Sunday, May 3, 2015

Day 3 Part One: Washing of the Feet

* Internet has been down and cell service is not existing for me. I am keeping a journal and will post when the Internet is up or we return home.

Day 3: Thursday April 30th.
This day was so long, I have broken it into 2 parts...this is part one:

Apparently, travel is not agreeing with intestinal bug has found me and kept me up all night with hourly runs to the bathroom. I feel terrible and am afraid to eat. "Just hang in there, Mom," Hank tells me, "you just need to make it to the baths and then you will be better." (I have faith that he is right...and I love that his faith is so strong)

This is our first full day in Lourdes and we are excited! The Red Team's nurse, Maura, stopped by our room to check on Hank and I. I told her I was struggling with a bug so she sent the team doctor by with a packet of Imodium. With a busy schedule ahead of us, we headed down to breakfast. We were met by our our Knight who would be our escort for the day. Today, we would be with a family. The same family who greeted us at the airport, with our name badges. What a nice bunch to start our trip off with! Parents John and Valerie and their 3 kids; Maria age 11, Juliette age 16 and John Gabriel age 17. All of them in their Malta uniforms and with big smiles, we sat down together for breakfast.

Thy were engaging and interesting and although Hank didn't say much, I know he was feeling better just being around a family. After breakfast, we had a meeting where we learned about the baths, which we would be visiting later in the day, as well as the other things we would be doing. As I looked around the room at all the other members of our team...I saw the hopeful faces of the other Malades and companions. Full of apprehension at what is to come...washing of the feet, visiting the baths where we would be immersed in the sacred waters of Lourdes, and so much more.

After the meeting, we ran up to our rooms to gather our things (and where I still struggled with my stomach bug), and then met down in the hotel garage. There, we found everyone assembled by team colors and searched out our cart. Hank and the rest of the Malades would be traveling by "voitures", three-wheeled carts that have a collapsible cover...and pulled by handle by a "puller" and pushed from behind by a "pusher". Each Malade is assigned a voiture and a team of pushers and pullers.
Hank and I had talked about the voitures before leaving for Lourdes...the whole idea was weird and uncomfortable for Hank...having people pull you in a cart, being looked at by others... so I know he stepped into the cart with a feeling of unease. But as he looked around the garage and saw all the other Malades in the same position, I think he felt better.

Our team, was full of positive energy as they buzzed around Hank. Blankets,
water, an extra seat cushion, a rain cover...all in place for his comfort. John Gabriel was assigned a different Malade for the day, and was not part of our team.  The garage was full of all the members of the Order of Malta, volunteers, Malades, companions and the members of the clergy. The chaplain for the day, said a prayer before we started out and blessed us. The prayer included a Hail Mary, and finished with "Our Lady of Lourdes...Pray for Us. St. Bernadette...Pray for Us." And with the United States Flag and the Order of Malta Flags lined up, we started our procession to Eglise Ste Bernadette cote Grotte (St. Bernadette's). We traveled together each voiture and it's team, chatting happily to the church.

Once there, the Malades were helped down and escorted to their seats. Hank and I sat together, surrounded by all the other Malades and companions, while the Knights and Dames took their seats behind us. The procession into the church started as numerous priests filed in to the strains of beautiful organ music and the choir lifted in song. After a welcome, they had the blessing of the
Rosaries and then distributed them among the Malades and companions. We were each given a rosary made by the Poor Clare's in Lourdes. An order of nuns who make the rosaries from the pods of the tree that grows on the grounds of the convent. Next was the ceremony of Reconciliation. The Priests, Monsignors, and Bishops spread throughout the church. Hank and I stood up and got in line for the opportunity of personal reconciliation and absolution. Hank went to a young priest, Fr. Jim, who we had met at the airport, and I went to a priest that I did not know. I later found out that he was a Bishop from Colorado, Bishop Sheridan. It was a very peaceful and heartfelt time, with a thoughtful confessor. Afterwards, Hank and I sat down for quiet reflection as the rest of the pilgrims continued through the process.

The last ceremony of the morning, was the Washing of the Feet. Our Blessed Lord washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper, So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.’
(John 13:12-15)
Each team of Malades, followed by their companions, were brought up to the front of the church. The Malade took a seat, with the companion standing behind them, as either a Knight, a Dame or a member of the clergy knelt in front of them to wash their feet. I know Hank was nervous about this...and watched the ones who went before him, with a sharp eye. The Red Team was the fourth group to go up, so he knew what to expect. As Hank sat down, Our Knight, John knelt down in front of him, assisted by his son John, who held the basin and pitcher. Hank slipped off his shoes and socks as John carefully and lovingly poured the water over Hank's feet. John dried Hank's feet and then assisted him with his shoes and socks. As John was finishing, I was overcome with emotion. I tried to hold it in, but the tears flowed as we made our way back to the seats. As I wiped my eyes, Hank looked at me with concern, "Are you OK, Mom?" I nodded, "It's all just so beautiful." We made our way into the row and sat down...Hank put his arm around me and pressed my face to his shoulder as he patted my head. I was later told by a Dame, "I saw your emotion after the Washing of the Feet," she said, "I was fine until Hank put his arm around you and laid your head on his shoulder. Then I cried with was just so touching and he is so sweet." That was the first of many touching moments. Hank impressed many with his kindness and compassion.

After the ceremony, the Malades were placed back in their voitures and started the procession back to the hotel. We could see the grotto from across the river, and stopped to take some photos. We headed back to the hotel for lunch, where we would prepare for our walk to the baths...
Hank and our voiture team at the Domain
Hank and I in front of the Grotto. The statue of the Blessed Virgin is visible between our heads.

Central Coast Boys

At the bridge, looking at the Rosary Basilica.
Next up...Our visit to the baths of Lourdes...


  1. When I read you cried, I cried too.

  2. This is so inspirational! I am so blessed by your family