EUROPE/FRANCE - 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception,- “The heart of the message of Lourdes, is the message of the Immaculate Conception: from Shrines in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes

Tuesday, 7 December 2004

Lourdes (Agenzia Fides) - “In this year 2004 which marks the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Shrines in Lourdes are aware that this is a major event for the Church. It was in Lourdes in fact that Our Lady revealed her true identity, when on March 25 1858 she said to Bernadette “I am the Immaculate Conception”.
That date, the feast of the Annunciation, highlights the connection between Mary’s reply to the Angel Gabriel and her revelation to Bernadette. In fact Mary’s “yes” on that day derives from her Immaculate Conception.
Very often I think of that precise hour in history when the destiny of the world was in the hands of a young girl named Mary. This is why I am particular fond of the statue which shows Mary holding the globe of the world, each and everyone of us. This is how she is depicted in the statue at Rue du Bac in Paris
How would Mary of Nazareth, totally free, reply to the Angel Gabriel? Simply and precisely: Fiat! Yes, I accept. From that moment the destiny of the world changed and humanity was showered with a deluge of grace.
Thanks to Mary’s “yes” the Saviour of mankind is born.
Thanks to Mary’s “yes” the Good News will be announced to the whole world.
Thanks to Mary’s “yes” death is conquered for ever.
Thanks to Mary’s “yes” hope will be restored to the world.

We need not search for any other reasons for our immense gratitude to Mary. Truly the feast of the Annunciation was an announcement of a new springtime for the world. The Church understood this and reminds us of it every morning, midday and evening with the prayer of the Angelus, which recapitulates and achieves this grace of Salvation. The Angelus tells us once again that God has entered our times, he has united himself with our human condition under every aspect except sin, thanks to Mary’s “yes”. This show us that God only enters our life if we ask him to, if we say “yes” when he knocks on the door of our heart and announces himself in our life and he did with Mary.
Here we find the key to the holiness of Mary and, following her, all the saints and baptised Christians. Baptism gives us the grace to say “yes”. The Sacrament of Reconciliation restores this grace when it is impaired. The Eucharist is the source of this grace.
We have all that is necessary to offer God our daily life, our response of faith and love like the Blessed Virgin Mary. We understand then why Mary presented herself in Lourdes on 25 March 1858 as the Immaculate Conception and called us to conversion, that is to live our baptismal vocation with a life ever more in keeping with the Gospel, represented by the rosary she held in her hands. Bernadette understood and lived accordingly and this is why she is a Saint. This is the heart of the message of Lourdes, the message of Immaculate Mary”. P. Raymond Zambelli, Rector of the Marian Shrines at Lourdes. (Agenzia Fides 7/12/2004 - righe 41; parole 560)