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My mother wouldn’t have deserved that

14 Dec

Lourdees floodThat terrible feeling I get in my stomach when I see pictures of the grotto of Our Lady at Lourdes under water – it bothers me that I cannot identify it. I cannot pinpoint why it feels so weird and so “not right.”

I’ve asked myself, “When else have I felt this way? What else would ever make me feel this way?” The only thing I can come up with is that I might have had this feeling if I had ever seen my mother’s apartment in the nursing home under water. That was the place where I went to take naps and have simple meals and watch the Reds games and just be with mom. If I had ever seen my mother’s prayer book floating in muddy water, I might have had this feeling. And that floor lamp that was next to her chair, from the top of which she had tied the tiny scissors that she used when she did her embroidery work on the pillow cases, as she sat in the light of that lamp, with the scissors dangling within an easy reach, if I had ever seen just the top of that lamp above water, it would have felt so “not right.” My mother wouldn’t have deserved that. Maybe a lot of other stuff in life would have deserved that, but not my mom’s stuff.

Maybe I’m mad at the water. Water just seems so mean. I know that the river didn’t mean to do what it did to the shrine at Lourdes, but it did.

There are supposed to be people walking through that grotto and leaving their prayers and blessing themselves with water that seeps through the rocks. There are supposed to be pilgrims sitting in rows of benches whispering prayers, fingering rosaries and just feeling safe. There are supposed to be candles burning and candles waiting to be lit. But that water, that river water keeps everyone from getting to the waters of the Lady’s spring. People want to drink and need to bathe. Those flooding waters are just plain mean. And all that mud, it doesn’t belong there. Mary, our Mother, doesn’t deserve this, and neither do the sick who come to her at Lourdes.

I know that the water will go away, and that the mud will be put back in its place, and that the “Ave, Ave, Ave Maria” will be sung as soon as the slop is cleared away. And, yes, we can hear “the Lady” say, “”I do not promise to make you happy in this life, but in the next.”

But there is just something so wrong with a flood at the grotto of Lourdes. And I still cannot name the feeling in my stomach.

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Salve Regina

4 Oct

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One of the glorious moments of my pilgrimage was chanting the “Salve Regina” at the end of our final Mass at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. “Hail, holy Queen ….”

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one last ad te suspiramus

26 Sep

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At the end of compline (night prayer) at the seminary we used to sing, with all those male voices, the Salve Regina. At the end of Mass at Notre Dame I stood with the bishops and the priests at the edge of the sanctuary for the singing of that Latin “Hail, holy Queen.” It was a lovely way to bring our/my pilgrimage to the Marian shrines to a close.

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almost spent the night

26 Sep

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After Mass I walked around to get some photos of the Notre Dame. The Archbishop eventually make looking for me. We got ourselves locked in a courtyard as we tried to get out of the cathedral, so may doors and gates they had locked by the time I was ready to leave. But it was worth it to get this photo, right before they turned off all the lights.

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but they made beautiful music

26 Sep

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The children’s choir were at the Mass at Notre-Dame cathedral the Sunday evening on which we attended Mass. They were at times as wiggly and squirmy as our kids in our choir, but they did make some lovely music.

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for the Kyrie

26 Sep

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The French priest seated next to me in the sanctuary of Notre Dame motioned to me at the beginning of the “Kyrie” to turn to the right. It is the tradition that all face toward the statue of the Pieta for the singing of the ” Lord, have mercy.” Notice how Father Jan elbowed his way into my photo.

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no, not South Bend

26 Sep

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Amazing t think that I actually saw the cathedral of Notre Dame du Paris. Our pilgrimage ended with Mass at the internationally known cathedral dedicated to Our Lady of Paris.

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yepp, there it is / was

26 Sep

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The train from Lourdes to Paris brought us to the station at 3:33 p.m., and we left the hotel for the airport at 7:00 a.m. That gave us only time for a quick bus ride around Paris, Mass and a farewell dinner. All we saw of the Eiffel Tower was from a bus window, if you were lucky enough to be seated on the tower side of the bus. That was a tease, or maybe it was a venial sin!

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leaving Lourdes

26 Sep

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Will I ever get to return? Will others get to arrive?

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with the blue girdle

26 Sep

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The statue in the main square of the shrine of Lourdes stands proud, no, it stands humbly. We proudly behold our Mother, as we have been instructed by Jesus as he hung on the cross, “Behold your mother!”