Tuesday, 16 April 2013

An Experience in Lourdes

Another retrospective post, but one that is very important to me, and appropriate given that today (April 16th, although it's actually just into the 17th here) is the Feast Day of St Bernadette:

An Experience in Lourdes from 2011 (written 12th August 2012)

I have been reminded of my experience in Lourdes with an Italian man from the Knights of Malta and as I have now begun to write about my spiritual journey I thought I should include this.
The meeting occurred whilst in Lourdes with pupils from school during the Easter holidays of 2011; it was the night of my 25th birthday (actually the early hours of the following day). Meeting with him (I can no longer remember his name) was probably the most spiritual event of my life.
I had gone down to the grotto once the pupils were in bed, and I was the only one there; I settled down and began saying the Rosary. Whilst I was there this gentleman came over and simply said ‘rosario’. I replied yes and we said the rosary together, with my parts in English and his in Italian. Afterwards we sang a few hymns, both of us choosing Marian hymns that had at least parts in Latin (one I can remember was ‘As I Kneel Before You’). We then walked back up to the town together, talking as we went; despite not speaking a word of each other’s language we were able to communicate what we did, why we had come to Lourdes and various other bits of information about one another. I went back to the hotel with the most incredible feeling of relaxation, contentment and simple happiness.
Thinking afterwards about why I found this experience so moving I settled on two things: Firstly, this was a very real, personal experience of the global nature of the church – despite having no language in common, we were able to communicate our love of Mary, and through her, Christ our Lord. Lourdes in general is a fantastic place to see this international nature, but this was a direct, personal interaction brought about by a shared faith. Secondly, the example of that man; he was Christ’s reaching out personified – we could have both been there, prayed our rosary and left, but both of us were moved in our faith so much more by his act of reaching out; he has been in my prayers many times since.
Best Wishes

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