The sick and infirm are at the centre of the prayers of those in Lourdes and the Anointing of the Sick liturgy is an opportunity for those who are suffering to receive the Sacrament of the Sick and be filled with God’s healing grace.
During today’s service, prayers were said for all who are suffering; those who are visibly frail as well as those with unseen ailments. The Bishops and Priests moved among the laity, laying their hands on each sick pilgrim, praying over them and anointing them with oil. Oil has always had a symbolic value in the Church, conveying healing and strength.
The ceremony was a moving occasion where we came to the heart of what it means to be in Lourdes. We can all share in the healing that Jesus brings, regardless of who we are, where we come from or what burdens we are carrying.
Our final Mass together was a chance to thank God and his mother for the grace of having been on the Pilgrimage and a time to commit ourselves to taking the spirit of the Pilgrimage home with us. Although tired, we are full of joy at what we have experienced.
Lourdes is a place that helps us all, whether assisted pilgrims or able-bodied, to deepen our faith, meet people we wouldn’t usually encounter and care for those who need our help. It is a place of great devotion and we have taken part in a packed programme. We have experienced a blessed and fruitful pilgrimage and we leave Lourdes with gratitude to God for the many graces we have received. Lourdes is quite simply a wonderful place, not only for what happened here in 1858, but also because of what happens today and we give thanks to Our Lady for calling us to Lourdes.
To those of you at home, we have prayed for you many times during the week and we hope you have enjoyed travelling with us on your “virtual pilgrimage” as you have listened to the podcasts and homilies, read the daily reflections and viewed the videos and photographs. For us it has been a truly spiritual experience full of faith, hope and love which we hope to continue sharing with you, our Parishes and our Diocese when we return home.