Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Saint February 11 : Our Lady of Lourdes - who Appeared in 1858 as the Immaculate Conception

The pilgrimage of Lourdes is founded on the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to a poor, fourteen-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubiroux. The first apparition occurred 11 February, 1858. There were eighteen in all; the last took place 16 July, of the same year. Bernadette often fell into an ecstasy. The mysterious vision she saw in the hollow of the rock Massabielle was that of a young and beautiful lady. "Lovelier than I have ever seen" said the child. But the girl was the only one who saw the vision, although sometimes many stood there with her. Now and then the apparition spoke to the seer who also was the only one who heard the voice. 
Thus, she one day told her to drink of a mysterious fountain, in the grotto itself, the existence of which was unknown, and of which there was no sign, but which immediately gushed forth.
 On another occasion the apparition bade Bernadette go and tell the priests she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be made to the grotto. At first the clergy were incredulous. It was only four years later, in 1862, that the bishop of the diocese declared the faithful "justified in believing the reality of the apparition". A basilica was built upon the rock of Massabielle by M. Peyramale, the parish priest. In 1873 the great "national" French pilgrimages were inaugurated. Three years later the basilica was consecrated and the statue solemnly crowned. In 1883 the foundation stone of another church was laid, as the first was no longer large enough. It was built at the foot of the basilica and was consecrated in 1901 and called the Church of the Rosary. Pope Leo XIII authorized a special office and a Mass, in commemoration of the apparition, and in 1907 Pius X extended the observance of this feast to the entire Church; it is now observed on 11 February.
Never has a sanctuary attracted such throngs. At the end of the year 1908, when the fiftieth anniversary of the apparition was celebrated, although the record really only began from 1867, 5297 pilgrimages had been registered and these had brought 4,919,000 pilgrims. Individual pilgrims are more numerous by far than those who come in groups. To their number must be added the visitors who do not come as pilgrims, but who are attracted by a religious feeling or sometimes merely by the desire to see this far-famed spot. The Company of the Chemins de Fer du Midi estimates that the Lourdes station receives over one million travellers per annum. Every nation in the world furnishes its contingent. Out of the total of pilgrimages given above, four hundred and sixty-four came from countries other than France. They are sent by the United States, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Italy, England, Ireland, Canada, Brazil, Bolivia, etc. The bishops lead the way. At the end of the year of the fiftieth anniversary, 2013 prelates, including 546 archbishops, 10 primates, 19 patriarchs, 69 cardinals, had made the pilgrimage to Lourdes. But more remarkable still than the crowd of pilgrims is the series of wonderful occurrences which take place under the protection of the celebrated sanctuary. Passing over spiritual cures, which more often than not escape human observance, we shall confine ourselves to bodily diseases. The writer of this article has recorded every recovery, whether partial or complete, and in the first half-century of the shrine's existence he has counted 3962. Notwithstanding very careful statistics which give the names and surnames of the patients who have recovered, the date of the cure, the name of the disease, and generally that of the physician who had charge of the case, there are inevitably doubtful or mistaken cases, attributable, as a rule, to the excited fancy of the afflicted one and which time soon dispels. But it is only right to note: first, that these unavoidable errors regard only secondary cases which have not like the others been the object of special study; it must also be noted that the number of cases is equalled and exceeded by actual cures which are not put on record. The afflicted who have recovered are not obliged to present themselves and half of them do not present themselves, at the Bureau des Constatations M├ędicales at Lourdes, and it is from this bureau's official reports that the list of cures is drawn up.
The estimate that about 4000 cures have been obtained at Lourdes within the first fifty years of the pilgrimage is undoubtedly considerably less than the actual number. The Bureau des Constatations stands near the shrine, and there are recorded and checked the certificates of maladies and also the certificates of cure; it is free to all physicians, whatever their nationality or religious belief. Consequently, on an average, from two to three hundred physicians annual visit this marvellous clinic. As to the nature of the diseases which are cured, nervous disorders so frequently mentioned, do not furnish even the fourteenth part of the whole; 278 have been counted, out of a total of 3962. The present writer has published the number of cases of each disease or infirmity, among them tuberculosis, tumours, sores, cancers, deafness, blindness, etc. The "Annales des Sciences Physiques", a sceptical review whose chief editor is Doctor Ch. Richet, Professor at the Medical Faculty of Paris, said in the course of a long article, apropos of this faithful study: "On reading it, unprejudiced minds cannot but be convinced that the facts stated are authentic."

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)
Since this entry was written 70 official miracles have occurred at Lourdes. Over 6 Million visitors come every year to a total of over 200 million pilgrims over the years.

Pope Francis says "Prayer works God’s grace that, even in their precarious situation, the prayer...makes Christ’s compassion present." FULL TEXT + Video



Library of the Apostolic Palace
Wednesday, 10 February 2021

 Catechesis on prayer - 24. Prayer in daily life

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In the preceding catechesis we saw how Christian prayer is “anchored” in the Liturgy. Today, we will shed light on how the Liturgy always enters daily life: on the streets, in offices, on public transportation… And there it continues the dialogue with God: the person who prays is like someone in love who always bears the beloved in his or her heart wherever they go.

