World Youth Day 2011 Pilgrimage – Lourdes – part 1

Sunday – August 14, 2011 – 5:30pm – Mercure Lourdes Imperial – Room #508 – Lourdes, France

Well, it has been 8 years but I finally came back. It’s good to be back in such a holy, awesome place. Yesterday was our travel day. Flew from Rome to Toulouse and took a bus to Lourdes. Got here mid-afternoon and had time to get settled in before going to Mass at a Poor Clare convent for 6pm Daily Mass. Supper was at 7:30 and we split up into our groups and had some time to share about our experiences in Rome and what blessed us during that portion of the trip. Went back to the room and got to bed at a semi-decent hour because we had an early wake-up this morning.

Had 6am Sunday Mass at the Grotto. To celebrate Mass at the place where Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette was a truly unique experience. Went quickly back to the hotel afterwards to get some breakfast and then high-tailed it back to Lourdes to wait in line for the baths. Stopped on the way to buy a 5 liter (approx. 1 gallon) plastic jug to store some of the Lourdes spring water. I ended up waiting in line about 2 hours but it didn’t seem bad at all. Watching all the people waiting in line for a bath was very moving. Probably the most moving experience was seeing the handicap and elderly waiting for the baths. Just watching them and thinking about it almost caused me to tear up. Probably my favorite “scene” was watching a group of young boys about 9-ish years old. They were almost competing over who got to guide their friend (who was blind) through the line to the baths. Very moving experience. 🙂

As you’d expect, the bath was the coldest water I’d ever felt, but the bath was a very powerful experience, very much a healing experience. After that, I made my way to confession and then to the Grotto to pray a rosary. Went to the spring and filled up my big water jug. I’m gonna transfer some of it to 5 smaller bottles that I’m handing out to some family and friends. Washed my face and drank some of the water too. Bought a blessed candle that was placed in the big votive candle rack w/hundreds of other candles from other pilgrims. Then I went back to the hotel to drop off all my stuff. Relaxed for awhile, had a cup of coffee and enjoyed the view from my balcony. At 12:15, I went back to Lourdes to explore for awhile and also to find the adoration tent.

After getting to the edge of the Lourdes property and not finding it, I eventually made my way back to the indoor adoration chapel and had some good one-on-one time w/Jesus. At 2:00, a bunch of the people from the group I’m with me up with Fr. Francois Ste. Marie (was a student @ Wisdom in the 90’s and is now a priest with a religious order based in Lourdes). He gave us the “Footsteps of Bernadette” tour. We saw her 2 childhood homes as well as her church parish. When I got back to the hotel, I shaved, took a bath, and voila, here I am. As you can tell, today has been an awesome day. God is showering down his blessings and we still have tomorrow too! 🙂 Later tonight we’re supposed to do some kind of procession. Not sure if it’s rosary, eucharistic, or something else. Today I also had the chance to visit with one of the local homeless people. Had a good conversation with him that hopefully moved him closer to Jesus. I’ve also had the pleasure of practicing my French with Fr. Francois and many other people here. Dad would DEFINITELY be smilin’ about that. As far as the homeless guy is concerned, his name is Pierre. Please pray for him.

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