I think the short nights of sleep have started to take their toll on me, as I didn’t hear either of my alarms go off in the morning. However, I still managed to wake up at 7:30 and quickly get ready for breakfast.
Phil was leaving Lourdes at 8:30 to catch a plane back to London. He had to return to England for some meetings the next day, so was getting a taxi to the airport after breakfast.
A Rainy start to the Day
Due to the rain, the original plans for the Mass at Cité St Pierre had to be changed to an indoor alternative. And instead of the Redcaps having to push their malades up the steep hill to the forest church (it would have been too slippery and dangerous), we were all put on coaches which drove us to our new venue. This change of plans didn’t dampen our spirits, however, and we still had an enjoyable celebration of the Eucharist.
In this Homily, Canon Shaun talked about a theme close to my heart. He recalled how Bernadette possessed a child-like (as opposed to childish) trust in God and in the Lady at the Grotto. He recalled what Jesus said, “Unless you become like a little child, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Little children have complete trust in their mother and father. They look to their parents with so much love, and unconditionally trust them to take care of all their needs. If they do something good, they rush to tell their parents; if they do something wrong and their parents correct them, they know it is out of love.
However, as we grow up, we come to see that the world has many imperfections, because of our fallen human nature. And many aspects of contemporary society hurt that trust between a child and their parents, most notably through the tragedy of divorce.
But Bernadette’s child-like trust is a model for all of us, including for young people who hope to one day get married and have children. Because by learning to develop a child-like trust in God ourselves, I believe we create a loving environment for nurturing that kind of trust in our own children.
Thus, when there is love between the mother and father, who in turn are united by a greater love of God and a child-like trust in Him, they create the groundwork for their whole family to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Le Carrefour no more
After Mass, we made our way back onto the coaches and down to the hotels, where we had lunch. Since Phil was no-longer with us, a fourth trip to Le Carrefour Café wasn’t on the cards, so I had lunch in the hotel. It was really great and very filling – helped by an extra plate of pasta with pesto and birthday cake from one of the Redcaps who was celebrating her 18th birthday.
Diocese Youth Ministries unite!
We then had to get ready for an event in the underground basilica, where Westminster would be uniting with Brentwood to deliver a programme designed to inspire young people.
Led by Westminster’s and Brentwood’s Rebekah and Brenden respectively, the Redcaps were treated to inspiring testimonies, cool video presentations, group exercises and great music from Brother Angelo and Paschal.
One particular story that I liked was that of a contagious disease which had started spreading throughout the world. Researchers were desperately searching for a cure in order to save mankind, but seemingly to no avail. Then, one day, they discovered a young boy with the right blood type that could save the world. The only problem was that it would require a transfusion that would result in the child’s death.
Faced with the trauma of letting her son die in order to save mankind, the transfusion takes place and the world is saved. Many people attended the funeral service of the saviour and commemorate his sacrifice but, over the years, people began to forget the reason for the commemoration.
The message was obviously quite clear, in that we can easily forget, in this age of distraction, the incredible sacrifice that Jesus made for us. I thought the analogy worked well and this type of thought-provoking content echoed throughout the course of the event.
The Blessed Sacrament Procession
The team had a short break after the youth event, before returning to the underground basilica for the Blessed Sacrament procession. Due to the inclement weather, the procession couldn’t take place outside, as had been the case in previous years; instead, it all had to take place indoors – a reoccurring theme for this day!
For me, adoration is an amazing part of our Catholic tradition. From the outside, it probably wouldn’t make any sense. But if you spend a little bit of time to reflect on the unlimited power and love of God, you come to realise how incredible it is that He is present with us in that very tangible form, called the Eucharist.
I still have much to learn about the Eucharist, but as I do, and gaze upon it in adoration, I understand more and more what Fulton Sheen meant when he said, “The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host.”
Winding down the Day
After the procession, I returned to the Alba hotel for another yummy meal and more great company with some of the Redcaps.
I then took the opportunity to have some much-needed rest. It would have been nice to go to the celebrations in the evening, but a combination of tiredness and needing to write the blog meant that I had to stay in the hotel.
Nevertheless, it’s been a lovely day, despite the rain, and a great blessing to be part of this pilgrimage with so many lovely people.