Why does this blog always start with a weather report? Really it should start with stating how wonderful it is to be in Lourdes as part of the Westminster Diocese. And there's no question about it. It is wonderful to be here. I was reminded of this phrase today because it's the feast of St James (one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration of the Lord). We celebrated the Mass of Saint James in company with Brentwood and Shrewsbury Dioceses at the Grotto itself. By the time the Mass started we all knew the tragic news about the train crash very close to Santiago de Compostela. Many of the passengers would have been pilgrims going to the shrine for the feast day and we remembered them in our prayers. In his homily, Archbishop Vincent Nichols recalled to us the theme of the year, 'Lourdes, a Doorway to Faith,' and spoke of the fivefold elements which help us on our journey of faith: the sign of the cross, rock, water, light and new life. The homily is here for you to listen to.....
This afternoon several groups of us made the Stations of the Cross. There are two sets of Stations in Lourdes. One leads you up over the mountain and the other is on the flat by the river. I went with the group on the flat and even managed to find some shade. Other groups made their way up the high Stations with the beautiful scuptured life size models. The heat was fairly intense.
And later . . . a complete departure from the norm for us, we had a baptism! Sophie, Louise, Bernadette Lavery became one of the newest members of the Church in a very beautiful ceremony in the Parish Church. A small crowd of people were on hand to welcome her into her new life and. Her elder brother, William, read, very well, from the Epistles and she and her other siblings behaved beautifully throughout.
Before dinner two students from Grainne McSweeney and Ivan Carasco from St Dominic's in Harrow talked about their time i Lourdes:
The evening finished with the torch lit procession led by the Diocese. At the front four Red Caps carried the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, then the Archbishop and priests followed by wheelchairs and flag bearers and pilgrims. It was a remarkable evening, deeply reverential and a very special privilege for us to lead the rosary procession. It was also noticeable how fine the singing was. The Archbishop read the final prayers in Latin and then the final blessing.