It was surely no coincidence that the first day of our 2018 Pilgrimage to Lourdes fell on the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, with the second reading talking of the peace that is found in Jesus Christ. It is this same peace that we are led to by Our Lady every time we come to Lourdes, and on this first day there was a true sense of peace among the pilgrims, helpers and chaplains.
While a small group met to pray Morning Prayer at 8am, led by the seminarians of the diocese, the first major gathering of this year’s pilgrimage was for the Stations of the Cross. We split into groups, some doing upper stations and others the lower stations, due to accessibility. The stations were led by a chaplain, who guided us at each station that we may be reminded of God’s infinite love for us that he sent his Son to die a most terrible death, so that we may have life.
Following lunch, the groups met for the diocesan photo, followed by the opening Mass of the pilgrimage in the St Pie X Basilica. Bishop John Wilson was the main celebrant, with 21 other priests including Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop Paul McAleenan.
In his homily Bishop John spoke of the three things the Lord might want to teach us as we begin the pilgrimage. Firstly, said Bishop John, God wants us to know we matter immensely to him. Secondly, God wants us to relax a little, not to ignore our worries but to share them with Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and, thirdly, that the Lord wants to teach us that he is with us and he is our friend.
Finally, he had this message for all the pilgrims to help enter into the pilgrimage as one body: ‘This week, as we follow Jesus our Shepherd, we become shepherds too, shepherds of one another. We are pilgrims together and we’ll simply do our best to travel each day, to live each moment and each detail, in faith, in prayer and in service.’
All the photos from the day’s events are available on Flickr.
In today's video message, Cardinal Vincent explains we are pilgrims learning to be disciples by following in the footsteps of Mary, the most perfect disciple of Christ.
The day through the eyes of a seminarian…
Today I went on a tour of Lourdes with the Reds, our youngest pilgrims. Our guide, Imelda, had an incredible understanding of St. Bernadette’s life and was able to bring the story to life by guiding our young pilgrims to see some of the secluded parts of Lourdes such as Bernadette’s family home. This is a very similar to what Jesus did in today’s gospel. He uses his knowledge and understanding of God’s love for us to guide the crowds. If we follow our guide, Jesus Christ, he will show us what is so often hidden from our sight; that God loves everyone and has a purpose for each of us.
Dan Daley, Allen Hall
Photos: Jakub Joszko