Under the State of Emergency we have suspended all of our normal parish operations. This will continue until such time as the civil authorities lift the State of Emergency. Our duty as citizens is to co-operate with the emergency directives: our duty as children of the Kingdom is to pray and be patient under trial.

His Eminence Cardinal Sean, while suspending all public Masses and religious services in his jurisdiction, has also instructed his priests to keep the churches open during the day, to provide times of Eucharistic adoration insofar as possible, and to continue to offer private Masses for the good of our people.

This kind of pestilence may be new to our experience but it is hardly knew to the history of human experience. The response we find people making in Holy Scripture is always to do penance and to beg God to deliver us from the calamity. We can do the same.

At my missa private each day I am adding the three orations to be said in Time of Tribulation. In the 1962 Roman Missal:

Despise not, Almighty God, Thy people who cry out in their affliction, but for the glory of Thy Name be appeased, and help those in trouble: through our Lord. (Colecta)  

Graciously receive, O Lord, these offerings, by which Thou wert pleased to be appeased; and by the power of Thy mercy restore us to safety: through our Lord. (Secreta)

Mercifully look down, we pray, O Lord, upon our tribulation, and turn away from us the wrath of Thy indignation, which we have justly deserved: through our Lord. (Post-communio)

Due to circumstances, our Parish Lenten Mission is suspended this year. The text of the Conferences,however, will appear both in the Parish Bulletin and online, on this website.


“Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that cleansed by this holy fast, we may be brought by Thee with pure hearts to the holy season which is to come”
–Collect, Friday of the Second Week in Lent

At the end of our Conference last Friday, we saw the grandeur of the “Pilgrimage of the Banners” to Lourdes from all over France, on October 6th, 1872. It was a National Pilgrimage of Penance, following the catastrophes of France’s military defeat and civil war. Moreover it was a manifestation of faith, a “manifestation de foi”, for the restoration of France according to an understanding of the lost Catholic world of the Middle Ages. What the Enlightenment and the Revolution despised, the Catholic Counterrevolution exalted.

Last week we considered how, generally speaking, we may describe Catholic France at this moment in history as characterized by Royalism, Ultra-montanism, and Romanticism. 

Royalism. The misfortunes of France, which had seemed like a Biblical-scale punishment, Old Testament-style, were interpreted by many shapers of Catholic opinion as a call for the Restoration of France’s rightful King. The heirapparent was the Comte de Chambord who desired to be crowned as Henri V. The political moment was very favorable and so there was a groundswell of activity among royalists to show that the King enjoyed much popular support. It wasn’t only the revolutionary republicans who could claim the support of the people.  

Ultra-montansim. This was a movement which enjoyed a great deal of support among loyal Catholics over the course of the 1800s. The solemn definition of the dogma of Papal Infallibility at the Vatican Council in 1870 was the high-water mark of this thinking. Ultramontanism–what did it mean? It meant, “overthe-mountains-ism”, the mountains being the Alps separating France and Italy. In France, it was an appeal to the authority of the Pope in Rome, who was over the Alps Mountains, against the authority of a secular-nationalist society. Catholic ultra-montanists exalted the Pope’s person and authority against everything in the modern contemporary society that they hated and feared. This led to an exaggerated “personality cult”, as we might put it, of the reigning Pontiffs, which was a novelty in Catholic life. 

The Pope too had suffered with France. The Italian nationalists had deprived him of his temporal authority as the Prince of the Papal States, the so-called “Robe of Peter”, and the theocratic ruler of Rome, independent and above any secular ruler. A restored Catholic King in France united to a liberated Vicar of Christ clearly had to be God’s will for a society purified by so much turmoil as the last decades had shown.  

Romanticism. Joined to a belief in the monarchy and a maximalist view of the Pope’s authority and the unction of his Person, was a romanticized view of the medieval Catholic world. This is exemplified in the way the Catholic newspaper Le Pélerin, founded in 1873 by the Assumptionist Fathers, described that first Pilgrimage of the Banners to Lourdes: It was “The France of Clovis, of Charlemagne, and of St. Louis, the great Christian kings of France. Never has such a manifestation been seen.”

It was the therefore in that year following, 1873, when the Assumptionists decided to re-direct their organization of a national pilgrimage to Lourdes. You see, Lourdes was not their first hoice. It was LaSalette, the site of a warning Madonna to two shepherd children in 1846. The first Assumptionist-inspired National Pilgrimage to LaSalette in 1872, however, had been a disaster in just about every way. It was hard to organize, hard to reach, and there was such ill-feeling among many local people towards the clergy and royalist politicians that the pilgrims were mobbed and heckled.

The next year, 1873, they decided to direct their national pilgrimage to Lourdes which had a much happier result. And so it was, from that year on, the town of Lourdes and the story of Bernadette and the Madonna of the Grotto became the destination for the continuing annual National Pilgrimage of French Catholics who sought to restore a new and improved old order for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. 

Fr. Higgins


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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