We walked the Way of the Cross this morning, climbing the mountainside behind the Grotto and its basilica, following a wide path through a forest of shade trees dappling the pathway. Larger-than-life sculptures depict each station, and we read the meditative prayers from our booklet. I left understanding love a little better, that when we fall we pick ourselves up as Christ did, that we each have our own Way of the Cross, one which when fused with Christ’s, becomes a way of joy. I left thankful.
This visit to Lourdes has indeed been a pilgrimage of thanksgiving for me, having come to the famous shrine many years ago for half a day and been entranced even then. But on this visit, this pilgrimage to Bernadette’s home and vision of Mary, I am giving thanks especially for the publication of Offerings, with its chapters set here. Indeed, a theme of the novel is the theme of Lourdes: the offerings God has made to us through His Son’s incarnation, death and resurrection, through His Mother Mary with her many apparitions of hope, particularly in France in the 19th century. Through these offerings, mankind is given the chance, the choice, to be redeemed.
I would like to leave a copy of my novel here with someone who reads English, as an offering of thanksgiving.
The day was warm, the temperatures rising, the skies a dome of blue. We descended through the forest of the Way of the Cross, down to the Grotto where candles burned in the giant candelabra. We washed in the waters pouring from the spigots alongside the cliff face, and purchased candles to add to the many flames of the others. The cave is kept the same as it was in Bernadette’s time. Masses are often said there, below the image of Mary where she appeared on a small ledge above and to the right of the cave entrance. The waters come from the spring Bernadette found when she obeyed the strange instructions of Mary – to scratch in the soil and eat the soil of sinners. She scratched and tasted, and a spring bubbled up through the earth. These are the same waters of that spring, found to be chemically pure, that have been routed through pipes into taps throughout the grounds, and into the baths where pilgrims are immersed by careful attendants.
Wash. Repent. Be healed.