11 February 2009
In light of my post yesterday, Lourdes is one of the places where the Church gets it right. In Lourdes, the priority is given to the sick and to prayer. Many important people come there, including popes and bishops, but everyone who comes there comes as a pilgrim. And among the pilgrims, the sick are given first place.
Lourdes is a place that does not give a great first impression. (I am only now getting over being ashamed of my first reaction to Lourdes. I am happy to have changed, and I had to change from something!) It is sort of like a religious Gatlinburg. It is in the mountains in a beautiful natural setting and cluttered with lots of souvenir shops and hotels. That is the messy and human side of Lourdes. It accommodates a lot of people. But the reason the people come is to drink and to wash in the waters of the miraculous spring that Our Lady revealed through St. Bernadette. Everyone gives way to the sick in Lourdes. It is not a place made easily handicapped accessible, as we would say today. Handicapped access is often provided only by the strength of the fit, who offer their service willingly.
It seems to me that there is more than enough for the Church to do to pray and to take care of the spiritual and corporal needs of the people of the world. When we set ourselves to these tasks, we come up with places like Lourdes -- with a little help from the Blessed Virgin!