Tuesday - The Irish Trust Benefactors' Mass - Our Day in Lourdes

  • Jet Set enjoy the The Irish Trust Mass
  • Bishop Murphy assisted by Deacon Brian Whelan (Group 69) receives the gifts at the offertory procession.
  • The priests of The Irish Trust assemble with Bishop Murphy at the altar during the Benefactors' Mass.
  • The grotto at night
  • The river of light makes its way from the grotto to the esplanade.

Tuesday is the day when The Irish Trust gather together as one big family. It is the only day when all of the pilgrims from Ireland come together for Mass in St Bernadette's Basilica.

Mass is at 10.00 and has a particular Irish flavour. Organised centrally by the Trust Chaplain, Rev Michael McGrath, this Mass is celebrated by the Irish bishop who has travelled with The Irish Pilgrimage Trust. Together with the priest chaplains from the groups they concelebrate this Benefactors' Mass. It is an unforgettable experience that combines joyous dancing with prayerful presence before the Lord. At the end of the Mass we join in one great jamboree that truly celebrates the Resurrection during Easter Week.

Comments from 'great', 'marvellous' to 'why Mass can't be like this every day' are usually the reaction of those who are in Lourdes for the first time with The Trust. For those who have travelled for years - and there are many - every year is renewing and different. No two years are the same. There might be the same songs, it might be the same place but the personalities that make up The Trust when they are filled with the love of God and moved by the Spirit of the Risen Christ always ensures the Easter week in Lourdes is ever new, ever different and ever fullflilling.

Lunch is often followed by a stroll around the town of Lourdes. This is Bernadette's town. Many of the places that we can visit are places that she knew when she was alive: the parish church where she was baptised; the Bolly Mill where she and her family lived; the cachot that provided them with shelter during difficult economic times are all within easy walking distance. It's strange to walk in the way of a saint. Another option is to visit Bartres. This is a small village in the hills a few kilometres from Lourdes. Here Bernadette lived with her uncle and cared for the sheep in the hills.

On Tuesday night The Trust pilgrims attend the Marian Candlelight Procession. Many groups will have gone down to the Domaine area seeking a viewing spot on high over the Rosary Basilica to catch a glimpse of this river of light as it snails its way through the arches and around the esplanade before gathering in the square. The flickering flames lifted aloft to the strains of the Lourdes Ave are an abiding memory of many pilgrims. Yet the viewing of this great sea of faith is one thing. It is only when one walks the way of light, moving rhythmically to the murmur of the Hail Mary in the international languages of the grotto that one gets the full sense of this uniquely Lourdes procession. Here is the culmination of pilgrimage. Here is the goal of the journey. Not a place, not a cave, not dramatic revelation but rather a swell of belief that walks in unison, guided by an openness to believe, a yearning to meet Christ, a desire to be guided to the Father.

This is OUR day in Lourdes. This is why so many return again and again. The exuberance of song and dance of the morning is strengthened by the faith of so many who pray at night.

Thy will be done;

Hallowed be thy name;

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;

Holy Mary, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death;

Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Here as we walk humbly with our God, we can seek justice for those in need and we can reach out in loving tenderness to our neighbour.