Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lourdes Novena

I once received a delightful invitation to a friend’s house party. It read:
"Don’t bring anything—just yourself." When I hesitated, the reply came back: “No need to dress up. Come as you are. No gifts or presents—just your presence.” The distinction may not be clear in speech. So let me spell it out: Not PRESEN-TS but PRESEN-CE

It is this presence of Our Lady, that makes Lourdes so special. There are prayers and processions, cries of petition from priests and people. But it is the presence of Mary herself in the Grotto that touches the heart and draws the teeming thousands from all parts of the world. We have prayers to say and things to ask for, but may I suggest to you that the most helpful attitude to adopt, is simply to be still and attentive to the persons of Jesus and Mary. To acknowledge their presence and to be totally present to them.

St Thomas speaks of three degrees of attentiveness in prayer.
1 To the words we say,
2 To the thoughts and desires behind the words,
3 To the Person in whose presence we are.

In this regard, Bernadette proves herself a trustworthy guide.
She too tells us three things:
The Lady looked at me.
She smiled at me
And said: Come closer

She stated that the Lady looked at her and that she in return looked steadfastly at the Lady in the Grotto. People observed this look, this silent gaze into the unseen and secret place and asked: "Did the Lady look at anyone else but yourself ? "

The child replied:
"Yes indeed she did. She looked all around the crowd and she stopped at some as if they were old familiar friends.

Mary is ever faithful to the royal command she received from the Cross: Woman—look thee is your son. Mary has been faithful to that task down the ages and you can be sure that she is exercising that very same mission on our behalf here and now. We in turn continue the work of the disciple: We behold our Mother. While we take up our beads and say your prayers and think over its mysteries, deeper and closer than anything we may say or think, lies this beholding, the simple attention to the heavenly person.

May we be among those familiar friends at whom Our Lady looks with eyes of compassion: Hail Holy Queen turn your eyes of mercy towards us. Lourdes is indeed the smile of heaven, that encourages to look and come closer.