Monte Jeunesse 2014 happened in Quebec and Salt + Light was there. A special US Military pilgrimage took place in Lourdes, and the Superior General of the Jesuits decides its time to retire.
To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history. To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendour and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe.
Pope Benedict XVI (Nov. 6, 2010)
We use many forms of media to reach as many people as possible to share with them the message of our faith, and Church – the message of Jesus Christ. And last year, continuing on this mission we introduced our pilgrimage initiative Blessed Journeys.
What better way to learn and experience this beautiful region, than visiting the most holy places in this historic country, with a scholar to help you wade through the sights, sounds and mysteries you will encounter.
Visit the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Walk in the footsteps St. Bernadette and St. Terese Lisieux. Experience Paray-le-Monial through vists to the Chapel of the Visitation and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Celebrate the Mass at the Grotto of Our Lady in Lourdes. All while enjoying the famous food and wine of France.
Join us – on what will surely be, a blessed journey to France!
Visit our Blessed Journeys page for further details.
Book Today! Deadline to book is April 19.
CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec
Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing! — A Reflection for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
On this day when the whole Church celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mother, my mind goes back to my first visit to beautiful shrine of Lourdes tucked in the Pyrenees Mountains on the French-Spanish border. When I first visited Lourdes in 1978 as a university student at the end of a summer study program in Brittany, France, I volunteered my time as a “brancardier”, transporting many sick people from the “Accueils” to the grotto and the healing baths. I discovered then an extraordinary story that still remains hidden from many in the world today, especially in North America.
The Grotto of the Apparitions where Bernadette encountered the Mother of the Lord is truly holy ground. Each time I have returned to Lourdes, I appreciated more and more that holy ground. This little town is one of the most well known pilgrimage sites in the Catholic world. Though hidden in a corner of France, Lourdes has a universal vocation to all of humanity. It has lived this vocation since 1858 when Mary of Nazareth, herself a model of discretion and humility sought out another of her humble sisters in faith, Bernadette Soubirous.
Both Mary and Bernadette were sent by God, each in their own time and places, to bear a message of hope to waiting humanity. Even the initial skepticism of the local church authorities served as a time of purification of the great message of Lourdes that continues to resound throughout the world. Lourdes is a constant invitation to humanity that we are pilgrims on a journey of faith.
At Lourdes, Mary revealed herself to the peasant girl, Bernadette with the words: “Que soy era Immaculada Conceptiou,” spoken in the local dialect of the girl (neither French nor Spanish, but Provencal), that translates “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
The Immaculate Conception is a complex dogma that has interested theologians more than the ordinary faithful. Many people still wrongly assume that the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Christ. In fact, it refers to the belief that Mary, by special divine favor, was without sin from the moment she was conceived. The main stumbling block for many Catholics is original sin. Today we are simply less and less aware of original sin. And without that awareness, the Immaculate Conception makes no sense. Through the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, God was present and moving in Mary’s life from the earliest moments. God’s grace is greater than sin; it overpowers sin and death.
When we honour the Mother of God under the title “Immaculate Conception”, we recognize in her a model of purity, innocence, trust, childlike curiosity, reverence, and respect, living peacefully alongside a mature awareness that life isn’t simple. It’s rare to find both reverence and sophistication, idealism and realism, purity, innocence and passion, inside the same person as we find in Mary. Something inside us yearns always for innocence, purity, freshness and trust. If we lose these we find ourselves cynical and disillusioned with an unhappiness that comes precisely from having been around, from having had our eyes opened, from having knowledge without innocence. We need to hold that innocence and experience in a proper tension. Mary, Mother of the Lord teaches us how to do just that. In Mary we have an image of humanity and divinity at home. God is indeed comfortable in our presence and we in God’s.
Tourists pass quickly through places, but the places pass slowly through pilgrims, leaving them forever changed. I am one of those grateful pilgrims to Lourdes whose life was changed, and continues to be changed when I visit that holy place. As we celebrate Mary under the title of “Immaculate Conception,” let us give thanks to God for the graces, blessings, messages and meaning of Lourdes. They continue to work many miracles throughout the world today.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO Salt and Light Catholic Television Network
1. CNS Photo/courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston: “The Immaculate Conception” by Diego Rodriguez de Silva Velazquez
2. CNS Photo / Crosiers: A mosaic of Mary in an outdoor chapel in Lourdes, France.
It’s a feast of the Assumption not soon to be forgotten.
A cruel prank was pulled on over 30,000 pilgrims gathered yesterday in Lourdes, located in southwest France. Police received an anonymous phone call about a bomb threat to the Shrine. The call came in as thousands of worshippers, priests and nuns were congregating for midday Mass. Officials soon began evacuating pilgrims. It is disheartening to think about the thousands of sick and disabled that had to be ushered out in such a hurried and frightening manner.
After thoroughly sweeping the grounds and surrounding areas, army bomb disposal experts found there to be no sign of explosives. A Lourdes spokesman told the press that they have no idea who is behind the threat. “Bomb scares are not something you associate with Lourdes” he added. This is not a solitary incident however. Lourdes was evacuated in 2002 for the exact same reason, another bomb scare.
I am deeply relieved and thankful that there was in fact no real threat and that no one was harmed. At the same time, I am saddened by the monumental inconvenience suffered by the pilgrims. Over 900 seriously ill pilgrims were kept in a secure area for five hours, unsure of what would happen to them. Lourdes is meant to be a place of healing, to provide sanctuary and solace to those who visit.
There’s a time and place for a funny prank or hoax, this was most definitely not one of them. By what can be called luck or Divine Providence, the Eucharistic procession still started on schedule. Thanks be to God.
CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec
As I shared in my previous post, I spent my vacation in Algonquin Provincial Park and at Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario. In between those adventures, I took a road trip to Newfoundland with my best friend.
For one week, we marveled at the Maritime culture, wildlife and dramatic landscape of Gros Morne National Park. As we prepared to head home, I came across a familiar sight from my work in Toronto.
It was our final day in Newfoundland. My friend Lee, a campus lay missionary, suggested we go to evening mass before we boarded the ferry. An internet search found no daily masses in the area apart from the little town of Lourdes.
Lourdes is located on the triangular Port au Port Peninsula, which reaches into the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the south-west corner of Newfoundland. Our guidebook described the peninsula’s main road as the French Ancestor’s Route, owing to the area’s early settlers.
Despite the lovely name, it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t a regular tourist destination. A pair of bored-looking teens manned a quiet information centre. They listed off the peninsula’s three restaurants, none of which offered a seafood meal, much less French cuisine. Whereas the towns along Newfoundland’s north-western arm were saturated with bed & breakfasts, here, it seemed, the locals could keep the rugged shoreline to themselves.
Sizing up the village, I was skeptical about our chances of finding a Mass. Was the website information up-to-date? If there was a priest to be found at the church, would we find other worshipers?