Today, we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, a day when we commemorate the first appearance of Mary to St. Bernadette. Along with the appearances at Fatima and Guadalupe, Mary’s appearances at Lourdes are among the most popular in Church tradition. In reflecting on this feast, I was struck by the fact that Mary herself, the children at Fatima, and Bernadette were all quite young at the time of their unusual divine encounters. Their youth only added to the incredulity of the adults who heard their stories.
There seems to be something in us as adults that hesitates to believe children and yet longs to do so. To what else can we attribute the recent popularity of the book Heaven is For Real? Perhaps there is something innate in us that yearns to see life and what really matters with the innocence of childhood, that strips away the masks and layers we tend to accumulate as we grow older. The young seem to be able to approach God (and Mary) with the freedom of having nothing to lose.
I want to celebrate this feast in the spirit of wonder and faith that marked these “young” visionaries. May they intercede for all of us the grace we pray for in a prayer of Consecration to Our Lady of Lourdes: By the fervor of my faith, by the conduct of my life in all its aspects, by my devotion to the sick, let me work with you in the comforting of those who suffer and in the reconciliation of people that the church may be one and there be peace in the world.