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2/11 Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes

M_Lourdes w St Bernadette

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The pilgrimage of Lourdes is founded on the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to a poor, fourteen-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubiroux. The first apparition occurred 11 February, 1858. There were eighteen in all; the last took place 16 July, of the same year. Bernadette often fell into an ecstasy. The mysterious vision she saw in the hollow of the rock Massabielle was that of a young and beautiful lady. “Lovelier than I have ever seen” said the child. But the girl was the only one who saw the vision, although sometimes many stood there with her. Now and then the apparition spoke to the seer who also was the only one who heard the voice. Thus, she one day told her to drink of a mysterious fountain, in the grotto itself, the existence of which was unknown, and of which there was no sign, but which immediately gushed forth. On another occasion the apparition bade Bernadette go and tell the priests she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be made to the grotto. At first the clergy were incredulous. It was only four years later, in 1862, that the bishop of the diocese declared the faithful “justified in believing the reality of the apparition”. A basilica was built upon the rock of Massabielle by M. Peyramale, the parish priest. In 1873 the great “national” French pilgrimages were inaugurated. Three years later the basilica was consecrated and the statue solemnly crowned. In 1883 the foundation stone of another church was laid, as the first was no longer large enough. It was built at the foot of the basilica and was consecrated in 1901 and called the Church of the Rosary. Pope Leo XIII authorized a special office and a Mass, in commemoration of the apparition, and in 1907 Pius X extended the observance of this feast to the entire Church; it is now observed on 11 February.

Never has a sanctuary attracted such throngs. At the end of the year 1908, when the fiftieth anniversary of the apparition was celebrated, although the record really only began from 1867, 5297 pilgrimages had been registered and these had brought 4,919,000 pilgrims. Individual pilgrims are more numerous by far than those who come in groups. To their number must be added the visitors who do not come as pilgrims, but who are attracted by a religious feeling or sometimes merely by the desire to see this far-famed spot. The Company of the Chemins de Fer du Midi estimates that the Lourdes station receives over one million travellers per annum. Every nation in the world furnishes its contingent. Out of the total of pilgrimages given above, four hundred and sixty-four came from countries other than France. They are sent by the United States, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Italy, England, Ireland, Canada, Brazil, Bolivia, etc. The bishops lead the way. At the end of the year of the fiftieth anniversary, 2013 prelates, including 546 archbishops, 10 primates, 19 patriarchs, 69 cardinals, had made the pilgrimage to Lourdes. But more remarkable still than the crowd of pilgrims is the series of wonderful occurrences which take place under the protection of the celebrated sanctuary. Passing over spiritual cures, which more often than not escape human observance, we shall confine ourselves to bodily diseases. The writer of this article has recorded every recovery, whether partial or complete, and in the first half-century of the shrine’s existence he has counted 3962. Notwithstanding very careful statistics which give the names and surnames of the patients who have recovered, the date of the cure, the name of the disease, and generally that of the physician who had charge of the case, there are inevitably doubtful or mistaken cases, attributable, as a rule, to the excited fancy of the afflicted one and which time soon dispels. But it is only right to note: first, that these unavoidable errors regard only secondary cases which have not like the others been the object of special study; it must also be noted that the number of cases is equalled and exceeded by actual cures which are not put on record. The afflicted who have recovered are not obliged to present themselves and half of them do not present themselves, at the Bureau des Constatations Médicales at Lourdes, and it is from this bureau’s official reports that the list of cures is drawn up.

The estimate that about 4000 cures have been obtained at Lourdes within the first fifty years of the pilgrimage is undoubtedly considerably less than the actual number. The Bureau des Constatations stands near the shrine, and there are recorded and checked the certificates of maladies and also the certificates of cure; it is free to all physicians, whatever their nationality or religious belief. Consequently, on an average, from two to three hundred physicians annual visit this marvellous clinic. As to the nature of the diseases which are cured, nervous disorders so frequently mentioned, do not furnish even the fourteenth part of the whole; 278 have been counted, out of a total of 3962. The present writer has published the number of cases of each disease or infirmity, among them tuberculosis, tumours, sores, cancers, deafness, blindness, etc. The “Annales des Sciences Physiques”, a sceptical review whose chief editor is Doctor Ch. Richet, Professor at the Medical Faculty of Paris, said in the course of a long article, apropos of this faithful study: “On reading it, unprejudiced minds cannot but be convinced that the facts stated are authentic.”

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)


The fruit of the Spirit is…patience


From Luisa Piccarreta Official Website

Patience doesn’t mean resignation.  Patience derives from patior, a Latin verb that means: I share, I feel the same thing.  It is the virtue of great souls, very much necessary in everyday life.  We often encounter physical and moral difficulties, painful family situations, people that need to be listened to and are in need of compassion; situations that we must face with patience, imitating the patience of God who is patient, for He became flesh and came to share our situation and human condition.  Unfortunately, we almost always overlook the fact that the best evangelization campaign can be our own life.  In fact, if we let ourselves be totally guided by the Holy Spirit who is in us, our life would produce a precious fruit that would end up drawing the interest of and attracting people to Christ.

 The characteristics of this fruit, described in Gal 5:22, set believers apart and make them a light in the midst of darkness.  God desires that His children be similar to Him, and we can be, giving space to His Spirit in our minds, in our hearts and in our souls.  Jesus explains to Luisa the greatness of the virtue of patience and affirms that patience is superior to purity, because without patience, the soul easily breaks free and it is difficult to remain pure, and when one virtue needs another virtue in order to have life, the latter virtue is called superior to the former.  In fact, one can say that patience is the guardian of purity and not only that, but it is the ladder in order to climb the mountain of fortitude, in such a way that if one went up without the ladder of patience, he would immediately plummet from the highest point to the lowest.

