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The following text is taken from an informal lecture Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on February 6, 1965. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. –Ed.

 

Statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate ConceptionAt Lourdes, Divine Providence takes two different attitudes towards human suffering. The first is more sensational and thus catches our attention more. It is when Our Lady, as a compassionate mother, heals the sick and lame and thus proves the veracity of the Faith. This, in turn, shows her mercy for wayward souls, by giving them a strong motive to convert.

The innumerable pilgrims who are not cured exemplify the other attitude, and beg the questions: “Why would Our Lady cure one and not others?” and “Isn’t this in contradiction to the first attitude?”

The answers to these questions demonstrate suffering’s raison d’être and role within the perfection of the Divine plans. Thus, we can learn much more by this second attitude than by the first.

To reach a conclusion, we first must recognize that Our Lady demonstrates her goodness at Lourdes. She shows that she can and wants to work miracles for her children. Nevertheless, the vast majority of pilgrims return uncured.

 

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Analyzing the matter, we conclude that suffering and spiritual trials are the very means of most souls’ sanctification. These are necessary, because most souls only develop detachment and love of God through suffering. Saint Francis de Sales expressed this well when he called suffering the “eighth sacrament.”

I was speaking one day with Cardinal Pedro Segura, Archbishop of Seville. He recounted a conversation he had with Pope Pius XI. The Holy Father was bragging that he had never been sick, when Cardinal Segura smiled and said: “Then Your Holiness is lacking the sign of the elect.”

The pope was startled and the cardinal continued: “All the predestined were sick or afflicted, and seriously so, for at least part of their lives. If Your Holiness has never been sick, it is a bad sign.”

Some days later, Pius XI had a massive heart attack. From his sick bed, the pope wrote a note to Cardinal Segura that read: “Your Eminence, now I have the sign of the elect.”

Truly, sickness and suffering of every order are signs of the elect.

Our Lady realizes that suffering is indispensable for the salvation of souls. She would endanger their eternal destiny if she were to cure everyone who visited Lourdes.

Furthermore, she does something even greater for those whom she does not cure. She gives them such an acceptance of their condition that I have never heard of someone who returned from Lourdes, embittered because he was not cured.

Rather, the uncured return with a great resignation and are utterly satisfied with their trip. Many arrive and, seeing others more needy than themselves, ask Our Lady to cure these unfortunate ones rather than themselves – and often their prayers are answered.

Bear in mind, these are not people with minor illnesses. No one travels to Lourdes because of a cold. Rather they are seriously sick and willingly suffer for the benefit of others. This is a true miracle that directly confronts human selfishness. It is a greater miracle than the cures that take place.

The disposition of the Carmelite nuns in Lourdes is, perhaps, even more beautiful. These consecrated souls offer themselves in expiation and suffer all manner of illnesses willingly, to buy graces for those who visit the shrine. They never ask to be cured, preferring to offer their pains for the pilgrims’ benefit.

Understanding the extent to which Original Sin has decayed human nature, we can see that these outstanding acts of abnegation, so foreign to fallen man, are the greatest miracles of Lourdes.

This is the deeper reason that Our Lady performs cures at Lourdes: to produce these spiritual and moral miracles that lead souls to Heaven.

How could it be otherwise? Would Our Lady be truly good if she aided bodies at Lourdes and neglected souls? Would she truly love mankind if her primary objective were not always to lead them to love God?One could object: “This is difficult to accept, because suffering is hard to bear.”

The Agony in the Garden of Our Lord answers this objection. When the God-man was confronted with the full extent of His sufferings, He prayed: “If possible, remove this chalice from Me, but not My Will, but Thine be done.”

This is the attitude we should have in face of suffering. Then, just as an angel came to console Our Lord, Our Lady will send us consolations amid our suffering.

Thus, we should have courage, resolution and energy, understand why we must suffer and strive to take joy in it, remembering always that it is to the elect that God sends suffering.

 


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for January 21, 2020

All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going...

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January 21

 

All the strength of Satan’s reign
is due to
the easy-going weakness of Catholics.


Pope St. Pius X


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Agnes

Even pagans were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant...

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St. Agnes

Agnes was born around 291 in a Christian, patrician family of Rome, and suffered martyrdom in the terrible persecution of Diocletian.

As a young maiden, she pledged herself to Christ and defended her virginity to the death.

Exceptionally beautiful, she turned down numerous suitors, but when she refused Procop, the Prefect’s own son, things became very complicated. Procop tried to win Agnes with gifts and promises but she answered: “I’m already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!”

Angered, Procop  took  the maiden before his father, and accused her of being a Christian. The Prefect tried to turn her from her Faith first by cajolements, and then by placing her in chains, but she only rejoiced.

The pagan official, set on overcoming Agnes by any means, next had her taken to a house of prostitution but she was visibly protected by an angel.

Finally, Agnes was condemned to death, but she was happy as a bride about to meet her bridegroom. Even pagan bystanders were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant maiden going to her death, and begged her to relent, to which she retorted: “If I were to try to please you, I would offend my Spouse. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then praying, she offered her neck for the death stroke.

St. Agnes is one of seven women besides the Blessed Virgin to be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron of chastity, young girls, engaged couples, rape victims and virgins. She is depicted holding a lamb as her name in Latin means “lamb”, “agnus”. But the name “Agnes” is actually taken from the Greek “hagne” meaning chaste, pure, sacred.

Agnes’ relics repose beneath the high altar of the Church of Sant’Agnese Fuori le mura, built upon the place she was originally buried. This church was built in her honor by the daughter of the Emperor Constantine, and is one of the oldest in Rome.  St. Agnes’ skull is in the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone at Piazza Navona.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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