By Fr. Bill Kneemiller
The Catholic Messenger
Are you looking for a good spiritual discipline to conclude Lent? In honor of the 160th anniversary of the message of Our Lady of Lourdes, I am inviting parish rosary groups, and schools, to organize and lead novenas in honor of the Immaculate Conception from March 31-April 8. This commemorates the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing to Bernadette in 1858 and prepares for the Feast of the Annunciation on April 9.
I am promoting this novena to share a recent insight I had about the Immaculate Conception at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport’s Christian Experience Weekend (CEW), where I was one of the spiritual directors. Just before hearing confessions, the story of Lourdes came to my memory, and everything about Lourdes came alive.
I realized that it was perfectly logical that Mary would be conceived without sin because she is that humble temple from which Christ was born. The Son of God could not be born in sin, because the body and blood he took from Mary would redeem the world!
The Lourdes “Sanctuary Website” states that all of us, like Mary, are called to become immaculate. The mother of Jesus tells us that her whole being is “directed towards conceiving the Son of God, and she is devoted to him. For this reason, she is immaculate, wholly inhabited by God. In this way, the church and every Christian should allow themselves to be inhabited by God… and become witnesses of God.”
Imagine the gifts of the Immaculate Conception beginning to live inside of you! So I invite rosary groups and schools to pray a rosary novena to honor the Immaculate Conception, which concludes April 9, and then play a Lourdes or Bernadette DVD after the novena.
I am collecting a little library of DVDs available for loan. Now is the time to invite that light of receiving the gifts and graces of the Immaculate Conception!
I will commemorate these events April 9 at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish in the parish hall at Lost Nation with a showing of Jean Delannoy’s DVD “Bernadette” and a rosary at 6:30 p.m. There’s an old saying that we’re all sinners, but as we prepare for Easter, let’s make a move in the other direction!