The history of Christian pilgrimages to Lourdes began with Bernadette Soubirous, who was born at the Boly Mill in Lourdes to François Soubirous and Louise Castérot on 7 January 1844. The eldest of nine children, Bernadette lived at the mill with her siblings and parents for ten years. After facing dire financial circumstances, the family moved to an unused prison, known as the Cachot, where they lived in considerable poverty.
On 11 February 1858, 14-year-old Bernadette was sent to collect firewood at the nearby river, Gave de Pau. Noticing a strange wind, she looked up from the riverbank and saw a beautiful lady dressed in white appearing in a hollow of a rocky cave. Bernadette received 18 such visions of this woman in white, who eventually identified herself as the Immaculate Conception, a Marian title solemnized less than five years earlier by Pope Pius IX. During the apparitions, Our Lady shared with Bernadette the message of the importance of faith, prayer and repentance. She guided Bernadette to uncover an underground stream, whose waters have long been a source of spiritual and physical healing to pilgrims throughout the world.
In 1866, Bernadette entered the Convent of the Sisters of Charity in Nevers, where she died on 16 April 1879, at the age of 35. Recognized for her humble simplicity and devout faith, Bernadette was declared a saint of the Church by Pope Pius XI on 8 December 1933.
Responding to Our Lady’s call for prayer and repentance, pilgrims — including members of the armed forces — have flocked to Lourdes for more than 150 years. During the Second World War, members of the French military visited the site of St. Bernadette’s apparitions, where they offered prayers for peace. On 10 December 1944, U.S. military personnel joined British, Belgian, French and Russian military representatives for a Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, which had been built in 1901 to accommodate the large number of worshipers visiting the apparition site.
In 1947, a German military chaplain — who had been held as a prisoner of war in France since 1944 — was invited to participate in a military pilgrimage held in September that year. By the next year, German and Belgian soldiers began participating in larger numbers, followed by soldiers from many other countries.
In 1958, the year of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions, the first official International Military Pilgrimage (Pèlerinage Militaire International or PMI) took place. In 2014, Bishop Luc Ravel of the Diocese of the French Armed Forces presided over the pilgrimage, welcoming military chaplains, service men and service women from various delegations throughout the world. This year’s pilgrimage, which marks the 57th anniversary of the PMI, focuses on the theme “I Am My Brother’s Keeper.”
April 14, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Cardinal Walter Brandmüller has been among the leading voices critical of proposals stemming from the Vatican’s Synod on the Family that risk subverting Catholic teaching on the sacraments and morality. He was one of five cardinals who contributed to the book Remaining in the Truth of Christ, which focused on criticizing Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to open up Communion to those in irregular sexual unions.
LifeSiteNews contributor Dr. Maike Hickson interviewed Cardinal Brandmüller last month.
LifeSiteNews: Could you present once more for our readers clearly the teaching of the Catholic Church, as it has been consistently taught throughout centuries concerning marriage and its indissolubility?
Cardinal: The answer is to be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 1638-1642.
Can the Church admit remarried couples to Holy Communion, even though their second marriage is not valid in the eyes of the Church?
That would be possible if the concerned couples would make the decision to live in the future like brother and sister. This solution is especially worth considering when the care for children disallows a separation. The decision for such a path would be a convincing expression of the penance for the previous and protracted act of adultery.
Can the Church deal with the topic of marriage in a pastoral manner that is different from the continual teaching of the Church? Can the Church at all change the teaching itself without falling herself into heresy?
It is evident that the pastoral practice of the Church cannot stand in opposition to the binding doctrine nor simply ignore it. In the same manner, an architect could perhaps build a most beautiful bridge. However, if he does not pay attention to the laws of structural engineering, he risks the collapse of his construction. In the same manner, every pastoral practice has to follow the Word of God if it does not want to fail. A change of the teaching, of the dogma, is unthinkable. Who nevertheless consciously does it, or insistently demands it, is a heretic – even if he wears the Roman Purple.
Is not the whole discussion about the admittance of remarried to the Holy Eucharist also an expression of the fact that many Catholics do not believe any more in the Real Presence and rather think that they receive in Holy Communion anyway only a piece of bread?
Indeed, there is an indissoluble inner contradiction in someone who wants to receive the Body and Blood of Christ and to unite himself with Him, while in the same time he disregards consciously His Commandment. How shall this work? St. Paul says about this matter: 'Who eats and drinks unworthily, is eating and drinking his judgment...' But: You are right. By far not all Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated host. One can see this fact already in the way many – even priests – pass the tabernacle without genuflection.
