Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Warning: Lourdes

Lourdes: 1858

In 1854, Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin
Mary. Four years later, Bernadette Soubirous, a fourteen-year-old girl whose family was the poorest in Lourdes, France, declared she had seen a Lady in the village dump, where she and two other girls had been gathering firewood. The vision had issued from the heart of a massive rock formation next to the river Gave, in a place called "Massabielle," which literally means "old rock." After several visits, the Lady asked Bernadette to return fifteen times, which she faithfully did, whereupon she and the whole world received a message and a gift. The message was simple and direct: "Repentance! Repentance! Repentance!"
The gift was a beautiful clear spring, coming forth from the base of the rock at a point where Bernadette had obediently dug with her bare hands in the mud, for the Lady had directed that she drink at The Spring. The waters soon displayed miraculous healing properties, and pilgrims began their journeys to Lourdes to bathe in the water and drink at The Spring. Ever since The Spring appeared, countless millions have found living waters at this spot where the Blessed Virgin spoke to a little girl of no account. When Bernadette at last asked the beautiful Lady who she was, the vision confessed, with awesome simplicity, "I am the Immaculate Conception!" Free from sin from the beginning, she showed what the Lord wants for us at the end. Her battle is ours, a fight against sin. If we would only repent of our sins, the calamities that threaten the human race would never
occur. There would be healing and peace that issues from the heart of God, like water from The Rock. Like Mary, we dwell within the "old rock" of the Church, the Rock of Christ. The waters flowing from it in the mystery of Baptism would cleanse us and refresh us with grace.

The miracles at Lourdes continue until today to confront us with the message of Mary
and the constant availability of God's healing and forgiveness. The Spring is a reminder that the springs of "living water" are waiting for the people of the world, that they may come and "drink freely, without pay." The weight of sin upon us will be lifted, its stain washed away. The message grows more emphatic with Lourdes. Sin is the core of the problem. The world must change. The Darkness is gathering.

[To be continued . . .]