Saturday, 15 February 2020

Lessons of Lourdes



the Rosary Basilica on a fine afternoon
© Teresa Newham

We were back in Lourdes! As we made our way across the Domain towards the Grotto we were looking forward to visiting the baths again and marvelling at the scent of the budding catkins in the unseasonably warm sunshine. Massive queues due to a shortage of volunteers, however, meant there was no chance of a bath.


Our Lady's statue on the Domain
© Teresa Newham

I was disappointed, but my companions pointed out that the queue for the grotto itself was quite short, so we paid our respects to Our Lady there and made our prayer intentions.  Somebody then suggested we went to confession, and we just had time for that before heading off to Mass.


walking near the grotto, 8 am Monday morning
© Teresa Newham

Next morning we got up early and made our way to the baths again at 8 o'clock in the morning. Crowds were already gathering at the Grotto for Mass and a pale moon lit up a tranquil sky.  The queues for the baths, however, were even longer than yesterday, and after hanging around for an hour we came away.


every candle is a prayer
© Teresa Newham

My plans had been thwarted again, but I remembered how on the previous day we'd managed to do arguably more important things that having a bath.  So I went and lit my candles, calling to mind all those who had asked me to pray for them while I was in Lourdes, and then I took a walk.


the Upper Basilica from the bridge over the R Gave
© Teresa Newham

Making my way back across the river and through the Domain to meet up with my group and make the Stations of the Cross together, I had the chance to view the Upper Basilica and its statues in glorious sunshine.  The views were stunning and I realised this was a privilege not to be sniffed at.


St Anne and Our Lady
© Teresa Newham

One of my fellow pilgrims mentioned in passing that at Lourdes we are called to patience, penance and prayer. I realised taking a bath wasn't necessary - after all, when Our Lady appeared to Bernadette she said "Go to the Spring, drink of it, and wash yourself there". So I washed my face and hands at the taps provided, stayed calm and let things unfold.


St John the Evangelist looks out over the Domain
© Teresa Newham

There is always something which speaks to you at Lourdes.  The priest at the Blessing of the Sick talked movingly about suffering: never tell anyone that illness is a good thing.  It is a cross, just as Jesus Christ had his, and we have ours.  And when we awake in the middle of the night, alone, afraid and in pain, He will be at our side.


gathering at the Grotto on the Feast Day
© Teresa Newham





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