Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes

Leon Bloy, the French novelist and poet who helped lead Jacques Maritain into the Catholic Church, was greatly impressed by the tears of the Blessed Virgin Mary during some of her appearances.  He was skeptical of devotions just to escape from the crosses in life.  He writes, “There are two things I have yet to see, first, a Christian in good health going to Lourdes in order to beg for the blessing of illness; second, a wealthy Christian who is cured at Lourdes by an unquestionable miracle, and returns home to distribute his possessions to the poor.”

He would not have to look any further than St. Bernadette of Lourdes. She suffered from rheumatism, asthma, vomiting, spitting of blood, bone infections, and painful tumors on her legs.  Someone asked her, “The waters of the grotto cure other people, why not you?”  She replied, “Perhaps the Blessed Virgin wants to make good use of my sufferings.”  Once a sister in her convent rebuked her, saying, “What are you doing in bed, you lazy thing?”  She said, “I am doing my work.”  “And what is that?”  Bernadette replied, “To be sick.” 

I wish that I had her courage and generosity in suffering.  But here is something that I can identify with in her life.  As she was approaching death she said, “I am afraid,  because I have received so many graces and made so little use of them.”