Thought for the Day – 11 February – Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 27th World Day of Prayer for the Sick
Each year over 2 million people make their way through the mountainous country of southeastern France to Lourdes. They come seeking cures, hoping to find answers, believing, and praying. At Lourdes, people recall the Lady dressed in white, with a blue sash, yellow roses at her feet and a Rosary on her arm—the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On 11 February 1858, Mary appeared to 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous. This was the first of 18 visits, many of them with 20,000 people present. When Bernadette asked the Lady’s identity, she replied, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Just four years earlier, the pope had proclaimed it a dogma that Mary was conceived immaculate without original sin. The Blessed Virgin, through Bernadette, had come to call sinners to a change of heart. Her message was a request for prayer and penance. She also instructed Bernadette to tell the priests that a chapel was to be built on the site and processions held.
On 25 February 1858, the Lady told Bernadette to dig in the dirt and drink of the stream. Bernadette began to dig and after several attempts, she was able to find the water to drink. The water continued to flow from where she had dug with her hands until it was producing over 32,000 gallons of water a day—as it still does. There have been over 5,000 cures recorded but less than 100 of them have been declared miraculous by the Church. Most of these have taken place during the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament.
Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. We may never travel to Lourdes and join in the processions but we can know always that we have a Mother to help us and lead us to her Son, Jesus. And so we pray to her:
Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes
By St Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)
To Mary, Mother of tender love,
we wish to entrust all those
who are ill in body and soul,
that she may sustain them in hope.
We ask her also to help us to be welcoming
to our sick brothers and sisters.
Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman,
Blessed by the Most High!
Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era,
We join in your song of praise,
to celebrate the Lord’s mercy,
to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom
and the full liberation of humanity.
Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord,
Glorious Mother of Christ!
Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word,
Teach us to persevere in listening to the Word,
and to be docile to the voice of the Spirit,
attentive to His promptings in the depths of our conscience
and to His manifestations in the events of history.
Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows,
Mother of the living!
Virgin spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve,
Be our guide along the paths of the world.
Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ,
to stand with you before the innumerable crosses
on which your Son is still crucified.
Hail Mary, woman of faith,
First of the disciples!
Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always
to account for the hope that is in us,
with trust in human goodness and the Father’s love.
Teach us to build up the world beginning from within:
in the depths of silence and prayer,
in the joy of fraternal love,
in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.
Holy Mary, Mother of believers,
Our Lady of Lourdes,
pray for us.