Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies


Today, February 18, marks the octave day of our Parish’s feast of title. It is usually the day in which the Church offers an optional commemoration of the visionary of Lourdes, St. Bernadette Soubirous (this year, however, since her liturgical commemoration falls on the First Sunday of Lent, the latter necessarily prevails). The Collect for her feast calls her by her “name in religion” (i.e., her monastic name), which was Sister Mary Bernard. Below is the translation of this Collect from the MR ’62 in the Angelus Press edition of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal:

“O God, protector and friend of the humble, Who filled Thy servant, Mary Bernard, with joy by the apparition and the conversation of the Immaculate Virgin Mary: grant, we pray, that by the simple way of faith we may be counted worthy to see Thee face to face in heaven. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”

This prayer acclaims God more literally as “Protector and Lover of the humble,” which brings to mind Jesus’ prayer in Mt. 11:25-30. In this prayer, He reveals His great love for the humble who have heard and accepted divine revelation: “At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was Your gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.’"  

When Jesus utters this prayer, He has in mind not only His Mother and His disciples, but all who, down through the ages, humbly receive His Gospel and strive to live the life of grace. Jesus’ words apply fittingly to St. Bernadette, who did not even understand what Our Lady’s self-disclosure (“I am the Immaculate Conception”) meant, although she learned soon after.

Our Collect recalls the joy of the apparitions at Lourdes. We have just mentioned the joy of Mary’s self-disclosure as “the Immaculate Conception,” but we think also of her words to Bernadette of the happiness of heaven. The Collect’s petition recalls this latter item, for we ask God that we might see him “face to face in heaven.”

Entering into the happiness of heaven depends ultimately upon God’s grace, but it also involves our cooperation. Church teaching on justification and final perseverance is clear on these points. The Collect’s motive clause, “the simple way of faith,” is one way of describing the substance of the Christian life as growth in the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Thus, the simple way of faith entails three steps: (1) assenting to and receiving the content of divine revelation (Faith), (2) entrusting ourselves to Christ and His grace for daily life and for eternal life (Hope) and (3) living the commands of love for God and neighbor (Charity).

Living the simple way of faith, then, is our on-going cooperation with the graces of Baptism. This is what will lead us to see Christ face to face in heaven. St. Bernadette was given a foretaste of this when she beheld Our Lady, for Mary indeed reflects the glory of God’s face in heaven. May St. Bernadette’s example and prayers spur us on to be more faithful to the Gospel.  

(David Allen)

Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.


About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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