First I have to share this amazing rendition of St. Bernadette. It is composed of small pictures of people.
Following the penance service this morning, many of our group from the diocese decided to join the hundreds of other pilgrims at the healing baths, yours truly among them. I must say that was the most spirit driven experience I have encountered thus far.
As many men as women lined the benches as they waited in private and communal prayer to be dipped into the baths. The spring water of the bath was extremely cold but the kind hearts who assisted us were as warm as sunshine. I personally took my family in my heart as I walked into the bath for healing purposes and found a physical and spiritual healing for myself as well.
One pilgrim reported that she felt warmth in the frigid waters. Another felt the presence of God there. I think we all experienced our own connection with the powerful love and mercy of God as we journeyed with the Eucharist, penance and healing waters today. It continues to amaze me how much we have experienced both spiritually and physically (oh! my aching feet!) in such a short time.
The entire group met again at 5 p.m. beside the basilica to pray the Way of the Cross High Stations. Now, I have witnessed some beautiful Stations in the US, but you have never seen the likes of the inspired Stations of Lourdes that are larger than life and are placed along a winding trail up the mountain.
The walk was both challenging and redeeming and the reverence of the group was palpable. It was a moving event that fit with perfection in this day.
We decided to use some free time before dinner to see the remaining chapels in the basilica. Stunning holy ground!
And to finish the day in splendar, a gelato stop on the way home truly grounded us in the goodness of the Lord.
Now, my promised personal stories...
One young woman in our group witnessed the torch light procession last night and then decided to pray at the grotto. She was distracted by the crying babies and the general noise that surrounded her. As she prayed to Our Lady, she humbly asked that Mary might quiet her mind — and the young pilgrim immediately "heard" a quiet. "It became silent," she said, "a Divine silence." As she rested in that peace, she continued to pray as tears of gratitude streaked her face. She says that experience began for her an incredible journey of the soul. "It was awesome!" she declared.
A seminarian approached me today after the penance service, which by the way healed many hearts, to joyfully report that at the late night adoration at the grotto a woman approached him to take his hands in hers. She simply looked into his eyes and smiled. As he gazed at her, he offered, "Peace," to which she responded in kind. Then she walked away. "It was a simple and beautiful exchange," he said. "An encounter of the great love of God. It touched my heart and was just what I needed in this time of my life."
What can I say??? God IS good!
May our Blessed Mother touch your hearts as she is touching ours.
See you tomorrow!