I Am The Immaculate Conception

Meditation for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
December 8, 2009

On February 11, 1858 - a 14-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubirous, with her two sisters Toinette and Jeanne, went to collect some firewood and bones to sell in order to buy bread for their poor family. Bernadette took off her shoes and socks so as to wade through the water of the river Gave and get to the cave at Massabielle. As she approached the cave she said she heard the sound of two gusts of wind (coup de vent) but she did not see the trees or bushes near by move. She then saw a light in the cave and a girl, about her own size, dressed all in white with a blue sash around her waist and golden yellow roses on each bare foot, a rosary on her right arm was of the same color. There was no conversation between the beautiful lady and Bernadette at the time, but the event, which she shared with her sisters began a time of suffering for her - her parents had punished the three of them. Three days later, though told by her parents not to go to the cave, she went with two other girls carrying holy water to test the "vision" if it were of God. The Lady simply inclined her head and smiled as Bernadette sprinkled the holy water toward her. The girls ran away when Bernadette went into ecstasy. On February 18 she was told by the Lady to return to the grotto during a period of two weeks. The Lady was to have said, "I promise to make you happy not in this world but in the next." On the 24th of February the apparition asked for prayer and penance for the conversion of sinners. On the 25th, Bernadette was told to dig the ground to which the Lady pointed and drink the water she found there. This action made her look disheveled or deranged so that even her supporters became dismayed. This spring has been a focal point of all pilgrimages to Lourdes and a source of healing - spiritual and physical - although few "miracles" have been authenticated as truly supernatural. The first "certified miracle" was that of a women's hand which had been deformed by an accident. Authorities, both Church and civil, were concerned about hoaxes and cordoned off the grotto. When Napoleon III heard of the closing he had it re-opened on October 4, 1858. The Church withdrew for a time so as not to cause conflict; however, it quietly studied the situation. In the meantime, Bernadette went through the fenced off area and on March 25, 1858, she heard our Lady say "I am the Immaculate Conception" ("que soy era immaculada concepciou" - the dialect of the area). Bernadette went for the last time to the grotto on July 16, 1858, and said, "I have never seen her so beautiful before." The Church opened an official investigation on November 17, 1858, and on January 18, 1860, the local bishop finally declared that "the Virgin Mary did indeed appear to Bernadette Soubirous." This does not make it obligatory to believe as a article of faith - such as is the public revelation of Scripture - but it behooves persons to give weighty consideration of this special grace and respond well to God's care for souls.

Why did God see fit to have the Virgin Mary appear to Bernadette and confirm what the Magisterium of the Church had but recently proclaimed as a Dogma of the Church, on December 8, 1854, something Bernadette had not yet heard of or known?

This dogma, that Mary is the Immaculate Conception, was believed over the years within the Church. It was understood in many ways and explained in a variety of ways, none ever came close to the very essence of the truth as was stated by Mary to St. Bernadette. Mary named herself the Immaculate Conception. Thus she is in her very being sinless, without the stain of Original or actual sin - the all pure vessel of the Incarnate Word of God, the one "full of grace" who alone gave Him human flesh. The apparitions at Lourdes gave the seal of approval of the long discernment of the Church that what was concluded and declared as a unique privilege of the Mother of Jesus - the Mother of God, was, is and will always be the very foundation of why she can be and should be known as the Mediatrix of Grace. So she says even now: "Do whatever He tells you." Obey. A disposition our present society turns from, but the only attitude that will gain true peace - trust God and His goodness, His beneficence, His mercy, as Mary does.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary - the Immaculate Conception - be our Help and Protection!