Hey all! I have not been able to post for a little while, we have been super busy!
Lourdes was beautiful, we got to see the stations of the cross in life size and it was amazing. It is so important to remember all the time the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Mass in the grotto was cool too; it was in many languages but it was still very clearly mass.
Madrid has been crowded and crazy, but moving. It’s awesome to be totally focused on God for this time, and with other people too! The other groups are fun to see. If we spot them we all ask where they’re from and take pictures with them. The WYD opening mass was a little hectic but we’re all doing great. What was worse were the Anti-Pope protesters. However, we are all safe and the police in Madrid are on it! We’ve been reminded that Jesus was persecuted too.
Today we’re going to a talk with Jason Evert (a chastity speaker) and then to welcome the Pope to Madrid! We were also reminded to pray lots and have prayer buddies to pray for each other.
That’s all for now, we’ve gotta get to some talks! God bless you!
Lauren G, 15
Our pilgrimage began with a journey to Lourdes. The pilgrims and I were deeply moved with the faith that was so evident in this sacred place. I had the unique privilege of celebrating Mass with a brother bishop at the grotto at which our Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette. Our pilgrims and thousands of others from around the world were present. Later that day we celebrated Mass for the Vigil of the Assumption and then participated in a candle light procession. The sight of so many people demonstrating a deep devotion to our Blessed Mother is an experience I will always remember. In addition, seeing the number of seriously ill people at Lourdes touched my heart. Dedicated volunteers brought them to the liturgical services and to the holy water at Lourdes. I am confident that miracles took place right before us as the Lord touched those in need with His healing love and gave them strength, grace and perseverance. It is a reminder of the call we all have to lead others, especially those in need, to Jesus!
We also made a trip to Avila and learned about Saint Theresa, a Doctor of the Church. Her writings, the example of her life and her great commitment to prayer greatly assist us in our call to holiness.
We have been in Madrid since Monday evening. The opening Mass for the pilgrims was on Tuesday evening and it was a joyful and beautiful celebration. Today, we had a diocesan Mass at Saint Michael Basilica followed by a catechesis session. Later in the day, there was a vocation fair that included testimonies, concerts, talks and a Holy Hour. All the pilgrims were reminded that an essential step in discerning one’s vocation is to be still and quiet with the Lord, for he truly speaks to our heart!
There is much excitement in the air as we await the arrival tomorrow of Pope Benedict XVI. One young man said to me, “I am so blessed to be a Catholic and to know how much the Holy Father loves his young people. “ I am sure that all the pilgrims gathered in Madrid will soon echo those same words.
May God bless and protect Pope Benedict XVI and all the pilgrims who have gathered to be with him.
First off, I´d like to apologize for being so late in my blogs. Namely, while in France we had no source of internet, therefore, no blogs. Also, since we arrived in Madrid, its been constant motion. I figured, in order for these blogs to remain some what ¨short,¨ but still interesting I´ll just have mini-posts here. OH, and we took A TON of pictures so I´ll try to post some of those as well…but not all.
August 13, 2011 (written on iPod)
Oh, where to begin?? Today was just about the longest day I´ve ever spent. Now I understand why man hasn´t created time travel; because nature creates time travel on its own when traveling. Haha, can you believe that I´m 6 hours ahead of y´all? Ok, so you can tell that the jet lag has already hit me, but that is ok. I know that I will eventually get used to the time change before the next time my ¨Time Machine¨ is scheduled to go back into the past!…sigh…that´ll be fun. 🙂
So I believe that the majority of my sanity has left me, however I do believe that I have about an oz. left in me. Otherwise, I probably wouldn´t be here now. No, correction, it is by the grace of God that I´m where I am now. Which by the way is in London, on a British Airways plane, riding atop the taxi run. I don´t know when I will be able to post this, but I´ve decided to write whatever I can on my iPod while it is all fresh in my mind.
The beginning of my adventure started at 7:00 am (after getting only 4 hours of sleep) not feeling completely refreshed, but very excited. After finishing some last-minute packing, and enjoying a nice warm shower, my mom, sister (Mary Kate, Travis, and I set out around 12:00 am for the 2 hour drive to Raleigh Durham. Upon our arrival, we exchanged dollars for euros, and got checked in. Leaving us A LOT of time to get to know our fellow pilgrims. Oh, and as we were talking Travis and I were approached by a man and his really big camera. Can you guess what he asked? ¨Can I get an interview from you two for the Raleigh website?¨ At fist I was really surprised (and willing) but after watching Travis’ interview I decided that maybe an interview would not be such a good idea. However, it was too late. Travis was finished and I was being pushed in the camera´s direction. I think It went fairly well, despite the fact that my hands were shaking as i held the microphone. Oh well I guess I´ll have to watch it, in order to know how well it REALLY went.
After we went through security everything moved along perfectly according to the plan. It was really nice getting to know all my fellow pilgrims, they are all so kind and friendly. One of the girls (Jordan) is a really sweet person, and I´m so glad that I made Travis switch with her, so that she could sit with me! We probably had too much fun during those (very quick) seven hours. There was a movie playing called ¨Win Win¨ but after ten minutes it got really boring. So Jordan and I just talked and watch what movies we had on our iPods. By the time we decided we should attempt to get some sleep, we turned off our electronics as well as our mouths, and tried for over 30 minutes to get some sleep. Sleep would not come. Instead, we just stayed up wishing for sleep and talking about anything that popped into our heads, until our dinner came (which wasn´t bad) but the cookies she brought were delish! Even Fr. Mears thought they were really good, of course we made him eat them since he was sitting right in front of us, and would never hear the end of it if he didn´t eat one.
