Meditations given by the Rev, Bede Jarrett, O.P., during the Novena preached in the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in preparation for the celebration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes, February 2nd - February 10th, 1933
"Our life, our sweetness, our hope!” Not merely should we come devoutly to the sacraments. Ah, no people perhaps, are as devout as you are here. You crowd in your hundreds of the sacraments, but is that life of itself? Holding by her, you can make your sacramental life true and rich. There will be no danger of mere routine in your sacramental devotion; there will be no danger of mere human respect and of dependence on other people’s judgment; not if you hold by her and keep the thought of her by you when you come to the Communion rail. If we think of her love of Him and her faith in Him, then is our own faith in Him and love made sure. Do I really believe? That is the thought that sometimes comes, perhaps, to every one. Do I really believe? Do I believe, really, in the Blessed Sacrament ? Do I really believe that this is God’s world? that God is in charge of everything; that all that happens really comes because God lets it happen, and that God is really kind and loving when He lets all these dreadful things happen in our world? If we hold by her we shall believe. Just think of her life and what she had to live through and how she still believed in God, believed in Him as she stood on Calvary. There was a God over her who could, but did not, interfere. A God? Her faith in Him saved her from growing bitter, or from crying out against God allowing such misery. Her faith, her hope were perfectly secure.
And so for us, too, prayer to her can lift us above these troubles. That is the business of prayer. We do not pray to Our Lady to call attention to ourselves, to call her attention to us. We do not say our rosary in order that we may remind her that we exist. What we say our rosary for is to remind ourselves that she exists. Prayer is lifting up, not pulling down. It is not pulling God down to my will; it is lifting my will up to God, — that is prayer. It is not to make God agree with me, but to make me agree with God’s dealings with me.
When Our Lady appeared to Bernadette she held her rosary in her fingers. She did not say the rosary. She did not pray to herself. But through her fingers passed all the rosaries said by all souls the world over, passed through her fingers to her Son. And as you say your rosary in her grotto, while you look at her you see life as it is, its joys and its sorrows and the glories that come at last; you see life real, stark — not just a Mother playing with her Child and the whole world full of happiness and joy, you see the Mother losing the Child in life, you see her losing Him in death. You see Him emptied of God, apparently. You see life real, but you see it with a hope beyond itself. You see that behind sorrow comes happiness again. Life begins in happiness and it ends in glory. The sorrows fall between. The rosary is the prayer of Lourdes, the prayer of healing, because it shows you someone who was not healed; because it shows you sorrow that was not staunched by miracle, sorrow that was carried to the grave. Prayer, prayer gives our life its value. We speak of her as "our life, our sweetness and our hope.” If we pray to her and try and think what her life was like, it helps us also to see life as it really is; not as it appears, but as it really is; that is God’s power over it; God’s power in everything that comes. "May it be done unto me according to Thy word.” That is her prayer. Keep it. Say it to yourselves. That will tide you through every crisis.