Through her apparitions to the young Bernadette in Lourdes, Mary reminds all people that prayer and repentance are the way to ensure “the victory of Christ,” said Pope John Paul II during a general audience this morning.
The Pope spoke of his upcoming pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, Aug. 14-15, and the significance of the Marian apparition there for the People of God.
“The motive of my pilgrimage is the 150th anniversary of the Blessed Pope Pius IX’s proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8, 1854,” he said.
“Four years later, the Virgin appeared to St. Bernadette, in the grotta in Massabielle, presenting herself as ‘the Immaculate Conception.’ I consider it a special gift of Providence to have the possibility to return to Lourdes,” he continued.
“With one act of praise to God and the Virgin, I will embrace the two great Marian mysteries: the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary into heaven in body and soul. These, in effect, constitute the beginning and the end of Mary’s earthly life, joined with God, who called her to participate in a singular way in the salvific event of the Redemption, through the Lord, Jesus Christ.”
The Pope underlined that there will be three public events during his pilgrimage: the prayer of the rosary Saturday afternoon, the traditional candlelight procession that evening and the mass Sunday morning. The Pope said he also looks forward to his time in silent prayer in the grotto.
“At all times, I will carry in my heart, the thanks and the petitions of the entire Church, and I will proclaim to the whole world that only in God can one find peace and salvation.
“What, in fact, is the message that the Lord wanted to reveal to humanity through the Marian apparitions of Lourdes?” the Pope asked. “This can be summarized in a well-known passage found in Holy Scripture: God does not want the death of the sinner, but that he converts and lives. (Ez. 33, 11).
“Revealing herself to the young Bernadette, Mary wanted to remind us of this fundamental evangelical message: prayer and repentance are the way through which the victory of Christ can be actualized in each individual person and in society,” the pontiff explained.
“However, to change one’s behavior, one needs to listen the voice of one’s conscience, where God has placed the sense of good and bad,” he said. “The modern man, unfortunately, demonstrates, at times, of having lost the sense of sin.
“It is necessary to implore for him an interior reawakening, which will allow him to rediscover fully the holiness of God’s law and the moral obligations that derive from it,” he stated.
“With these intentions in my spirit, I prepare myself to leave for the Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes,” he said. “I ask that you all accompany me spiritually, so that the pilgrimage of the Successor of Peter will bear much fruit for the entire People of God.”