Publisher: St Anthony Messenger Press (2008)
Paperback (131 pages)
Reading Challenges: Read 2014
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the miracle of Lourdes, where Our Lady appeared to French schoolgirl Bernadette Soubirous, Father John Lochran retells the familiar story with deep insight and new appreciation. Lochran explores the history and meaning of the miraculous events in light of modern theology and spirituality and offers his own reflections on Lourdes, then and now. This armchair pilgrimage to one of the church's most beloved shrines will be a treasured keepsake for those who have never been to Lourdes and for those who have.
I received this book for my birthday when I was in high school. I love the stories Father Lochran tells of his time in Lourdes. I have not been to Lourdes but I would love to go. This book has really made me want to go even more.
Father Lochran tells a lot about Bernadette in his book. He recounts things she has said and speaks about her life before and after the apparitions at Lourdes.
“Just a broom in the hands of the Virgin Mary” was Bernadette’s description of herself. A simple instrument used by God, used by God to achieve so many great things. Like Mary, she is a handmaid of the Lord. All that God asked of her she did, not just at the time of the apparitions, but throughout her entire life. (p51)
I love the way Father Lochran writes. He makes things I have heard and read about for years impact me in a different way. Intellectually, I know a lot about Bernadette and Lourdes. I can tell you the dates, the places, and the people involved. However, hearing Father Lochran’s descriptions and stories make Lourdes, especially Bernadette, more real to me. Bernadette was not just a poor girl in France. She was one who always did the will of God. She, following Mary’s fiat, said “yes” to God. I wish I could always say “yes” as both Mary and Bernadette did.
Bernadette was “someone who, in the eyes of the world, had no value, one of the forgotten of the earth” and yet she was chosen by God (p49). Her state in life was not important, God did not care that she was poor. God loved Bernadette as He loves each of us. In spite of any of our circumstances, God loves us and in choosing Bernadette (as when He chose Mary), He chooses all of humanity as well.
Our Lady of Lourdes
Lourdes has come to be known as a place of healing, mainly due to the healing waters. The healing at Lourdes, however, is not only a physical healing. At Lourdes, Our Lady came to help everyone and to lead us towards her Son. As Father Lochran writes, Mary “comes to Bernadette, not as royal power, but as pilgrim of pilgrims, the one who has walked with Jesus on a pilgrimage of faith leading all humankind to the heart of a Father’s love” (p89). This is Mary who is our Mother, the Mother of the Church, the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of all. At Lourdes, Mary calls us to follow her Son, to love and be loved by the Father.
I absolutely love this book. The cover is what first drew to towards it when I added it to my wishlist years ago. Rereading it again, I am reminded that the entirety of the book is important. It reminds us that God loves us, each and every one of us.
Also, there is a section titled “Ici on parle Noel – Christmas spoken here.” The following quote is from this section:
One Christmas I was passing by a shop with a sign I had never seen before.
It said: “Ici on parle Noel” – Christmas spoken here.
I went into the shop. I said to the owner,
“So, you speak Christmas? Do you speak it fluently?”
“Mais oui mon Pere, c’est le langage de l’amour”
– “But of course, Father, it is the language of love,” she replied. (p121)