Bernadette Soubirous - Doctor of Simplicity |
Through the simple holiness of this incorrupt saint of Lourdes, we have a guideline for Holy Week.
"Following the examples of Christ, Our Blessed Mother, St. Francis and others, Bernadette was the anti-New Order. Through her life and example, this simple child of God who could not remember her Catechism lessons, who was judged stupid by the standards of this world, is transformed into a humble professor of simplicity reminding us of the lessons of Holy Week. In a world on its own egg hunt for wealth, power, fame, and flesh, we are reminded that the true treasure of Easter is found in Holy Simplicity!"
We all know of the great Doctors of the Church such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Teresa of Avila. These legendary saints combined holiness with intellect to create beautiful echoes of heavenly wisdom. They may truly be called "Doctors of The Faith" because their profound insight and transcendental ability to express that insight stamp them as genuine experts and teachers of the Faith. It is true that our Doctors of The Faith have generally been "triple threats", gifted with profound insight, the ability to analyze that insight, and the powerful ability to express that insight and analysis. Simply stated, these legendary figures of our Faith have been thinkers with a quill combining insight, intellect, analysis, and writing ability to spread and strengthen the Faith by thought and word.
However, God has often shown us that actions speak as loudly as, if not more, than words in inspiring insight, stirring intellect, and communicating Christ to others. In this vein, saints such as St. Francis and St. Clare come to mind as Doctors of Service and St. Tarsicius would be a Doctor of The Eucharist, for example. Given these additional teachers of the Faith by action, we come to a simple French peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous. Through her life and actions we see the quiet holiness to which Christ calls all of us. As we are a mere eleven days away from celebrating the 125th Anniversary of her death on April 16, 1879 in Nevers, France, it is appropriate that we focus on this "Doctor of Simplicty" for when I say "celebrate" we indeed can celebrate her death for, as Christ promised, if you eat His Body and drink His Blood, carry your cross daily and follow Him you will have life everlasting. To give us all a visible sign when so many seek signs but few recognize them, He left us a reminder of this holy woman in all her natural beauty - preserving her body incorrupt.
It is correct because God has outwardly blessed her with this sign to His Church Militant and it was the simple traits she practiced in virtue which we can emulate, especially this week for we can so easily see her traits in the lessons from Holy Week, which we can apply to our lives.
Seven Traits To Live By
Bernadette lived a hard life of early poverty, constant illness, and unwanted attention. Her childhood was marked by her family's poverty and hardship, her constant illness and frailty, and her intellectual difficulties. Others mocked her as stupid because of her difficulty in learning her lessons. Upon becoming a seer and messenger of Our Lady, she continued to be mocked as a fraud by some and pressed fanatically as a saint by others. The quiet child who disliked attention had become the center of that attention. When she became a nun, her physical ailments haunted her to her death. This simple, holy girl would seem to bring little to the table of insight, analysis, or profound expression, yet she was a giant of example reflecting clearly the model of Christ-like behavior and showing us seven traits equally present in the events of Holy Week.
1. Acceptance of God's Will For Our Lives - Monday of Holy Week
Bernadette suffered great poverty, discomfort, illness, ridicule, and slander, yet she silently accepted these things as the Will of God Almighty for her life. After their triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the Apostles might have been sky high, but Jesus is reflexive and calls on them to pray. God reminds us that following Christ has its highs and lows, and we must be moderate for even Our Lord showed that accepting God's Will is not always easy.
2. Great humility and simplicity - Tuesday in Holy Week
Bernadette always remained humble and simple in demeanor and never exhibited the least arrogance or pride in her fame or status as a chosen one of God. Christ asks his Apostles to prepare for Passover, not in a great, extravagant hall, but in a simple upper room without fanfare. Just as Our Savior became one of us in simple poverty, He became bread and wine in simple surroundings. Once again, the majesty and power of God Almighty surrounds itself with simplicity and quiet. God reminds us that the core of sanctity and holiness is humility, which Christ himself demonstrated by taking the form of simple bread and wine.
3. Unquestioning obedience to God - Wednesday of Holy Week
Bernadette followed Our Lady's instructions thoroughly; regardless of how odd or difficult those instructions may have seemed or how much ridicule those wishes might bring to her. Certainly digging in the dirt and scrubbing one's face with mud in public would seem odd to many of this world, but that was of no concern to Bernadette. As the Apostles prepared for what they might have believed to be just one of many future meals with their Master, Christ knew that this would be the last "normal" day for all before what would forever be known as the Easter Triduum began. God reminds us that our trust, faith and obedience must be complete if our soul is to survive the onslaught of what is "normal" to this world.
