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Pastor's Column

Saint Bernadette Speaks

Pastor’s Column

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 9, 2024

Saint Gildard’s Convent at Nevers, France is the location where the incorrupt body of St. Bernadette of Lourdes lies. Bernadette, who died of tuberculosis and was laid to rest almost 130 years ago, remains the best example of bodily incorruption in the Catholic Church.

In this convent Bernadette spent her entire religious life. She had a lively personality, and was terribly annoyed by those who wished to make her out to be some kind of living saint, simply because Our Lady chose to appear to her. She had a kind of peasant wit infused with grace. In my first visit to the convent, when I had traveled alone to France as a transitional deacon in 1996, I had the opportunity to stay in the convent guest house. After the shrine adjacent to the convent had closed to outside pilgrims for the evening, I had full access to Bernadette’s chapel, whose body lay in a glass case to the right of the main altar. I sat alone, right in front of Bernadette herself, reading her diary.  To this day I feel as if I had met her as I read her own words and looked at this saint (see picture below). It remains one of the most singular graces of my spiritual journey.

Please allow me to share with you some of her wise sayings which have come down to us.  May God speak to you through her own words as she spoke to me that evening.      

      Father Gary ~

Saint Bernadette - Broederhugo, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


“If we had faith, we would feel the divine presence everywhere.”

“For the few years we still have to live in this world, we must do our best to spend our time as well as possible.”

Someone remarked to Bernadette that she seemed to take the trials of life with great patience, and she replied: “As it is Our Lord himself who sends it, I must take it.”

Bernadette was asked to explain how she bore suffering for Christ and she said (this is my personal favorite saying of Bernadette) “Suffering passes -- but to have borne suffering -- remains.”

Someone remarked to Bernadette: You suffer a lot, don’t you?”  She replied, “Well, what do you expect? The Blessed Virgin told me that I would not be happy in this world, but in the next.”

“I would like to know the defects of the saints and what they did to correct these defects.  That would help me much more than hearing about their miracles and ecstasies.” 

This is some advice Bernadette gave that I often use in confession and in my own life…she said, “The first impulse does not belong to us, but the second does.”

“Oh my God, may your will be done! I accept all sufferings since such is your will.”


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