Monday, April 16, 2018

Saint April 17 : St. Stephen Harding : #Abbot of #Citeaux - #Confessor

St. Stephen Harding
CONFESSOR
Feast: April 17

Information:
Feast Day:April 17
Born:Dorset, England
Died:28 March 1134
Major Shrine:Church of St. Stephen Harding in Apátistvánfalva, Hungary, district of Szentgotthárd.
Confessor, the third Abbot of Citeaux, was born at Sherborne in Dorsetshire, England, about the middle of the eleventh century; died 28 March, 1134. He received his early education in the monastery of Sherborne and afterwards studied in Paris and Rome. On returning from the latter city he stopped at the monastery of Molesme and, being much impressed by the holiness of St. Robert, the abbot, joined that community. Here he practised great austerities, became one of St. Robert's chief supporters and was one of the band of twenty-one monks who, by authority of Hugh, Archbishop of Lyons, retired to Citeaux to institute a reform in the new foundation there. When St. Robert was recalled to Molesme (1099), Stephen became prior of Citeaux under Alberic, the new abbot. On Alberic's death (1110) Stephen, who was absent from the monastery at the time, was elected abbot. The number of monks was now very reduced, as no new members had come to fill the places of those who had died. Stephen, however, insisted on retaining the strict observance originally instituted and, having offended the Duke of Burgundy, Citeau's great patron, by forbidding him or his family to enter the cloister, was even forced to beg alms from door to door. It seemed as if the foundation were doomed to die out when (1112) St. Bernard with thirty companions joined the community. This proved the beginning of extraordinary prosperity. The next year Stephen founded his first colony at La Ferte, and before is death he had established thirteen monasteries in all. His powers as an organizer were exceptional, he instituted the system of general chapters and regular visitations and, to ensure uniformity in all his foundations, drew up the famous "Charter of Charity" or collection of statues for the government of all monasteries united to Citeaux, which was approved by Pope Callistus II in 1119 (see CISTERCIANS). In 1133 Stephen, being now old, infirm, and almost blind, resigned the post of abbot, designating as his successor Robert de Monte, who was accordingly elected by the monks. The saint's choice, however, proved unfortunate and the new abbot only held office for two years. Stephen was buried in the tomb of Alberic, his predecessor, in the cloister of Citeaux. In the Roman calendar his feast is 17 April, but the Cistercians themselves keep it on 15 July, with an octave, regarding him as the true founder of the order. Besides the "Carta Caritatis" he is commonly credited with the authorship of the "Exordium Cisterciencis cenobii", which however may not be his. Two of his sermons are preserved and also two letters (Nos. 45 and 49) in the "Epp. S. Bernardi". Catholic Encyclopedia

Free Catholic Movie : "The Song of Bernadette" about #OurLady of #Lourdes

The Song of Bernadette (1943) 156 min - Biography | Drama - April 1945 (USA)  The Apparitions occurred in 1858 France. Based on the novel by Franz Werfel, "The Song of Bernadette" is a sympathetic account of the life of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, a sickly (asthmatic) French peasant girl who claimed to have seen 18 miraculous visions of a "beautiful lady" near her home village of Lourdes in 1858. Bernadette had become so happily excited by her initial vision, which she claimed included her having been instructed by this "beautiful lady" to return each day for 15 days*.
Director: Henry King Writers: George Seaton (screenplay), Franz Werfel (novel) Stars: Jennifer Jones, Charles Bickford, William Eythe |

Pope Francis "Yes, Lord, I shall give all. I won’t... commit these sins again. I’ll change my life in this way..." Homily


Pope at Mass: ‘Follow Jesus out of faith, not self-interest’
In his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Monday morning, Pope Francis said there are two ways of following Jesus: out of self-interest in his miracles or through faith in his word.
Pope Francis at Mass on Monday warned against following Jesus out of self-interest in his miracles rather than through faith in his word. He invited us to refresh our memory of the wonderful things God has done in our lives, so as to respond with love.

