The second day of the diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage started with the International Mass, which was led by Cardinal Vincent. For those who haven't been to an International Mass in Lourdes, it takes place in the Basilica of St Pius X, which is an underground, a cavernous space with a capacity of 25,000. As with all International Masses, we were joined by many people from different nationalities and built into the liturgical celebration are readings and hymns in multiple languages.
In his homily, Cardinal Vincent focused on prayer, and in particular how the Gospel of Luke makes prayer central to the life of Jesus and his disciples. He said that, 'In pondering his words, we must remember that St Luke is constantly telling us that Jesus spent time in prayer, especially in the key moments of his ministry. At his baptism, he is praying; before the choice of the twelve, he prays all night; at the transfiguration, he is at prayer; in the Agony in the Garden, he is silently praying.'
Out of this, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray, and he responded by teaching them the Our Father. In Lourdes, the Cardinal went on to say, 'maybe prayer comes more easily, for a few days. Here we encourage each other, we pray together and we have our Blessed Lady to lead us. "Pray for us sinners", we say, over and over again. And, she does so.'
Cardinal Vincent shared some advice on how we can pray more deeply, saying that, 'In these days in Lourdes, in this place rich in prayer, may our prayers be like this: prayers of joyful praise; prayers for others in their needs; prayers that never lose heart or cease!'
After the International Mass, our pilgrims had the rest of the day to rest and in the heat, while some of the redcaps and their leaders visited the beautiful Lac de Lourdes to swim. Once it had cooled down in the evening, the pilgrimage gathered for the Torchlight Rosary Procession.
Led by Cardinal Vincent, Bishop Nicholas Hudson and Bishop Paul McAleenan, the procession was a time of prayer, with the Rosary and Marian hymns in several languages, with the processors raising their candles high during the chorus of the hymns. From the top of the Basilica, the candles formed a procession of light that snaked its way around the Sanctuary, leading to the statue of Mary at its head. The intentions of all the pilgrims present were then offered to Our Lady in a special ceremony at the end, led by the Cardinal.