Friday, February 11, 2011

Our Lady of Lourdes

The Story of Our Lady of Lourdes is a wonderful reflection of God's continued care over all peoples, especially the poor and the anawim. Beginning in the middle of 1858, and continuing for many months, Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, and a friend, near the village of Lourdes, France. During these apparitions Mary is said to have spoken with Bernadette about God's Kingdom, and the hope we have through her Son, Jesus Christ. The spring which pooled up near the cave where the Blessed Virgin Mary stood, is said to have healing properties.
Each year thousands upon thousands of pilgrim go to Lourdes out of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to experience healing in the waters of Lourdes. To be sure this is a story of God's faithfulness, but our response is to be out of faith.
While in many ways Lourdes is a great children's story, the message of Mary, her reference to herself as the Immaculate Conception, and the healing that occurs there, has very adult-like ramifications. Little did Bernadette understand the terrible events that would sweep through her nation, and that of Europe over the next decade, which would set the stage for WW I. In addition to political discord, poverty and want were a regular part of many peoples lives, especially in the cities of Europe.
Even today though there is a great need of healing among people. We can bring into our adult lives all types of wants, desires, and hurts. Then are the 'deadly Sins' which form the base of the sins and sinfulness in the world today. All of this hobbles our day to day living as well as our relationships with others.
It seems to me that Mary reminds us that we are made for God. God's desire is not that we exist as distorted men and women, but peoples who share in the freedom and oneness of God. Lourdes helps peoples understand the need of healing and wholeness each person has. And most importantly, through the ongoing ministry and mission of the Church God offers us healing and peace.

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