Self-interest of the crowd


The Pope reflected on the day’s Gospel (John 6:22-29), in which the crowd wanted to make Jesus a king after the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Jesus, he said, rebuffed them, saying “you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”
Pope Francis pointed out the two elements of Jesus’ response. On the one hand, he said, they were seeking Jesus in order to feel his Word in their hearts, that is, out of faith. On the other, they were merely curious to see his miracles. The Holy Father said these were good people but their faith was a little too curious and self-seeking.
Stephen’s faith in Jesus
Pope Francis then spoke about another example of faith in Jesus, that of Stephen in the First Reading (Acts 6:8-15). He spoke so clearly, the Pope said, that his interlocutors in the Sanhedrin could not resist his wisdom.
“He followed Jesus without weighing the consequences: ‘this works for me; that doesn’t’… He was not self-interested. He loved. So he followed Jesus sure in his faith. They laid a trap of slander, and they led him into it. So he was stoned to death, giving witness to Jesus.”

Faith or self-interest?


Pope Francis invited us to consider how we follow Jesus. He advised us to refresh our memory of how Jesus has acted in our lives.
“We will find so many great things that Jesus has freely given us, because he loves each one of us. Once I have considered the things Jesus has done for me, I can ask the second question: ‘What should I do for Jesus?’ With these two questions, perhaps we can purify our faith of any self-interest. When I see all that Jesus has given me, my heart generously says: ‘Yes, Lord, I shall give all. I won’t make these mistakes and commit these sins again. I’ll change my life in this way…’ [This is] the road to conversion by love: ‘You’ve given me so much love, so I shall give you my love’.”
Finally, Pope Francis said these two questions can help us to purify our faith of self-interest.
“This is a good test to see how we follow Jesus: ‘Am I self-interested or not?’… ‘What has Jesus done for me in my life out of love?’ And seeing this, ‘what should I do for Jesus?’ ‘How do I respond to his love?’ That’s how we can purify our faith from all self-interest. May the Lord help us along this path.”

#BreakingNews 2 Christians Killed near Church - others Injured as Terrorist opens Fire - Please Pray



Quetta (Agenzia Fides) - Unidentified gunmen riding a motorcycle entered the Christian area of Essa Nagri, in the city of Quetta, capital of Beluchistan, yesterday evening, April 15th and opened fire on Christian worshippers: 2 were killed and five were injured. Of the two victims, one Catholic, the other Protestant, one man died on the spot and another died in hospital in Bolan in Quetta, where the other injured are being treated.
One eyewitness told Fides: "I saw four men with their faces covered on a motorcycle, one of them was holding a gun, another a rifle, they opened fire and fled. In that precise moment there were no liturgies or masses in the church, which is 50 meters away. The goal was to indiscriminately hit the Christian community who live there".
The police have started formal investigations on the case. So far none of the terrorist militant groups have claimed responsibility for this attack. The funeral of the dead will be held in Quetta this evening, 16 April.
The attack has shocked the population. After the attack, over 500 Christians protested, cried and prayed in the streets. The Christians of Quetta demand justice and protection for Christians in Quetta. The protesters also chanted slogans against the government of Belucistan accusing it of not having ensured the safety of religious minorities in Pakistan.
The president of the Pakistani People's Party Bilawal Zardari condemned the attack and expressed solidarity towards the victims and said: "Terrorists are attacking Christians in Pakistan to blur the image of the country". I demand severe action against the terrorists involved in this attack". In messages sent to Fides, Asiya Nasir and Khalil George, Pakistan's Christian parliamentarians, strongly condemned the attack and called for action against the terrorists.
Even in Karachi, capital of the province of Sindh, Christians organized a peaceful demonstration to show their solidarity and support for Christians in Quetta. Christian Adeel Patras Chaudry, in charge of "Jesus Life TV" in Pakistan, told Fides: "We ask the institutions and the judiciary to seriously address the issue of the protection of minorities in Pakistan. So far the government has failed".
The attack came nearly two weeks after four Catholics who had been visiting a relative as part of an Easter reunion were killed in Quetta's Shah Zaman area. A week before last Christmas, two suicide bombers packed a Christian church in Quetta, killing at least 14 people and wounding up to 56. (AG) (Agenzia Fides, 16/4/2018) 

FULL TEXT Release from Agenzia Fides

Top 10 Quotes of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to SHARE - Powerful #BenedictXVI Quotes to Change your Life!

1. Every human being is loved by God the Father. No one need feel forgotten, for every name is written in the Lord's loving heart.
2. Believing is nothing other than, in the darkness of the world, touching the hand of God, and in this way, in silence, hearing the Word, seeing love.


