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Saturday, February 11, 2017

On Pilgrimage: Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for Us!

Basilica of Lourdes at the height of the season.
Six million pilgrims visit every year.
Today is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Do you know St. Bernadette's story? Raised in poverty, she was a sickly child, but was still eager to help her family. One day in winter she, her sister and a friend went to look for firewood. At the cave of Massabielle, what the locals called the "pigs' shelter" she saw a vision of a young girl dressed in a white gown with gold roses on her feet who invited Bernadette to pray the rosary and asked her to return every day for fifteen days. Every day she would kneel at the grotto, venerate the beautiful lady, and pray the rosary.

Bernadette became a figure of mockery when the lady told her to dig in the earth and drink the water that appeared there and eat the weed. The gathered crowd called her crazy, but a spring bubbled up there and miraculous cures soon took place at the site.

When Bernadette asked the lady her name she replied, "I am the Immaculate Conception," a title conferred on her only a few years earlier by Pope Pius IX.

Bernadette entered the convent and died of tuberculosis in 1879 at age 35.

Today six million pilgrims visit Lourdes every year many hoping for a healing of healing. But for many the spiritual healings are even more important. Recently John Horvat went on pilgrimage to Lourdes which is "desolate" during the winter unlike the summer when crowds throng to the grotto and the miraculous waters. He described his recent Lourdes experience during the "desolate" winter this way:
The pilgrimage of desolation became one of consolation. In the desolate silence, you gradually acquired the habit of thinking, reflecting, and praying. What attracted me the most was the Grotto, which is the heart and soul of Lourdes. When you are almost alone with Our Lady, you experience a kind of sacral intimacy by which you feel you can ask her anything without inhibition. It was easy to spend time asking, asking, and asking yet again. There was time to pray for the crisis inside the Church, for America, and family and friends. And returning to the hotel, you thought of yet more things to ask.

And Our Lady responds by encouraging your petitions. Her statue at the Grotto is discrete, polite, and very French. She looks slightly upward as if to say “ask me anything because I know how to arrange everything with my Son.” And you are compelled to comply....
In the pilgrimage of our own lives, we all go through times of desolation and triumph. Each has its role, lessons, and special graces. Both are necessary and part of life. The important thing is the object our pilgrimage which is found in Our Lady who leads us to God and heaven. With this in mind, whichever pilgrimage you choose, you will never go away disappointed. [Read the complete article here.]
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
St. Bernadette, pray for us.

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