Happy Feast Day - Our Lady of Lourdes 2017...
Know that any of you who are Sick are in our prayers!
Reflections on Lourdes from one of our younger brothers...
"Last summer, while on placement with Redemptorist Publications in Chawton, I accompanied Fr Terry Creech C.Ss.R. on his pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady at Lourdes. This was a journey he had made many times over the years but it was my first time making a pilgrimage anywhere and what a place to start! We drove the length of France over two days to get there and stayed close to the Sanctuary in Lourdes. Journeying down I discovered that Fr Terry had been serving the poor and most abandoned in Lourdes over many, many years helping groups such as HCPT and as a confessor. It became clear very quickly that this place was incredibly special for Fr Terry and arriving it felt like I was bringing him home.
On our first night in Lourdes we walked down to the Sanctuary for the candle lit procession and it was genuinely moving to see how many people from diocese all over the UK, especially Hexham and Newcastle, left the procession to come and say hello to Fr Terry and to say thank you. We attended mass each morning in the English chapel, which was another opportunity to meet more of the people who have been touched by the ministry of Fr Terry over the years. As the pilgrimage of the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle came to a close Fr Terry was able to concelebrate at their farewell mass, which I could see meant a great deal to him.
As time moved on Fr Terry encouraged me to explore the Sanctuary and especially to experience the famous baths. If I am completely honest, the thought of freezing cold water really didn’t appeal to me and after all Our Lady did say “one drop will suffice”! I knew however that if I didn’t try it I would regret it so I steeled myself and got in line. The experience was both humbling and exhilarating at the same time. I felt rejuvenated, if slightly soggy, for the rest of the morning and set off to walk the Stations of the Cross on the hill above the Sanctuary: they are life sized and are truly astonishing to behold.
Walking alongside the river in the evenings I became aware of the astonishing beauty of this place apart from the magnificent basilica and mosaics. The beauty of Lourdes is in the healing that takes place there. People come burdened by illness, stress, fears and disappointments and leave renewed. Our Lady offers in the waters the chance to examine our lives and re-direct them towards God. St Alphonsus’ method of mental prayer concludes with the making of resolutions. These resolutions fuel our daily conversion as we try to conform to the image of Christ. Lourdes invites us to do the same: as we walked through the shrine and lit votive candles we were offered the same chance to make resolutions to take away.
Before we departed I asked Fr Terry to bless my future as a Redemptorist on that sacred ground where he has helped so many to encounter God’s loving mercy. On our drive home we visited Lisieux and the Basilica of St Therese of Lisieux. The magnificent basilica had a number of chapels, each dedicated to a country including Great Britain, Scotland and Ireland and I had the opportunity to pray for loved ones and confreres all over the world. This pilgrimage gave me the opportunity to spend time with one of my confreres I did not really know: not only to hear his story but to witness the fruits of his ministry in the people that we met along the way. It was an honour and a privilege to walk beside Fr Terry in Lourdes and I hope and pray that in the future God may guide me to be a sign of hope for the lost and the broken."
Br Christopher Reynolds