3. Truth is not determined by a majority vote.


4. In the Eucharist, the Son of God comes to meet us and desires to become one with us; eucharistic adoration is simply the natural consequence of the eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church's supreme act of adoration.


5. Children truly are the family's greatest treasure and most precious good. Consequently, everyone must be helped to become aware of the intrinsic evil of the crime of abortion. In attacking human life in its very first stages, it is also an aggression against society itself. Politicians and legislators, therefore, as servants of the common good, are duty bound to defend the fundamental right to life, the fruit of God's love.


6. Celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom means embracing a life completely devoted to love, a love that enables you to commit yourselves fully to God's service and to be totally present to your brothers and sisters, especially those in need.
7. Because the truth of God is love, conversion to God is conversion to love.


8. With the Rosary, we allow ourselves to be guided by Mary, model of faith, in meditating on the mysteries of Christ, and day after day we are helped to assimilate the Gospel, so that it shapes all our lives.


9. The new evangelization ... begins in the confessional.


10. Friends, do not be afraid of silence or stillness. Listen to God. Adore Him in the Eucharist.

#BreakingNews Parents of Alfie Evans fight for Life support in Court again and Pope Francis offers Support

Alfie Evan’s parents are still fighting for the life of their little son Alfie. They are trying to prevent Alder Hey Children’s Hospital from cutting off Alfie’s life support without their consent.
Alfie’s parents are trying another legal challenge to allow their son to stay alive. A a court ruled earlier this week that the hospital can shut down his life support.
Tom Evans and Kate James are going to a Court of Appeal to ask judges to allow their 23 month old son to continue to receive medical care and treatment. 
Pope Francis has continually supported the parents of little Alfie in statements, here is what he said in an April 15 audience:
I entrust to your prayer persons such as Vincent Lambert in France, little Alfie Evans in England, and others in several countries who live, sometimes for a long time, in a state of grave illness, assisted medically for their primary needs. They are delicate situations, very painful and complex.  Let us pray so that every sick <person> is always respected in his dignity and cared for in a way adapted to his condition, with the harmonious contribution of the family, of doctors and of other health workers, with great respect for life.
Last month, The European Court of Human Rights denied his parents’ request in moving him to a hospital that will actually provide him care rather than removing his life support.
Although Alfie’s parents had already lined up a hospital in Rome,Bambino Gesu hospital, to provide him with a proper care and treatment plan, British courts as well as the European Court have sided with the hospital and its desire to yank his life support.
Alfie was born May 9, 2016 and has a devastating degenerative brain disorder.
 Tom Evans obtained a letter from a pro-life attorney, Pavel Stroilov of the Christian Legal Centre, advising him that it would be legal for him to remove his son from the hospital — however the police prevented him from doing so.
Below is the full legal letter:
Dear Tom,
You have asked me to clarify whether it would be legal for you to remove your son Alfie from Alder Hey Hospital without the Hospital’s consent. In Alfie’s situation, that would be practical with the support of a team of medical professionals with the necessary life support equipment.
Subject to that, I can confirm that such a removal would be lawful under English law.
Alfie is only in hospital because you, his parents, voluntarily sought its healthcare services. Alfie retains the right to self-discharge from hospital. He is not imprisoned there. Because of his minority, it is for you, as his parents, to make a decision to self-discharge or to stay at hospital.
The effect of the declaratory orders made by Mr Justice Hayden in the High Court is to make it lawful for Alder Hey to withdraw his artificial ventilation treatment, and to protect Alder Hey and its staff from legal liability for that step. It is not the intention or effect of the order to circumvent Alfie’s personal liberty or your parental rights. It remains lawful for an alternative team of medical professionals, with your parental consent, to provide such medical treatment to Alfie as they professionally deem to be appropriate.
As you know, today Mr Justice Hayden made a further order scheduling the withdrawal of ventilation from Alfie [REDACTED]. The legal position may arguably become more complicated if someone within the High Court’s jurisdiction continues to provide ventilation after that point. However, there is no doubt that, until that point in time, it remains entirely lawful to provide ventilation to Alfie; and that can be done by a medical service provider of your choice.
For these reasons, as a matter of law it is your right to come to Alder Hey Hospital with a team of medical professionals with their own life-support equipment, and move Alfie to such other place you consider is best for him. You do not need any permission from Alder Hey Hospital or the Court to do so.
Hope this clarifies the matter.
Christian Legal Centre 

