When I left the Catholic Church for a season, I abandoned Mary and the Rosary as well. Converting to the Protestant faith, it was all Jesus or you were still considered sitting on the fence. I had no idea that I was in training for the apologetics of my Catholic roots.
As we walked through the Prado Museum and the glorious splendor of thousands of artist capturing “The Pieta” or “The Passion of Christ, Mary is always in the paintings. The agony depicted by so many like “The Descent From The Cross” by Van der Weyden, cannot deny her powerful presence, for she is always in her humble state, gentle Mary would never draw the attention away of her Son Jesus.
We leave beautiful Madrid for a short flight to Toulouse, France and drive two hours to Lourdes.
Last night’s procession in Lourdes brought me closer to Mary. The night skies were lit with an full moon shyly covered with a thin sheet of clouds, as the small village dims it’s lights at nine o’clock for the powerful phenomenon. Before the procession we made our way to the side of my favorite basilica where Bernadette Soubirous had her first encounter with “The Lady With The Rosary.” From the first spring of water that St. Bernadette dug, my prayers came like a rushing wind of revelation. One person’s face led to another and another, I had images of persons that normally are not on my radar and prayed for their needs.
My heart was filled with joy experiencing the thousands of pilgrims who carried their candles through the village main square. The church’s pipe organ filled the crisp fall air with songs to our Lady of Lourdes. A tall statue of our Lady led the worshippers along the small town square, and just as she does today, Mary leads us to her only begotten Son Jesus. The Rosary was prayed in so many languages, and a French version of the song Immaculate Mary elevated me to another spiritual realm. I prayed for those that have lost their way, and asked that through the intercession of Mary that they would be guided back. My heart was overwhelmed with the dark blemish of sin brought on by culpable priests, and I asked that all sin be exposed and that God’s heavy hand of judgement come down upon them. I prayed for all the victims to be healed of their mental afflictions.
How holy are you Lord to bring us to you through the love of your Mother. We need you more than ever.
If you follow my Blog, I have written about the two healings that both Mike and I have experienced in Lourdes. Mike’s knee was completely restored and after my diagnosis of Parkinson’s, I too received a total healing during a pilgrimage with my lay ministry.
As Helen and I waited patiently for our turn in the baths. A French volunteer informed us that they would be closing the grotto at 11 and that it would not be reopened until 2. It was 10:15 a.m. when we formed the line, so at the mercy of God we waited.
Just Like the lines in any the men’s restroom, both Mike and Larry were in and out of the baths in no time. Helen and I had time to get our prayers in order before being dipped into the holy waters.
If we are Facebook friends, I prayed for you. With 3 hours of waiting, I pressed through with the intercession. For Silvia, a beautiful 24 year-old fighting for her life with cancer, for Glenda, Carol, Guity, women from my ministry, I prayed for your miracle healing. For Rose and Betty, our prayers went before the Lord for their restoration of health. For my family and extended family, I prayed for your special needs as well as those of my friends.
When it was time for our holy experience we were escorted into a space separated by blue and white striped canvas drapes. No time is wasted, as French volunteers help disrobe you. We are then quickly shrouded into a navy blue cloak. Lastly, we are led into another section where three women help prepare you for the bath. As I made my way through another set of drapes , I felt the natural stone flooring cold water on my feet. As the drapes opened, I noticed two of the volunteers ringing a white sheet and then they quickly and tightly wrapped my freezing cold body into it. I took two steps into the frigid water and sat in it for a few seconds and said my prayers. The two ladies helped me out of the water, while the third volunteer wrapped me back into the original cloak. No towels for drying off, but a quick rush to getting me dressed. While I slipped on my turtleneck, my shoes and socks were put on by the same kind volunteer that helped disrobe me. By the time I waited the few minutes for Helen, my soaking body was completely dry.
Do not expect Lourdes to cater to your needs. The town closes at 3 and wakes up again 6. The population of Lourdes is 15,000 but they receive over 5 million pilgrims a year. The food is fresh and the service outstanding but it lacks in flavor. The bread is always the best, and in Lourdes man can eat by bread alone.
My toe, that has been my cross for the last three years, joined forces with the smaller toe to add to the agony of my every step. My complaints fell on deaf ears, as no wanted to hear it any longer. Lourdes is a village on the foothills on the Pyrenees Mountains, so we are either going uphill or downhill, needless to say the town is a paradox, bringing me to both great joy and pain.
May the Good Lord Bless You!