Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Our Lady Lourdes, France
Photo: R. Massaro (C) 2013 Spirit Singing

Procession in Lourdes, France
Photo: R. Massaro (C) 2013 SpiritSinging

These words of Our Lady to St. Bernadette took place during the 13th apparition at Lourdes on March 2, 1858. Our Lady told Bernadette, "Go and tell the priests that people should come here in procession."  It is very interesting and telling that the message should come through a priest.  The priest speaks on behalf of the Church.  The people of Lourdes have indeed taken Our Lady's request to heart.  Processions have taken place each day at Lourdes from the very beginning.

Blessing of the Sick-Lourdes, France
Photo: R. Massaro (C) 2013 Spirit Singing

Aside from the Masses at Lourdes, there are two processions that take place each day at the shrine. The first is the afternoon procession of the Blessed Sacrament. Pilgrims process from the Esplanade to the underground Basilica of St. Pius X where the blessing of the sick and benediction takes place.  It is said that more healings take place at the blessing of the sick than through the waters of Lourdes.

Benediction at Lourdes, France
Photo: R.Massaro (C)2013 SpiritSinging

The second procession each day is the evening candlelight procession. Pilgrims gather at the Grotto or the Crowned Virgin statue in the Esplanade to participate in the procession. The procession winds around the shrine as the Rosary is prayed in 5 languages. The procession ends in front of the Rosary Basilica, where the evening hymn to Mary, the Salve Regina is chanted, then all the priests gathered in front of the basilica offer their blessing to the pilgrims.  Pilgrims offer each other a sign of peace and then depart for the evening.

Evening Procession, Lourdes France
Photo: R.Massaro (C) 2013 SpiritSinging

We may not have an opportunity to participate in a procession at Lourdes. But we do have the opportunity to participate in five processions during each Mass that we attend. Did you say five? Yes.

The Opening Procession-The priest, deacon and servers process from the back of the church to the altar of sacrifice. Together we sing a hymn of praise.

The Gospel Procession-The priest or deacon processes with the Gospel to the ambo and proclaims the Word of God.

The Offertory Procession-The people present to the priest the offerings: bread and wine.

The Communion Procession-The people come forward to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Recessional-We depart in joy and thanksgiving after having shared in the Eucharist.

Let us ask ourselves how we conduct ourselves at Mass, especially during the "processions."  Do we participate in the opening hymn?  Do we have a heart that is ready to be open to the Gospel message, or are we distracted. Perhaps, later, having no idea what Gospel passage was read. Do we offer ourselves and all that we possess during the Offertory? Do we approach the Holy Eucharist in a spirit of humble reverence?  Are we grateful for having received the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, or is it business as usual, perhaps even leaving right after communion?

Soon we will be celebrating Corpus Christ.  Let us renew our love and devotion for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  Let us be grateful that we are able to go in procession to receive him each day if we choose.  Although Our Lady asks us to "Come in Procession" Our Lord, too, desires us to come..."Come to me, all  you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. (Matthew 11:29)"  What better procession? What better pilgrimage-making our way to the Lord!

Let us pray for each other.

Mass at the Grotto-Lourdes, France
Photo: R. Massaro (c) 2013 Spirit Singing

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

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