Tag Archives: Lourdes

4 September, Relics XXXIII: Precious Gifts.

It’s good to hear from Fr Valentine Erhanon in his new parish in Streatham Hill, South London. These three stories speak of relics: books given in memory of a late friend; sacred vessels that unite Streatham Hill today with the dioceses that used Wonersh over more than a century and in the future; and the saint of Lourdes whose bones will soon be visiting Britain on pilgrimage, a saint who did not have to travel to encounter grace through the Mother of God, though millions now make their way to the spot where their meetings took place. This post comes from Fr Valentine’s parish newsletter.

Gifts – Books from Oxfordshire:
I would like to thank Rita Davies from Oxfordshire, a good friend, and now a friend of the parish, that has donated 12 boxes of books of theology, instruction, practice, Catholic biography and missals plus devotional leaflets and prayer cards, all of which will be a good foundation for our Parish library. We receive these books in honour of her beloved husband: Twiston. May he continue to rest in Peace, and rise in Glory. Amen.


Gifts – Chalice and Ciborium from Saint John’s Seminary Wonersh:
I would like to thank Canon Luke Smith for offering us the gift of a Chalice and Ciborium from my Alma Mater, Saints John’s Seminary Wonersh. You may know that Saint John’s Seminary closed last year, after 130 years of forming men for the priesthood; and the items of the seminary are finding a good home around the world. I signified interest that our parish would like to have a thing or two and we were gifted these most sacred items of historical value. It is an honour and treasure to have a part of the seminary in our parish.

Whenever we say Mass with them, we will remember to pray for vocations to the priesthood.


St Bernadette Relic Tour

In September and October this year, the relics of St Bernadette will journey on pilgrimage to England, Scotland, and Wales for the very first time. This very special once in a lifetime event will provide an opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to experience the special gifts and charisms of Lourdes, in a church or cathedral near them. For your information, the relics are due to visit St George’s Cathedral from the morning of Wednesday 19 October until the morning of Friday 21 October 2022; they will also visit Aylesford from Monday 24 October until Friday 28 October 2022. Please consult the website of each venue for further details.

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August Pilgrimages I: Lourdes on-line.

Later this month we will be reflecting on pilgrimage. After all, the most humdrum holiday can bring us a Holy Day: something seen, something heard; a smell or a taste, the feel of sand between the toes – remember that you are dust – breathed-on dust, animated dust, but dust: enjoy the feeling!

Now I must apologise for the rest of this message being in French but it is an invitation to join the French National pilgrimage to Lourdes on-line – it is happening in person at the shrine as well, and it will be possible to follow the services and events at times to suit you.

Vivons ensemble le pèlerinage à Lourdes 2022
 
 Pèlerinage à Lourdes du 12 au 16 août 2022 

Du 12 au 16 août, Prions en Église et le Pèlerinage National vous proposent de découvrir Lourdes en numérique avec le site Internet Prions en Église et l’appli Prions en Église sur votre téléphone.
Sur le site de Prions en Église, inscrivez-vous au e-pèlerinage 2022 pour recevoir chaque matin par mail, des propositions vidéos, des podcasts, des textes pour découvrir à votre rythme l’histoire des apparitions, visiter le sanctuaire, suivre des conférences et entendre des témoignages. 

 JE M’INSCRIS AU E-PÈLERINAGE 

l’appli Prions en Église dès le 8 août, en tant que pèlerin dans la cité mariale, vivez votre pèlerinage plus intensément : un parcours de 14 podcasts vous est proposé pour découvrir Lourdes et prier au sanctuaire : le rocher, la lumière, la source, le chemin de croix, l’histoire des apparitions… déambulez dans la ville et le sanctuaire muni de votre smartphone pour vivre une balade spirituelle exceptionnelle.Ce parcours est disponible en téléchargeant l’appli 

JE TÉLÉCHARGE L’APPLI 

Et aussi, sur le site et dans l’appli, vous pouvez déposer vos intentions de prière que nous porterons pour vous à la grotte le 14 août à 18 heures. Ce temps de prière commune pourra être suivi en live sur notre page Facebook ainsi que la lectio divina animée par l’équipe de Prions en Église chaque jour à 14 heures, les 12,13 et 14 août
Le 15 août, si vous êtes à Lourdes, vous disposerez sur l’appli Prions en Église, du déroulé de la messe de l’Assomption, célébrée à 10 heures avec le Pèlerinage National. Inscrivez-vous gratuitement et invitez ceux que vous aimez, 
pour qu’avec Marie, nous devenions témoins de l’espérance. 
 
