Friday of the Second Week of Easter
Joshua, Chapter 4, Verse 23-24
23 For the Lord, your God, dried up the waters of the Jordan in front of
you until you crossed over, just as the Lord, your God, had done at the Red
Sea, drying it up in front of us until we crossed over, 24
in order that all the peoples of the
earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, and that you may FEAR the
Lord, your God, forever.”
Often times we are afraid of shadows but when are eyes are fixed on the promise of God we are filled with optimism. When Joshua crossed the Jordan, he had a representative from each tribe take up a stone from the river to immortalize the day God stopped the Jordan and to recall the day Israel received the promise of God. So today I would like you to reflect what has been the 12 most memorial events for you in the past year in order to focus ourselves on the light rather than the shadows.
So, what are the 12 memorial stones of your life you would like to present to the Lord? Are there some areas you need help from the Lord in order to be successful?
- Emotional: How have I grown in love?
- Mental: Have I developed any new paradigms?
- Physical: Have I overcome a physical weakness?
- Spiritual: Have I developed Holy Fear and walked with the Lord? Have I developed any new virtues?
- Career: Have I progressed in my career or aided someone in theirs?
- Family: Have I had family successes and been open to new life?
- Financial: Have I made progress in stewardship of the resources that God has given me?
- Learning: Has my mind been open to the Lord and new learning?
- Community: Has there been success in areas where I work with my local community?
- Church: Has there been growth in my participation with my parish?
- Environment: Have I done my part to be environmentally responsible?
- Companionship: Have I listened, been nurturing, and positive?
Remember when you finish reflecting to thank the Lord for your successes and have a grateful heart.
Marie Bernarde ('Bernadette') Soubirous was the eldest child of an impoverished miller. At the age of fourteen she was ailing and undersized, sensitive and of pleasant disposition but accounted backward and slow. Between 11 February and 16 July 1858, in a shallow cave on the bank of the river Gave, she had a series of remarkable experiences. On eighteen occasions she saw a very young and beautiful lady, who made various requests and communications to her, pointing out a forgotten spring of water and enjoining prayer and penitence. The lady eventually identified herself as the Virgin Mary, under the title of 'the Immaculate Conception'. Some of these happenings took place in the presence of many people, but no one besides Bernadette claimed to see or hear 'the Lady', and there was no disorder or emotional extravagance. After the appearances ceased, however, there was an epidemic of false visionaries and morbid religiosity in the district, which increased the reserved attitude of the church authorities towards Bernadette's experiences. For some years she suffered greatly from the suspicious disbelief of some and the tactless enthusiasm and insensitive attentions of others; these trials she bore with impressive patience and dignity. In 1866 she was admitted to the convent of the Sisters of Charity at Nevers. Here she was more sheltered from trying publicity, but not from the 'stuffiness' of the convent superiors nor from the tightening grip of asthma. 'I am getting on with my job,' she would say. 'What is that?' someone asked. 'Being ill,' was the reply. Thus, she lived out her self-effacing life, dying at the age of thirty-five. The events of 1858 resulted in Lourdes becoming one of the greatest pilgrim shrines in the history of Christendom. But St Bernadette took no part in these developments; nor was it for her visions that she was canonized, but for the humble simplicity and religious trustingness that characterized her whole life.
Patron: Bodily ills; illness; Lourdes, France; people ridiculed for their piety; poverty; shepherdesses; shepherds; sick people; sickness.
The Message of the Virgin of Lourdes
One of the better-known apparitions of Our Lady took place in Lourdes, France in 1858. This shrine continues today to be one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world. Thousands of people visit this shrine every year, a special place of devotion to Our Lady, where many miracles have occurred.
Beginning with her first apparition of February 11, 1858, Mary appeared eighteen times to Bernadette Soubirous, a girl of only fourteen years of age. When Bernadette asked the Lady who She was, she received the reply, "I am the Immaculate Conception." Less than four years before, on December 8, 1854, Pius IX had raised the teaching about the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady to be dogma of faith with these words:
By the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and our own authority, we declare, pronounce, and define: the doctrine which hold that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary was from the first moment of her conception, by the singular, grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Christ Jesus the Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin, is revealed by God and therefore, firmly and constantly to be believed by all the faithful. (The Christian Faith #709).
It is under the title of the Immaculate Conception that Our Lady is especially honored in our own country.
This message can be summed up in the following four points:
1. It is a heavenly confirmation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception that had just been defined by the Church a few years before.
2. It is an exaltation of the virtues of Christian poverty and humility that are perceived in Bernadette.
3. The spiritual message is that of personal conversion. Our Lady tells Bernadette that the important thing is to be happy in the next life. To attain this, we must accept the cross in this life.
4. Mary stresses the importance of prayer, especially the rosary. Our Lady appeared with a rosary hanging from Her right arm. Penance and humility are also part of the message, as well as a message of mercy for sinners and compassion for the sick.