Lourdes is not just an example of care of the sick. In looking at the Domaine in Lourdes, we have a picture of the Church which is in the world but not of it. We have a place for the sacraments, and for Reconciliation, a place for Adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, a place for devotion to Mary, a place where contemplatives pray for Church members - and much mutual help between pilgrims during our pilgrimage, including care of strangers.
When a 'child of God' offers in conversation not words of charity or compassion, but malicious gossip or salacious comments, that soul is like a holy shrine from which now emerges no spring, no living water of grace, but from which oozes drops of evil-smelling puss. Such a serious infection needs powerful help.
Christ wants us to pay attention to the Saints: to their living relationship with us, their feast days, shrines, relics and statues. We should treasure these as we treasure what connects us with earthly family and friends. We could ask the Saints for their prayers, with confidence in their love and God's goodness.
Though it is right that we travel to Lourdes to pray in the Grotto, and to other shrines, Christ invites us to make a 'grotto' of our own heart, where we can meet Our Lady and confide in her, who is at all times close to God Who dwells within us.
We should rejoice, if we have the relics of a Saint amongst us. We should ask for the prayers of the Saints, and receive their wonderful help, which is God's help poured through them. No matter how little-known some are, each Saint is now glorious in Heaven, and is a powerful intercessor for members of the Church: for those of us on earth, and for those in Purgatory.
People walk toward Christ and Our Lady when they approach the Grotto at Lourdes; and whenever people approach Christ and His Mother - through the Blessed Sacrament, or at Mass, or at a shrine, or in private prayer - they are 'walking in the right direction'.
There are many places of pilgrimage which attract us, whether the sites of martyrdom of Christian heroes and heroins, or the shrines constructed over places connected with Our Lord, Our Lady or the Saints. The one great Destination where we should all yearn to arrive at is Heaven, which all who enter enjoy the love of God and the Saints, forever!
We are right to be confident when we ask the Saints of Heaven to pray for us or for people in need. Their prayers rise up like incense to the throne of God, and bring down upon us graces from Heaven. This is especially true when we pray at the shrine of a Saint: a shrine blessed by the Church.
Although God pours down grace upon us, like sunlight through a great cloud, whenever we ask for the prayers of one of the Saints of Heaven, even greater graces are given to us when we go to the shrine of one of the Saints, and there ask for his or her intercession, at a shrine authorised and blessed by the Church.
Christ loves and honours His beloved Mother Mary. He wants us to love and honour her, and to give her special honour in and through the Church. He delights in seeing Popes and Bishops set an example in this, by their sincere prayers and other acts of devotion at Marian shrines, and before images of Our Blessed Lady.