Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Operation Lourdes Day Seven

Remember that fourth message of Lourdes? Participation? That lesson was reinforced early today when we rode up on the "lift" with the celebrant for morning Mass. Since this was my same friend from yesterday who offered me absolution, I could hardly turn down his request when he asked me to do the reading. So, despite the glaring absence of my comfort zone, I was open to the Spirit and Participated! At Mass, the priest declared it to be the Mass of the Holy Spirit, but it seemed the Spirit had gotten a jump start on His day!

Later, It had been suggested by a friend that Vespers with the Carmelites was another experience not to be missed, so we mounted the hill behind the sanctuary for the short walk to the Carmelite Monastery nestled on the hill overlooking the Grotto. We were not disappointed. The atmosphere was serene in the rustic Chapel and the sisters' prayer was simple and pure. Although I couldn't understand their words, the rhythm of their prayer seemed unusually familiar!

Tonight, like every night at Lourdes, the evening concludes with a torchlight procession which begins near the Grotto and snakes around the sanctuary ending in front of the Rosary Basilica. After having witnessed the spectacle from our hotel balcony the first day of our stay, we were excited to join the multinational throng and join our voices to theirs in the recitation of the rosary, which is said in as many languages as there are pilgrims. The long line of malades in their wheelchairs and stretchers, who lead the procession just behind the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, is a humbling testament to faith, hope, and love. All faces, even the most pitiable, radiate a beautiful joy and happiness.

Having retired for a last visit to the Grotto for the night, I was again struck by the lesson of this impossible place. Over 150 years ago, in this forsaken and filthy little grotto, a "beautiful lady" appeared to a simple 14 year peasant girl. This unremarkable but tenacious little girl steadfastly repeated to authorities the two commands given her by the lady...that people should come to the place in procession and that a chapel should be built there. Despite every difficulty, Bernadette's fidelity to Our Lady's message ultimately borne remarkable fruit with thousands walking in the daily torchlight processions and the many millions that have come to this holy place. As for the chapel, I look at the magnificent Basilica that rises out of the very rock in which Mary appeared and am simply overwhelmed by its grandeur. All of these riches were borne out of the faith of a child.

I am reminded of the Sunday gospel reading which began our week in Lourdes...that of the mustard seed. How perfectly Bernadette, and the legacy of this place, reflects the meaning of that parable. In my own life, the mustard seed of love for this place was planted in my heart through my mother. And it was the love of several 14 year old children, such as Bernadette, that watered that seed when they conceived the idea of sending me here and brought it to fruition. I am deeply humbled and forever grateful to each of you for your love and generosity. I can't wait to see the edifice that springs forth in my own life from this seed, but it's growing, dear friends, it's growing!


Anonymous said...

Dear Sister Nicolette,
Thanks again for articulating the wonder that surrounds you!

Angie Etienne said...

What a gift to hear about your spiritual walk each day, its just a constant reminder to me to remember who is first in my life!!! Love and miss you!! <3

Deacon Cy said...

Thank you for sharing with us. what a wonderful trip you are having. If it is not too late, say a prayer for a special intention for me. God bless.

Anonymous said...

I love the pictures and the blog thanks for sharing, see you Tuesday!!!
Katie Beeson

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the wonderful experience with us!
Mary Alice Furgeson