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Header-Lourdes' Lesson in Suffering

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 September 30, 2020

Either we must speak as we dress, or dress as we speak. Why...

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September 30

 

Either we must speak as we dress,
or dress as we speak.
Why do we profess one thing and display another?
The tongue talks of chastity, but the whole body reveals impurity.

St. Jerome


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Jerome

He became seriously ill and had a dream that profoundly impa...

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St. Jerome

St. Jerome is a Father and Doctor of the Church who is best known for his compiling of the Vulgate version of the Catholic Bible, now the standard edition in use.

He was born about the year 347 at Stidon, near Dalmatia, to wealthy Christian parents. Initially educated at home, his parents soon sent him to Rome to further his intense desire for intellectual learning. There he studied and excelled at grammar, Latin and Greek, rhetoric, and philosophy, and lived a deeply materialistic life alongside his fellow students. Jerome was baptized in his late teen years, as was the custom at the time, around the time he finished his schooling.

After spending many years in travel and, notably, discovering and investigating his extreme interest in monasticism, Jerome’s life took a sudden turn. In the spring of 375, he became seriously ill and had a dream that profoundly impacted him, because in it he was accused of being a follower of Cicero – an early Roman philosopher – and not a Christian. Afterwards, Jerome vowed never to read any pagan literature again – not even the classics for pleasure. He separated himself from society and left to become a hermit in the desert so as to atone for his sins and dedicate himself to God. Having no experience of monasticism and no guide to direct him, Jerome suffered greatly and was often quite ill. He was plagued terribly with temptations of the flesh and would impose harsh penances on himself to repress them. While there, he undertook the learning of Hebrew, as an added penance, and was tutored by a Jewish convert. When controversy arose among his fellow monks in the desert concerning the bishopric of Antioch, Jerome left to avoid the tension of the position he found himself in.

Having developed a reputation as a great scholar and ascetic, Jerome was ordained to the priesthood by the persuasion of Bishop Paulinus, on the condition that he be allowed to continue his monastic lifestyle and not be obliged to assume pastoral duties.

In 382, he was appointed as secretary to Pope Damascus, who urged him to undertake a Latin translation of the Bible from its original Greek and Hebrew origins.

After the death of the Holy Pontiff, Jerome left Rome for the Holy Land with a small group of virgins who were led by his close friend, Paula. Under his direction, Paula established a monastery for men in Bethlehem and three cloisters for women. Jerome remained at this monastery until his death around A.D. 420, only leaving occasionally for brief trips. He is the patron saint of librarians and translators.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort...

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The Rosary, the Devil and the Queen

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that Blessed Thomas of St. John was a great devotee of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As such, he was known for his powerful, moving sermons on the Rosary, which led people to adopt this devotion to their great benefit.

Furiously jealous of the holy man’s success with souls, the devil began to so torture Thomas that he fell sick, and was so ill for so long that the doctors gave up on saving his life.

One night, when the poor man thought he was near death, the devil appeared to him in a hideous form, coward that he is, seeking to frighten Thomas into despair.

But, making an effort, the good priest turned to a beautiful picture of Our Lady near his bed crying out with all his heart and strength:

“Help me, save me, my sweet, sweet Mother!”

No sooner had he pronounced these words, the picture came alive and extending her hand, the heavenly Lady laid it reassuringly on the priest’s arm, saying:

“Do not be afraid, Thomas my son, here I am and I am going to save you. Get up now and go on preaching my Rosary as you did before. I promise to shield and protect you from your enemies.”

No sooner had Our Lady pronounced these words, than the devil fled in a hurry. Getting up, Thomas found that he was perfectly healed. 

Thanking the Blessed Mother with tears of joy, Blessed Thomas again went about preaching the Holy Rosary, now with renewed favor and gumption, and his apostolate and his sermons were enormously successful. 

St. Louis the Montfort concludes this story saying, “Our lady not only blesses those who say her Rosary, but also abundantly rewards those who, by their example, inspire others to say it as well.”

 


 

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In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that Blessed Thomas of St. John was a great devotee of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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