We all went into the mountains this morning. We celebrated Mass in the ever-popular Cathedral of the Trees at the Cité St Pierre, a little way above Lourdes. So it was appropriate that our opening hymn was the one that begins, ‘how lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news.’ This got us all into the mood and a very relaxed and happy liturgy followed. You can see from the photographs that we're still enjoying beautiful weather, which is such a blessing. This Mass takes the theme of the family and in his homily the celebrant, Monsignor Harry Turner, spoke of the role of the mother and the father and their task to pass the Faith to their children.
One family who have been exceptional in their dedication to the Westminster Diocese Pilgrimage to Lourdes since the very beginning 24 years ago is the Blackfords. Veronica Blackford has shown remarkable leadership, skill, faith, courtesy and love over nearly a quarter of a century in bringing a group from her parish in Heston. Here she reflects on her own pilgrimage through this time, from when she came with the Cardinal Hume and travelled on a less than comfortable train:
This afternoon we had a service for the anointing of the sick. It had been scheduled for the large, airy chapel of St Bernadette Cote Grotte but was changed to a smaller room in the Petit Musée de Bernadette. It was too small to get the helpers in so they sat outside with their chaplain, Father Uchenna Odenigbo. The liturgy went ahead and was very moving but we've had quite a few changes to our programme this year. This is because, for the next few days, the authorities in the Sanctuary are mounting a big event to enable many young people to participate by proxy in World Youth Day, which is currently happening in Rio de Janeiro. This means that some places in which we usually celebrate our various liturgies are not available to us. It's a wonderful thing for the young people who haven't been able to get to Rio so we can't complain. We saw some of them arriving tonight and can expect to see many more over the next couple of days. We hope they find their celebrations meaningful and give them greater depth to their faith.
Speaking of young people, our own young helpers had their own liturgy this evening. It was devised and led by the youth themselves. They were encouraged to think about faith and why they're here and they re-dedicated their committment to serve. Very enterprisingly they'd made a cross out of a couple of pieces of debris from the recent floods, which emphasised that Jesus was broken for us and we are called to be broken for each other. At the end of the service they were all invited to come to this cross and take a small St Francis (of Assisi) cross and a prayer card.