Day 3, Part 2: The Beckoning

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

This one is… well, I’m probably oversharing.  And I’m sorry, but it’s my blog and my life and if you don’t want to read the dark side, skip this post.  Fathers, check my theology.

I talked about what we did in a timeline, but why do I call today the reckoning?  It started with a Tombstone quote in my head, “It’s not revenge he’s after, it’s the reckoning.

The baths didn’t go like I wanted.  Turns out, the Grotto was another

It’s beautiful at any time

“not how I wanted” moment, through no ones fault.  Wait, that sounds wrong.  I’ll cut out listing all the things that “bothered” me in the day and summarize: I didn’t enjoy the Grotto mass, or the sharing at lunch.  (I don’t share).  By the time adoration hit, waiting in the sun and not “seeing” any progress of the procession, I probably wasn’t a very good malade.

Let me also say that talking with Tom over coffee after the lunch was a helpful and restorative time.  I’ll say it now, every meal, every coffee every time spent away from schedules and with people in a small enough group to speak back and forth was the balm (in Gilead?  where is that balm?) for me on this pilgrimage because somewhere in those conversations, God was working.

I think the pivotal moment was the Eucharistic procession and adoration.  At that point I had a lot of things weighing me down, and it was the tipping point for getting it out.  I’m going to set the stage: we had been waiting for what seemed like an hour and a half for the procession to finally make it to the steps of the basilica.  We were hot, and stiff.  After some initial prayers, the celebrant asked up to worship in silence.  And behold, what I was looking at.  Now, time for some theology.

What do you see?

Have you ever read the 6th chapter of John’s Gospel?  No?  You should.  The whole thing.  Then go back and see how it literally translates from the Greek.  Then go on to read the Last Supper accounts in the other Gospels.  The unifying thing here is, “is my body”.  IS.  As Catholics, we take the words of Jesus, who we acknowledge as the all-powerful God, at their face value.  IS.  “My flesh, my blood”.  So what you see in the center of the big gold thing (called a monstrance) is God, veiled under the appearance of unleavened bread.  He’s really there, because he said so.  And if I think He’s the all-powerful God, why wouldn’t I believe what He says?

So in this moment of silence, of contemplation, I’m face to face with my God.  Just me and Him.  No one else existed in that moment.  No prayers rushed to my head.  I don’t think I am or was pious is this moment, because after a moment all I could say was, “Why?!”

Why did you bring me here?  What did you call me here to learn, to be healed from, if not my illness?  What do you want me to understand?  Why bring me here if you weren’t going to heal me?  Why don’t I feel comforted?  Why am I here?!?

Over and over.

I’m crying at this point, because I’m confused and alone.  And I have no answers.

But I wasn’t angry anymore – I was just confused.  I know God called me to Lourdes, through the message of His mother.  The knights and dames always say that we don’t choose to go to Lourdes, we are called there.  Well, I was there, in this beautiful place, spiritual place, a place of healing… I answered the call.  And I didn’t know why.

Later, in the hotel room, I shared this same story with Mel, asking the same questions and missing the same answers.  Why am I not getting healed from ALS?  Do I lack faith, and like Nazareth, Jesus can’t work miracles for me?  Am I too much a sinner?  Is it even something that do/am/can influence?  Also crying in the hotel room.

Real manly, aren’t I?

You know the picture of the beautiful woman with the beer in yesterday’s post?  That was after she listened to me saying all this.  Isn’t she great?  It was her idea.IMG_2944

So, that was day three.  We didn’t “do” as much on day 3, but I feel like I captured the main points pretty well.

I don’t mean to drag this out, so I can shorten the timeline and share more pictures if you all prefer.  If you want me to not share this kind of thing, sorry.  Everyone wants to know how the pilgrimage went and this is honesty.

I’ll close with some pictures.



We lit a candle here in Lourdes for all our intentions and those of our friends and family


St. Ambrose in Annandale represent!
A Cardinal, and Tom in the picture finally, pulling away!

4 thoughts on “Day 3, Part 2: The Beckoning”

  1. Love you, Joe! I cried with you in this post. I’m glad you are able to share your joys AND sorrows with us all.


  2. Praying for where you are dear Joe! Mel has always been wicked smart….just like her mama..who is helping you both.


  3. Awesome. I love all of the posts. keep them coming! Anyone that can combine tombstone (great Movie!) with very deep thought provoking experiences, Gospel lessons and a nice beer is simply Brilliant!! and those goes for both of you!


  4. By the way there are a few tangents you owe us in reader-land. you told us not to let you forget. Soooooo now might be a good slot for a good Joe tangent
    you owe us:
    “Addressing and Archbishop”
    “question on the Icon of the blessed mother”


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