Friday, February 8, 2013

Lourdes, World Day of the Sick

In God's goodness to mankind and to confirm the devotion of the faithful to the Immaculate Conception and the pronouncement of the Holy Father, God sent his Mother to Lourdes France. (1858)

Just four short years after His Holiness, Pope Pius IX infallibly proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, (December 8th, 1854), Mary spoke to Bernadette of the need for penance and prayer, a need for healing from the darkness of sin.  "I am the Immaculate Conception" she declared, promising happiness not in this life but in the next.  Was she reminding us that to root out sin from our lives will give us joy and peace in the service of the Lord here, which will be a foretaste of the glory to come?

In exhorting Bernadette to penance, Our Lady was urging us all to conversion. St. Ambrose says there are two conversions in the Church, the one of water and the one of tears, the water of Baptism, and the tears of repentance   The CCC reminds us that (1432) conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to Him.  God gives us the strength to begin anew.  It is in discovering the greatness of God's love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced.

It is appropriate that this day is also "World Day of the Sick."  We are all afflicted with the sickness of sin, and we all have need of a purification.  At Lourdes, Our Lady told Bernadette to wash in the stream, and from that day, the waters of the miraculous stream have been flowing.  Here she gave us a sign of her love and hope for those who suffer physically, as well as those who suffer spiritually, that she is there with Her Divine Son to assist and lead us back to His embrace, or to make us whole again. Christ invites us to follow him by taking up our cross.  By following Jesus we can acquire a new outlook on illness and sickness.  Here at Lourdes, Our Lady wanted to give us a pledge of her special protection.  Although some are not cured physically who come to Lourdes, they are nevertheless given peace and hope knowing that they suffer with Christ.

Let us pray today for all the sick and suffering, that the compassionate Heart of Christ will be their strength and that through their suffering they will find God.

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