Monday, 8 August 2016

Lourdes Blog. August 2016

Note - Latest entry first!




WEDNESDAY:
What is happening? 
We woke up to low cloud and fine rain? 
Not expecting this! 
So change of plan. 
Think flexibility!



So this morning we decided to have Mass in the Hotel Chapel. Feast of St Theresa Benedicta of the Cross, better known to many as Edith Stein.

Fr. John spent time reading up about her marvelous witness, which in many ways relates to us today. She believed in asking questions and challenging the authorities at the time, especially the Nazi regime, which she saw as a blight against the poor and the person of Jesus. So we reflected on how we move forward, how we base our lives on prayer and reach out to the poor as "Missionary Disciples".


After Mass we went to a local cafe to relax, nothing more we could do with the weather.


As the weather began to clear, after lunch we went out to do the Stations of the Cross, which was another moving experience leading up to the opportunity for people to go to Confession, if they so wished, or find some space for private prayer. 

The weather continued to clear in the afternoon getting hot and humid. So space and time for people was important so they could relax, pray and meditate. Road blocks are also being put into place as security tightens with an expected huge crowd over the weekend. Things being as they are in France reminds us of the need to pray for peace in the world, for respect of all faiths and the call to forgiveness. The Stations of the Cross reminded us of the suffering we endure which is part of the Cross. God's way is not always man's. We all have crosses to bear and we learn from our experiences. 

Asking God to be with us on our journey is central to our theme today.

Another superb evening meal was enjoyed, all before an evening of entertainment.


Tomorrow, Wednesday, we plan to have an early rise and Mass in Bartres before travelling to the Lac de Lourdes for a morning of relaxation in each other's company.


We are remembering you all in our prayers, thanking God for your love and support. People are coming out of themselves with some fantastic results. We are truly blessed to be here.






Fr John


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SUNDAY:

Today we all awoke to glorious weather, not a cloud in the sky, but also not too hot as humidity was low. However, keeping in mind that this is a week in Lourdes it is important to go at a gentle pace. However, gentle is not the same as slow. 

Getting the group to work together as a team is important in early stages so that we are able to understand who is responsible for what and that everyone is looked after, especially in crowds. Flexibility is also the key when you find that somewhere may not be accessible when you turn up. This can be a regular thing when you realise that churches are beautiful to view but also functional. 
So planning to visit the Grotto or various churches may not always be as easy as it seems. The grotto was again packed to capacity so making a visit difficult, a Mass going on in the Rosary Basilica, also putting that visit on hold, same too for the Pius X Church. 

We managed to look around the Crypt though before returning for lunch. 
When it is hot in the afternoon a later start is helpful so a mid afternoon start and a visit to the are opposite the Grotto to pray the Joyful Mysteries, relating them to modern life was a time to pray together, before heading to the Sept Dolours Chapel for Mass. After Mass we had a cafe stop at the Terrasse Cafe before dinner (evening meal for some). At night some of the group went to watch the torchlight procession whilst others enjoyed some free time.

MONDAY:

another beautiful day ahead, with concerns about how hot it may get. We had an earlier start with Mass this morning at 9am at the Poor Clare's Convent Church on the Feast of St Dominic. After Mass we headed to the Parish Church again, only this time to find a Requiem taking place, so again re visit the plans. 
A trip up to the Fort enables people to get an excellent aerial view of Lourdes and see the old town in relation to the new, with all the hotels. After many years visiting Lourdes it is always good to come across something new. Paul Millen took us to a garden area at the foot of the Fort where there were some French games set out. After many attempts of throwing wooden hoops at a board with hooks on it only John Burton and Callum were successful, easy when you know how was the look they gave the rest of us mortals.

With the heat increasing back to the hotel for another excellent meal before a siesta. In the afternoon some wanted to visit the baths, but even the queue for the male baths was longer than the female queues for the baths, so a washing ceremony on the Prairie was favoured before the Blessing of the Sick in the Underground Basillica. The kneelers in there are not comfortable by any means.
After dinner we went down to the Torchlight Procession to play a full part. There being a bit of a breeze made keeping the candles lit a challenge, too much for some of us. Returning eventually to the hotel saw the guitar come out and various renditions being performed which other groups enjoyed being part off.
Well done Eric and Michael for the entertainment. 

Good day had by all in high heat. 

Team really beginning to gel as people get to know each other.

Fr John


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SATURDAY.

Arrival.

Having left Ossy after the Nuptial Mass for Jon and Vicky Lane on Friday, we arrived at Manchester Airport in good time.

Getting through security is always a necessary inconvenience, but with one of the party having lost his medication we were held up somewhat, only to later find it was now in his pocket!

A good flight out to Toulouse saw us land 25 minutes early and Paul Millen waiting to welcome us all. 

Then with a two hour drive to Lourdes via our coach, we arrived tired and in on piece to a supper. some went straight down to the Grotto whilst others unpacked and went to bed after a long day.

Saturday morning was cloudy but mainly sunny, a good first day's weather, so after breakfast we headed to the Crown Virgin Statue to begin our pilgrimage. The domain was fairly busy and, with a Mass on in the Grotto, we decide to circumvent around the area and pause opposite the Grotto on the far side of the River Garve, mainly where we could find shade as the sun began to grow stronger.

With a few places to point out we were making ourselves aware of our surroundings. Whilst most of us have been before, Lourdes is still changing, new bridges have been constructed since the floods, and we also had to learn the pace of the group, never too quick on the first day. 

Back to a nice lunch, we then headed up to the town to start following to life of St Bernardette. The Cachot, the family room where the Soubirous Family lived after the liquidation of the Boly Mill, was nice and quiet so we had time to reflect on those who live in poverty today, or have no homes, or are rejected by society.

After this we made our way to the Parish Church only to find we couldn't enter because of a wedding. So we made our way to the former family home of Bernadette and the Boly Mill before our first cafe stop. Cake seemed to be the main priority of some and the waiters found it difficult to keep up with the order, or at least the constant changing of minds as to what people wanted!!

Eventually we got back to the hotel where we had our first Mass together, thanking God for our safe journey. Being the Feast of the Transfiguration we reflected on the mountains we had to climb in our lives with Jesus by our side, leading us to further reflect on "it is wonderful for us to be here". 

After dinner had a couple of meetings before settling down to Bingo, with Callum winning after various others making false calls. 
Good laugh had by all though despite the mayhem.

More to follow.......................