Dear friends in Christ,
About 250 of us pilgrims from the Diocese of Lancaster are making our final preparations for our annual Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes which begins on Friday 18 July. Many of us are no strangers to Our Lady’s shrine and are regular pilgrims coming together to honour the Mother of Christ.
For others among us, especially many of our young people, this will be the first time on such a pilgrimage to Lourdes, and I hope you will quickly feel at home among us as part of the Lancaster family on pilgrimage.
A pilgrimage is first and foremost a journey of prayer, and even detachment from our normal routine. In Lourdes we step back for a while to pause and reflect on our life’s journey before God, to ponder and turn over in our minds and hearts the wonderful story of Mary’s appearances to Bernadette, and to ask their prayers and help in our efforts to live the Christian life at home, work with our family and friends at home.
We will be part of the millions of pilgrims who this year will travel to Lourdes to pray and experience afresh God’s mercy and healing grace in the sacraments. We will form part of a powerful wave of prayer – join us in prayer, too, wherever you are from 18 -25 July 2014!
Our sick pilgrims have a special place for us in Lourdes, and it is a real lesson to witness the love and the care they receive at the shrine. Their deep faith and love of Our Lady are there for all to see. Our Lancaster young people always excel in their attention to our own sick and frail pilgrims and acknowledge that they receive more than they give. That is one of the miracles of Lourdes!
The pastoral theme chosen for the Lourdes pilgrimage this year is ‘The Joy of Conversion.’ The Lord called his first disciples and hearers to conversion, for, he declared, the kingdom of God was near. He makes the same call to us today!
My prayer is that our pilgrimage this year will be a real time of grace and renewal for us on this spiritual adventure, but also for all those in the Diocese unable to be with us, and whose intentions we carry in our hearts.
There will be no blog next week but a bumper one the week after (on 26 July) – before closing for the summer until September.
As ever in Christ Our Lord,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster