Published by Stephen Michael Leininger in Stephen Michael Leininger · 17 July 2017
Tags: lourdes, grass, mouth, mud
Tags: lourdes, grass, mouth, mud
Lourdes and STOSS
St. Bernadette Soubirous received several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary around
in the year 1858. These apparitions took place in the Grotto of Massabielle, which was close to the river Gave. The Grotto was a very shallow cave in the rocks close to the river. The miracle took place at the “mouth” of this small cave. Bernadette referred to the Grotto as a “pig-sty” because it was the place the local swine herders used as a watering hole for their pigs. Lourdes, France
The fact of this miracle occurring at the mouth of the cave is significant (this is discussed extensively in STOSS). In Scripture, the mouth is that which “sends” out. The mouth of God is the Father. He, alone among the Trinity, always sends, but is never sent. Creation (as a thought of God) is sent out from the Father’s “mouth”, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. When Jesus took on a human body, he took on a created “mouth” that is capable of sending the invisible (the spiritual and divine, as Pope St. John Paul II words it) out into visible creation. JP II further states that only the body is capable of doing this. ALL grace is sent out through the incarnate mouth of Jesus. This made possible, primarily, through the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. Are you beginning to see the deeper meaning of this miracle, and how STOSS and Lourdes contain many parallels.
Continuing on with Bernadette’s story, the Blessed Virgin Mary directed Bernadette to drink and wash at the fountain, but Bernadette looked around and she did not see a fountain anywhere. These are her words describing the experience:
(The Lady) told me that I should go and drink at the fountain and wash myself. Seeing no fountain I went to drink at the Gave [a river by the grotto]. She said it was not there; she pointed with her finger that I was to go in under the rock. I went, and I found a puddle of water which was more like mud, and the quantity was so small that I could hardly gather a little in the hollow of my hand. Nevertheless I obeyed, and started scratching the ground; after doing that I was able to take some. The water was so dirty that three times I threw it away. The fourth time I was able to drink it [St. Bernadette Soubirous, Les ecrits de Sainte Bernadette et sa voie spirituelle, (P. Lethielleux, Paris, France 1961)].
Eventually, this puddle turned into a fountain that produced a continuing and sizeable amount of water. Let's delve more deeply into these events. Three times Bernadette had to Ask Mary for her name. The number three is significant. Three times Bernadette had to throw away the muddy water before it was clean enough to drink. Three days after Jesus' baptism in the Jordan, he started his public mission by changing water into wine at Cana (see three-part blog about Cana, Part I of III here). Three days after completing his mission on the Cross, he was resurrected in Glory.
Brenadette's fourth scoop of water was acceptable. That fourth scoop represents the fourth cup, which is the final cup of the Passover meal. The fourth scoop of water represents that fourth cup — when Jesus' final words were: it is finished/accomplished. What comes after the fourth cup? The Sacraments, primarily Baptism and the Eucharist. Baptism is where we are washed and become a member of the Mystical Body of Christ. Mary tells Bernadette to drink and wash in the fountain. This is not a mere coincidence! Even though the waters from this “fountain” were not blessed, many miraculous cures came about as a result of washing in, or drinking from, those waters. I believe this supports the belief that the matter (every Sacrament consists of form – the words, and matter – the material) of Baptism (i.e., water) is instrumental (efficacious) in the washing, i.e., purification.
The symbolism of the muddy water is remarkably like the miracle whereby Jesus cures the blind man by applying a paste made of dust (symbolizing Jesus’ body made from dust of the earth) mixed with his spittle (symbolizing Jesus’ bio-living water), then applying it to the blind man’s eyes after which he was washed in the pool of Siloam (see John 9:1-7), symbolizing Baptism. For more indepth understanding of the significance of water, see the blog about the Dead Sea. Doing so will help to foster a greater understanding of the miracle of Lourdes. Interestingly, Bernadette was also told by Mary to eat the grass at the same place where the water puddle had appeared.
After the washing, Mary tells Bernadette to eat the grass/herbs. This is symbolic of the Eucharist, which we must eat in order to have life. In Scripture, grass is a symbol for man, in general, and the body in particular (Is. 40:6-7, 66:14). As such, the grass becomes green and grows when it is nourished by the Spirit (e.g. Deut. 32:2 among others) and withers when it disobeys God (e.g. Jer. 12:4 among others). Combining all of these signs supports the belief that the body of the Word incarnate is the mouth through which God is made present in physical creation.
The symbolism of
is profound. The water bubbling up and mixing with the mud from the inner recesses of the Grotto was to take on an unimaginably deep meaning. It is a recapitulation of Jesus' healing of the blind man using mud made with his spittle (Mk 8:22-26) and bio-living water. Much more than purifying water which may sometimes produce miraculous cures, this water is the mystical sign of the water that flowed with the Blood from Christ's side [SML] when pierced by the soldier's spear.” This symbolism is even deeper than previously understood. The symbolism of this miracle is remarkably similar to the one in which water flowed from the rock when Moses struck it (Ex. 17:6) and also to the water that flowed from under the threshold of the New and Everlasting Temple in Ezekiel’s dream (Ez. 47:1-12). Lourdes
The water from the rock that Moses struck symbolizes the sanctifying/purifying living waters that would flow to us through the resurrected and glorified body of Jesus ascended to the Father, thus becoming the “rock” that had returned to its source. Just as the waters of the Temple were multiplicative, growing deeper and wider the further they went from their source, so too did the waters from under the rock of the Grotto grow deeper and wider. Just as Jacob (a type of Christ) had to roll away the heavy stone (representing the mortal body of Jesus --- hmm, didn't Jesus' tomb have a heavy stone that had to be rolled away?) before he could take out of the mouth of the stone well (representing his glorified body) living water to give to his future bride’s sheep (Rachel was a type of the Church).
At Lourdes, God reaffirmed the Truth behind our salvation. By means of the mouth of the rock/stone, we receive the purifying waters of the Holy Spirit through the eating of the green grass – Jesus’ body and blood.
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. Catholic Pilgrims of Mary and Jesus, "The Apparitions," CatholicPilgrims.com (http://www.catholicpilgrims.com/lourdes/bd_lourdes_apparitions.htm: CatholicPilgrims.com, Mar. 01, 2000 (accessed 11/02/2011)).
. John Paul II, in his general audience of February 20, 1980, " Man Enters the World as a Subject of Truth and Love," Theology of the Body (Third Millennium Media L.L.C., The Faith Database L.L.C., 2008), n. 4.
. Red Zambala, “Ninth Apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes,” Red Zambala, https://christianity.redzambala.com/lourdes-apparition/our-lady-of-lourdes-ninth-apparition.html, 2013 (accessed 05/05/2022).
. Catholic Pilgrims of Mary and Jesus, "The Fortnight," http://www.catholicpilgrims.com/lourdes/be_lourdes_fortnight.htm.
. St. Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1990), 153, 395.
. St. Cyprian of Carthage, "Treatise 12," The Treatises of Cyprian (Third Millennium Media L.L.C., The Faith Database L.L.C., 2008), Book 2, n. 16.