Oh, My Lourd(es)

“Pray for sinners.”
“Penance. Penance. Penance.”

-Our Lady of Lourdes

After going to Mont Saint-Michel, we made our way to Lourdes. We got to Toulous and planned to stay the night at the station so we wouldn’t have had to pay for an additional night in a hostel, but after only half an hour or so, they closed the station. So we wandered around until we found a hotel. It was great to take a shower and to stay in a decently nice (that six college students could afford) hotel. That next morning (Easter Sunday), we got up and made our way to the train station, which was nearby. After two trains, we made it to Lourdes.

We left the train station and made our way to our hotel, getting misdirected a couple times. We dropped all of our stuff in our rooms and then rushed to Mass at 11 in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. We got there just a few minutes before Mass started, so it was already packed, so we just found a couple of seats with steps on which to sit. We were expecting Mass to be in French, so we had the French Mass responses ready. We got there to find out that Mass was in Italian. One of my friends knows a good bit of Italian, so he was fine, but the rest of us were fairly lost. We had the readings, and Mass was the same except for Mass being in Italian, so we were able to follow along. Traveling really brings one to understand an appreciation for Mass being in Latin: Mass would be the same everywhere, and I’ve been able to learn some Latin from going to Latin Masses, so I wouldn’t be completely lost.

After Mass, we got some lunch, where we somewhat treated ourselves because it was Easter Sunday. We then went back to the hotel, after getting ourselves a bottle of champagne, once again to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord on that Easter Sunday. When we got back to the hotel, we were all fairly exhausted, 100_1902so we wanted to take it easy for the afternoon: I took a nap. After my nap, one of my friends and I made our way to the Grotto. It was kind of rainy, but it was still rather nice outside. The weather was mild, so it was fairly manageable. There was an Italian rosary going on, but it was still rather amazing to see the place where Mama Mary appeared to St. Bernadette. Because we couldn’t get very close, we went on. It was announced that there was adoration in the Basilica of Saint Pius X. We got there to hear the Gospel and some intercessions. The bishop took the monstrance around, blessing different sections of the church. That church was quite the ironic one. It is an underground, modern basilica. The church dedicated to the Pope against modernism is modern… Boy, the irony… I wonder what the architects were thinking.

After adoration, we went to the hotel to figure out our plans for the night. We went out to get dinner and then went back to the hotel. After hanging out there for a while, we went to the procession at the Shrine. It was beautiful. Everyone had candles as we processed with a statue of Mary leading the procession. We prayed a rosary throughout the procession, with the prayers being said in many different languages. We ended at the foot of the basilicas as we finished our rosary. Afterwards, we found some friends and caught up with them. Then we went to the hotel to call it a day.

The next morning, a few of us went to the Lourdes hospital to go to Mass with the Lourdes missionaries from Franciscan. A100_1896fter Mass, we got breakfast and then headed to wait in line to go to the baths. Waiting was interesting. They came over the intercom praying the rosary, but he constantly changed languages and randomly ended the decades and stopped the rosary. Also, I had no idea what to expect with the baths, because I hadn’t really been told anything other than that it was really cold and that I had to take all of my clothes off. They put a towel on me, and, before going into the water, we all prayed a Hail Mary. They gave me a minute to call to mind my intentions. I walked to the end of the bath, sat down, and then they dunked me in, except for my head. I was literally breathless. I stood before Mama naked, breathless, and abandoned of all. I lifted up myself up to hear and then went back to put on my clothes.

Meeting up with my friends, I went to the Adoration Chapel. I prayed Daytime Prayer, but, after that, I felt a little too restless to sit there in Adoration. So I left the chapel and sat by the river. It was interesting to watch the river and the people nearby. There was such a wide variety of people who had come to Lourdes. There were people with disabilities who came to wash in the baths. There were groups that reminded me of the Steubenville Youth Conferences, cheering those cheesy cheers. There were priests and religious. There were families. There were priests and religious. There were those seeking spiritual conversion. There were tourists. There were people of all sorts of countries and backgrounds, all coming to this place of pilgrimage, where Mary appeared to Bernadette. Why were all of them here? Because they’re supposed to be. Why was I there? Because I was supposed to be. There’s some sort of spiritual healing that we all need. whether we realize it or not. God gives what we need; we just have to accept it. He brought each of us to Lourdes to help us grow and heal in some way. Whether we grow and whether we are healed depends on whether or not we accept it. I’m still trying to figure it out for myself, but I know that God blessed us in our time.

The river also led me into some beautiful insights (with also the help of others). The river moved swiftly with tiny waves and swirling throughout. It might be cliché, but bear with me: the river is kind of like life. Life comes at us fast, throwing things at us that we don’t expect, turning us around every which way, leaving us disoriented in the end, but it still moves on. Throughout everything, life moves on. Throughout struggles, through our ‘calm’ periods, through ‘thick and thin,’ life moves on, and it moves quickly too. After something happens, we may want to go back and change it. I saw ducks trying to swim upstream; it was a struggle for them. When you try to swim upstream, so-to-speak, all you do is miss the present moment, hurting yourself even more as you try to change what can’t be changed. We can look back and see that things didn’t go the way we wanted them to go, but we can’t change them. And our struggles are meant to help us grow. Without the waterfalls, with the rapids, we could never appreciate the calm. And after the rapids, we make it out, in the end. We determine the state in which we make it out.

I enjoyed that time of just looking around and thinking. After that, I went to find my friends, but they had left the chapel. I wandered around, picked up some lunch, and then headed back to the room to hang out for a little while. That afternoon was sort of on-our-own time, which was good to have. I had the opportunity to look at and pray in the basilicas of the Crypt and Our Lady of the Rosary. It was a beautiful day for most of the day, but then it started to rain on and off. I got the chance to just walk around the town of Lourdes, which is a rather touristy town. It’s sad how touristy and commercial so many pilgrimage sites have become. They have become just another sight to see and another place at which to make money. I spent some more time just sitting and looking around. I figured that, since I was in France near wine country, I would get a bottle of wine, so I went and got a bottle of Bordeaux.

I went back to our room to figure out our plans for dinner. 100_1907We wandered around for a while, but we didn’t get anywhere. We eventually found Nutella crepes for €3.00, which sounded so good, and it was. We went back to our hotel to hang out for a while and to figure out our plans for the night. I was laying down, and I eventually fell asleep while everyone else else was still talking around me. It was only about 8:00pm. The next morning, we packed our bags, went to Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary, checked out of our hotel, and then left for our 11:45 train. We made our way to our final 10-day destination: Barcelona.

“God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”

-The Serenity Prayer

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Duc In Altum

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: I Guess I Don’t Know Spanish As Well As I Thought | Eärendil Star
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