- The Abbey of the Genesee - http://www.geneseeabbey.org -

February 11, 2017

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO [1]

5th Saturday in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes
Genesis 3: 9 – 24; Ps 90; Mark 8: 1 – 10

It was on this day in 1858 that “the Lady” first appeared to Bernadette but it wasn’t until the 16th apparition on March 25th that she learned the name of the beautiful Lady. Again and again she was implored by people, by the priest to find out her name and she had asked but received no response.

On March 25th, Bernadette was determined so she asked her question, “Mademoiselle, would you have the kindness to tell me who you are, if you please?” To this the Lady only smiled; Bernadette was not to be put off and if she had to ask ten times, she would.

At the fourth try, the Lady slipped her rosary over her right arm, unfolding her hands, extending them toward the ground then folded them at her breast, raising her eyes to heaven said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Bernadette in her simplicity and ignorance had no idea of what this meant but would learn.

The Immaculate Conception is the unique grace and personal privilege of the Blessed Virgin. Only she can tell us what this meant for her life but we do know that one effect, if not the greatest, was her freedom to say “yes” to the Lord all through her life.

Her profound “yes” is in direct opposition to the “no” of our first parents when disobeying they lost their place in the garden, that place of intimacy with God who walked there in the “breezy time of the day.” Our first parents have passed on to us an inner disorder that tempts us to say “no” to God – a “no” that becomes actualized at times.

Seven times a day as a community, we invoke our Blessed Lady to intercede for us. Surely, Our Lady has her own intention for us – might it not be that we, even in this life, share in her Immaculate Conception, not completely – that will take place in heaven – that we grow into that profound freedom to desire to say “yes” to our God in all things. But even more than just to desire to say “yes” – to live it with all our hearts.

In that way, our devotion to our Mother is more than words. Then her “let it be done to me according to Your word” becomes our word and in this we truly are her sons and daughters.