Pius XII believed the apparitions at Lourdes were a perfect antidote to the rise in materialism he saw in the world.
When reflecting on the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Lourdes, Pius XII firmly believed that the Blessed Mother held the key to combatting materialism.
Rise of materialism
He lamented the fact that in 1958, society was increasingly obsessed with material things, leading to a degradation in the value of human life.
This materialism is not confined to that condemned philosophy which dictates the policies and economy of a large segment of mankind. It rages also in a love of money which creates ever greater havoc as modern enterprises expand, and which, unfortunately, determines many of the decisions which weigh heavy on the life of the people. It finds expression in the cult of the body, in excessive desire for comforts, and in flight from all the austerities of life. It encourages scorn for human life, even for life which is destroyed before seeing the light of day.
This materialism is present in the unrestrained search for pleasure, which flaunts itself shamelessly and tries, through reading matter and entertainments, to seduce souls which are still pure. It shows itself in lack of interest in one’s brother, in selfishness which crushes him, in justice which deprives him of his rights — in a word, in that concept of life which regulates everything exclusively in terms of material prosperity and earthly satisfactions.
For Pius XII, the message of Our Lady of Lourdes provided a blueprint to combat these temptations in society.
In a society which is barely conscious of the ills which assail it, which conceals its miseries and injustices beneath a prosperous, glittering, and trouble-free exterior, the Immaculate Virgin, whom sin has never touched, manifests herself to an innocent child. With a mother’s compassion she looks upon this world redeemed by her Son’s blood, where sin accomplishes so much ruin daily, and three times makes her urgent appeal: “Penance, penance, penance!” She even appeals for outward expressions: “Go kiss the earth in penance for sinners.” And to this gesture must be added a prayer: “Pray to God for sinners.”
Go to Mary
Not only did Pius XII see repentance for our sins as a vital weapon against materialism, but he also urged everyone to go to Mary, knowing that she can lead us back to God.
Gathered about the Virgin’s feet, docile to her exhortations, [Christians] will first take a searching look at themselves and will try to uproot from their consciences any false judgments and selfish impulses, fearing the falsehood of a love for God which does not translate itself into effective love for their brothers.
Go to her, you who are crushed by material misery, defenseless against the hardships of life and the indifference of men. Go to her, you who are assailed by sorrows and moral trials. Go to her, beloved invalids and infirm, you who are sincerely welcomed and honored at Lourdes as the suffering members of our Lord. Go to her and receive peace of heart, strength for your daily duties, joy for the sacrifice you offer.
Above all, if we want to combat the rise of materialism in our own soul, we must go to Mary and let her become the Queen of our heart.