Monday, February 11, 2013

Our Lady of Lourdes

Because we Americans are so fond of caffeinated drinks- not to mention beer and wine- it’s said that up to three quarters of us live in a mild state of dehydration. Our bodies don’t have enough water, and we suffer as a result.

I have a feeling that equal numbers of Catholics walk around in a similar state of dehydration. Not because we’re physically dehydrated, but because we’re spiritually thirsty.

Perhaps this is why Our Lady of Lourdes, in her appearances to young St. Bernadette some 150 years ago, directed her to a spring of water- a spring which in the years since has drawn over 200 million pilgrims, looking for this water to heal them and quench their thirst.

The water of Lourdes speaks to us of another water. During his own pilgrimage to Lourdes last year, Pope Benedict recalled Jesus’ words that rivers of living water would flow from the hearts of all who believe in him. More than anyone else, this is true of Mary. The living water which flows from her heart is her love for us as mother, which heals and purifies us, and draws us closer to Jesus her son. It is to "quench their thirst at this spring of love," the Holy Father concluded, that ultimately draws people to Lourdes, and this "living water" is the greatest blessing they receive when they come.

Yes, there are miraculous healings at Lourdes- the church officially recognizes 67, and there have been countless other "phenomenal events," as they’ve come to be called. But the greatest healing is to be filled with the hope and strength which comes from experiencing the love of Mary, which flows from the love of Jesus.

We might say then, that Our Lady of Lourdes’ words to St. Bernadette are also directed to us: "Go, and drink from the spring."

(My book of daily meditations for Lent is now available from Ave Maria Press: It is available also at Amazon: )

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