Tag Archives: Immaculate Conception

Our Lady of Lourdes

Our-Lady-of-Lourdes

Today, February 11th, the universal Church honors Our Lady of Lourdes, the  most beautiful Blessed Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in a particular and special appearance she made in 19th century France.

On February 11, 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, born January 7, 1844, the oldest of a family of six, went with her sisters, Toinette and Jeanne to obtain firewood.  They took off their shoes and socks so that they could wade through the water which was near the Grotto of Massabielle.  But the sisters wanted Bernadette to stay behind, because she suffered from asthma and/or other respiratory problems, and they did not want her to catch a cold.  Nevertheless, Bernadette desired to go with them and began to take off her shoes and socks.  Whilst she performed this little activity, she heard gusts of wind, but she also noticed that the trees and plants were not moving.  She noticed, however, a little wild rose move.  She went to look at it and observed the niche it was in; from that niche she saw “a dazzling light, and a white figure.”  This figure was dressed in white, with the exception of a blue sash around her waist and two golden yellow roses, one on each of her feet, which was also the color of her rosary.  Bernadette told her sisters about this vision and asked them to keep it a secret.  But Toinette could not; hence, she told her mother.

Three days later, Bernadette went back to the Grotto, bringing holy water to make sure that the person she saw was a holy person, and not any other kind of entity.  The lady appeared and Bernadette caste the holy water at her, wherein the lady inclined her head gratefully when the water was cast.  Bernadette told the figure that if she was from God, that she must stay, and that if she was evil, she must leave.  The lady stayed.

On February 18th, Bernadette saw the lady and she was told by her to return to the Grotto over a period of two weeks.  The lady said to her, “I promise to make you happy, not in this world, but in the next.”

Word spread of Bernadette’s vision.  But Bernadette’s parents ordered her not to go to the Grotto again.  She disobeyed and went anyway, and on February 24th, the lady asked Bernadette for people to pray and do penance for the conversion of sinners.  The next day, the lady asked Bernadette to dig in the ground and drink from the spring that would develop there.  The people who watched Bernadette noticed that she became dirty and disheveled, which disappointed them.  But from that spot, came a stream that soon became a focal point for pilgrimages.  The muddy stream became clean, and the water from that stream was given to medical patients with varying health issues, and numerous reports of miraculous cures followed.

Indeed and in fact, in 1860, Professor Verges confirmed  that seven of these cures lacked any medical explanation.  Nevertheless, the local government there took issue with this Grotto, and issued stiff fines for anyone who tried to get near it.  Soon, Lourdes was known all throughout France.  Napoleon III, emperor of France, intervened and on October 4, 1858, issued an order to reopen the Grotto.

Bernadette being a brave and persistent person, visited the Grotto even while it was barricaded at night.   On that night, March 25th, she asked the lady who she was; the lady told her, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

On July 16th, Bernadette went to the Grotto for the last time.  Because of the notoriety of the Grotto, on November 17, 1858, the Catholic Church investigated the matter through a commission.  On January 18, 1862, Bishop Laurence, the Bishop of Tarbes, issued a declaration:

“We are inspired by the Commission comprising wise, holy, learned and experienced priests who questioned the child, studied the facts, examined everything and weighed all the evidence.  We have also called on science, and we remain convinced that the Apparitions are supernatural and divine, and that by consequence, what Bernadette saw was the Most Blessed Virgin.  Our convictions are based on the testimony of Bernadette, but above all on the things that have happened, things which can be nothing other than divine intervention.”

In 1863, a sculptor, Joseph-Hugues Fabisch, was commissioned to make a statue of the Virgin according to Bernadette’s description.  His work was placed in the Grotto and solemnly dedicated on April 4, 1864, with approximately 20,000 pilgrims present.

Lourdes, France

Because Bernadette’s apparitions were her private ones, not public revelations, Catholics are not required to believe in Our Lady of Lourdes.  The apparitions do not add any additional truths to the truths of Catholicism; the Church states that God chooses whom he wants cured, and whom he does not, and by what means.  Bernadette said that, “One must have faith and pray; the water will have no virtue without faith.”

Lourdes is a place of pilgrimage, a place of healing, a place of spiritual growth.  Church authorities recognize 60 miraculous cures, which have undergone scrupulous investigation by scientists, including physicians and specialists who examined the pertinent patients.  But most probably there have been many more healings, including physical and spiritual healings.  Lourdes is a continuation of Jesus’ healing miracles performed at Lourdes through the intercession of His mother.  There are people, of course, who do not believe in Lourdes and doubt its authenticity.  What can be said to them comes from the wonderful movie, The Song of Bernadette:  “For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary.  For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.”

Bernadette died on April 16, 1879, as she was 35 years of age.  In 1933, she was canonized a saint.

