People go on Pilgrimage for many different reasons. It might be to pray for a particular request, to seek help with a particular situation, to say thank you for blessings already received, out of some sort of curiosity, to rekindle a faith that may have been lost or to deepen a faith that is already there.
Our first Mass together was an opportunity to thank God for bringing us safely to Lourdes. The readings and hymns reminded us of the pastoral theme of the Pilgrimage “Happy are you who are poor”. Bernadette was a sickly, uneducated girl from perhaps the town’s poorest family yet this was the child chosen to be an earthly bridge with the divine.
At Mass, the hands of the volunteer helpers who serve the assisted pilgrims, were anointed as a sign of God’s blessing on their work. These volunteer helpers, who are pilgrims themselves, strive to encounter Jesus in each pilgrim, caring for their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It is always humbling and heartening to witness in Lourdes the selfless commitment of many thousands of people who give of themselves so generously to help those who are struggling.
Lourdes is very simply, a coming together of faith and suffering. The result is great joy. We pray that this week’s pilgrimage may be full of joy and fruitful to the individuals who are here in Lourdes and also to our diocese.