Essentially, everything becomes a part of this dialogue with God: every joy becomes a reason for praise, every trial is an opportunity to ask for help. Prayer is always alive in our lives, like embers, even when the mouth does not speak, but the heart speaks. Every thought, even the apparently “profane” ones, can be permeated by prayer.  

 There is even a prayerful aspect in the human intelligence; it is, in fact, a window peering into the mystery: it illuminates the few steps in front of us and then opens up to the entire reality, this reality that precedes it and surpasses it. This mystery does not have a disquieting or anxious face. No, knowledge of Christ makes us confident that whatever our eyes and the eyes of our minds cannot see, rather than nothing being there, there is someone who is waiting for us, there is infinite grace. And thus, Christian prayer instills an invincible hope in the human heart: whatever experience we touch on our journey, God’s love can turn it into good.

Regarding this, the Catechism reads: “We learn to pray at certain moments by hearing the Word of the Lord and sharing in his Paschal Mystery, but his Spirit is offered us at all times, in the events of each day, to make prayer spring up from us. […] Time is in the Father’s hands; it is in the present that we encounter him, not yesterday or tomorrow, but today” (n. 2659). Today I meet God, today is always the day of the encounter.

There exists no other wonderful day than the day we are living. Those who live always thinking about the future, in the future: “But it will be better...”, but do not take each day as it comes: these are people who live in their fantasy, they do not know how to deal with concrete reality. And today is real, today is concrete. And prayer is to be done today. Jesus comes to meet us today, the day we are living. And it is prayer that transforms this day into grace, or better, it transforms us: it appeases anger, sustains love, multiplies joy, instills the strength to forgive. Sometimes it will seem that it is no longer we who are living, but that grace lives and works in us through prayer. It is grace that awaits, but always this, don’t forget: take today as it comes. And let’s think about when an angry thought comes to you, of unhappiness, that moves you toward bitterness, stop yourself. And let’s say to the Lord: “Where are you? And where am I going?” And the Lord is there, the Lord will give you the right word, the advice to go ahead without that bitter, negative taste. For prayer is always, using a profane word, is positive. Always. It will carry you ahead. Each day that begins is accompanied by courage if it is welcomed in prayer. Thus, the problems we face no longer seem to be obstacles to our happiness, but appeals from God, opportunities to meet Him. And when a person is accompanied by the Lord, he or she feels more courageous, freer, and even happier.

Let us pray always, then, for everyone, even for our enemies. Jesus counseled us to do this: “Pray for your enemies”. Let us pray for our dear ones, even those we do not know. Let us pray even for our enemies, as I said, as the Scriptures often invite us to do. Prayer inclines us toward a superabundant love. Let us pray above all for people who are sad, for those who weep in solitude and despair that there still might be someone who loves them. Prayer works miracles; and the poor then understand, by God’s grace that, even in their precarious situation, the prayer of a Christian makes Christ’s compassion present. He, in fact, looked with great tenderness on the weary and lost crowd who were like sheep without a shepherd (cf Mk 6:34). The Lord is – let’s not forget – the Lord of compassion, of nearness, of tenderness: three words never to be forgotten regarding the Lord. Because this is the Lord’s style: compassion, nearness, tenderness.

Prayer helps us love others, despite their mistakes and sins. The person is always more important than their actions, and Jesus did not judge the world, but He saved it. What a horrible life is that of the person who always judges others, who is always condemning, judging… This is a horrible, unhappy life, when Jesus came to save us. Open your heart, pardon, give others the benefit of the doubt, understand, be close to others, be compassionate, be tender, like Jesus. We need to love each and every person, remembering in prayer that we are all sinners and at the same time loved individually by God. Loving the world in this way, loving it with tenderness, we will discover that each day and everything bears within it a fragment of God’s mystery.

Again, the Catechism reads: “Prayer in the events of each day and each moment is one of the secrets of the Kingdom revealed to ‘little children,’ to the servants of Christ, to the poor of the beatitudes. It is right and good to pray so that the coming of the kingdom of justice and peace may influence the march of history, but it is just as important to bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations; all forms of prayer can be the leaven to which the Lord compares the kingdom” (n. 2660).

The human person – men and women, all of us, – the human person is like a breath, like a blade of grass (cf Ps 144:4; 103:15). The philosopher Pascal once wrote: “There is no need for the whole universe to take up arms to crush him: a vapour, a drop of water is enough to kill him.”[1] We are fragile beings, but we know how to pray: this is our greatest dignity and it is also our strength. Have courage. Pray in every moment, in every situation so the Lord might be near to us. And when a prayer is said according to the heart of Jesus, it obtains miracles.

[1] Thoughts, 186.

Special Greetings

I cordially greet the English-speaking faithful. I invite everyone, especially in this time of pandemic, to draw nearer to the Lord in prayer each day, bringing to him our own needs and the needs of the world around us. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!


