December 9, 2014

He Did Not Want To Go

Yesterday, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, an elderly priest gave a homily. He recalled a time when he was a young priest. It seems he and a fellow priest had thirty days off and were trying to decide where they should go. Of all the options they had before them, his friend wanted to go to Lourdes, France. Our storytelling priest, however, did not want to go. He recalled a kind, but skeptical nun that he had in high school. She did not believe in all the supposed happenings at Lourdes, even the first one, the apparation of the Our Mother to St. Bernadette of Soubirous. He likewise was skeptical. Still, he agreed to go.

When they were at the grotto, his friend went up and placed his hand on the stone behind the spot where Our Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette. Our homilist watched him, sitting on a bench disinterestedly. Then an elderly man went up, fell to his knees on the hard marble and prayed in earnest. Our homilist sensed his own dispassion and was somewhat shamed. He then went up and, still skeptical, actually kissed the stone. Suddenly, he recounts, he was overwhelmed with a feeling of peace that still stands out in his memory some fifty years later.

Afterwards, they happened to meet two other visitors at a local restaurant. As they began to talk, one of the men explained that he had been coming to Lourdes for twenty years. It seems that he too did not want to come to Lourdes at first. His wife was the cause in his case. When they arrived, she explained that she had signed them both up to do some volunteer work in the hospital located there. He spent most of his time around sick people and he much preferred to go to a resort beach on the Mediterranean, but there was little he could do about it now. Then, she explained she had signed them both up to wheel some patients down to where they were having a procession with the Blessed Sacrament. He had a similar reaction to this news.

They of course went. The person he was assigned to wheel was a cancer patient. Her stomach was greatly distended. There was little that could be done for her. As they attended the ceremony, the priest with the monstrance passed right in front of her. She had prayers said on her behalf with the Holy Eucharist raised directly over her. The procession moved on.

She then said that she was cured. Her caretaker did not believe her. To his utter astonishment, however, right there, he could see that her stomach was not distended any longer. When they returned to the hospital, he told the doctors personnel there that he wanted x-rays taken of her immediately. Her pancreas and her liver had been half eaten away before this episode. Now, the x-rays showed this had changed as well.

Since then, this man in the restaurant had been coming back to Lourdes. Over this time, he had organized teams of doctors to make regular trips to Lourdes as well and care for the people who came.

The homilist who did not want to go to Lourdes at first had an encounter that he could remember his entire life. At that time, the gift he was given was an indescribable peace. Twenty years earlier, the gift given to a cancer patient was an immediate physical healing in the presence of the One who stays with us, even unto the end of time.


Copyright 2012 The Humble Catholic

Web site designed by Chicago web design company : Indigo Image