To say #IamVincent implies that we maintain awareness of the poor and suffering around us. Fr. John Kettleberger, C.M., reflects on a visit to Lourdes where he reveals his Vincentian character and charism as simple “wonder” at the profound prayer lives of our brothers and sisters.
“Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!” These words of prayer often transport me back to Lourdes, France and the Rosary Procession held each evening with the sick, their care givers and thousands of pilgrims who have traveled to Lourdes seeking spiritual, emotional, mental or physical healing. I walk with them, rosary in hand, as we pray the familiar words in German, French, Spanish, Italian and English. I am bathed in a river of prayer flowing up to God through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes knowing that we are all in need of healing.
Immediately around me are twelve college students from St. John’s University who are here with me on a service pilgrimage. They look tired and no wonder,for they have put in a long day working with the pilgrims at the “baths” and the train station. Later tonight we will reflect on our day of service and where we saw the face of Christ, but right now they are lost in their own prayer. Who are they praying for I wonder? They pray for those whom they served today and those with whom they served. They pray for family and friends back home whose intentions they have carried here to Lourdes. They pray for themselves and their own struggles and dreams for the future.
“Ave, Ave, Ave Maria,…” we hold our candles high as we sing.
John A Kettelberger, C.M., is University Chaplain at St. John’s University