Skip to comments.Our Lady of Lourdes – February 11
Posted on 02/11/2005 5:24:51 PM PST by Land of the Irish
The story of Lourdes, where Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous, is rich in lessons for us. One lesson is about suffering. We see in Lourdes two attitudes of Divine Providence with regard to human suffering that can appear to be contradictory.
At Lourdes, Our Lady works many miracles of body and soul for the benefit of souls. On one hand, the thing that attracts the most attention at Lourdes is that Our Lady has pity on men, hears their requests, and works miracles to free them from the pain and illnesses they suffer. Also, Our Lady has pity on souls, and to prove that the Catholic Faith is the only true religion, she often works spiritual miracles of conversions. By making both physical and spiritual miracles, she shows that she is our Mother who loves us and wants to relieve us from suffering both here and in eternity.
On the other hand, we see something else at Lourdes. A great number of sick people go to Lourdes and return without being cured. Why does Our Lady give cures to some, and not to others? In fact, there is an important lesson for us in the cures she doesnt give, and perhaps the greatest miracle of Lourdes is found precisely in this.
For the great majority of persons, suffering is indispensable for their own sanctification. Therefore, the illnesses and troubles they suffer are necessary. It is through sicknesses and spiritual tribulations that they will sanctify themselves. One who does not understand the role of suffering and sorrow in bringing about detachment, conversion, and love of God does not understand what the spiritual life really is.
St. Francis of Sales used to affirm that suffering is the Eighth Sacrament. It is so indispensable that he considered that no one could be saved without it. Cardinal Pedro Segura, Archbishop of Seville, who was an admirable Spanish Catholic, once told me about a talk he had with Pope Pius XI.
Pius XI boasted to him that he had never been sick. The Cardinal told him: So, Your Holiness does not have the sign of the elect soul. The Pope was surprised, but Cardinal Segura was resolute: There is no predestined soul who does not suffer profoundly from sickness at least once in his lifetime. If Your Holiness has never had any health problem, you do not have the sign of the elect. Some days later, Pius XI had a strong heart attack. From his bed he wrote a message to Cardinal Segura, saying: Your Eminence, now I also have the sign of the elect.
I agree with Cardinal Segura that suffering be it physical or moral is the sign of the elect soul.
Now then, Our Lady would work against the salvation of souls if she would cure every illness. Sometimes she does, because it is for the ultimate good of that person to be relieved of the suffering. But normally it is not opportune. This is why Our Lady, who is the Mother of Mercy, permits suffering for some souls, because it is indispensable.
But Our Lady also does something else that is very beautiful. To the sick persons she does not cure, she gives a profound conformity to the will of God and acceptance of their sufferings. I have never heard of a person who had been to Lourdes and was not cured who became angry and revolted against God. On the contrary, persons who go there return with an enormous resignation, happy to have been at Lourdes and seen other people being cured.
Further, there are numerous cases of persons who travel long distances, arrive at Lourdes, and witness other persons who are suffering much more than they are and have greater need of being cured. Seeing this, they ask Our Lady to cure those persons instead of themselves. That is, a person voluntarily accepts his suffering for the advantage of another. In my opinion, this is also a miracle. It is the renunciation of ones own self love for the love of God and neighbor. For a person to renounce human egotism is perhaps a greater miracle than the cures of sicknesses and the conversions.
At Lourdes, there is a Convent of contemplative Carmelite sisters who offer their lives to win graces for the cures of body and soul for the pilgrims who go there. These nuns never ask any cures for themselves, and accept every illness in exchange for the cure of others. They suffer enormously, and sometimes die prematurely, with the sole purpose of their lives being to do good for others.
When we look around us at other men, at human nature corrupted by original sin, we understand how this kind of abnegation violently conflicts with normal human interests. This kind of sacrifice causes horror to our human egotism. Then we think about it, we realize how the very existence of those nuns and pilgrims who accept suffering for others is, in itself, a miracle. A miracle that is greater than the cures that are worked at Lourdes. It is this kind of miracle of generosity that wins Heaven for the persons who are cured.
The principal aim of the love of Our Lady, who watches over us body and soul, is to lead us to God and to Heaven. This is what she desires the most for us.
