Tom & Sue May 28th: Lourdes

Bonsoir once again (tomorrow it will be Buenos  Dias … off to Spain in
the morning!):

We have been longing for Mass and missing the Eucharist we arose  early, foregoing breakfast (I made a pot of coffee as we got ready), and headed to the Grotto for the Mass For The Infirm.  This has been a  very difficult trip
this year as far as Masses.  There is not a lack of Churches around, for every little village we pass through has a Church.  There are just not enough Priests to Celebrate Masses on a  daily basis.
 
We headed to the Grotto, rushing a little since we thought we were  going to be late.  I decided to take a short-cut on our walk and it  didn’t turn out very well, since we had to climb up a hill and then walk down flights of stairs to get to St. Joseph’s Gate at the Basilica. 
 

The long lines as the procession of the sick forms
The long lines as the procession of the sick forms

Huffing and puffing from our quick walk, we entered the Grotto area  and a very, very long caravan of carts/wheelchairs carrying the infirm were still processing in.  Susan was off on the Mass time by 15  minutes so we had time to spare.
 

It is humbling to see people brought in on stretchers
It is humbling to see people brought in on stretchers

We love attending the Mass for the Infirm when we are in  Lourdes.  It is a most humbling experience to see so many who are  suffering and who come here to Lourdes with “hope of healing).  It  makes us so very grateful since our “pain du jours” do not even come  close to the suffering we see all around us here.
 
Mass at the Grotto, as always, was spiritually rewarding.  It  was celebrated in Spanish (I didn’t know that until Susan just told me  … I’m so confused with languages!).  We brought our daily “cheat  sheet” so, at least, we had the Reading of the Day, the Psalm & the  Gospel to read for the day.
 

We leave your prayer intentions wherever we go
We leave your prayer intentions wherever we go

During the Homily, Susan and I always split up your list of Special Intentions that we carry and we read each one to Our Blessed Mother and  offer them up to Her intercession.  It usually takes each of us  10-15 minutes to quietly read our half of your Special Intentions.   This morning we finished well in time to listen to the remainder of the 30 MINUTE HOMILY the Priest gave (he made Father Tom look GREAT! …  LOL).
 
When it was time for Communion, we had the opportunity to receive  Our Lord in the actual front of the Grotto and underneath Our Lady’s  Statue.  It was very special to both of us.
 
Before the Final Blessing, some Special Prayers (we think as it was in Spanish) and we awaited the Final Blessing, after which we all sang the Ave Maria (I think that was in Spanish, too … I’ll have to ask  Susan  ).
 
We are cheating a little this year at Lourdes because we are  sending you some photos from previous trips here.  Most of you have  been “traveling” with us for many years now so you have seen them.   For those who have not, we wanted to send some photos from our previous pilgrimages to Lourdes so that those of you who have never been to  Lourdes can see the inside of the Basilica and the different Shrines on  the three levels.
 

Getting some water from the fountain in Loourdes
Getting some water from the fountain

We were thirsty after Mass and had not brought a water bottle with us, so we stopped at the Holy Water Fountain to refresh ourselves by hand and drink from the Fountain.  We walked to our favorite restaurant,  planning to have an early lunch/dinner but they were not opening until  Noon.  We didn’t want to wait for half an hour so we decided to  come back for dinner this evening.
 
We returned to our hotel for a little cheese & pate’ to hold us  over and we each took a short “power nap” because today will run  late.  Susan’s “battery was on low” so her power nap took a little  longer than mine.  I got up and finished yesterday’s Trip Report to  all of you.
 
Now, we are really caught up because in our next venture to the  Basilica,
we’ll have to find more things to share with you … we are  now in “present
time” with our Trip  Reports.

Map of the trip to France, Spain, Andorra & Poland
Map of the trip to France, Spain, Andorra & Poland

In our down time I marked up the map for our first 11 days (photo  enclosed).  We have traveled almost 1200 miles on 30 gal. of gas that  is around $5 a gal.  This is a far cry from the $9 we paid on our last  trip. We have been in and out of 8 B&B’s and 2 hotels’ have been to 20  shrines and had a few bottles of wine, And you wonder why we look so  tired.  Spain will be different:  for the 11 nights we are there, only 3  hotels and 3 B&B’s. and a lot less miles and shrines.
 
We went back to the Grotto at 5 so we could do the stations of the cross and go to Eucharistic Adoration and confession.  Unfortunately,  Susan mis-caculated the time as 5 hours difference from home instead of 6, and we missed it all.  I had to get some ammo at the bank, so we walked  into town and on the way back stopped for dinner at a Restaustarant where we ate with Fr. Yves in 2009.  The food was still as good and we enjoyed a night away from the sandwhich routine. We never thought we would eat it all but we did and headed back to the Grotto for the 9 PM Rosary procession.  We wanted to collect some water, leave another copy of all of your intentions under the Grotto of Our Lady and light a candle.  We did this with  great success. 
 
At the Grotto they were taking the very infirm into it and helping  them touch the rocks and the water that constantly flows lightly from under the site of the apparition.  Again very humbleing to watch the faith of these people who don’t seem to have a chaqnce of survival.  We were  more upset than they were, they seemed to be at total peace and trust with  Our Lord.
 
We gathered for the procession behind all the infirmed.  We usually are in the very end, but we felt like being close to them tonight.  We offered up our prayers for them and for you, for nothing  is impossible for God.
 
On the way to the Grotto, the streets were empty.  They must have  all been hiding behind trees, because when the Procession began, it was PACKED which was a great thing.  We love Praying our Rosary during the Rosary Procession at Lourdes with so many people sharing in the Prayers of  the Rosary … I am sure She loves it too.
 
When we finished the Rosary Procession, it was finally dark and we  began
to head back to our hotel for the evening.  I did notice at the Grotto that there were a lot of people who were not Praying aloud and/or  they had left early which was sad … possibly an “early bird special in  town”?  I think we Prayed for them as well for them to have wasted an evening not giving Praise to our God and to our Blessed Mother for a short  period of time.  It
makes us very sad.
 
On the way back to our hotel, we stopped for our second beer since we  have been on our “journey”.  We sat at our cafe table on the street and said “hello” to people as they, too, returned to their rooms.  This is  one of only two places (Fatima being the second) that we stay out past dark  to Pray … it was about 10:30 P.M. when we reached our room.
 
As tired as we were, Susan worked on some real estate business while I  worked on our Trip Report.  Then she joined me and began typing to save  time.  I was dictating as I laid on our bed (which was very  dangerous) but I
survived.
 
It is almost midnight and we have lots to do in the A.M.before heading out toward Zaragoza, Spain and some very wonderful places we will be visiting and meeting up with friends and/or new friends …from our previous pilgrimages.
 
I would like to leave you with this very special Hymn of Lourdes:
 
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!
 
Oh Mary, Our Mother, We come to this place,
Where you, who are sinless, appeared “Full of  Grace”.
 
As Bernadette waited, there came to her sight,
A radiant Lady … surrounded by light.
 
She gave her a message … “Let Penance Be Done, 
and Pray that all sinners, May turn to My Son.”
 
“Come here in Procession, to Praise God and sing,
to Wash in these Waters, and Drink at this Spring”.
 
She asked that a Chapel be built in this place,
that all be encouraged to Pray for God’s Grace.
 
The Lady responded, when asked for Her name:
“Conceived Without Sin Is The Title I Claim”!
 
Love Susan & Tom
Palm Beach Gardens, FL  33418 (USA)
E-Mail: TSMelillo13@aol.com  

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