 
À très bientôt,  Karem Bustica,
rédactrice en chef,Prions en Église et Prions en Église junior
 

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11 February: Under your protection

Under your protection 
We take refuge, 
Holy mother of God. 
When we are in need 
Do not reject our petitions 
But deliver us 
From every danger 
O glorious and blessed virgin.

The original text of this prayer is preserved in the John Rylands Library, Manchester. The papyrus dates from the third century but the prayer was probably in use before then. This is the oldest known prayer to Our Lady. We came across this translation in St David’s Cathedral, unless I misremember, and we have a family link with the Rylands. A post about Mary on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, but with an image from Spain.

It’s worth a little look at the theology of this prayer. It depends upon the doctrine of ‘the communion of saints’ by which the saints who have died and are no longer physically with us are still members of the Body of Christ – and that in ways we can hardly begin to understand. But just as we can pray for each other, so the saints in heaven can pray for us.

‘Holy Mother of God’ asserts that Jesus was ‘conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary’, as we profess in the Creed, and truly God and truly human. He indeed went through the Passion, Mary witnessing and supporting him. She could not protect him from that, or from other dangers in his public life though every mother will protect her child from many dangers s/he might wander into all unawares.

We can pray for deliverance from danger. Do we recognise when our prayers are answered? Vaccines against the Covid – 19 virus are ‘the work of human hands’ and minds, but they are a new arrangement and presentation of God’s gifts of life. And the greatest danger is not to our earthly life: that will come to an end in a relatively short time, but to our eternal life. And although that too is a gift from God, it’s a gift we can decline or refuse.

The image of taking refuse under Mary’s protection reminds me of the statue of Mary in Valencia Cathedral. Jesus is confidently sitting on her lap, under her cloak, and mothers have slid little photos of their children between the folds of her garments, as concrete prayers. It may not be your way of praying, but it is visual and physical, and remains when the woman has left the church, as a burning candle does – only the photo is longer lasting.

Our younger grandson has the endearing habit of kissing photographs of family members: he clearly wishes them well and expresses it in this concrete fashion. Perhaps catching sight of a loved one’s picture is an occasion to offer a silent prayer on their behalf.

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10 February: What was it you went out to see – at Lourdes.

mary petitions pix venice

This statue in Venice is very like that of Mary at Lourdes, and as we see, it is surrounded by passport photos and little notes, petitions and thank-yous. We saw a similar crop of photographs around the statue of Our Lady of Valencia.  The Basilica of Our Lady of Africa in Algiers also receives photos and notes from Muslims as well as Christians.

Prayer, we were taught at school, is the raising of the heart and mind to God, but it is also a physical activity. Sitting, kneeling, bowing, walking or riding on pilgrimage, even the physical act of going to the parish church of a Sunday; any of these can enable us to raise our hearts and minds to God.

So prayer can be going to church and leaving a prayer request  on a board or in a basket. Or leaving a prayer request before the tomb of a saint, or in this case a statue. We can ask for the prayers of the Church,  not just the Church on earth today but also the saints triumphant who have all the time in eternity to pray for us: Mary included.

Tomorrow is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. What are people seeking there? Can it be put into words? Perhaps peace and healing of the heart and mind, if not of the body, is what I hear most often as the gift of the pilgrimage. An on-going process, not always to be rushed.

Those who leave photos or candles in front of Mary’s statue commend their loved ones to our prayers as well as Mary’s: let us pray then for all who will make the Lourdes pilgrimage this year, as sick pilgrims or helpers, and for all who ask our prayers, directly or through such gestures as we see in this photograph.

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A Virtual Pilgrimage

The diocese of Clifton is based in Bristol, England, but right now a party from there are on pilgrimage to Lourdes. For anyone who would like to be there but can’t, try this link for a  virtual pilgrimage. Thanks to Independent  Catholic News for the link.

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14 July: The Shepherd girl and the goldfish.

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Here’s a Story from France for July 14. A small town girl, delighted by the sights of the big city: here is a letter from St Bernadette of Lourdes to her sisters back home. She is describing her journey to Nevers where she was to enter the noviciate of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers, the sisters who had educated her. On the way they stopped at Bordeaux.

Let me tell you how we made our journey. On Wednesday at six o’clock in the evening we arrived at Bordeaux, and there we stayed till Friday at one o’clock. I beg you to believe that we made good use  of our time there to get around – and in a carriage, if you please.

We were taken to visit all the houses (presumably of her order). I have the honour of telling you that they are not like the house in Lourdes, especially the Imperial Institute for Deaf Girls; you’d think it was more like a palace than a religious house.

