Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Once more unto the baths dear friends....

Tridentine Latin Mass in the upper basilica last Sunday
....this morning there were many more men queuing up for the early baths and I was about number sixty in line.

From the women's section came a continuous series of sweet French and Italian hymns, while, from our side came a gabble of voices seemingly intent on discussing all matters worldly.

That, I believe, answers the question I posed yesterday, namely, which is the more reverent of the two sexes?

Women win hands down.

Next to me in the queue, three Italian gents were discussing the best method of constructing an IKEA flatpack chest of drawers.

"You must begin with the drawers" said one.

"No, no, most definitely not!" said another while the third chipped in with: "You must definitely commence with the carcase working from the final stage back to the first!"

They settled down once the brancardiers had prised their fingers from around each other's throats.

On the other side of me two French gentlemen were in dispute over their petanque techniques.

"You must use the three middle fingers of the right hand and give the wrist a flick at the last second...."

I gave up trying to say my Rosary and joined in the debate.

Anglo French relations are now at an all time low.

Some brief accounts.....yesterday I felt a great affection for an elderly Englishwoman who hissed in my ear: "I never go to the Novus Ordo, it's a complete waste of time!"

And I felt for another poor soul who confided in me that she had taken the baths twice but had not been cured. What?

We also met two young people from Wales after the Order of Malta Latin Mass.
One of them is a very accomplished singer but I shall not release any further details lest I embarrass him.

It is difficult to find peace at the Grotto unless you go at sun up or late at night.

In the past five days we have listened to more contemporary hymns than I care to recall.
None of them were uplifting; all of them were dirge like.

What a sorry state we have come to.

Nonetheless, Lourdes is one of the great Catholic experiences, but you have, at times, to turn a blind eye to some of the administration elements.

As one queues on the benches awaiting the baths, the brancardiers like to fuss and officiate. I suppose it's because they have so little to do.

They growl out orders in French, sotto voce...."go down there, no, not there you English fool, THERE!"

And then when you sit they tweak your sleeve and mutter: "Look, there's half a centimetre of space between you and the next man, move up vite, vite!"

No sooner do you move rather uncomfortably close to your neighbour than the brancardiers call for you to stand and about turn, and quick march for a few seconds before they give the command to be seated again and the whole process repeats itself: "Look M'sieu, there's a half centimetre gap..."etc., etc.

But I must not be too unkind to our French cousins, after all, a nation that can transform two lettuce leaves, a section of boiled egg and half a tomato into a delicious salad and charge you 12 Euros for the pleasure of eating it, can't be all bad.

Can it?



  1. That salad looks delicious! I had a look today on the Lourdes Official website and see that Mass has been celebrated in the Grotto in twenty different languages over the last few days including one I had never heard of. However I see that yesterday at 8.30 the language given was Latin which was a surprise. I presume that it was a Novus Ordo and wonder if this was a first for the Grotto?

    Your comments regarding the impossibility of saying the Rosary due to the conversations around you at the Baths reminded me of the time when I was sitting just in front of two elderly ladies from the Emerald Isle during the afternoon Rosary in the Grotto which is always said in French at that time. They chatted loudly for the duration then right at the end one said to the other 'I don't know about you but I can't pray in a foreign language' and got up and left!
    Everyone there was far too kind to ask them to be quieter although we did all raise our voices to compete! The new Bishop has announced plans to make the Grotto more conducive to prayer - the young people walking around with their 'Silence' placards sadly did not make much difference and the 'Silence' sign at the entrance seems always to be half hidden by a bush.

    Are the two bridges rebuilt now?

  2. Thats an accute and compassionate vignette of human kind. I´ll have you on my intentions in the Rosary today, since I have not been praying it for quite a long time. Too long...
    That might be a good effect of Our Lady.

  3. Some of the stuff that goes on in Lourdes is just awful! But...the first night I was ever there, we went down to the grotto after booking into our hotel. It was about 10pm. I just sank to my knees and said to my companions "She's here". That's Lourdes. She's there. Does anything else matter?

  4. That salad is hardly of the standard of Fr Z's fine dining ..... !! More than a little over-priced too. I suppose there's a cartel in operation in Lourdes?? At least it doesn't leave me feeling even slightly envious!!

  5. 12 Euros for a salad! I'm fairly certain one can get a steak for less than that at a Buffalo Grill. Keep taking the waters!

  6. In order to enjoy a cheaper salad you need to come to a spiritual desert like Finestrat. Luckily I can't comment on spiritual matters but I can tell you a salad costs about one and a half Euros.

  7. FrereRabit, that sounds a real bargain...but is it donkey food?