Last night we joined the 9 p.m. procession, as the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary were sung in six languages, the “lanugages of Lourdes.”
The crowd moved slowly, some ten abreast, with handicapped in wheelchairs, children stepping solemnly, elderly with knowing faces, most carrying candles protected by small paper lanterns purchased in town. Each mystery – each scene from the sorrowful period of Christ’s life, his Way of the Cross – was read in six languages, broadcasted through loudspeakers along the oval esplanade route that would lead back to the Basilica. We said an Our Father and sang the Ave Maria chorus, candles lifted into the air.
It was still light when we began, but by the end of the route, about an hour later, the flames began to light up the dark. As we walked I looked at the faces of my neighbors. They held purpose and devotion to be sure, but there was also a sense of amazement that they were there with so many like-minded Christians. Many of us live in this world as strangers, sojourners, and to have this sense of “solidarity,” of union with our fellow believers, outside in the balmy air, processing and taking part in praise, strengthens us. To be together like this, to sing toether, to walk together, to pray together en masse, uplifts us, gives us courage and joy.
The first night we watched the procession from the sidelines, dazzled. Last night we took part in the procession as individuals, and thus joined the group at the end of the line, an Italian group, I believe. We hadn’t located our lanterns yet, so we raised our hands to God.
Tonight we shall return after our supper, this time candles and lanterns in hand and join the throng of praise, song, and lanterns lifted high.
Will we recite the Glorious Mysteries? I do not know.
Ave Maria, Gratia Deos.