Our Lady of Lourdes

February 2, 2017

I woke up early this morning and received the words Monte Vecchio in my mind. Not knowing what it was I looked it up. Montevecchio is one of the most ancient mining sites in Italy. Now why would I be thinking of a mine, or a cave?

Then later this morning I learned that today marks the beginning of the novena to Our Lady of Lourdes. Our Lady of Lourdes is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated in honor of the Marian apparitions that reportedly occurred in 1858 in the vicinity of Lourdes in France. The first of these is the apparition of 11 February 1858, when 14-year old Bernadette Soubirous told her mother that a “lady” spoke to her in the cave of Massabielle (a mile from the town) while she was gathering firewood with her sister and a friend (Wikipedia).

So there was the meaning of this mine or cave, Montevecchio.

I also learned that Montevecchio was mined for lead and silver. What is the meaning of this? Why are lead and silver found together? So I researched some more. The geologic processes that create metallic ores and deposit them in the earth often mobilize minerals with other metals that are similar in some respect.

Lead is malleable, dark, heavy, poisonous, while silver is pure, light in colour, and desirable. But they are similar in some respects. 

Christ mingled with sinners, a silver to their lead. He was God in human form, so he had a bodily existence in common with them, and could therefore empathize with them. This happens to be shown in today’s mass’s first reading (which I happened to read after writing this entire piece):

Hebrews 2:14-18

“Since all the children share the same blood and flesh, Christ too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could take away all the power of the devil, who had power over death, and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. For it was not the angels that he took to himself; he took to himself descent from Abraham. It was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers so that he could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God’s religion, able to atone for human sins. That is, because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted.”

Jesus, who was man made perfect, did not seek to spend time with as perfect men as he could find, but with the imperfect. The healthy do not need a doctor, he said, but the sick do. And those who want to imitate Christ must do the same. They must bury themselves for the sake of others. 

I received the word “verdage” last Monday, a word I did not understand, when I had been thinking about how I could use my talents to serve others. Verdage means the burying of the flower as a fertiliser to increase the growth of vegetation. What is striking is that the flower is defined in French as a thing’s best part, hence the expression “la fleur de l’âge”, which is said of youth. The expression translates roughly to “the flower of life.” 

It is precisely a plant’s best part which is buried in order to enrich it. The highest part must cycle back into the lowest to perform the best function that it can, that is, to contribute towards the life and flourishing of the plant, which continues to feed those who feed from it. The flower does not live for itself, merely to sing to the heavens, though it does and charms all who see it in the process. No, in dying and falling off the stem, it enriches the roots also, and stands as a sacrifice for the continued existence of the plant’s life. That is the true meaning and purpose of an elite, and every human person, not to live for himself, but to contribute to the benefit of all, by lifting up the lowliest, and propel humanity forward on the great canvas of time. Why else do human beings in all ages feel a fundamental trust has been betrayed when the rich serve themselves and not the rest?

Lord I ask that I may be the silver to the lead of others people’s sins, redeeming them and sanctifying them, and myself in the process, by bringing them closer to You, as You are the silver to the lead of my sins. Let me be the flower that fertilizes hope and faith in God, as You are to me, never glowing for the sake of myself, but always bending downward and back to the earth, for the sake of increasing love, and goodness, and others’ faith in You.

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