By: Sister Mary Scholastica, O.C.D.

We’re back in the United States but wanted to add closure to the Lourdes correspondence. Better late than never has always been my motto! There have been many different occurrences…so many graces. I have been asking other attendees what Lourdes was like for them. It’s not exactly the best question to ask. You could spend weeks answering it as there is so much to unpack. It just goes to show that an overall experience like this is something that will be slowly chewed and digested.

However, one of the responses to this question has been consistent across the board. From what I have heard and through my own experience, it would be a completely different pilgrimage going without the Order of Malta, the malades and their companions. Collectively, they enflesh the spirit of Lourdes. It’s one of the reasons why our Lady appeared to Bernadette, to bring healing and peace to her children, to bring them back to her Son. This was made tangibly evident in hundreds of ways this past week.

What has Lourdes been like for me? I’ve also asked myself this very same question. I’ve tried to capture the many graces that have come my way. Tried is the key word here. I haven’t been successful. From Mass at St. Sevin, the beauty of the Pyrenees, the closing Mass in St. Joseph Church, the candlelight procession with members of the Order, the malades and thousands others, walking around town eating gelato, meals with the malades and their caregivers, sitting at the grotto praying in the wee hours of the morning (and I mean wee), and the list goes on.

I have to be honest in saying that it made me sad to leave. Lourdes made me realize once again how short this life is, how we only have one life to live. Not just through our time of being with the malades who face the brevity of life every day but through the entire pilgrimage experience that is now officially over. These experiences come and go. These experiences serve as “markers” on our pilgrimage journey of LIFE. Physically having the blessing of being at Lourdes will always be a temporary experience, even if one goes annually. Our Lady did not mean for us to “experience Lourdes” only while there. It is meant to be lived every day of our lives. And all of these experiences and our response to them, including our Lourdes experience, then takes us one step closer to the end, which is really the beginning, eternal life.

So, what IS the Lourdes experience and how does one carry it through the rest of their lives? I still do not know. I do know that each of us who has blessed to have been there, has the responsibility of tending the soil around our souls, allowing the seeds that were planted in Lourdes to bear fruit and to then share these with all those we shall encounter in life.

I realize my thoughts are moving all over the page so thanks for bearing with me through it all. It does adequately reflect my inability to process all the graces received at this time. 🙂

Our Lady conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Thank you for joining us for our Lourdes experience. Know of our continued prayers and please pray for us. God bless you!