Our day began with a votive Mass for Mary at the Grotto. This is, for many, one of the highlights of the week as it gives pilgrims the opportunity to celebrate at the spot where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette in 1858. It was at the Grotto that Mary promised happiness to Bernadette “not in this world but in the next”.
In his homily, Bishop Peter Doyle from the Northampton Diocese, encouraged us to do what Jesus did and to put our faith into action by reaching out to others, especially those who are neglected by the outside world. You can watch his Homily below. We joined our prayers with the prayers of the many thousands of others who have visited the Grotto since the first apparition. Conscious of so many who have asked for prayers in Lourdes, we bring all our petitions to Mary, remembering the intentions of those who are close to our hearts, those who are most in need and those who are at home.
During the apparitions, Our Lady asked Bernadette to do penance and to pray for sinners. Our Reconciliation Service, which was a celebration of the loving mercy of God, gave us the opportunity to examine our lives and to ask God for his strength and forgiveness in times when we have failed to love Him and our neighbour. Many of us took the opportunity to be reconciled with God through the receiving of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Aware of our failings, we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us as we reflect on our need for God’s mercy and we pray that we may continue to strive for reconciliation and peace in our daily lives.
Today’s programme ended with the Blessed Sacrament procession which takes place every afternoon during the main pilgrimage season. The procession fulfilled Our Lady’s request to “Come in procession” to Lourdes. During the procession, pilgrims processed, either by foot, in wheelchairs, on stretchers or in hospital chariots, from the Adoration Altar on the Domain Prairie, to the Underground Basilica of St Pius X. The procession was a journey of faith in which we walked alongside Jesus, asking for his healing, blessing and guidance. We pray that each of us will come away from this pilgrimage with a new sense of direction, following the path that the Lord wants us to travel.