The why and what of Lourdes

Aug 9, 2023 | Personal reflections

The two most common questions I am asked about Lourdes are why do I go and what do I do. I've discovered the answers in recent weeks.
I went to Lourdes for the first time in 1973, fifty years ago. During all the subsequent years, I have always found it difficult to answer the two questions that always come up in conversation: why do you go to Lourdes, and what do you do there?

In the last couple of months, I have found the simple answers to these questions, answers which fit instinctively and tell the complete story.

  • Why do I go to Lourdes: because I was called and answered the call
  • What do I do in Lourdes: I accompany other pilgrims on their journey of faith and am accompanied by other pilgrims on my journey of faith.

Why?

It took my Formation Responsable to help me get to the answer to this riddle at our session before making our Commitments.

In 1973, Fr Martin approached me at the College and told me that the Ampleforth Lourdes pilgrimage needed more helpers, and I was going to Lourdes in a couple of weeks’ time. I did and was inspired. However, the phone must have been off the hook or engaged because I missed the call and spent the next thirty years in a wilderness of egotism, greed and fear.

Then in 2014, I got a call from my son at the same school. He had just had a talk with some of the previous year’s pilgrims and wanted my permission (and money) to go to Lourdes that year. Not only did I say yes, but I decided there and then to also go.

Evidently, the phone was answered this time, and since 2014, I have been on eight pilgrimages of healing with the Ampleforth Lourdes Pilgrimage and five pilgrimages of service serving in the Sanctuary for the Hospitalité Notre Dame de Lourdes.

I was called, and I answered the call.

What happens in Lourdes?

I got the answer to this from a homily given by Fr K. He told us he had returned from holiday last week and immediately accepted a parishioner into full communion with the church. The individual concerned was 84 years old! Fr K went on to say what a privilege it was to accompany others on their journey of faith.

I saw immediately that this is what we do in Lourdes. In June this year, I spent most of my time in the Grotto or at the train station. In each place, we were there to help healthy and assisted pilgrims to experience Lourdes. Just by helping assisted pilgrims off the train or pointing pilgrims in the right direction at the Grotto and allowing them to pray or consider their own faith (it was plain that many pilgrims were unclear and even in doubt about their faith), we had the privilege of accompanying other pilgrims on their journey of faith. And, of course, other pilgrims and volunteers performed the same role for me, assisting me on my journey of faith.

So, in a nutshell, the answer to these two questions is that I come to Lourdes because I am called and I serve in Lourdes to accompany others on the journey of faith.

What do you think?

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so share your thoughts in the comments box below, and thank you for your time and generosity.

What do you think?

Your views are important, and your fellow readers would love to hear your opinion, so share your thoughts in the comments box below, and thank you for your time and generosity.

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