We went to see the Carmelite church, and from there made our way to the Garonne to see the ships. Next we went to the Jardin des Plantes: I tell you we saw something quite new: can you guess what? It was fish: golden, black, white and grey. The loveliest thing for me was seeing this little creatures swimming around in front of a crowd of little urchins who were watching them.

Although as a child I liked to see the fish in our local park pool, I perhaps wouldn’t have appreciated that last paragraph as I do now, seeing Bernadette as an excitable young woman. It is always good to see the humanity of the saints.

I wanted to share this with you because Bernadette is revealed as a flesh-and-blood young woman, rather than the unattainably super-holy, superwoman put before us in primary school, at least as I recall. Saints are truly human and enjoy the blessings of this life as well as anyone else. Another Laudato Si! moment.

MMB.

Photo by Stan Shebs.

 

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28 June: Bernadette and the Sacraments.

Bernadette Soubirous.jpg

Let’s continue talking about the Eucharist. I was reading about Saint Bernadette, the young girl who saw ‘la bonne Mère’ – the good mother – in the little grotto by the river in Lourdes, France, in 1858. This reflection  is not about those apparitions, nor the shrine that has grown up there, but about something we can take for granted: the opportunity to take a full part in the Eucharist, not just by being present at Mass but by receiving the Sacrament that unites us in Christ’s body and blood.

Bernadette grew up speaking the local dialect and playing a full part in the family’s economy, working as a shepherd, running errands for neighbours, to earn money to put bread on the table. She left school early to do so, and never learnt French which was the language of the catechism she had to absorb to be allowed to receive Communion. Yet in her heart she understood as well as anyone what the Eucharist meant. Eventually she was taken into a boarding school as a poor scholar, mastered French and received the Sacrament with joy.

Image result for streicher ugandaThis is Henri Streicher, a Missionary of Africa who became Bishop of Uganda from 1897 to 1933. He and his Anglican counterpart, Bishop Tucker – acting more as rivals than fellow workers, it has to be said – made it a priority to translate the Bible and catechisms into the local languages and to print these texts so that all could read them. They also made sure that there were basic schools in the villages where young and old could learn to read and write, which they were very keen to do.

During the 1980s, helped by an impetus from the UN Year of Disabled People in 1981, a great effort was made to make all aspects of Church life, including the Sacraments, available to disabled people. Away with ‘he cannot understand’, or ‘she’s innocent, she doesn’t need the Sacraments’. The Sacraments are for all.

New ways of presenting the Faith came into being. We looked more at the fellowship of believers, not just individual sin and salvation. L’Arche communities are one expression of this inclusive attitude.

The UN’s reflection on the year states:

A major lesson of the Year was that the image of persons with disabilities depends to an important extent on social attitudes; these were a major barrier to the realization of the goal of full participation and equality in society by persons with disabilities.

This was true in the Church as well. I know that more can and should be done, but let us rejoice that few people now will be refused the Sacraments on grounds of disability. We should make sure to welcome all, as Jesus did.

Saint Bernadette as a child, public domain, via Wikipedia

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4 April: Suffering and Sainthood.

RoodEngMartyrsCamb (495x700)

I’ve just read a new blogger, Kate. Have a look at her writing about suffering  here .

The same day I had seen a man in town, offering ‘prayer for healing’ invitation cards. I was not up for a theological discussion at the time. Not that I wouldn’t mind a spot of healing. I have long-running pain after an assault. I have tried therapies from surgery to acupuncture. After being told by one expert doctor that he sees plenty of people like me who ‘by all we know should not have pain after so much time’ and that he could do no more, I try to carry the cross and get on with life. Very Lenten? Perhaps.
Kate offers a well-considered list of responses to long-term illness. The ideas make good sense theologically and psychologically. I would just add ‘count your blessings’.

Counting blessings – or acknowledging one worth recalling each day – ought to be part of anyone’s examination of conscience. I can always find at least one blessing, however small, to be grateful for. Thus my daughter’s eyes alighted on the snowdrops outside our door when she visited the day I wrote this: her delight was mine.
Remember the man by the library. I could have challenged him. What would healing mean for my condition? God taking away the pain or transforming it? How many go to Lourdes and return with their physical problem as it was in the beginning? I think I have to accept the possibility that the Lord can transform the pain, but also that accepting it may be slowing me down enough to stop and stare a little.

I leave you with the first heading on Kate’s list of ways to deal with chronic illness: Talk to God. Check out the rest of her post!

The Rood at Our Lady and the English Martyrs at Cambridge expresses in concrete prayer many of the ideas Kate and I touch on: suffering transformed, sacraments, creation, blessings.

MMB

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