Our Lady of Lourdes
When Our Lady appeared at Lourdes in 1858, France had already endured almost a century of fiercely anti-Catholic, indeed, anti-God persecution. A type of godless “wise guy” – the “village atheist” – had emerged and indeed dominated the landscape, as portrayed in Franz Werfel’s tremendous book, Song of Bernadette. Into this world of know-it-alls, whose wisdom had led to the slaughter of large segments of the population, and the destruction of a glorious civilization, the Mother of God came, and came to one of the “little ones.” And all the Catholic world flocked to the place where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette. Miracles have abounded.
Yesterday, flying back into San Francisco, two carefully dressed men in late middle age in the seat in front of me, leaving behind apparently respectable lives in Nebraska for some sort of fling in the Bay Area, blasphemed Our Lady and the Word of God – while the yuppie girl next to them laughed approvingly. Public blasphemy has become the way of “the cool people” here as in post-Revolutionary France. But you can’t throw a rock through God’s picture window, and the saints of God’s Heaven are quite above any barbs wise fools might cast toward them from their tortured souls. Indeed, the saints are looking for ways to help souls being lost.
Let us be found among the simple souls like Bernadette, humbly praying and bearing witness in this dark night of godlessness which has descended upon our culture. America held out hope while much of Europe was long sunk in unbelief. The silly “sophistication” of modern Europe has now come upon us. Let us take up position among the ranks of village girls and shepherd children and wise men, for whom the sign is always a baby lying in a manger. Let us adore, for there are always those who mock and blaspheme, who wound and even kill the innocent. This has all happened before. All of it: the sin, and the grace, Herod and the Magi.