|The Grotto, where Our Lady appeared and the spring that feeds the baths is located.|
|John and Valerie Burkart escorting Hank to the Baths.|
|A blessing from Monsignor Otellini|
We were taken from the line and sat in little blue chairs with wheels on them...pulled over to just outside the door to the dressing rooms in rows of two's and sat waiting. There were many benches filled with pilgrims behind us and along the wall...all waiting for their turn to enter the baths. In our group, just the 50 Malades and companions were allowed in...with the rest of the Order able to return on Tuesday. As I sat and waited, I chatted with some of the other Malades and companions. This is where I learned why some of the others had come to Lourdes. I knew that Hank's illness would not compare to what other people were experiencing...and yet I know Our Lady chose Hank for a reason. But sitting there, listening to the ailments of these women, or of their Malades...my heart hurt and I prayed for them as well. The young woman with brain cancer...the mother who is a surgeon
with two children...diagnosed with a ferocious bone cancer...the woman who's child has a pulmonary condition and is not eligible for a heart transplant at this time, the woman with breast cancer and more. As I listened and silently prayed...I asked Our Lady to intercede for all of us, and heal the many gathered here.
|The waiting area|
The room was small, with eight chairs placed against opposite walls. To the right was a curtained off area, where I knew the Bath to be. A woman, also a companion on our pilgrimage was brought in and went through the same procedure as I did. As I sat there in silent prayer, I noticed that she had flung her right hand out of her curtain with her bra hanging from her hand. "Why am I holding my bra?" she asked in a loud voice. The young woman ran over and tucked her hand back under the curtain, offering no explanation. I am such a rule follower, and although I wondered the same thing, I would never have thought to actually ask. I was so distracted and cracking up inside, that I couldn't focus on my prayers and all of a sudden, it was my turn. I didn't feel ready!
|Photo from the Internet: we weren't allowed cameras|
|After the Baths...the Baths are on the right side of this photo...with the Grotto underneath the Basilica.|
|Mausoleum Chapel at the top of the Rosary Basilica|
Cardinal Dolan said a beautiful Mass, telling us that "I am going to keep the Homily short, as we are all tired." I have to admit that a lot of us were falling asleep standing up...me included...and being in the second row...I wonder if he noticed! Inspiring Mass in the most beautiful of settings. It was a big day...Distribution of Rosaries, Reconciliation, Washing of the Feet, The Baths of Lourdes and now this beautiful Mass...what an amazing honor that has been bestowed on us! As I am hearing about how others were nominated for this trip, I am learning that our situation is unique and the way Hank's nomination occurred was no coincidence. Our Lady chose Hank for this pilgrimage...at this time of his life...and I am sure the reason will be revealed as we go on this journey...
|Cardinal Timothy Dolan at the Rosary Basilica|
We enjoyed a nice dinner with our cart team, and found out (sadly) that we would only have them for today...tomorrow we would have another pusher and puller...but we had already bonded and knew that this was a family that we felt so close to! And of course we would love the next group too...especially after they came over and introduced themselves. After dinner, Hank went with all the teens for gelato and then hung out with them in the lounge, while I kept an eye on him...and my Kronenbourg draft... Tomorrow would be another big day as we would get our first visit (one of many for me)...to the Grotto, where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette, and we would have the Anointing of the Sick Mass.
It was only our first full day here, and already I knew this was a place we would not want to leave...
|Above the altar at the Rosary Basilica|
|View from the Mausoleum above the Rosary Basilica, looking down onto the Domain|
|Hank and I across the river from The Rosary Basilica. The Grotto sits just behind us. The statue of Our Lady of Lourdes can be seen just to the right of Hank's head.|
|Recessional Processional of the Clergy. Notice the men in skull caps or miters...those are the bishops and cardinals.|