World Day of the Sick
While Our Lady appeared at Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous over one hundred fifty years ago, her message and her miracles resonate still. The untold numbers of miraculous healings related to Lourdes have led to the February 11 feast of Our Lady of Lourdes being proclaimed World Day of the Sick in 1992 by then Pope Saint John Paul II. On this date each year, the Church calls us to pray in a special way for those suffering illness as well as for their caregivers. Pope Francis exhorts us this year to enter into the "wisdom of the heart," a gift of God which allows us find salvation in our sufferings and to make of ourselves a gift in the mission of the Church towards those who suffer.
The message of Lourdes was a call to penance and prayer for sinners, and to conversion. The actions that the Blessed Mother called upon young Bernadette to undertake were strange and caused the onlookers to wonder if she were "mad." She kissed the ground, dug at the mud, smeared it on her face, ate bitter herbs growing nearby and drank the dirty water that began the spring which would prove to be miraculous. It has been described as a tutorial on the Incarnation and the salvation inherent in Our Lord's life, death and resurrection. He came to earth, became one of us, humbled himself, taking on bitter punishments and becoming the spring of living waters that purify us and lead us to Heaven. The water that sprung out from the ground that Bernadette dug has been the conduit for healings for over a century. God is with us. His Mother beckons us to Him.
In 1987, a French man who was bedridden with multiple sclerosis, on pilgrimage to Lourdes, was able to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which brought about an intense peace unlike anything he had experienced before. Jean-Pierre Bely next participated in the Sacrament of the Sick at a healing Mass. Later, in the sick room, he felt an overwhelming physical cold sensation that intensified into pain but then grew into warmth. He found himself able to sit on the side of the bed, unassisted, moving his arms in a way that had been impossible previously, due to the progression of his illness. Awakened in the night, he realized he could walk for the first time in several years. Bely rode the wheelchair to the train so as not to attract attention, in the midst of his fellow "companions in sickness," but thereafter was without any sign of his former illness. The miracle was substantiated by medical science. Following a lengthy investigation and strict timetable to establish the authenticity of the supernatural miraculous event, the Church in 1999 recognized Mr. Bely's "immediate and complete cure (as) a personal gift of God to this person and an effective sign of Christ the Savior through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes."
Let us always go to the Mother, who leads us to Her Son, and who reminds us: "Do whatever He tells you."
February 10, 2015