Nestled in the foothills of the Pyrénées, the little city of Lourdes worked its captivating magic for me again last month, as I was privileged to be able to join the Liverpool pilgrimage as part of the “Lourdes Music Group” (aka LMG) at the Hôtel Jeanne d’Arc for the first time. A week spent caught up in a combination of calm contemplation, prayer and frenetic activity, glued together with a decent injection of great food, positive spirits and humour, it’s difficult to put into words just what going to Lourdes is like, nor how life-changing the experience can be, both for those of strong faith or no faith alike. To those who say “I’ve never fancied it – it’s too commercialised”, I would definitely say “give it a go – you just might love it”! There is a magnetism about the place that simply sucks you in.
LMG gave me such a warm welcome and what an amazing week it was! Twenty-one of us, aged 16 to 55, from all walks of life and with different skills and experiences, came together as a unit with shared purpose and values; with a prime objective to provide a variety of musical support to enhance the services and Masses throughout the week. It was hard work but totally worth it; we practised together every day which helped to bond us all as a group as well as improve our performance, and we received great feedback along the way. For some of us, the stresses of work and study commitments over the past year had been particularly overwhelming but even the most tired and stressed individuals prior to the trip came away with a renewed energy, both physical and spiritual… and a new bunch of people we can definitely call our friends. However, In addition to the personal benefits, knowing that we collectively helped the clergy, pilgrims and assisted pilgrims to get the most possible from their time in Lourdes was so rewarding; I came back to my parish with an almost palpable ‘glow’ which I hope will remain with me over coming weeks.
From the uplifting multi-lingual torchlight procession and Stations of the Cross to the Anointing of the Sick in the cool underground basilica, from the jollity in the heat at Bartrès and the lake to the near-silence in the dark whilst lighting candles for loved ones in the light rain near the grotto, each element of the week brought something fresh to each of us. At times we talked and sang until the early hours, sharing jokes and debating politics, religion, world economics… and at other times we sat quietly, no words needed, just gentle smiles and a light touch when fat tears rolled down sun-kissed cheeks…
I feel truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to be part of LMG this year and I very much hope to return in 2018; it will provide me with a much-needed carrot to get me through the frantic months ahead and help me to be mindful of the need to take that little bit of time just for myself, so that I can undertake the demands of both work and family with just that little bit more joy and gratitude. Thank you LMG x
Dorothy Trussell – LMG 2017
Below is a YouTube video from the Liverpool Mass of Anointing in the Underground Basilica (St Pius X), we hope you enjoy. Applications for membership to the Music Group will open on Sunday 5th November – please keep an eye on this website for further information.