There are Saints among us whose greatest virtues have been their lifelong battles against their human nature. Those of us who are privileged to study their lives, have a tendency to ignore what we believe to be their shortcomings, in an effort to go directly to their source of sanctification. When we do this, we miss the teaching the Lord has to give us by the example of His suffering servant. We go for the dream, and miss the journey. The sanctification is in the journey.
St. Bernadette used to complain about the accounts she read on the Lives of the Saints, in that they all seemed too sugar coated. She said of the Saints, “They were human beings with faults and weaknesses, like all of us.” Mother Angelica once said, referring to the authors of lives of the Saints, “They should all be given forty years each in purgatory, for making these Saints seem so perfect.” Bernadette probably felt the same way.
To the little Saint of Lourdes, the many gifts she was given during her lifetime: one, that of beholding the presence of Mary, the Mother of God, eighteen times in the year 1858; another, her ecstasies during those Apparitions, were just that, gifts. She believed that these were aids from the good God to help her get through a sacrificial life amidst a barrage of attacks, and to suppress her own fiery inclination to fight those attacks. She prayed the gifts would offset her imperfections, which included a strong will, a fierce temper, and a stinging tongue. What she may never have known is how Our Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary were able to use these traits for their glory.
Saint Bernadette of Lourdes
Publication date: 03/04/2011
The life of Saint Bernadette and the account of the Apparitions
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