Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Operation Lourdes Day Six

They say that the message of Lourdes may be summarized by four words... Poverty, Prayer, Penance, and Participation. Today we've experienced all four.

Temperatures are cool again today, so after a morning drizzle, it seemed a perfect day to tackle the outdoor Stations of the Cross. While Lourdes actually has three different Stations of the Cross, the main one follows a path up the Espelugues Mountain, just behind the Church, for about a mile to the Calvary. The Stations consist of life-sized dioramas in cast iron overlaid with bronze. As you can see from the pictures below, the Stations are exquisite in detail. After walking the somber and difficult path to Calvary, we were rewarded for our effort by a refreshingly cool breeze at the empty tomb.

The path down the mountain turned us out unexpectedly near the "piscines" which is where pilgrims go to bathe in the healing waters of the spring from the Grotto. It was on February 25, 1858, that Our Lady told Bernadette to "Go drink at the spring and wash yourself there." And since then, there have been long lines of "malades" and others waiting to be dipped in the water. Today, the line was surprisingly short. A little nervous about the protocol for the bath, I was fully prepared to skip the piscines altogether. But apparently, Mary had other plans! With no excuse remaining to bypass the bath, we waited less than ten minutes before being ushered into a changing area where you undress completely and are assisted into the bath. Humility...and healing. Healing for me and for all those heavy on my heart. Having just celebrated a fifteen year anniversary of being cancer-free, suffice it to say, I was overwhelmed with feeling for all those currently battling physical as well as spiritual or emotional illness. Words cannot describe the moment, nor will I try, but the grace was momentous and I will treasure that experience forever.

Walking out of the piscines, we stopped in the Adoration Chapel. If Mary's presence is alive in the Grotto, Christ's presence is even more palpable in that space. We silently prayed in that beautiful and reverent space while the rosary was being recited across the Gave before the Grotto. Its hard to describe how powerful prayer is here in Lourdes. And as I have promised, I have carried each of you in my heart every step of the way.

Because the act of drinking and washing with the water of the Grotto should be accompanied by the Way of the Cross, Confession, and Communion, we stopped by the Reconciliation Chapel before leaving the sanctuary. We found English speaking priests present and available for reconciliation and so were able to get yet another cleansing...this time an inner bath!

Poverty of spirit, Prayer from the heart, Penance of mind and body, and Participation in the life of the Church are the very heart of Mary's message to Bernadette at Lourdes. It's a call to life-long conversion, to a living-out of our Baptismal commitment. So today, I'd like to share with you this prayer given to me at the piscines...

God our Father,
It is through Mary, the most pure Virgin, that your Son has come to us, the Source of Living Water.

Help us to answer His call, in coming to purify ourselves at the Source of grace pouring from his heart, And of which this water is a sign and reminder, so that there may live in us the new creature, that we became in Baptism.


Angie Etienne said...

What a Beautiful and most powerful day you've had!!! Was again I can not begin to imagine the emotion you must be blessed with with in you, thank so much for sharing with us and I'll continue to look forward to reading more!!! I love you <3

Anonymous said...

Your words touch my soul. mjb

Anonymous said...

Thank you for praying and sharing. Stil praying for you. Susan

Anonymous said...

Thank you for allowing us to walk this journey with you, living vicariously through your experience. God's blessings are abundant! Love from the Fleming's

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a fantastic time. Hopefully i can one day go there. The pictures are great. Thanks for sharing them with us.
Camille Woods