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St. Bernadette’s Testament of Gratitude

As we read in Luke 17:12-19,

As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.

In the above parable the Lord connects faith, healing and gratitude together. St. Bernadette Soubirous, the famed visionary of Lourdes, France helped me to understand the intertwining of faith that heals and produces the fruit of gratitude. She greatly influenced my spiritual life in 1992 during a pilgrimage to the miraculous shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.

When I beheld the miraculous shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes for the first time it took my breath away. I marveled at the sublime beauty of the shrine, architecture, and surrounding landscape. The tangible presence of Mary envelops the area. I was overwhelmed by thousands of international pilgrims during nighttime candlelit processions punctuated with Marian hymns. I was moved to tears observing the faith of the sick people from the nearby hospital wheeled out on gurneys to attend holy Mass and healing services led by priests. Their attendees seemed somewhat angelic. I stared at the countless number of crutches, wheelchairs, canes and other mementos of gratitude hanging on the side of the mountainous shrine as testaments to numerous miraculous healings. My faith, hope and love grew in leaps and bounds there. I never made it into the miraculous bathes with healing waters due to the crowds of people but I realized the urgency of so many sick people. I still received interior healing and strengthening of my vocation as wife, mother and servant daughter of the Church as I prayed in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or sat on the banks of the River Gave praying the rosary for many intentions carried in my heart.

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