Novena to Saint Bernadette - Visionary of Lourdes - Patron of Sick and Families - Incorrupt Saint


Say for 9 Days:
Dear Saint Bernadette, Chosen by Almighty God as a channel of His Graces and Blessings, and through your humble obedience to the requests of Our Blessed Mother, Mary, you gained for us the Miraculous waters of Spiritual and physical healing.We implore you to listen to our pleading prayers that we may be healed of our Spiritual and physical imperfections.
Place our petitions in the Hands of our Holy Mother, Mary, so that She may place them at the feet of Her beloved Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, that He may look on us with mercy and compassion: (Make Petition)
Help, O Dear Saint Bernadette to follow your example, so that irrespective of our own pain and suffering we may always be mindful of the needs of others, especially those whose sufferings are greater than ours.
As we await the Mercy of God, remind us to offer up our pain and suffering for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins and blasphemies of mankind.
Pray for Saint Bernadette, that like you, we may always be obedient to the will of Our Heavenly Father, and that through our prayers and humility we may bring consolation to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary that have been so grievously wounded by our sins.
Holy Saint Bernadette of Lourdes, Pray for us.
AMEN.


Say 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory Be each day
Memorare
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
Amen. 
O Mary conceived without sin,pray for us who have recourse to Thee. (Say (3) Three Times)

