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
Mourning and Weeping in This Valley of Tears cont
Of the hundreds, thousands, that go year by year to Lourdes, how many of them, do you think, come back physically healed? So few that you will find their names in headlines. Some, no doubt, are better and stronger, because of their prayers and pilgrimage, but those are not the miracles that are most widely spread. The miracle of Lourdes is the miracle by which they are sent back unaltered in body, but altered in soul. The miracles of Lourdes are the miracles of souls lifted to bear suffering, because of the one motive that almost alone makes suffering bearable. What moves them is what has moved you whenever you have borne pain happily. Love! Through the Mother, the love of the Son has come to them and through love for Him, peace. That is her gift. For herself she asked nothing in her lifetime. She asked no respite and she, as far as we know, got none. She never asked for any miracle to her own behalf. The greatest of all miracles was done in her when her Child was born. That travail was saved her, but all other sufferings were hers. In Cana of Galilee she asked a miracle of Him, and He did the miracle, not for herself, but to save the shame of the host that gave the banquet.
For others she asked, not for herself. She knew, perhaps, what that beginning of miracles would do, not only in that household, but to the guests. St. John says, speaking of that miracle and its ending, "and His Disciples believed in Him.” Perhaps the Mother knew that, but the miracle was not for her, it was for others. As far as we know, she asked none for herself. She was big enough in the greatness of her soul to bear whatever would be given her; and what she had in this way of courage she will share with us, if we ask her.
That is what your Novena can do for you. By her blessed goodness and through her blessed prayer, she can gain for you the courage, whatever it be that you need, now, today, to deal with your burden. Whatever it is that is really pressing hard on you, she will give you a motive for bearing it without complaint. That is what she can do for you. No one will notice this miracle as men notice the others that startle their imagination. But you will know it by the happiness that survives.
You want a motive? She will choose a motive for you. Have you any dead? Have you any that perhaps at this moment are waiting, being cleansed from their sins, cleansed, that is, in those fires of purgatory, which set right the disturbed balance of divine justice? Well, you can offer your suffering for them; and the more God asks you to suffer, the more He loves you, and the more He gives you an opportunity to show your love of them and Him. He will not spare you suffering because he loves you. He will give you suffering, will let it come on you from others, from human sin, human folly, ill health, a thousand ways. Well, offer it for the dead, for your dead. Or perhaps you know some soul that has wandered, the scandal of perhaps someone near you and dear to you ? Well, you can offer your distress and pain for that. If the pain or sorrow or trouble grows greater, thank God that He is allowing you the greater share in setting straight someone you loved. Or you can offer it for your country, with its distress and its burden. Perhaps your land is burdened because no one will carry its cross. Perhaps God is searching in our hearts for the love of the land that has made us. Perhaps we could carry the troubles of our people from shore to shore. Perhaps we could carry the burdens of the poor. Perhaps we can do little else for them. Perhaps we have little enough as it is to share with them. Well, that we can share, their sufferings by our own. The Mother of Wisdom, the Seat of Wisdom, she will be ingenious in discovering for us motives that will give us the power through the grace of God to go on, to bear unruffled whatever be our lot. We are human. We naturally shrink from suffering. Yet by a settled habit of the will we can bow ourselves to accept it. Happy, though not taking pleasure in it. That is possible; by the grace of God, she will do that for us.
This, then, is the valley of tears. This, said the blessed Hermann, this is a valley of tears. Well, down in the valley, with the mists that lie in the valley, what do you see, really, of life in the valley? There are clouds and shadows in the valley. They darken the horizon of the valley. But there is light on the hills. On the hills is God. Here for us, just a valley, shut-in, a narrow horizon, the mists gathering — the mist of tears. But the light of God can set in those tears a rainbow, framed and quiet, all the world shining with the many coloured bow of God reflected in the broken tears of man. That is the miracle that she can help us to achieve in ourselves by God’s grace. We are not forbidden to feel sorrow. He said, "Blessed are they that mourn,” they that are mourning and weeping in the valley. He said they were blessed. Why blessed ? "For they shall be comforted,” He said. Oh, what a blessing will our sorrow one day bring us, that we shall be comforted by God! Who can know the depths of God’s dear comforts? St. Paul says, "Measured against them the sorrows of this life are not worth counting.” He knew for he had suffered, but he hoped and had at one moment tasted what was in store.
Mourning and weeping in the valley of tears. Blessed, yet are ye according to your mourning and your crying, according to the depth of your sorrow, for the greater your sorrow, the more will you share in the depths of the comforts of God.