Sunday, September 26, 2010


The walk (Part 1)

As promised I will now elaborate on my trip to Lourdes and why that was such a momentous occasion. In reality the thread started earlier, but in this particular trip and in this particular moment, I became aware that Mary was gently bringing me to God. This story will have a part 1 and part 2. This part will focus on some background and the next on more significant events that tie to present day.

Prior to my summer vacation in 2009, lots happened that was unusual and jolting but I had responded in typical pragmatic form in the end. I landed another teaching position with the same and different requisites.

I always travel to some fun and mischievous international destination most summers as a way to rejuvenate and regroup. The summer of 2009 was no exception. I had a friend living in Pamplona, Spain at the time. We had been conversing about when the best time to visit would be months earlier. The "running of the bulls" happened in early July and her vacation coincided with Pamplona's claim to fame. These "runs" lasted about 10 days with all night parties. It sounded like great fun! As I planned for my trip and coordinated the dates with professional obligations I had at home, I noticed Pamplona was close to France and then saw it was so close to Lourdes, France.

At this juncture, I should briefly explain why I recognized Lourdes. I had been raised a Catholic but rather surrendered the formal faith somewhere around the age of 15 for many reasons. One particular reason was that I felt the moral standards were too lax. The revolving door of sinning and confession for the same sins grated against my condescending disposition at the time.

On the other hand the Mormons seemed to walk the talk more. Of course, my focus was narrow again namely on the parameters of drugs and sex. In 1990 or thereabouts I had left Mormonism and after some study of the New Testament in the Bible, decided to investigate the Catholic Church with much reluctance. Reluctance because I had left this faith. It was in a little church called St. John Vianney that I decided to start my inquiry. It was here I was introduced to a movie called the "Story of Bernadette" which was a story of a girl who had supposedly seen the virgin Mary in Lourdes, France. It made a big impression at the time.

However, many years had passed, and in 2002 I had since gone to a disillusioning trip to Medjugorje, (another supposed Virgin Mary apparition happening since 1981). Marian apparitions lost significance for me after that. Nevertheless, since Lourdes was so close to Pamplona, curiosity and some time to kill led to me to take two days of my trip there.

After witnessing the crazy tradition in Pamplona as well as attending my first bullfight, I was spent on the human and animal carnage. I did however have some great times hanging with my friend, meeting new people, doing mischievous yet harmless things and eating good food. I then drove to Lourdes and stayed at what I refer to as a nunnery. Nothing unusual here as I had stayed at a monastary in Mallorca the last time I was in Spain. They were both safe and affordable havens.

I quickly set out to do everything I could do while there typical Angela tourism style. But almost immediately I felt something very different. I felt a peace and almost other worldliness while there. The deeper details and more interesting part of this blog will follow in part 2. What follows is the superficial chronology of what I did while there.

As I mentioned earlier I tried to do everything of interest while there. I went to see movies on Bernadette's life, did the tour of the house she grew up in, visited the grotto where Mary appeared and filled some jugs with holy water there. I went to the museum of authenticated miraculous cures. I lit a candle and said a prayer for a friend who requested to find a job. I went to Mass and the adoration of the cross. Lastly, or so I thought, I went to the bookstore to get some mementos, gifts for friends and books. It was night and raining again, and I was due to leave the next morning and so I thought, oh well, confession will have to be skipped. (To be continued)

BTW If you are curious about Lourdes, here are a couple of links that gives a good overview.,