"I am the Immaculate Conception."
The Fifth Saturday of Ordinary Time; or, the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Lessons from the feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Genesis 3: 9-24.
• Psalm 90: 2-6, 12-13.
• Mark 8: 1-10.
…or, from the proper:
• Isaiah 66: 10-14.
• [Responsorial] Judith 13: 18-19.
• John 2: 1-11.
…or, any lessons from the common of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Third Class Feast of the Apparition of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.*
Lessons from the proper, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Apocalypse 11: 19; 12: 1, 10.
• [Gradual] Song of Songs 2: 12, 10, 14.
• Luke 1: 26-38.
The First Saturday of the Triodion; and, the Feast of the Holy Martyr Blaise, Bishop of Sebaste.**
Lessons from the triodion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• II Timothy 3: 1-9.
• Luke 20: 46—21: 4.
8:53 AM 2/11/2017 — Today's feast is the anniversary of the first apparition of the Mother of God to fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous in 1858; there were eighteen in all, the last being the following July. There wasn't quite so much of an apocalyptic character to our Lady's messages as She would later deliver at Fatima; the messages of Lourdes were basically a call to conversion, prayer and charity. She would say essentially the same thing at Fatima, but with an increased sense of urgency and with reference to certain specific events. In one of the apparitions She made specific reference to Herself as the Immaculate Conception, a dogma that had been almost universally believed but never defined; and, it was Bernadette's report of this that contributed, in large part, to Holy Mother Church recognizing these apparitions as genuine, since Bernadette, who had no education, wouldn't have even known the phrase “Immaculate Conception.” In fact, when questioned about it, she said that she didn't even know what it meant; she was just repeating what the Mother of God had told her.
People are attracted to Lourdes now because of the miraculous spring that heals the sick, and many of these cases have been thoroughly documented. I've been to Lourdes twice in my life, and was very moved both times, especially when seeing the vast throngs of sick people who come seeking relief from their suffering in the healing waters. Not all of them are cured, of course, but all of them have faith; and, even the ones who are not cured come away changed, if not physically, than certainly spiritually: sometimes it is miracle enough for someone to receive the grace to except one's cross as a participation in the sufferings of Christ in reparation for all of the offenses being committed in our day.
As devotees to the Mother of God of Fatima, we know this all too well, but it's always good to be reminded of it once in a while. As we watch the news and see all the atrocities going on around us—not just in far away lands but even in our own country in the form of an increasing acceptance of immorality and all manner of perversions—we know that the world needs conversion and reparation more than ever. Let's take the opportunity of this Mass, on this day of Our Lady of Lourdes, to offer ourselves anew to that purpose, and resolve to accept our crosses for the good of our own souls and for the whole world.
* The name of Lourdes does not appear in the title of this feast in the extraordinary form because, at the time it was included in the Roman Calendar, it was the only approved apparition of the Mother of God, and Pope St. John did not change it when he revised the Missal in 1962.
** For an explanation of the season of the Triodion in the Byzantine Rite, cf. the second footnote to the post here.
Blaise was bishop of Sebaste in Armenia, and died under Emporer Licinius in 325. He was commemorated in the Roman Rite on February 3rd.