11 Feb –Memorial for Our Lady Of Lourdes; World Day of Prayer for the Sick
Today is an optional memorial for Our Lady of Lourdes. The apparitions concerned began on Feb 11, 1858, when St. Bernadette Soubirous, then a 14-year-old peasant girl from Lourdes admitted, when questioned by her mother, that she had seen a ‘lady’ in the cave of Massabielle, about a mile from the town, while she was gathering firewood with her sister and a friend. Similar appearances of the ‘lady’ took place on 17 further occasions that year. Most Catholics believe that the ‘lady’ concerned is the Virgin Mary.
It was on the ninth appearance on Feb 25 that Bernadette was told by the Lady to dig under a rock and drink the water that she found. A day later, a spring began to flow from it. On Mar 1, the 12th appearance, Catherine Latapie reported that she bathed her paralyzed arm in the spring, and instantaneously regained full movement. This was the first of the scientifically unattributable events to take place.
On the 13th appearance on Mar 2, the Lady commanded Bernadette to tell the priests to “come here in procession and to build a chapel here”. The priests would not do so until they knew who the Lady was. On the 16th appearance on Mar 25, the Lady, with her arms down and eyes raised to heaven, folded her hands over her breast and said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
To ensure claims of cures were examined properly and to protect the town from fradulent claims of miracles, the Lourdes Medical Bureau was established. About 7,000 people have sought to have their case confirmed as a ‘miracle’, of which only 68 have been declared a scientifically inexplicable ‘miracle’ by both the Bureau and the Catholic Church.
Because the apparitions are private revelation, and not public revelation, Roman Catholics are not required to believe them, nor does it add any additional material to the truths of the Catholic Church as expressed in public revelation. In Roman Catholic belief, God chooses whom He wants cured, and whom He does not, and by what means. Bernadette said, “One must have faith and pray; the water will have no virtue without faith.”
1 Kings 8:22-23,27-30
In the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord and, stretching out his hands towards heaven, said, ‘O Lord, God of Israel, not in heaven above nor on earth beneath is there such a God as you, true to your covenant and your kindness towards your servants when they walk wholeheartedly in your way. Yet will God really live with men on the earth? Why, the heavens and their own heavens cannot contain you. How much less this house that I have built! Listen to the prayer and entreaty of your servant, O Lord my God; listen to the cry and to the prayer your servant makes to you today. Day and night let your eyes watch over this house, over this place of which you have said, “My name shall be there.” Listen to the prayer that your servant will offer in this place.
‘Hear the entreaty of your servant and of Israel your people as they pray in this place. From heaven where your dwelling is, hear; and, as you hear, forgive.’
The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:
This people honours me only with lip-service,
while their hearts are far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless,
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.
You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’ And he said to them, ‘How ingeniously you get round the commandment of God in order to preserve your own tradition! For Moses said: Do your duty to your father and your mother, and, Anyone who curses father or mother must be put to death. But you say, “If a man says to his father or mother: Anything I have that I might have used to help you is Corban (that is, dedicated to God), then he is forbidden from that moment to do anything for his father or mother.” In this way you make God’s word null and void for the sake of your tradition which you have handed down. And you do many other things like this.’
In this way you make God’s Word null and void for the sake of your tradition…
Change — an almost universally dreaded word and state of affairs/mind. Interestingly, I am now heavily involved in it at work, and in my ministry (not this one). In one, I am the lead agent, responsible for succession planning over the next three years to groom a team that can take us forward once we move to our new campus. In the other, I am also a lead agent but on the other side of the fence — waiting to take over the reins.
It is interesting how I am learning so much about myself (especially having to be more patient) and as well, others who are directly impacted by what I am doing (at work) and what I will be asked to do (in ministry). And while there are similarities, there are also marked differences, especially in how the change is being perceived. In one instance, it is being welcomed and people around are looking forward to it, knowing that it will spark something new. In the other, it seems to have left a very cynical taste in the mouth of some, who are skeptical that things will change.
In both cases, I have discerned one emotion that I have strangely been immune to — fear. I shared with my SD that I was not concerned at all and was happy to step forward and up to carry the crosses associated with the changes. And, in both situations, I know that there are the handful of people I can rely on to help effect the much-needed changes. I am able to see the light at the end of these long tunnels and am looking forward to learning more about myself and preparing to deal with all sorts of emotions, people, circumstances that will inevitably come my way.
Where I am at now has certainly not been through any effort on my part. Well, perhaps more at work. But in ministry, I had always viewed it as a place for me to exercise my other gifts. Somehow, God has designed it such that I am in a position where I can grow even more — or wither under the ‘pressure’, wilt and fade away. At work, I am fully supported with senior management who are already walking the talk and starting to relinquish their positions. This is a behaviour that I have learnt to mirror and portray to my team, reminding them that one day, I will not be their HOD. And I would never wish to cast a long shadow on any successor that comes in my place because it would be too stifling and unfair.
For now, I continue to pray for His guidance, wisdom and providence. That He will provide for me in my hour of need, when I am unable to find solutions. Brothers and sisters, I am pretty sure that each of us is fighting a ‘change battle’ in some aspect of our life right now. I encourage you to surrender your seemingly hopeless situation to the Lord and let Him minister to you. Let Him speak to you and guide you to those who will want you to succeed. Because the path to change is a never-ending one. It always leads to more change, hopefully, for the better.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Father, we call upon you to help us discern your true plan for us in our time of struggle; that You will lead us out of the darkness and into the light.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Father, for your providence and wisdom. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.