A Heavenly Request and Promise
On Thursday, February 18, 1858, the day after Ash Wednesday, Our Lady spoke to Bernadette for the first time. She requested to meet for fifteen days and made a promise of happiness–not of this world, but of the other world. With the ashes still reminiscent on her forehead from just the day before, Bernadette would have been contemplating that ‘man is from dust and returns to dust.’
Ashes: A Sacramental of Penance
Ashes are an ancient symbol of penance–an outward physical sacred sign of our continued need for conversion. During the Apparitions, Penance will be revealed as the heart of the Message of Lourdes, as a contemporary Heavenly reminder through Mary to Bernadette still relevant for us. With our ashes today and while reflecting on the apparitions in the coming weeks of Lent, we can contemplate the Christian promise of the happiness–not this world, but the other world. The Sacramental blessing of Ashes by the Church can help us to grow in humility and sacrifice, the hallmarks of the holiness of St. Bernadette Soubirous living the Message of Lourdes. This year, this first day of Lent is the 157th anniversary of the 3rd apparition at Lourdes.
Honoring St. Bernadette in France Today
During the third apparition, Our Lady of Lourdes spoke to Bernadette for the first time in a most beautiful voice, requesting to meet for 15 days and made a promise “not the happiness of this world, but of the other world” the promise to each of us as followers of Jesus Christ. In France, this date honors St. Bernadette and the Heavenly promise made to her by the Mother of God.