In yesterday’s Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI offered this brief reflection on the appearance of Our Lady to St. Bernadette at Lourdes:
“This year the beginning of Lent providentially coincides with the 150th anniversary of the apparitions at Lourdes. Four years after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Blessed Pius IX, Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto of Massabielle for the first time on Feb. 11, 1858. Other appearances followed, accompanied by extraordinary events, and at the end the Holy Virgin, bidding farewell to the young visionary, told her in the local dialect, ‘I am the Immaculate Conception.’
“The message that the Madonna continues to spread at Lourdes recalls the words Jesus pronounced at the beginning of his public mission and that we hear again often during these days of Lent: ‘Convert and believe in the Gospel,’ pray and do penance. Let us accept Mary’s invitation, which echoes Christ’s, and let us ask her to help us to ‘enter’ with faith into Lent, to live this time of grace with interior joy and generous commitment.”
Today is also “World Day of the Sick.” Click here for Pope Benedict XVI’s message for this occasion. In today’s Gospel, taken from Matthew 25, we hear about the value Our Lord places on the corporal works of mercy, including caring for the sick. It’s not too late to reach out today to someone who is sick with the loving compassion of Christ. What an appropriate way to further “enter” into the Lenten season.
For answers to frequently asked questions on Lent, click here.