As I prepare to go to Lourdes, France for this once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage, there are about 10,000 things running through my mind as far as intentions to pray for while I’m there. As some know, this pilgrimage is through the Order of Malta (link to their website here) and is all expenses paid. I had to travel down to Houston for an interview and after that was selected to go on this pilgrimage. I asked Fr. Thomas Esposito to be my travel companion, and we are all set to leave on May 3. Here’s a taste of what awaits us:
We’re beyond excited — it’s almost too good to be true!
Getting down to the real reason we’re going though, these amazing sights pale in comparison to the grace that is to be found at Lourdes. This pilgrimage will be an opportunity to thank God for what he has done for me and pray that his blessings are used to bring him glory. It will be centered on an increase in faith, not just for myself, but for everyone whose prayer intentions I bring with me. Saint Bernadette herself said that it is not the Lourdes water itself that heals people, but the faith that they have when drinking it or washing in it.
It takes a great deal of faith to not get depressed and angry when dealing with a serious or chronic illness. I know so many people struggling with what I was two years ago, end-stage cystic fibrosis, who are in desperate need of a double lung transplant, and I know of others who already got their transplant and are in serious rejection. There are many others who, like myself, are doing fantastic after transplant, but could still use some prayers for continued health. When you find out that you have Advanced Late-Stage Lyme disease or have a debilitating stroke, how do you reconcile something like that with God’s will? It can be incredibly difficult when you are very vulnerable and not in control of your own life to see the greater plan of God in all of it. Too many people harbor an intense anger at God, and have an overwhelming feeling that what they are suffering in the present moment is entirely and utterly useless. But as the great Archbishop Fulton Sheen says, “There’s nothing more tragic in all of the world than wasted pain.” (link to the full quote here) As I have blogged about before, pain and suffering are like graphite that is just waiting to be turned into diamonds. What do graphite and diamonds have in common? They’re both made up of pure carbon. All life on earth is based on chains of carbon molecules — without carbon’s unique properties, life on earth would not be possible. Suffering comes in all kinds of unique ways, and is a universal part of life, so when life hands you a lump of graphite, and it will, turn it into diamonds by offering it to God!
What did we just celebrate yesterday? Good Friday, when the most pain that has ever been endured by a human being (the Passion of Jesus Christ) was turned into eternal salvation for all human beings. Diamonds to me represent the eternal value of suffering, and the sometimes incomprehensible plan that God has when he sends us suffering. He wants us to let it sanctify us and make us holy! Diamonds are brilliant and enduring, and they not only let light shine through them, but refract it and create a beautiful glimmer and shine. Graphite, on the other hand, is suffering without God. It is dull, ugly, black, and depressing. In this analogy, diamonds really are forever!
If anyone would like me to present their petitions to Our Lady at the grotto in Lourdes, feel free to message me! Thank you all for the prayers, I will certainly try to pray for everyone who is doing the same for me, and for anyone else I can think of. God bless you all!