the curative Lourdes waters. It is said that at Lourdes, you will be granted one of two favors: either your ailment will be cured, or you will be given peace and courage to bear it. To use another’s words: God will lighten the Cross or toughen the shoulder.
It is in the latter, perhaps, that we see more clearly Our Lady of Lourdes as one in the same as Our Lady of Sorrows at Calvary. Falling this year, as it often does, in the season of Septuagesima, we are reminded by the absence of the Alleluia that in the midst of this joyful feast we are yet still beginning the steady march to the Upper Room, Gethsemane and Calvary. On Golgotha’s hill, Our Lady draws us, as at Lourdes to saving water—at Lourdes the mere shadow, at Calvary the true font of life. In both, she invites us to come, drink and rest, but still more to unite with her Divine Son in offering our lives to the Father for poor sinners. Let Lourdes console us, but more so let it strengthen us, and may Mary, Conceived Without Sin pray for poor sinners (ourselves included) to be drawn by her maternal love to the waters of everlasting life. A blessed feast of Our Lady of Lourdes to you all.
O Maria, sine labe originalis concepta!