“Que soy era Immaculada Conceptiou”

michael dubruielOne hundred and fifty years ago, a young woman asked a lady who appeared to her, who the lady happened to be. She received the answer: ”Que soy era Immaculada Conceptiou,” spoken in the local dialect of the girl (neither French nor Spanish, but Provencales), that translates “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Yesterday I stood with hundreds of pilgrims at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels in Hanceville, under a beautiful replica of the grotto at Lourdes where Saint Bernadette first heard those words of Our Lady spoken to her, and where these words are engraved under the image of Our Lady at this newly dedicated Shrine.

There is something about these outdoor shrines that calls to mind a great reality, namely that when God wants to reach us, God sends His messengers, whether an angel or the Blessed Virgin Mary to wherever we are at the moment. We encounter God in Church, but we can encounter God outside of the Church as well—for “God is everywhere” as we all learned as youngsters from the Catechism. But there is more, and the shrine in Hanceville by imprinting the words “Que soy era Immaculada Conceptiou,” under the image of Our Lady in the Lourdes grotto, reminds us that when God has a message He wants delivered to us it is delivered in our own language.

Amidst the intermittent rain and sunshine, we pilgrims joined Bishop Robert Baker in prayer as he consecrated the altar at the Shrine. The many young people in attendance reminded me of the young St. Bernadette who was graced with the heavenly visitation of Our Lady. The many young religious present, even further brought home that point to me. The Liturgy of the Word called to mind the manifestation of God to Jacob, and the first instance of a shrine erected by Jacob to commemorated God’s visitation at that spot, the Gospel recalled the annunciation and Mary’s “how can this be?”

Indeed, how can this be? On this day, in forest,  on the banks of the Black Warrior River, I receive the Blessed Sacrament—the Lord Jesus Christ, at this newly dedicated shrine of Our Lady. God comes to us where we are at the present moment, God speaks to us in our language–no matter how simple we are, because God loves us.

I have been to the beautiful Lourdes grotto at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN many times. I believe it is the most beautiful spot on that lovely campus. There is a sense of quiet and prayer that pervades that spot, no matter what is going on a few feet away at the busy University. The heat of candles lit, warms you as you approach—making you mindful of the many prayers that have been left behind for God to answer.

Now, in rural Alabama that same sense of prayer and presence is here—where Our Lady points to her Son and tells us to “Do whatever he tells you.”


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“Knowing Jesus”

Pope Benedict continues his catechesis on Saint Paul, from Asia News Italy:

In “knowing” Jesus what matters are not the details of his life or viewing him as an event in history but rather following him as a “living reality” as Saint Paul did. “Jesus is alive, speaks for us and lives with us. This is the “true way” of knowing him as “our brother, who is with us, who shows us how to live and die.” This, according Saint Paul, is what “knowing” Jesus can teach us, the main topic of what Benedict XVI told the 25,000 people who had gathered in St Peter’s Square for today’s general audience.

In continuing his catecheses about the Apostle to the Nations, the Pope offered the faithful “what Saint Paul learnt about the earthly Jesus”, his life, teachings and passion.

For Saint Paul, said Benedict XVI, there are two ways of knowing Jesus or anyone else. In the Letter to the Corinthians, he wrote that “we regard no one according to the flesh . . . .” Indeed for Paul there are two ways of knowing people. One, “knowing according to the flesh, means knowing from the outside, applying external criteria—face, form, life experiences—without knowing the real inner self, who one is. [However], one can truly and in truth know someone else only with heart.” For whilst the “Sadducees and Pharisees met Jesus, heard his teachings, learnt about his life, they never knew him.”

“What do people say about me?” Jesus asked. “But who do you say that I am?” he asked the twelve disciples. Although people know him, they do not know who he is; instead the twelve do. [. . .] This is true even today. There are people who know Jesus in almost every detail but have never met him and then there are those who do not know every detail but have met him.”

As for Paul he “is certain not to have seen or met him on earth,” but did meet him through the apostles and the nascent Church.

In Paul’s Letters there are various explicit and direct references to knowing the pre-Easter Jesus, noted the Pope, his Davidic lineage, his words about the indissolubility of marriage, and the Last Supper. Paul knows about the Sermon on the Mountain and quotes some passages almost verbatim like the one about loving one another and one’s persecutors.

In referring to Paul’s “faithful transposition” the Pope mentioned the pre-Easter tradition use of the word father. On the Mount of Olives, “before falling asleep, the disciples heard Jesus call out to his Father, abba, a word familiarly used by children, but not by Jews when they addressed God. Here as a true son Jesus speaks to his Father.” In using this word Paul says that “the baptised can turn to the Father, speak like Jesus, because they have become sons through the Son.”

For Benedict XVI another “faithful reproduction” of Jesus’ words is found when it is said that “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve . . .” which in the Pauline doctrine sees “Jesus’ death as ransom, redemption and reconciliation.”

“We shall have an opportunity to talk about Jesus’ death as a mystery of reconciliation,” the Pope added.

In conclusion Paul “never thought about Jesus in historical terms, as someone from the past. He knew him and treated him as living reality; his words do not belong to the past, for Jesus is alive, speaks for us and lives with us.”


“This is the real way. This way we can learn to meet Jesus, not in the flesh, but as our brother who is with us, who shows us how to live.”

SEC Midseason Awards

From the Birminghmam News:

Coach of the Year:

Alabama’s Nick Saban is on a collision course with a national title, way ahead of schedule. Houston Nutt has made Ole Missrespectable again.

Remember Les Miles? He’s had to battle Mother Nature’s wrath, again, while trying to find a new quarterback without the benefit of electricity, thanks to Gustav. Yet LSU is in the thick of things.

But Vanderbilt’s Bobby Johnson is the obvious choice. All he’s done is replace his entire offensive line, moved on without record-setting receiver Earl Bennett and turned the laughingstock of Southern football into a nationally ranked, undefeated powerhouse.

Midseason Award? Johnson deserves a Nobel Prize.

Player of the Year:

Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno is a staple on ESPN’s SportsCenter highlights. But he was a non-factor against Alabama.

LSU’s Charles Scott looks like Jim Brown running through SEC defenses, giving redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee time to mature at quarterback.

Yet Glen Coffee is doing double duty at Alabama, serving as the plow horse for a ball-control attack and as a gamebreaker who slices through defenses in 80-yard gulps. If he’d only stop fumbling …

Newcomer of the year:

Great recruiting classes produce impact players, and there are plenty to go around: receiver A.J. Green at Georgia, teammates Julio Jones and Mark Ingram at Alabama, linebacker Jerry Franklin at Arkansas and quarterback Jarrett Lee at LSU.

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