REFLECTION FOR 5TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C), Week beginning 6 February 2022
Friday, February 11th, is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes – the World Day of Prayer for the Sick.
During February 11th to July 16th 1858, Bernadette Soubirous had 18 visions of Our Lady in the Massabielle grotto at Lourdes. On February 25th, Our Lady asked her to drink the water from a spring flowing under this rock. She told her “I am the Immaculate Conception”. This doctrine had only been proclaimed in 1854. In 1862 Pope Pius 1X declared the visions authentic and authorized the veneration of Our Lady of Lourdes. The underground spring in the grotto was declared to have miraculous properties. So, Lourdes became a major pilgrimage centre, Our Lady having requested the building of a chapel. Bernadette’s health was always very frail. In 1854 she had contracted cholera in the epidemic. She was 14 at the time of the apparitions and suffered from asthma and other ailments throughout her life. To escape all public attention, she became a boarder at a school in Nevers, run by the Sisters of Charity, and then in 1866 she became a novice there. She then completed her religious instruction in due course. She spent her remaining years in prayer and seclusion. On April 16th 1879 she died in real agony but accepted it willingly. Her mortal remains are now incorrupt in the chapel of St. Gildard convent at Nevers. She was canonised by Pope Pius X1 on December 8th 1933. This was truly a most wonderful gift and grace from God to her, that her mortal remains have been preserved incorrupt. Such a situation is quite exceptional, but her acceptance of very considerable earthly suffering was also in itself most exceptional, always humbly accepting it for Jesus, and still succeeding in seeing out her days in kindliness, holiness and joy. She died aged 35, her many illnesses having emanated principally from her family’s poor living conditions.
Now a saint, she would surely identify so closely with the world’s sick, as would they with her!