This week, Father Michael Romano will be sending back reports of his pilgrimage with Bishop Dennis Sullivan and the Knights and Dames of Malta to Lourdes, France. This is the third in his series of reports. 

True devotion to the Blessed Mother should always lead us closer to her Son, Jesus Christ. She desires that each of us grow ever more in love with the Lord. Today provided an opportunity for us pilgrims to express our devotion to Christ in a powerful way.

Our day began with Mass in the grotto where our Lady appeared to Saint Bernadette, a poor peasant girl. Out of that cave, so simple in appearance, came those healing waters and the devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. The silence prior to the Mass was remarkable, where all we pilgrims could hear was the rushing waters of the river behind us and the chirping of the birds. In his homily, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York spoke of the candles in the grotto and the role candles have to provide light and heat.

Referencing the windy night we had last evening for the candlelight procession and how we all had to help each other relight our candles when the wind blew them out, Cardinal Dolan spoke about how sometimes our lives of faith can grow dimmer and lukewarm. However, just as we assisted each other with the candles, we Christians are called to rekindle one another in the faith–when our light is burning brightly, we can bring that light to another in need; when ours isn’t burning quite so brightly, we can be inspired and encouraged by someone else. Those of us who are not considered the official malades here in Lourdes definitely find the Cardinal’s words ringing true for us, so inspiring are the sick among us these days.

The afternoon fixed our eyes on Christ, present in the Holy Eucharist. Thousands of pilgrims participated in a beautiful outdoor Eucharistic procession. There was Jesus, present among us, even coming through the crowds. We all worshipped the Lord in silence, thanking him for the graces we have received thus far and bringing to him whatever intentions we have, especially intentions for healing. As the bishop carried the monstrance through the crowds, he stopped right in front of our group to bless us. The pilgrims around me were so moved by that experience. We all returned a little brighter and lighter having encountered the Lord in that profound way.

Something has already happened in these days to our group. While no one seems to have received a physical healing, the spirit of the group is so light and positive…it is palpable. There is joy in being together and excitement at whatever is going to happen next.

The most striking thing to happen each day is at meals. While sitting with people we do not really know, the conversation is so uplifting. At each table, the talk is not of banal things, but rather of faith, of the Lord, of our Lady. And despite the struggles each of us may be going through, those three topics put everything in perspective. After a few more days with table conversations like that, who won’t return home on fire once again for Christ and his Church?  And then Mary will have done exactly what she wanted: she will have drawn us closer to her Son.