In the Door of FaithSzöveg: Endre Fodor | 2013. június 1. 10:32
Lourdes, a door to faith – this was the motto on the 55th International Military Pilgrimage for thousands of participants at Our Lady’s Shrine at Lourdes, France, the place of Marian apparitions. The 78-strong Hungarian group representing our country included soldiers, government officials, public servants and family members, and was organized by the Ministry of Defence Military Chaplaincy Catholic Service Branch.
Ave Maria, Mater Dei – 22 thousand pilgrims were singing this song at the monumental site of the underground Basilica of Saint Pius X. Regardless of their nationality, here the American, German, Polish, French and Hungarian participants all belonged together in the power of community and yet in the cathartic, inward-looking experience of the individual’s spiritual purification during the quietness of a few days.
For here in Lourdes, we were not alone. We were held together by the common intention, which found expression in the prayers said by the grotto of the apparitions, in the intimate walk along the Hungarian-language Way of the Cross on the Lourdes Calvary, the songs sung in the Eucharistic procession, the blessing of the sick who sometimes cried out in pain in the square outside the Rosary Basilica, the candlelight procession by a kilometer-long row of thousands of military pilgrims in the valley bathing in the light of the setting sun.
“Lourdes opens the human heart to infinity" – stressed Catholic military chaplain László Bíró during the Hungarian Holy Mass. Quoting Pope Benedict, he said that “one doesn’t begin to be a Christian because of an ethical decision or a great idea, but rather because of an encounter with an event, with a Person". We all have experienced this encounter here in Lourdes. In community and yet in solitude, in the door of faith.
Photos by the author
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