When we finally landed in London we had to go through security all over again, and I almost lost my boarding pass not once, but twice (it was a very hectic time) but don´t worry I made it on the plane. So I obviously didn´t COMPLETELY loose it. To make a long 7 wait weight (in an airport) a short story, most of us just past the time by sleeping on the floors, window shopping, playing games, admiring all the british accents, laughing at all the strange fashion statements, eating, and pretty much chill until it was time to bord our last flight.
I really can´t tell you much about the flight on British Airways (except the flight attendants have really cute accents) because I fell asleep right after we took off, and didn´t wake up until after the 10 minute landing announcements were made. Oh and that if you sit in the very last bench in the back of the plane, you will really experience some really CrAzY turbulence, when landing.
After landing in France everything moved along smoother than a china doll´s silks. All we had to do was get our luggage, passports stamped, and sit ourselves on the bus. There was a lot of sleeping, singing, laughing, and games on that 2 hour road trip. We arrived in Lourdes around 8:00 pm that evening. The country there is absolutely breathtaking!! The air is not only cool, but sweet!! If I was given the chance to go there again, I TAKE IT in less than a heart beat!!! After we pulled up to our hotel, and lugged all our luggage off the bus and into the lobby, we were told to leave our suitcases in the lobby, in order for us to eat our dinner. This, however, didn´t quite sit well with everyone. This reaction from all of us pilgrims (I believe might have caused a great offense to the owner) forcing her to drop her dancing french tongue, in order to address us on the matter. She was dressed very stylishly, and had the thickest accent I have ever heard!! At first I thought she sounded angry, but as she continued to explain how safe the hotel environment was, she really began to sound cute in a very very funny way. Thus, off we went to enjoy our very first 3 course meal of tomato and mozzarella cheese with salt and pepper, a crispy chicken, fresh green beans, and a grilled tomato (and FRENCH FRIES) topped with this really good sauce, and a dessert course of fresh lemon pie! To top things off, we were able to share this meal with Bishop Burbidge! The meal was very relaxing. All we had to do was sit down, and wait to be handed our already planed, delicious meal! I felt like royalty. Then after dinner we received our keys from the lovely french owner, and found our very very soft pillows.
To Be Continued…
That will conclude this blog on ¨Time Travel,¨ but If you´d like to read my next blog, ¨Heaven in Lourdes¨ then I strongly recommend you stay in tune. I was planning on finishing all the blogs from the beginning to the present tonight, but alas, it is already 2:20 am and I need my pilgrim sleep. 😀 Don´t worry, I will do my best to log on as often as I can so y´all can get to the REAL stuff!!
Lourdes deeply moved me. It’s been 3 days since our visit there and my heart, soul, and mind are still processing it. I will be the first to admit that I tend to like the clear cut teachings of the church and keep a certain distance between my faith and anything that might be “unproven” in the eyes of the Church. But Lourdes is different. For one, the Church has declared it to be true. The Blessed Mother truly did visit St. Bernadette 18 times between Feb. 11, 1858 and July 16, 1858. And the Church in her wisdom tells us that we are allowed to disagree with this statement. It is not a necessary tenet of our faith as other doctrines are. And as St. Bernadette stated: “My job is just to give you the message. It’s up to you whether you believe in it or not.”
The first words Mary spoke to St. Bernadette were: “Would you be so kind as to come here?” And the messages that continued were all a calling into a deeper relationship with Christ and a call to pray. It was and is a call to Love and a pointing towards Christ. This is the message of Lourdes. Within several hours of arriving in Lourdes, my thoughts of it were that it was almost as I imagined Heaven would look like– except that of course all the sick would be perfectly healed! There is such a peace and beauty to the place. For one, Lourdes is nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains- one of the most exquisite mountain ranges I have seen. Then there is the river cutting through the town, and the picturesque bridges arching across the waterways. And there are so many beautiful Churches! But, its the people and the spirit that most speak to the place. I can’t begin to describe what its like to see hundreds of people sick and dying being wheeled around in carts. And they have all made this pilgrimage to seek healing– be it physical and/or spiritual. They come in faith. They come to the waters. They heed Mary’s request that she made to Bernadette. “Won’t you come to the waters?” But, the truth is that we are all in wheelchairs, whether they are visible or not. We are all sinners. We are all seeking a peace and comfort that the world cannot offer. We come in faith– trusting that Mary will cover us with her mantle, dry our tears, and gently point us to Christ– who provides a peace and security that this world will never offer. And I guess in the one precious day that I spent in Lourdes, I truly understood what it means to go on pilgrimage– to come to a place where the soul can rest in Christ… and know that while the body will pass away, our souls will live forever… and the peace that we are experiencing in Lourdes is only a tiny glimmer of the peace that will captivate our whole beings in Heaven. And I realized that the millions of prayers that are offered up for ourselves and others in this place help sustain the world. No wonder God chooses to consecrate sacred places as a respite and sanctuary in the world! The human person longs to make the physical act of travelling to a place, leaving one’s troubles behind, bathing in healing waters, lighting candles that are symbols of one’s prayers lifting up to heaven, and to join with the thousands of others in faith, prayer, and supplication to our very Maker and Creator. I am at a loss for words to describe the peace in my soul from experiencing one day in Lourdes. Have my prayers for healing been answered for myself and loved ones? I don’t know. They very well might be. But, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my heart grew in love for my Lord and Savior and a new peace entered my soul. I was able, even if for a moment, to surrender and abandon my life and heart to God. And I want to go back. And I understand how whether one is living or dying, coming to the waters is a good thing. As St. Bernadette said: “The Grotto was my heaven”… her heaven on Earth.
– Kathryn Diener
I had the privilege of being in Lourdes last November. While I was there I took some pictures. These pictures will give you a little taste of what our pilgrims will see when they are there. We will update this slideshow with our actual trip photos after we arrive in Lourdes and have a chance to take some photos.
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