St Bernadette (Marie-Bernard) Soubirous

Virgin (entered heaven this day in 1879)

Dear Marie,

So you won another scholarship.  You really are putting together an impressive résumé.  I guess congratulations are in order, so, congratulations… I have to admit, however, that I am still a bit concerned.  When you were growing up (you probably don’t remember this), you always needed a bit more attention than your siblings.  Somehow, you feared that if you did not excel at all the games and other activities, no one would like you. Is it possible that a smidgeon of this unfortunate vanity is still at work in you?  Please do take a look. Remember, God does not love you because you are so loveable, rather, you are so loveable because he loves you. It is not your talents (and, admittedly, they are many) that impress him; he is more interested in how you choose to use them – to win recognition for yourself, or to win souls for his Kingdom.  Take today’s saint, for instance (your namesake, by the way – few people know that St Bernadette’s real name was Marie-Bernard). Our Lady appeared to her at Lourdes, remember the story? Three times the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God appeared to this 14-year-old, uneducated, French peasant girl. Talk about special honors! Talk about special “talents”!  Talk about high “achievements”! But then what happened? The saint spent the rest of her life in voluntary obscurity, not even present for the dedication of the famous Lourdes basilica. On the advice of her spiritual director, she entered the religious life, where she suffered chronic illnesses and frequent ridicule in the loneliness of her cell, accompanied only by her crucifix.  She concluded that Our Lady had used her like a broom, and now she was put back in the corner. It is an image to ponder. Aren’t your talents likewise gifts from God, given for a particular purpose? If you treat them thus, you will please him greatly, but if you hoard them for your own glory… Well, let’s just say that St Bernadette’s body remains incorrupt to this day, as beautiful now as it was when she died at the age of 35 – in other words, living God’s way yields lasting beauty; living any other way yields “dust and ashes.” (Sirach 10:9)

Count on my prayers, Uncle Eddy


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