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  • Marian Reflections

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Marian thought for February

«It was not enough for God to give us his Son on a Cross, but he also gave Mary to us. When we honor the Virgin Mary, we will love Jesus more. When we place ourselves under her mantle we will better understand divine mercy. How great is God, how sweet is Mary!» (St. Rafael Arnáiz)

St. Rafael Arnaiz Baron was born on April 9, 1911 in Burgos, Spain. He studied in the Jesuit school, where he received his First Holy Communion in 1919. He showed a very great openness to the things that had to do with God from a very early age. The first signs of the illness that would mark the rest of his life appeared in 1922. His father, who believed that his recovery was due to the Virgin Mary’s special intervention, took Rafael to Zaragoza in thanksgiving and consecrated him to Our Lady of Pilar. As years went by, he developed many different traits, such as friendship. He also grew in his Christian life. God placed the desire in his heart to consecrate himself in monastic life. He met the Trappist monks of San Isidro de Dueñas and felt very attracted to that life, because he saw that it corresponded to his intimate desires. He entered there on January 15, 1934. He had to leave the convent three times due to the diabetes that God mysteriously used to test him. Each time he returned, he came back with more desires to be generous and faithful. These desires were fulfilled on April 26, 1938, when he left this world at only 27 years of age. He was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1992 and canonized on October 11, 2009.

Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous

s bernadette

"I do not promise you happiness in this life, but in the next."

Bernadette was born in Lourdes (France) in 1844. Her baptismal name, which later became her religious name, was Maria Bernarda, but everyone called her Bernadette. Although she still had not learned to read or write at the age of 14, nor was she able to learn her catechism lessons, she had many other qualities, like her honesty and devotion to Our Lady. She was graced with apparitions by Our Lady from February 11 to July 16, 1858, in which Our Blessed Mother confided to Bernadette her desire of having a chapel built in the place of the apparitions and that the people may go there in procession. She also spoke to her about the need to do penance. A fountain sprang up in the place of the apparitions, whose water became a fount of graces and of physical and spiritual miracles until today. One day, the Blessed Virgin said to her, “I do not promise you happiness in this life, but in the next,” and so it was. The life of St. Bernadette was a life of sickness, hardship and humiliations, but all these things helped her grow in holiness. Many people offered her money and other items, but she never accepted. Later on in her life, after the apparitions, Bernadette requested the entrance into the religious community of the Daughters of Charity in Nevers, France, where she would fulfill the duties of nurse and sacristan. She had much to suffer because of her poor health, and said “What I ask of Our Lord is not that he may grant me health, but that he may give me courage and strength to live my sickness with patience. To fulfill what the Blessed Virgin said, I offer my sufferings as penance for the conversion of sinners.” She only lived 15 years as a religious before dying, and nine of these years she spent suffering day and night from asthma and tuberculosis. She said in one occasion, “If someone has seen the Blessed Virgin just one time, he would be willing to do any sacrifice just to be able to see her again. She is so beautiful.” During her time as a religious, she was not allowed to speak about the apparitions but on April 16, 1879, the day in which she died, she exclaimed, “I saw Our Lady. Yes, I saw her, and how beautiful she was!” She was canonized by Pope Pio XI on December 8, 1933.

 
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