Mass celebrated in the glorious sun, a penitential service for over 400 people and our diocese leading the torchlight procession meant our second day of the Lourdes pilgrimage was both beautiful and moving.
We started the day in front of the Rosary Basilica, in the esplanade, where Cardinal Vincent celebrated Mass. The sun was beaming, inspite of it being 10am, and the Cardinal preached the homily: that in the same way as the Virgin Mary accepted God’s call to be the mother of Jesus Christ, we too may follow the eternal plan God has for our salvation and fulfillment.
Following Mass there was a break between 11am and 5pm and this allowed many of us to explore Lourdes, if we had not already had the chance! Unfortunately, an afternoon is not sufficient to explore all of Lourdes, especially in this heat, but there will surely be more occasions throughout the week!
In the evening the pilgrims gathered for the penitential service in the Rosary Basilica, which was presided by Bishop Paul McAleenan. In the Gospel, Christ told the Pharisee the most important commandment was to 'love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind', and this word was echoed by Bishop Paul as he led us into the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In the evening we experienced what is surely a highlight of any Lourdes pilgrimage: the torchlight procession! Westminster led the procession as we walked around the domain, the place aglow with candlelight, and singing Ave Maria. With the pilgrimage group incorporating so many young people who have never experienced Lourdes before, processing behind a statue of the Virgin Mary will no doubt live long in the memory.
All the photos from the day’s events are available on Flickr.
Following the outdoor Mass in the morning, Cardinal Vincent gave his daily video message on the pilgrimage theme 'Do whatever he tells you', to help us prepare for the pilgrimage penitential and the torchlight procession.
The day through the eyes of a seminarian…
Today in our Gospel reading at Mass, Mary declares herself to be the ‘handmaid of the Lord’ and joyfully embraces God’s will, ‘let what you have said be done to me’. As a very recently ordained deacon these words resonated deeply within me. However, I suspect they resonate powerfully in many of us. Through Baptism we can all say, I am a son, or daughter, of the Lord. We are all called to build up the body of Christ in our particular state of life and in relationship with one another. To be of service as a deacon to the people of Westminster, while in Lourdes, is a privilege and a joy.
Rev Benjamin Woodley, Venerable English College