A guest post on Lourdes

This post is from Joshua, who is shortly to make his first Holy Communion but has already learned to serve the usus antiquior Mass. It comes with my Fr Z-style emphases and comments. As you read it, remember that he is six years old.

Journey to Lourdes
We drove to Blackfen. [Huzzah!] We had to wait a few minutes then the bus came. Then we got on the bus and the bus drove to the airport. We had to wait for two hours. We had a cold drink, I had a strawberry milkshake which had cream on the top and little ice blocks [I never got one of those]. My Dad and I went upstairs to look at the aeroplanes. We went downstairs and we got on the bus which took us to the aeroplane. We got into our seats and then we put our seatbelts on. The pilot said 'crew, prepare for takeoff.' Then I heard the engines, and the aeroplane drove extremely fast on the runway, then the engines got really loud and then the aeroplane went up in the sky. [For boys, the flying bit is always great.]

First Day in Lourdes
After two hours the aeroplane landed, we came off the aeroplane. We then went on a coach to the hotel and ate dinner. I ate at the priests’ table and the priests called me Bishop Joshua. [On account of the fact that he was down as +Joshua after his parents on the guest list.] We went in the lift up to our room, it was on floor 7. The room was very big and very nice, it had 4 beds and a massive bathroom. We got everything ready to go to the Grotto, we went down in the lift and we put our umbrellas up and walked to the Grotto about 3 minutes walk away. We walked to where Our Lady appeared to Saint Bernadette. After a little prayer it was time for bed, it was very late, after 12 o’clock. [NB parents: even though it was very late for a 6 year old, they said a little prayer together as a family before turning in.]

Second Day in Lourdes
When I woke up, we had breakfast in bed, it was very nice. We had hot chocolate, orange juice, bread and croissants. [I never got that either!] We went down and walked up to St. Gabriel’s chapel, I served with Thomas in Mass. The priest held the Body and Blood of Christ up. [He's properly catechised and ready for first communion, I think.] After Mass we went to visit the Basilica and the Grotto. A lady called Sabrina then showed us the underground Basilica, Saint Bernadette’s museum and then we went to Saint Bernadette’s house - she lived in a very small house where animals used to live. Then we went back to the hotel up to our bedroom and got ready for the Rosary Procession. There were lots of people, a man who worked there told my mum there were 30,000 people. [Processions of Our Lady - thing of the past - NOT!] Then it was bedtime, we went back to the hotel into bed.

Third Day in Lourdes
We woke up in the morning and got our things ready and went outside. It was a very sunny day. We went to the taps and got some Lourdes water. Then we went on a bus to Bartrès and we saw another one of Saint Bernadette’s houses when she was a little girl. We also went to the church she went to and I served with Thomas. Then we saw Saint Bernadette’s handwriting and her relic. We had an ice cream, I had a Twister. We walked to a playground and then we got on a bus back to the hotel. Then we did the Stations of the Cross with Fr Charles.

Forth Day in Lourdes
We got our things ready and went to Mass in the Parish Church. Thomas forgot his cassock and cotta and he got lost and went back to the hotel. I served on my own, it was a very nice chapel. Then we went back to the Grotto, to wait in a queue to go in the baths. The baths had Lourdes water inside and it was extremely cold. Before we went in we had to say some prayers. I prayed to Our Lady to make my vices go away and give me Her virtues so that I will always do the Will of God. [Yes, I think he is ready for first Communion.] I think it worked because I was very good afterwards, I think Our Lady was very happy and gave me some graces. [Remember that fashion in the "new catechesis" of the 1970s that you should not teach children about grace because they can't understand it? ] Then we went to the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament. There were lots of priests, I took a good photo of Jesus in the Monstrance. [Yes, I think he is ready for first Communion.] After dinner we went to the Rosary Procession, we all held a candle and we saw a golden statue of Our Lady.

Fifth Day in Lourdes

We went to Mass, I served with Thomas. After Mass, Thomas dropped his cassock and cotta down into a pit by mistake. We had to get a security man to get it out. Then we wrote our petitions and put them into the petition box in the Grotto. We said a goodbye prayer to Our Lady and it was time to get back on the coach to the airport. Then we went back on the aeroplane and it drove onto the runway. The engines went really fast and it made a loud noise and the aeroplane went into the sky. Soon we were back in England at Heathrow airport and we got our suitcases. We had to wait for our coach, so we played in the water sprays and I got all wet. I had to get changed into new clothes. [Boys will be boys.] The coach then took us back to Blackfen [Huzzah!] and it was time to go home.

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