Saint April 16 : St. Bernadette Soubirous of #Lourdes

St. Bernadette Soubirous
VISIONARY OF LOURDES, VIRGIN
Feast: April 16
Information: 7 January 1844 at Lourdes, France
Died:
16 April 1879, Nevers, France
Canonized:
December 8, 1933, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Patron of:
Sick people, poverty, the family, Lourdes, shepherds
Bernadette's canonization in 1933 was the culmination of a process which had been started nearly three-quarters of a century earlier: she is, therefore, a saint of modern times, and the remarkable facts of her life are readily accessible to all. Her story even challenges the interest of those who do not share the Catholic faith. Christianity had its beginnings among humble people without influence or riches, such as Bernadette. Perhaps it is a natural human instinct to rejoice when the lowly are lifted up to the heights, and especially when a child, neglected and untaught, is chosen for special grace and favor, thus becoming an instrument for good.
Born in Lourdes, France, on January 7, 1844, Bernadette was the first child of Francois and Louise Soubirous. At the time of her birth, Francois was a miller, operating a mill which had belonged to his wife's people. He was a good-natured, easy-going man, with little ability for carrying on a business, and before many years the mill had been forfeited for debt. During most of Bernadette's childhood he was an odd job man, picking up a day's work as opportunity offered, and, from time to time, escaping from his problems and responsibilities by turning to the delusive comfort of alcohol. His wife and children, naturally, were the chief sufferers from his ineffectualness. Louise, whose family was of somewhat better economic status than her husband's, was a hard worker, a warm-hearted neighbor, and exemplary in her observance of Catholic rites. Within a short space of years many children were born to her, only five of whom survived infancy. After Bernadette, there was another girl, Toinette Marie, and three boys. To help feed and clothe them it was often necessary for their harassed mother to go out to work by the day, doing laundry and other rough tasks for the more prosperous citizens, and, on one occasion, at least, helping to harvest a crop of grain. A peasant woman of the region has told of seeing little Bernadette, then about twelve, carrying the youngest baby to Louise in the field, to be nursed during the noon-day rest period. As a child, Bernadette not only did more than might be expected in caring for the smaller children, but helped in their moral and religious training as well.
Bernadette was never strong, and from the age of six she showed symptoms of the respiratory ailment that later became a chronic affliction. It is not clear at this early stage whether she suffered from asthma or tuberculosis, but we know that her mother was anxious about her health and made an effort to provide special food for her. When Bernadette was thirteen she was sent to the neighboring mountain hamlet of Bartres, to the home of one Marie Arevant, her foster mother. It was here that Bernadette had been taken for a few months when she was still an infant, to be nursed by Madame Arevant, who had just lost a baby. The woman now had a large family and little Bernadette made herself useful in the house and in the fields. One of her duties was to tend a small flock of sheep that grazed on a hillside nearby; it is this brief phase of her girlhood that has inspired artists to picture her as a shepherdess. Her life was a lonely one, and we get the impression that she was overworked and homesick while she remained in this peasant home. At all events she sent word to her parents that she wished to leave Bartres. One thing seemed especially to disturb her at this time; although she was now fourteen, she had not made her First Communion. Her foster mother had tried half-heartedly to prepare her, but after one or two sessions had impatiently given it up, saying that Bernadette was too dull to learn.
When Bernadette went back to Lourdes, it made her very happy to be admitted to the day school conducted by the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction. This was a teaching and nursing order whose mother-house is at Nevers, in central France. A hospice, a day school, and a boarding school were maintained at Lourdes by these devout nuns, who were, as a group, unusually well trained. Thus Bernadette at last began her secular education, and, under Abbe Pomian, continued to prepare for First Communion. She was also learning a little French, for up to this time she spoke only the local dialect. The nuns discovered that beneath a quiet, modest exterior, Bernadette had a winning personality and a lively sense of humor. This might have been a happy and constructive time for the little girl had it not been for the ever-increasing shadows of poverty at home.
After moving from one poor location to another, the Soubirous family was now living in a single room of a dilapidated structure in the rue des Petits Fosses; this damp, unwholesome place had once served as a jail and was known as Le Cachot, the Dungeon. Above loomed an ancient fortress, and the narrow cobbled street had once been a part of the moat. The town of Lourdes, itself very old, is situated in one of the most picturesque parts of France, lying in the extreme southwest, near the Spanish frontier, where the Pyrenees mountains rise sharply above the plains. From the craggy, wooded heights, several valleys descend to converge at this site, and the little river Gave rushes through the town, its turbulent current turning the wheels of many mills. There are escarpments of rock in and around Lourdes, the most famous being the Massabeille, a great mound jutting out from the base of a plateau. On the side facing the river it had an arch-shaped opening which led into a sizeable grotto-a grotto that was soon destined to become famous in every part of the world. At this time the Massabeille had, if not exactly an aura of evil, a touch of the sinister. According to legend, it had been sacred to the pagans of prehistoric times; now it served as a shelter for fishermen or herdsmen caught by sudden storms.
