11 An Experience of Lourdes: Manifestation of God’s Healing - Fr Tom DeSimone

posted Feb 8, 2018, 6:39 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 8, 2018, 6:39 AM ]
Several years ago, I was very fortunate to lead a two-week pilgrimage to Portugal, Spain and France, which included stopping for a few days in Lourdes. I hope to return within a few years, but if I never do, I have enough memories for a lifetime.

My experience of Lourdes, while busy and somewhat crowded, was still profound. What struck me the most was the presence of the beautiful sick and disabled people there in faith and hope, and the volunteers helping them get around the large “sanctuary” area surrounding the apparition site. There must have been hundreds and hundreds of sick and disabled people being helped around on crutches, wheelchairs and hospital beds, even during the nightly rosary procession, which alone is worth the trip. Seeing all the consecrated sisters helping the sick and the volunteers from all over the world, freely giving themselves with unconditional love to these sick people without expecting a reward, is truly what St John Paul II meant — that through a sincere gift of self, we truly find ourselves. You certainly experience the dignity of the human person and the dignity of our bodies - even sick and disabled bodies - at Lourdes.

While the town of Lourdes is very busy and commercial, it still houses the old prison where St Bernadette and her family lived, as well as the mill where her father worked for a time. These places and others are certainly accessible, and worth experiencing by guided or self-guided tours. However, to truly experience Lourdes, Mary and St Bernadette, one should spend most of their time in the sanctuary observing how God, through His sacraments and through us people, brings hope to the hopeless in their suffering. As we know, the Evil One will attack people when they are weak, suffering, ill, etc. with discouragement, dismay, depression, and even despair. The presence of God in us can be uplifting and even healing for people interiorly, when they realise how much love, compassion, tenderness and mercy God truly has for them. This is one reason Lourdes can be so powerful an experience, because God is so present there, not only in the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Mass and Anointing of the Sick, but also in our care, concern and mercy for them. The nightly Rosary processions are a microcosm of endurance and perseverance of people in faith and hope, as they are wheeled around the sanctuary at Lourdes. It is also very uplifting and healing for those not diagnosed with a physical disability or sickness.