Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


ST BERNADETTE OF LOURDES - LIGHT FROM FR LAURENTIN

The world famous mariologist, Fr Rene Laurentin, wrote a seminal book, Bernadette of Lourdes.

Bernadette was the poor little girl who reported visions of the Virgin Mary in a grotto at Lourdes in 1858.

This book gives several proofs that despite Laurentin’s belief that the visions were real they were not supernatural.

The fame brought to Bernadette because of the apparitions brought attention to her father being remembered as a common thief (page 21). What right would she have to do that to her father over visions? There is no use in blaming her father and not her for had she kept her mouth shut her father would not have been remembered this way.

Page 29 admits that Bernadette managed to learn her catechism before her first communion. So she could have learned of the Immaculate Conception before she alleged that the virgin told her these words that was the first time she heard them.

Bernadette initially described the apparition as "something white" (page 36). This was after the first vision. This does not square with the detailed account she gave later of a beautiful girl in white who fingered her rosary. Bernadette got beaten at home for saying she saw something white. That evening she was questioned by her mother and another woman who concluded it was an illusion or dream she had experienced. Bernadette had been beaten for telling stupid vision stories. A parent would be more likely to be annoyed at a child going about speaking of strange visions of "something white" than a child saying, "I saw a beautiful lady who seems to be the Blessed Virgin Mary". Even in the confessional on the 13 February 1858 she told the priest Father Pomian that she saw, "Something white in the shape of a lady". It had become a lady by then but it was still something white.

The apparition glided towards Bernadette one time Bernadette asked her to write her name but nothing appeared on the paper Bernadette held towards her (page 43). This suggests Bernadette thought the vision was writing but the fact that nothing was on the paper indicating hallucination. Bernadette declared to some people that she never stated that she was seeing the Blessed Virgin (page 48). She was asked by Jacome if she was seeing anything at all and she said that she was seeing something. She said at the time, "I do not say that I have seen the Holy Virgin." He said, "Ah, good! You haven't seen anything!" She stated, "Yes, I did see something." "Well what did you see?" "Something white", she replied. Jacomet said to her, "Some thing or some one?" "That thing (Aquero) has the form of a little young girl." Bernadette never described the thing as male or female. She used neuter words (page 48).

Seeing something - that's not a very comforting answer for those who wanted it to be the Virgin. When pressed to declare what this something was she said, “Something white”. She called it that thing or Aquero and said it was in the shape of a little girl. But why use a neuter word like Aquero if it was really a girl? Was she not really sure? Later she began to describe the clothing of the vision indicating that she was embellishing her story. Even later she still said she was seeing something in the shape of a lady (page 68). Dean Peyramale asked her did she know of fairies and witches suggesting maybe that was what she was seeing but she denied it. He told her she was lying for everybody had heard of such beings (page 70). Anybody with a brain will agree with him.

The spring didn’t appear until after a hole was dug by Bernadette and then others who helped her later (page 60-61). There is no evidence except only Bernadette’s claim that the lady told her where the spring was before she found it. Did she see the muddy patch and get water from it and then imagine that the lady told her beforehand about it?

Page 78 says that the pharmacist Pailhasson declared the spring water dangerous.

Bernadette asked the apparition her name. She didn't reply and just smiled. The apparition "smiled all the while" as Bernadette asked the question a second and third time. "The fourth time Bernadette asked the question, Aquero stopped 'laughing'." Then she opened her hands and extended them towards the ground and then joined them again and looking up to the sky said that she was the Immaculate Conception (page 81, 82).

Incredibly, the apparition is described by Bernadette as laughing when she asked the vision her name (page 81). This indicates hallucination. As does the rest of the Virgin's strange behaviour.

Page 83 says Bernadette heard the words Immaculate Conception from the virgin for the first time ever. And then it says she was able to learn what the words meant that night. The book is honest enough to admit she would have heard the words at Church on the feast day of the Immaculate Conception December 8th. And there was devotion to the Immaculate Conception due to it being a recently declared dogma by the pope so she would have seen leaflets advertising it. The book tries to kid us that she heard the expression only in French a language she did not speak and we are told later that she did know some French at the time (page 92). Obviously she would have went to church with girls on the 8th of December and they would have been saying things like, “We must go to celebrate the Immaculate Conception”, in her dialect. Bernadette confessed years later that she knew of the prayer “O Mary conceived without sin pray for us”, so she knew the word conception and that this conception of Mary’s was sinless which takes you to the next step, the word the Church preferred for sinless in this case was immaculate. Mary was habitually referred to by many as the Immaculate. Bernadette was taught at school by nuns remember.

She said she would not tell the secrets the apparition told her to anyone and not even the pope if he asked her for the lady forbade anyone to be told (page 94). This indicates a spirit of disobedience and the Church has the right to know all an apparition has said to be sure it really was orthodox and therefore from God. The apparition can be understood as heretical - the pope as vicar of Christ has the right to be told, unless he is not really what he claims to be!

She also said that if her confessor asked her for the secrets and vowed to get her barred from communion if she didn't tell then she said she wouldn't (page 94). Clearly she was putting the apparition before the sacraments. The confessor should have been told the secrets. And she obviously had more regard for the vision than for communion believed to be the body of Christ.

Bernadette cultivated an image of being stupid but many people at the time found her intelligent (page 99) and even many years later (page 169). She used this alleged stupidity to impress people by her vision tales. Bernadette even rejected all the stories about miracles she had heard about as untrue (page 100). She could only do that if she was sure the vision had declared no miracles would take place though Bernadette never admitted this. She knew anything else would be insulting to the lady.

The fact that her parents went down in business just before the apparitions and business improved after them but they lost their gains by being too generous (page 102) may indicate that the motive for claiming apparitions was to bring visitors and customers to the town for her family’s benefit. I know she wouldn’t let her family benefit directly from the visions but that only means she may have wanted them to earn their living and be comfortable. No doubt the family thought they could afford to let people walk all over them for the lady would protect them when she appeared to their daughter and were proven wrong. The visions destroyed their lives.

Bernadette later threw her shoe into a strawberry garden to entice a friend to trespass on it and steal strawberries (page 107). This indicates a deviousness with regard to morality. She liked to make evil look good. She was not so stupid. She told her sister not to learn to read (page 107). Believers justify this cruelty by saying she only wanted to keep her away from improper books!

She wouldn’t let people pray for her cure (page 229). That was a sin because the nature of prayer is not to get favours from God but to be able to submit to him. She had a strange fear of men as a nun saying the door must always be open when a nun is with a man (page 176). She began to contradict herself on when the Virgin told her things imagining she was told things all on the one day (page 220).

She said that the statue of Mary was incorrect because the left foot was not far enough over which was strange for the vision did move according to her (page 118) and that she didn’t hold her head back as far as the statue did even though the bend is hardly noticeable (page 230).

When dying and to advertise herself as a saint she started claiming that the devil was appearing to her and scaring her and that by calling on Jesus she could get rid of him (page 223, 235). Some doctors thought that Bernadette was normal at the time of the apparitions. Dr Voisin was one who thought that she was suffering from hallucinations (page 170). The Church uses medical opinion to back itself up when it says a miracle has happened but it is selective in what medical opinion it wants to listen to. How dishonest!