Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

St. Bernadette Missale Romanum 1962 (MR '62)

For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Collect in the MR ’62 for our parish's secondary patroness, St. Bernadette Soubirous, who was known in the convent as Sister Mary Bernard. The following translation of this Collect is taken from 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.”

Our Collect recalls the joy of the apparitions at Lourdes, especially the joy of Mary’s self-disclosure as “the Immaculate Conception,” but also of Mary’s 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 free cooperation. Church teaching on justification and final perseverance is clear on these points (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 1987-2029). This section of the Catechism is particularly rich and well worth reading, if we want to understand the “nuts and bolts” of how it is that God saves us. At the same time, salvation always remains a mystery of faith and grace that ultimately transcends human understanding, which is why it demands, on our part, the continual exercise of faith, hope, and charity.

These three theological virtues which we receive from God in Baptism constitute the substance of the Christian life. The exercise of these virtues in daily life, which we may term the “simple way of faith,” in the words of the Collect, unfolds in this manner: (1) assenting to and receiving the truth and content of divine revelation [faith], (2) on the basis of this divine revelation, entrusting ourselves to Christ and His grace for daily life and for eternal life [hope], and most importantly, (3) carrying out the commands of love for God and neighbor [charity].

The Catechism beautifully describes the dynamic work of these theological (i.e., supernatural) virtues in our daily life. In particular, we do well to understand how indispensable they are to the observance of the first three Commandments, which are the most important of the ten, since they relate directly to our relationship with God (cf. Catechism nos. 1810-1829, 2087-2095). These two sections of the Catechism, like the one referenced above, are also worth reading and re-reading (perhaps a good Lenten exercise!), since the fruitful exercising of these virtues constitutes the essence of daily life in Christ, as was mentioned above. There is no relationship with Christ or growth in holiness apart from these three virtues. This is also why saying the three classic prayers entitled the “Acts” of Faith, Hope, and Charity, is such a good exercise in our daily prayer (almost every prayer book or hand-Missal has them).  

Living the “simple way of faith,” then, is nothing less than our ongoing cooperation with these graces of Baptism. It truly is that simple, in that respect. 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 in the way that the moon reflects the light of the sun. The rest of her life, however, was filled with challenges and weighty sufferings, for which reason she bravely increased in faith, hope, and charity, particularly on her sick bed. Thus, she is an example to us of how to live in God’s grace in the midst of the hardships of this world. May St. Bernadette help us by her prayers to grow in the graces of our Baptism, and so reflect God’s glory like she and Our Lady do. 

(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."
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