It was very cold on February 11, 1858, the day that was to mark the beginning of such an extraordinary series of events at the rock of Massabeille. When Bernadette returned from school her mother gave her permission to go down by the river to pick up driftwood and fallen branches. Toinette Marie, aged nine, and Marie Abadie, aged twelve, a neighbor's child, went with her. When the three girls reached the Massabeille, the two younger ones took off their wooden shoes to wade across an icy mill-stream which here joined the river. Bernadette, more sensitive, hung behind. Standing alone beside the river, she had started to remove her stockings when she heard a noise like a sudden rush of wind. Looking up towards the grotto she saw some movement among the branches, then there floated out of the opening a golden cloud, and in the midst of it was the figure of a beautiful young girl who placed herself in a small niche in the rock, at one side of the opening and slightly above it. In the crannies around this niche grew stunted vines and shrubs, and in particular a white eglantine. Bernadette, staring in fascination, saw that the luminous apparition was dressed in a soft white robe, with a broad girdle of blue, and a long white veil that partially covered her hair. Her eyes were blue and gentle. Golden roses gleamed on her bare feet. When the vision smiled and beckoned to Bernadette, the girl's fear vanished and she came a few steps nearer, then sank reverently to her knees. She drew her rosary from her pocket, for, in moments of stress, she habitually said her beads. The mysterious being also had a rosary, of large white beads, and to quote Bernadette's own account: "The Lady let me pray alone; she passed the beads of the rosary between her fingers, but said nothing; only at the end of each decade did she say the Gloria with me." When the recitation was finished, the Lady vanished into the cave and the golden mist  disappeared with her. This experience affected Bernadette so powerfully that, when the other girls turned back to look for her, she was still kneeling, a rapt, faraway look on her face. They chided her, thinking she had passed the time praying to escape the task of gathering fuel. Tying up their twigs and branches into faggots, they started for home. Too full of her vision to keep quiet about it, before they had gone far Bernadette burst out with the whole wondrous story; she asked the girls to say nothing at home. But Toinette told Madame Soubirous that same evening, and soon the news spread further. Bernadette wished to go back to the Massabeille the next day, but her mother, after talking the matter over with a sister, refused her permission.
Bernadette now showed the independence of spirit-some were to characterize it as obstinacy-that became one of her outstanding traits. When she told her confessor of the apparition, Abbe Pomian made light of it, thinking the girl suffered from hallucinations. Nevertheless, on the following Sunday Bernadette asked if she might go to the grotto and her father told her she might go if she took a flask of holy water with her, to exorcise the apparition should it prove to be a demon. Bernadette, advancing ahead of several little friends who accompanied her, knelt before the grotto and soon the vision appeared as before. On their return the excited girls, although they had seen nothing, naturally began to tell their versions of the affair, and soon the town buzzed with varying reports and rumors. On the next market day the peasants heard of these strange happenings. The story reached the Mother Superior of the convent, who took a firm stand: she announced to the class preparing for Communion, comprising Bernadette's friends and companions for the most part, that they must stop talking and thinking of this matter. Bernadette's teacher, Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, was even hostile.
The apparition was manifest to Bernadette for the third time  on Thursday, February 18, when she went to the grotto accompanied by two women of Lourdes who thought the "damiezelo," as Bernadette called her, was the returning spirit of a young woman, one of their dear friends, who had died a few months before. On this occasion the same little figure appeared to Bernadette, smiled warmly, and spoke, asking Bernadette to come every day for fifteen days. Bernadette promised to come, provided she was given permission to do so. Since neither her god-mother, who was her mother's sister, nor the priest actually forbade it, Bernadette's parents offered no objection. On the following day her mother and aunt went with her, and on subsequent visits great crowds of people gathered on the Massabeille, or down by the river, hoping to see or hear something miraculous. During these two weeks the excitement increased to such a pitch that the civil authorities felt obliged to take action. The police were not content to threaten the Soubirous family; they must take Bernadette to the local police office for questioning and try to make her admit that it was all an elaborate hoax. Bernadette emerged from this and many another ordeal somewhat shaken but obdurate. The authorities continued to try to discredit her. They even gave currency to the report that the whole thing had been thought up by Bernadette's poverty-stricken parents, so that they might derive some profit from it. Francois and Louise Soubirous, from being puzzled, worried, and uncertain at the outset, had now come to believe in the supernatural character  of their daughter's experiences, and stood loyally by her. They did not dream of exploiting the affair in their own interest. As a matter of fact, pious, well-meaning people were bringing them gifts of money and food, sometimes asking for a token from Bernadette. These offerings were declined; even Bernadette's small brothers were cautioned to accept nothing. The girl herself was adamant in her determination to have no part in any kind of trafficking; the record of her complete honesty and disinterestedness is clear and unquestioned. However, she found the sudden notoriety unpleasant, and this sensitivity to being stared at and talked about and pointed out was to last throughout her life. People began to gather at the grotto in the middle of the night, awaiting her appearance. It was rumored that she had a miraculous, healing touch. Several cures were attributed to her.
