Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

Our Lady of Lourdes

For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Collect for our parish's Patronal Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (Missale Romanum 1962). Below is the translation of this Collect in the Angelus Press edition of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal:

"O God, Who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin didst prepare a worthy dwelling for Thy Son: we humbly beseech Thee, that we, who celebrate the Apparition of this same Blessed Virgin, may obtain health of soul and body. Through our Lord, etc. Amen."

Our Lady’s apparitions at Lourdes in 1858 affirm the doctrine of her Immaculate Conception, infallibly promulgated by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854. Mary's preservation from Original Sin from the very first instant of her Conception stands as a powerful counter-sign to the effects of sin which we experience daily. Our Collect expresses the hope of receiving healing graces for the illnesses of soul and body which stem from Original Sin. Such healing is part of the ongoing grace of Lourdes, as is well-attested. 

We note, however, that the word order in the Collect is intentional: spiritual healing is always a priority over bodily healing, because the soul is immortal. At Lourdes, Our Lady certainly highlighted spiritual healing by insisting on the need for the faithful to offer penance for their own and others’ sins. As we enter into Septuagesima next Sunday, we might consider the following excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 1428-9, 1432, 1434-7, which explain the “why” and the “how” of penance (note my emphasis in underlining certain portions):

1428 “Christ's call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians...This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a ‘contrite heart,’ drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first.

1429 “St. Peter's conversion after he had denied his master three times bears witness to this. Jesus' look of infinite mercy drew tears of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord's resurrection, a threefold affirmation of love for Him.

1432 “The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart. Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God ….. It is in discovering the greatness of God's love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from Him. The human heart is converted by looking upon Him whom our sins have pierced…

1434 “The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: effort at reconciliation with one's neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one's neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity ‘which covers a multitude of sins.’

1435 “Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right, by the admission of faults to one's brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one's cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance.

1436 “Eucharist and Penance. Daily conversion and penance find their source and nourishment in the Eucharist, for in it is made present the sacrifice of Christ which has reconciled us with God. Through the Eucharist those who live from the life of Christ are fed and strengthened. ‘It is a remedy to free us from our daily faults and to preserve us from mortal sins.’

1437 “Reading Sacred Scripture, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Our Father - every sincere act of worship or devotion revives the spirit of conversion and repentance within us and contributes to the forgiveness of our sins.

(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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"If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter."
- St. Therese of Lisieux (+1897)

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