Crew: Tom, Brooke, Claire, Margaret (all a beautiful family), and Marlana (adopted family for the day)
- 0700 Breakfast
- 0830 Assemble for travel to the Grotto for
- 0945 Mass at the Grotto
- 1200 Malades lunch
- 1500 Assemble for and leave for
- 1630 Eucharistic procession
- 1900 Dinner
Day 3 was another long one, and I’ll admit it’s a tiiiiny bit hazy on the details, but I’m going to blame the sun exposure and none of you better tell Alice or Marguerite. And I had my first brush with fame on day 3 – no, I already met the archbishop, this is someone else, someone BIGGER! (A separate post on this is coming. Don’t let me forget.)
I thought I’d share the day with you all first before getting all emotional again though, is that ok? This day was pretty emotionally up and down.
Yesterday we had the baths, which are fed from the waters of the spring. Today was mass at the Grotto itself, which I hadn’t been up close to yet. I was rather excited because the GROTTO!! THE PLACE where St. Bernadette saw Mary! To me, it is something maybe like the Holy Land feels like (I’ve never been) and experiencing the places where holy events happened. It’s a big deal!
Our crew today, along with honorary family Marlana, a doctor in Maryland, was a beautiful family from around DC actually – well, recently. Claire and Margaret are twins, the youngest of 6 girls, at Lourdes for the first time as volunteers with their dad and mom. How cool is that, teenagers coming over to another country to cart around sick people for a week?!?!?! I don’t care if they were forced to or not, because at that age I DEFINITELY wasn’t doing that!!
The Grotto mass was also beautiful, with another mass with 5 or more bishops concelebrating and 20 priests or more. It’s always a beautiful sight to see. The altar is just under the niche where Our Lady appeared, and the spring is way in the back left there, blocked off by the celebrants. To be honest, I can’t remember the homily – it just was getting cold! But a young lady made her first communion at the grotto, the same day my Grace was with her class for first communion!
After the mass we headed back for a different kind of lunch. The malades gathered in one group, and companions in another, and we had a lunch as malades. Bishop Johnston was our shepherd for our lunch, and he opened up very beautifully about pain in his own life, and echoed the statement we had heard already so much: “I’m a malade too. We are all malades.” People are called to Lourdes, they don’t just go on a whim. And we are called there because it is a place of great healing, physical, mental, and spiritual. We malades talked about that, our reactions and perceptions. Not me, I don’t share. But for almost 2 hours we did.
I had the great fortune to run into Fr. Mullins when we first got there and he asked Bishop Johnston to give me a blessing. At the end of the talk, I did my usual “bishop” spiel. Have I told y’all what it is? Well, too bad, I’m going to say it again.
There aren’t as many bishops in this world as there are priests. And there aren’t as many priests as there are deacons and lay people. So when I see deacons, priests and bishops out and about, on the street, with the people, with the flock, it warms my heart. I think we need to see them around, we need to see that visible witness to faith and to God. I ran into Bishop Burbidge of Arlington at the March for Life this year and tried to make a point to thank him for being among his flock. Every bishop that I’ve met since I’ve tried to do the same thing, because I’m meeting them out and about, not just from afar at the liturgy, or a planned and timed visit. The same with our priests and deacons and consecrated. And I encourage you all to do the same, because they need our support just as we need theirs!
After the lunch, I had my first brush with fame. Again, a separate post. But then Tom and I went back and had a cappuccino while Mel was shopping (because I took longer than her). Tom is such a great husband, father, knight – it was a pleasure to slow down the day and talk to him in the quiet. (THEME!)
Then to the Eucharistic procession. The sun was out, and I forgot my sunglasses. And my hat. We were out there for several hours so I got burnt and also had a little over exposure. The procession also was long, they started down near the grotto and took a VERY long way around while we were waiting in the sun. (I guess I should say we didn’t process but waited while the Eucharist was processed). The music (oh the music!) and the benediction were beautiful!! And we had time, in silence, to pray – 1,000 or more people all being silent to pray.
Then back, and on the way back we saw a Cardinal, and almost ran over a couple people, and back to the hotel, where Mel and I enjoyed the actual BAR In the hotel for the first time with a delicious Leffe abbey ale.
And then dinner, which might have fish, or duck, on this day. APPARENTLY some people want a food post, so I’ll do that later.
And then bed. Really, bed, then and now, because tomorrow I have to share all the non-scheduley bits.