Why is there nowadays such a strong attack on the indissolubility of marriage within the Church? A possible answer could be that the spirit of relativism has entered the Church, but there must be more reasons. Could you name some? And are not all these reasons a sign of the crisis of Faith within the Church herself?@MCITLFrAphorism: Cardinal Brandmüller: Advocates for changing Catholic teaching on marriage are ‘heretics’ – even if they are bishops https://t.co/pLgoale3P5
Will you join the nearly-500 priests in England who recently signed a public statement defending the Church’s teachings on the nature and indissolubility of marriage, and asking for clarity from the upcoming Synod on the Family?
Following the amazing success of the priests initiative in England, Voice of the Family, a lay initiative made up of 23 pro-life and pro-family groups from around the world, is now working to promote the initiative internationally.
To add your name to the letter, simply send an e-mail to email@example.com with your full name, parish and/or religious order, and affirm that you wish to be added as a signatory to the letter.
The full text of the open letter appears below. A fuller explanation of this initiative follows after that.
FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER TO THE PRESS
Following the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2014 much confusion has arisen concerning Catholic moral teaching. In this situation we wish, as Catholic priests, to re-state our unwavering fidelity to the traditional doctrines regarding marriage and the true meaning of human sexuality, founded on the Word of God and taught by the Church’s Magisterium for two millennia. We commit ourselves anew to the task of presenting this teaching in all its fullness, while reaching out with the Lord’s compassion to those struggling to respond to the demands and challenges of the Gospel in an increasingly secular society. Furthermore we affirm the importance of upholding the Church’s traditional discipline regarding the reception of the sacraments, and that doctrine and practice remain firmly and inseparably in harmony. We urge all those who will participate in the second Synod in October 2015 to make a clear and firm proclamation of the Church’s unchanging moral teaching, so that confusion may be removed, and faith confirmed.
It is most likely that, like us, you will have followed the events of last October’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops and its aftermath with interest. Like us, you may also have been left unsettled and deeply concerned by some of the statements coming out of that Synod, and the manner in which the Synod was at times reported by the media and interpreted by those with a secular ideological agenda. There is now a distorted general sense that the Church’s moral teaching could be changed and that Catholic practice could be altered regardless of doctrine. Even some committed Catholics are making statements that do not reflect the settled teaching of the Church, nor the clear message of the New Testament.
As pastors of souls you will be only too aware of the confusion this has caused to those to whom you minister. All too often it is those who have been most faithful to the teaching of the Church and have made great sacrifices in order to conform their lives to the Gospel, who have been left in greatest distress.
Pope Francis exhorted the participants of the Extraordinary Synod: 'Speak freely and from the heart. And listen humbly to each other.’ Inspired by the Holy Father’s invitation, we wish to make our voice heard.
Above is the text of a letter which we intend and now propose to publish in the Catholic/national press. It states our adherence to the Church’s traditional doctrine and discipline of marriage, and our request that this will be affirmed without ambiguity by the Synod to be held later in 2015. We also make clear our commitment to serve all those who struggle to live out the demands of the Gospel amidst the often difficult circumstances of modern life. Clarity in teaching is never opposed to good pastoral practice, but is rather its foundation.
Please join your brother priests around the world in making this statement, for which we know many people are longing. We invite you to sign the letter and return it, without delay, to the email address provided.
During the season of Lent we focused on our own offering together with the priest at Mass by turning together toward the Lord with the priest as he stands facing the altar during the Eucharistic prayer. We call this facing “liturgical East” or ad orientem. Together with all the great world religions we orient ourselves before we pray in order to enter into it more fully as a self-offering to God. This custom was largely and inadvisably abandoned in the ferment following Vatican II without mandate from Church documents.
Christ comes now in the Eucharist and will come again at the end of time. Both senses of time are in our minds and hearts as we pray the Mass together. We call this the “cosmic” aspect of our spirituality. The God we hear speaking in the Scriptures and present in the Eucharist at Mass is the creator of the heavens and the earth, the “cosmos”; we both meet Him now in Communion and look ahead in space and time to meeting Him at the end of our lives, and at the end of all time, when He creates a new heavens and a new earth. We will continue to explore this richly symbolic meaning of our most important prayer of the Mass throughout the Easter Season.
By turning toward the altar together with the priest we confront more powerfully the fact that we are always moving spiritually through time as we look with hope to meeting the Lord of heaven at the end of our earthly journey. Thank you for your participation in this opportunity to grow in the life of prayer and praise.
- From the 12 April 2015 parish bulletin of Saint Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Benedict, Md.