Last week in both the New and Old Calendar, the feast day dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes was observed. Our Lady of Lourdes is an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary that occurred in the 19th century. In Lourdes, France, St. Bernadette saw the Blessed Virgin, and water emerged from the ground that is known for bringing about miracles involving healing.
Cultivating devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary might help us in times of suffering – not just with healing but whatever we need help with. Devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes is an example. People who cultivate a devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes might find that they are healed in times of suffering if they make a pilgrimage to Lourdes and bathe in the waters. Similarly people who have a devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows might find help with their suffering there. They might find that a particular intention related to their suffering is granted or that the devotion helps them to live their suffering better, for instance by giving them a better understanding of how Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary behaved in times of suffering. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary brings us to the foot of the Cross with Mary where we suffer with Jesus. We do not suffer alone, but we suffer with Mary and Jesus!
We might find it interesting to think about how many people might have been brought closer to Mary and Jesus through their suffering at Lourdes, as well as how St. Bernadette herself tended to be sickly. Perhaps St. Bernadette might have been drawn closer to God through her suffering. Could that have helped her to see the Blessed Virgin Mary?
Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary seems inextricably connected with devotion to the Passion of Christ. Since Mary’s sufferings are so close to the suffering of Christ, we encounter Christ’s sufferings in hers, so when we practice Marian devotion, our devotion to the Passion – in which Christ suffered – might grow as well.
Tomorrow Lent begins, and it seems like a good idea to cultivate Marian devotion during that time. That might bring us closer to Christ at His Passion and help us to bear our sufferings well, whether they involve things happening in our lives, things happening within our families, or penitential practices. Furthermore we should devote ourselves to meditating on the Passion of Christ and practice penance and mortification, helping to make reparation for the suffering inflicted on Christ due to sin. Our Lady of Lourdes wanted us to do penance like Our Lady of Fatima, so we should take up this duty with joy, praying the Rosary everyday as Our Lady of Fatima asked and cultivating Marian devotion as we should. If we are close to Mary, that will help us to be close to Jesus, and only if we are close to Him will we be able to suffer well.