On February 11, 1858, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, Mary the Mother of God appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in a remote grotto at the French foothills of the Pyranees. On June 25, 1984, on my first trip to Lourdes, I stood on top of the Basilica as thousands of people prayed and sang together, each in their own language. The rosary was prayed in about six different languages. Everyone raised their torches up during certain parts. Small children went by in wheelchairs and strollers, as well as the young and the old. The number of volunteers was unreal, especially girls no older than me. Somehow, standing on top of the Basilica, watching the amazing faith of all those thousands of people, changed me. I could never explain how or why, but I was "one of those present when the power of God shines forth where His Mother is honored and venerated." Catholic Weekly 1958
We are challenged today to go to the most remote places in our own hearts and in the hearts of others and to spread the love of Christ, to show compassion, to show kindness, to show forgiveness, to show acceptance, to show hospitality. John Paul II said, "It is through women that this world will find true peace - it is our duty to continue Mary's messages." Mary comes to the most remote places - a simple stable, a small village, a tiny convent chapel, a kitchen table. She comes on our behalf to teach us unconditional love and we are in turn challenged to pass on those teachings, to lead others back to Jesus, to pray, to sacrifice, to repent and to simply love.