France: Christ the King Pilgrimage in Lourdes

Source: FSSPX News

There was approximately 7,000 faithful in Lourdes for the annual Christ the King pilgrimage organized by the Society of St. Pius X. “It was a fairly good number after the effort made by Tradition last year”, Fr. Nicolas Pinaud, its organizer and rector of the School Saint-Michel Garicoits in Domezain (Pyrenees-Atlantiques) confided to us. Obviously, “it is never satisfactory, all the faithful should come to Lourdes to honor the Most Blessed Virgin for the feast of Christ the King,” yet, without a doubt, the year 2009 will remain “a nice success”. It shows that this pilgrimage, which started out 10 years ago with a thousand people, has become an institution, regardless of anniversaries or jubilees,” declared this staunch Breton priest. It must be said that Lourdes is the “Marian capital of France,” Fr. Jacques Laguérie recalled; and the three days of pilgrimage are the source of particularly fruitful graces.
Ceremonies began early in the afternoon on Saturday with a meeting around the crowned statue of the Blessed Virgin on the shrine esplanade and was followed by the Stations of the Cross. At the foot of the Sacred Mount, we came across Alix from Paris with her brothers and cousins. “As the Virgin Mary has asked, we are making penance.” “It is also an opportunity to prepare a good confession,” Fr. Pinaud paternally suggested.
Several meters ahead, Fr. Christophe Beaublat, prior in Grenoble, was surrounded by many faithful facing the Cross of Calvary. He was the preacher of the main Stations of the Cross on the Espélugues (name of the hill on which the stations are set up with life-size statues, translator’s note): “Rather than seeking for instruction, our occupation will be to compassionate Our Lord, to suffer with Him. Let us think only of Jesus, of the sufferings of His body, His Heart, His soul, and let us go up to the source of His sufferings: His love. Let us see how much He loved us, to what point and at what cost!”
The Stations of the Cross were followed by a solemn High Mass offered by Fr. Xavier Beauvais, prior of St Nicolas du Chardonnet, in the underground St. Pius X Basilica. It gathered five thousand faithful around the altar. “As the years went by, we managed to obtain many privileges or activities,” Fr. Pinaud told us. Such was the case with the candle-light procession on Saturday evening. Around 8:00 pm, the pilgrims met before the grotto. Before beginning the procession, a rosary was said, a lighted candle in hand. With his back to the place of the apparition, in the falling darkness of early evening, Fr. Jacques Laguérie spoke about the Cure of Ars: “Dear pilgrims, do not fear to ask for all the good things you desire, even for those you think you cannot obtain. Here is what the Holy Cure used to say, and we can trust his words: ‘I so often drew from this spring that it would have run dry long ago if it were not inexhaustible’.”
Among the pilgrims, some 150 sick came, doubtless at the cost of great efforts. Some could no longer speak, most were in a wheel chair. Bernadette was one of them. “Cerebral motor handicapped” since birth, she had come on purpose from Laval with the precious help of the Little Sisters of St. John the Baptist of Notre Dame du Rafflay (Loire-Atlantique). After the vibrant procession, with the recurrent song of the Ave Maria of Lourdes (“I want that on this very spot, the people who loves me, invokes me in procession”), we met Bernadette again at the Accueil Notre Dame, a true little hospital for the circumstance. She explained how consoling it was to come again to Lourdes “near our heavenly Mother” every year. “It is the 7th time,” she told us with a some pride.
Among the persons in charge of caring for the sick was Marie-Jeanne, she had come especially from the Alps. For this young nurse by profession, these three days of labor and self-sacrifice for others were a great time: “It is so hard for the sick. We see people who suffer, yet never complain. It is truly a good example for us.”
The next day, the rain came. The Eucharistic procession in honor of Christ the King, scheduled for the afternoon, was canceled. But for the first time in Lourdes, the 11:00 am Mass was a pontifical Mass. Offered by Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, it was attended by some 7,000 faithful. “We feared we would fill only half of the basilica,” Fr. Nicolas Pinaud admitted. But we are obliged to observe that attendance was beyond our expectations, and that faithful from all over attended the ceremony. “I heard confessions of Spaniards and Italians, who did not seem to know much about the sacrament of penance,” Fr. Dominique Lagneau, the valiant preacher at the Gastines Retreat House (Maine-et-Loire) told us later. These faithful, doubtless outside of Tradition, must have listened attentively to Bishop Tissier de Mallerais’ sermon. On this feast of Christ the King, he especially recalled the stakes of the Rosary Crusade which will last until March 2010: “To belong to Jesus Christ, all the States were consecrated to the Virgin Mary. (…) This is what the Blessed Virgin is requesting today: ‘Let Russia be consecrated to my Immaculate Heart!’ Why Russia? Because (Soviet) Russia is the integral proclamation of secularization, of a State without God, of a State indifferent to Jesus-Christ. Hence, the Blessed Mother requests the consecration of Russia as the symbol of an atheistic State which must belong to Her. (…) Let us not believe that today Russia has converted. It continues to spread its errors: whole of China is communist and persecutes the Catholic Church. The Orthodox are believing in a false religion, which, alas, continues to exist in Russia. Here is the reason for our Rosary Crusade which has begun to cast into our souls the roots of this devotion of reparation towards the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which the Blessed Mother requested from Sr. Lucia.
After Mass and a hasty lunch, the pilgrims gathered again in the St. Pius X Basilica to attend the solemn Vespers of Christ the King and the blessing of the sick. For Fr. Nicolas Pinaud, “the sick are today the hallmark of our pilgrimage. The blessing is a tradition in Lourdes, because Our Lady has worked repeated miracles of bodily healings which are very true, and which are doubtless a reminder of all the still more numerous spiritual healings…” During the ceremony, while the faithful sang a vibrant Christus vincit – Christus regnat – Christus imperat, we came closer to Olivier. Supported by his wife, this man from Brittany has cancer and his face bears the marks of chemotherapy. Seated with dignity in his wheel chair, his face froze as the Blessed Sacrament came near. His eyes closed and his head bowed as he received this exceptional blessing at the hands of Fr. Regis de Cacqueray.
Later, in his room at the Accueil Notre Dame, we met with another faithful, Sylvain. Born in the Vosges, he was suffering from multiple sclerosis and told us how rich were those minutes: “It is the Good Lord stooping over us,” thus showing how much He loves the poor, the sick, those who suffer.
After the night of Sunday to Monday entirely dedicated to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and a solemn High Mass followed by a rosary on Monday morning, from the bed in her room Bernadette made us a last confidence:  “I do not want to think only about myself. During these three days I prayed so much for the Church, the pope, the bishops, and our priests.” Without doubt the Most Blessed Virgin will hear her prayers!(DICI n° 204 - 13/11/2009 )

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