I have been home from Europe for several days, and I am still reeling with images speeding through my mind. There was so much to take in on this trip to holy sights in France, Spain and Portugal that I am struggling to process it. I want to try to make sense of a few of the highlights for you and help you to catch a glimpse of how God is at work all over the world.
After seeing amazing churches in Paris- Norte Dame, Sac Le Coeur, and Saint Chappelle, we were off to Lourdes. Since I am not Catholic and did not have previous teaching about the miracles that occurred at Lourdes, I did some reading before I went. It seemed when I got there all I had read disappeared from my brain so it is a good thing we had knowledgeable guides to refill us. A young girl, named Bernadette, was gathering wood in a nearby grotto when an angel appeared to her. She later learned that the apparition was the Virgin Mary and that she had a message for her and the world. She was instructed in one visit to dig in the dirt, wash and drink the water that came out. Then she was told that a chapel should be built there and that people should process in prayer. Since 1858 when the virgin appeared to Bernadette, a small church was built near the site and now there is large church and a large underground basilica. A clear cool spring is coming out of the place where Bernadette dug and each year there are thousands upon thousands of visitors. Many healing miracles have been attributed to the waters of Lourdes and people come from all over the world to drink and bathe in the crystal clear spring waters.
I was able to drink the water from a plastic water bottle I brought with me. I just stepped up to the spring water and filled up my bottle. There was no miraculous healing when I drank but I can still feel the water as it went down my throat and the cooling sensation it brought to my body. It is just a symbol of the true ‘living water’ that Jesus gives and speaks of in John 4:13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”.
Many services are held each day and the grotto is open 24 hours a day. The sick are brought to the baths by volunteers and given first priority each day for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. Each evening there is a rosary service in front of the above ground church and each section of the rosary is given in a different language. Each section is proceeded by a plea to those present to pray- for mothers, children, families, the world condition and the lost. After the service is concluded the priest leads the procession with lighted candles around a large oval area in front of the church. It is about a half mile procession in silence by candlelight. I found this extremely moving and unifying as all the participants were praying. The unity of spirit was incredibly powerful and I truly felt the Holy Spirit’s presence.
As I reflect upon this powerful experience, several scriptures on prayer come to mind. Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Each night they gather in Lourdes to pray and process in prayer. I find it incredibly comforting to know that each night our brothers and sisters gather in prayer. The collective prayers of Christians throughout the world are powerful and a reminder of our unity in Christ.
We are told in Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Are you coming to God in prayer believing that He will show you mercy and help?
Remember, they are praying tonight in Lourdes. Won’t you join the community of believers and pray with confidence to our faithful heavenly Father trusting Him with your problems and concerns?
With heartfelt prayers for – mothers, children, family, the world and those that do not know Jesus,