Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary : Our Lady of Lourdes
This great title of Our Lady is one of the best known to all Catholics, and yet whose message is most shamefully neglected and forgotten. In accord with God's love for the poor and simple of heart, the Blessed Virgin Mary chose St. Bernadette Soubirous, a young, humble maiden of little education, as Her instrument to convey to mankind Her message of Maternal concern and urgent repentance.
It was in the year 1858 that the Mother of God appeared to this little shepherd girl, in a distant grotto, in the French foothills of the Pyrenees, commonly known as Massabieille. As with all of Our Blessed Lady's Apparitions, She appeared to the humble and those most hidden from the world, because it is in these hearts that God works His greatest wonders of grace. In a series of 18 apparitions from February to July, the Mother of God offered a message of hope, warning, and consolation, but especially one urging mankind to return to the love of Her Divine Son, through prayer, penance, and reparation for sins.
"I am the Immaculate Conception." In an age such as ours, so decadent and Godless, these words come as a ray of Hope and a pledge of victory. In no other age has Satan reaped such abundant fruit as in ours, and never has the battle for God and His Honor looked so bleak. Sin and vice have smothered the light of God's Grace, and Satan has successfully established his kingdom. When all seemed lost, God sent His Immaculate Mother to be our sole refuge.
It is only through Her that we will ever hope to obtain the grace to resist sin and Satan's snares and allurements, and persevere in Our Holy Catholic Faith. If we expect to persevere through these perilous times, our lives must be every bit as fervent as Bernadette's. Yet most of us are ensnared by complacency, and thoughtlessly take God's grace for granted. The humble faith of this young girl should be evident in our daily lives by our unquestioning obedience to the counsels of Holy Mother Church given through Her Bishop and clergy. How often do we find ourselves pridefully questioning the authority and guide set over us by God, and little by little shutting out the life of grace from our souls. How many of us lack her humility by hiding our Faith and devotion out of fear of human respect, when she gladly underwent severe questioning and rude treatment from the officials of this world for the sake of her Faith?!
Finally, Our Blessed Mother's plea for "Penance, Penance, Penance!" should be the tenor of our daily lives in this vale of tears -- reparation for sin our aim in consoling Her Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of Her Divine Son. Upon this will depend our perseverance; for in our very crosses we will find the grace to persevere and to overcome the world. Our Lady did not promise St. Bernadette happiness in this life, but promised it would be waiting for her in Heaven. So also, we must keep our eyes ever fixed on our heavenly goal as we struggle against the world to remain Our Lady's faithful servants and apostles.
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