There’s a church near us named Our Lady of Lourdes. It’s a pretty common name for a Catholic church, but until recently, all I knew about that title was that it referred to Mary and a place in France. I’ve heard about Lourdes water, but nothing specific. I certainly didn’t realize what I would find when I did the research on Our Lady of Lourdes.

A friend of mine often reads my drafts, and what she said is still resonating in me. “I never thought of my suffering (asthma, back pain) as a gift before,” she told me on the phone.

Neither did I.

There are a lot of things I hadn’t thought of before (and plenty more to come, I’m sure), and this week, through the apparitions in Lourdes, I began contemplating what Mary’s perfection can teach me (as opposed to how it can intimidate me). I ponder that, through the lens of Our Lady of Lourdes, in my column over at Today’s Catholic Woman. {updated to note that the link is no longer available; you can read a version of my thoughts on Mary in this more current piece at Catholic Exchange.}

If you are looking for some spiritual reading, I recommend reading the accounts of each apparition (link opens the listing; when you start with the first, you can click “next” all the way to the end). There are 18 of them, but I didn’t understand, from all the summaries I read, what Bernadette experienced, until I read them.

image source