Dear Friends of Carmel Mission,
During the month of May, we Catholics reflect on the significant role that a young Palestinian girl played in the history of Salvation. While still in her teens, Mary was asked by the Angel Gabriel to consent to give birth to the Son of God.
Her “fiat”, her assent, her words: “Let it be done to me according to your word “, opened the way for the Son of God to come among us, and thereby gave us the greatest insight into the nature of God, until we see Him face to face.
Earlier this month, I was given the gift of a pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine of Lourdes, France, led by the Knights of Malta. Lourdes is a very special place for me and each time I visit the Grotto of Massabielle, my faith is strengthened. I first went there on pilgrimage when I was still in High School in Dublin, Ireland.
The purpose of that first pilgrimage was to pray for vocations to the priesthood. I was never the same after leaving Lourdes, in that the call to priesthood became fixed in my mind, and, despite my many efforts to dislodge it, and focus on other secular career paths, I could no longer escape it. I felt the call to say Yes to God.’
Lourdes is a place where I feel closer to God. Despite the rather crass commercialism of the town itself, there is something sacred about a visit to the Grotto at night, when most pilgrims have retired for the evening. Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Lourdes, always has a message for me, as I pray at the very place where she appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.
With hundreds of candles flickering in the night, and the sound of the River Gave in the background, she gently whispers to me: Keep on saying Yes! Despite my doubts, my discomfort, my disappointment about what has been happening in our Catholic Church, I find that my faith has been fortified and I am up for the next challenge. I am never the same after a visit to Lourdes.
But just don’t take my word for it. Ask any pilgrim who has been to Lourdes and they will tell you that in that sacred place, healings happen and hope is restored.
You were with me in Lourdes, in my thoughts, in my prayers, in the intentions that some of you gave me to place at the Grotto. You were in my heart, as Mary reminded me that each of you reveals a different aspect of God’s love for His people.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.
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