The greatest lesson of Lourdes, then, is the acceptance of suffering, be it a physical illness or a moral sorrow, if it is necessary for our salvation. It is very difficult to carry the cross of suffering with resignation. Yes, it really is. But in such cases, we have the divine example of Our Lord in the Garden of Olives who prayed: Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 22:42). This is the position we should have in face of our particular sufferings. If it is not possible to remove the chalice, not my will, but thine, be done. A grace will come to console us, like the Angel who came to console and give strength to Our Lord.
We should have an understanding of suffering, the courage, resolution, and energy it takes to face it, and even the joy to receive it. We should remember that to suffer is a sign of the elect.
Our Lady will help us to face our sufferings, just as she helps those who request her assistance at Lourdes.
**I agree with Cardinal Segura that suffering be it physical or moral is the sign of the elect soul.**
Then we can all stand among the elect, because we are all suffering at one time or another in our lives.
St. Bernadette Soubrious, pray for us!
A sign is a sign, nothing more. Just because one has broken his arm, does not mean he "stand(s) among the elect".
From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
I. THE OLD TESTAMENT
The Old Testament applies the term elect, or chosen, only to the Israelites in as far as they are called to be the people of God, or are faithful to their Divine call. The idea of such an election is common in the Book of Deuteronomy and in Is., xl-lxvi. In Ps. civ, 6 and 43, and cv, 5, the chosen ones are the Hebrew people in as far as it is the recipient of God's temporal and spiritual blessings; in Is., lxv, 9, 15 and 23, they are the repentant Israelites, as few in number "as if a grain can be found in a cluster" (ibid., 8); in Tob., xiii, 10, they are the Israelites remaining faithful during their captivity; in Wisd., iii, 9, and iv, 15, they are God's true servants; in Ecclus., xxiv, 4, 13, and xlvi, 2, these servants of God belong to the chosen people.
II. THE NEW TESTAMENT
The New Testament transfers (excepting perhaps in Acts, xiii, 17) the meaning of the term from its connection with the people of Israel to the members of the Church of Christ, either militant on earth or triumphant in heaven. Thus I Pet., I, 1, speaks of the elect among the "strangers dispersed" through the various parts of the world; I Pet., ii, 9, represents them as "a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people", called from darkness into God's marvellous light. St. Paul, too, speaks of the elect (Rom., viii, 33) and describes the five degrees of their election: they are foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified (loc. cit., 29, 30). He returns to the idea gain and again: II Thess., ii, 12 sq.; Col., iii, 12; Tit., I, 1, 2; II Tim., ii, 10. St. John gives the title of elect to those who fight on the side of the Lamb against the powers of darkness (Apoc., xvii, 14). According to St. Luke (xviii, 7), God hears the cries of his elect for vengeance; according to the first two Evangelists he will shorten the last days for the sake of the elect (Matt., xxiv, 22, 24, 31; Mark, xiii, 20, 22, 27).
If it be asked why the name elect was given to the members of the Church Militant, we may assign a double reason: first, they were freely chosen by God's goodness (Rom., xi, 5-7, 28); secondly, they must show in their conduct that they are choice men (Ephes., iv, 17). In the sentence "many are called, but few are chosen", the latter expression renders a word in the Greek and Latin text which is elsewhere translated by elect (Matt., xx, 16; xxii, 14). It is agreed on all sides that the term refers to members of the Church Triumphant, but there is some doubt as to whether it refers to mere membership, or to a more exalted degree. This distinction is important; if the word implies mere membership in the Church Triumphant, then the chosen ones, or those who will be saved, are few, and the non-members in the Church Triumphant are many; if the word denotes a special degree of glory, then few will attain this rank, and many will fail to do so, though many are called to it. The sentence "many are called, but few chosen" does not, therefore, settle the question as to the relative number of the elect and the lost; theologians are divided on this point, and while Christ in the Gospels urges the importance of saving one's soul (Luke, xiii, 23, 24), he alternately so strengthens our hope and excites our fear as not to leave us any solid ground for either presumption or despair.
BRAVO !! Excellently written !!
Suffering explained, suffering needed, suffering beared up with, suffering they way that leads to Heaven and sooooo few speak of anymore, a part in the lives of so many, if they but only knew its benefits and OUR LADY, she would lead them along the path in which all would become light.
Our Lady of Lourdes ora pro nobis(pray for us)!
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