The following prayer is said as an act of consecration to Our Lady of Lourdes:

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, Virgin Immaculate, you appeared 18 times to Bernadette at the grotto in Lourdes to remind Christians of what the truths in the Gospel require of them.  You call them to prayer, penance, the Eucharist and the life of the church.  To answer your call more fully, I dedicate myself, through you, to your Son Jesus.  Make me willing to accept what He said.  By the fervor of my faith, by the conduct of my life in all its aspects, by my devotion to the sick, let me work with you in the comforting of those who suffer and in the reconciliation of people that the church may be one and there be peace in the world.  All this I ask, confident that you, Our Lady, will fully answer my prayer.  Blessed be the Holy and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.”

Finally, I will conclude with a prayer said by Pope John Paul II:

“. . .Under your protection we seek refuge, Immaculate Virgin of Lourdes, who present yourself to us as the perfect model of creation according to God’s original plan.  To you we entrust the sick, the elderly, the lonely:  soothe their pain, dry their tears and obtain for each one the strength they need to do God’s will.  May you support those who toil every day to alleviate the sufferings of their brethren!  And help us all to grow in the knowledge of Christ, who by his death and Resurrection defeated the powers of evil and death.”

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.  St. Bernadette, pray for us!

With love and respect,

Joan

SourcesVatican website; Saint of the Day, edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; Lives of the Saints, edited by Michael Walsh

The Woman Conceived Without Sin

“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and … gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.” -Revelation 12:1-2, 5

Mary clothed with the sun

Yesterday, December 9, the universal Church celebrated the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. Since Mary is the patron saint of the United States of America, yesterday was also the feast day of our country!

Protestants, my brothers and sisters in Christ, are allergic to Mary, insisting on their mistaken notion that Catholics “worship” Mary when in fact we don’t. But Catholics do honor, revere and love Mary for she is the Mother of Jesus the Christ, as she rightly should be. Imagine how we hurt Him when we dismiss and disregard His mother. He respects her so much that, even though it wasn’t yet time for Him to begin His public ministry, He performed His first miracle changing water into the finest wine because His mother asked Him to.

As the mother of God, Mary must have been a very special and remarkable woman. Scripture tells us she was a virgin (see also “The Christmas Miracle: Scientific Evidence of the Virgin Birth”) and that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Still, it took the Church more than 1,800 years to definitively determine another of her special and wholly remarkable attributes.

On December 8, 1854, in the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pope Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”

In other words, Mary was conceived without sin — thus, the Immaculate Conception.

But you don’t have to take Pius IX’s word on this. We can deduce this ourselves, with the help of science.

Are you ready to put your thinking caps on and take a trip in logic, reason, and science with me?

Here we go . . . .

1. Scripture tells us that, as a result of our first parents’ disobedience of God’s explicit command because they wanted to be “as gods,” Adam and Eve’s offspring — all human beings — are born with the Original Sin. We are each born with concupiscence — an inclination toward evil, which renders us “tinder for sin” (fomes peccati).

2. Translated into the language of modern science, “born with the Original Sin” can only mean this concupiscence is biologically INHERITED. That in turn means it is transmitted from parents to child through all the generations via some genetic code or DNA.

3. Jesus, being God Himself (Son of the Father and the Second Person of the Trinity), by definition is without sin and without the Original Sin, for He is all good.

4. But the Second Person of the Trinity so loves us that He chose to become incarnate as a human being, to be born of a human mother, and to suffer and die for our redemption and salvation.

5. Since a baby is formed in the mother’s womb out of her very blood and tissue, the human mother of the incarnate God must be free of the primeval stain of Original Sin that is the genetic inheritance of every human. That means Mary could not have transmitted the concupiscence DNA to Jesus, which implies she herself did not have the Original Sin genetic marker, which is another way of saying she was conceived without sin.

Now we come to the Science part of our exercise in reasoning….

6. In 1979, researchers at Stanford University made a shocking discovery: They found a pregnant mother’s blood containing cells with Y sex chromosomes. Since women only have X chromosomes, they concluded that the cells must have entered into her body from the male baby she carried within her. That discovery began a new field in science — the study of fetal cell microchimerism.

As recounted by science writer Jena Pinctott in her October 2011 book, Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy, “During pregnancy, cells sneak across the placenta in both directions. The fetus’s cells enter his mother, and the mother’s cells enter the fetus.” How amazing is that?

More amazing still is that one kind of fetal cells that enter into the mother’s body is the baby’s stem cells, which can “morph” into other types of cells through a process called differentiation. The baby’s fetal stem cells can actually become the mother’s own cells that make up her liver, heart, or brain. More than that, there is evidence that fetal cells may offer the mother increased resistance to certain diseases. (Read more about this in my post of Jan. 15, 2012, “Baby in womb protects mom from disease.”)

There you have it: During her pregnancy, across the placenta Mary’s cells entered into baby Jesus and baby Jesus’ cells entered into Mary, and baby Jesus’ stem cells became the cells of Mary’s liver, heart, and brain.

God and woman became one.

That is why I honor, revere, and love very much our Blessed Mother Mary with all my heart.

“Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” -Revelation 12:17

~Eowyn