Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Feast Day: February 11th
The Story of Lourdes is very special to me growing up. It was the first I ever saw of Mary and her apparitions.
In high school, when I was waiting for my father to pick me up from school, I would sit next to a row of booths selling religious items outside the Church. The high school was annexed to this Church and there were many individual store owners with their booths and wares. I remember getting my knowledge of Lourdes and St. Bernadette from the novena prayers books and leaflets which were on display. I remember being deeply impressed. It was the first apparition of Mary I have read. Then this experience was followed by a movie I happen to see one night at home. It was the "Song of Bernadette." I used to wear a white dress with a blue sash on Sundays, to imitate the description Bernadette gave on Our Lady. There were also the Children of Mary group with the children wearing white dresses and blue sashes. I was too old to join them.
St. Bernadette was the only favorite Saint I had before learning of Carmel and our Carmelite Saints. I admire her virtues of simplicity, honesty, and piety. I love her dearly. I think my devotion to Mary was first awakened by the movie "Song of Bernadette." My favorite words of Our Lady to Bernadette were: "I do not promise to make you happy on earth, only in the next!" I think of it a lot.
Tomorrow, February 11th, we celebrate this Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is also designated as the World Day of the Sick. The main message of Lourdes, like Fatima, was the need to do penance and to pray for the conversion of souls. But Our Lady also came to bring healing of physical ailments and spiritual ills. Through the waters of Lourdes, she brings down the mercy of God, to all His suffering children. It is a story which never grows old because it continues to touch many hearts and lives.
The Story taken from a letter by Saint Marie Bernadette Soubirous (Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Our Lady of Lourdes).
"I had gone down one day with two other girls to the bank of the river Gave when suddenly I heard a kind of rustling sound. I turned my head towards the field by the side of the river but the trees seemed quite still and the noise was evidently not from them. Then I looked up and caught sight of the cave where I saw a lady wearing a lovely white dress with a bright belt. On top of each of her feet was a pale yellow rose, the same color as her rosary beads.
At this I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was seeing things, and I put my hands into the fold of my dress where my rosary was. I wanted to make the sign of the cross but for the life of me I couldn't manage it and my hand just fell down. The the lady made the sign of the cross herself and at the second attempt I managed to do the same, though my hands were trembling. Then I began to say the rosary while the lady let her beads slip through her fingers, without moving her lips. When I stopped saying the Hail Mary, she immediately vanished.
I asked my two companions if they had noticed anything, but they said no. Of course they wanted to know what I was doing and I told them that I had seen a lady wearing a nice white dress, though I didn't know who she was. I told them not to say anything about it, and they said I was silly to have anything to do with it. I said they were wrong and I came back next Sunday, feeling myself drawn to the place....
The third time I went the Lady spoke to me and asked me to come everyday for fifteen days. I said I would and then she said that she wanted me to tell the priests to build a chapel there. She also told me to drink from the stream. I went to the Gave, the only stream I could see. The she made me realize she was not speaking of the Gave and she indicated a little trickle of water close by. When I got to it I could only find a few drops, mostly mud. I cupped my hands to catch some liquid without success and then I started to scrape the ground. I managed to find a few drops of water but only at the fourth attempt was there sufficient for any kind of drink. The lady then vanished and I went back home.
I went back each day for fifteen days and each time. except one Monday and one Friday, the lady appeared and told me to look for a stream and wash in it and to see that the priests build a chapel there. I must also pray, she said, for the conversion of sinners. I asked her many times what she meant by that, but she only smiled. Finally with outstretched arms and eyes looking up to heaven she told me she was the Immaculate Conception.
During the fifteen days she told me three secrets but I was not to speak about them to anyone and so far I have not."