I have some reservations which appear quite irrelevant and possibly also impolite to Our Lady.
First and foremost is the fact that I love Lourdes. I like the way one enters the domain with the entrance surrounded by trashy piety shops selling flashing statues of the saints and rosary beads made out of orange pips and, immediately, a different atmosphere surrounds you.
The air of piety increases as you approach the Grotto until, at last, you are there and praying close to where Bernadette prayed and to where the Mother of God appeared.
I feel at home in Lourdes; I like the way in which you can pray most of the day at the Shrine, take the baths, undertake the Stations of the Cross and then go out for a glass or two of wine and a simple meal.
And, then, afterwards you may go back and pray again. Fantastic!
Fatima is an unknown quantity. It has interested me from an early age for all the obvious reasons.
But there is something a little frightening about Fatima.
It is of our own parents or grandparents lifetime and it is also several notches higher than Lourdes on the warning scale.
Pray, repent and do penance - three words that resound in our minds, not least because the world does not pray, repent or do penance - quite the opposite, in fact.
The message of Our Lady of Lourdes was, the same but softer; at least to my ears.
By the time of the first Fatima visitation the world had been awakened to the potential of Communism and its errors and the First World War, with its hideous loss of life was drawing to a close.
Modernism was spreading its poison within the Church.
And now, who knows what is in store for a world that destroys life so casually and ignores the teachings of the Son of God made Man?
Today is the Feast of St Bernadette who died in 1879. An appropriate day (coincidentally) for this post.
We shall be in Fatima for May 13th and for the Papal dedication.
We shall be in the company of a priest who only celebrates the old Mass.
We shall pray for you all while we are there.
And, after we have prayed, no doubt, we shall go and have a glass or two of wine and a simple meal.
In the manner of all Catholic pilgrims.