4. Rejecting the false fruits of this world in favor of the eternal fruits of Heaven Holy Thursday
Bernadette rejected all gifts and shunned her fame and celebrity to live a simple, humble life. She recognized the superficiality and uselessness of that which this world holds so dear and saw these things as the obstructions to holiness and closeness to God, which they are. The fruit of the vine would become the living Fruit of the Vine ("I am the Vine, you are the branches" John 15: 5) in which the Son of God would establish the Living Sacrament in order to provide the everlasting Manna from Heaven present Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament when properly confected. God reminds us that we must remain open and subordinate to God's Will and Authority lest the Divine Fruit of Salvation given us by Christ become the false fruit of Eden offered us by the devil.
5. Sacrificial Child of God - Good Friday
Bernadette offered her sufferings and hardships as sacrifices to God, and therefore found the treasure of difficulties instead of resenting hardships thereby wasting their heavenly value. Through our sacrifices, penances, prayers, and total fiat to God's Will we willingly nail ourselves to Jesus on the Cross and let our sins be washed away through His Precious Blood as we give ourselves totally as sacrificial children of God. God reminds us that just as His Only Son was the Sacrificial Lamb Who washed away our sins, we also must sacrifice ourselves in His Name, His service, and His message.
6. Sincere Lover of Christ and His Blessed Mother - Holy Saturday
Bernadette's love for Christ and His Blessed Mother was evident in her every word, action, and demeanor. Hers was not a superficial love of words but a profound love of action and simple humility. The image of The Pieta turned so vividly real by Mel Gibson should fill us with the love and pain in those tender moments when Christ was brought down from the tree. The agony of His absence magnified as the stone closes the tomb turns our sorrow to His dear Blessed, Immaculate and Sorrowful Mother who continues to grieve as the world continues to roll that stone on Her Divine Son's Name, Purpose, and Message. God reminds us that Our Blessed Mother is our Eternal Link to Christ, presenting the newborn Baby, the growing Boy, the wedding Guest, and The Sacrificial Lamb for our adoration, respect, and example.
7. Quiet, Holy Dignity - Easter Sunday
Bernadette lived her short life in quiet, holy dignity. She remains an example of the powerful message of silence in The Lord. He conquered the ultimate foe, death, not with pomp and fanfare, but with the simple majesty and power of God Almighty. God reminds us to celebrate The Feast of The Resurrection with a simple, glorious Alleluia while others may focus on counting eggs, drawing rabbits, and wearing fancy clothes.
The Ultimate Compliment
Bernadette Soubirous receives the ultimate compliment possible to a child of God. Everything about her and her life is a rejection of The New Order's modus operandi.
To a New Order, which embraces selfishness, power, celebrity, fame, greed, and pride, Bernadette embraces selflessness, humility, simplicity, service, obedience, and conformity with the will of God. To a New Order increasingly unwilling to see God, Bernadette saw The Mother of God. To a New Order, which refuses to believe what it cannot see, Bernadette challenged living by faith. To a New Order, which prides itself in taking credit for its accomplishments, Bernadette was content to dig dirt to find an endless spring of curing water and kneel in the shadows of a great future Basilica.
Following the examples of Christ, Our Blessed Mother, St. Francis and others, Bernadette was the anti-New Order.
Through her life and example, this simple child of God who could not remember her Catechism lessons, who was judged stupid by the standards of this world, is transformed into a humble professor of simplicity reminding us of the lessons of Holy Week. In a world on its own egg hunt for wealth, power, fame, and flesh, we are reminded that the true treasure of Easter is found in Holy Simplicity!
Editor's Note: We are pleased to announce Gabriel Garnica will be contributing many articles in 2004. Heaven is once again under attack by those who would seek to ignore and overthrow God's majesty and authority. Gabriel Garnica, educator and attorney, will submit regular insights and commentaries to remind and help guide readers toward a deeper and more assertive faith. Touching on topics and issues ranging from personal faith, doctrine, education, scripture, the media, family life, morality, and values, Gabriel's notes will be music to traditional ears but unpleasant tones to those who have bought into the misguided notions so prevalent and spreading in today's Catholic world.