Showing posts with label Lourdes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lourdes. Show all posts

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Saying the Favorite Prayer of Our Blessed Mother

The Catholic Church celebrates the Sunday after Pentecost as Trinity Sunday. Perhaps the most succinct and most beautiful prayer to the Holy Trinity in the Catholic tradition is the Glory Be, which goes as follows: "Glory Be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be."

I tend to think that the Glory Be is the favorite prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At Lourdes, Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette 18 times. During these apparitions, as Bernadette would pray the Rosary in Our Lady's presence, Mary remained silent, except that she joined Bernadette during each Glory Be.

At Lourdes, Our Lady also stated, "I am the Immaculate Conception," which means that she was free of all original sin. The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was also free of all personal sin. Therefore, throughout her whole existence, Mary has never had a thought and has never performed an act that was in any way contrary to God's will. The Virgin Mary's entire existence has been in perfect harmony with God from the moment of her conception.

To be in harmony with God's will means that we fully open ourselves to God's love for us, and we love God with all of our being, with everything that we are, fully, completely, without reservation. Since God is absolute beauty, absolute perfection, and absolute glory, to love God also means that we glorify him, honor him, and praise him constantly, without end.

As in her beautiful poem, the Magnificat, which we find in the Gospel of Luke (1:46-56), Our Lady ceaselessly proclaims the greatness of the Lord, glorifying the name of God. As we pray the Glory Be, we can safely assume that we are saying the words that give our Holy Mother the greatest joy. One day, we will join her in Heaven, where we will find our complete fulfillment in joining her in the eternal praise of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Beautiful Town of Lourdes

February 11 is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Below are some pictures of the enchanting town of Lourdes, France, from my visit there in October of 2015. Situated at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains, Lourdes is a beautiful little town, complete with a Medieval castle overlooking the area. Lourdes is the site of a series of 18 apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous in 1958, over the course of several months. During one of the apparitions, Mary directed Bernadette to find a spring in the grotto, instructing people to drink from the water and to wash themselves with it.

The grotto of the apparition has been well preserved. Pilgrims are able to enter, touch the walls, and view the location, now behind Plexiglass, where Bernadette found the spring. A beautiful church complex was built over the rock formation in which the grotto is located. More recently, under the promenade leading to the grotto, a huge, modern-style basilica was built, large enough to accommodate 25,000 people, making it the third largest basilica in the world. This underground church might initially strike visitors more as a backup parking garage rather than as a church, but the space has a power of its own in its aggressive starkness. Ironically, the basilica is named after St. Pius X, who was not exactly a fan of modernity.

5 million people visit Lourdes every year. Pilgrims can drink from the water and are able to bathe in it through an elaborate, stream-lined process. Visitors can also tour the buildings where Bernadette lived while she was at Lourdes. From March through October, thousands of people participate in a nightly candle light procession, involving multi-lingual prayers. A nightly Eucharistic procession is also held in the underground basilica. Close to the grotto, a life-sized set of the Stations of the Cross winds up the side of a wooded hill, inviting pilgrims to a prayerful walk, with a stunning view of the surrounding area.

Lourdes has a profound spiritual power, and from a spiritual perspective, the experience of this shrine was an amazing spiritual highlight. On the other hand, the rows and rows of shops selling all kinds of articles of commercialized religion can be disturbing and spiritually deflating. God and mammon are both present in this place - it is our choice which we embrace.