The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady and Bernadette
The Next Day
I have to fight to keep the apparitions of Mary at Lourdes real in my mind. As a child, the images of Mary and the story of the peasant girl, Bernadette, was a child's book full of beautiful pictures. Mary depicted by the beautiful statue was much the same – beautiful but still in my mind like a coloring book.
Today, I am called to take the stories of my youth and transform them in the knowledge and faith as an adult.
As a child, it isn't that I didn't believe the story of Lourdes; I just didn't distinguish it from other adventures. Maybe in my young mind, fairy tales were similar to the visit of Mary- an appearance that only one person could hear or see. Perhaps the story of Bernadette, her mother's treatment, the dramatic scene of Bernadette drinking water from the grotto, her face muddy. The villagers laughing and jeering was just a movie. Today, I know that Bernadette is no Cinderella. It is time I consider the reality of the apparitions and the consequence for the young girl, Bernadette. My heart aches for her, but Saint Bernadette doesn't wish my pity; she prays for my conversion. She invites me to consider "the next day."
When Our Lady appeared to Bernadette on February 11, 1854, Bernadette was not alone. She was gathering firewood with her sister and a friend. The other girls didn't see the apparition. Bernadette did not identify the lady as Our Lady even though many prompted, accused, and assumed that is was she. It was the rosary that communicated to Bernadette. It was seeing the lady with the rosary that caused Bernadette to kneel and begin to pray. No wonder Mary chose Bernadette, a faith so strong and noble. Such strength would be required as the news spread, curiosity piqued, and enemies would seek to consume and destroy Bernadette. The event had gone viral.
But before the crowds assembled at the grotto, something else happened. It was Bernadette who had to choose whether what she saw had actually happened. It had to be Bernadette who confirmed her own senses while reminding herself that everyone would say that Bernadette was an uneducated, illiterate peasant. This young lady had not yet received her First Communion because she had a difficult time learning her catechism. She could have asked the same question as Elizabeth, "Who am I, that the Mother of Our Lord should come to me?" Bernadette did not assume it was Mary, yet in prayer and faith, she continued to obey the lady who asked for "Penance, Penance, Penance. Pray to God for sinners." The simple message was very understandable to Bernadette, and her life was an example of penance and praying for sinners.
Am I answering "yes" to the call of Mary? Am I open to sacrifice, penance, and prayer for the conversion of sinners? Is my life an example of simple humility given to Our Lady and the Rosary. When I hear God's Word, do I respond, or do I doubt my senses and ignore the message? Bernadette was questioned, vilified, and challenged by her mother, church, and community - yet, she remained firm. Her answer was, "I am charged with telling you, not making you believe." Now, it is my turn. Shall I relegate the stories of Marian Apparitions to the nursery, or is it time to take the next step with Bernadette. Do I stake my life on the Gospel and pray and work for the salvation of sinners?
The "next day" is today.
Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, please pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, please pray for us.
Photo Credit - Claudia Rodriguez
The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
The Theophany at Jesus' Baptism
January 18, 2020
Last week, we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord. The Gospel reading from Matthew was expected (we are in Cycle A with a focus on the Gospel of Matthew). I was surprised when I noticed that this Sunday's reading is from the Gospel of John but still focusing on the baptism of Our Lord. It made me consider a closer look at these Gospel readings.
The Baptism of Jesus (Last week)
Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan
to be baptized by him.
John tried to prevent him, saying,
"I need to be baptized by you,
and yet you are coming to me?"
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us
to fulfill all righteousness."
Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (This week)
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said,
'A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.'
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel."
John testified further, saying,
"I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
'On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God."
[John 1: 29-34]
I pray that you are inspired by these Gospel stories chosen to draw our hearts and imaginations to the scene of the baptism of the Lord. I have been meditating on is the presence of the Holy Trinity in these readings.
As Jesus asks for the baptism from John, a baptism of repentance, John knows that in the Son of God, no sin exists. John questions Jesus' request for baptism saying,
"I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?"
Jesus said to him in reply, "Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed him."
What a day it was for John, knowing that salvation had come to the world. It was John who accepted the mission to "prepare the way of the Lord" but honored to stand in the river Jordan, with Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity, while the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity descends in front of his eyes, while the voice of the Father, the first person of the Trinity speaks, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
What a feast for John's senses!
John experienced the Holy Trinity, and his soul must have soared, for not since his leap in Elizabeth's womb had he experienced the full power of God.
In the Old Testament, others have experienced God, a theophany, which is a clear manifestation of God. Moses heard the voice of God coming from the burning bush, and Elijah speaks with and encounters God.
Elijah stands in the presence of the Lord,
"Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, the LORD will pass by.
There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, Why are you here, Elijah?" [1Kings 19:11-13]
Before the coming of Jesus, the Divine Manifestation of God was veiled; but in the Baptism of Jesus, His Transfiguration, and Jesus' Resurrection, Jesus' Divine Presence is revealed.
Do we dare to stand with John the Baptist in the knowledge and glory of Our God fully revealed?
Might we take a moment to consider the Holy Trinity displayed at the Jordan River?
What an opportunity to thank Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for the gift of Grace poured out in our baptism, the Grace that makes us the sons and daughters of God.
God, you are so good,
Please help me to grasp the gift of your love.
Please help me to understand what you offer me.
Please grant me the strength to accept the gift of your Grace freely given.
Baptism of Jesus
Artist - Devin Montagne
The First Week of Ordinary Time
There is nothing ordinary about Ordinary Time!
Well, here we are in Ordinary Time, and I am so excited. Do you get excited by ordinary days? I do. I love a day when you wake up and look forward to a routine. In my life, there are many exciting days; in fact, that is the norm.
Days of planning and anticipation are my everyday routine, but they are anything but normal. Maybe you have experienced the same kind of days planning for Christmas, New Year, the arrival of guests – busy, busy days.
My busy life is full of blessings, so many gifts from God that I must stop and thank Him for my husband, children, a safe place to raise them, a warm home, and so much more. It is in a day of routine that I best see the many ways He cares for me in abundance. Thank you, Lord.
It is in these “normal” days that the church returns after the Christmas Season. We began Advent together on December 1st, and we look forward to Lent with Ash Wednesday on February 26th – six weeks away. The weeks of Ordinary Time lead us through the Gospels, telling the story of Christ and His ministry.
The U.S. Conference of Bishops shares,
“Ordinary Time is a time for growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history until all things are finally caught up in Christ. The goal, toward which all of history is directed, is represented by the final Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.”
They say that it takes six weeks to begin a new habit, and I am ready! Ready to read the daily readings and seek the Lord in the quiet that comes with daily life.
Maybe if I seek normal days, I will find them. That would be exciting.
I love Lent and hope to begin that season of preparation better for having taken this time to seek God first
in the routine of my life, whether the days are busy or not.