On Sunday, February 21, a number of persons went with her to the grotto, including citizens who had been highly skeptical. On this occasion, Bernadette reported later, the apparition said to her: "You will pray to God for sinners." On February 26, while she was in the trance-like state which lasted as long as she saw the vision, Bernadette crawled inside the grotto, and, at the Lady's bidding, uncovered with her bare hands a little trickle of water from which she drank and with which she bathed her face, still at the Lady's direction. This tiny spring continued to well up and by the next day was flowing steadily down into the river: to this day it has never ceased to gush forth from the grotto. The people regarded its discovery by Bernadette as a miracle.
On March 2 Bernadette saw the apparition for the thirteenth  time. It was on this day that the Lady bade Bernadette to tell the priests that "a chapel should be built and a procession formed." Bernadette had no thought but to obey, in spite of the open hostility of the cure of Lourdes. Dean Peyramale, an imposing man of excellent family and background, received Bernadette and reprimanded her harshly, asking her to inquire the name of her visitant, and to tell her she must perform a real miracle, such as making the eglantine bloom out of season, to prove herself. During the preceding weeks he had ordered the priests to have nothing to do with the grotto, for it was the general practice of the clergy to discourage or ignore religious visionaries. Very often such persons were ill-balanced or suffering from delusions. As a matter of fact, Bernadette's experiences were proving contagious, and before long many others, young and old, were claiming to have had supernatural visions at the grotto and elsewhere. Dean Peyramale's stand of determined opposition was based on the necessity of restoring order in the parish.
On March 25, Lady Day, Bernadette started for the grotto at  dawn. When the vision appeared to her, Bernadette said: "Would you kindly tell me who you are?" When the girl had repeated the question twice more, the Lady replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception. I want a chapel here." This answer, when reported by Bernadette, caused the local excitement to rise to a still higher pitch and the feeling grew that Bernadette's visitor was the Blessed Virgin. Only four years before the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been promulgated. The seventeenth apparition took place on April 7, and the final one, more than three months later, on July 16. By that time, the grotto, which the people were trying to make into a sanctuary and place of worship, had been barricaded by the town authorities to discourage worshipers and curiosity-seekers from congregating there. During the twenty-one years that she was to remain on earth, Bernadette never again saw the vision. The accounts of  what she had seen and heard, which she was obliged to repeat so often, never varied in any significant detail.
Meanwhile the news of the phenomenal happenings at Lourdes had reached the very highest ecclesiastical and government circles: the bishop, the prefect, even Emperor Napoleon III and his pious wife Eugenie, became actors in the drama. On October 5, the mayor of Lourdes, on orders from above, had the grotto reopened. It was thought that the empress herself had had a voice in this decision. At all events, it seemed to be the only appropriate response to the overwhelming demand of the people for a shrine Bernadette's visions, the new spring, and the cures that were being reported, all had taken a profound hold on the popular imagination.
Due to a lucky turn, Bernadette's family was now more comfortably situated, and, to escape visitors, Bernadette went to live at the convent. Even there, intrusions upon her privacy were allowed; these she bore as patiently as she could. While her fame not only continued but steadily grew, Bernadette herself withdrew more and more. At the age of twenty she decided to take the veil. Since the state of her health precluded the more ascetic orders, it was considered best for her to join the Sisters who had taught and sheltered her. At twenty-two, therefore, she traveled to the motherhouse of the convent. Her novitiate was full of trials and sorrows. Acting under the quite unfounded notion that Bernadette's visions and all the attendant publicity might have made the young woman vain or self-important, Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, now novice-mistress at Nevers, was very severe with her former pupil. Although she made life difficult for Bernadette, the little novice met all tests with perfect humility. She cheerfully performed the menial tasks assigned to her, at first in the convent kitchen, although this work must have taxed her strength. Later, when it was noted that her sympathetic manner made her a favorite with sick people, she was appointed assistant infirmarian. Her step and touch were light, and her very presence brought comfort. But during these years, Bernadette was suffering from the chronic disease which was slowly draining her life away. She was finally given work in the sacristy, where cleverness with the needle made her work admired and cherished. She displayed a real gift for design and color in embroidering the sacred vestments. To all tasks she brought a pure grace of spirit and an utter willingness to serve.
In September, 1878, Bernadette made her perpetual and final  vows. Her strength was ebbing away, but even when she was confined to wheel chair or bed, she went on with the fine needlework. And now she had more time for prayer and meditation. There is little outward drama in the life of a nun, but in Bernadette's case there was steady activity, steady growth, in things of the spirit. She had been told by her vision that she would not attain happiness in this world. Her childhood had been sad, and maturity had brought no easing of the burden she must carry. During the last two years of life a tumor developed on one knee, which was followed by caries of the bone. She suffered excruciating pain. One day, when a Superior came to visit her and said, "What are you doing in bed, you lazy little thing?" Bernadette simply replied, "I am doing my stint. I must be a victim." She felt that such was the Divine plan for her.
