May 2: Reflection from Rev. Robert M. Dunn, ChM
Today, the pilgrimage arrives in Lourdes. The buses draw closer to the town. The farms and fields give way to large hotels and smaller buildings. As everyone settles in to those temporary homes, the pilgrimage is divided into smaller groups and the pilgrims go in procession to the 45 acre Sanctuary for the opening Mass of the three US Association pilgrimages from California, Washington DC, and New York.
Afterwards, many of the pilgrims make a quick visit to the Grotto and head for dinner in the hotels.
It has begun.
The Pilgrims are tired from jet-lag but are excited. They fall asleep wondering if they brought and have everything they need in the hotel room.
Packing and preparing for a pilgrimage is a purification. Everyone has to decide what they need to bring and what they need to leave behind. That part of the pilgrimage began long before they got to the airport yesterday.
But it’s more than choosing which shirts and shoes go in the bag. It is also the purification of the heart. One of the few messages Our Lady asked St. Bernadette to share was, “penance, penance, penance.“ For the heart to be open to God‘s grace, there has to be room for His Blessing. If it is over-packed with regrets, hatreds, and guilt, it is harder to have room for those blessings. Penance makes that room by giving up and giving away the ordinary clutter for the sake of an extraordinary experience.
Clear the clutter,
make the space,
and expect the Grace.
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