Lourdes is famous for many reasons, most of which is that everyone who comes receives graces of healing and graces of gratitude. I was privileged the other day to visit the baths with my group. As a priest I was moving about praying with all those preparing to enter the baths. I met an elderly man who had a number of ailments. He could barely walk, had dementia, but loved to talk. For some reason he had no one to help him get into the room to wait his turn for the baths so I went in with him. As i was waiting with him he mentioned to me that when he got to heaven he was going to give the Blessed Virgin a big hug and a kiss. And I asked him "What is she going to do?" he said that she would give him a big hug and a kiss in return. The faith of this failing man was tremendous.
While we waited, Charles spotted a man waiting his turn to enter the baths. Charles saw on his leg a number of terrible looking sores, and prayed at the top of his lungs: "Lord Jesus, heal his sores!' This simple prayer made me realize that suffering makes one empathetic, compassionate towards others. No matter how bad you may be suffering, there are always others who have a worse situation. What one realizes here in Lourdes is that suffering is allowed by God, but the good He brings is to bring us together so that we suffer together, share one another's sufferings as we walk towards heaven.
A member of my group was healed here as a child of terminal leukemia and has been returning every year since then to serve the sick. A mother with a very ill child said she smelled roses as her baby was placed in the water of the baths. Those and other peoples' stories are quite dramatic . But there are hidden miracles here, miracles of the heart, where many find God, find peace, find acceptance of His Will in their lives. And even amidst their sufferings, so many leave Lourdes eternally grateful for their lives and faith. I am so very grateful for God putting Charles in my path the other day. God be praised. Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for us.
+ Fr. Anthony Baetzold, CFR