February 11th, 2014- Took time away from office, since it is a Tuesday, to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes and attend the procession. Sometimes in our busy and complicated lives, you just need to recharge, be healed, be inspired and to pray...the miracle at Lourdes is a well-spring of hope. Our Lady, our beloved Mother continues to touch us in her own special way and continues to call us to her Son...
Oh ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Look upon me with mercy. When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes, you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors, and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. My loving Mother, obtain my request. I will try to imitate your virtues so that I may one day share your company and bless you in eternity. Amen.
Vendors surround the church carrying their wares, instead of sampaguita's I saw a lot selling "everlasting"...it has been a while since I last saw this at home...I wonder what kind of flower is used for this and what is the process to make it last for a long long time...When I was young our small Sto. Nino images, on our altar (back then), are always adorned by a necklace made of "everlasting", one for each...
One thing I admire and hope to bring to my parish is the strong participation of all the communities under the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, in this case the different "baranggay's"...as Fr. Patrick Peyton always say, "a community in prayer is a community at peace." If I am not mistaken, one baranggay sponsors one carroza joining the procession. And prior to today's fiesta celebration, they even had an image of Our Lady of Lourdes visit each baranggay.
The Shrine is bustling with activity...Last Sunday, I saw a documentary in EWTN of pilgrims going to Lourdes, in the Shrine of the apparitions in the hopes of experiencing a miracle and the countless volunteers who unselfishly devote their time to help the visitors...this is the closest thing I can get to experience Lourdes...
Inside the Shrine
Flowers all over the Shrine, even at the entrance...nothing screams "Fiesta" than this...
Mass is on-going, the most important part of the Fiesta celebration...
Lord, thank you for giving us Mama Mary who continuously inspires and makes us feel wanted and love...
POPE JOHN PAUL II'S PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF LOURDES
Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman, Blessed by the Most High! Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era, We join in your song of praise, to celebrate the Lord’s mercy, to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom and the full liberation of humanity.
Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord, Glorious Mother of Christ! Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word, Teach us to persevere in listening to the Word, and to be docile to the voice of the Spirit, attentive to his promptings in the depths of our conscience and to his manifestations in the events of history.
Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows, Mother of the living! Virgin spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve, Be our guide along the paths of the world. Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ, to stand with you before the innumerable crosses on which your Son is still crucified.
Hail Mary, woman of faith, First of the disciples! Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always to account for the hope that is in us, with trust in human goodness and the Father’s love. Teach us to build up the world beginning from within: in the depths of silence and prayer, in the joy of fraternal love, in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.
Holy Mary, Mother of believers, Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
From the entrance if you turn left you will be able to see the altar of the pilgrim image (in this instance, a replica image is placed since the original pilgrim image is on the carroza for the procession. I saw in Facebook that this replica image, newly commissioned, was sculpted by none other than Nick Lugue)
Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: "I am the Immaculate Conception." A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.
By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, whence you dispense your favors, and already many have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and physical. We come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. Obtain for us, O loving Mother, the granting of our request.
Through gratitude for your favors, we will endeavor to imitate your virtues, that we may one day share your glory. Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your divine son while upon earth. You have the same influence now in Heaven. Pray for us; obtain for us from your Divine Son our special requests if it be the Divine Will. Amen.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.
On the other hand, if you turn right from the entrance you will see other church images like this beautiful Sto. Nino.
The Main Altar
This will be my 2nd year visiting the Shrine on the day of the Fiesta and like last year the main altar is beautifully decorated.
O Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, virgin and mother, queen of heaven, chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the Eternal Word and in virtue of this title preserved from original sin, we kneel before you as did little Bernadette at Lourdes and pray with childlike trust in you that as we contemplate your glorious appearance at Lourdes, you will look with mercy on our present petition and secure for us a favorable answer for our requests.
Altar boys preparing for their participation in the high mass...
A mass was held almost every hour in the Shrine...
Kissing the Virgin's Mantle
Atop the altar is a small prayer area for devotees who would want to kiss the mantle of the virgin (which is technically a piece of lace tied to the iron grills enclosing the grotto...)
View from the top...
The altar of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, is a replica of the apparition side in Lourdes...
And like in Lourdes, a "spring" of holy water continuously flows for the faithful...
The Story of Our Lady of Lourdes
On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus. A little more than three years later, on February 11, 1858, a young lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. This began a series of visions. During the apparition on March 25, the lady identified herself with the words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Bernadette was a sickly child of poor parents. Their practice of the Catholic faith was scarcely more than lukewarm. Bernadette could pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Creed. She also knew the prayer of the Miraculous Medal: “O Mary conceived without sin.”
During interrogations Bernadette gave an account of what she saw. It was “something white in the shape of a girl.” She used the word aquero, a dialect term meaning “this thing.” It was “a pretty young girl with a rosary over her arm.” Her white robe was encircled by a blue girdle. She wore a white veil. There was a yellow rose on each foot. A rosary was in her hand. Bernadette was also impressed by the fact that the lady did not use the informal form of address (tu), but the polite form (vous). The humble virgin appeared to a humble girl and treated her with dignity.
Through that humble girl, Mary revitalized and continues to revitalize the faith of millions of people. People began to flock to Lourdes from other parts of France and from all over the world. In 1862 Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions and authorized the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes for the diocese. The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes became worldwide in 1907.
The Grotto and the relic of St. Bernadette
Kissing the mantle...
Go to Part 2.