Lourdes Interpreted by the Salve Regina Part 2.

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

Mother of Mercy, Hail!

OUR BLESSED LADY is a Queen because of her holiness. It was the greatness of her holiness that has made her supreme in our World. It is also because of her holiness, because of her goodness, she is merciful. Goodness is always merciful; real deep goodness is always full of mercy. God, who is infinitely good, is infinitely merciful. He is merciful because He is good. Because He is great, mercy is a prerogative of God, a special quality. Great people are merciful. It is the little people who are unkind. The great official is nearly always touched with humanity. It is the little official, because he is little, who is lacking in mercy. He is too full of his brief authority. He thinks not of those that come to him, but of himself. And just as goodness is always merciful, so Our Lady because she is good, holy, cannot help but be merciful. Indeed, we say of her that she is the Mother of Mercy. He, the all merciful, was her child.

Now if you think of her as a mother with this Child growing up with her, you know surely that she had great sympathy with her Child. He was more her Child than any other child is the child of its mother. In her case there was no human instrument of His birth other than herself. The Child was all hers and no one else’s; hers wholly and of no one else but her. So that her sympathy with her Child was even deeper, from a natural point of view, even deeper than the ordinary sympathy of a mother with the child she loves. Now as she watched this Child growing up, it is not difficult to imagine her sympathy with Him in His childish joys; her pleasure in seeing His happiness; her pleasure in Him as He grew up. Sometimes mothers almost tire you with their tales of the wonders of their children. To this mother, worshipping her Child, watching Him and remembering, (St. Luke repeatedly says of her, "the Mother pondered,” that is thought over, remembered, stored in her memory this or that occurrence), must have come an absorbing interest in Him. She was full of Him and all He meant to her. She watched Him; she took pleasure, I suppose, in the gossip of the village about Him, His beauty, His charm of character, His kindness. Are you not sure that they must have spoken of Him pleasingly as of one who was always generous and kind, always eager to be of help and service to anyone He met? As a Child, so a Man, always infinitely good, infinitely full of mercy.

Then later on as she watched Him in His agony and pain, and as she watched Him dying what was most evident was His incredible mercy: "Father, forgive them”— driving nails in His hands and feet — "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” "Know not?” The mercy of Him! So as she watched Him, her sympathy, because He was all her’s and God’s grew all the greater; she was touched even beyond the days of her early motherhood, touched with His pain and suffering, hurt by the jeering of the mob, hurt when she saw His bodily suffering, His frail human body wincing under its pain, hurt when she heard that ghastly cry of His, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” In the most bitter of all moments, with her heart full of sympathy for Him and all He suffered, we were put in that dear Son’s place: "Mother, behold thy son!” John indeed first, but in John all of us were set as her sons. The whole of the sympathy she had had for her Child was now transferred to us, to human nature, to all human nature in His place. As she had sympathised with Him, so now she was to sympathise with us. And as she was moved by His joys, so ours now were to move her. She had been touched by His sorrows! she was now to be touched by the sorrows of all mankind. Ah, not in Heaven — she is beyond the touch of all sorrow there. No sorrow enters Heaven’s gates. But on earth she saw and felt all sorrow; in the sorrows of St. John she sympathised in the sorrows of all human nature. Though she is not sorrowful in Heaven, she is merciful. If anyone is merciful, it is she.

But what do you mean by "merciful?” Do you mean foolishly kind? Some think they are merciful when they are bitterly unmerciful; think that they are kind to their children when they let them behave as they please. That is not mercy. Mercy is not idle sympathy in an emotional sense, feeling kindly towards someone. Mercy sometimes has to be severe, strong. The hands of a nurse dealing with her patient are merciful hands, not less merciful because they are firm! The poison may have to be pressed out of the wound. Then it is not mercy not to hurt the patient. That is not merciful. That is unmerciful. It looks unkind; it seems unkind; he winces under her action. The body quivers because she will not let him go. She presses the wound to expel the unclean matter. It must be expelled, by strong pressure if there be no other way. To be tender, compassionate, full of mercy is the very profession of the nurse. Yet that must not undo her firmness. A doctor, again has strong hands, and merciful, because of the very strength of them. His cutting of human flesh is mercy. Mercy must be wise.