 In addition to this, patience is the seed of perseverance and this seed produces branches called firmness.  How firm and stabile in the good undertaken is the patient soul!  She pays no attention to rain, frost, ice, or fire, but all of her attention is on bringing to completion the good she has started.  For there is no greater foolishness than that of one who today does some good and tomorrow, because he finds no more pleasure, neglects it.  What would one say about an eye that at one hour possesses sight and at another remains blind?  Of a tongue that now speaks and now remains mute?  Patience alone is the secret key to open up the treasure of virtues; without the secret of this key, the other virtues do not come out to give life to the soul and render her noble.

 Patience seems like something as long extinct as the “dinosaurs”!  For us human beings, this word might exist only as an exclamation of exasperation or of resignation.  Indeed, patience is divine.  God demonstrates an immense patience towards man, but also asks us to be patient like Him, patient in circumstances, patient with others, patient in trials, patient with ourselves.  Patience is not an option for us believers.  Without this characteristic, the fruit of the Holy Spirit is not complete.

 Given that none of the parts comprising the fruit of the Spirit exclude the others, since they are all fundamentally connected to each other, patience, which is more useful than all the others in everyday life, is linked to love.  You cannot love without being patient and you cannot be patient if you do not love.  Love produces patience, it manifests itself in patience and, if it is the love of God making us capable of love, to cultivate this love is patience.

 Jesus again states in the writings of Luisa that, in addition to the food of love, He desires the bread of patience from the soul, for patient and suffering love is the most solid, the most satisfying and strengthening food because if love is not patient, one can say that it is wretched love, light and without any substance, lacking the necessary material in order to form the bread of patience.  In imitation of Jesus, Christian patience is the free acceptance of that which crucifies us in life, a loving conformity to the Will of God.  Patience, in fact, can be defined as the virtue of those who know how to tolerate serenely and for a long time all that which, to a greater or lesser extent, is unpleasant, irritating, painful: the ability to know how to wait for things to come and to remain firm during adversity, the capacity to know how to wait for God in His time and in His plans.  Jesus says to Luisa that the most certain sign of loving the Lord is the cross, but the cross borne with patience and resignation, because where there is patience and resignation in crosses, there is Divine Life.  Since our nature is so reluctant to suffer, if there is patience, it cannot be something natural but divine, and the soul no longer loves the Lord only with her love, but united to the love of the Divine Life: therefore, what doubt can she have whether she loves or not, if she arrives at loving Him with His same love?  If she lacks patience, she lacks love because love is only known by sacrifice, while the cross, patience and resignation are fruits that produce only grace and love. 

 Jesus continues to emphasize that the cross is a treasure.  And where is the most secure place to put this precious treasure in safety?  The soul is the most secure place when she is disposed with patience, with resignation and with the other virtues to receive this treasure, for the virtues are many keys that guard it from being squandered and exposed to thieves, and if this treasure does not find especially the golden key of patience, it will find many thieves that will steal and squander it.  In addition, every suffering that the soul suffers is a dominion of herself that acquires more because patience in suffering is regime.  Ruling herself, the more the soul suffers, the more dominions she acquires and she does nothing but expand and enlarge her kingdom of Heaven, purchasing immense riches for eternal life.  For every additional thing that one suffers, one acquires another kingdom in her own soul, which is a kingdom of grace corresponding to a reign of virtue and glory.

 In his letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul exhorts us to clothes ourselves with patience: “Put on, then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Col 3:12).  It is up to us, therefore, not to God, to cloth ourselves with patience.  It is our responsibility to do it, because what will happen to us in the future depends on how we cloth ourselves.  Just as in the natural we dress ourselves daily, so also in the spiritual we must wear the garment of patience every day, not occasionally.

 Once again Jesus explains to Luisa how patience feeds the virtues.  Patience is the nourishment of perseverance, because patience keeps the passions in their place and strengthens all the virtues, and the virtues, receiving the act of continuous life from patience, do not feel the fatigue that inconstancy produces, so easy to the creature.  Therefore the soul does not get despondent if she is mortified or humiliated because patience immediately administers to her the necessary food and forms there a stronger and more stable knot of perseverance.

 We must exercise our patience, above all, in our relationship with God.  When the fruit of the Spirit grows and becomes more mature, so does the quality of our relationship with God, ceasing the monologue and starting the listening.  The Scriptures urge us to learn how to wait in silence and to place ourselves in a listening position in order to be able to grasp the counsel of God, knowing that the first to have patience is God, who waits for everyone to come to repentance.  If at times there are moments of temptation, we must not get disturbed.  For Jesus reassures us, telling Luisa that often it is He who leads the soul into the depths of the abyss in order to be able to then lead her more directly to Heaven.  Furthermore, patience, humiliation, the offering to God of that which one suffers in times of temptation form the satisfying bread that one gives to our Lord and that He accepts with much delight.

Let us strive, then, to put on patience and fortify ourselves in it.  Let us reflect on the negative effects produced by our lack of patience and ask God to forgive us for the tensions and resentments that its absence in us has produced in our lives.  Let us try to always keep the smile in our eyes, peace on our face and sweetness in our words. 

Father Mariano from Torino, whose heroic virtues were recognized, used to say: “I don’t know if there is a saint by the name of Patience, but there should be because it is necessary; in fact, three things are needed for living: a pinch of science, a spoonful of prudence and a barrel of patience”.

If there isn’t a saint by the name of Patience, it is however certain that patience is sanctifying.

 Tonia Abbattista

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