Kelly Marcum studied International Politics at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and received her M.A. from the War Studies Department at King’s College London. She is the founder and President of Gratia Plena Institute, an organization dedicated to teaching high school girls about the Catholic vision of authentic femininity. Her writing has been featured in The American Conservative, The Federalist, The Washington Examiner, and Catholic Exchange. She lives with her husband and children in Virginia.
“For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.” — ‘Song of Bernadette’
Our Lady of Lourdes was the first Marian apparition I ever learned of, largely because St. Bernadette was my favorite of the excellent CCC saint movies I watched as a child. I admit I mostly focused on how beautiful I thought Our Lady was, and on the miraculous spring than I did on the minutiae of the apparitions. I did know that she wore a Rosary and prayed it with St. Bernadette; however, it was not much later that I learned that she did not actually recite the Rosary aloud with Bernadette. Or, I should say, she did not recite the entire thing. She moved her fingers along the Hail Mary beads, but the only prayer she said aloud was the Glory Be.
It’s a small thing, maybe easily overlooked in light of all that followed, but it’s one of those breathtaking glimpses into Our Lady’s heart. Mary is far from the most loquacious individual in the New Testament, yet every word reveals the fullness of her grace. From her very first scene in the Gospel, where she states her fiat to Gabriel’s extraordinary announcement, to her Magnificat at Elizabeth’s, and then her final instruction to the servants at the wedding in Cana, Mary’s every utterance is a glorification of Christ.
It is fitting then, that during a miraculous apparition, Our Lady did not choose to reveal herself to the throngs who arrived, instead of entrusting her message to a sickly, impoverished and undereducated young girl. Furthermore, she chose to remain silent while Bernadette recited the Hail Mary, the very prayer that glorifies Mary’s role in salvation history. Instead, she spoke only to proclaim God’s sovereignty as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
It is Our Lady’s perfect humility that allows us to love her with as great abandon as we are called to do.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a Father, and Doctor of the Church, wrote: “Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more, she is honored, the greater is the glory of her Son. There can be no doubt that whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son.”
Since the moment she was immaculately conceived to this very day, and until the Last Judgment at the end of days, Our Lady has never ceased pointing to God in her every word and deed. By showering her with the love and veneration that is Mary’s due, we worship not her, but her Son, to whom she gives all glory. Conversely, when we refuse our Blessed Mother this love, she weeps, not because she has been spurned but because our coldheartedness has denied her Son.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!