The second day of the pilgrimage 'has been very much a packed day of prayer, praise and petition,' as Bishop Nicholas Hudson tells us in his video message:
This morning many of us were still elated from yesterday evening's Torchlight Procession, when Westminster had the great privilege of leading the procession of pilgrims from around the world reciting the Rosary and raising our torches high as we sang the 'Ave Maria' chorus of the Lourdes hymn in honour of Our Lady.
This morning, Bishop John Sherrington led the service of the celebration of the Sacrament of the Sick in St Bernadette Coté Grotte. In his homily, he reminded us that Christ offers each of us his yoke: 'Christ is close to those of you who are sick and carries your burden with you and for you; his strength gives you the help to endure. When you stay close to him, he, the stronger, helps you to carry the load and bear your cross. Here in this holy place, we help each other to bear the cross and carry the yoke together.'
What a comforting thought it is that we are never alone, that Christ is always with us. As Bishop John said: 'This focus of care and importance in Lourdes contrasts with the world where efficiency and technological opportunity dominate. Here relationships are central and matter most of all.'
Sr Angela, a Sister of Mercy, tells us how moved she was by this service.
Canon Gerard King reflects on what a joyous occasion it was and how fitting it is to celebrate the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick in Lourdes.
After lunch, as the temperatures soared into the mid-30s and the sun was at its hottest, we boarded the coaches and set off to the Cité St Pierre. The heroic Redcaps pushed pilgrims in wheelchairs, assisted frail pilgrims, and carried water and umbrellas up the steep incline from the coach park to the Cathedral in the Trees, all with a cheerful attitude that created a joyous atmosphere.
Despite the heat, we raised our voices in praise as we sang 'Our God Reigns!' Bishop Nicholas began the celebration of Mass by exclaiming 'how good it is to be here!'
Indeed it was good to be there. As is customary each year, a seminarian gives his testimony about how God has called him. This year was no exception as first year seminarian Robert Smialek told us how working on Crossrail helped him find his way to a beautiful church, Our Lady and St Catherine of Siena, and to the realisation that God was giving him a gift.
Bishop Nicholas too recounted the story of St Bernadette, who was told she was good for nothing, and yet embraced her mission to care for all the sick in her community with such care and compassion.
In the evening, we too had the opportunity to experience God's healing mercy during the prayerful Reconciliation Service in the Underground Basilica, as our priests were sat around the vast basilica, waiting to hear our confessions and offer us God's tender compassion through the sacrament.
It was truly a day of prayer, praise and worship, beginning and ending with the two healing sacraments. Indeed it is good to be here!
If you missed the first day's recap, you can find it here.