What she told Bernadette and what it means for us today
By these actions, the mystery of the heart of Jesus is revealed for us: “A soldier pierced his heart with his lance and there immediately flowed out blood and water.” It is, as well, the depths of the mystery of the heart of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God: “The water that I shall give you will become, in you, a spring welling up to eternal life.” The grass and the mud signify the human heart, wounded by sin. But in the bottom of this heart, there is the life of God, as signified by the spring.
Bernadette was asked: “Did the Lady say something to you?” She replied: “Yes, now and again she would say: ‘Penance, penance, penance, pray for sinners.’” By penance we understand conversion. Conversion in the Church, as we learn from Christ, involves turning our heart towards God and towards others. “Pray for sinners.” Praying brings us to the Spirit of God. Thus we understand that sin does not make us happy. We must understand that sin is something that is contrary to the love of God that is revealed to us through the Gospel.
THE LADY SAYS HER NAME
On March 25, 1858, the day of the sixteenth apparition, Bernadette went to the Grotto where, at the initiative of Abbot Peyramale, priest of Lourdes, she asked "the Lady" to tell her name. Three times Bernadette asked the question. At the fourth request, "the Lady" replied "I am the Immaculate Conception.” Bernadette did not immediately understand the meaning of this word. The Immaculate Conception , as the Church teaches, is "Mary conceived without sin, through the merits of the Cross of Christ. Bernadette went at once to the parish priest to tell him the name of "the Lady.” He understood that it was the Mother of God that appeared at the Grotto. Later, Tarbes Bishop Laurence, authenticated this revelation.
During the thirteenth Apparition Our Lady said to Bernadette: “Go, tell the priests to come here in procession and build a chapel here.” “Come here in procession” means always moving, in this life, towards others. “Build a chapel here.” In Lourdes, chapels were built to receive the crowds that came. But these chapels are only the signs of the communion based on the love to which we are called. The chapel is the “Church” that we want to build where we are, in our family, at our place of work, in our parish, in our diocese. All Christians spend their lives building the Church, living in communion with others.
This article was published on the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations’s (FIAMC)website and is reprinted here with permissoin.