Today’s Second Collection is for the Diocesan Lourdes Fund. Lourdes remains one of the most popular sites of Pilgrimage in all of Europe. Despite the reputation of Lourdes as a place of miracles, there have only been 70 healings verified by Rome in the entire history of the site, so few if any pilgrims could go to Lourdes in the expectation of a dramatic physical healing.
And yet, Lourdes’s popularity with pilgrims does not depend on the site’s miraculous effects on the body. The central appeal of Lourdes is the invisible but no less tangible manifestations of healing which are more often than not spiritual in nature. Catholic pilgrims rediscover their Faith in Lourdes and grow in their devotion to the Blessed Mother of God. Pilgrims in despair are given fresh hope and pilgrims carrying a heavy Cross more often than not are given strength to bear their infirmities. Those saddened by bereavement, grief and loss, separation from loved ones are given consolation. All the heavenly blessings that the Blessed Virgin wants to bestow on her children are bestowed to those who seek them in Lourdes.
For those struggling with sins that afflict them, Lourdes is a destination of water made holy by the Blessed Trinity which offers to pilgrims the opportunity of repentance. The deeply symbolic nature of water reminds us of our Baptism and of our baptismal vows. In our Baptism, we were cleansed from the stain of Original Sin. At Lourdes, pilgrims discover cleansing of their personal sin, something which happens in the Sacrament of Confession, but something that pilgrims experience on perhaps a deeper level, by physical immersion in the holy waters of Our Lady’s grotto. Lourdes is traditionally a place of purity and holiness.
The Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes has always been a feature of this Diocese and it is obviously an annual event that Bishop Richard holds dear to his heart. The Diocesan Lourdes Fund enables many who cannot afford to make such a pilgrimage to go and renew their faith. The Diocese enlists the help of many volunteers who care for sick and infirm pilgrims during the pilgrimage. Give generously to the Lourdes fund today, your financial help could change the lives of people in our Diocese and even our parish.