Mystery of Lourdes

The Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mary Immaculate at Lourdes
from a Sermon by Father Charles J. Higgins, February 11, 2017

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 Blessed Virgin may obtain health of soul and body, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

We celebrate today our Patronal Parish Feast Day, the Feast of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mary Immaculate at Lourdes. the titular name of our Parish, Mary Immaculate of Lourdes. And we get into the spirit of this Feast, we have the help of nature today,a very cold winter day with a fresh snow - it's a very overwhelming sense state to bring us into the spirit and feel our way into the event itself. There we can see in our mind's eye the poverty-stricken little girl, Bernadette Soubirous, with her sister and her friend along the banks of the River Gave, gathering up just the driftwood that had washed ashore where poor people were allowed to scavange to get fuel for their fire. And the two other girls had gone on ahead of her; and she is standing before this great, massive rock, the Massabielle, as the local people called it. And there inside this great hunk of a rock, the grotto of the cave, she sees a young girl, she thinks like herself, dressed in blue and white.

It is just after the noon Angelus, has rung from the church bells at Lourdes and then February 11, 1858, Bernadette has this first encounter with the mysterious, beautiful young lady whom later revealed herself as the Blessed Virgin Mary saying, in answer to the question, would you be so kind as to tell me your name? "I am the Immaculate Conception".

And so it is this Mystery of Faith which is the Immaculate Conception, which is dogmatically makes this Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes so very important for the whole Catholic Church. Lourdes is the Feast which celebrates this revealed truth: Mary from the very first moment of her conception was conceived immaculate. Sin never had any part of her.

So in the Office of the Mass for Our Lady of Lourdes and the Office of the Mass of the Immaculate Conception, we can see the way in which they are woven together; particularly in the beautiful Mass and Office we have in the old Roman Missal that we are celebrating here this morning.

And it is the hymn from the Office of Our Lady of Lourdes that the choir sang for us as our processional, the Vespers hymn for Lourdes, Omnis expertem maculae Mariam, which hails the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception and calls out the ways in which pilgrims come to Lourdes.

The supreme teacher of the faith proclaims Mary to be free from all sin and the faithful of the world celebrate in joyous song the praises of the Virgin's triumph. The Virgin presented herself before the eyes of the lowly Berndadette, reassured the frightened girl and from her holy lips came the words, that she was conceived without sin. Oh how happy the cave that was honored with the presence of God's mother; how worthy of man's veneration of the rock from which living waters gushed forth in full flood; to this place come as duty-bound, large crowds of suppliants from their own land to it come suppliant pilgrims, crowds from abroad; here French and foreigner alike implore the mighty Virgin's help. The mother catches the tears that the suppliant shed and makes a gift to the afflicted of the peace of mind that they desire. Then, their wish granted, the pilgrims return to their homes. In your compassion O Virgin for the misfortunes of those who pray to you, bring us at all times help and comfort in our labors and through your intercession obtain for us the happy gift of everlasting life. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Spirit, the co-equal power of Father and Son, one God forever and ever Amen.

This church was built in 1910 and consecrated as Mary Immaculate of Lourdes. And this was the very time when Pope Pius X, the Pope at that time had extended the Mass and Office of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes to the whole church, which Pope Leo XIII, his predecessor, had givin permission for the Feast to be celebrated in different dioceses and churches. Pope Pius X saw this Feast fit for the whole church and so this church was built and consecrated and named in the wake of the fiftieth anniversary of the events at Lourdes, with its significance and its beautiful application to Catholics throughout the world was becoming more and more known and accepted. So with this deep emotion let us consider our connection with this parish to the miracle at Lourdes, to the Mystery of Faith, which is the Immaculate Conception and to the life of the church more than a century ago when the story of Lourdes and its devotion was spreading far and wide.

We ask Our Lord to bless our parish. We give Him a heartfelt thanks and give Him our praises as much as we can for all the many blessings we have received as a parish family; and just in this past year, this is the tenth year since the parish was renewed and reconfigured according to the pastoral plan of Cardinal Seán in 2007 which coincides with the spread of the Traditional Rites of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI in that same year. And we ask God to keep us safe in his care; to lead all pilgrims here to the Father during these days of our lives; and to all who come to this church, whether parishiners or visitors or people who are drawn here mysteriously through that merciful intercession of Our Lady, that they will come to find the object of their longing, find the truth and understand the great mystery of the love and mercy and of conversion that leads us into, which is all so magnificiently laid forth for us, this event, this great mystery of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mary Immaculate of Lourdes. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen

Omnis expertem maculae Mariam
(Hymn for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes)
Sung at the Misa Cantata on Saturday, February 11, 2017

Omnis expertem maculae Mariam
edocet summus fidei magister;
Virginis gaudens celebrat fidelis
     terra triumphum.

Ipsa se praebens humili puellae
Virgo spectandam, recreat paventem,
seque conceptam sine labe sancto
     praedicat ore.

O specus felix, decorata divae
matris aspectu! veneranda rupes,
unde vitales scatuere pleno
     gurgite lymphae!

*Huc catervatim pia turba nostris,
huc ab externis peregrina terris
affuit supplex et opem potentis
     Virginis orat.

*Excipit mater lacrimas precantum,
donat optatam miseris salutem;
compos hinc voti patrias ad oras
     turba revertit.

Supplicum, Virgo, miserata casus,
semper o nostros refove labores,
impetrans maestis bona sempiternae
     gaudia vitae.

Sit decus Patri, genitaeque Proli,
et tibi, compar utriusque virtus,
Spiritus semper, Deus unus, omni
     temporis aevo.

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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