The nuns, the novice mistress, and the Superior had all long since come to regard her as the vessel of Divine grace and to believe in the reality of those visitations of her youth. She still suffered from the curiosity of visiting strangers. Not only did nuns and priests come to Nevers but celebrities from Paris and other parts of France came to see for themselves the now famous Bernadette. Disliking publicity as she did, yet not wishing to remain isolated and aloof if a glimpse of her could help or inspire any other human soul, she met this test too-and sometimes with a native cleverness. Once a visitor stopped her as she was passing down a corridor and asked where she could get a glimpse of Sister Bernadette. The little nun said, "Just watch that doorway and presently you will see her go through." And she slipped away through the door. Such was the prestige her presence gave to the order that many young women now joined it.
On her death-bed, in a spasm of pain, Bernadette pressed the  crucifix closer to her, and cried, "All this is good for Heaven!" That afternoon, as the nuns of the convent knelt round her bed to repeat the prayers for the dying, they heard her say in a low voice, "Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me! A poor sinner, a poor sinner-" She could not finish. The date was April 16, 1879. As soon as the news spread, people came streaming towards the convent, chanting, "The saint is dead! The saint is dead!" Bernadette's body was placed in a casket which was sealed, then buried near the chapel of St. Joseph in the convent grounds. When it was exhumed in 1908 by the commission formed to forward the examination of Bernadette's life and character, it was found to be intact and uncorrupted. In August, 1913, Pope Pius X conferred the title of Venerable upon her, and in June, 1925, the ceremony of beatification took place. Since then, her body, reposing in a handsome glass reliquary, lies in the convent chapel, guarded above by a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and by the nuns who keep vigil. In Rome, on December 8, 1933, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, amidst a brilliant setting and the fanfare of silver trumpets, Bernadette Soubirous was admitted to the company of saints. This little nun, humble, unlettered, honest, and obedient, is venerated by the great host of Catholic worshipers throughout the world. Tens of thousands of them journey annually to the glorious shrine at Lourdes.
The story of Lourdes as a pilgrimage place forms a strange contrast to Bernadette's retired life of prayer and service. Its growth from a sleepy country town to its present status as the most popular pilgrimage place in Christendom has been phenomenal. A railroad line from Pau was built, facilitating the influx of visitors who, from the very first year, were drawn to Lourdes. Dean Peyramale and his superior, the bishop of Pau, who at first had scoffed, came to believe most ardently; it was the aged dean who found the money for raising the great basilica to Our Lady, which was completed in 1876. Participating in the ceremony were thirty-five prelates, a cardinal, and three thousand priests. Sister Bernadette had no share in these rites. Another church at the base of the basilica was erected and consecrated in 1901. The entire district has been enhanced by architecture and landscaping to make it an impressive sanctuary, with a background of great natural beauty.
Of the cures at Lourdes it can be said that even non-believers have observed something here that medical science cannot explain. The commission of physicians, known as the Bureau of Constatations, who examine evidence and report on their findings, operate with great caution and circumspection. The alleged cure must be immediate and permanent to be regarded as a miracle. Medical records prior to the trip are studied, as well as the patient's subsequent medical history. The patient may himself be a witness, and it is most moving to hear the words, "I was sick and now I am well," which give such comfort and hope to others who are ailing. Only a few cures each year stand up against these rigid tests, but those few are enough. The thousands-the lame, the halt, the blind -continue to come, to be washed in the waters of the spring, to share in the processions, the singing, the prayers, the impressive rites, and breathe the pure air of faith. The Canticle of Bernadette hovers in that air, and even those well persons who go to Lourdes simply searching for a renewal of faith find themselves amply rewarded, for the spirit of the child Bernadette is still a potent inspiration.


SOURCE: Encyclopedia com

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Mon. April 16, 2018 - #Eucharist


Easter Weekday
First Reading
Acts 6:8-15
8And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyre'nians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cili'cia and Asia, arose and disputed with Stephen. 10But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. 11Then they secretly instigated men, who said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." 12And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13and set up false witnesses who said, "This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law; 14for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us." 15And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. Responsorial Psalm
Psalms 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30
23Even though princes sit plotting against me, thy servant will meditate on thy statutes. 24Thy testimonies are my delight, they are my counselors. 26When I told of my ways, thou didst answer me; teach me thy statutes! 27Make me understand the way of thy precepts, and I will meditate on thy wondrous works. 29Put false ways far from me; and graciously teach me thy law! 30I have chosen the way of faithfulness, I set thy ordinances before me.
Gospel
John 6:22-29
22On the next day the people who remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23However, boats from Tiber'i-as came near the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24So when the people saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Caper'na-um, seeking Jesus. 25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" 26Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal." 28Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" 29Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."