I express my closeness to the victims of the calamity that happened three days again in the North of India where part of a glacier separated itself provoking violent flooding that devastated the construction sites of two power plants. I pray for the workers who died and for their families and for all those who were harmed and wounded.

In the Far East and in various other parts of the world millions of men and women will celebrate the Lunar New Year this coming Friday, 12 February. To all of them and to their families, I wish to express my heartfelt greetings, together with the wish that the new year might bear the fruit of fraternity and solidarity. At this particular time, in which we are very concerned about facing the challenges of the pandemic that touches people physically and spiritually, but also influences social relationships, I express the hope that everyone might enjoy complete health and serenity of life.

Lastly, while I invite that we pray for the gift of peace and every other good, I would like to remind everyone that these are obtained through goodness, respect, far-sightedness and courage. Never forget to give preference to caring for the poorest and the weakest.

Bishops Issue Decree of Implementation - Revision of Roman Missal for Use in Canada to “God, for ever and ever”

Revision of Roman Missal for Use in Canada: 
CCCB Issues Decree of Implementation 
Tuesday, February 9, 2021

In a Decree of Implementation issued on 8 December 2020, and following a request from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments sent to the Episcopal Conferences of all English-speaking countries, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) agreed to adjust the English-language wording to the conclusion of the Collect (the opening prayer) in the Roman Missal as approved for use in Canada. As of Ash Wednesday, 17 February 2021, the word “one” is to be omitted from the conclusion of the Collect, and likewise of similar prayers in the liturgy (for example, the Blessing of Water at the Easter Vigil). Instead of ending “one God, for ever and ever”, the Collect will now end “God, for ever and ever”.

Until now, the word “one” has been used in the conclusion to the Collect in both the earlier and the current English-language translations of the Roman Missal. However, in consultation with the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), the Bishops of English-speaking countries have or are in the process of deciding when and how each country will implement this change. The reason for the change, as requested by the Holy See, it is to avoid possible misunderstandings about the identity of the Son within the Blessed Trinity, or even the misconception that Our Lord Jesus Christ is “one God” among others.

With this change, the English version will now also be consistent with the Latin text, as well as conform to translations into other languages including French. The new wording, which amends the English-language translations of n. 54 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, will be incorporated into all future editions of liturgical books approved for use in Canada.

Source : CCCB

Decree of Implementation of the Revised Translation of the Trinitarian Ending of the Collect

Wow an Inspiring Glimpse into the Life of the Catholic Church from Years Gone By in the US - VIDEO

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could live close to our parish church? 
How about right across the street from the church, the parish school, and the rectory? And two houses from the convent?
 I was very fortunate and blessed growing up in the 1960s and 1970s because that was my experience at St. Philip Roman Catholic Church located in downtown Battle Creek, Michigan.

(Image circa 1885-6, BC, MI)
I witnessed parishioners coming and going from Mass, baptisms, First Confessions, First Holy Communions, Confirmations, weddings, and funerals. The school was the scene of Christmas plays, athletic games, May Crownings, homecomings, and graduations.
(Watch the short video below and be Inspired to Live Your Faith!)

 (pic. below 1946)

I saw it all.
On any given snowy winter morning I could peer out the bay window of our living room towards the front door of the convent, anxiously waiting for the Mother Superior to open it. You see, if she stuck her foot out onto the porch and the snow was above the top of her shoe, she would cancel school for the day.
Another occasion for a free day from school was if the high school football team won a game, our pastor Father Gerald Owens gave us the following Monday off. It was a nice incentive for the team to try extra hard.
A tradition still practiced at the high school is before every football game, the team and coaches pray the Memorare together at the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto. 

When I was young, out of town games were not broadcast on the radio too often, so my family anxiously waited for the bus to arrive. Upon arrival, if the players were quiet, we knew we had lost. If they were screaming and jumping all about, we knew we had won.
Some of my fondest experiences were singing in the parish boy choir with Calvert Shenk in the 1970s. I am too young to remember the Tridentine Mass, but I loved singing Gregorian chant as a boy. And I still do! On summer days I could hear Cal practice the organ from my front yard and occasionally ran to the church to hear the music better through the open window.
Other fond memories were with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who were out of Monroe, Michigan. Before starting first grade, I occasionally went to the convent to play marbles on the back porch with Sister Marie Loretta. Once in school, the Sisters instructed me in all aspects of the Catholic faith and in academics.

I was fortunate to experience all this growing up, so to honor the priests, Sisters, and parishioners who came before me and created such a wonderful environment for me to grow up in, here (in the video) are some early photos of my parish, most before my time. Several of the scenes depicted were quite common in American churches from that era, and many parishes still cling dearly to these traditions.
By: Matthew Davis, US Correspondent for Catholic News World. Matthew Davis is a lifelong resident of Battle Creek, Michigan. He is a member of St. Philip Roman Catholic Church and attended its parish school for twelve years. Having grown up directly across the street from the church and school, he takes a special interest in the history of his parish and helped organize its sesquicentennial celebration in 2013.