We all know that tomorrow is the 11th of February and that means its the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. I first went to Lourdes in 2004 and find that with each year my personal relationship with it changes and grows. Looking back, I honestly think that without Lourdes in my life I would have been rather different. I am not even sure how this is the case but I really believe that it is. I have experienced no physical healing at Lourdes, there are no physical manifestations of my experiences there. However, like millions and millions of others I have been touched by the great power of love that exists there.
On the 11th of February a girl went to collect firewood and in that simple action begins the story which is not always joyful, especially for Bernadette who made great sacrifices in her life. Yet it remains a story of triumph, a grotto, a symbol of hope that stood through two world wars and draws more pilgrims to it now, in this secularised Europe than it ever has before. One can only begin to consider the awe Bernadette must have felt when all of this begun. Two years ago I was able to be at the grotto on the 11th and I was able to look up at the space where 'Aquiro' first appeared. That was a privilege enough for me and at the time I might not have fully realised why, yet because of that privilege I have been able to open a dialogue about Lourdes on this blog and people have emailed me and messaged me from as far afield as Africa. Thank you to all of you who have read along and given me a chance to talk about a beauty which language does no justice to. Lourdes belongs to all of us and the grotto is open to our faith and to our hearts. It is a gift.
For pictures of the 11th of Feb 2008 (150th anniversary) click here
For a post on the first apparition click here
For a sermon from Lourdes on Our Lady (2008) click here
Last year I was very privileged in taking some petitions to the grotto for people and I was just wondering- if people reflect back- whether they feel any of those prayers were answered. Not that I am asking people to share publicly or I think that Lourdes is some kind of gumball machine where you put in a prayer and get a prize. I was just thinking it might be a nice time to consider those petitions again.
There are so many ways in which prayers can be answered- our ways are not His ways -and Lourdes is as much about the miracles you can't see, those of the soul, as those you can.
I wish you all a blessed feastday tomorrow and remember your intentions in my own prayers.
Our Lady of Lourdes - pray for us!