Bernadette

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Although the Roman Martyrology commemorates the anniversary of Saint Bernadette's death on April 16th, her liturgical memorial is kept on February 18th at Lourdes itself, at Nevers where her body rests, and in all of France. Saint Bernadette has a way of making herself close to those who seek her intercession.

The liturgical texts provided for her feast provide us with a portrait of the little saint of Lourdes. I give here the Latin text and my own translation, with a few words of commentary.

Ad Laudes matutinas

V. Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis.
R. Propterea benedixit te Deus in aeternum.

V. Grace is poured out upon thy lips.
R. Therefore hath God blessed thee forever.

Yes, when one reads the words of Saint Bernadette, one is struck by her simplicity, a simplicity that is the fruit and sign of Divine Grace at work in her soul.

Ad Benedictus

Libenter gloriabor * in infirmitatibus meis,
ut inhabitet in me virtus Christi. (2 Cor 12:9)

Gladly will I glory in my infirmities
that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

The liturgy places the words of the Apostle Paul in the mouth of Saint Bernadette. Like the Apostle, she experienced the power of Christ in her infirmity, her poverty, and her littleness. Her whole life -- from the hovel where she lived as a girl with her family in Lourdes to the infirmary of the Sisters of Charity at Nevers -- displays the power of Christ in weakness.

Oratio

Humilium, Deus, protector, amator, et corona,
qui beatam Mariam Bernardam, virginem
mira patientia et caritate clarescere fecisti,
praesta, quaesumus, eius intercessione et exemplo,
per simplices fidei semitas,
ad tuam in caelis visionem pervenire mereamur.
Per Dominum.

O God, protector, lover, and crown of the humble,
who didst make the virgin, blessed Mary Bernard
shine with a wondrous patience and charity,
grant, we beseech Thee, by her intercession and example,
that [walking] in the simple paths of faith,
we may at length be found worthy
of beholding Thee in heaven.
Through Our Lord.

What a beautiful Collect! It begins by addressing God the Father with three titles: He is the protector of the humble, of the lowly in heart; He is the One who loves them; and He is their crown in the glory of heaven. He caused Bernardette to shine, clarescere, like a lamp in a dark place, by means of a the virtues of a wondrous patience and charity. The petition of the prayer alludes not to the singular grace of the apparitions of the Immaculate Virgin at Lourdes, but rather to the simple paths of faith that Bernadette trod after the apparitions, especially in the monotony of daily life at Nevers. These the same paths of faith, quite empty of all that is extraordinary, become our way to the vision of God in heaven.

Ad Vesperas

V. Elegit eam Deus et praeelegit eam.
R. In tabernaculo suo habitare facit eam.

V. God chose her and set her apart.
R. He made her dwell in His tabernacle.

The choice of God: "You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you; and have appointed you, that you should go, and should bring forth fruit; and your fruit should remain." (Jn 15:16). God chose Bernadette and drew her into intimacy with Himself, hiding her in the secret of His tabernacle.

Ad Magnificat

Veni, electa mea, * et ponam in te thronum meum.

Come, my chosen one, and I shall set my throne within thee.

The Magnificat Antiphon expresses the call of the Bridegroom at each Holy Communion, and again at the viaticum given in the hour of our death.

1 Comments

Bernadette is the name I chose at Confirmation. She holds a very special place in my heart. Thank you for this, my friend.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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