St John's Q&A

Friday, May 12, 2006

A teen's experience at Lourdes

Below is an inspiring and powerful post by Maggie, a teenager from Virginia who was on our trip to Lourdes. She wrote this as a comment to one of my posts, but it's so good that I wanted everyone to read it. Thanks, Maggie!!
"Hey! I'm one of the teens from the trip and think its great that you've posted blogs about Lourdes. As you know, once you've been to Lourdes you just 'get it'. For me it was the international community of believers united to celebrate Catholicism. For someone like myself who had low expectations and fading faith, I left Lourdes grateful for being Catholic. As a cradle Catholic I felt like a was only a Catholic by default. Lourdes provided me with a very individualistic experience with Christ.

One of the most meaningful experiences for me was the Eucharistic procession where I carried one of the flags next to the exposed Host. I was literally "walking with Jesus" and felt His presence along with all the Catholics that followed from the Domain to the altar. Most importantly I felt completely secure discussing Catholicism with you and other pilgrims. Since I don't usually talk with my friends in depth about Jesus and the faith it was great to have your perspective and advice on the numerous questions I had about the faith. It made me feel more confident in its teachings.

The truth is Lourdes isn't about the water. It's a chance to put your life in perspective. When you walk together with the sick, the clergy, and the laity in prayer you develop a sense that no matter your struggles whether they are visible or not, Jesus bore all of them on his cross and calls for you to join him in eternal joy in heaven. Although God's plan for each of us is unclear and may be frightening at times we can be comforted knowing He loves us. What problems we face is undeterminable and our joys will be coupled with suffering.

However, we are comforted with the fact that if we submit to God's will and partake in his plan than we will reach eternal happiness with him. The only way we can approach the uncertainty of life is through prayer and as you eloquently said Deacon, 'to tell the people you care about that you love them at every opportunity because you never know what will happen'. It is this love of Jesus and one another that unites us and comforts us through life and all the struggles we may experience.

Whether God calls us to advocate his plan at a young age like Mary and Bernadette or later in life like the apostles, may we be open and accepting of his plan. As Bernadette innocently welcomed her journey that was accompanied by persecution and doubt, we are called to experience Jesus with this same childish innocence.

I encourage everyone to make a pilgrimage to Lourdes to demonstrate there willingness to partake in God's plan with a loving community of advocates of Christ."


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